AT THE VIDEO STORE
26 OCT 1999
THIS MONTH'S FEATURED VIDEO REVIEW: CAPPUCCINO
A lot of times, most of the time, what we get out of something has a lot to do with what we bring into it. A relationship, a movie, a job. What we get out of the things in our lives, a direct reflection of what we put into it. What baggage we bring into it. By any definition CAPPUCCINO is an astounding movie by an unknown director and cast, made on a shoestring budget. But if you, like most adults, bring to the movie memories of arguments and fights, good moments and bad, with someone you loved, bring to the movie moments both bitter and sweet, memories of love righteous and wrong, the movie becomes something more.
It becomes a mirror held up to your face, that cuts.
It is bravura, guts and glory filmmaking at its finest. None of the scenes are hallmarked by any specific or sensational style, nothing that jumps out at you and says look at me, nothing easily recognizable or trademarkable such as the stylistic inventions of a John Woo, or David Finch, or Spike Lee, or Cohen Brothers. This isn't that type of movie. The director Ross Craig Jr.,(also the writer and producer of this film) creates an understated movie/ drama that engrosses and builds slowly into what I consider one of the finest true filmnoirs I've seen in years. The ending packs an impact that is as beautiful as it is horrible, and one that I felt from my toes to the tips of my hair. The performances by the three leads, is nothing short of exquisite, but especially the wife, she brings an intensity to her role of the betrayed spouse that is actually frightening. And her final speech ... haunts. This is really a thinking man's movie, about loves labors lost, and the last line will haunt long after the movie is over. Astounding, and highly recommended.
Have you ever watched FOUR WEDDINGS AND THE FUNERAL? If your like most of the world the answer to that would be yes. However yours truly being a typical guy and eschewing "girl" flicks, as well as having a deep rooted, and totally irrational aversion to Hugh Grant, I of course avoided the original theatrical release like the plague.
Now half a dozen years after the movie first came out I finally on an extremely slow video night pick up this chick flick, and I find to my utter amazement a laugh out loud funny, touching, and bitter-sweet movie about love, and loss, and love again. Maybe I'm getting feeble minded in my old age, sentimental and misty eyed, but I find my well well worn cynacism has left me, and my abiding hatred for my fellow man ,and the concept of love, has also left me, to be replaced by something not unlike hope. I find myself here in the latter days of Earth, a hopeless romantic.
Hopeless. Hopefull. Hopefull Romantic? I kinda like hopeless. hopeless Romantic. A Romantic without hope of being anything but a Romantic. Come what may, come failures, and flaws this abiding belief... despite all the evidence to the contrary, this belief... in something lasting between two people, something that endures.
That's what this movie is about, this idea of Thunderbolts and perfect love, this idea of something that endures. I enjoyed the movie, but like I said I've been feeling sappy lately. I've been doing soul searching, and come to the unexpected discovery I actually have one. So it tends to color my normally black and white reviews.
Hugh Grant , my aversion aside, is wonderful in this movie, his halting, self-obsessed performance both hilarious and affecting. And Andie Mcdowell is the kind of actress Hollywood rarely makes anymore, in this age of Julia Roberts and Demi Moore. Andie Mcdowell is an actress of the stature of Ingrid Bergman whose presence makes the screen glow, she exudes something very feminine and very beautiful, that permeates the screen. Something not unlike grace. Something both fragile and feirce.
The rest of the cast is uniformally excellent, punctuating a funny movie with moments that make us feel. If you haven't seen the movie, give yourself a treat pick it up, it might make you think about the people you love in your life, and the people you have stopped loving. Highly Recommended!
While your at it pick up GREEN CARD another Andie Mcdowell vehicle directed by Peter Weir of FEARLESS fame. It's another bitter sweet comedy, brillaintly directed. Recommended!
Other movies at your Video Store worth a look
I grabbed a passel of westerns the other night Glenn Ford in FASTEST GUN ALIVE, Gary Cooper in THEY CAME TO CORDURA, and a few no names in TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN. All three were great, particularly THEY CAME TO CORDURA, very unique idea, brillantly handled.
If Horror is more your cup of tea make sure to check out BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS.
And finally if you're looking for good old fashioned Drama they don't come any better than Stanley Kramer's SHIP OF FOOLS. Starring an ensemble cast of great, veteran actors including Vivian Leigh who years earlier starred in Kramer's other Masterpeice STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Kramer always known for pushing the envelope, does it again with this movie, creating a very adult, frank, and still brutally honest and shocking examination, of several lives, and loves, and hopes on a luxury liner. Similar in setup to Burt Lancaster's SEPERATE TABLES, SHIP OF FOOLS is a great movie well worth the effort of hunting down. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
I first became aware of Kenneth Branagh's work in 1989 with his directorial debut Henry V, and it was to my mind then and my feeling now that it remains the finest adaptation of Shakespeare ever put to film.
I had ,like everyone else, seen Lawrence Olivier's much acclaimed classic 1944's Henry V, and comparisons were obvious from the start. Lawrence Olivier wrote, directed, produced and starred in his first feature film, Henry V. A feat that is still a remarkable accomplishment today, and back in 1944 was nothing short of incredible. Kenneth Branagh over 40 years later, repeats Olivier's accomplishment, by also wearing the multiple hats of writer, director, producer, and star. But there the similarities end, Kenneth Branagh's adaptation is a distinct and different animal from Olivier's, and to my mind a far superior one.
Olivier's production backed by the full support of the Empire is without doubt the larger and more lavish of the two.The sumptuous Technicolors, and panoramic scenes speak well of opulence and grandeur and something much prized. Branagh's production in comparison is gritty, shadowed, low budget, nearly guerrilla filmmaking. But if we lose Olivier's pomp and circumstance we gain something far more precious in Branagh's Henry V, we gain the passion and the unfettered fury of Shakespeare, we gain a time, and a place, and a type of man. We gain the bloody siege of halflour, and poor sweet Fallstaff's haunting last words to the boy king, "Jesus, the Days we've seen.". This is Shakespeare not accessible, because Shakespeare is rarely that, but it is Shakespeare distilled into what is at the heart of the continuing popularity of these plays, it is about people. About Humanity, about universals. Shakespeare at its heart tells us about us, who we are, who we aspire to be. It tells us of loss and victory, tragedy and hope, passion and weakness.
Branagh's victory with this movie comes not because of his skills as a director. Branagh is a good director, not a great one. As movies like Dead Again and Frankenstein attest when not doing Shakespeare his talents are wasted, the source material becomes... unsound. No Branagh's strength is that he understands Shakespeare, he understands the passions and the times, and he is able to adapt those times and those passions, distill them for us... to us. He is able to... with fits, and starts make great things. When directing what he is passionate about, when directing Shakespeare, there is none better than Kenneth Branagh.
To my mind the world is divided into two distinct groups of people those who appreciate Shakespeare and those who don't. Due to Kenneth Branagh's very rewarding adaptations the latter camp is dwindling.