Monday, May 9, 2011

Book Nook - May is music & movies month - part 2

I used to watch a lot more movies than I do now, maybe because with 3 little ones, it's been difficult to find the time in recent years.  And  now, when I do have more time, I try to get some knitting done (or putter on the computer)!  But I really love movies & here are a few that I think are just great:

Amelie is hands down, my favorite movie!  It's about a quirky young woman who lives in Paris.  She finds herself doing little deeds that will make others happy, unbeknown to them who has changed their lives.  For instance, she finds a very old trinket box in her apartment and sets out to find the little boy (now a grown man) who it belonged to.  But being the unique individual she is, she sets up an elaborate situation in which to give him the trinket box.  She never does things in a straightforward way, which just adds to her charm.

In the midst of all of Amelie's top-secret do-gooder work, she has found a very odd scrapbook.  She is intrigued by the scrapbook and sets out to solve its mystery.  She is also intrigued by the owner of the scrapbook and finds herself falling in love with him.  Can Amelie find true love and happiness herself, just as she brings to so many people in her life?

The film is in French with English subtitles.  Don't let this dissuade you (when the movie first came out on DVD, I overheard a couple in the rental store decide not to rent it because of this - they missed out on a great movie).  I should also mention that the soundtrack to the movie is as quirky as our heroine and it really sets the tone and helps "make" the film.  Oh, and now whenever I'm making a recipe with lentils, I must stick my hand in the bag - one of life's little joys, thanks to Amelie! 

Raising Arizona starring Nicolas Cage & Holly Hunter has always been one of my favorites.  Cage stars as Hi & Hunter is Ed and they are a young couple with one dream: to start a family.  However, they are unable to, so they hatch a scheme to kidnap a baby from a local wealthy family who just had quintuplets.  Their reasoning is that this family has more kids than they need.  They take little Nathan Jr., along with his instruction manual, a Dr. Spock book.

It's been a long time since I've actually watched this movie from beginning to end, but I caught part of it a few months ago, and it cracked me up, as it always has.  Hi & Ed have all the best intentions, but quickly are over their heads.  Ed is a police officer & struggles with breaking the law, even though she wants a baby more than anything.  Hi attempts to be the best husband and Dad he can, although he must rob a convenience store when Jr. needs more Huggies.  And to complicate the situation, Hi's old prison buddies just broke out & have come for a visit.  Oh, and there's the little matter of the bounty hunter searching for the kidnappers.

This is a Cohen brothers film & it lives up to any Cohen brothers expectations that you might have.  The camera work is so great - we are on the road, with the Huggies, as Hi drives by and swoops them up during a getaway.  We are on the motorcycle, watching the road pass by, with the bounty hunter.  And the music is so perfect - it's sort of a yodelling that is heard throughout - keeping up the quick pace along with the humor.  The overall package is really perfection.

Since we're on the subject of Holly Hunter, another favorite of mine is The Piano starring Hunter, Harvey Keitel & Sam Neill.  This movie is a lot more somber than the others I've just discussed, but it has something in common with them: a great storyline, acting & soundtracks.  When DH & I went to see this movie when it first came out, I was completely mesmerized by it & left the theatre in a daze.

In the story, Ada (played by Hunter) is a young single mother (I can't recall if it's addressed in the movie whether she is a widow or had her daughter out of wedlock) - but this is set during a time when single moms are just unheard of (I think it's early 1800's).  Anyway, she is going to be married to a man who lives in New Zealand, so she & her daughter set off for this wild country, along with her beloved piano.  When they arrive onshore, she immediately starts playing.  It's her way of communicating, for as long as she can remember, she cannot speak.  I take that communicating part back, because Hunter is able to communicate all the range of emotions her character feels in her new life, without needing one word at all.

Once Ada and her daughter (played by Anna Paquin, who is now all grown up) get set in their new lives, Harvey Keitel's character enters the scene to shake things up.  Ada and Keitel's character (sorry, I don't remember his name) start to fall for one another, with disastrous consequences.  It's a haunting movie that you will unlikely be able to get out of your mind for a long time.

There's one more thing all 3 of these movies share in common: a message of hope.  If you've seen any of them, please let me know what you think of them! 

So, Amelie is my all-time-favorite movie....what's your favorite movie?   

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