27 December 2016

And So it Goes (starring Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas)

Sometimes Amazon recommends DVDs to me based on genres I have enjoyed, sometimes because I’ve rated highly another film with one of the same actors. I suspect that the latter is the case for this one, as Diane Keaton is one of the leading roles. So it went on my wish-list, and I was given it for Christmas a couple of days ago.

Last night we needed to unwind and relax, and this film, ‘And so it goes’ sounded like an ideal one. ‘Funny, heartfelt and delightful’ was the review quotation on the front. Evidently it was one of the relatively recent genre featuring a relationship of some kind between older people, but that’s not a problem at all.

Michael Douglas co-stars as Oren, an estate agent who is trying to sell his mansion after losing his wife. He has a small apartment, where he is generally rude to his neighbours, but they accept him as a cantankerous old man whose heart is probably in the right place. Into the mix comes his estranged son, with a surprise that Oren is not expecting, which is the start of the (admittedly inevitable) softening of his heart.

Diane Keaton is Leah, Oren’s next-door neighbour, who works as a singer. She lost her husband some time ago, and is struggling somewhat to make a living; it doesn’t help that she breaks down in tears any time a song or comment reminds her of her husband. She’s the opposite of Oren in many ways: generous, open-hearted, kind, and extremely emotional. Keaton does this well although I never entirely believed in the character who seemed just a tad too ditzy for someone supposedly in her mid-sixties. It doesn’t help that she looks considerably younger, although the actress is in fact around the right age for the role.

There wasn’t much that we would class as ‘funny’; the occasional mild slapstick didn’t appeal, and while there were one or two places that made us smile, the overall theme and storyline was far from amusing. However it was undoubtedly both heartfelt and delightful. We all became caught up in the story and were pleased that the ending was as predictable as we had hoped. From the point of view of a movie about almost-retired people, it was encouraging and positive about the potential for enjoying life in one’s sixties.

Some difficult themes are touched upon; not just the loss of spouses, but several other issues that arise and could touch emotional chords with many. There are some quite intense scenes, too, including one of childbirth, and intimacies are quite overt, although no nudity is shown.

Language is crude in places, but relatively mild. The rating is 12 and I think that’s probably around right, though I can’t imagine that this would have any appeal to anyone under the age of at least 18, probably considerably more.

Definitely recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

15 December 2016

Big Business (starring Lily Tomlin and Better Midler)

This is another DVD that was recommended to me by Amazon, and sounded interesting, so I put it on my wishlist. I was given it for my birthday nearly two years ago, and had quite forgotten what the blurb said when we decided to watch it recently. I somehow had the idea that it was about people on stage - but was quite wrong.

‘Big Business’ starts with a classic mix-up in a hospital in the 1940s. A wealthy couple are passing through a small town when the wife goes into labour with twins. At the same time, an impoverished farmer and his wife also go into labour, also with twins. Fathers, in those days, were not permitted to be present at the birth, and the harassed nurses manage to muddle the babies up. Even more confusingly, both sets of parents decide on the same pair of names for their twin girls…

The story then moves forward around thirty years. The wealthy Rose and Sadie are businesswomen; Rose (Lily Tomlin)) is hard-hitting and materialistic, while the quieter Sadie (Bette Midler) often feels out of place, and hates to hurt people. Meanwhile the farming community Rose also feels as if she doesn’t belong in the countryside, and longs to see the world, while Sadie is very much at home there.

It’s all caricatured, of course, and the premise is ridiculous, but it sets the scene for a surprisingly enjoyable comedy. Neither of us is particularly keen on slapstick, but the script is clever and there’s some excellent direction as the pairs of sisters manage to cause confusion and avoid meetings by split seconds until the inevitable final realisation that they have met their doubles. Yes, much is predictable, but part of the fun was watching for what we knew was going to happen.

It's not pure fluff; there’s a great deal more to the story. Politics, business and relationships with men are all part of this film, which is unusual and original for the 1980s in having businesswomen as the main characters, while most of the men around them are either a bit clueless or somewhat hapless.

Overall it made a very enjoyable light evening’s viewing that didn’t require any deep thought, and which made us laugh more than once. Inevitably it feels quite dated at times without technology everywhere, but that was quite refreshing.

Rated PG, probably because there's almost no bad language and no nudity, although there are implied intimacies off-stage. Unlikely to be of much interest to younger children anyway.

Recommended.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews

04 December 2016

Delivery Man (starring Vince Vaughn)

I don’t remember where this DVD came from. It’s not something I put on my wishlist; perhaps it’s one my husband was given. Or perhaps it’s something we spotted in a supermarket in the UK, or even a charity shop, and thought it worth watching. Whatever the reason, it’s been in our unwatched DVD drawer for some time, until we finally decided to watch it last night.

‘Delivery Man’ is about the somewhat hapless David (Vince Vaughn) who works as a meat delivery man in the family business. He has clearly made some poor decisions in the past, and is far too easily distractible, as he regularly arrives late to work, or fails to make deliveries in time. On the other hand, he’s friendly and has a soft heart.

I rather wish we hadn’t read the blurb on the back, which gives away the huge plot twist that shatters David’s life when he learns something so unexpected that he doesn’t know how to deal with it. Since I had read it, I saw the early part of the film - setting the scene with his family, and girlfriend, and his general cluelessness - almost as filler, rather than relaxing and enjoying the story as it unfolded. I liked the scenes with his lawyer friend (Chris Pratt) and his four rather wild children, but was waiting for him to find out what I knew was coming...

The second part of the film follows him as he comes to terms with the incredible news he has been given, gets involved in a possible court case, and gets to know several individual people whom he would not otherwise have met. To say more would give away the storyline; suffice it to say that David appears as a likeable person with a very warm heart, a bit of a fish out of water in his family who are more practical and hard-working, albeit less intelligent.

It’s rated 12 (PG-13 in the US), which is about right given the nature of the story; I doubt if it would be of any interest to anyone younger, in any case. There’s a bit of bad language, and several innuendoes that are relevant to the plot. There are also one or two intense scenes and hints of violence, though none shown.

All in all, we enjoyed it even if the ending is somewhat predictable. The acting is all rather caricatured, but then the story itself is bizarre and unrealistic, and it’s certainly rather different from anything we had seen before.

Having said that, apparently ‘Delivery Man’ was a re-make of a former film by the same director, which was called ‘Starbuck’. We haven’t seen that, but some viewers of both claim that the original is better.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews