Love and Friendship

Currently browsing posts by Jill Boniske.

Genius

Growing up in small town Asheville, North Carolina, we didn’t have many famous people we could claim. But the great writer Thomas Wolfe was ours. So when they made a movie about him, we had to see it. Genius isn’t just about Wolfe (Jude Law) though. Adapted from “Max Perkins: Editor of Genius” by A. Scott Berg, the film looks at Wolfe’s relationship with Perkins (Colin Firth), the editor who had an out-sized role in crafting his masterpieces and was his closest friend. Given the subject matter, the film should have been a lot better.

Marguerite

Every few years two movies come out about the same subject at the same time, and one is lauded, while the other is overlooked. I hope that doesn’t happen with Marguerite, a truly wonderful French film “inspired by” the story of tone-deaf but passionate opera diva wannabe Florence Foster Jenkins. An American film starring Meryl Streep will be covering her story again in a few months time. But it is hard to believe that Meryl can top Catherine Frot’s performance, though if anyone can… And what a character she is! In the French version, she is known as Baroness Marguerite Dumont and she is heart-breakingly delightful!

Love and Friendship

When you think of Jane Austen, you think of young women in dire straights IF they don’t marry well. You think of a constrained society and English estates where the rich lord it over those who may have come down in the world. Whit Stillman’s take on Austen’s unpublished novella “Lady Susan” that was written when she was just 14-years-old turns the usual Austen genteel society on its head. Love and Friendship‘s protagonist is a beautiful young widow who isn’t the least bit interested in following the dictates of the day and is happy to play her many suitors to her advantage. Played with deep dark humor by Kate Beckinsale, Lady Susan Vernon may be lacking in funds, but she more than makes up for it with her cunning and wit. She’s determined to land herself a rich husband and one for her daughter, too. In any other Austen novel, she’d be the one who is destined to fail, because she is so transparently gold-digging, but here she cannot lose.

The Lobster

Without doubt, The Lobster is one of the most unconventional love stories I’ve seen. The film stars Colin Farrell as David, a recently dumped man in an alternate world where single people are not tolerated. So he must check into a somewhat creepy hotel where he has 45 days to find a new love or be turned into the animal of his choice. Yes, he chooses a lobster.

Hockney

David Hockney has to be one of the most famous living artists. His work is in every major modern art museum and verging on 80 he is still going strong, having embraced the iPad as a new medium for his vast body of work. This latest documentary about him (there have been several others) takes an exhaustive look at his life and work, but failed to pull me in. And at nearly two hours I think the filmmaker included a lot of footage that could easily have been left out and made a more focused film.

Eye in the Sky

I’d have gone to see this flim if only to see Alan Rickman for one last time, but fortunately it is an incredibly well done political thriller that forces the audience to ask some very hard questions about modern warfare. Headlining the wonderful ensemble cast is Helen Mirren playing Colonel Katherine Powell, a British officer on the trail of some of the world’s leading terrorists. Having found three of them in Kenya, she is leading a team of remote surveillance operatives around the world to track and capture them. The film cuts between her team in England, an American drone team near Las Vegas, the group that has the final say at Whitehall in London, and the people on the ground in Nairobi whose lives are on the line, including a Kenyan operative (Barkhad Abdi of Captain Phillips) who goes undercover in a very dangerous neighborhood. But when the mission changes from capture to kill, and a sweet little girl we’ve met in the opening scene is about to become “collateral damage”, not everyone is on board with the military leaders.

Creative Control

Before going to this film, you might want to look up augmented reality (AR). Yes, it’s a thing. Instead of virtual reality, which is entirely created in a computer, AR takes the real world and adds all kinds of digital visuals and sounds to make something new and, one might hope, better. Creative Control is about an ad executive in the very near future who is tasked with designing a campaign for a high-end AR company called Augmenta. To understand them better, he wears their glasses around for a while and experiments with all the bells and whistles and starts to lose track of the borders between his real and augmented lives.

The Lady in the Van

Are you having Maggie Smith withdrawal now that Downton Abbey has ended? Never fear! She’s starring in a quirky little dramedy in theaters now (though it won’t lose anything going to the small screen.) In The Lady in the Van she plays a character as far removed from Violet Crawley, Countess of Grantham as one could imagine, but somehow there is still a haughty dowager quality to her homeless Miss Shepherd. She is Dame Maggie, after all. Set in 1974, the film is loosely based on the true story of a very damaged woman who took to living in her van following a traumatic accident and was canny enough to find a kind playwright who was willing to grant her access to his private off-street parking space and ultimately his life. Originally agreeing to a three week stay, she ended up there for 15 years, and the writer, Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys), turned that experience into a book about their unusual relationship, which he adapted first for the stage, then as a radio play, and now for this sweet, sad little film.

The Big Short

I’m behind on my Oscar nominees viewing, but I finally caught this one. I’d expected it to be more like Margin Call, but thankfully, though its subject matter is kind of similar, it is by turns funny and horrifying. Adapted from Michael Lewis’s non-fiction bestseller “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” it tells the story of how a small group of money men saw what was happening in the housing market in 2005 and set about shorting the market and making a killing. Along the way, they tried to wake banking regulators and the wider market to their realization that it was all about to go bust, but were totally ignored by those who were making money hand over fist on bad loans. It is a morality tale, very well told.

Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers are prolific filmmakers, but for me their films are hit or miss. I loved No Country for Old Men, and Fargo was amazing. But then there are those utterly forgettable flicks – The Lady Killers, or Burn After Reading. I’d put Hail, Caesar! somewhere in between. It’s plenty entertaining but it isn’t going on the shelf with The Big Lebowski. It’s a lovely walk around 50s era Hollywood with a star-studded cast having a lot of fun. And if for nothing else, you should see it for Channing Tatum’s dance number.