Monday, October 4, 2010

Reel Insight Episode 17 - Anthony Hopkins

Chaplin - This might seem like an odd movie to see for a week based on Anthony Hopkins, but he plays the editor of Charlie Chaplin's book.  Most of the movie is told in flashbacks while old Charlie helps him edit the book.  Given my general love for Robert Downey Jr., I was really excited to see the movie that gave him his first Oscar nomination, which I think he deserved, though not to win in an amazing year where Al Pacino took the award for Scent of a Woman and Clint Eastwood was nominated for Unforgiven, and Denzel Washington for Malcolm X.  Charlie Chaplin was not a saint, but he really seemed to like making people laugh.  He was brilliant because he figured out how to do that without saying a word - his career declined after movies began using sound.  He was one of the most famous people in the world before WWII because his films "translated" into any language.  He had a rough home life with 4 supposed wives and at least 11 children, though possibly more of each.  The Tramp, his most famous role, made dozens of movies, and is a beloved character in film, and the movie Chaplin tries to pay homage to that.  RDJ does a pretty good job bringing him to life - though I think he'd do an even better job today.  Good movie, though fairly confusing with all the jumping around and the vast cast of characters. Looses some of the flow with the flashbacks.

84 Charing Cross Road - Netflix has assumed I would love this movie for a long time and it's been in my queue.  Starring Anne Bancroft as a New York City author right after WWII who requires and desires out-of-print British books and writes to a British used bookstore where Anthony Hopkins writes.  Most of the story is told through their letters.  This device works sometimes, and fails at others.  A few times they drop into the technique of narrating their letters directly to the camera as if it's possible to have a conversation with overseas letters.  Judi Dench also plays Hopkins wife who is a bit jealous of the correspondence.  It goes on for around 15 years or so - including with the rest of the staff and includes a lot of minor information about the differences in day to day life after the war - rationing in England and abundance in the US, etc.  Good movie, not great, but a fun period piece for book lovers (or an Anne Bancroft lover).

Bad Company - starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris RockExpected this to be really, really bad, and so I was pleasantly surprised when it was just bad.  Rock reigns it in a bit and isn't over the top in every scene and Hopkins isn't unbelievable as a spy.  Rock is asked to serve on a CIA mission after his twin brother is killed.  He has 8 days to learn how to walk, talk, and act like his well-educated, well-spoken, wealthy brother.  Of course it all works out okay and there's some humor along the way, some action that didn't really make sense, a few mistaken identity gags, and a happy ending.  Better than I expected.

Hearts in Atlantis - I'd never heard of this movie, but there it was in Hopkins roster, also starring Hope Davis and Anton Yelchin so I gave it a chance.  In the late 50s/60s, Hopkins comes to stay at Davis' boarding house.  He hires Yelchin to read the paper to him as his eyesight isn't good.  It turns out he can also see the future with his bad eyes.  He sees a few accidents coming and wins some money gambling and befriends fatherless Yelchin.  The climax occurs when Yelchin's best friend, Carol, gets beat up in the woods and Hopkins sends Yelchin to rescue her.  At the same time, Davis is away on a business trip with her boss who rapes her.  So of course, when Davis arrives home to see Hopkins taking care of the little girl, she assumes the worst and throws him out.  He helps her see that not everything is about her, and this little girl and boy are good and will grow up well.  Not a great story, Hopkins demeanor makes you think terrible things are going to happen.  Yelchin is really good though.  I'm glad Star Trek  has continued to improve his career.

The City of your Final Destination was just boring.

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