As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I spent a couple of days in hospital being treated for a skin infection. I’m back at home now, and although I have not been doing a great deal of reading, what I have been doing is watching a whole lot of movies.
Chariots of Fire. I’m not certain if I had seen this before, but I had a real hankering to watch the Oscar winning movie about two very different British Olympian hopefuls in the 1924 Paris Olympics. This film was sheer perfection, from the casting to the script to the cinematography to the music. I loved every moment of it, from the opening scene with the runners running along the beach to Vangelis’ stirring musical theme to the heart lifting final race. I definitely have visions like Mr Bean at the 2012 London Olympics of running down that beach with the athletes. Go watch this movie. Now.
A Walk in the Woods. The second movie I watched was A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of Bill Bryson’s travelogue about hiking the Appalachian trail, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. This got pretty mixed reviews in the cinema, so I was happy to wait to watch it at home. I’ve read quite a bit of Bryson’s travelogues and usually find them very witty and insightful. I thought Redford did a great job of bringing across Bryson’s humour, and it was fun to see Emma Thompson as his English wife. The scenery was wonderful to look at even on the small screen. However, I did have a problem with Nolte’s character. I’m not certain if it was how it was written, directed or acted, or a combination of all three, but the character turned me off completely far more than the original character in the book, which I have naturally, read. This is despite a few sweet moments between his and Redford’s characters. I wouldn’t rush to pay $14 dollars to see this one, but certainly worth checking out free on Netflix if you’ve nothing else to do of an evening.
Wild. This is the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s travelogue about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and stars Reece Witherspoon, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. You may see somewhat of a theme here. I guess I was missing my running and walking more than I realised during my vacation and hospital stay! Anyway, Wild is another excellent movie. I loved the character development the scenery and the performances, and it deserved all the accolades it earned. This is another one to check out.
The Third Man. This is Carol Reed’s murder mystery set in post-war Vienna and stars Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. Having spent time in Vienna myself I really enjoyed seeing a movie set there, even if it was a very much dishevelled version of the city I love. Having said that, the film itself did leave me cold. The more I learned of Harry Lime’s character, the less I was invested in finding out what happened to him, despite Holly’s obvious affection for his friend. By half way through the movie I was ready for Holly to take Major Calloway’s advice and to get the heck out of Dodge, so it was a struggle for me to finish the movie. However, I can’t fault the acting, script or direction. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I know many people have loved this movie, so your milage may vary.
Spectre. Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as James Bond, 007. This is definitely not the strongest Craig Bond movie, especially coming after the wonderful Skyfall as it does. Craig turns in a good performance as do the other actors, the stunts and special effects are breathtaking but for me the pacing was a real problem here. Lengthwise it comes in as an average Bond movie, but it felt much, much longer. It’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly where the issue was – perhaps there were too many plotlines going on, or perhaps the peaceful interludes between action sequences dragged on too long, but for me it was definitely not the greatest Bond film. I do hope Craig comes back to do one more, but sadly that’s looking less and less likely. Maybe I can just pretend he went out with a bang in Skyfall?
Rain Man. This is another classic movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise about a road trip taken by an LA businessman and his autistic brother. Again this is a classic for a reason. The script, performances and character development are all wonderfully portrayed. Much is made of Hoffman’s performance as the autistic Raymond, and rightly so, but to my mind Cruise delivers an equally strong and nuanced performance. Now, I’m not the greatest of Tom Cruise fans, but I can very much appreciate how he slowly developed his character from a greedy businessman focussed on money to wanting to do the best for his brother. The scene towards the end where Charlie finally accepts that he cannot provide the care that Raymond clearly needs and yet still wants to have a relationship with him is beautifully acted. Another must-see movie.
So those are the movies I watched during my recovery. Do you agree with my thoughts? Let me know in the comments!