Alice in Movieland











{January 27, 2010}   Then She Found Me (2007)

This is the story of a woman named April (Helen Hunt). We’re immediately and without explanation thrown into her life. She’s having difficulty getting pregnant, but is very set against adopting, having been adopted herself and insisting that the bonding isn’t as strong as with biologically related parents and children. Very next scene: her husband (Matthew Broderick) is apologetically telling her that he’s leaving her, saying he made a mistake (assumably marrying her), but he hopes they can be friends. She kisses him and they have sex one last time on the kitchen floor (which, I have to tell you, was just gross, because, after his pathetic “I’m going to leave you” blah-blah, he’s a spineless, whimpy little twerp, and I’m like, “Ew, don’t sleep with the disgusting boy-man!!” Thoroughly repulsive and I feel violated even having to *watch* something that immature grope a woman. Seriously, he’s like prepubescent-nasty. How can you let that near you?) and then he leaves. Next scene: chaos at the elementary school where she’s a teacher, because her husband, who apparently used to work there too, has quit and all of his students are funneled into her classroom. Next scene: her adoptive mother’s funeral. NEXT scene: she receives news that her biological mother wants to contact/meet her for the first time. The effect: You’re left feeling like you’re being drug behind a car and you’re not even sure where it’s going. When we meet her mother (Bette Midler), oh maybe a minute later, she’s overwhelming. No other word for it. Simply overwhelming. WHY AM I WATCHING THIS MOVIE??? Oh, yeah. Colin Firth‘s in it. He plays Frank, the sleep-deprived father of one of her students whose wife conveniently also left him, aka, the romantic interest, though it’s somewhat unnerving how quickly said interest is developed. He is, of course, though, beautiful to behold and that makes up for a good deal of  the movie’s other failings. Almost… Anyway, insert attraction and complications and overbearing mother and slimey husband and a pregnancy and some scenes with a very hurt or angry Frank… and it just keeps going… The only part that resonates with me is the desperate sense of frustration when she’s trapped between two lives. Will she be able to be with Frank, who truly gets her, or is she stuck (by a formerly wanted pregnancy) with a poor excuse for a man? Just remember that we end up with a happy, albeit anticlimactic, ending in the end. That’s where you would put the happy ending, afterall, is at the end, but with this movie you’ve been wishing it would hurry up since you started watching and you weren’t quite sure you were going to make it all the way through. But did I mention Colin Firth’s in it?

Hunt directed as well as starred in this movie and perhaps that’s why it turns into something of a melodrama swirling around her character. A very dull, drawn out melodrama. Not the worst, but definitely one of the lower points of my Colin Firth fest.

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{January 15, 2010}   Truly Madly Deeply (1990)

I liked this movie. It has very sad overtones to it, but it makes you think, and that, more than being smashingly entertaining, is truly the mark of a good movie. I must say, though, this is my least favorite movie in terms of Rickman’s hair (and the mustache is just silly).

It’s starts off sometime shortly after Jamie’s (Alan Rickman) death. His girlfriend Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is having difficulty moving on. Anyone would. They had been so in love and his death was so unexpected and sudden. She sits at home, playing the piano, humming the cello part that he used to play. She doesn’t go out. She’s isolating herself. Not dealing with it very well at all. Then… one day he’s back. As a ghost, of course, but Nina’s ecstatic and for a little while they’re lost in their own little world as happy as they ever were. But eventually Nina has to go back to work. It’s not a dream world where you can just stay at home with your boyfriend’s ghost all the time, now is it? And Jamie starts bringing home some of his ghosty friends. They’re not scary or anything, but they’re *ghosts*, and they’re always there… and they’ve taken over her VCR… And Nina meets someone, Mark, who’s very much alive. Spending time with him, she’s refreshed. She slowly begins to realize that you can’t live life in the past, no matter how much you loved what or who you’ve lost. Jamie’s return helped her find the closure she needed to be able to move on. Mark is there to help her live.

I didn’t care much for the Mark character myself, but that’s probably out of jealousy for Jamie. The two men are so different… and, though I fing him a bit annoying, Mark (and how different he is from Jamie) seems to be exactly what Nina needs. She’s alive again, the way she used to be with Jamie.

I understand that this movie was written partly to showcase Juliet Stevenson in a way that she wasn’t able to be seen in other parts that she’d had. Thus, we see her playing piano and being quirky, as well as demonstrating that she’s not afraid to portray some very messy emotions (such as the scene with her therapist where she expresses how angry she is that Jamie died).

I’ve filed this one under my favorites because it *is* one of those movies that touches you and changes you just a bit. You might never have thought about the long-term realities and problems of having a loved one come back as a ghost (I’m being silly), or (to be serious) the fact that clinging to the past can keep you from living in the present. This movie presents this truth in a gentle and heartfelt manner while paying tribute to how very painful letting go and moving on can be. Very good. Very good.

Find it on YouTube here, or elsewhere here.

The poem scene:

“Forgive me, if you are not living, if you, beloved, my love, if you have died, all the leaves will fall on my breast, it will rain on my soul all night, all day, my feet will want to march to where you are sleeping, but I shall go on living.” [Pablo Neruda]

Alan Rickman talks about the movie’s writer and director, Anthony Minghella, after his death.



{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).

 



{January 11, 2010}   Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I started my adventure with Alan Rickman’s Sense and Sensibility. I call it Alan Rickman’s because it was his movies I continued following for the next week and a half (my entries here will follow suit).

The cast boasts several of my favorites: Alan Rickman *obviously* (Colonel Brandon), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars), and Emma Thompson (Elinor Dashwood), and I was delighted to see Gemma Jones and Hugh Laurie in supporting roles. Kate Winslet plays Marianne Dashwood and impressively portrays the younger sister’s passionate and impetuous temperment, as well as her prideful disdain for Elinor’s careful reserve and ponder-things-in-your-heart approach. I believe that pride is why Marianne is not my favorite of the two sisters. It is, however, this conflict in approach which the story centers upon.

From the beginning of the movie, Elinor is attracted to Edwards, but quietly treasures it away because she has no assurance of his returning the feeling. This appears to have been for the best when she meets a girl claiming to be his fiancée and must bear a broken heart in silence. Emma Thompson does a wonderful job of subtly showing the pain Elinor hides as she believes all hope is lost. Meanwhile, Marianne falls hard for Willoughby (played by Greg Wise) and hardly notices (though when she does notice, she looks down on) the more sedate Colonel Brandon. Brandon’s love, however, though restrained, never fades. Difficulties trouble both women, but by the end of the movie, Elinor is able to open up and share her emotions and Marianne has learned the wisdom of not letting her emotions carry her away.

In addition to playing the part of Elinor, Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay. She did a wonderful job of preserving the spirit of the book while freshening it for modern viewers. Most notably, she  added the scene where Marianne is standing in the rain, looking over to Willoughby’s estate on the far hill, repeating his name and the sonnet they had shared, and then is carried back by Colonel Brandon. The addition of this scene is brilliant because 1) it parallels her having been carried home in the rain by Willoughby earlier and 2) the sonnet she is whispering about her love for Willoughby (“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no, it is an ever-fixèd mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken”) is seen to perfectly describe Colonel Brandon’s love for her.

This is the performance in which Alan Rickman stole my heart. One of my favorite movies. Cemented my love of Austen and period romances. I consider it a must-have for any woman’s movie collection, though the entire thing can be found on YouTube here. I’ve embedded the trailer below and, further down, there’s a clip of Alan Rickman discussing what it was like working with Taiwanese Ang Lee as the director, as well as a deleted last scene.

Sites for more Sense and Sensibility info and reviews:

Additionally, there’s a clip of Ang Lee discussing the movie himself, but you have to go to YouTube to watch it because embedding was disabled.

And lastly, a scene they deleted from the end of the movie:



et cetera