"I'll show you the life of the mind!"
I saw Barton Fink again this weekend. It's simultaneously one of the most difficult Coen brother's film and one of their best.
Barton Fink is an NYC playwright who gets pulled into writing Hollywood B movies and watches his life devolve into a semi-private purgatory. This movie has as many theories to explain it as it has symbols. Personally, I can never tell if this movie is complete genius or complete trash but I love it.
It's reported that the Coen brothers wrote this movie revolving around writer's block after suffering from writer's block while writing Miller's Crossing.
Fantastic cast, crazy script, great acting. It's definitely worth watching.
A Week in Japan
It's not often that a completely deadpan expression is one of the most satisfying parts of a movie, but Bill Murray's face in Lost in Translation definitely hit the spot. He plays an American actor spending a week in Japan to shoot a whiskey commercial and get away from his family for a little while. His counterpart is another American played by Scarlett Johansson, who seems to have been auditioned primarily for her skill in hanging around a hotel room in her underwear, though I'm sure she exhibits many other fine qualities as well. She's the wife of a photographer on a business trip, and mopes around while he's off working all the time. Staying at the same hotel, the two form a sort of comfort relationship that seemed too gentle for the word "affair" but still wasn't something they should go off and tell their spouses about.
This movie isn't really plot-oriented in the usual way, but it's interesting for other reasons. It's more like a little window showing one episode in these people's lives, rather than a complete entity in its own right. The American-Japanese culture clashes are amusing, though not played up as much as one might expect from the title. The visual images of Tokyo were also fascinating. Overall, I wasn't completely sold on the movie, but it was still pretty enjoyable. So readers should accept my conditional recommendation based on their own individual tastes.
The Age of Beauty!
On iTunes: The Santa Fe Sessions
(so I was feeling LiveJournalish... bleck.)
Belle Époque was, in short, outstanding, and eternal thanks go to Bizby Wetherdeal for the recommendation. Honestly, can you imagine a better way for a hopeless romantic like myself to have capped off a Valentine-less weekend? Dig this!"Handsome young soldier Fernando deserts from the army during the Spanish Civil War and befriends a free-thinking artist. But when he meets his new friend's four daughters, he finds himself in a romantic dilemma -- which woman should he romance? In a neat twist, the women do the deciding, as each in her turn tries to seduce him. Penelope Cruz co-stars in this passionately comic romp."Since I've yet to start Homage to Catalonia, this film seemed a good place to start. First, it's en Español, which was bueno for mi práctica. Second, Penélope Cruz makes her fourth-ever screen appearance and oh, she's adorable. Third, it stars Maribel Verdú, whom we all know quite well from Y Tu Mamá También...
The interplay between young, seminarian Fernando and Don Manolo, eccentric 70-something painter and father of the 4 beauties, intrigued me most of all. "I knew he'd miss the train once he caught a whiff of my daughters," Manolo says offhandedly. Purist Fernando decides he's in love with each of them, one after the other, following their consecutive affairs. And for this reason he feels compelled to inform Don Manolo each time! Were I Fernando, I would have eloped with any of them, but Don Manolo practically expected and even accepted the debauchery. This, my friends, is elderly wisdom personified. ¡Viva España!
In conclusion, toss Belle Époque in your Netflix queues for the next time an "I'm feeling like an Iberian romantic comedy" mood strikes- you won't regret it!
Baked goods and growing things
Bread and Tulips was probably my best result ever for seeing a completely random movie. I knew nothing about it before I saw it, hadn't even seen so much as a preview, and I ended up loving it. Pane e Tulipani is the actual title, and it won nine of Italy's Donatello Awards in 2000. It's a romantic comedy about Rosalba, an unhappy Italian housewife (Licia Maglietta) who is on vacation with her family when she accidentally gets left behind by a tour bus. Dutifully making her way home, she decides on a whim to visit Venice. Her stay there gets gradually drawn out as she finds friends, an apartment and a job, all the while discovering her own independence and her identity apart from her family. The cast of characters is delightful. A neighbor is a holistic beautician and masseuse, and the florist is an anarchist with strong floral opinions. The bumbling amateur detective is actually a plumber, but reads a lot of mystery novels. A sweet but suicidal Icelandic waiter provides some nicely understated romantic interest, and the Icelandic quirks of his Italian translate into some surprisingly amusing English subtitles. All are played beautifully, making real characters out of what could easily have become caricatures.
One extra thing that really sold me on this movie was that Maglietta actually does her own accordion playing in a couple scenes. As a musician, I really appreciate seeing that. The music in general for the movie is good, but I especially liked the chromatic, G minor waltz that she first plays on the accordion. Absolutely gorgeous.
Overall: a beautiful movie about striking out on your own and learning self-reliance, with some good humor and music thrown in. Definitely recommended.