Alice in Movieland

{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 15, 2010}   Mesmer (1994)

So I continued jumping around through Alan Rickman‘s filmography and landed on Mesmer. … Good enough entertainment, I suppose, considering I didn’t have anything else to do that day but watch movies, but it was very slow-paced and … boring, really (aside from the pleasure of listening to Rickman’s voice). You can decide for youself (the entire movie’s on YouTube here), but I’m going to move on. He does have long hair in this one. That was interesting.

Plot Synopsis (taken from In 18th century Vienna, middle-aged Dr. Mesmer believes that he can cure physical and mental diseases by manipulating a force within the body that he calls “animal magnetism.” The only patients who seem to respond to his treatments, however, are troubled young women who react ecstatically to his caressing therapeutic touch. He makes particularly good progress with a blind teenager whose sessions with Mesmer provide her with a means of escape from her father, who’s been raping her. At one point the girl hits her head, and regains her sight; Mesmer takes the credit, and they seem about to embark on an affair. However, Mesmer’s jealous wife and the medical authorities conspire to have him exiled from Vienna. He relocates to Paris and becomes a deliberate quack, exploiting his magnetic therapy methods to provide bizarre entertainment for fashionable court ladies. His French medical colleagues hold a hearing against him, calling in his former patient, who is now blind again, to testify against him. At the last moment, an approaching mob of revolutionaries forces the doctors to scatter in panic, leaving Mesmer alone with the girl. She accuses him of abandoning her. Sadly, he tries to explain himself.

{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}   Close My Eyes (1991)

If I was uncomfortable mentioning the inappropriate segments in John Gissing, it’s a wonder I review this movie at all. This is where I began questioning if I was just watching all the wrong movies or if I had seriously misjudged Alan Rickman. …or if, perhaps, the British film industry was just okay with a vast deal more sexual content than I am used to. I try not to be a prude… The tagline is “There Are Some Relationships So Taboo, They’re Irresistible.” Okay, that’s intriguing, I’ll give you. RUN AWAY!!!! Rickman plays a man named Sinclair… The movie is about the affair and sexual escapades of his wife with her brother!!!! Not with *his* brother. No, no, that would have been a welcome dose of *normal* perversion. No, they ramped up the aberration to the extreme, well beyond anything that had ever crossed my mind as acceptable movie material. She’s sleeping with *her own* brother. Gag me, the review’s over! Someone close MY eyes.

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):

{January 11, 2010}   Nobel Son (2007)

So, for a completely different side of Alan Rickman… Not that you *wanted* to imagine the total opposite of Colonel Brandon, but I found it.

Short story: The best parts, and even they’re a stretch, were mashed together into a mildly entertaining preview, which I will not show you because it would be wrong to lure anyone into watching this movie.

Is my watch broken? Shouldn't this movie be over by now??

Long story: Rickman plays Dr. Eli Michaelson, professor of Chemistry, arrogant genius, rude chauvinist, perverted prick. I think that covers all the bases. First time we see him, he’s shagging a student. Moments later, we find that his monstrous ego *can* get worse as it swells to gargantuan proportions when he learns that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize. Enter: Hideous Jerk. So he, his wife Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), and son Barkley are all to fly out to receive the award and all the fancy perks and parties that go with it, but when it’s time to leave for the airport, Barkley’s nowhere to be found. Patient man that he is, Eli refuses to wait for him and they leave without him. When they get the call that he’s been kidnapped, Eli assumes it’s his son’s idea of a prank and hangs up on the kidnapper. It takes getting a severed thumb in the mail to catch his attention. However, when Sarah delivers the $2,000,000 ransom from the Nobel prize money, we find Barkley in league with his kidnapper, who incidentally claims to be his half-brother Thaddeus. Things get complicated (as though they weren’t already) when, instead of never seeing each other again after the con, Thaddeus rents the apartment over the Michaelsons’ garage and endears himself to Eli as the-son-who-would-follow-in-his-footsteps that Barkley never was. At this point, however, my brain was aching with boredom, so when the plot further raveled, my eyes continued watching but all I remember seeing is “Are we there yet??????” This movie’s only saving graces are Rickman’s voice and the pleasure of seeing Bill Pullman and Danny DeVito in supporting roles. (Eliza Dushku has a notable part as a fairly obvious mental case.) Other than that, I want to gauge my eyes out in an attempt to reclaim those 102 minutes of my life and hope that the 2 and a half minutes that you’ve wasted reading this review give you just enough of a hint that you steer clear. Save yourself. Do NOT watch this movie.

Just to demonstrate I’m not alone: Nobel Son (2008)Nobel Son Review, and Nobel Son Movie Review. I’ll not shame Wiki and IMDb by linking them.

{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