Laurel and I have been caught up in summer movie madness recently, except we haven’t gone to see any of the movies that people are mad about. No Charlie’s Angels (sexist and lacks redeeming social value, according to Laurel, which are two great reasons to see it, in my no-account opinion) . No Hulk (we agree: movies based on comic book characters are off-limits). No 2 Fast 2 Furious (nothing is more boring than movies with a car theme except the Indy 500, where cars do crash—which is interesting—but only after going around and around in ovals—which isn’t).
So we’ve been DVD’ing it, and want to pass along one obvious and three not-so-obvious recommendations (links lead to Roger Ebert’s reviews, which are our main, and reliable, guide to what sucks cinematically and what doesn’t). Yes, everyone knows that The Hours is a great movie, based on a great novel, with great actors. But I checked it out with a “this will be good for me, but I won’t really like it” attitude, much like I consider broccoli. Laurel was surprised when I brought it home, since this is a quintessential Three Chicks Talking film. Except they don’t talk to each other, being in different times and places, except at the very end, details of which I can’t reveal, for those who haven’t seen the movie.
This different time and space thing did cause me to do some of my Cartmann (South Park) imitations at the beginning of The Hours: “Damn it! This is too confusing! Stick to one place and one time for more than a few seconds! Movies should be simple and I shouldn’t have to think so much!...No! They did it again! STOP MOVING AROUND!” After a while though, I learned to flow with my confusion, and The Hours became highly enjoyable. At least, as enjoyable as a movie about suicide and depression can be.
Late Marriage is much lighter, sort of a Jewish version of Monsoon Wedding. It is Israeli (how many Israeli movies do we get to see?) and spoken in Hebrew and Georgian. So you probably will need the subtitles. Usually Laurel and I avoid subtitled movies like the plague, great foreign film buffs that we are, because it is too much work to read them. But Late Marriage was worth the price, if only to make us feel exceedingly grateful that we were never part of a big extended Jewish family who wanted to control our lives. It’s hard to believe that, in the 21st century, there are those in the Western world who still believe that parents can choose a bride for their son, but this movie must be based to a large degree on fact. Rent it. You’ll like it.
Happy Accidents was a happy surprise, one of those “Oh, lord, what did Laurel bring home from the video store?” She delights in finding off-beat only-one-copy-on-the-shelf movies that sometimes are a rare gem, and sometimes a clod of tasteless dirt. This movie may never have been released. We certainly don’t remember it appearing back in 2001. It’s one of those romantic, is this guy really from the future or is he crazy?, movies, sort of like the Kevin Spacey movie where he may or may not be an alien from another planet. Marisa Tomei is cute, as always, and Vincent D’Onofrio makes a good match for her. Not an unforgettable movie (I can’t remember how it ends), but worth $3.79, or whatever.
Lastly, we also were pleasantly surprised by The Mystic Masseur, which suffers from a weird title (though the movie is based on a book with the same name by Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul) and a weird DVD cover photo of a cross-legged yogi in a turban. Yes, the photo is true to the movie, but there is much more to the movie than this cartoonish image suggests. It actually is a quasi-serious tale set in the Indian community of Trinidad. Reason enough to see the movie is to hear Indian accents with a Caribbean “Hey mon!” overtone. The Mystic Masseur is about a man who may or may not be a real mystic, but the readers of his books, and those he supposedly heals, think he is. When it comes to mysticism, what is real anyway?