I LOVE MOVIES
It’s like the number 19 bus. You wait half and hour then three come along at once. I go to the cinema maybe twice a year but this past week I have seen three rattling good films – granted one was on TV. That was ‘Cold Mountain’ and I was particularly interested as it was set in Carolina and that is where my friend Kenju (see side bar) lives. But Judy tells me it was shot in Rumania of all places! I found the film very involving and cried out loud when – at the end – the hero spits out blood and it’s Good night Vienna! Anthony Minghella was the director and he got me equally devastated in ‘The English Patient’.
The first one of the trio was ‘The Queen’ – see review below in the post ‘Her Maj’. Brilliant – go see it!
The last one was ‘Notes on a Scandal’. This was made from the book ‘What was she thinking?: Notes on a scandal.’ by Zoe Heller.
Zoe is a British journalist and novelist who, when I first knew of her, wrote a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph about her life in New York. Her book was short listed for the Booker prize. The story is told from the point of view of a history teacher Barbara (Judi Dench) who is nearing retirement and living a lonely life with her enormous cat. A new beautiful younger teacher, Sheba (Cate Blanchett)–‘a white peach’ Barbara calls her- comes to teach art and instantly one sees the predator in Barbara rear its ugly head.
We gather that Barbara has had a failed relationship with another woman but when she discovers that Sheba is having an affair with a fifteen year old boy who is a pupil, she knows that she hold all the cards and Judi Dench brilliantly demonstrates the character’s malevolent machinations. The acting is superb with Cate making one want to shake her silly frame and Judi causing one’s skin to crawl. It was very brave of her to play so unsympathetic a part and to allow the camera to reveal every wrinkle and dewlap.
It is a very explosive film – both in content and action. For example when Cate comes across a crumpled piece of paper from Barbara’s journal she doesn’t just empty the drawers – the room is destroyed. And there are scenes with the paparazzi and the cuckolded husband (Bill Nighy) which are truly ‘in your face’. The acting is first rate throughout the production and it was great to see Phil Davis as a teacher who falls for Sheba and Michael Maloney as the headmaster who has suffered Barbara for years.
‘The Queen ‘has to be the winner in this trio but I have already requested Zoe Heller’s book for my birthday. I don’t quite get why the boy had such an immediate volte face in his relationship with Sheba and also couldn’t see Barbara being so careless with her journal whilst Sheba was staying in the house. Hopefully the book will explain all. I feel lucky to have seen these three films – they’ll take some beating