Lately if you ask me whether I’m into costume dramas and period films, I’d say nah, not really. And then something like this comes along and reminds me that actually, I am. I watched quite a bit of this kind of thing as a teenager – films based on Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, etc, and loved them, but for some reason I’ve kind of fallen off the period train, and I don’t know why, because there are lots of more recent examples I’ve loved too.
I’ve avoided reading Thomas Hardy (even in grad school, when I was, uh, supposed to read Tess of the d’Urbervilles and didn’t…shhhh) because I have a preconception of his work as pessimistic and depressing. But this film came across much more like Austen or Henry James than I expected, with Carey Mulligan as the independent young Bathsheba Everdeen who juggles three different suitors who offer her wildly different things. It’s kind of a cliche, I suppose (especially given how easily I can compare parts of it to other similar stories from this time period), but the whole thing worked for me like blazes.
What a goofy, weird little comedy. When my cousins were deciding what films to give me, Kevin scoffed at this suggestion from his wife, a movie she has a soft spot for and he apparently thinks is trash. Heh. I’d been meaning to see it for a while as I went through a major Meg Ryan phase for a while but somehow skipped this one, so I encouraged her to go through with the recommendation, and I’m glad I did.
While I probably didn’t love it like she does, I did quite enjoy its quirks. Tom Hanks is an employee in the epitome of dystopian office jobs – hundreds of glum employees shuffling to a dark, dank box of a building to do boring, pointless jobs and then shuffle back to their tiny, dank apartments. Hanks is a hypochondriac on top of that, and soon hears from his doctor that he’ll die of a mysterious condition within a few months. Then a mysterious man shows up at his apartment and offers him unlimited funds to enjoy (leading to a great section as Ossie Davis drives him around the town and helps him buy a new wardrobe) and a cruise to the South Pacific, but the catch is at the end of his vacation, he’s got to sacrifice himself to appease the island gods of the volcano.
I love musicals and movies about dance, but I have to admit I put off watching this one for a couple of reasons: first, I dislike ’80’s movies in general, and second, the story as I understood it was about a town that has outlawed dancing and the city kid who comes to show them the error of their ways, and that just sounded corny and dumb.
It actually plays surprisingly well, though, despite that being 100% exactly the story. I knew the title song already (I’ve avoided a lot of ’80s culture, but some things are unavoidable), and liked it, and the opening titles with just closeups of feet dancing actually already had me on the movie’s side. I do get a little irritated by the narrow-minded depiction of conservative Christians as, well, narrow-minded.
Teen/coming-of-age/1980s movies are often a hard sell for me, but John Hughes-penned ones have a bit of heart and tenderness that hit me in the right place, so I was hoping Some Kind of Wonderful, one of the few I’d missed up to this point, would fit the bill as well, and it pretty much did. I’m also one of the people who think Pretty in Pink would’ve been better if she’d ended up with Duckie, so if you’ve seen both films, you may guess how I felt about this one on that front.
Keith (Eric Stoltz) is a high school kid who cares more about art than college, and is kind of on the lower rung of the ladder at school in terms of social class – his family is working class, and he envies the more well-off kids from white-collar families. He’s best friends with a tomboyish girl, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), but has eyes for Amanda (Lea Thompson), who runs with the posh crowd. Yes, this is turning into a love triangle.
This is the (first) sequel to Love Comes Softly, so it was nice to see them so close together. And I was actually interested to see more of Marty and Clark’s story, even though the first movie tied it off pretty nicely.
This is mostly Missy’s story, though – the 9-year-old daughter from the first film. It’s now ten years later, and Missy is a schoolteacher (using those reading skills she learned from Marty in the first film) in the community’s one-room schoolhouse. And she’s played by January Jones, which strikes me now as pretty dumb casting, but I mean, Jones was very young here and didn’t have Mad Men baggage. I swear, she smiles more in ten minutes of this movie than she has in the entire corpus of other work I’ve seen her in. But still, she just seems VERY unlike the Missy of the earlier film – I can’t imagine that spitfire of a 9-year-old growing up into this dismissive and bland young woman.