Tuesday, December 18, 2018
The old and the new
My movie Meet Up had our holiday flick last night. It was a typical, soapy "women's picture," Penny Serenade (1941) takes an average young couple from courtship through marriage and finally, separation. Of course, this "average" couple is spectacular looking -- Irene Dunne and (sigh) Cary Grant -- and their life together includes a glamorous interlude in Asia.
If this sounds like I didn't enjoy it, NOT TRUE! It was a delight. Cary Grant is terrific: Sweet but vainglorious, immature but sincere. He got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this role.
I quibble with considering it a holiday movie. There are scenes that take place at Christmas and New Year's, but if that's the standard, then Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie and we should screen it next year. But this is a small complaint. A lovely movie and a chance to see Will and Betty before year-end. (Unfortunately Joanna couldn't make it. But we've been in touch. I'll try to see her next week, or maybe on New Year's.)
It's been slammed for being predictable, and yeah, it kinda is. But here's the thing: it's based on a true story. Both of the men depicted (Tony Lip and Don Shirley) knew it was being made and approved the direction the script took. So if this is the way they remembered it, I accept that.
Viggo Mortenson is Tony. Every time he opens his mouth, something goes in (cigarette, sandwich, soda pop). He's dumpy, loud, and ignorant. He's also savvy, strong and crazy in love with his wife and kids. He acts as driver and body guard for African American musician Don Shirley during Shirley's 1962 concert tour through the Deep South. They bond, and formed a friendship that lasted until they died, months apart, in 2013.
My favorite scene in the movie involves Bobby Kennedy. He doesn't appear on screen, but his distinctive Boston accent is heard and heeded by a character at a critical moment. It reminded me of the 2013 movie Loving, where Bobby played a similar unseen role. This reminds me of why I'm a Kennedy Girl -- it's the role of government to do for the individual what the individual can't do alone, and I long for days when people thought they could look to Washington DC to lift them up, not hold them back.