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Marriage Story (2019)
Kramer Versus Kramer Rehash
Just finished watching the highly acclaimed movie Marriage Story. Parts of it were painful as a divorced father. It shows us, if nothing else, that divorce should be a last resort and that the biggest winners are the lawyers. Acting kudos to Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and Laura Dern , though it was sad to see Alan Alda's Hand shake during one scene. My old Rutgers professor D Fuller use to joke that every movie is a remake. This was no exception. Though powerful, it was Kramer versus Kramer again with a slightly different spin, but without the humor required in such a heavy subject.
Love, Again (2015)
Sappy but Touching
Okay, sappy but still touching. It reaffirms the power of love and the strength of marriage within a lasting bond. Besides, Teri Polo is always a dream. The plot is simple, two people who have had a 25 year marriage have grown apart. They were once madly in love, but now they sleep in different bedrooms. They are considering divorce when their daughter comes home and announces her engagement. They return to their original place of marriage in Maine because the daughter wishes to emulate them by marrying there. Gradually, over a few days, they realize that they are still very much in love. This could be a Hallmark card for sure, but as someone who has just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary, I was moved.
Welcome to Sweden (2014)
Great New Comedy
I teach writing. I've written professional comedy, and I've been to Sweden many times. This is a great show. Granted it might be difficult for some who are not as familiar with Sweden, but it is very realistic. It might be hard for the average American to believe, but that's what Sweden is really like. Everyone does speak English there. It's a nice blend of zanier American humor combined with the subtleties of the dryer Swedish humor. We had a Swedish exchange student for a year then we visited her family in Sweden a number of times. They are a wonderful people, and I hope this comedy acquaints some Americans with Swedes and Sweden on some level. Nice job Greg!
North Dallas Forty (1979)
Better football through chemistry
"Better football through chemistry" is a line of Nick Nolte's as he's being shot up with painkillers before the big game. When I first saw this in 1979, I found it amusing; now I find it prophetic. Sure it has it's sexist moments, but those are mere reflections of the times. The theme is that of abuse. These are modern gladiators, and we watch this sport as did the Romans. It's our bread and games. The new findings that NFL teams sent injured players into games full of drugs gives this film new meaning. Head injuries now show concussions that were untreated, and old players now have addictions and crippling arthritis. This was an amusing movie in it's day, but it's not as funny anymore.
Goya's Ghosts (2006)
I would not have appreciated this film so much if I had not been to the Prado (Art Museum) in Madrid. Goya's paintings and drawings of the horrors of war, and the Inquisition, are vividly displayed there. The integration of Goya's art and vision within the film itself is masterful. Add to that excellent costumes, cinematography ,and direction by Milos Foreman; plus incredible pre Oscar performances by Bardem and Portman,and you have a masterpiece worthy of Goya himself. Historically accurate, with a few minor flaws, the film resonates within the soul of the viewer and stands along such great epics of injustice as Schindler's List, and The Pianist.
Gray Matters (2006)
On the surface this may seem frivolous, a light, somewhat implausible comedy with affable characters. A girl lives with her brother. She finds herself attracted to his fiancé,and irony ensues. It is, in that respect, a bit formulaic. However, Graham gives a very moving, underrated performance here. I considered myself liberal enough. I favored civil unions, but that was all. I succumbed to the generalization that it was a reasonable compromise. But, I watched a girl crying in an elevator, relating to her brother that she couldn't be GAY because she could never have a normal life. She could never marry. It changed my mind. That is a performance worthy of note.
Wuthering Heights (1939)
No one has ever said "Cathy!" like Olivier!
With Olivier, Oberon and Niven for stars, a Hecht/MacArthur screenplay and William Wyler direction; it would be hard to miss. Some scenes, however, are devastatingly powerful in there simplicity.When Heathcliff returns after a long absence he looks at Cathy and Linton and says " It occurs to me that I have not congratulated you upon your marriage (pause)I've often thought of it." Cathy's eyes drop. We all know what he was thinking of and so does Cathy. It needn't be said. The most understated(and perhaps finest) performance is given by Hugh Williams as Hinley. His portrayal of a man broken by inner weakness and failure, to me, has always been a film highlight. Add to this a score by Alfred Newman as haunting as the moors themselves and Wuthering Heights is forever in your heart.
The Road to Wellville (1994)
Very funny screwball comedy
I judge the worth of a movie by how many times I want to watch it and I never seem to get tired of this one. An outstanding cast coupled with a delightful mix of period and real history add to the enjoyment. In addition, the director has an excellent sense of timing, the movie is well costumed and the music often lends itself well to comic moments. Of course, an overwhelming element of sex adds to its irreverent charm. The leads read(pardon the cliché)like a who's who of fine acting. Anthony Hopkins, John Cusack, Mathew Broderick, Dana Carvey and Bridgette Fonda head an excellent cast of character actors. If you look closely, you might recognize one of the "cookoo cookoo" Pigeon sisters from the original Odd Couple playing John Cusack's aunt. If you have any more doubts just remember the words of Nurse Graves " An erection is a flagpole on your grave".