Last year at this time, as a result of a snow storm, my family and I spent over two days at Newark Airport and ultimately returned home without ever getting on an airplane to take a scheduled vacation in Hawaii. Newark is a nice airport but it can’t compare to spending time in paradise. This year, we decided to stay local and all in all it was a very low key relaxing week with lots of much appreciated family time. Also lots of time for movies and shows. So within the last ten days, we have seen Alvin and the Chipmunks, Sherlock Holmes, Mission Impossible, TinTin and Snowy, Bonnie and Clyde, The Artist, My Week with Marilyn, Ridiculous Broadway, and War Horse. And what was my favorite? Well the reality was I enjoyed all of the above.
Having enjoyed all the films and the shows does not mean, however, that I didn’t have favorites. The Chipmunks was pure fluff, a cute but slightly ridiculous story; however even a provost can’t help but appreciate three talented chipmunks. The stunts and special effects on Mission Impossible were spectacular. I always enjoyed Mission Impossible when it was a TV series, and the movies have just elevated the intrigue, the stunts and special effects to movie perfection. The characters made Sherlock Holmes and TinTin very worthwhile action movies. Sherlock Holmes also had an interesting sense of humor and had no resemblance whatsoever to the Sherlock Holmes/Basil Rathbone films I watched faithfully on TV. And TinTin had Snowy, my idea of the ideal dog (though the dog in The Artist also comes close to meeting that ideal). Bonnie and Clyde was Broadway fluff—an engaging pair of stars with lackluster songs and featuring a continuing combination of loves songs/scenes followed by bloody violence. Whatever happened to “make love, not war”? The show was entertaining, had great staging with real Bonnie and Clyde news stories flashed on the background scenery but it was in no way memorable. Ridiculous Broadway was great fun—especially the parodies of Les Mis, Fidler, and Lion King—but once again nothing memorable.
And now memorable begins. My Week with Marilyn, could only have been better if it was MY week with Marilyn and if it starred the real Marilyn Monroe. Although she didn’t quite have the seductive face and perfect gestures and timing of Marilyn at her best, Michelle William’s acting was great and at a distance, she had the look and shape of the real Marilyn. A movie without special effects or animation but a film at its best, easily transporting me to a different place and time. Not profound but still a must see movie.
War Horse was a triumph. The film is terrific, and as I had earlier indicated, the Broadway show is also a triumph. For my older daughter, the film was better than the show. She loved the background and vivid details of the film. I loved the film but still prefer the Broadway show. For me the story seemed more intimate and real on the stage, and the fact that the horses on stage were totally lifelike puppets made it all the more impressive. Another must see film.
And the winner is The Artist. The film about the transition from silent movies to talkies gave me a real insight on the effectiveness of a silent film. And the story of the silent screen star, who doesn’t believe that talkies are here to stay until it is too late, is clear and compelling in intimate detail even without words. The Artist is my number 1 must see movie of this season.
Now admittedly, seeing all these films and shows does not make one a better provost or a better economist. What it does, is help create thoroughly enjoyable family time. And even without going to a warm climate, it made for an outstanding holiday break. Plus, a second career as a movie or film critic might be worth exploring.