Are you going through Downton Abbey withdrawal? Consider quenching your thirst for gorgeous British costume drama with a trip down memory lane – Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day. Before Carson and Mrs. Hughes, 1993 introduced us to Anthony Hopkins’ Stevens and Emma Thompson’s Miss Kenton.
Filmed with the usual meticulous attention to period and detail of films from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, The Remains of the Day is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Anthony Hopkins plays Stevens, the “perfect” butler to a prosperous British household of the 1930s. He is so unswervingly devoted to serving his master, a well-meaning but callow British lord (James Fox), that he shuts himself off from all emotions and familial relationships. New housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) tries to warm him up and awaken his humanity.
Taking this rather arcane story, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s award-winning novel, Ismail Merchant, the producer; James Ivory, the director, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the writer, have made “The Remains of the Day,” a spellbinding new tragi-comedy of high and most entertaining order. Here is an exquisite work that could become a quite unlikely smash.
In the way that “The Remains of the Day” looks grand without being overdressed, it is full of feeling without being sentimental. Here’s a film for adults. It’s also about time to recognize that Mr. Ivory is one of our finest directors, something that critics tend to overlook because most of his films have been literary adaptations. It’s the film, not the source material, that counts. “The Remains of the Day” has its own, securely original cinematic life.
You really owe it to yourself to embrace the subtly and beauty of one of Merchant Ivory’s masterpieces.
June is Gay Pride Month around the country celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. Locally Norwalk has a wonderful event Pride in the Park sponsored by the Triangle Community Center Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 12-5pm in Mathews Park. 75 minutes away by Metro North come celebrate where it all began 45 years ago in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City for Heritage of Pride’s March on Sunday, June 29, 2014.
Great LGBT movies come in all shapes and sizes. We decided to highlight one for each letter of the acronym:
L: The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko’s movie about two lesbian Moms raising teenage kids broke all kinds of barriers and box office records. Annette Benning and Julianne Moore star.
G: I Do – David W. Ross’s indie script digs deep into the issues of transnational same-sex relationships and immigration. Glen Gaylord directs this heart-felt, feel good love story.
B: Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) – A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman in this romantic comedy written by Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt and directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld.
T: Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – Hillary Swank won the Oscar. Kimberly Peirce directs. Based on the true story of transgendered youth Brandon Teena who convinces himself he can survive amongst bigoted, small-minded people after transitioning from female to male.
And if you’d like to do some reading may we suggest the seminal work on LGBT characters in film, Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet available in the upper stacks of the main library.
He shot a total of eight films for Woody Allen and was dubbed the “Prince of Darkness” by fellow cinematographer Conrad Hall for his use of shadows.
But today, let’s focus on the brilliant Klute which won Jane Fonda an Oscar for Best Actress in 1971. Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland star in this 1971 suspense drama about a high-class call girl in New York City who gets reluctantly dragged into a missing person’s investigation. An outstanding plot with lots of interesting choices like the taped phone calls being repeated throughout the film and Jane’s confessions to her therapist. Incredible outdoor shots of NYC in the early 70′s. This is a classic for sure. Klute is a top-notch thriller!
From 2000 – 2005 HBO graced the world with the darkly funny and excruciatingly well-written drama Six Feet Under. Based on The Fishers – a family in the funeral business, each week someone would die in the opening credits and the family would busy themselves preparing the final tribute as well as learn hard and serious life lessons and manage to play and have fun. Created by Alan Ball who wrote the script for American Beauty and went on to helm True Blood, Six Feet Under captured a certain kind of family dynamic previously not explored on American television. The Fishers spent the five years trying desperately to break through their buttoned-up way of living life. We watched them each week experience triumphs and heartbreaks as they stumbled through life searching and often finding beauty and wonder. Featuring a stellar cast including Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Frances Conroy, Rachel Griffiths, Matthew St. Patrick, Freedy Rodriguez, Jeremy Sisto, Justina Machado, James Cromwell, Lili Taylor, and Richard Jenkins, Six Feet Under taught us how to grieve as well as live each moment out loud. Six Feet Under also ushered in a new renaissance of American television along with The Sopranos and The Wire.
Perhaps no other director in the history of cinema captured the hearts and scared the wits out of movie goers more than Alfred Hitchcock. Beginning with his first British film in 1925 and continuing through an illustrious career including Shadow of a Doubt, Suspicion, Spellbound, Notorious, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie, film goers marveled at his expertise for nearly a century. In total Hitchcock directed 58 films spanning most of the 20th Century through his death in 1980. To this day, no one can match the suspense of Hitch nor can they elicit the fright of an audience simply by implying rather than showing the terror or gore. Alfred Hitchcock was one of a kind and his films really are timeless classics.
Journey back to the 1980′s in RIchard Kelly’s 2001 cult indie masterpiece, Donnie Darko. The film put Jake Gyllenhaal on the map, sports a killer 80′s soundtrack, and features amazing celebrities in minor roles including Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wylie, Beth Grant, Seth Rogan,and Katherine Ross. From IFC Center,
“This unclassifiable but stunningly original film obliterates the walls between teen comedy, science fiction, family drama, horror, and cultural satire — and remains wildly entertaining throughout. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie, a borderline-schizophrenic adolescent for whom there is no difference between the signs and wonders of reality (a plane crash that devastates his house) and hallucination (a man-sized, reptilian rabbit who talks to him). Obsessed with the science of time travel and acutely aware of the world around him, Donnie is isolated by his powers of analysis and the apocalyptic visions that no one else seems to share. The debut feature of writer-director Richard Kelly, DONNIE DARKO is a shattering, hypnotic work that sets its own terms and gambles — rightfully so, as it turns out — that a viewer will stay aboard for the full ride.” – Tom Keough
In anticipation of Easter’s imminent chocolate arrival and Gen X-ers forcing their children to watch the films they loved from their own childhoods, we thought it might be fun to revisit 1971′s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder in the title role as the secretive chocolatier who awards five lucky children with a peek inside his factory. Packed with post-60′s psychedelic sets and more than one nod to The Wizard of Oz, Wonka continues to delight audiences as much today as it did upon its release over 40 years ago. Wonka is based on the Roald Dahl children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was remade by Tim Burton in 2005 using the book’s original title and starring Johnny Depp as Wonka. Which version do you prefer? As long as you’ve got a big chocolate bar sitting next to you, we’ve got the book and both film adaptations for you to compare.
Library staff member Barbara Slack takes us back to 1946 with one of the most outstanding classic films of all time,
In my opinion, The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best movies ever made. It may even be number one on my top ten list. I saw it for the first time when I was in college, long before the large flat screens. In fact, I think that about eight of us watched this film on a TV about a foot wide. Even on that small screen, the movie hit me like a ton of bricks.
If I had to use one word to describe the movie it would be poignant — incredibly moving without being sentimental. There is an amazing realism to the movie, every scene rings true. The scene where the parents speak with their daughter late at night about their marriage, is one of the most accurate and affecting scenes I have ever seen in any movie. When I watch it, I almost feel as if I am in that room.
This movie was made in 1946 and is often summarized as soldiers returning home from the war to civilian life. If that was all I knew about this movie I would probably flip right by it. Although it is about three soldiers who meet on a flight home, it is also a movie that profoundly touches on the subjects of love, family and friendship in a way that makes it timeless. It touches on socially sensitive subjects including post traumatic stress and the complexity of relationships in a way you wouldn’t expect for the time period.
The casting of the movie is perfect — led by stars like Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Dana Andrews. But even minor characters in this movie are crucial to the film. It is the kind of film you could see many times, yet find additional nuances with each watching. If you are an old movie buff and haven’t seen this film, you need to see it as soon as possible. It will rock your world. And if you aren’t an old movie buff, this is one of the black and white movies that may change your opinion about classic films.