The Age of Adaline, 2015, Lee Toland Krieger, Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker. I didn’t expect to like this film. I think that films of this kind are very tough to get right but this one does at it is a stunner. It is sentimental, without being sappy. It is poignant, without being corny, nuanced without being cliche, romantic, and ultimately, hopeful. The story of a woman who is not aging, and will she ever know love again? Blake Lively did an outstanding job of portraying someone from another era, older, residing in a younger body. It was also wonderful to see Ellen Burstyn onscreen, I’ve been a fan of hers since a film called The Resurrection (1980), it is wonderful to see her in these kinds of roles. This film is fantastical, it is fantasy, but this film is a romance. I love this film.
The Last of the Mohicans
The Last of the Mohicans, 1992, Michael Mann, Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Wes Studi, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington. I have no idea how many times I’ve watched this film. We’ve laughed about parts of it, quoted lines from it, it has changed the way that we say “Kentucky” to “Can-tuck-eee” ( Like Hawkeye does.) and yet, it never fails to leave me breathless at some point. I become enthralled by it every time. Not to mention there are some truly beautiful looking, exceptionally easy on the eyes, people in this film. The actual scenery is gorgeous as well. While I do appreciate a good historical setting, I’ve realized that what I find so appealing about this film is the sense of connection between the characters, the relationships, they’re all so very serious and intense, and yet, it works. This film is soaked in long looks, knowing looks, understanding, even among the more minor characters. The Cameron’s at their cabin exchange a smolder of a look across the table that you could start a forest fire on, “Yes, we’re here in our cabin with our children and life is hard on the frontier, but it is good, for we love so completely and we never have to say a word to know everything.” (That line isn’t in the film, if you haven’t seen it, I just made that up.) It’s all madly passionate ( mad-pash) and understanding. It is also heartbreaking. The end scenes are so well done, the choice that Alice makes, the final battle between Uncas and Magua is one that I watch still hoping that it will end differently. This film is romantic, however it is also brutal, depicting some graphic scenes of war and battle, it is a sweeping historical epic story of survival, one that isn’t entirely without hope. The other wonderful things about films with historical settings is, no matter how inaccurate they are or the “creative” liberties sometimes taken, and perhaps sometimes because of such, occasionally they get people to crack open a book in the want to inform themselves about other peoples, cultures, and histories, and that’s a good thing.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2013, Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Tony Revolori. A cast to die for, as they say. This film is completely ridiculous. Sometimes when there’s that much star power in the line-up, it falls flat. What I think keeps this film from going belly up is that it is being told as a remembrance of the days of his youth by Mr. Moustafa, which immediately lends a quality of wistfulness to the unbelievable proceedings. Billed as a comedy, and it is, it is also however, something of a “fish story” because of that narrative. Is the fantastical tale true? Well, it’s sort of horrible in places, however in the most charming way, a comedy of manners, perhaps, one that certainly made me smile.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Only Lovers Left Alive, 2013, Jim Jarmusch, Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Anton Yelchin, John Hurt, Mia Wasikowska. I didn’t know what to expect from this one and I was so pleasantly surprised. It is simply the tale of vampires in love in the modern age, Eve and Adam, married…forever… but they can’t always deal with being under the same roof. Her sister is a pain and a pest. John Hurt is brilliantly wonderful as Christopher Marlowe, as in, was he Shakespeare? And there are those allusions throughout. The backdrop of Detroit as Adam’s home, adds to the moody depths of this piece. It is a terribly subtle horror story with a love story woven in. Vampires trying to go about their business in the modern world. About this one though, what gives it an edginess, is Tom Hiddleston’s performance, because you know he’s a vampire and you really don’t know, based on how he’s very quietly lost patience with the antics of these human zombies, when he just might lose his cool and bite someone. This one isn’t a terribly happy movie, it feels sort of like a beautiful dirge all the way through, one that I couldn’t look away from. I think it’s a film for when one needs a good wallow. It’s wonderful though.
Tears of the Black Tiger
Tears of the Black Tiger,2000, Wisit Sasantieng, Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Mallucchi. This is a quirky Thai western, action adventure, romance, that I was immediately trying to find a copy of. I love this film. It is, also, however, billed as a “tearjerker” and I would say that it runs something along the lines of a Romeo and Juliet type of story. It’s so pretty though, so well done, a technicolor spaghetti western parody that manages to still be serious.
So I Married An Axe Murderer
So I Married An Axe Murderer, 1993, Thomas Schlamme, Mike Myers, Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Amanda Plummer, Charles Groden, Steven Wright, Phil Hartman, Debi Mazar, Brenda Fricker, Matt Doherty, Alan Arkin. This movie still makes me laugh, some of the best comedy lines. Anthony LaPaglia is so great in this film. Charlie thinks he may finally found the right woman, until he begins to suspect that she might be an axe murderer. “Hey, did you happen to see, the most beautiful girl in the world…” I read somewhere that Mike Myers was completely enamored of the song “There She Goes” and insisted it be used in the film.
Kate and Leopold
Kate and Leopold, 2001, James Mangold, Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford. Kate’s ex-boyfriend finds a portal to 1876 and brings back Leopold. Kate is a jaded, hardworking, advertising executive. Leopold is, well he’s from 1876. Where chivalry meets the modern woman, sort of. This movie has some great one liners and a couple of decent side stories happening with regard to the romantic lives of Kate’s younger brother and her ex-boyfriend. I thought I’d get my Hugh Jackman films out of the way all in one go.
Australia, 2008, Baz Luhrman, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown. This is another of those sweeping epic historical films with a romance, a love story, as the center piece. A lovely widow trying to keep what is hers against the backdrop of the bombing of Darwin during WWII. It’s a wonderful one.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000, Ang Lee, Yun-Fat chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang. This one didn’t quite stay with me until the second time that I watched it with my husband. It is so terribly beautiful.
As I’ve written this and begun considering other films for future additions to this list, part three. I’ve realized that there are several actors who show up repeatedly in my favorite films. Yun-Fat Chow, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Russell, and that I’m a fan of John Carpenter films, I like a couple of Wes Anderson films, I like movies about manners, romances, love stories, historical epics, fish stories, fish out of water stories, beautiful scenery, nice threads. I also noticed that many of the films that I like have very dark themes and undertones to them, serious themes, most of which I decided to save for another time as I give that some thought.
One for fun…