Saturday, February 03, 2007


Friday Movie Review (late)

Went with Beata to Venus with an ancient Peter OToole (75) and it was OK to good, not great. With all the good talk and a fine trailer, I guess I was a little disappointed. Then I saw who the writer was, Hanif Kureishi, and it all fit. His first movie was My Beautiful Laundrette which was all talked up and horrible. The director was solid enough, South African Roger Michell, who had done the best treatment of Jane Austen in Persuasion in 1995 (unfortunately for him completely eclipsed by last year's wonderful Pride and Prejudice).

The actors around O'Toole were solid enough--male Leslie Philips (who was the voice of the Harry Potter sorting hat); Richard Griffiths (also of Potter fame--he's Uncle Vernon); extreme leftie Vanessa Redgrave; and, the young lead, the right cute Jodie Whittaker, who can flat out do a Yorkshire accent.

It's 95 minutes long, has some laughs in a British sort of way (either slapstick or subtle). O'Toole, alas, will come up empty at the Oscars, again. Some people will like his dinner scene with Redgrave and it was pretty good. I liked the relationship between the two veteran actors the young girl disrupts. My favorite scene is when they get drunk at their somewhat stodgy club, then tour the church, St. Paul's Church, where actors not good enough to rate Westminster Abbey have memorial plaques, where they dance poorly to a string quartet practicing Dvorack's Slavic Dances. O'Toole keeps referring to his old friend Philips as a fruit (in criticizing his Julius Caesar) and I thought he might well be gay, but it's so hard to tell with older British men. Not that it matters.

If I was completely creeped out by the May-December relationship in Harold and Maud (and I was) then I should be equally creeped out by O'Toole in this (and I was). The trailer made you think he had this grandfather/grandaughter relationship with the young girl. Not hardly.

Not for those seeking prurient interests; not a laugh fest; not so ennobling or even completely engaging--but it is good to see O'Toole really trying. Beata thought it was sad, but I didn't see it. There is no tragedy in old men dying; the tragedy is in the young ones.

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