Friday, May 28

Posted by Laurel Garver on Friday, May 28, 2010 19 comments
Since it's a holiday weekend (for us Yanks at least), I thought I'd wait to pick up the overwriting series next week.

There's nothing like a long weekend to lounge about watching movies (between the picnics and family gatherings). If you're looking for recommendations, here are a few quick picks for your weekend entertainment, all from about three years ago and available on DVD.

The Prestige
Synopsis (from IMDB): A mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy -- full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences. From the time that they first met as young magicians on the rise, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden were competitors. However, their friendly competition evolves into a bitter rivalry making them fierce enemies-for-life and consequently jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them. Set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London.

My take: Absolutely brilliant film about rivalry and deception among illusionists. The flow of the plot isn't strictly linear, so it requires some effort to follow on the first viewing. I found that the film got better and better with repeated viewings; each time I picked up new clues I'd missed before.

Unlike "The Illusionist," which was released around the same time, this one doesn't insult your intelligence by revealing the entire trick of the plot. That's what's so beautiful--I woke up in the middle of the night realizing the deepest rivalry isn't the one given all the attention. Talk about misdirection! That tie of form to content blew me away.

Synopsis (from IMDB): An (unnamed) Guy is a Dublin guitarist/singer-songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad's Hoover repair shop by day, and singing and playing for money on the Dublin streets by night. An (unnamed) Girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance, and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night. Guy meets Girl, and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. During the same several day period, the Guy and the Girl work through their past loves, and reveal their budding love for one another, through their songs.

My take: This film starts so quietly and sucks you in entirely. I don't think I've ever been so emotionally undone by a film. Beautiful and powerful in its slow, subtle storyline and haunting music. It's filmed like the Danish Dogme films "Italian for Beginners" and others--hand-held cameras, ambient sounds and performances for the "soundtrack." It just made the emotional impact of the story all the stronger because it's so NOT Hollywood and felt all the more real and poignant.

In the Land of Women
Synopsis (from IMDB): His world in complete disorder after his break-up with a famous actress, Carter, a young script writer, goes to suburban Detroit to care for his sickly Grandmother and heal his broken heart. Along the way he forms a special bond with the family that lives across from his Grandma, and changes the life of each woman. They, in turn, help him find his way.

My take: I really liked Carter's character arc in this. He starts out pie-eyed about women, tending to project his fantasies on them (his job keeps him stuck in this mode). He gradually begins to know himself and females better after a break up, and spending time with three generations of females--his grandmother, his 40-something neighbor and her teen daughter. There's some great dialogue as he spends time with these women and they open up parts of him that need to be nourished and matured. That he tries to get romantic with age-inappropriate partners fits his fatal flaw and finally compels needed change.

Do any of these appeal to you? Why or why not?
Any special plans this weekend? Will you try to write or take a vacation?
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  1. I love the Prestige! I don't think enough people out there know it. What a great twist of all twists. I was sure I had it figured out and I was sooo wrong!

  2. I'm crazy about Once, even bought the soundtrack. But I haven't seen the other two, so on to my Netflix list they go!
    Happy long weekend, Laurel.

  3. I love the Prestige! My brother and I love to discuss it over and over. Did Christopher Nolan ever make another movie as intriguing?

  4. The Prestige was great, but so sad. Both actors are brilliant.

  5. Loved Once. Right after I saw it, I had to get the soundtrack. I still listen to it even though I saw this movie like two years ago!

  6. The Prestige sounds very intriguing. I'd never heard of any of them.

    Have a great (long) weekend!

  7. I love the cover for ONCE, and your lovely review has certainly convinced me to watch it. :)

  8. I haven't actually seen any of these, although I've heard of The Prestige. I may check it out- thanks! Happy weekend!

  9. I haven't heard of any of these films. But The Prestige sounds REALLY good and intense!

  10. I loved The Prestige. The ending blew me away, but I did catch on to the clues when I watched it the second time.

  11. I bought the DVD for Once. I love it, too. I'd like to watch The Prestige. I'll be going to an art gallery with a friend tomorrow, singing in church on Sunday, and Monday will go to the parade with my Cub Scouts. They'll be in it and hand out programs at the service.

  12. Lydia: I almost used the film as an example for my post on narrative misdirection, but decided it was too much of a spoiler to talk about Alfred and his, um, REAL rival. :-)

    Tricia: I should totally get this soundtrack to have on hand whenever I want to write about longing. I ache a little just thinking about those amazing songs.

    Mary: Christopher Nolan also directed Memento, about a man with short-term memory loss trying to solve his wife's murder. It *really* messes with your mind!

    JEM: I liked how Alfred finally got free of his real rival (not Angier) in a poetically just way. Took multiple viewings to get it though! Christian Bale rocked this film and Hugh Jackman was pretty good (if not as swoon-worthy in my book). :-)

    Nicole: The soundtrack was such a huge appeal of the film, wasn't it?

    Janet: I tend toward the obscure and indie in my film taste and am always happy to shout out gems I find.

  13. Sandy: it's a lovely little film. Hope you enjoy it.

    Talli: My taste runs toward the obscure. Complex, character-driven films don't seem to become the box-office smashes that plot-driven extravaganzas do.

    Jennifer: I didn't even mention how beautiful the turn-of-the-century costumes and sets are!

    Melissa: The film is so clue-packed, the more I watched, the more I picked up.

    Mary: Sounds like a packed weekend! Enjoy!

  14. I'd heard the Prestige was good and I love Jackman and Bale. Don't know why I've never seen it. LOL I did enjoy the Illusionist, though I agree they didn't need to give away the illusion. Sigh. Hollywood. I've never heard of your other films, but I suspect I'd enjoy Once especially. Time for take out at the library! ;D Thanks for the suggestions.

    As far as writing, I hope to get more research done and catch up on inputting my notes. I still have no idea what story I'll do next. Again. Sigh. Thanks for dropping by to help with my pitch! I'm so darn tired of that thing and I begin to fear it's going to burp out of me like pistachio nut pudding at the conference. Blah!

  15. Victoria: haven't succumbed to the siren-call of Netflix, huh? :-) You're welcome for the film suggestions and input on your pitch as well. I attempted a few one-sentence loglines for a blogfest last weekend thought it would about kill me--and I didn't ultimately love any of them, either. marketing writing is a different ball game altogether, isn't it?

    Good luck with the conference!

  16. I'm a bit late. Weekends over. But I can save these recommendations for another time! I loved Once. I believe the couple in the movie were/are together in real life, and the girl had no acting experience. I shall watch Prestige this coming weekend. Thanks for reviews!

  17. Didn't think I'd seen any of these, but the last one seemed familiar, and as luck would have it, I DID see it somewhere along the line. I don't see a lot of movies, so that's a bit of a miracle!

  18. I'm sorry I'm late to this post...I've been busy and mostly unplugged.

    I loved Presitge as well.
    And I LOVE Once. We bought it and watch it a couple times/year. I love every little thing about it. It's a masterpiece, non-cliched, not overdone. Perfect.

    (If you haven't watched An Education, I suggest it.)