Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Valentine's Edition, Pt. 2


It's Thursday, and that means it's time for the second entree in the Valentine's Edition of Thursday Movie Picks!  This week, for me, was the hardest so far of this year's themes to narrow down, as I had a slew of films I wanted to mention here.  For one reason or another, these three stood out to me (actually, they all stand out because of their tremendous Lead Actresses anchoring the films in such brilliantly complex ways) and so here we are with my picks for the week.  

Enjoy!

Love in the Afternoon (Billy Wilder, 1957)
By this time in her career, Audrey Hepburn was already an Oscar winner for her breakout role in Roman Holiday, but for me this is the moment where her star truly shines for the first time in her career (a career that I adore) and should have been the moment that Oscar knocked on her door because as the blossoming Ariane, Hepburn is spectacular.  She charms, delights and then ultimately crafts such texture around this young woman falling in love, finding her own and becoming a woman.  It's a shame her costar is as wooden as a 2x4.  How in the world can you be that stiff around such elegance? 

Limelight (Charlie Chaplin, 1952 1972)
The love that blossoms between the aged Calvero and the stunning Thereza is so beautiful to watch because it never once feels forced or disingenuous.  Thereza's adoration of her teacher, his strengths, modesty and talent is so obvious, but it is his inner person that draws her so close to him, even when he pushes her away (all for her benefit and happiness) that you can't help but break for them, ache for them and ultimately fall in love with them! 

The Reader (Stephen Daldry, 2008)
Ef you all, I love this movie.  I love this story.  I sob...SOB!!!  And yes, Hanna does some terrible things, not the least of which includes preying on a 15 year old boy and MURDERING a bunch of people, but her inner person is so conflicted and shocking human that you can't help (or at least I can't) help but sympathize with her and pray for her happiness, her peace.  Balk all you want, but I buy this love, start to finish.

26 comments:

  1. Oh I LOVE Limelight! I just saw it last year and it quickly became my favorite Chaplin film. It's so delicate with a gossamer glow.

    Audrey's wonderful in Love in the Afternoon but it's not one of my favorites of her films. A large part of that is Gary Cooper but I think he was as uncomfortable with the age as the rest of the world, it was his last real romantic lead.

    Sorry I didn't really care for The Reader, I didn't hate it but it didn't move me.

    I think like everyone my first thought was Harold & Maude which I expect to see all over the place so I purposely avoided it. These are what I came up with instead.

    Murphy’s Romance (1985)-In her early thirties divorcee Emma (Sally Field) and her young son are new in town where she is trying to make a go of a horse farm. Middle aged druggist Murphy (James Garner) takes a shine to her and tries to send business her way while slowly romancing her. Things are progressing nicely until Emma’s irresponsible but charming ex-husband turns up and tries to win her back. Complications ensue. Amiable, ambling comedy netted Garner a best actor Oscar nomination.

    Forty Carats (1973)-Fortyish Ann Stanley (Liv Ullman) has a brief fling with 20 something Peter Latham (Edward Albert) while on vacation in Greece. Returning to her New York home she runs into Peter again at a party and he wishes to pick up where they left off. Ann mindful of their age difference is leery. Peter however will not be put off. Somewhat stagy (it’s based on a play) but it’s nice to see Ullman loosen up and character actress Binnie Barnes is a hoot as her irrepressible Mom.

    Autumn Leaves (1956)-Lonely 50ish spinster Millie (Joan Crawford) meets equally lonely 30ish Army vet Burt (Cliff Robertson). Despite her initial reluctance they marry after a whirlwind courtship. One day Burt’s ex-wife and father show up telling Millie Burt is mentally ill and their presence does seem to spark a great deal of agitation in him. Millie, sensing there is more than meets the eye, attempts to help Burt and get to the bottom of the situation. With the high priestess of 50’s anguish in the lead you just know that will include much melodrama but the film does try and provide some insights into mental health issues. The title song is sung over the credits by Nat King Cole.

    Honorable mention-Leon: The Professional (1994)-When her entire family is murdered by an out of control DEA agent 12 year old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is reluctantly taken in by professional assassin Leon (Jean Reno). Hunted and sworn to vengeance they form an intense connection during which he teaches her his trade. Not so much a May/December romance as a tale of extreme emotions under extraordinary circumstances. Both leads give wonderfully nuanced performances.

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    1. My mind immediately went to Harold and Maude as well, but I used it last year for a similar type theme I think, so I decided against it.

      I can't believe I haven't seen any of your choices, sans your honorable mention (which I liked, didn't love).

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  2. I love The Reader too. I don't think it deserves a lot of the hate it gets. And Winslet SLAYED.

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  3. I hate all the hate thrown The Reader's way. It's very good, especially the performances. I haven't seen your other two (I KNOW I KNOW) but they are on my list, since I ADORE Audrey and Chaplin.

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    1. Loving this love for The Reader!

      See Limelight ASAP...such a brilliant film. Love in the Afternoon isn't a great 'film', but Audrey is divine!

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  4. I'm a big fan of The Reader, also. Fabulous film with an amazing turn by Winslet. To be honest, I didn't it was getting a bunch of hate until reading this post.

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    1. Oh, there are many in the cinephile community who loathe Winslet's win and consider it a lesser 'Oscar bait' performance, and they trash the film as being sub-par and tacky. I've read it all, but I strongly disagree.

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  5. Yahoo! We share Love In the Afternoon! This isn't my favourite Audrey Hepburn film but she really helps this film. I have never been a strong Gary Cooper fan because he always sounded a bit flat to me. To be fair, he felt very uncomfortable in this role and knew he was way too old for Hepburn. I am so glad you picked Limelight. It is such a beautiful film and sensitive romance. It is one of my favourite Chaplin films. I am with you on the Reader. I found this film very eloquent. You really want to dislike this woman for what she did yet, for some strange reason, you don't. I believe in the relationship as well and you wish she would have had an education because, then, maybe she would not have done what she did.

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    1. YAY!!! So happy to read positive feedback on these choices, and so much love for The Reader! Audrey makes up for so much in Love in the Afternoon...such a lived in and tender awakening of a performance.

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  6. I actually really like The Reader as well. Quite a powerful romance. I need to see more Chaplin, and Love in the Afternoon sounds great. I need to see more Wilder as well. The Apartment is one of my all-times.

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  7. Such good things in this list Fisti. I'd love to see Winslet do some more may-december films now that's she's officially in the cougar age group...I'm not far behind Kate!

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  8. I don't like The Reader, I found it to be boring and all Oscar-bait but... I did like seeing Kate Winslet naked.

    Limelight, definitely one of the best films ever. Best scene of that film is Chaplin and Keaton.

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    1. Winslet liked being naked for a spell, didn't she? Seth's song at the Oscars where he lists like all 50 times we've seen her boobs was pretty epic.

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  9. I loved The Reader as well. It doesn't deserve all the hate.

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  10. Why didn't I think of The Reader? Great pick!

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  11. Oooh I need to see Love in the Afternoon, is that Gary Cooper as her co-star? I haven't seen enough of his work to form an opinion on him but my fave of her co-star is always Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday :D

    I actually like The Reader, it moved me and Kate was exceptional (as she always is) as Hanna.

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    1. Yup, it's Cooper. He's kind of awful in the film (but I've only liked him...once...as an actor) but Hepburn is luminous!

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  12. I like The Reader too. What can I say, I LOVE morally ambiguous characters. Including fundamentally shitty characters with a deeply human side.

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  13. Fine picks all around, buddy. You know I dig the first two, and I've always been a fan of The Reader. My only distaste for it is that it robbed Christopher Nolan of his first Director Oscar nod.

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    1. I'll give you the Nolan debacle, since he really deserved the nom.

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