We Can Be Kind (Movie Thoughts: Paddington 2)

p2I liked the first Paddington movie enough that I am very interested in seeing ‘Paddington 2.’  And the Anglophile that I am makes me doubly excited about it. Plus, every critic I know and trust has given this film a rave, so as I sat down waiting for the film to start, I was already salivating.

Well, Paddington 2 was….cute. It was very cute. On a personal level, it was just exactly what I needed, because I have been dealing with some stress lately. It made me smile; maybe not laugh out loud, but at the very least a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I wish I loved it. I wish I connected with it. I wish it made me want to see it again right after, but honestly, I totally forgot about it minutes after it ended. There are a lot of very nice things about it – the picturesque London locale, the warm and soothing and very expressive voice of Ben Whishaw voicing Paddington, and the wonderful cast (Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville) There’s a great performance here by Hugh Grant as a villain, and he seems to be enjoying every minute playing it (though him replacing Armie Hammer for a BAFTA nomination is a bit much, really, but I am just bitter)  I even love its pro-immigration lesson, and I hope kids growing up with these films take it to heart, especially in these Brexit/DACA climate.

I just wish the plots were less predictable, that there was some element of surprise. I wish there was more oomph for me – at times it felt just so formulaic you could immediately see where it is going right from the very beginning.

One observation, though, if I may: I thought it was interesting that there is a Sally Hawkins scene here towards the end that is very similar to a scene she has in ‘The Shape Of Water.’ I am sure it is a great coincidence, but still worth observing.

Water World (Film Thoughts: The Shape Of Water)

MPW-121262How does one fall in love with a fish? Elegantly, it seems. A lot of people have described ‘The Shape Of Water’ as poetic, and I do agree that it is the best word to describe Guillermo del Toro’s film. It stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa, who works as a janitress in some kind of scientific facility (something called OCCAM)  Elisa lives a relatively normal life, hanging out with her next-door neighbor, watching old movies at the movie theater below her apartment, reenacting foot choreography from old musicals. There is a real old-fashioned wonderment in her existence, as she weaves her days in and out with her friend Zelda, played by Octavia Spencer (in a role she can do in her sleep)

the-shape-of-water-118512Until one day a ‘creature’ arrives in said factory, and she gets attracted to it. There’s a subplot involving Americans and Russians fighting for said creature, and there are forces who fight to save the creature. And there’s a love story in the midst of this all. I was less interested in the former than the latter, and for me, the film is at its best when exploring the love angle of the two. the former plot line seems rote, while there is a a lot of humanity in seeing two elements falling in love. For sure, a lot of people would think that the love story would seem odd (A lot of people have described the film as weird) but for me, stories about love – in all forms and shapes, even water – towers above all.

I liked this movie a lot, and I am always attracted to all things, old-fashioned, especially mid century settings. And there is Renee Fleming singing ‘You’ll Never Know’ at the end of the film that is quite exquisite. But sometimes, the ‘getting there’ seemed a bit of a chore.

Once There Was A Love (Film Thoughts: Maudie)

mauThere is something very poetic about ‘Maudie.’

I saw the film a couple of days ago and it is staying with me. There’s something about it that touched me deeply, and I am at a loss as to why. I have tried to start and restart writing about it, but I just can’t find the words. It is a story of a woman, played beautifully by Sally Hawkins, who becomes a housekeeper/caregiver for Everette Lewis (Ethan Hawke) a fish peddler who is very hard to get along with. But somehow their hearts find solace with each other, and he found a way to let Maudie (Hawkins) soar as she leashes her creativity through painting. She becomes a sensation, capturing the interest of even Nixon, and then she…falls apart little by little.

And then the rest breaks my heart to even write. This is a beautiful story, told exquisitely, and matched by Hawkins and Hawke’s acting, which elevates the sometimes bland screenplay to soar. You can feel the different emotions right there in their rawest – hope, pain, tenderness. This is one of those quiet movies, when as you watch it, you don’t even realize that these characters are snaking their way into your inner selves. I love this movie for all it does to me.