Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A nanny, a stammering king, and a cheesy romance

All of these delightful movies feature Brits--maybe that's why I enjoyed them!
Nanny McPhee ReturnsNanny McPhee Returns
Last week Chris attended an evening event at school, so the rest of us had a family movie night and watched "Nanny McPhee Returns." First of all, Emma Thompson is one of those actors who I would watch reading the phone book. She's one of my all-time favorite actors, and she's marvelous as always in her reprise of the magical, unpleasant-looking Nanny McPhee. This time Nanny arrives at a farm in the country at the home of a mom and her three children whose father is away fighting in a war. (The film is set in an undistinguishable time period, although Britain is at war. At times it seems like the 1940s, while at other times it seems like the modern day.) The children's snobby, rude cousins have arrived because their parents have sent them away...and the five children are fighting and being horrible to each other. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the very English mom, and her accent is fantastic! In one scene, in which a girl is defusing a bomb, Nick said "How can a kid save the day?"

Because I'm a sap, I was pleased with the happy ending. We all enjoyed it.

The King's SpeechThe King's Speech
We thought we were the last people in our circle to see this film, but apparently not. Everyone I know has loved this movie, including one friend who HATES movies. I wasn't sure if it would live up to the hype, but it did. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush were brilliant, and I was relieved to see the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter in a more normal role for a change (apparently she filmed "The King's Speech" on the weekends while she was portraying Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films during the week! And I will never forget her bloody role in "Sweeney Todd"!).

Not only did it sensitively and gently depict the story of a man who had been bullied as a child (by nanny, brother, and father) and developed a stutter as a result, but it also told a sweet story of friendship between two very different, fascinating men. British actor Michael Palin (Monty Python) writes his own thoughts about this movie and his experience of having a father with a stammer. Highly recommended!

Letters to JulietLetters to Juliet
So it was cheesy and predictable, but it was also romantic and scenic. "Letters to Juliet" is about an American woman (Sophie, a fact checker for the New Yorker) who goes to Verona, Italy, on a "pre-honeymoon" with her work-obsessed chef fiancee. While there she discovers that women leave letters on "Juliet's wall" and a quartet of women respond to the letters on behalf of Juliet. She then discovers a letter that had been left there 50 years ago by a woman who was in love with an Italian man but decides to leave him behind to return to the UK. Sophie takes it upon herself to write back to Claire.

Then Claire arrives in Verona with her decidedly grumpy (and handsome) grandson, Charlie, to look for the man she left behind 50 years ago. Sophie, neglected by her fiancee, invites herself along. They journey all around Siena trying to find the man. Yes, I could guess what was going to happen...but it's ITALY (Tuscany)! And I can never resist a movie with an American woman and British man who fall in love, ever since we saw "A Fish Called Wanda" in Japan in the late '80s and Mike and I were the only ones laughing at all the jokes. I still recall the scene where John Cleese is speaking in another language (can't remember which one) to Jamie Lee Curtis, and she finds it be incredibly erotic...even though he's superbly clumsy at the same time. Must watch that movie again!

So if you want a completely predictable but romantic movie, check it out. Vanessa Redgrave continues to be her lovely self, and in many ways this movie reminded me of "Mamma Mia" (Mediterranean setting, Amanda Seyfried playing a young woman named Sophie). Perfect for Valentine's Day!

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