Diary of A Chambermaid

Diary of a Chambermaid is the story of a woman who wants to “fix” her life, but has no idea how to do so, and no one to help her fix it.  During the period in which the movie takes place (France, 1900) the only financial help a single woman not born into a wealthy family could get was from a man – either by finding a “sponsor” or a husband – by becoming a servant or a teacher if she were single, or by getting into the world’s oldest profession.

Célestine (played by Léa Seydoux) is a chambermaid whose assets are her street smarts, her mental strength and her looks, and she relies on these tools to get her through much of life’s adversity.  It is the story of many uneducated and/or undereducated, poor, unskilled women all over the world, historically and in the present day, who lack opportunities to advance in life and as a result wind up selling themselves short. It is a story as old as time; women being overpowered and oppressed by men in patriarchal societies, and the “underclass” serving as minions for the rich in one way or another.  Being born poor is difficult enough, but to be a poor woman in 1900 anywhere was probably more than a bit daunting, to say the least; or so one could imagine.

Célestine is a beautiful, spirited girl. Diary of a Chambermaid chronicles the tragedies that have occurred in her young life thus far; going from house to house, master to master, in pursuit of some stability.  Thanks in part to life’s circumstances, and in part to Célestine’s bad attitude and poor judgment, she has had quite a rough life – which causes her to have a bad attitude – which makes her life harder than it has to be – which gives her a bad attitude, and so the cycle goes…  While other servants seem to manage to humbly resign themselves to a life of servitude, finding the silver linings of their situations (a kind-hearted master, a master who is not a molester, a master who molests but has a kind heart, etc.) , Célestine longs for something more, something different, something exciting, something she can excel at.  She is perpetually restless as she plots and schemes and dreams of ways to make changes, but has trouble strategizing and thinking things through to their final, logical conclusion.  Therefore, she sometimes makes less than smart decisions.

This movie gave a profound sense of sadness because Célestine believed that she was meant to be something more than a servant, but had no idea what that something else might be. How could she?  So, she just kind of drifted through her life without direction, from job to job, doing work she didn’t particularly care about or enjoy.  Occasionally, she would find some joy in her work, but whenever she did, it ended badly.  Because of her bad attitude and how tough she had become in order to survive, she became hardened and somewhat bitter.  In the end she winds up making what may have amounted to the most foolish decision of her life – or maybe not.  One would have to watch the movie to judge for one’s self.

Diary of a Chambermaid earns 7 out of 10 bloops. It is a smart movie worth seeing.  The acting was on point.  Special mention should be made of Vincent Lindon, who gives a downright frightening performance as a seemingly nice man who just so happens to be an anti-Semite with a devious mind and a cruel streak.  If you’re into French films, you may enjoy it, but honestly, it would make a really good Netflix pick as well.

Note: I did learn that Diary of a Chambermaid is a remake from a 1964 version that I have to watch now.  Let’s hope it is on Netflix or Prime!

Advertisements

Genius (PG-13)

Genius, is the story of a man described as “the most famous literary editor” and his most challenging author.  Max Perkins (played by Colin Firth) edited and oversaw the publication of great works by authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway and others.  None of the greats seemed to challenge, infuriate or enamor Perkins more than Thomas Wolf (played by Jude Law).  In an industry plagued by alcoholism, working with a “difficult” author was nothing new for Perkins, until Tom Wolfe shows up and changes his world – at first in a positive way.  Then, Wolfe’s drinking increases, boundaries are crossed, his ego becomes inflated and their relationship runs off the rails.

I must say, before this movie I had absolutely no impression of Jude Law as an actor one way or another. Here, he gives an outstanding performance as Thomas Wolfe.  Here, he leaves an impression as a seasoned actor who devoured this role.  His character is set up to carry the movie and Jude pulls it off beautifully.  The character was full of vibrancy and charm and he brought those qualities and more to life on the screen.  Law’s Wolfe was impetuous, eloquent, unpredictable and electric.  Also deserving mention is Nicole Kidman, as Wolfe’s unstable (relationship status-wise and mentally) love interest.  Although the role was not necessarily “large,” it was important, and it was some of the best work from Kidman in years.  Colin Firth as Perkins is quite good, with his even, cool demeanor.  Perkins would have to have been a man with much patience to work with such egos for very long.

This review is short and sweet. Genius is an interesting story with solid performances that is well written, directed and acted, with lovely costumes and set design.  I give Jude Law’s performance 9.5 bloops and the movie, overall, 8 bloops.  It is an entertaining movie that should be seen.  Not necessarily in the theater, but if you do decide to pay to see it and it sounds like a story that might interest you, you will get your money’s worth and you will not be disappointed.

Welcome!

bloop!

I feel as though I’ve been watching movies since I arrived on this planet and I cannot honestly name the first movie I ever saw.  I do, however, remember when I first learned that a movie could leave an indelible impression.  It was 1969 or 70 and I was about three and a half/four years old.  (Yes.  Let’s get this out of the way, so we’re all clear here.  I am turning 50 this year.  And let’s not speak of it again unless I need to bring it up for some reason.  Thankyouverymuch.)

My family was displaced because our apartment building had been burned down to the ground.  We were temporarily living in the Concourse Plaza Hotel in the Bronx.  Don’t be fooled by the use of the term “Plaza” in the name.  The place was a dump.  But we were together, everyone was safe, it was temporary, and that was all…

View original post 1,168 more words

Free State of Jones (R)

Based on a true story, Free State of Jones is a civil war action drama starring Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, a Southern farmer who leads an armed rebellion against the Confederacy with other farmers and local slaves.  Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy (as you might imagine, an odds-defying task), creating the “Free State of Jones.”  Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction – standing up for the rights of “allegedly” freed slaves and poor farmers, distinguishing him as a controversial figure of defiance.

The most important things I took away from this movie was being reminded how one person (even though they may need plenty of support) really can make a difference and thinking, what a world we could live in if we all just learned to respect one another as people.  If only…

Aside from that, the problem I had with the film (and it took me a while to figure it out) is that it lacked emotional depth.  It seemed like a bit too much artistic license was used to bring the historical content to life and not enough attention was paid to portraying the emotional bonds between these characters.  There is a distinct bite to the writing that politicizes the characters heavily, taking away from their “human-ness.”  Granted, the film was largely about politics; but I didn’t feel the emotion of the characters who were supposed to care for one another, not even during the kindest of acts toward one another.  I never got the sense that Knight was particularly enamored with Rachel (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw).  She just kind of happened to be there.  There is not even a kiss shown between them.  After Knight helps a slave named Moses (played by Mahershala Ali), I didn’t feel they were much more connected than they were before the incident.  Until certain lines are uttered or specific scenes or crises arise do we learn about the shifts in the relationships.  The viewer gets no visual evidence that the relationships had grown in any way, and this is where the movie falls short.  The villains were much more convincing, but, of course, they didn’t have emotional bonds to nurture.  All they had to do was be unlikable; and they were.

What is unique about the movie is that it shows how tough conditions were for freed slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted.  There were still many loopholes in many local laws that made it nearly impossible for former slaves to exercise their rights and freedoms, and, shamefully, the Ku Klux Klan was allowed to run rampant and leave a swath of hateful destruction wherever and whenever they pleased.  As we all know, writing something down on a piece of paper and calling it a law does little to change people’s attitudes and beliefs.  That is where the real work lies.

Simultaneously, there is a story being told of one of Knight’s descendants and the trial he goes through some 85 years later. I suppose the point was not only to show the historical connection, but to some way imply that the strength of Knight had somehow genetically been passed down to his descendant and the descendant’s act of defiance was somehow equivalent to his ancestor’s.  I understand the connection and see the relevance of telling both stories; they just weren’t integrated well enough to get the point across clearly.  I got a feeling that the work put into the story of Knight’s descendant could have been scrapped and more work could have been put into strengthening the story of Knight’s rebellion.  One well-told story would have been preferable to including more information just for the sake of including more information.

The cast does a good job and most importantly (to me), the fingernails were dirty and the whitened teeth were adequately sullied.  The one detail which was overlooked was that the men’s hands needed a bit of makeup for “roughness.” Constructing shelters and working the land does not add up with smooth, scar free hands.

Overall, Free State of Jones earned 7 out of 10 bloops. It is a story that is worth telling, but due to the film’s emotional shortcomings, I wouldn’t recommend anyone run and pay to see it.  It was good, but it certainly could have been better.  It is definitely worth a look on cable or a streaming service.

Udta Punjab

Based on true events, there is a war on drugs in Punjab, India and Udta Punjab is about the impact of the flood of drugs on three characters with intertwining stories, the mass decimation of the youth and the ripple effect illegal drug use has on individuals, families and communities.

Tommy (played by Shahid Kapoor) is a pop star who earns his fortune and fame by glorifying the fact that Punjab is flooded with drugs and how everybody is high or should be high, through his songs.  He’s like Justin Bieber in terms of popularity, but he’s a coke-head and all his songs are about dope.  And they are quite catchy too.  You take a journey with him through an awakening about how his lyrics impact his community.  Another character (played by Alia Bhatt) stumbles into the drug trade quite accidentally and tries to “play with the big boys.”  As a result, her entire life is very nearly permanently ruined.  Sartaj (played by Diljit Dosanjh) is a corrupt cop who doesn’t even consider the possibility that he has the power to stop the flow of drugs, so he may as well capitalize off the trade and accept kickbacks; until the drugs he is paid to allow in to Punjab hit very close to home and he has a change of heart.

This movie touches on a lot of issues not exclusive to India, naturally, but how the drug trade, police corruption, political corruption and sometimes corporate corruption, go hand-in-hand and can destroy a community – even a country – and how such an epidemic can seem impossible to slow or stop. Each character makes decisions or fails to make decisions which allow them to thoughtlessly go along with the drug culture in Punjab; then they each have an epiphany of some sort about how these drugs have touched and/or are ruining their lives – and decide to make different choices.  In these ways, Udta Punjab is universally relatable to anyone who has ever had anything in their life that they had to make a decision to fight to overcome – anyone who has ever been addicted to anything or been close to an addict in any way.

Also, some women’s issues are addressed, but I won’t go into it in depth lest I give anything away. But I thought this added another interesting element of the movie and deserved mention.

Udta Punjab earned 8 bloops out of 10. The movie does an excellent job of demonstrating the serious impact drugs have on individuals, families and communities.  I laughed, I cried, my jaw hit the floor a couple of times, I was entertained, the story was woven together well, it was really well-acted and creatively written,  the end was neither too happy, nor too tragic, nor too corny (and it easily could have been very corny), and it had some good music in it as well.  It is a good movie that you shouldn’t miss.

Homeless Billionaire

My overall strategy before seeing any movie is to clear my mind of all judgment and just watch what I see on the screen for those two hours or so and judge it based on just what is there and nothing else. But after reading the synopsis for The Homeless Billionaire I couldn’t help but think about 1991’s Life Stinks (directed, co-written by and starring Mel Brooks), which has the exact same premise.  Brooks’ arrogant millionaire character makes a bet that he can survive the streets of L.A. on his alleged “street smarts,” without any money for 30 days.  I thought it couldn’t be done any better than it already has been, but I decided to give the Homeless Billionaire a chance.

Let’s just cut to the chase because I feel like I’ve already wasted enough of my life on this Billionaire movie. It looked like it was shot in the 90’s, put in a can, dusted off the day before yesterday and somebody released it.  When I say it was terrible, it was terrible.  The casting, the acting, the writing, the editing, the “cinematography” – and I use the term loosely – was terrible, the cover art (see above) was terrible, and the editing of this movie was horrendous.

It was by far one of the worst movies I have ever seen, including M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs (2002) starring Mel Gibson, Will Smith’s Wild, Wild West (1999) and Terrence and Taraji’s Hustle & Flow (2005). Nicholas Cage’s Drive Angry (2011) was at least so bad it was hilarious (even though it was billed as an action fantasy thriller), making it funnier than Homeless Billionaire.  I would have walked out on each of these movies had I seen any one of them alone.  I was by myself for Homeless Billionaire, and wanted to walk out less than 20 minutes in but decided to give it a chance.  I lasted one hour and I was done.  I wasn’t the only one who thought it stunk or walked out.  Quite a few people made early exits.  Two ladies who walked out moments before I did said they were looking on their phones because they thought this movie was supposed to be a comedy and they had the wrong movie.

The lead actor, Victor Alfieri – I will never forget the name – didn’t land one joke, and “acted” as though this was his very first movie role ever. I wouldn’t know how many movie credits the guy has because the movie isn’t listed on IMDB at all, and I can’t make myself care enough to spend any more time on this, really.  The movie is said to be in “limited release”.  The release needs to be even more limited than it already is – as in not at all.

The story had plenty of opportunity to “be” funny, it just wasn’t. Not walking out after my first inclination to do so was my mistake and I have no one to blame but myself for whatever followed.  But you do not have to suffer like I did.  If you go to see this movie, you will want your money back.  Run and save yourself.  Don’t be duped like me.  The fact that I still do not have a rating system is of no consequence because I wouldn’t give it a bloop if someone paid me.  Do not watch it on cable.  Do not watch it on Netflix.  Do not watch it on TV.  If someone offers to pay you to see it, do not go!  You have been warned.  If you want to see a funny movie about a rich guy playing homeless – just watch Life Stinks.

Me Before You (PG-13)

When my daughter was little a little girl, the one fairytale I refused to read to her was Cinderella. I never really gave it much thought or had a problem with the story until I had a daughter of my own and began to think about it in a different way.  Because Cinderella was so very powerless and only gained power over her circumstances after some dude came along and “saved” her – this made me think perhaps this was not a positive message for a child, male or female, to be listening to without a lot of follow up discussion on the subject.  Cinderella’s life was crap before the Prince showed up and after she met him everything was roses and sunshine and unicorns and rainbows and goodness; or at least that is what a child would assume from “…and they lived happily ever after.”  The most complicated aspect of their relationship was him finding the woman who fit the glass slipper.  Huh!  What would that story be like without the Prince?  What else could Cinderella have done to empower herself and lift herself up from or get out of her situation?  Why did she need a man and magic to do that?  I didn’t want my daughter to think that life and love and men and women worked that way.  Anyway, it never sat right with me, and that’s why I enjoyed Me Before You.

Louisa (played by Emilia Clark – Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones), is a small town girl who loses her job and needs a way to make money to continue to help support her struggling family. A job caring for recently paralyzed Will Trainor (played by Sam Claflin – Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games films) presents itself.  Because jobs are scarce in this little town and the salary is generous, Louisa accepts the job, falls in love with Will, and commences to bring some measure of joy into his otherwise dreary, angry, bitter life.  Similarly to Prince Charming, Will is wealthy and even lives in a castle; but initially there is nothing charming about him.  Louisa has to work to get Will to open up to her and once he does both of their lives are divided into two parts – Me After you and Me Before You – because neither of them will ever be the same again.

Me Before You is a sort of anti-fairy tale because it doesn’t shows love in a standard “boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after” scenario. There is no “happy” ending here, love does make things better, in a sense, but does not “conquer all,” and nobody completes anybody.  Based on a book by JoJo Moyes, this movie looks at the ideals and ideas we have about “love” versus what love really is, the majority of the time, outside our imagination and fantasies, in real life.  Generally in real life, love – contrary to what we are fed – is not magical, can be complicated, takes the work of willing participants, takes commitment, is not always easy, is not always fun, is not always fair, is not always happy, even; and if you’re not happy with yourself, another person’s love cannot or will not make you happy.  Me Before You destroys the illusion that all anybody needs is someone to love to make everything “alright” in life.  Love is a powerful force, but with or without it, problems still persist and love does not “cure” anything really.  And that is okay, because sometimes all love has to do is simply just “be.”  Me Before You is about learning to expressing a different kind of love; love that allows people to be exactly who they are, agreeing to disagree, and supporting one another through those disagreements, even when it is hard as hell to do so; the tougher parts of love.

The ending is realistic. Everybody does not win, everyone does not get exactly what or who they want the way they want, and no one rides off into the sunset on a horse, or some other fairytale ridiculousness.  Will does help to save Louisa, in a sense, but unlike Cinderella, she came to the table with her own skills and tools so that she was able to help save herself as well.

Despite the rather deep subject matter, and the presence of a paraplegic (almost guaranteed to bring down the tone of almost any movie), Me Before You is told in a light manner. There is some humor and there will be a couple of tears, at least.  It finds the balance of being a sweet movie that is neither too syrupy nor sappy.  Emilia Clark, Sam Claflin, and the supporting cast do a great job, even if Emilia’s knitted brows got to be a bit of a distraction at times (They are very expressive!).

Me Before You earned 8 out of 10 “bloops”. It is a good movie worth seeing, and whether you see it in the theater or wait for it to come out on cable, don’t miss it.  Billed as a “romantic drama” (how often do you hear THAT description?), there is definitely something unique and refreshing about it.

Central Intelligence (PG-13)

20 years after high school graduation, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is contacted via facebook by former class mate Bob Stone – f/k/a Bob Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson), and drawn into a game of international espionage.  In this caper, Calvin cannot tell who the good and bad guys are.  He has to trust his instincts to get to the truth of the mystery because he can neither blindly trust someone he went to school with 20 years ago who he barely consider an acquaintance, nor the U.S. government.

Calvin was the golden boy in high school and Bob was the object of severe bullying.  Calvin was the one kid at school who never laughed at Bob and knew the pranking and bullying he suffered was wrong.  The movie explores the lasting effects of bullying and how acts of kindness and compassion can act as a lifeline.

Now, is the movie funny?  Aside from the opening scene, I was a good 30-35 minutes into it before I got another good laugh, but once they got started it was pretty funny – here and there.  Kevin Hart is a funny little man with a funny voice and funny mannerisms.  His character’s hysterics and outrage over being dragged into this unexpected, wild situation made for many comedic moments.  The Rock is just beautiful… Oh, I’m sorry.  I drifted off.  I meant to say, The Rock can be funny as well.  He did a fair job changing his character from this super-tough CIA agent to the unpopular, lonely, insecure, fat kid everyone made fun of at school, and back again.  The man has mastery of his facial expressions and can turn it off and on like a switch – and the changes are not subtle, so it is funny – at times – and at other times it helps to confuse the viewer as to what Bob’s intentions really are.  The contrast in size between Calvin and Bob is ridiculously funny and was highlighted regularly.

This movie was very emotionally mature for a comedy, including a lot of serious reflection and self-examination, which, in my opinion, took away from the some of the humor and fun of it all. You don’t always want frat house humor, but you also don’t want a comedy with themes that are so serious or dense that they take a lot of time to develop, explain and explore.  On a positive note, the PG-13 rating prevented much swearing (there may have been one “bad” word – and when it was used, it was funny), so, I appreciate that whatever humor there was relied on comedy and not vulgarity.  There is enough gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, stunts and antics in the actions scenes, and the stunts are well choreographed.

Central Intelligence earned 6.5 bloops. It’s a good movie that could have been better – but it wasn’t bad.  Worth seeing if you’re a fan of Kevin Hart and/or The Rock.  It is a mostly light movie that will give you a few good chuckles.

The Wailing (R)

South Korea’s Hong-jin Na wrote and directed The Wailing (subtitled), featuring Jun Kunimura (of Kill Bill Vol.s 1 and 2) as a nameless Japanese stranger whose arrival to a small South Korean village coincides with the outbreak of a sickness that spreads and turns infected villagers homicidal.

The movie begins by introducing Jun Goo (played by Do Won Kwak), as a less than competent police officer. Jun Goo’s bumbling leads to a lot of laughs at the start of the movie; so many laughs that you begin to wonder what direction this film is going to take.  There has been a murder and Jun Goo is called on to investigate and the mystery begins.  There are other murders throughout the movie which increase the suspicion and speculation surrounding the newly arrived Japanese stranger.

It is this suspicion and speculation that help to build tension in this film quite well, as this atmosphere of distrust and fear increase.  The more you hear the villagers tell their tales about what they heard about the stranger, what they believe about the stranger, or what they swear they have seen first-hand (which of course, is difficult for others to believe because it is all so “far fetched”), you begin to wonder whether the stranger is somehow responsible for all the mysterious goings-on that have occurred since his arrival; or are these people being paranoid and targeting him because he is a stranger who is not of their community.  Also thrown into the mix are other suspects who may be the evil force that is turning the villagers homicidal.  What can be scarier than not knowing what or who you are actually afraid of?  The film draws you in, in the sense that just as Jun Goo has no idea what to believe or who to trust, neither will you.

Along the way, the evil spirit attempts to possess Jun Goo’s daughter and he has to fight spiritually and physically to save her and the rest his family.  As the story progresses, Jun Goo evolves from an incompetent boob to a man who is on a mission to save his daughter, and will stop at nothing to do so.  At times his incompetence hinders him, but there is a total change in his good natured spirit that is visible and heart wrenching.

The Wailing is one of the better horror movies I’ve seen in quite some time.  Most pieces of the movie are connected to the final outcome and you are kept guessing until very close to the very end when the “big reveal” occurs.  Regarding the pieces that do not connect to the final outcome, Na seems to get a bit too “artistic” and the story becomes unnecessarily complicated with details that do not elevate the movie in any way.  Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence throughout the film.  The Wailing is part mystery, part comedy (until it’s no longer funny and turns very, very dark), part horror – and each element comes together mostly successfully.

The Wailing earns 7 bloops.  If you are a true fan of horror and think you would appreciate seeing it in the theater, by all means do so.  It is a good movie that is definitely worth a watch on cable or a streaming service, if you are a subscriber.

Sunset Song (R)

I have to preface this review with a funny story about my movie-going experience. Very often I have people who come and sit two seats away from me in a completely empty theater.  As annoying as that may be to me (I just don’t understand it), this was next-level annoying, at the time.

I went to the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, which is of course, near Lincoln Center – just to give you a picture of the neighborhood demographic and who might be in such a theater.  So, first I saw Dheepan, and playing in the same theatre about 10 minutes afterward, was Sunset Song.  Dheepan was the first movie of the day being shown at about 11 a.m. or so, and there were about 6 people in the theater.  Dheepan goes off, I go to the ladies’ room and freshen up, stretch my legs, get a snack…  When I return to the same theatre I just left five or 10 minutes earlier, there are like 50 senior citizens in the place, and it literally smells like they came on a field trip from Shady Pines.  So, I take the same seat I had for the first show, on the aisle, by the door, in the last row.  About ten minutes into the movie the door to the theater opens and it’s this old dude, and he is cussin’ up a storm, “How am I supposed to see anything when it’s so damn dark in here!” O.K. Pops…  Here we go…  He goes past my row and toward the front of the theater.  About two minutes later he comes BACK up the aisle to the rear of the theater where I am sitting, stumbling about and eventually finds his way to bumping into my seat, first, then into me, as if he is going to go head-first over my head.  So I say to him, “Uuuummm, would you like to sit in this row sir?”  He says, “Yes.”  I stand up to let him in, and dude takes my seat!  I mean, Pops just jacked me for my seat and took it!  So, I say, “Well…I wasn’t trying to give you MY seat, but you can have it,” at which point two ladies who were sitting in front of me began to laugh because they witnessed the entire ridiculous exchange.  Not a word did he speak to me.  Not a “thank you” or anything.  He’s old, it’s dark, and the movie I came to see is playing damn it! I don’t have time for this!  So, I go all the way over to the other side of the theater, take another aisle seat somewhere in the mid rows.  About maybe another five minutes go by and all of a sudden I notice a light shining behind me.  Where is it coming from?!  Who has a…?!!  Is that a flashlight?!!!  The old dude is wandering around on the side of the theater that I moved to after he took my seat!!!  He’s got this flashlight and is stumbling around some more, obviously unable to see from the back row he felt he just had to be in.  Another disruption.  Eventually, he walks all the way around, back to the door he came in – and he is cussing the entire time – and leaves the theater and does not return.  But there’s more.  That is not the end.  They’re not done irritating me yet.  About 10 minutes AFTER THAT a little old woman, perhaps in her late 70’s who obviously cannot see, comes through the door that is on the opposite side of the theater from where I now sit, walks across the entire rear of the theater, down the aisle, directly to my row and says in the sweetest little old lady voice, “Excuse me.”  Uuuuuuuuugh!!!!!  I get up so she can get in the row and she takes so long to get past one seat, I hate to swear but I swear to you, I thought my head was going to explode!  Tippy-toes couldn’t seem to make it past that first seat.  And she was trying!  So, I move again, and change my seat further back, near a beam, and finally settle in to get into this movie and pray that this beam keeps me from even being seen by anyone else who should happen by.  I love old folks, I really do, but a word to the wise and you can pass this on to the elderly people in your life who still enjoy a good movie now and again – – please get to the movie before it starts when the lights are still up and you can still see where the heck you’re going!  This has been a Public Service Announcement, and I speak on behalf of movie goers everywhere.

Now, on to Sunset Song.

Based on a Scottish novel, in Sunset Song we experience a few years in the life of a Scottish girl named Chris during the early 1900’s.  I have never read the book, but I don’t have to have read the book to judge whether the movie is done well or not.  This young woman experiences quite a bit of tragedy in her life, beginning with a super-dysfunctional family; but she always had potential to be able to improve her circumstances.  The problem was, it just wasn’t in the cards and nothing worked out as she planned.  Every time things started to look up for her, or a positive opportunity arose, something would happen to burst her bubble.  Sometimes the period where things were looking up was longer than others, but the bubble eventually burst.  Imagine if you will, every hope you have to improve the quality of your life gets dashed, over and over again, yet you still have to find a way to find happiness.  Chris experiences periods of freedom and happiness which seem so short lived compared to the amount of “bad” things that happen and hard times she goes through.  Sunset Song is a story of broken dreams, disappointments, maturity and growth, adapting to and accepting circumstances and people – particularly the people we love – as they really are, and not grumbling about how you wish they were.

As interesting as the subject matter could have been, the movie dragged out at times. There were scenes that went on for faaaar too long; I suppose for dramatic effect.  But, after the first or second drawn out scene, the method gets old, as it made the movie tedious to watch.  At another point in the movie, there was a Scottish hymn played in its entirety, for at least a good three minutes.  I fell asleep at that point and was awakened by someone in the film breaking a china cup, I think, or something…  At that point I had lost interest and was struggling to get through to the end.  The cast was not evenly capable in their acting abilities, and none of the other actors were on par with Peter Mullin, who played Chris’ father, John Guthrie.  Once his role diminishes, the movie becomes far less interesting.  Agyness Deyn, as Chris, gives it a good effort, but falls short during the most dramatic scene, where there is rending of garments and tortured cries of agony over some great loss or another.  Also, I don’t know if this movie contains one of the worst or best child-bearing scenes I have ever had the displeasure to experienced on film.  The screaming was absolutely unbearable.

All the distractions from the Shady Pines crew aside, Sunset Song earns 6/10 “bloops.” It was not bad, but could have been so much better.