20 February 2011

Maid in Manhattan (starring Jennifer Lopez)

'Maid in Manhattan' was one of the films that Amazon 'recommended' to me a while ago - so I put it on my wishlist, and was given it at Christmas. We finally had an evening to ourselves where a light 'chick-flick' film seemed like a good plan.

Marisa - Jennifer Lopez - works as a maid in an up-market hotel in Manhattan, in the USA. She is motivated, and reasonably popular, and sometimes thinks of applying for a management role, but never quite dares to apply.

Marisa is a single mother, and manages to combine her two roles well. She has a delightful son, Ty (Tyler Posey) who loves history and politics but becomes nervous when speaking. In the course of her cleaning work, while trying on some posh clothes (which she should not have done), Marisa happens to meet a senatorial candidate. Chris Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) mistakes her for a wealthy visitor...

Marisa throws caution to the winds, and agrees to go for a walk with him. Her friends and colleagues encourage her... and one date leads to another. It's a classic case of a small initial deceit spiralling out of control, becoming increasingly complex… until the truth, painfully, comes out.

I felt that this film took a while to get going, and was a little heavy, politically speaking, in places. However, there were some humorous moments towards the end and it was a pleasant lightly romantic story. Jennifer Lopez is excellent, as is Tyler Posey, and their scenes alone made it well worth watching. Above average for the genre, though it wasn't going to win any awards.

Rated 12 in the UK, PG-13 in the USA, as there were some instances of bad language, and a few sexual references. Nothing explicit - hence parental guidance recommended for those under about twelve or thirteen.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

14 February 2011

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (starring Nia Vardalos)

Living in Cyprus, 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' was a remarkably popular film when it first came out, nearly ten years ago. So many people told us that we 'must' see it, that we finally got hold of the DVD and I saw it perhaps seven or eight years ago. I remember it being amusing, and somewhat caricatured, but I was tired and didn't fully appreciate it.

This year, some other friends who moved to Cyprus more recently had been told that they 'should' see it. So we arranged to get together for an evening, and although it's not often that I watch films more than once, it was Valentine's Day and seemed like suitable light entertainment.

I appreciated the film a great deal more, having now lived for over thirteen years in Cyprus. Having been to a couple of local weddings and met more Cypriots helped us see just how realistic, if somewhat exaggerated, the film is. Folk from the Mediterranean area really do seem to be very family-orientated, produce huge amounts of food, and invite hundreds of friends and acquaintances to weddings.

The plot is not as such a new one - Toula (Nia Vardalos) is a much-loved and over-protected young Greek woman, who is a bit frumpish and still single. Her father (Michael Constantine) longs for her to find and marry a nice Greek boy... but Toula has ambitions that reach far beyond waitressing in her father's restaurant for her whole life. So she takes some classes, and improves her appearance... and falls in love with an American teacher.

What we all enjoyed is that the movie pokes gentle fun at both Greek and American culture, caricaturing the foibles of each. The Greek humour is more obvious, perhaps, but we loved the scenes with the 'bundt'... which have to be watched to be understood. In addition to the humour, the film showed rather well what can happen when two such different worldviews come into contact.

There were some great one-liners, such as the explanation of how even the word ‘kimono’ comes from Greek; the acting is good, the accents very Cypriot, and the characters excellent. Very enjoyable.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews