It was by sheer chance that two of the three movies I saw over the weekend dealt with the English Romantic poets; poets whose verses awakened in my youthful soul, fantasies of the perfect love; love that remained for all eternity in full bloom! Part of the romance was anchored in the fact that three of the four major poets died young (Keats, Byron and Shelley) only Wordsworth was able to capitalize on his poetic gift until the ripe age of seventy: in 1850 seventy was considered ancient. With age I realize that their lasting endurance rests with their inimitable power to transform the banal into the celestial.
Jane Campion (The Piano) recreates the love story between John Keats and Fanny Brawne.
Oh, how I wanted to love this movie. It is beautiful and poetic to look at. Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw
are credible as the young and doomed lovers. But the passion was missing, only the pain was prevalent.
Pain had permeated Keats’s life; tuberculosis had robbed him of his mother and brother. At twenty he gave up a promising medical career to devote the rest of his life to poetry.
He meets the avant garde Fanny Brawne in 1818 and she becomes his muse, his bright star and the focal point of the movie. Their youth, their beauty and the magical verses titillate the mind, but only fractionally the soul and heart.
The real “thing of beauty” the brightest star was Edie Martin, playing “Toots”, Fanny’s younger sister. The screen pulsates with her shining presence and fades with her absence. Definitely a force to watch.
Without disclosing too much of the story, Fanny Brawne, married, had three children and died at sixty-five.
She had saved all of Keats’s letters (none of hers survived); they were discovered by her children after her death.
Almost two hundred years later…………
A fascinating film based on the novel by J. M. Coetzee (1999 Booker Prize winner); depicting post apartheid South Africa. John Malkovich portrays David Luri, a scholar and teacher of Romantic poetry; Lord Byron (not Keats) being his favorite; he secretely identifies with this gorgeous lover and conqueror of the female masses. But unlike Byron he has to purchase or intimidate his conquests, ultimately leading to his disgrace.
This movie is rich on so many levels. Malkovich, never better, paints a portrait of loneliness that was palatable. He moves in with his daughter, Lucy (Jessica Hains) on an isolated farm hours from civilization;
it is here that he commences shedding his illusions, his elitism and dealing with a woman as strong and as determined as any man. We watch as David and Lucy are changed irrecoverably by events that no one is ever prepared for. Out of the detritus emerge two people who chose divergent paths in coping with the aftermath. Slowly the boundaries between man and beast are eliminated; herein lies the success of this
quietly spectacular film. Four and 1/2 Stars!
If I have a weakness or a bias it is for foreign films; especially French and Italian. Maybe it is because, not only do we have to see, but have to read what is transpiring on the screen hence our concentrative powers go into high gear.
There is no city that looks better than Paris and it glows in this film.
A simple story revolving around the ubiquitous themes of life, death, love and relationships. Starring Juliette Binoche as Elise and Romain Durais as Pierre (is there a French film without a Pierre?); a brother and sister facing life altering challenges.
The outstanding performance by Fabrice Luchini was the highlight; he performs a dance, so magnificent because of its unexpectedness (Tom Cruise in Risky (Frisky) Business and Hugh Grant in Love, Actually)
that we laugh with joy! His brother, played by Francois Cluzet (Tell No One) , a look alike for a young Dustin Hoffman, is predictably good.
Melanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds) whose beauty is so luminous, so breath taking, so commanding that all else fades when she graces the screen. She plays a small key role and her acting, if possible, transcends her luminosity. Three Stars!
It seems that in the world of film and the real world that relationships are consummated within minutes of meeting, oftentimes without exchanging names; whatever happened to dinner and a movie? Perished, along with the hula hoop in the middle of the last millennium!