Friday, July 13, 2012

"To Rome with Love" and "Starry, Starry Night"

GH and I went with P and J last Saturday to watch Woody Allen's new film "To Rome with Love" at the Angelika. I liked it more than his last movie "Midnight in Paris." For one thing, the Rome movie, unlike the Paris one, did not hang on a single conceit, and an endless procession of semi-believeable mimicries of famous personalities of 1920s Paris. "Rome" consisted of four stories, unrelated in plot, but connected through the common themes of love, fame and aging. The best story had a pair of Italian newly-weds coming from the countryside to the Eternal City for the first time to meet the husband's influental relatives. For them Rome was a place of confusion but also of experience. They returned to their small town, wiser and surer of their rightful place. Alessandro Tiberi and Alessandra Mastronardi were pitch-perfect as the hapless innocents.

Another story had Alec Baldwin finding his younger self (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in Rome when he was falling in love with the wrong woman. The third story revolved around the discovery of a bathroom tenor by a retired maestro (Woody Allen) who refused to accept that his career was over. The bathroom conceit sounded cheesy but actually produced some hilarious and moving scenes. The last story was a tiresome satire on the cult of celebrity. An ordinary Italian family man, of no special accomplishments whatsover, was suddenly and unaccountably thrust into the media circus.

*

On Wednesday, I took WL's suggestion and saw "Starry, Starry Night" with DM at AMC Cinema in Times Square. Directed by Taiwanese Tom Lin, the film was an adaptation of Jimmy Liao's picture book. It was a sensitive and imaginative look at the joys and sorrows of childhood on the cusp of adolescence. The fantasy elements added to the psychological weave of being thirteen. I found some parts of it overly sentimental, but perhaps that too is an aspect of being young.

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