Well, kids, the Fire Chief had to come by and warn us again. The mail bags are overflowing into the corridors and down the stairs, each one chocker-block full of letters begging, imploring us to LIGHTEN UP! "Take a break, Dave. You're starting to come off as a cranky old geezer."
Well, let me say to all that, "Nobody calls me 'Dave!'"
However...I get the message.
Thus, let's go to the movies for a prolonged weekend. (I'm teaching a workshop on Saturday & Sunday and may not add a post again until Monday.)
It was a mad rush to see as many of the Oscar contenders as possible, not to mention a few that, although not nominated, we just plain wanted to see. Every movie except "Children of Men," a strong and fascinating piece, which was offered at Tinseltown, was playing at one of Leonard Schein's Festival Cinemas.
Easily at the top of this or any other list I can imagine is the film that won the award for Best Foreign Movie, "The Lives of Others." How often do you see a movie that you know you will be watching with complete attention again and again each year for the rest of your life? Like "Lawrence of Arabia" or "On the Waterfront," this is such a movie. An East German Stasi spy listens in on the colorful and passionate lives of a playwright and his actress lover. Everyone's life changes. Every change is a surprise or a shock. The movie appears to end..and then it doesn't. And then it appears once again to end...and then it doesn't. When it does end, it ends on 5 simple words and we, the audience are left astonished and in tears.
If you miss this movie, you don't like movies.
"The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland," gave us the King and Queen of the Oscars, as Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren took home the gold. Both deserved these awards unreservedly. Their performances are unforgettable. Both of these wonderful actors have been amazing and entertaining us for years in dozens of great performances. But these two assignments were gifts from the casting gods.
And with respect to "The Queen," it was in the running for best picture and was a much more worthy film than that stupid gun-toting piece of nonsense that won. Stephen Frears, the Director, was also a much more worthy recipient of the award than Marty, Marty, Marty. "The Queen" is also one of those marvelous entertainments that you will be watching annually as it shows up on your TV set.
"Venus" didn't win any awards and Peter O'Toole was clearly disappointed when he lost the Best Actor prize to Mr. Whitaker, but none of that should stop you from seeing this wonderful, small film. O'Toole is great, as always (Has ever been less than wonderful?) and the movie is charming and funny and a real tear-jerker - in short, everything you could ask for on a rainy Vancouver Sunday afternoon. See it; you'll like it.
Notes on a Scandal is not to be missed either. Judy Dench and Cate Blanchett tear up the screen in an intense and bizarre story of love and sexual shenanigans in a London High School. When was the last time you saw a gorgeous major motion picture star servicing a 15-year old boy in a shed? Yikes! As if that isn't enough, the musical score by Philip Glass is brilliant and, well, breath-taking.
Finally, any movie by Pedro Almodovar and starring Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura has to be seen and savoured. This is Volver. The Spanish genius, Almodovar, has been for many years now an Original, and Volver doesn't disappoint. Simply to see and hear Penelope Cruz sing a quiet love song is to pretty much melt right through your seat and be left on the floor with the popcorn.
It's been a great run, these last few weeks. Unlike the onslught of the Summer Blockbusters, there have been no hordes of imaginary creatures racing across New Zealand or Caped Crusaders turnng the world and Jack Nicolson on their ends. Just beautiful, thoughtful movies about real people in real relationships and real circumstances.
Sure, food. Sure, sex. Sure, friendship, love, companionship. Sure, all that and more.
But, come on...what's better than the movies?