Friday, October 17, 2014

4 Films About Love -- 2 Comedies & 2 Dramas

Modern Romance, Albert Brooks
This film was made early in Albert Brooks career. It is about how hopeless his comic persona is at having a love life. This is the comic persona Brooks has always played: deeply neurotic, obnoxious verging on offensive, whining and all in all about the last person you'd want to be having a romance with in real life. I don't know how close this is to the "real" Albert Brooks but that doesn't matter.

His character cannot compromise about anything so when something or someone fails to meet his standards, he just can't take it. He will quit right there. He can also be thrown off by the slightest thing and when Michael Jackson comes on singing "She's Out of Your Life" while he's driving on a date, it just ends his whole evening. He can't even handle one song about broken up romance. It is utterly hilarious.

L'Appartement, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci

One facet of this movie that no one mentions but it really is a factor is that two of the actors on the screen are perhaps the sexiest, most magnetic and charismatic stars movie goers have seen in awhile. These two are Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci. They made the movie in 1996 and actually married one another in 1999.  So perhaps the film was helped by this real life sizzling and chemistry. It is difficult to shoot a film involving love, attraction and sexuality if the two actors are absolutely flat with no chemistry between them. 

This French film involves them as former lovers who cannot find one another again. He does spot her one day and follows her to her apartment. However, when he hides in her apartment, he discovers it is someone who looks like her who lives there. But he was sure he saw her, not this other woman. 

This is a very nuanced, layered film. Cassel is definitely the lead because the camera is always on him and he is the one who is searching. Just writing about it, I feel another watching coming on! Some have compared this to Hitchcock and De Palma and it is a fair comparison. Truffaut was another Frenchman who paid homage to Hitchcock with The Bride Wore Black. This film is like that one in style, élan and suspense.

Wings of the Dove, Helena Bonham-Carter, Linus Roache

I generally find Henry James' novels much too impenetrable to read. Thus, I've found myself relying on the film versions of his works instead. His work reaches its finest hour in this adaptation of his novel of the same name. I am glued to my seat every time I watch this for it is a fabulous love triangle beautifully played by all three leads. 

The leading man, Linus Roache, is my favorite actor in this film. He is perfect with both women plus you really feel for his predicament. He also is the most conflicted character. Helena Bonham Carter plays the woman he is in love with but, because he has no money, she sends him to Venice to captivate a rich, dying young woman, Milly, so that Milly will leave him her fortune. 

In the last scenes of the movies, Roache captures facial expressions of this man's conflicts that are sheer perfection. I wanted to see much more of Roache on the screen when I initially saw this in the theater, but he had not played that many roles. In the years since then, he went on to make rather small and independent films but he also had a long term tv role as an attorney on one of the Law & Order shows. He is excellent in the films Priest and Pandemonium. Bonham Carter and the actress who plays Milly are also quite splendid. I can't think of anything negative to say about this film.

Lonely Guy, Steve Martin, Charles Grodin

Steve Martin has had many excellent partners in his films but Charles Grodin is certainly one of his best in this excellent film about the Lonely Guys. Our two heroes are doomed for finding love at every turn it seems. But then there's the idea of a manual and how one gets through life if one is a lonely guy. And Martin and Grodin for the first half of the movie are the embodiment of nerdy Lonely Guy. The epitome of this is when they hold a party and the guests are cardboard cutouts of celebrities. They actually stand around with drink in hand being sociable with the cutouts! But then things start to turn around for the lonely guys. There are especially some good scenes on the bridge where the lonely people go to jump. Turns out that can be the best place for meeting people. Their love lives do turn up, of course, which is made all the sweeter since they start out as such hopeless cases. Martin and Grodin are just brilliant in this.

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