Friday, August 03, 2012

Thoughts on some movies & a series (no astrology today).

TV programmes become progressively more unwatchable during the summer. TV powers that be are under the impression that the Great Unwashed are out and about being summery, out of range of the goggle-box; or, this summer especially they assume viewers are interested only in coverage of The Games. So they drag out repeats of what was unwatchable even first time around. As I've whined already in these posts, summer weather in Oklahoma does not make yours truly feel summery. The last few days have seen temperatures here rise to previously rare levels even for southern Oklahoma: 112F in the afternoons.....44.44 C. Yesterday we received a phone call from the electricity supplier telling us that demand is astronomical, higher than it has ever been, and asking consumers to avoid using air conditioning, if possible, between 2 and 8 PM. That'll be hard !

At these times, more than ever, we fall back on our stash of junk store DVDs and VHS tapes, along with a smattering of rentals. A few thoughts on some we've seen recently:

The Iron Lady(2011) : The Margaret Thatcher story. I'd sworn I wouldn't, but curiosity overcame me. The film turned out to be a fairer assessment than I'd suspected. I had to yell at the TV only twice! Ms Streep's performance nothing short of....and here the word is appropriate - awesome!

Perfect Sense(2011) - This is an indie movie, shown at Sundance I think. Not recommended for nervous types or worry-warts. In a nutshell a virus (or something) attacks human sensory perception world-wide, though the scene of the movie is Glasgow, Scotland. First people lose sense of smell, then taste, then hearing....and onward. A chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) are our points of focus on how "life can go on" in spite of everything. Probably the most depressing movie I've ever watched all the way through. Upside: it does jolt the viewer into celebrating humans' wondrous, when working, senses.

Critical Care (1997) Directed by Sidney Lumet starring James Spader and Helen Mirren, this movie has become even more relevant in 2012 than it probably seemed to be in 1997. A young-ish James Spader, towards the end of the movie, gives a very good diatribe about hospitals, health insurance and the murky things going on beihind scenes. The speech is almost a limbering-up for him, for the many rousing speeches he gave in Boston Legal, later on.

Swept From the Sea (1997) - Chick-flicky on the surface, set in the 19th century, a love story, between a young Russian man who, with a shipload of his fellow-countrymen, was en route to a new life in America when the vessel was destroyed in a violent storm. He, Yanko, was the only survivor, washed up near a Cornish village in a remote corner of south-western England. Villagers were afraid of him, but a young woman, Amy, something of an outcast herself, takes pity on him, helps him and they fall in love. What struck me most was how the attitudes of distrust and ridicule, mushrooming into actual hatred and violence isn't much changed from the late 1800s to today, in both the UK and the USA and probably all over the world. Human nature doesn't change at its root; sadly it never will.

Kathy Bates plays a nice character part of one of the village's more enlightened inhabitants. Leads are Vincent Perez and Rachel Weisz.

We've finished the first season of The West Wing it was first aired in 1999; and now we're well into Season 2. Excellent, excellent series - addictive on a par with Boston Legal and Mad Men. I understand that later seasons may not be as good as the first two or three, but that tended to be so in the two other named series also. It'll not stop us - we're well and truly hooked already. It'd be nice to think that characters like these inhabit the real West Wing of The White House, but I have serious doubts on that. Watching this series somehow helps, though I'm not quite sure why.

Heavens Fall (2006) This film re-tells a very important, if uncomfortable true story. The film is another from my growing collection of movies in which David Strathairn has appeared, it's the story of a tragic court case in Alabama in 1931. Nine black hobos (aged 12 to 23) who came to be known as "the Scottsboro Boys" were accused of raping two white women on an Alabama freight train. They were quickly sentenced to death by electric chair, by an all-white jury who considered the evidence for all of 20 minutes. As news of the convictions spread the plight of the young men inadvertently fuelled fires of socialism across the globe. The case was quickly appealed to the United States Supreme Court. At a re-trial in a Decatur, Alabama courtroom, acclaimed New York defense attorney Samuel Liebowitz (Timothy Hutton) took on the formidable task of representing the accused before another all-white jury, in spite of efforts to include in it several well-positioned and qualified black citizens from the area. The case was heard before Judge James Horton (David Strathairn), from whose family motto "Let justice be done though the heavens fall" the film takes its title.

Incredibly, for me, the ending was in no way positive. Evidence clearly sufficient to give any reasonable jury member cause to suspect lies had been told by the accusers was presented. Yet the jury still returned a verdict of "Guilty". The judge set aside the re-trial jury's verdict. He was never allowed to preside as judge again, but it has been said by his son that he never once regretted his action.

The vein of ignorance and potential evil that runs through certain areas of the USA, even now, continues to horrify me.


Wisewebwoman said...

Some great recommendations, T. I loved the West Wing, parts of it slid a bit but it always picked up and it gave me hope.

Have you done The Wire and Six Feet Under? Recommend.

I too pick up old VHS and see some good films and some not so good.

I knit as I watch so don't feel too time-wastery on it all. ;)


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ No we haven't tried either of those. The Wire sounds to be a possibility for future vewing. 6 feet Under - not sure. I think I remember a British version of that (possibly the original) and didn't like it. But will investigate. Thanks for the recommendations. :-)