Thursday, January 7, 2016

Age of Adaline

A young woman in San Francisco prepares to change her identity and disappear. Through flashbacks and narrated pseudo-science we learn that, as a young mother and widow, she suffered an automobile accident that removed from her DNA the ability to age. She has remained physically 29 years old from 1937 to the present day. This has not been a blessing to her, as she cannot risk any lasting relationships, and must change her identity regularly. Only her daughter, now old enough to pose as her grandmother, knows her secret.

This is a beautiful movie that proceeds at a leisurely pace while the camera makes love to the best city in the world. I have some complaints about the two male characters’ behavior, but they are completely realistic. There is some fine material for the history buffs, and when the film enters matters of the heart, it is believable and affecting. As an incurable romantic, I highly recommend this movie.

Understandably rendered an old fool

Age of Adaline, 2015; Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn

Monday, January 4, 2016

Anna Karenina

I had only seen Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean and therefore did not know she could act. Turns out, in this title rĂ´le, she pretty much could, as she led the classic tale everyone knows except yours truly, who had a relatively experimental education in 1970s Berkeley, CA, and never had to read any classics. I had no idea therefore that Alexei Karenin was a cold and emotionless creature. I only knew he never smiled, and was shockingly permissive for a man (much less an important Russian man) of the 1870s. I was particularly interested when he forgave Vronsky for his affair with his wife while they both wept over her ailing body. It was the same moment experienced by modern husbands when their intention towards polyamory is suddenly thrust out of book theory and into practice. The recurring theme of marital love encompassing and forgiving extra-marital love is a very modern theme, and ties the timeless Christian intention of unconditional love to its modern counterpart in blended and extended families. Of course, Karenin was no modern, and when the price of their sin caught up with them, he returned to an unforgiving propriety, and neither Anna nor her dashing lover reaped more than ashes.

The truest star in this film was in the setting. The entire film took place in a sort of extended stage set, as though performed in a great theater that for all its grandeur could not contain it. Scenes were shifted as actors moved, stage lights flared, and action moved into the shops and flyspaces. It was truly a delight to watch.

Keira Knightley acts as though glancing prettily over her shoulder
Anna Karenina, 2012; Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson