Movie buffs, I have spent the past two Saturday afternoons viewing two absolutely delightful films. The first was "Quartet", Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut. I must agree with the author of a recent article in the AARP magazine: Dustin, why did you wait so long? Not only did this film present excellent acting and a wonderful story, but it was visually breathtaking and the soundtrack was amazing, filled as it was with classical music and operatic arias. The indomitable Maggie Smith was front-and-center, seeming to revel in the wisdom and beauty of her seventy-nine years, not trying to look like anything other than what she is- a lovely aging woman who wears her years- and wrinkles- with grace and aplomb. And Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins rounded out a stellar cast which included numerous real-life musicians over the age of 70. Oh, yes, the film is about aging musicians living in an old-age home created especially for them in the English countryside. When Billy Connolly was asked by the director what he felt the movie was about, he answered, "Don't die until you're dead." That pretty much nails it.
The second film, yesterday, was "We Have a Pope" or "Habemus Papa", an Italian film with English subtitles. Billed as a comedy-drama, I'd say that is an apt billing, for the other viewer and I (there were only 2 of us in a tiny viewing-room theater at the Carousel in Greensboro) laughed often. And yet the main story-line, that of a man elected to the papacy who feels totally inadequate to assume this life-consuming role, is deeply serious and was especially poignant in light of the recent election of a new pope to lead the world-wide Roman Catholic Church. Looking at the life-journey from yet another viewpoint, this film was not only entertaining but, for me, deeply thought-provoking. And I rediscovered how much I love the sound of the Italian language.
Can't forget to share another recommendation, based solely on the preview I saw yesterday. The film is "42" and stars a decidedly un-glamorous Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the baseball manager who signed Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus breaking the color barrier in major league baseball. Newcomer (at least to me) Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson and the preview was most engaging. I'll be going, you can be sure. Think it's due out in April.
For those of you in the Triad area, don't forget the River Run Film Festival, which begins April 12th. With an incredible number of films airing in a week-long period throughout the Winston-Salem area, including North Carolina School of the Arts, The Aperture Theater, the Stevens Center, and the Hanesbrand Theater, there is something for everyone, including parties and opportunities to meet the directors of many of the films. I urge you to go online to the River Run web site at www.riverrunfilm.com to view the schedule of showings and purchase tickets (though you save a bit by going to the Stevens Center box office), since many of the films sell out early. Amazing that we have such an incredible opportunity right here in our own backyard. Of course, we are also gifted with a cornucopia of live theater opportunities, too, so don't forget to support companies like the No Rules Theater Company, the NCSA, and Triad Stage in Greensboro. Our cup overflows...