Alice in Movieland

{January 27, 2010}   Genova (2008)

Story of a father (Colin Firth) and his two daughters who move to Genova, Italy after his wife dies and how they each cope with their loss (seems he always plays someone who’s either been left or widowed, poor guy). It’s filmed in a very unusual way, at least compared to American films. Seems more like a documentary of their lives. It’s an okay movie, but there’s nothing in it that really stood out. The story’s good, it’s a quiet piece about grief, but I think they could have written it in a much more engaging style. Firth pointed out something in an interview, though, that I hadn’t thought of, that there are lots of shots of them going from place to place, room to room, and carrying on with the normal stuff of life and they did that to show that grief is dealt with in the context of having to continue one’s life. All in all, though, I felt as if I were seeing scenes and snippets in the family’s life, but not actually watching a movie. It didn’t help that there was no real ending. It just sort of curved it’s way through their lives for an hour or two and then… [end credits]. As one reviewer said, “everything remains unspoken, underdeveloped and annoyingly inconclusive.” Again, not a *bad* movie. Just not a very engaging one. I might watch it again in a few years and have a better appreciation for it.


{January 12, 2010}   An Awfully Big Adventure (1995)

I have to admit to liking this one despite the ending. Actually, despite the ending, it’s one of my favorite Alan Rickman movies to date (though, for certain reasons, I must leave the rating very harsh).

Set in 1947, it centers on the theatre company in Liverpool, England, which stage-struck 16-year-old Stella joins as an apprentice. Almost instantly, she falls for Meredith Potter (Hugh Grant), the company’s director, who is aware of her feelings and enjoys toying with her. The company rehearses and performs several plays, but when the lead actor breaks his leg, P. L. O’Hara (Alan Rickman) joins the cast to replace him. He’s dashing (yummy) and a legend on the repertory circuit, but immediately takes note of Stella, feeling he knows her somehow. They swiftly become **cough** involved, but Stella stays emotionally detached, viewing it as a chance to “practice,” still blindly in love with Meredith. O’Hara, on the other hand, *is* becoming attached. Sadly, though, he knows she’s only using him to become more experienced, as on one occasion she even calls out Meredith’s name as O’Hara makes love to her. After sex, he asks her, “Don’t you love me just a bit?” and she flatly states, “No. I love another.” When Stella later accuses him of being jealous and storms out, swearing never to return, he goes to visit her aunt and uncle (whom she’s lived with since her mother left her as an infant). When O’Hara asks about her mother, he accidentally discovers that she was his former lover… and realizes that Stella is his daughter. In a frenzy of confusion and emotion, he races to the docks (not sure why) and, in his hurry, slips on a wet patch, hits his head, is knocked unconscious,  falls into the water and drowns. … (I went slack-jawed) … When Stella hears the news, she is horrified, thinking he committed suicide because she left him. She never learns that it was an accident or that he was her father (sad, but probably for the best as that would have really warped her mind).

Yes, it’s a twisted, messed up ending, but so freaky, it’s hilarious. I HATE that he dies!! So tragic. Sooo messed up. So emotional. And I know the oedipal implications ought to be disturbing, but with Alan Rickman it’s just kinky. I think I need a cold shower.

ADDITIONALLY, we get to see him dressed as a pirate, Hook to be exact, as the company does Peter Pan. Very entertaining. Also fun to see Hugh Grant play a poof. He’s the perfect cad. That said, this movie has very deep characters and a second viewing (or 3rd, or 4th), gives one a better grasp of who they are as people and why they behave as they do. Another reason repeated viewing helps, or very close attention the first time, is that important bits of information are laced in very subtly and, if you aren’t listening, they’ll slip right by. This is going to be one of those stories that I go back and read the novel for in order to get an even more complete picture.

Final note: I found it intriguing that the title was actually taken from a line in Peter Pan: “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” Kinda puts a spin on things… What do you think they were trying to say?

I tried to post the trailer, but embedding was disabled, but you can watch it on YouTube, as well as the entire movie (note: part 7 isn’t broken – it just takes a full minute or so to start playing, presumably due to an error while it was being uploaded).


So, I needed something, ANYTHING, to sear Nobel Son from my memory. I found John Gissing. Alan Rickman plays the title character in this relatively amusing comedy. Americans Matthew Barnes (Mike Binder) and his wife Linda (Janeane Garofalo) land in London expecting to be picked up by a company man named Gissing. When he doesn’t come, they think it’s an innocent mistake. They don’t realized that he’s packed their itineraries full of “innocent mistakes.” Several irritating surprises later, it becomes clear that Gissing is out to get them. Turns out Barnes is slated to replace Gissing, so he’s been making their first days in the country as unpleasant as he can in hopes that they’ll leave. He almost succeeds. Linda is *not* happy. By the time a counter offense is waged, Barnes is on the brink of being transferred to Detroit. He’s running out of options. Is an alliance with Gissing the only way to save his job?

Definitely needs to be rated for adult subject matter, but if you can handle that and a night gown malfunction… eh… Also features Juliet Stevenson and Sonya Walger. Found on YouTube here.

And, because the music’s been stuck in my head (all the characters tap dance through the end credits):

et cetera