Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #6

Hasn't she run out of movies yet? In a word, no.

Riding in Cars With Boys may be one of the most perfect movies to see with the strong women in one's life. Based on the memoir of Beverly Donofrio, directed by Penny Marshall, and featuring a stellar supporting role by the late Brittany Murphy, this is one of Drew Barrymore's best. Drew doesn't hold anything back in her through-the-years portrayal of Bev, who starts as a bright but boy-crazy girl in the 1950s. The men in her life, from her father, her first love, their son and more, take Bev down some very unexpected turns that get her where she needs to go at last.

Want to make that girlfriend movie trip a double feature? Allow me to suggest Mermaids. Cher plays free-spirited single mother Rachel, who moves her family frequently and never cooks meals, only appetizers. Winona Ryder plays her daughter, Charlotte, equally passionate...about being her mother's exact opposite. Bob Hoskins plays Rachel's extremely but oh so absolutely perfect love interest. When mother and daughter come to a crossroads in their lives, as a family and as women, it's going to take a lot to figure things out.

Ready for some guys now? Dead Poet's Society deserves to be termed a classic, but the trailer, eh, not so much. One might think the film is on the lighter, more comedic side of things...and with Robin Williams in the lead, that may be what new viewers will think automatically. Wrong-o. This is very very very much a drama; an inspiring drama to be sure, but anyone expecting a comedy will get a beeeeeeeeeg surprise about three quarters in. Robin Williams does deliver an iconically brilliant performance as an inspired and unconventional teacher at a private boys' school, who urges his students to seize the day and embrace the poets within. This goes over better with some than others and consequences ensue.

The misleading trailer award, however, has to go to An Awfully Big Adventure. Georgina Cates' debut role has her playing Stella, a starstruck young aspiring actress in post WWII England. Stella practices acting constantly and recounts her innermost secrets and hopes to her mother in furtive phone calls. Hugh Grant plays Meredith, the loopy, self-absorbed director of the children's theatre troupe where Stella is a girl of all work...and falling in love with Meredith. Her attentions only amuse Meredith, when he bothers to notice, as she's not his type at all. When famed actor PJ O'Hara, played by Alan Rickman in one of his best performances, joins the troupe, everything changes. The formerly shaky troupe now has a bona fide genius of the stage amongst them, though he still pines for his long-lost American love. Not so much that he and Stella don't strike up an intimate acquaintance, though she insists she loves another. Then, bit by bit, threads of the past weave themselves together and PJ learns a truth that rocks his world to its very foundation. May be triggering for some, but Alan Rickman's last scene is beyond genius. Needless to say, NOT A COMEDY. Repeat, NOT EVEN REMOTELY A COMEDY, but an emotional tour-de-force with an ending the Greek tragedians would applaud.

Embedding disabled by request, so for trailer, click here.

Ladies in Lavender delivers exactly what it says on the tin, but is still full of surprises. Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith portray elderly maiden sisters on a windswept English coast during WWII. Life has gone on in a comfortable, predictable manner until a handsome twentysomething young man washes ashore on the sisters' beach. He has no memory, and the sisters discover his native language is German...and that he is a violin virtuoso. His arrival provokes two very different reactions in the sisters, and the arrival of a beautiful young artist, played by Natasha McElhone threatens the status quo even further. Something's got to give.

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