Knowing that we had a 4-day weekend ahead of us, dh Eddie and I were all geared up for a lot of dvd watching. I used my 3-rentals-for-the-price-of-2 coupon and brought home a trio of films on Saturday night. We got the snacks ready, positioned the recliner in front of the screen and … the dvd player wouldn't work!
I won't bore you with exact details, but we didn't have a working dvd player until today at about midday. And since the rentals have to be returned tomorrow, we settled down for a movie marathon. The three pictures: Fiddler on the Roof ( MGM, 1971; Norman Jewison, director), A Day without a Mexican (Plural Entertainment, 2004; Sergio Arau, director), and Good Morning Vietnam! (Touchstone Pictures, 1987; Barry Levinson, director). Interestingly, I unwittingly selected films with a certain common thread running through the: though set in very different times and cultures, they all deal in one way or another with societal breakdowns in times of crisis.
Now, lemme tell ya, I ain't no film critic. In fact, I've seen very few movies in the past, oh, fifteen years. I've almost certainly seen more in the three and a half months we've had our dvd player than I did in the previous ten years. Only now, after having watched a lot of the extra material that comes on many dvds, am I getting a feel for what all goes into movie-making. In a way, I'm quite non-critical and very easy to please. On the other hand (as Tevye from Fiddler would say), surely this very distance from and naivete about the world of movies gives my view of each film a fresh and novel perspective. Or something.
The first one we watched today was Fiddler on the Roof. I remember having seen this movie as a child, and it must have been on t.v. I remember it as a joyful film -- which it is, though it seemed much sadder, too, now that I understand it more. The extra material had a lot on in it about the director, who came across as a bad-humored, non-very-likeable guy. Though he's probably a big huggable teddy bear in real life, practically the only pleasant thing that got across to me about him on this occasion was learning that despite the facts that he created this classic movie about Jews and that his own last name is Jewison, he is actually a Gentile and the descendent of a line of Gentiles reaching back as far as anyone can remember!
Then we saw A Day without a Mexican. I liked this film. Didn't adore it, but definitely liked it. The idea behind it all was ingenious, and there were several really good puntadas (a term difficult to translate but meaning something akin to "hitting the nail on the head"). After the movie marathon I got on the Internet and learned that most of the critics (at least the ones I´d read -- principally U.S.-based) considered it pretty bad. Hm. It'd be interesting to see what the Mexican critics thought, but since I need to finish this post up and get to bed, that will have to wait until another day. Sure, the acting was cheesy and the visual production looked cheap at times, but wasn't that intentional, part of the "concept" or whatever they call it? I mean, it all takes place in California, folks; what did the critics expect, something elegant? No offense intended toward California, of course, but chic like Paris it is not. Or maybe the critics just didn't "get" the puntadas.
I liked Good Morning, Vietnam! too, though again, only liked it, not loved it. The critics at the time seem to have adored it, though; go figure. Robin Williams is a genius, I must admit, and it is an honor to share a first name with him. (If you happen to see this post yourself, Mr. Williams, please send me an autographed photo so that I can show it off to my students. I'm a real teacher of English as a foreign langugage! lol) The story itself had some interesting turns to it, too.
Of the three films we saw today, the one I'd be most likely to rent again (or even buy, if it were deeply discounted) would be Fiddler on the Roof. Visually it was beautfiul, story-wise it was multi-layered, and hey, I just like musicals.