Friday, April 28, 2017

The Lost City of Z

In an attempt to cross another film off of my never-ending list, I met my friend to see The Lost City of Z last night.  This is an epic adventure movie like they don't make any more and it has a very old fashioned sensibility to it.  It is based on the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett's expeditions to find an ancient city in the Amazon.  In the early 1900s, eager to make a name for himself, Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a major in the British military, accepts a commission on behalf of the Royal Geographic Society to survey a part of the Amazon.  On this expedition, he discovers evidence of a civilization which, he believes, predates those of Europe and Asia.  He becomes obsessed with returning to the Amazon to find this lost city even though it means leaving his wife (Sienna Miller) and children behind for years.  After a failed attempt to find the city, Fawcett returns home at the outbreak of World War I to serve in the army only to be wounded at the Battle of the Somme.  After a long convalescence, he feels it is his destiny to find this city and mounts yet another ill-fated expedition, this time with his son (Tom Holland).  The theme of obsession, of striving to accomplish something to the detriment of everything else, is one that I find compelling and it is very well developed in this film.  I felt emotionally invested in Fawcett's journey which is why I found the ambiguous ending to be so distressing.  I realize that it is a true story and the filmmakers had to be faithful to the actual events but, after everything that happens in this story, I wanted a more satisfying resolution!  The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous with an almost sepia tone making the lush scenery seem otherworldly.  Charlie Hunnam gives, what I consider to be, his best performance to date because he is so commanding in a complex role but I did feel that his delivery was often very stilted.  After Fawcett's first expedition, he gives a very stirring speech to the Royal Geographic Society but almost all of his dialogue is at that same pitch which doesn't really work.  I was quite impressed with Robert Pattinson's performance at Fawcett's aide-de-camp.  I always suspected that he was a good actor!  Despite the fact that the ending left me shattered and a few other missteps, this film is a sweeping spectacle that I would recommend.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cezanne et Moi

There are quite a few movies currently at the Broadway that I want to see and one of them, Cezanne at Moi, has a very limited engagement so I thought I had better see it last night.  This film is a luminous biopic about the turbulent friendship between Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cezanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and I loved it.  The narrative begins when the two men are in middle age.  Zola is a successful author who has become one of the bourgeoisie he was so disdainful of as a young and penniless poet while Cezanne is still a fiery rebel estranged from his wealthy family who has yet to experience the success that would come to him at the end of his life.  There are flashbacks to their childhood in Aix en Provence, their days as struggling artists in Paris, and the rift in their friendship as Zola achieves more and more success and Cezanne becomes increasingly erratic.  The film reaches its climax in a scene fraught with tension as they hurl accusations at each other, each desiring what the other has.  This film is beautiful, almost as if you are watching one of Cezanne's paintings coming to life on the screen, and both Canet and Gallienne give incredibly powerful performances.  However, it is most definitely character, rather than plot, driven and the flashbacks are very nonlinear.  Also, there are lots of obscure references to art and literature that not everyone will be able to appreciate and I should mention that this film is in French with English subtitles.  It is definitely not for everyone but if you enjoy period pieces about interesting and complicated people, I highly recommend Cezanne at Moi.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Last Friday Tashena competed at another track meet and she did very well.  She threw the javelin 99'9" which is a new PR!  This is absolutely incredible to me because this is the first year that she has competed in the javelin.
She is amazing!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Prom 2017

Bountiful High School held its annual Jr. Prom on Saturday night.  Tashena's date was named Duncan and they went with a group of friends to the dance.
Pinning on the boutonniere!
Tashena and Duncan.
The whole group.  I love how they coordinated their outfits in a black and white color scheme.  I thought they looked very striking.  I also love that Tashena's dress is taking up half of the picture!
The boys.
A lighter moment.
The girls.
What a cute couple!
Tashena in her beautiful dress.  I went with her to look for dresses last week and, despite the fact that I loathe shopping, I had so much fun with her.  She really wanted a black dress and this ended up being the only one she tried on because she loved it so much.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Graduate

I was quite young and very inexperienced, to say the least, when I began my teaching career.  One of my colleagues in the English department basically took me under her wing and not only became a much-needed mentor but also became a good friend.  Often, on the weekends, she would invite me to her house for dinner and a movie.  She loved movies, especially classic movies, and she had an extensive collection.  Most of the time she would let me pick and one night I selected The Graduate because I hadn't seen it before.  I remember my 21-year-old self being completely blown away by this movie!  Aren't all 21-year-olds particularly susceptible to themes of alienation?  I loved this movie so much my friend let me borrow it and I think I kept it much longer than is considered polite.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to see it on the big screen for the first time and I have to say that I was just as blown away by this screening as I was the first time I saw it if not more so.  It is amazing to see these classic films on the big screen as the were meant to be seen!  An angst-ridden young man (Dustin Hoffman) has recently graduated from college and is at loose ends when he begins an affair with a lonely and disillusioned older woman (Anne Bancroft) and then realizes that he really loves her daughter (Katharine Ross).  Hoffman, Bancroft, and Ross give amazing performances (all three were nominated for Academy Awards) which definitely stand the test of time.  Mike Nichols is a genius (he won an Academy Award) and so many of his choices still seem brilliant to me such as Benjamin's nervous tics and whimpers in his initial interactions with Mrs. Robinson.  I love the music by Simon and Garfunkel.  In fact, to this day I cannot use a moving sidewalk in an airport without hearing "The Sound of Silence" in my head.  I highly recommend this brilliant film which is being screened in select theaters for its 50th Anniversary as part of the TMC's Big Screen Classics series.
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