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Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 8

This week’s picks include classics and cult faves. There’s only one foreign film in the bunch for a change of pace. Two of the films come from the same director, though one is a frightening drama and the other is a sci-fi. There’s a screwball detective comedy and a Spanish psychopath on the Amazon drama. It’s heavy on the 30s and the 70s.

 

The films are: Aguirre Wrath of God, It Happened One Night, Don’t Look Now, Notorious, Fight Club, The Thin Man, The Man Who Fell to Earth

 

Review: Enola Holmes

Raise your hand if you knew legendary fictional detective Sherlock Holmes had a sister? I didn’t. But then again, I grew up in the Nancy Drew era. I wasn’t aware of the emergence of the Nancy Springer young adult book series “The Enola Holmes Mysteries,” starting with “The Case of the Missing Marquess” (2006). Those books, and the Enola Holmes movie, honor the Sherlock Holmes canon (launched by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887) while offering up a fresh, female perspective designed to inspire and empower girls and young women. Now let me clue you in:

Review: Ocean’s 8

As expected, Ocean’s 8 is Ocean’s Eleven – with women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ocean’s Eleven was a smart and entertaining heist flick with a strong ensemble cast. Ocean’s 8 is too, though we have seen it all before. It doesn’t quite measure up to the 2001 Clooney classic, which was a remake of a 1960 Sinatra classic. But it’s a fun escape with a talented, diverse group of ladies (skewing a bit younger than the recent all-star female cast in Book Club).

Cinderella

“Have courage, and be kind” and you might (spoiler alert!) live happily ever after. That’s the gist of this perfectly pleasant, Disney-meets-Downton adaptation of the fairy-tale classic, directed by Kenneth Branagh. I suppose if Hollywood can keep re-making Spiderman, then Cinderella might as well pop into the picture every couple of decades as well. Even if it’s not exactly necessary. For fans of the musical versions, be advised that this one has little more than the occasional bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. But what it lacks in music and drama (most people are familiar with the key plot points), it makes up for in message. That would be the aforementioned “have courage, and be kind.”

Les Misérables

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Les Misérables ever since I saw the show on Broadway circa 1987. And again in London. And Chicago. And Atlanta. So to say I was looking forward to a big-screen version starring one of my favorite performers, Hugh Jackman, would be a major understatement. In other words, I was an easy sell on this one. It may not be the greatest movie musical of all time, but it is the best in recent memory, despite a few flaws in casting (more on that in a moment).

The Les Miz story, based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, is a long one, but here’s the gist: It’s the early 1800s in France and a prisoner named Jean Valjean (aka “24601”) is finally being released on parole after 19 years. His crime: stealing a loaf of bread for starving relatives and then trying to escape.

Dark Shadows

I remember all too well running home from school to catch Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in the original vampire soap Dark Shadows. All my girl friends and I had a thing for him, the Edward or Jacob (or Lestat or Angel or Bill…) of our era. That he was not really handsome in any sense is beside the point. There was something very attractive, dare I say sexy, about that immortal blood sucker. So having Johnny Depp (who I’d pay to watch reading a phone book) play Barnabas in this new Tim Burton version should make it even better, right?

The King’s Speech

Last year, Colin Firth blew me away with A Single Man. This year, he’s done it again, with The King’s Speech. This guy can act. He says as much – if not more- with his silences as he does with his words. And he makes for a mighty fine king.

Alice in Wonderland

With his Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton is back with a film that may look in some ways like one of his others but in a lot of ways is a different animal. Mia Wasikowska (In Treatment, Amelia) plays 19 year old Alice, a young woman who has always had vivid dreams and is being shoved into marrying to a total prig. She falls down the infamous rabbit hole while running away from her “engagement party” to think about her options. And once down in this strange world, she encounters all the usual suspects, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp with a strange lisp), Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, etc.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

At two hours and thirty-three minutes in running length, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince could easily grow tiresome. But somehow, I was surprised when it ended. That is not entirely a compliment to the filmmakers. The movie ends very abruptly. Sure, it is a cliff-hanger, setting up the next installment, but the way the final scene is directed is both extremely awkward and terribly unsatisfying.