HBO and Starz had free previews over parts of the holidays and I've been catching up on lots of really random movies I'd never seen. The list I've currently TiVo'd includes Talk to Me, (with Don Cheadle), Alpha Dog, Howard's End, The Fountain, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Across the Universe, December Boys, and I think I love My Wife. So slowly I'll probably review many of these just to give my opinions.
Walk Hard was dreadful. The first hour is a very strange parody of Walk the Line, copying scene by scene the film. John C. Reilly, while a comedic genius, is not as good at playing a faux musician as Joaquin Phoenix was at playing Johnny Cash. It was mostly boring for the first hour, if you've seen Walk the Line. Then it switches to a different time period in music, and he joins up with the Beatles later in their career. I have to say the scenes with the Beatles (Jack Black as Paul McCartney, Paul Rudd as John Lennon, Justin Long as George Harrison and Jason Schwartzman as Ringo Starr) were hysterical. The funny accents and caricatures of the Beatles were perfect and really funny, through the animated acid trip they take with Dewey. The only other good thing about the whole movie was Jenna Fischer as Dewey Cox's love interest (partly a June Carter Cash character). She's just funny playing off Dewey's idiocy. 2 Stars/Lambs
However, Howards End is wonderful and deserved all the accolades it won. Emma Thompson deserved her Oscar win for best Actress. It's a Merchant/Ivory film, with all that that implies, careful directing, even pacing, and dramatic music creating tension and mystery. Helena Bonham Carter is also terrific (though poorly dressed or made-up compared to all the rest of the cast) arguing with her sister (Thompson) about helping a friend they've made poorer than when they met. It follows the story of the middle class Schlegel sisters who met up with the rich Wilcoxes. The younger Wilcox son jilts Carter, but the families remain friends. Thompson befriends Mrs. Wilcox and leaves Howards End (a huge cottage) to Thompson. However, Mr. Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins) decides not to execute his wife's wishes. However, he befriends the Schlegels and ultimately decides to marry Thompson. Meanwhile Carter has befriended the Basts after she inadvertently steals his umbrella. On advice from Mr. Wilcox, the Schlegels encourage Mr. Bast to find another job, which he does and loses it, becoming poorer. There's lots of class conflict and family conflict usually caused by class conflicts, with an excellent script and dialogue throughout. A wonderful film. 4 stars/lambs. I used to confuse it with Remains of the Day, which also stars Thompson and Hopkins (though as servants) in England.
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