Sunday, April 20, 2014
4 to Consider . . .
We'll begin with the something old. Recently, I saw Top Hat, a 1935 comedy considered by many to be the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers pairing. Between 1933 and 1949, these two hoofers did a total of ten pictures together, nine for RKO and one (their only color film) for MGM. Say what you will about the tissue-thin plot, Top Hat is delightful. This was when movies were aspirational - the plot truly is ridiculous, but ignore that - reality and these dancing pictures really shouldn't spend unsupervised time together. Astaire is suave and blade-thin (as compared to the more muscular build of Gene Kelly) and Rogers is spunky and seems to float on air. Together, they're unstoppable. A wonderful, light-as-meringue way to while away a spring night.
Transcendence. It has some interesting questions to explore, but overall, this one's a rental. (I was gratified to learn that even when the machines begin to rise, I should have no trouble locating an adequate supply of eyeliner and peroxide, however.) Really - this movie does take some risks, and it wants you to think about what it means to be human and is it worth giving up some very central things in return for health and life, but it didn't totally come together for me. It's directed by first-timer Wally Pfister, who is far better known for his cinematography work on films such as Inception and the Dark Knight movies and indeed, Christopher Nolan has an executive producer credit on Transcendence. One to watch, but this one left me unimpressed.
Now for something borrowed. As a child, I never got around to seeing Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal (1982), so I borrowed from my childhood and finally fixed that. Sigh. As a kid, certain scenes would have scared the bejeezus out of me and I can appreciate Henson's efforts to take puppetry to the next level. But maybe you can just be too old to see something for the first time. I liked the level of detail, but I found the plot to be trite, predictable, and meh. And I hated that I found it to be so. I really, really wanted to love this movie, but alas - perhaps it was too late for me. Henson would go on to elevate puppetry in both Labyrinth and the TV series Farscape, so it's not that I dislike anything that isn't Muppet.
And last, the something blue. Living in small-town North Carolina, I am sometimes limited by what I can see locally. I greatly regret - and it makes me blue - that I missed Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's nowhere within an hour of me, but that's what DVDs and streaming services are for. Still, if you're interested in a quirky movie involving a hotel, please seek out John Madden's The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. You won't be disappointed.