The Lady in the Van (down by the river)

Who doesn’t think of the phrase ‘down by the river’ when you hear the prepositional phrase IN A VAN? In fact, not to get too far off the mark, I’ve thought of Chris Farley skits three times in the last week: motivational speaker here, the Gap girls-inspired by the Aunt Alexandra social hour in To Kill a Mockingbird, and my son said I reminded him of Chris Farley and the Zagat guide skits when I was reading him play reviews in order for him to make a choice for my upcoming NYC visit.

And while there are comedic aspects to The Lady in the Van, it’s far from lighthearted. This was suppose to be a calming movie after a stressful day of teaching and the opening audio (no spoilers remember) was enough to send me running for the hills, but I’m glad I stuck it out.

The director, Nicholas Hytner, is a famous dramatic director in England. The trouble with my movie re-awakening back in 2000 is that I am now finding a slew of movies from the 90’s that I did not see, but want to, such as Hytner’s The Madness of King of these days.

Maggie Smith is a prolific actress (yes I did see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie!) who never fails to make her characters both believable and empathy-worthy. The Lady in the Van is no exception. this is not a movie that makes fun of the elderly. if anything the film proves that most treat the elderly patronizingly, when they have so much to teach us about their longer experience on this earth. And isn’t this photograph of her, grand (click on the question mark symbol)?
While I disliked the conceit of double Alex Jennings at first, and even worse, his robotic sounding narration, I grew to like it we writers are in our own heads much of the time and an apt way to portray this is with ‘twins’.

I’m curious to know whether older people would find it entertaining or depressing.
Worth a full ticket price, at any rate.

My Old Crush is in “My Old Lady”

I try hard not to read reviews before I go see a film, but I confess I took a sneak peak to Rotten Tomatoes before heading out to Pittsford Cinema in Rochester, New York to view “My Old Lady”. A trusted friend had told me it was good, but I wanted a professional’s opinion. A review suggested that the movie was claustrophobic in its setting. My response to that, is two-fold:1. Originally a play of which the screenplay was written by the playwright, ipso facto and 2. ‘The apartment’, aka lavish house, wasn’t the problem, it was the characters constant milling about within the space that was bothersome. I wanted to scream out as my mother use to, “Light somewhere!” as you would tell a bothersome fly, swatter in hand.

But hey, I’m in my glory this fall, two of my old crushes are back in the movies-Bill Murray (St. Vincent) and Kevin Kline (thought he was incredibly sexy in that big lug type of way “A Fish Called Wanda”) in this film.

Much like Marissa Tomei, Kristin Scott Thomas is another one of my favorite female actresses, her portrayal of the raunchy mother in Only God Forgives was the movie’s only redeeming feature. And I was rightfully envious of her love scenes with Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient. Here she’s a tad on the drab side, but that’s her character, not her. She’s gorgeous even with little makeup.

And speaking of cosmetics, while Kevin Kline has lost his upper lip, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers. He’s mega talented and multi lingual. He’s comedic, he’s Shakespearean and he can sing.

Maggie Smith is really great and as I perused her IMDB photo gallery, I chose this photo to add, feeling sorry for the lady who always seem (as of the last decade or so) to be put in roles where she has no color, as if all old women must look absolutely gray in complexion to be believable.

This film is worthy, though not super. I didn’t buy the character’s reactions to his parents marital affairs, not in this day and age, especially if his dad was a cad to begin with, but hey ‘it’s only a movie’, or is it?:) No, it was a play first:)