Daily Archives: November 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday-Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995)

There is something about a long time friendship. After decades of being around each other, there is a short hand that exists between the two friends. Nothing can tear them apart….until someone new and attractive moves into the neighborhood.

In Grumpy Old Men (1993), John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) have been frienemies since boyhood. Their relationship alters when a new female neighbor, Ariel Truax (Ann-Margaret) moves to town.

This movie is incredibly funny. The decades long relationship and chemistry that Lemmon and Matthau have is tangible on screen. Revisiting her screen idol goddess past, Ann-Margaret is funny, charming and age appropriate for her two leading men.

Two years later in 1995, Grumpier Old Men revisited John and Max. John and Ariel are married. The town bait shop has been closed. A new owner, Maria Ragetti (Sophia Loren) buys the bait shop and plans to turn into an Italian restaurant.  But John and Max will do anything to keep the bait shop as is. While John is happy to play along with Max’s plan, Max finds that he is attracted to Maria.

The addition of Sophia Loren to this cast is the icing on the cake.  The antagonistic love/hate relationship between Loren and Matthau is incredibly funny.

I recommend both movies.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday- Finally, A Good Rom Com- The Holiday (2006) & Something’s Got To Give (2003)

The romantic comedy genre (shortened to rom com) is a pretty basic genre. Two people meet and something sparks between them. But there are boundaries, acted out in a light and funny way, to what may be their happy ending. While there are many rom coms that are formulaic and predictable from the get go, thankfully there are a few movies within the genre that are not.

In The Holiday (2006), Amanda (Cameron Diaz), who lives in Los Angeles and Iris (Kate Winslet), who lives near London, are having relationship issues. Needing a break from their lives, they meet on a house swapping website and agree to live in each others homes during the holiday.  In England, Amanda meets Iris’s brother, Graham (Jude Law). In Los Angeles, Iris meets Amanda’s 90 year old neighbor, Arthur (the late Eli Wallach) who helps her to regain her confidence while she starts to fall for Miles (Jack Black), one of Amanda’s colleagues.

While I normally don’t care for Jude Law or Jack Black, both are charming in this movie. Jude Law, playing a Cary Grant-esque Graham and Jack Black, without resorting to his usual man boy clownish acting are genuine in their parts.

What I like about this movie is that it is simple and sweet without being too predictable. We can all agree that every genre has it’s standard plot markers. But this movie reaches those plot markers without the audience feeling like they saw it comes a mile away.

In Somethings Got To Give (2003), Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) is a successful playwright. Her thirty something daughter Marin (Amanda Peet) brings her much older boyfriend Harry Sandhorn (Jack Nicholson) to her mother’s Long Island home for the romantic weekend. Marin does not know that her mother and aunt Zoe (Frances McDormand) are there. After suffering a heart attack, Harry is rushed to the hospital where he is treated by Dr. Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves) who develops a crush on Erica.

At the time of the movie’s release, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in regards to the brief frontal nudity of Diane Keaton. But it was so brief that the audience had to blink or they would miss it. That aside, what I like about this movie is that Keaton and Nicholson, for once, are age appropriate for on screen romantic couple. Adding Reeves and Peet to this very odd love square was a wise touch by the screenwriter.

I recommend both.

 

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Throwback Thursday-Vintage Baz Luhrmann- Romeo + Juliet (1996) & Moulin Rouge (2001)

Every successful filmmaker, over the course of their career, develops his or her unique style of film making.

Baz Lurhmann is known for his colorful and sometimes eccentric films.

Bursting into Hollywood with his 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom, Lurhmann often tells stories of characters trying to succeed against seemingly impossible challenges.

His 1996 adaptation of Romeo + Juliet, starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Clarie Danes as the young lovers. Standing in the way of their happily ever after was John Leguizamo as Tybalt, Paul Rudd as Paris and Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet. The genius of this film was that while the Shakespearean text was unaltered, Lurhmann wisely chose to set the film in modern day Verona.

Five years later, he tried his hand at the musical genre with Moulin Rouge. In 1899, Christian (Ewan McGregor) is an idealistic young poet who has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian Revolution. His companions take him to the Moulin Rouge, where the star  is Satine (Nicole Kidman). Christian and Satine fall in love, but the Moulin Rouge’s patron, the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) also has eye on Satine.  Utilizing modern pop music, the story is about love against all odds.

I recommend both.

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