Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! There are some very tasty selections this week. Hoping you find something that interests you.
Everlasting Moments (2008) Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick (original title) Criterion Collection spine #520
Starring: Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen, Callin Öhrvall, Nellie Almgren, Birte Heribertson, Ghita Nørby, Amanda Ooms, Emil Jensen, Claire Wikholm, Ann Petrén, Antti Reini, Annika Lundgren, Maria Lundqvist, and many others.
Director: Jan Troell
Genres: drama, history
Synopsis: excellent synopsis by IFC Films:
Sweden, early 1900s – an era of social change and unrest, war and poverty. A young working class woman, Maria, wins a camera in a lottery. The camera grants her the eyes to view the world, and empowers her over several decades to raise and nurture her family of six children and an alcoholic, womanizing and sometimes violent, although ultimately loving, husband.
The main characters of husband and wife Maria and Sigfrid (played by Heiskanen and Persbrandt) and Sebastian Pederson (played by Christensen,) the small camera shop owner, give three powerhouse performances. The story is a non-traditional love triangle, where the triangle is between Maria, Sigfrid, and Maria’s photography.
Impressions: Watching the interview with the director afterwards, I learned that he pretty much lets the actors go free with their interpretation of the characters with their subtle nuances. Of course casting the right people for the roles allows it to work. The story is compelling with these three larger-than-life performances. How the intimate human connections between Maria and Sigfrid play out are riveting. How Maria builds a fragile connection with Mr. Pederson at the photography shop is exquisite. How Maria parents her children is memorable.
The actors do honor those hard-working individuals who are usually regarded as expendable castaways in society: the mother/housewife and the common laborer whose strength and stamina make the elite very wealthy.
I love the meticulous detail that went into the film. There were sets of actors for each age level of the 6 children. What elevates a movie from great to superior are the small details and a cultivation of some aspect of humanity. The director outdoes himself in showing how Maria uses her camera lens to hone in on those aspects.
Etc.: filmed in 4 locations in Sweden and 1 location in Lithuania; in Swedish and Finnish language with English subtitles; excellent interview with author on special features disc; also per other interviews on the disc, Maria is based on actual person.
Awards: 8 wins and 16 nominations
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
Starring: Peter Frampton, Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Frankie Howerd, Paul Nicholas, Donald Pleasence, Sandy Farina, Dianne Steinberg, Steve Martin, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Earth Wind & Fire, Billy Preston, Stargard, George Burns, and many others.
Director: Michael Schultz
Genres: adventure, comedy, musical
Synopsis: A plot is created around The Beatles’ album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” with Peter Frampton in the main role of Billy Shears. Billy and his 3 buddies, Mark, Dave, and Bob Henderson (played by The Bee Gees) are the rest of the band playing in a small town. They strike it big and leave for the big city, stars in their eyes. Billy leaves his sweetheart, Strawberry Fields (played by Farina) behind. The band faces all kinds of temptations like drugs and gorgeous females. One alluring babe, Lucy (played by Steinberg,) the minion of the big producer (played by Donald Pleasance) has Billy straying from his sweet Strawberry. The band is pulled on a wacky adventure and comes across very dangerous villains along the way. Throughout the movie the songs from Sgt. Pepper and several other Beatles albums are sung.
Impressions: It’s a rather hokey production but I like it anyway. It’s great to see all of the many familiar celebrity faces young again singing the well-known Beatles tunes. There are some sci-fi props and psychedelia in here as well.
Etc.: from imdb: John, Paul, George (yes those 3 John, Paul, and George) and George Martin are listed in the Music Department credits; filmed in 5 locations in California; Alice Cooper checked himself into a New York City rehab facility (which he quickly discovered was more of a mental asylum) for alcoholism. He was granted a temporary leave for three days (November 18 to 20, 1977) to record his vocals and shoot his scenes for the film. Three songs from the soundtrack charted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. Earth Wind & Fire’s version of “Got to Get You Into My Life” charted the highest, at number nine. Robin Gibb’s solo performance of “Oh Darlin’” reached number 15. Aerosmith’s version of “Come Together” reached number 23.
Awards: 2 nominations
For the finale of the film, it was decided that they’d assemble an enormous roster of celebrities to sing the reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Formal invitations were engraved and sent to virtually everyone in the entertainment industry. The many who RSVP’d were treated to first-class transportation to Los Angeles, limos, luxurious hotels, champagne, a lavishly catered dinner, and private tents for each of the stars in the studio’s garden room.
The Father (2020)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman, Mark Gatiss, Olivia Williams, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Ayesha Dharker, Roman Zeller, and some others.
Director: Florian Zeller
Synopsis: Anthony (played by Hopkins) is an older man living in a posh apartment. One of his daughters, Anne (played by Coleman,) visits regularly and generally looks after him as the story begins. It doesn’t take long to realize something is amiss. Without giving too many clues, you realize that Anthony is disoriented and beginning to lose his grip on reality. Or is he? As things proceed, the surroundings begin to change and things get disordered.
Impressions: I know the director thought he was being slick by putting the movie together from the perspective of the person with dementia, but with no relief throughout, it became a wearying grind of a movie. The director may have chosen to force feed his audience relentless discomfort, anguish, and other uncomfortable feelings to observe to teach the viewers this is what it’s like to suffer with dementia, but I didn’t sign on for that. I watched until the end but that was against my better judgement. The cast is top-rate, every one, but even they couldn’t save this piece of garbage. The only ones who might appreciate this film are those who are struggling with loved ones with dementia; but they probably have enough to deal with with their own emotions without having to take on guilt for not understanding the dementia patient.
Etc.: filmed in London; from imdb: Writer/director Florian Zeller is a playwright from France, who adapted his acclaimed play Le Père from 2012 into this film, which became his feature film directorial debut.
Awards: 26 wins and 135 nominations
The Strong Ones (2019) Los Fuertes (original title)
Starring: Samuel González, Antonio Altamirano, Marcela Salinas, Rafael Contreras, Nicolás Corales, Luis Montoya
Director and Writer: Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo
Genres: drama, romance
Synopsis: Lucas (played by Gonzalez) is an academic who has just received a scholarship to a university in Canada and decides to spend the summer in the small village of Niebla with his sister, Catalina (played by Salinas) and her husband, Martin (played by Contreras) before going. He soon meets the dashing Antonio (played by Altamirano) who works as a boatswain for an employer but dreams of owning his own fishing boat some day. The two spend the summer falling deeply in love with each other. When fall comes and Lucas asks Antonio to come with him to Canada – and Antonio asks Lucas to stay – it sets up an impossible dilemma.
Impressions: I fell in love with the location of this movie, a small fishing village with the most gorgeous terrain around the water. The people in the village are low-key and comfortable with each other for the most part (of course intolerance is everywhere!) The love story is beautiful and normalized which so often isn’t how it is presented in the movies. Very beautifully filmed!
Etc.: made in Chile, Spanish language with English subtitles; LGBTQIA+ friendly; This is the first full-length film for Omar Zuñiga as a director; some scenes of sexual acts, tastefully done
Awards: 8 wins and 3 nominations
Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)
Starring: Dearbhla Molloy, Don Wycherley, Clare Barrett, Darragh O’Kane, Abigail Coburn, Anna Weekes, Emily Blunt, Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken, Barry McGovern, Lydia McGuinness, Tony Reidy, Des Cafferty, Dan Delany, Michael McCormack, Jon Tenney, Tommy O’Neill, Jon Hamm, Rosemary Muldoon, Paige Bestington, Danielle Ryan, Elena Tully, and Martin F Ward.
Director and Writer: John Patrick Shanley
Genres: romance, drama, comedy
Synopsis: Rosemary (played by Blunt) and Anthony (played by Dornan) have known each other since they were kids as their family farms rest side by side. They are adults now and are both still single; she because she’s still hopelessly in love with Anthony but also very patient, and he because he’s a shy oddball who is oblivious to her feelings for him. The action gets set in motion when Anthony’s dad, Tony (played well by Walken even if with not the greatest Irish accent,) who is getting up there in years, tells his son he’s planning on giving the farm to his cousin, Adam (played by Hamm) who lives in New York City because he wants the legacy of their family farm to continue. It becomes a cat and mouse game between Rosemary, who is determined that Anthony will come to his senses and realize he loves her too; and Anthony, who is strange and clueless and fearful as he’s sure if Rosemary gets to know the real him she will run in the opposite direction.
Impressions: I fell in love with this beautiful story that is filmed in a beautiful place. The characters and their fears and loves feel so genuine, it hurts to watch it unfold at times. I love Blunt as an actress; she’s a class act. Dornan is so much better suited to the awkward Anthony than as Mr. Gray from 50 Shades. He’s gentle, he’s handsome, and he’s so frustrating in his cluelessness here. The support cast is superb, and Jon Hamm as the slick New Yorker, Cousin Adam, adds just the right spice to the stew. It doesn’t list it as a comedy in the genres at imdb, but I see it as having many humorous elements. Being a goodly portion Irish, I recognized some of the characters’ ways of thinking and behaviors in myself.
Etc.: filmed in Crossmolina, Mayo, Ireland. The film is an adaptation of the play “Outside Mullingar” by John Patrick Shanley, which ran on Broadway in 2014.
Awards: 5 nominations