With Valentine’s Day coming up, the New Parkway brings out a lot of romantic movies as part of what they’re calling Love Week, running from Friday, February 9th through the 15th. You might also want to check their Valentine Day events. [Note, Feb. 9: I altered this paragraph this morning, after receiving the Love Week URL.]
Here are a few of the movies screening over the week, all at the New Parkway:
A+ Some Like It Hot, Saturday, 2:30; Monday, 6:25
The urge to sleep with Marilyn Monroe comes head to head with the urge to keep breathing in Billy Wilder’s comic masterpiece. After witnessing a prohibition-era gangland massacre, two struggling musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) hide from the mob by dressing in drag and joining an all-girl orchestra. But can they stay away from Ms. Monroe and her ukulele? There are comedies with higher laugh-to-minute ratios, and others that have more to say about the human condition. But you won’t find a better example of perfect comic construction, brilliantly funny dialog, and spot-on timing. Read my Blu-ray review.
A+ Casablanca, Saturday, 7:30; Tuesday, 6:30
You’ve either already seen the best film to come out of the classic Hollywood studio system, or you know you should. Let me just add that no one who worked on Casablanca thought they were making a masterpiece; it was just another sausage coming off the Warner assembly line. But somehow, just this once, the sausage came out perfect. For more details, see Casablanca: The Accidental Masterpiece.
A Brokeback Mountain, Sunday, 3:10; Tuesday, 8:50
Heath Ledger turns the stereotype of the strong, silent cowboy on its head, playing a man so beaten down and closed off from the world that every word is a struggle. Unable to come out of the closet, he can’t openly acknowledge who he really is without rejecting another, equally important part of his identity–the strong, manly cowpoke. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams are also brilliant as his lover and his wife. One of only a handful of films that significantly changed society for the better.
A Shrek, Friday, 4:00; Sunday, 12:30
Enough bad sequels can make us forget how much we loved the original, and in the case of Shrek, the original was very lovable indeed. This story of an ogre on a reluctant quest to save a princess turns both traditional fairy tales and their Disneyfied adaptations inside out. The evil prince’s castle looks like Disneyland, familiar characters make odd cameos, and that old song “Have You Seen the Muffin Man” gets turned into a scene from Gitmo. But it isn’t just for laughs. In the third act, it rips apart one of the worst lessons that children can pick from these old stories, providing a happy ending that neither Grimm nor Disney could have imagined.
A The Big Sick, Saturday, 12:00; Thursday, 6:55
This romantic comedy/drama is like no other I’ve seen. For one thing, it’s based on a true story, written by the couple it happened to, and stars half of that real-life couple. Also, the plot is entirely unique. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy’s traditional parents want to arrange a marriage with someone from the old country. Girl breaks up with boy. Girl gets extremely sick and must be put into an induced coma. Boy visits comatose girl daily and becomes close to her parents. Also, boy is a standup comedian, so most of the jokes are realistically motivated. Touching, funny, warm, and loving.
A- Harold And Maude, Friday, 6:00; Sunday, 7:25
The 1971 comedy Harold and Maude fit the late hippy era as perfectly as Pink Floyd and the munchies. At a time when young Americans embraced non-conformity, free love, ecstatic joy, and 40-year-old Marx Brothers movies, this counterculture romance between an alienated and death-obsessed young man and an almost 80-year-old woman made total sense. The broad and outrageous humor helped considerably. But I do wish screenwriter Colin Higgins had found a better ending. See my full discussion.
A- Blue Is the Warmest Color, New Parkway, Saturday, 8:25
The full arc of a long relationship seen through the eyes of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a high school girl at the start of the movie and an elementary school teacher by the end. When she meets the older, more experienced Emma (Léa Seydoux) sparks fly. They build a life together, than grow apart. A few gaps in the story annoyed me, but for the most part, the intense emotions and careful pacing deftly capture an experience that almost all human beings can understand and relate to. And yes, there’s some very explicit soft-core sex, and yes, it would have been a weaker movie without it.
B- The Handmaiden, Sunday, 8:50; Wednesday, 8:55
This atmospheric Korean thriller boils over with lies, double crosses, larceny, surprise plot twists, and a lot of sex–much of it quite kinky. At 90 minutes, it would be a great entertainment, but at its actual length of 144, it often drags. The handmaiden of the title works for a young Japanese lady she plans to rob. Things get messy. Overall, the good scenes in The Handmaiden are worth wading through the bad ones. Read my full review.