14 September 2010

Movie reviews

Every once in a while, I take a notion to have a movie weekend. Sometimes there's a reason - research for a project, or I'm feeling a little hesitant in my Spanish comprehension - but for the most part, it's just time for a movie weekend.

This week, I was looking for a melody - one that hovers in the back of my memory and tries to ooch forward occasionally, but will never quite surface. This week, I needed that melody. It's sweet and elegant, childlike and stately, one of a kind.

So Bri and I hit Wild and Woolly Video on Bardstown Road last Saturday afternoon and came out with an armload. And what an armload!

One of her picks was a French rendition of Bluebeard, the scary morality tale of the young woman whose blue-bearded husband warns her never to unlock the room with the little gold key. If you ever heard a fairy tale, you know how this one comes out. But this production is brilliant and eerie - directed by Catherine Breillat, it links make-believe with the recent past of my childhood and quite successfully builds suspense in spite of the obvious. This one goes in one of my "fantasy classes" on Cinema as Literature.

My picks included Coco Before Chanel, which I guess qualifies as fictionalized history, if not historical fiction. Having read the Wikipedia bio, I expect they got the basic facts about as straight as one can, without sworn testimony. But without a fly on the wall, it's anybody's guess how accurate the details are. Nevertheless, it's an admirable effort, a fun movie, and Audrey Tatou is (duh...) perfect. (Like she could be anything else.)

The Unknown Quantity - totally - was Avenue Montaigne. The synopsis sounded amusing: Jeune femme from le stiques comes to Paree, finds a job as a wait-person at a cafe' (where they don't hire women, merci' very beaucoups) next door to the theatre, and proceeds, via her engenuite', to solve the problems of all the overwrought soap stars and nouveau riche art collectors within range, not to mention a tormented concert pianist and a jackass cafe' manager. AND she makes her Grandmama happy.

Bottom line: If you love Cinderella, heroines with grit, happy coincidences, and happier endings, rent this movie. You will love it! Definitely goes on MY Favorites List.

The icing on the cake I saved for this evening, two days past due. (Yep. This is me. The Queen of Overdue Fines. Wild and Woolly lets me pay on the installment plan. Seriously.)

The icing on the cake was Babe.

This is the movie I went looking for. The Saint-Saƫns melody that repeats throughout this sweet, lovely film simply haunts me. For several years, I struggled to write a hymn lyric to the tune. Watching the movie tonight, and hearing - maybe for the first time, for all I've watched Babe half a dozen times or more - Farmer Hoggett singing softly to the little pig, "If I had the words to make a day for you..." I realized my efforts were superfluous. The song is one of complete, unconditional, uncomplicated, WYSIWYG love, and there is none greater. I don't think I'll forget the melody again; it's imprinted now in my head.

And the take-away is this: the half-grown pig, nudging gently at his bereft adoptive mother, Fly, who's seen her litter of pups farmed out and lost her mate, Rex, to his own ill temper and jealousy, and saying, "Mom? Mom? Are you alright, Mom?" And the farmer, the man of few words, willing a sad little pig to live, and softly singing to him from some unidentified place deep in his own heart's memory.

No species-defined lines. No assumptions. No prejudgment. Just love. Wide-open, accepting - willing to be hurt, if that's what it takes (although not out actively looking for pain) - but mostly just knowing that it's in giving that we receive.

I finished the evening with a phone call from my sister. She's beautiful, and I love her. Life isn't easy right now - but that's just life. The good part is us. We have each other to lean on.

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