Since my Macbook as been in the shop (Oremus), I’ve had to content myself with stuff not on the auxiliary hard drive but on whatever I have on DVD in the house.
Except for Godfather I, none of it is “male-oriented” or “adventure.” I admit I like what people call “chick flicks.”
Three favorites surfaces yesterday and today:
1. The English Patient, Anthony film’s story of war and adultery, as well as a desperate quest to save someone’s life. It has some ghastly moments but it ain’t Stallone, folks. It’s love, albeit irregular, not cutting people in two with machine gun fire. It’s gorgeous airscapes of flights across the Sahara to some of the most beautfiul film music you’ll ever hear. It’s top-level acting by the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Nuveen Andrews, and Colin Firth.
2. Girl With A Pearl Earring, where Colin Firth turns up again starring with Scarlett Johannsen, who allegedly was 17 when she made this film. A film about a painter, namely Johannes Vermeer? You got that right. There was nothing commercial about Johannsen’s performance as the servant girl who upends the Vermeer household via a piece of jewelry. But oh, it is so worth seeing if you like wonderful mise en scene in which the lighting captures the Vermeer vision of 17th century Delft almost to perfection. Also with Judy Parfitt, Colin Wilkinson as a perfect bastard of an agent, and Cillian Murphy, who does the right thing. It follows Tracy’s Chevalier’s novel very closely but is its own work of art.
3. The Crucible. Talk about following a work of art. Arthur Miller himself wrote his own screenplay for this 1996…well, what is it? Romance, horror flick, political drama? All of the above. Winona Ryder simply outdid herself as the lead’s one-time homewrecker mistress Abigail, and seeing Paul Scofield and Daniel Day-Lewis together is like seeing generational inheritance. Scofield was the greatest English-speaking actor of his generation and Day-Lewis is inheriting the mantle. When he abjures his false confession, his voice is filled with rage and tears. I shared the tears anyway. The greatest surprise is Joan Allen as Elizabeth, John’s wife: she goes from reproof and cold dignity to passion that comes a bit too late to save anyone, but it is one of the great and understated performances on film.
Screw the label Chick Flick. They are what they are–dramas of human emotion and conflict.