Words and Pictures (2013)

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche portray two teachers at a high school where they strike up a rivalry of their respective passions – art & literature. Owens plays a one-time lit phenom, Jack Marcus, but hasn’t published in a long time. This, along with his alcoholism, may just be his demise and get him fired from the prep school.

Dina Delsanto (Binoche) is an abstract artist debilitated by rheumatoid arthritis and is the new teacher on campus. Jack quickly starts the flirting game by challenging Delsanto to a word game by increasing the number of syllables of words. The flirting then leads to romance but is soon dissolved by Jack’s alcoholic blunder.

Although it appears bleak that Jack and Dina will repair their relationship, the students are engaged in a competition as to whether words are more important than pictures. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

While watching the movie I enjoyed a red blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Sirah produced by Bota Box called RedVolution.

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I know, I know it’s a box wine but for some reason I really enjoyed this with the movie along with some chips & pretzels. I found aromas of plum, blackberry and black cherry. This wine was quite jammy with similar tastes that I found on the nose. And for $19.99 for a 3 Liter box it’s pretty easy on the budget so it gets 7 1/2 wine glasses.

 

 

 

Chicken With Plums

Foreign film – French (2011).

Poulet aux prunes is about an established violinist, Nassir Ali Khan, set in 1950’s Tehran. However, there are a few turns in the story. It’s filled with flashbacks after his wife breaks his beloved violin in a fit of frustration. He is unable to find a replacement for his broken violin, thus he has become broken. As a result of this, he decides that the only outcome is to end his life.

The film is whimsical in nature as we are taken down a rabbit hole of scenarios, flashbacks, and surreal frames of Nassir’s hallucinations. We find that Nassir does not love his wife, even though she thoroughly adores him. Nassir’s true love was lost to him due to his profession as a musician. This scenario takes us on a journey that is all too familiar in most films.

Amidst his flashbacks, Nassir has a few comical moments when he speaks with the Angel of Death, then back to reality while speaking with his brother, then back in the rabbit hole again seeing his true love as she feigns not to know who he is when they happen by chance to encounter each other years later. It’s the classic romance, albeit more like a Shakespearean ending than a true love story. Overall, I wasn’t as impressed with the movie but was mesmerized by each individual scenario. So for me the parts of the movie were better than the picture as a whole.

BTW, his favorite meal is chicken with plums…

The Women on the 6th Floor

Foreign film – French (2010).

Set in 1960s Paris, Jean-Louis and his socialite wife find their maid of twenty-three years has up and quit as their housekeeper. As the dishes and laundry pile up, Jean-Louis’ wife Suzanne is convinced by her social circle of friends to get a younger maid and they recommend she employ a Spanish maid over the traditional French maid.

Enter vivacious and pretty Maria and Jean-Louis takes a fancy to her. Maria enlists the help of the other maids and with all the chores this was no easy task. Marveled with her skills, Jean-Louis and Suzanne immediately hire her. With his attention to Maria, Jean-Louis becomes enthralled with her and befriends the women on the 6th floor. This light hearted romantic comedy is worth the cost of admission with a buttered popcorn.

Away We Go

Independent film – 2009.

A couple, Burt Farlander and Veroma De Tessant are very much in love, however Verona is not a believer in marriage yet she wants her unborn child to be near family. Lo and behold, one night at dinner, they learn Burt’s parents drop a bomb on them revealing they have decided to move to Belgium one month before the baby is due. So much for close grandparents.

Burt and Verona decide to visit other places both in the U.S. and Canada where they know friends to see if they can find the best place to raise a child. The zany scenarios they encounter becomes surreal until the last, and least likely, place they’ll ever dream of raising their child. But once there…

This is a cute rainy Saturday afternoon charmer to have with a grilled cheese or any other delectable sandwich of your choice. oh, and by all means put bitter on the popcorn.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

I was perusing the 90+ movies in my instant queue (I need to think about retirement so I can watch more movies) and decided to watch this as the availability was going to expire soon. This independent, romantic 2005 film stars Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg and Mary Steenburgen.

Even when the (and I know I’m getting ahead of myself here) movie was over I watched the credits slowly move from the bottom of my TV screen to the top. The reason for this was quite simple – the music. To say the least it was quite enticing.

On to the story, Steve Mills (John Goodman), an ex-con on his way to Marylin Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School to meet Lisa, a young girl he accidentally hit when they were kids. He promises to meet her at the dance school on the fifth day of the fifth month of the fifth year of the new millennium. However, he crashes into a barrier on the highway en-route to the “charm school”.  Bread maker, Frank Keane (Robert Carlyle) is delivering his bread and comes along Steve after his crash and tries to keep his distance from the crashed vehicle.

On the way to the hospital, Steve tells the story of why he’s going there and after a spell realizes he won’t make his promise so he lures Frank into going for him and Frank promises to go to the dance to find Lisa.

Here’s the predictable part, he doesn’t find Lisa but meets Meredith Morrison (Marisa Tomei). Enter love and destiny and I’ll leave it at that. Frank does have to overcome his own demons as well as an over-protective step brother (Donnie Wahlberg).

I think the acting was pretty good but too much sentimental overtones clouded what could have been a real nice story. The best part of the movie was the musical score which I enjoyed immensely.

Hot Summer Days

Foreign film – Chinese (2010).

I chose this movie due to Netflix’s rating system based on movies you’ve watched in the past and then they come up with recommendations for you. This happened to be one of the recommendations as a solid “3” as Netflix’s best guess for me. The only thing “hot” about this film, is the temperatures in which the film is set, some 47 degrees Celsius which is pretty hot. The cast was so-so with one exception and that was the relationship that builds between Xiao Q (played by Angela Baby) and Xiao Fang (played by Boran Jing). Other than this budding relationship, the movie was pretty boring. Don’t bother renting it even if you have streaming, don’t have any popcorn with this, no candy either, as a matter of fact I wouldn’t even read this review.

La Buche

Foreign film – French (1999).

This dramedy film (more comedy than drama) finds Sonia, Louba, and Milla as sister siblings intent on re-uniting their parents for a Christmas holiday dinner. They provide a pretty good idea of what we can expect a dysfunctional family might look like although I’m sure each one may be different given mitigating circumstances.

Based on love and infidelity, this flick is quite comical in many scenes with the dilemma of preparing for thirteen guests for the holiday dinner – oh, we can’t do that – it would just upset the proverbial apple cart. I found the different dilemmas quite comical which is what kept the film from going into the shadows. Have butter on the popcorn if you wish, but no candy this time…

 

Potiche

Foreign film – French (2010).

Robert (Fabrice Luchini) Pujol runs the family umbrella business with an iron fist and he is stricken with a heart attack, his “trophy wife”, Suzanne (Catherine Deneuve) proves to be an entrepreneur in hiding. She has a simple, yet effective business charm with the workers. She engages the help of her two children to bring the umbrella factory above and beyond all expectations in both sales of the umbrellas, but also of the workers’ morale.

She faces numerous obstacles along the way such as her long ago romance with Babin (Gerard Depardieu), the leftist mayor; getting her son to embrace the family business; and getting bamboozled by her daughter in a power struggle from the board of directors. However, she rises to the occasion and runs against Babin for the mayoral seat and is a role model for other women.

Put butter on the popcorn, get a couple boxes of Raisinets, a box of Good & Plenty, and a bag of red licorice and watch this on a rainy weekend afternoon.

A Shine Of Rainbows

In this 2009 movie, Maire, unable to have children of her own, adopts Tomas from the city orphanage. Alec, the husband has a wee bit of a hard time warmin’ up to the young lad. A tragedy befalls Maire putting Tomas’ fate in his would be dad. This is an enjoyable Irish tale of warmth and heartfelt emotions complete with the tearjerker scene. Lots of good things in this movie though as it is another good movie to watch on a rainy afternoon.

I Do: How To Get Married And Stay Single

Foreign romantic comedy – French (2006).

Luis, creates perfume aromas for a living, quite successfully while staying single. However, his meddling mother and sibling sisters are tired of Luis being single and taking care of his needs. After a G7 decision (a family way of democratic decision-making) it has been decided that the women of the family are going to fix their brother up with the perfect wife. Luis grows tired of their meddling and decides to enter in a contract to hire a “girlfriend” so his boisterous family will stop the charade. The rest I will let you discover on your own. Add in a box of Good and Plenty, a box of Goobers, and a box Dots.