Disobedience, Two Rachels Sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Don’t you feel proud to remember something before you end up doing an internet search?

Like I was going to pose the question: does Rachel Weisz play the same femme fatale character in every darn movie?….but then I remembered, ‘wait, no! Remember one of your favorite films OF ALL TIME (thanks Kanye) called “Truth” where she played Michael Caine’s loving daughter. A maudlin role, but not a malevolent one. But then came another memory question: why can’t I remember The Constant Gardener for which she won the Academy Award when I adore Ralph Fiennes? And a non-memory question: why did she leave poor Darren Aronofsky (who has now also been left by Jennifer Lawrence)?

As usual, I digress, but at least I left out my wish for the halcyon days, because guess what Disobedience (written and directed by Sebastian Lelio, [Fantastic Woman]) was about? The Jewish culture! I’m on a Hebrew Roll as they say. If you’ve seen the movie poster for Disobedience, you can almost cite the plot to me without ever seeing the film. Rachel Weisz comes home for the funeral of her father only to be tempted back to her true lesbian tendencies that had her excommunicated from the Hasidic culture.

“Fun” fact, wiki Hasidic Jewish Culture and this definition pops up: “The Hasidic movement is unique in its focus on the joyful observance of God’s commandments (mitzvot), heartfelt prayer, and boundless love for God and the world He created.” Which sounds so kind, right? According to the film Disobedience, all’s good as long as you follow the strict rules, which does not include homosexuality or women with fun hairstyles or a sexy sense of fashion.

Rachel Weisz was great as the self-loathing lesbian. I don’t really care for Rachel McAdams as a rule. She was fine in The Notebook, but I don’t see a thing on her IMDB page she’s done since that thrills me. On a Rona Barrett (how’s that for an old reference?) note, she did just have a baby with Jamie Linden and it has to frost her onions that on his IMDB page there are nothing but photos of he and Zoe Deschanel. Anyway, she’s fine for what she had to do in this film; repressed scowling.

Who stole the show for me was Alessandro Nivola, of whom I’ve not had much exposure. His understated, yet moving portrayal of a man scorned was original.

Not a fantastic film, but it held my interest for at least veering from textbook screenwriting in the last half.

Angels and Insects Showing Some Skin in a PPLL from 1996

I came upon Angels and Insects via my manager Kate who is from London. She had mentioned seeing British born Mark Rylance on Broadway and still behind culturally, I had only heard of him visa vie his Academy Award winning performance in Bridge of Spies. So I scoured his IMDB page and there he was in Angels and Insects (novel by A.S. Byatt, directed by Philip Haas, adapted by Belinda Haas) winner of the Palm d”ors at Cannes. By the way, a quick study on the husband wife Haas team doesn’t show any recent work and yet I also don’t see any note of death. Perhaps they are simply retired and enjoying life.

The movie was fantastic and I’m actually surprised it didn’t gain more awards. Mark Rylance is brilliant as the introverted and humble scientist who falls into a wealthy family. Kristin Scott Thomas, as you well know, is one of my favorites. I keep finding films, both old and new, and am always excited. Here, while she was supposed to be playing the underclass science nerd, she can’t help glowing in that sultry way of hers. Patsy Kensit plays the lilting Lily, Rylance falls for (and research on her indicated she has me beat by a marriage or two, all to rockers, and none of which lasted more than 4 years). Douglas Henshall plays the bullying brother and was tremendous. He’s still active in British tv and was nominated recently for a BAFTA in Scotland.

In case you’d want to borrow it from your local library, I won’t say too much about the plot. Suffice to say, it takes some twists and turns and (and picture Groucho Marx and his cigar) speaking to twists and turns, has some of the best filmed sex scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Those Brits don’t mind showing the bodies and why not? They all looked great!

Midnight Cowboy: Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue,

My love for cinema didn’t really begin until 2006 after the breakup of what I thought was the love of my life. I’ll never forget the night my film love affair started at the Dryden Theater at the George Eastman House where I saw Harold and Maude for the first time. I was mesmerized by the black comedy and the beautiful Cat Stevens soundtrack. I was hooked.

In between then and now, I concentrated on both new and old films trying to play catch up. This is a long way around to say that I just had the chance to watch Midnight Cowboy from 1969. Wow! The movie truly is something old, something new (to me), something borrowed (library) and something blue (sad).

What amazed me were both the trivial and the profound:
Trivial first…I both forgot (Leona Hemsley) and didn’t realize (a scene from Midnight Cowboy shows a wealthy woman putting false eye lashes on her dog as well as designer clothing) that pet worship has been around for quite awhile. I witness this often in Sarasota (an observation not a judgment as noted widely as in this Wired article form 2015: https://www.wired.com/2015/04/people-care-pets-humans/).

Profound: John Schlesinger competently moved from flashback to fantasy to reality scenes in a movie made before many high tech editing was available. Hence, why the film (and his direction) won Academy Awards.

More profound: Like my Taste of Honey review, though ten years later, Schlesinger bravely portrayed homosexuality, in America, this time. He also, like the British kitchen sink films, chose to highlight reality over Hollywood endings.

And if I had to choose a song to be looped in my head forever, Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me by Nilsson, which bookends the film, would always be a solid choice.

More trivial: Jon Voight’s perfect baby round face and his full lips are clear paternal lineage to Angleina Jolie’s beauty. Dustin Hoffman was brilliant as Ratzo and proves his acting chops started from the get go. Too bad he, as well a DeNiro, have let their careers slide into “Meet the Fockers Two” caliber flicks. Seeing Brenda Vaccaro as a young woman in a hot sex scene was a blast.

My favorite scenes show my Floridian bias: the fantasy scene where Ratzo dreams of making it big in Miami. His fantasy show how much he wanted simple recognition, not babes. The beach scece where Hoffman races Voight in a white suit is drop dead gorgeous. As my Dad warned me, the end scenes are heartbreaking, but poignant.

Truly a treasure to dig up at your local library if you’ve never seen Midnight Cowboy.