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The Flick Chick

The Flick Chick
Films whose titles begin with "Q" or "R"

Forever beautiful, however old, the images stay with us. In one of Gore Vidal's books, (Hollywood) an aging actress watches her younger self on film and marvels that she has, in a way, achieved eternal youth. As long ago as Shakespeare, we knew that we are all only "poor players that strut and fret an hour upon the stage and then are gone."

But for a while, there in the dark while we watch . . . it's all real.

The Queen

           This is a deeply nuanced, beautifully made, and psychologically interesting film.
            It has something for the lovers of Royals — lots of palace pictures; lots of long and short shots of Princess Di; Royalty impersonations and caricatures; breathtaking panoramas of the north of England; guys in kilts. So even if your interest goes no further, there's that. (What does the Queen carry in that handbag? Answer: her cell phone and her car keys, of course!)
            For politics-watchers, PR types, and fans of West Wing intrigue, there's a sampling for their interests also. ("Tony Blair," for example, is torn between his loyalty to HRH and his understandable interest in keeping his job and doing it well.)
             But the real strength of this film is in the humanity it gives to those we have seen only as icons — moving statues, newspaper people.
            And of course Helen Mirren fans will want to see it merely because she's in it.
            Whatever your motive, folks, take a glim at this one. (1/07)

Red

          This film is one of a trilogy of three separate films, in French, with subtitles. Of them, RED is my fave; it is the most accessible of the three, and the happiest (nice that he saved the best until last). It's about . . . hmm . . . about a retired judge who is very depressed and has unusual habits, a beautiful young woman whose boyfriend neglects her and treats her coldly, a young man whose girlfriend treats him badly, and a large dog that has puppies. Despite the puppies (who only have bit parts), it is a beautiful and strange piece, with many twists and turns, so even if you are not a foreign film buff (or even a film buff) you may love it. For one things, the visuals are lovely; the color red reappears again and again in this film — although maybe I only thought it did, because of the title.
          After having seen it three times now, I can attest that it really holds up keeps your attention you notice nice touches you had forgotten, and your sympathies continue to rise once more to meet the action. As I said, my Fave.
          Wikipedia says of ththe trilogy: Three Colours: Red (French: Trois Couleurs: Rouge, Polish: Trzy kolory. Czerwony) is a 1994 French-Polish-Swiss co-production, co-written, produced, and directed by Polish filmmaker Krzysztof . It is the final film of the Three Colors trilogy, which examines the French Revolutionary ideals; it is preceded by [the films] Blue and White.
           BLUE is equally lovely and complicated, but it is so sad that I hesitate to recommend it. Only the hard-hearted need apply.
           I found WHITE to be disagreeable and depressing. You could probably skip that one.
           One more thing: most of the mystical French symbolism mentioned in the Wikipedia review went completely over my head. (Not a surprise.) But maybe you should not read the Wiki article until after you have seen RED. It gives away too much of the plot.

RED

(Not to be confused with the brilliant Czerwony film, above, also titled RED. Also not to be confused with the very-old, very-bad Warren Beatty film REDS, about which the less said, the better.
            So! When was the last time you went to a movie and really had fun? Never had to worry about who the bad guy was? Laughed yourself silly without having to listen to fart jokes? (Pardon the language.) Watched fine stars enjoying themselves? Always knew that everything would turn out all right!
           Plus: Bruce Willis at his charming, sly, derring-do best!
           Plus: John Malkovitch as a deadly-crazyperson (only for OUR side)!
           Plus: The fabulous Helen Mirren!
           Plus: Morgan Freeman, suave, clever, and noble.
           And More!
           Oh you will enjoy this one!
           Promise! (10/10)

RED2

            We are of two minds here.
            On the one hand, it was a delightful and starry night. We had enjoyed the predecessor, titled RED — No, not the Czerwony film, in French, also titled RED, and also reviewed by the Flick Chick. The film we mean was the one that starred Bruce Willis, John Malkovitch, Helen Mirren et al. Both RED and RED2 are about retired superspies who have license to kill (as who does not these days?), and both mock the nonstop violence of our omnipresent "thriller" films, while assuring us, tongue-in-cheek, that senior citizens are just as tough as the new set of young turks. So, as I was saying, this Number Two was enjoyably more-of-the-same.
            But on quite another level we must recognize and acknowledge the film's over-the-top violence: Multiple machine guns demolishing first the vans in the street, then the scaffolding behind the vans, AND the walls behind the scaffolding; Bruce Willis dispatching wave after wave of oncoming armed men, while wearing handcuffs; and Helen Mirren's apartment floor lined with the supine and prone bodies of dead gentlemen in evening dress, plus one in the bathtub, while she strolls across them in diamonds and furs, as a very few examples.
            True, they did underline the fact that it was comic book violence by inserting comic book stills at the close of several of the scenes . . . but, look! it all feeds this same appetite for more guns, more bullets, more explosions, more deaths, and more indifference to the body count. Should this be fun? Because when there are real guns being fired, real people really bleed real blood. And they really die. And that's not such fun after all.

Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars)

          If you wanted to see it, you've probably already seen it, so we're only comparing notes: that's understood.
          Of course, the film is exquisite to look at. Great, congested cities, immense vistas, green and blue planets hanging in the void — even the Wicked Lands are beautiful. And it brims with invention. There are BEMs so marvelous they boggle the mind. Musical subsonics that vibrate the sternum. All the familiar high-tech stuff and some new stuff to boot.
          But story-wise, it's one big morality play. Jedi beliefs are a lot like Buddhism, and Yoda and the Jedi knights preach self-control and selflessness, saying they have to separate themselves from human affection. And Anakin goes over to the Dark Side because he follows his feelings. But gee — if that's the case, you gotta feel sorry for the poor guy, because in his film universe, feelings are all he has to go on!
           The Force itself is all about feelings. And prophetic dreams. And unnamed powers (moral powers?). Time and again characters are urged to feel the Force, to feel whether something is right or wrong. But nobody ever asks: "Am I making a sensible decision, here?"
           Nope. We get love, grief, anxiety, determination, anger, fear, excitement, reckless courage, physical strength and agility . . . but nobody uses his or her head for anything except decoration! Mr Spock, where are you when we need you!
          Okay, so our hero's emotions betray him. He falls from grace, embraces evil, and meets a terrible punishment (several punishments, actually), while we, the audience, are left to meditate on the wages of sin.
           But what kind of ending is THAT! We already knew he would go bad, because this entire film was backstory, which pulled its teeth from the beginning. And when the final credits rolled, the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth. It was so pat — never mind, folks, the kids will pay the bills!
           But there you are: predestination was at work. No other ending was possible.
           And yet . . why not? I have a friend who imagined a different ending. And here it is:
           Suppose, just suppose, that at the last minute, Anakin had stopped, looked down the road he was traveling, and said, "No." Suppose he'd balked at the destiny that Lucas had already produced for him. What if he'd laughed at the Evil Emperor, rejoined the Good Guys and NOT left the mop-up to the twins. What if he'd used his heart and his head to change the future. Why not? You and I do it every day.
           Yes, we do. Every step we make, every decision, every action we take (or refuse to take) creates the future we're going to live in. And so, because we understand that, you and I stop and think. You and I resist temptation. We consider the result — the impact of our actions. We consciously choose our course and try to create a better life and a better world as we go along. So why couldn't Anakin Skywalker have done that — and changed his own future in that galaxy so far, far away? Wouldn't that have been great? For him to prove that it really is possible to change the world!
           It's not that hard. You and I manage to do it. All day. Every day.
           Makes me sad. Such a nice film. Such a sorry ending. (5/05)

The Road to Perdition

      It's okay. You can stop worrying. Tom Hanks, perhaps the most quietly accomplished actor of our time, has not dimmed his lustre with this one.
      And truthfully, the Chick was worried. What if he was so good at being a bad guy that she learned to hate him? What would she do then? Yet, as the world knows, she detests films in which she has to root for the bad guy. But it's cool; all's well. With a larger eye, we see how this line of work could come to such a troubled soul.
      The film was great to look at, filled with suspense, and satisfyingly complex. And the Kid did well, Paul Newman was swell, and gorgeous Jude Law was so mean and ugly that he blew me off my tree. Moreover, it seems to be doing well at the box office, so the Hanks/Newman/Law pocketbooks are as safe as their reps. Good! (7/20)

Robin Hood

           How come Robin looks so used up before his mythic story ever gets started? No Greenwood Gladiators in this filck, no Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, only a war weary footsoldier coming home from the Crusades.
            Bad King John is at the front end of his reign. And his mama, the glorious Eleanor of Acquitaine is here reduced to a sort of tight-lipped spinster.
           Through a series of improbable events, Robin-the-Yeoman masquerades as the Earl's lost son, and is somehow married to Cate Winslett, as Maid Marian (although "Maid," as in "Maiden," meant "unmarried girl" in those days). For the remainder of the film, Robin gallops around the countryside and the seashore, fighting off King John's turncoat consellor and large numbers of French troops and is not banished to the Greenwood until the last moments of the film.
            Oh, oh! Russell Crowe! Sad that you should sink so low!
           A really poor vehicle for a very fine star. He can do so much better. He usually does.(5-2010)

The Royal Tennenbaums

     I was prepared to love this film. After all, it stars Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Danny Glover, and my personal fave, Bill Murray, all of whom gave engaging performances as a set of quirky oddball misfits. (Liked Paltrow in this role better than in any I have seen her do in some time.) It had cute dialogue and a giddy, amusing plot, complete with the necessary dark moment or two. There were even a hunting falcon and a Beagle to charm us animal lovers! It had so much flash, so much charm, it was so much of a good thing . . . how could it fail?
     And it didn't fail . . . exactly. Only —
      It was so pleased with itself! So slyly, tongue-in-cheek, Look-ma-I'm-dancin' campily precious that I was, myself, ever so slightly put off by it. The theater audience laughed. I laughed too. But not quite enough. Guess I expected more than it delivered.
      By the way — "Royal" because the Dad's name is Royal. (1/16/02)

The Flick Chick Reviews New Films
More Film Reviews. Click the appropriate letter for films whose titles begin with . . .
A-B #  C-D #  E-F #  G-H #  I-J #  K-L #  M-N #  O-P #  Q-R #  S #  T-U #  V-W  #  X-Y-Z
A few choice foreign films (subtitles)


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