Saturday, June 9, 2012

Let's Go to the Movies!

New York has it all--shopping, theater, museums, night life, more types of cuisine than you can possibly imagine, and probably the best people watching in the world.  This trip, though, my focus was a bit different.  The purpose of my visit was to go to the Book Expo (more about that in later posts).  I came into town a few days before the Expo to hang out with my friend Andrea and decided that each day's activities should include going to the movies.  And so we did!  Back when we were fledgling lawyers, Andrea and I took a movie class at the New School that was taught by Richard Brown.  This was not a film class where you watched Ingmar Bergman movies and analyzed their deeper meaning.  No, it was a movie class.  We went to theaters early Saturday and Sunday mornings (often located in pre-Disneyized Times Square) and watched movies that would be released in the next few weeks.  We would then go to a "class" later in the week at which Brown would interview someone involved with the production of the film.  Sometimes it was a big name actor or a director.  (Andrea remembers Tom Hanks coming to the class when his movie Punchline came out, but my memory bank is running on empty on this one.)  Sometimes, though, it was the composer or the cinematographer or the costume designer, and we got a peek into an aspect of movie making that we often only recognize during the Academy Awards.  Two of my favorite movies from the class were Mystic Pizza (which introduced us to Julia Roberts and her incredible smile) and Cinema Paradiso (a fabulous Italian picture about the joy of the movies).   It was great fun, and one of the things I do miss about living in New York is easy access to both movie theaters and independent films.   This was the week-end's line up.

Moonrise Kingdom   (   Do not miss this Wes Anderson movie if you have the chance to see it.   It is quirky and funny and sweet and has an incredible cast that includes Bruce Willis as a small town sheriff, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray as parents of a troubled young girl, and Edward Norton as a Khaki Scout leader    The real star of the movie, though, is newcomer Jared Gilman as a rogue Khaki scout who escapes from scout camp to run away with his true love (played by Kara Hayward).   Honestly, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a movie so much.  

Bernie  (    This was an odd one. Funeral director Bernie Tiede (played by Jack Black) was the most popular man in town, especially with the older widows.   Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley MacLaine) was the most crotchety and disliked woman in town.   The movie tells the true story of their strange relationship through a series of interviews with people who knew them.  Spoiler alert:  Don't read any more here if you plan to see this movie!  Ultimately, Tiede snaps and kills Nugent, and the town's residents root for his acquittal.   The movie was funny and well done, but I can't say that I'd recommend paying $13 to go see it (which is the average price of a ticket to the movies here--I frankly expected it to be more!)

Where Do We Go Now? (   This Lebanese film was written and directed by Nadine Labaki, who is also one of its stars.  It is set in a small village that is half Muslim and half Christian.  The opening scene shows the women of the village dressed all in black walking in formation (with a bit of choreography) to the cemetery to tend to the graves of their husbands and sons and is quite haunting.   The residents generally live together peacefully, but political and social unrest and fighting outside the community threaten to incite the men to violence against one another.  The women conspire to pre-empt this by doing some pretty crazy things (like faking a miracle and importing Ukrainian exotic dancers) to keep the men's minds elsewhere.  It was an interesting movie, but I felt that Labaki wasn't sure what tone she wanted to strike.  I'd call it a "dramedy" but the emphasis was more on the comedic than the dramatic notwithstanding the subject matter.  And I definitely was puzzled by the inclusion of a few musical numbers in the movie (although I'll admit that I'm still humming one of the tunes!)  Wait for Netflix for this one.

The week-end flew by, and it was suddenly Monday morning and time to get ready for the main event--the Book Expo!   Watch this space for my report!

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