I have been faithfully watching, though weather woes slowed down my blogging, as the 2-hour delay at school on Friday threw off my balance. Now let’s play Movie Project:
Thursday night I watched Amadeus (1984). As usual, I hadn’t seen the very beginning before, just bits and pieces; as usual, it reaallly makes a difference to catch the opening of the movie. The story revolves around Salieri, played convincingly by F. Murray Abraham, who won Best Actor that year, beating out Tom Hulce, who played Amadeus. If you’ve ever worked with autistic kids, you recognize those traits in Hulce’s Mozart and how odd he must have appeared to the well-regulated court of Vienna. I was swept up into the 18th century with its opulent clothing and gilded furniture (it won Best set decoration and Best costuming), and the music of Mozart inspired me to listen to more Mozart..! While they bent the facts a little, it was all for the drama and well done.
After slogging through the delay-day, it was a pleasure to sit down and watch Out of Africa (1985). It’s the story of Baroness Karen von Blixen, told first in her memoir using the pen name Isak Dinesen. If you know and love this movie, you recognize the opening: “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills”. It took a few scenes before I could understand the Danish accent that Meryl Streep affected to play the Baroness, but soon she became Karen. She marries Bror Blixen and together they move to East Africa and start a coffee plantation. She meets Denys Finch-Hatton, played by Robert Redford, and their relationship underlies the drama. Set against such stunning scenery, I was Again swept up, this time back to the era of colonial Britain. Streep was nominated for Best Actress that year, but the award went to Geraldine Page; must have been a year for old actors, as Don Ameche won for best Actor that year..! Robert Redford was not even nominated…doesn’t the Academy like him? He was great, I thought.
Husband had to patrol Friday night and took along Platoon (1986). I don’t like to generalize or stereotype, but the Vietnam Vets I’ve known have tried very hard to numb their memories of that war, to cut that experience out of themselves, so have died too young, or never lived up to the potential they had before. Others have found strength in remembering, hence these movies. I can’t bear to watch them, sorry.
Saturday morning as I sat down to watch The Last Emperor (1987), I was armed with the synopsis—cheating, I know, but I never would have figured out who was who without it. The movie starts in 1950 and jumps back to 1908 pretty quickly. It then goes back and forth frequently and abruptly. It’s the story of Pu Yi, who was really, actually, honestly the last emperor of China. The Chinese government allowed Bernardo Bertolucci to film this in the Forbidden City and…wow, the awards for cinematography, set design, costumes, director were well-deserved. The adult Pu Yi is played by John Lone and he has to age from 16 or so to 60-something; it’s done well, both make-up and acting, and I’m surprised he didn’t get even a nomination. The poor kid is basically a prisoner all of his life. Great movie…it’s long (even the synopsis is long!), but I’d watch it again.
The Saturday night movie was Rain Man (1988). I know I’ll catch a lot of flak, but I don’t really like this movie. I am uncomfortable with Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) kidnapping a mentally-challenged person like Raymond and then bullying him…even if he did figure out in the end that he kind of liked him. It seemed like it was making fun of the autistic…and the girlfriend was a horrible distraction. I’m not Cruise fan, but I think I just don’t like the story. Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Raymond Babbitt was certainly good acting; maybe because I deal with folks who act like that but Aren’t Acting, it just seems insensitive.
In order to meet my deadline (all Best Pictures from 1953 to 2011 before 2/24), we will be skipping over the winners in 1989, 1990, and 1991. I have seen Driving Miss Daisy (1989) several times and Dances with Wolves at least a million times, love them both. I was going to try to watch Silence of the Lambs (1991), but when I discovered it was categorized under “Horror” at the library, it seemed like a rather Obvious Sign that I should avoid it.
Tonight Unforgiven is up…