Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday At the Movies #3

Saturday at The Movies...on Sunday

No, Alex O'Loughlin wasn't on Lost (but he did star in Moonlight, another one of my obsessions with which I will plague you all soon enough) but the sentiment is appropriate. Melting here in the NE US and since I am prone to heat sickness, got a bit confused about what day was what. Which is why Saturday at the Movies is on Sunday today. Hm, maybe it's the island time-shifting again. One never knows, and I did have to get my Lost reference in there somewhere. On to the movies.

Let's start with Moonstruck. Cher. Nicholas Cage. Olympia Dukakis. "One more word out of you, old man..." The moon, it brings the woman to the man. "I don't care. Take me to the..." Did I mention Cher? Midcentury NYC (and NYC in general) always has a special place in my heart, and the Italian family in this slice of it feels unbelievably real. Plus it has Cher.

While we're in the nostalgic mood, let's visit Avalon. No mists of, merely Avalon, though there's nothing mere about it. We start in 1914, with the arrival of a Russian immigrant to the titular Avalon in Baltimore, on July Fourth, no less. The opening voiceover calls it "the most beautiful place you've ever seen in your life," and by golly, it is. The fireworks, oh God, the fireworks. We see them through the new immigrant's eyes, and we feel, along with him, that it's a personal welcome, an exterior exhibition of all the hope and possibility within his heart. Then life happens and time moves on and subsequent generations do what subsequent generations do. The fireworks, oh God, the fireworks.

My first request, from the lovely and talented Carol Munro: Sliding Doors. Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah and an interesting alternate timeline premise. When Gwyneth Paltrow's character, Helen, races to catch a train, either she will make it or she won't. In this film, we get to see the extremely different paths her life would take on both of those outcomes. Sometimes what seems like the tiniest thing in life can make the biggest difference. The course of true love never does run smooth, in any event, and what kind of story would it be if it did? I love following both of Helen's outcomes and there's a scene near the end where Gwyneth and John's characters pour out their hearts and their messy, messy lives that hits right to the core. Beautifully done.

Could not possibly leave another movie post without A Bronx Tale. 1950s NY again. Robert DeNiro. Chazz Palminteri. A boy and his mobster. The boy's father. Coming of age and understanding who real heroes are.

For a Lost tie-in where I don't have to reach, The English Patient. Naveen Andrews plays Kip, a Sikh, and love interest for Juliette Binoche's Hanna, a military nurse, and they shine, though their romance is not the main story. The main story involves a mysterious maybe not as English as we think patient, played by Ralph Fiennes, recovering from a plane crash in an abandoned villa. Only Hanna remains behind to tend him, and as he heals in body, so does his memory return. Bit by bit, we're given glimpses into what is rather than what is supposed, and this tautly wound drama combines the wonder of life with the horror of war, reminding us that love, and tragedy, can touch us all. I can find no fault with the cast - Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas are in on this one as well, and the costumes and cinematography are gorgeous:

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