Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Retirement - Being a Critic

Loving to laugh and doing OK

I love the movies.  Since I was about 8 years old, I have had an affair with the cinema. When I was young and nobody worried that you would be stolen or molested, my mother let me walk to the movies with my friend Peggy and sometimes my brother to see the Saturday matinees. The Wakefield theater may have been a mile or so away and P.S. we lived in Bronx, NY, but that was many years ago and who knew anything; there was no Internet of fear. Every week we were there with our $.35 for the show and $.12 for candy.  I always choose to eat Juju Bees because that would get you through at least one of the movies as they stuck to the teeth and it would take hours for the flavor to disintegrate.  I say one of movies, because the $.35 included an "A" listed color musical and a "B" listed (usual) gangster black and white flick.  Also included was a race (as in horse or car) serial where you had a chance to bet on a horse or car race and then some cliff-hanger serial which insured you would be back the next week with your $.47.  There were at least 2 or 3 cartoons included in the package also.  It was a great babysitter for Mom and my life was good. These weekly visits made me love everything about film and good stories. The 50's seem like an easier time (for some).

There are very few good stories for me now, even though I still love the movies. (enthralled by "The King's Speech."). Quite a few years ago I became a fan of the independent film industry because they usually make films that have real, well-written stories. However, sometimes Hollywood still comes up with a winner.  Two of my favorite movies of all times are The Color Purple and Out of Africa.  In OOA, the main characters talk about the story, and how important it is to the soul to hear a well-told tale.  It has been going on forever, from the cave drawings to Egyptian hieroglyphics to today.  The imagination is always captured in the story.  All those special effects, surreal sequences, dream within a dream and down and dirty crap cannot take it's place.  It is about the storyteller and their imagination. I grew up when times were different and not only did you share rooms with siblings but you shared beds.  Every night my sister Sue, who was so smart and imaginative, would tell me a story that she would make up on the spot. I could not go to sleep until she finished her bedtime tale.  I have been in love with "the story" ever since.

So now I am going to critique a recent movie.  All the critics have panned this latest remake, however, I really liked it.  I usually am with the press on movies and tend to go or not go to the theater based on their reviews.  However, I liked this movie and they did not.  It is called "Arthur" and stars Russell Brand and Helen Mirren.  I have no idea who else was in this movie because my eyes were focused  upon these "two actors". Now Helen Mirren  can do no wrong, that is accepted.  She is great even if she just sits there and spits.  Russell Brand is new and I just love him.  He is the Steve Martin of 30 years ago.  He is naturally funny and makes me laugh all the time. Thinking about it now though, it was the scenes with only those two actors that were the best. They did not need anybody else. The movie is close to the original which stared Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli.  Seeing Russell Brand on TV lately plugging this movie and seeing him unscripted, I have to wonder if in the movie he is saying the written lines or just did what is natural to him.  No matter, he had me within ten minutes.  I actually did not like the original, thought it inane and not believable.  However, the new Arthur, while still being inane and not believable, had a warmth that I found lovable and soft.  The critics liked the first half but found the second part boring or whatever.  I found it kind and sweet and even though unbelievable, touched me. 

So that is what I think.  I just love a good laugh and although this is not fall on your face, double over in laughter flick, it is a fun movie that will make you smile and forget your troubles for at least the 110 minutes.  Everyone has different tastes, I am almost surprised that I like this, but then it has been a long winter and I need to laugh and escape.


  1. We change as we get older too...and what didn't appeal twenty years ago does now. Odd isn't it? I find I don't like to watch anything with tension and terror and suffering in it. There is enough of that in real life. If I feel myself tensing up I just turn it off or walk out.

  2. I have now learned to never compose anything at 1 AM. This morning I reread and edited this post and noticed that among my mistakes was to call my good friend Peggy a fiend. So glad her computer is still broken.

  3. I was just thinking the other day about my mom and her stories of going to the movies every Saturday. She said they'd stay there all day, sometimes sneaking in if they didn't have enough money. There'd be cartoons, and westerns, kids movies, dramatic movies. I just love the thought of all those kids sitting in there by themselves watching Hitchcock or whatever it was they had on the roster for the day.

    Anyway, I want to see Arthur too. I liked the original, but There's something likable about Russell Brand, and who doesn't love beautiful Helen Mirren? Nice review!