Thursday, June 26, 2014

Shirley Valentine (1989)

Shirley's a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who finds herself talking to the wall while she prepares her husband's chip'n'egg, wondering what happened to her life. [imdb]

Nominated for 2 Oscars:

Best Actress: Pauline Collins
Best Original Song

 By now I have already seen the film twice, and I was more than surprised when I first saw it. And it's not just Shirley's performance - she's good; great, actually - it's the screenplay itself. I expected some silly romantic comedy, not a deep & meaningful comedy about life passing by and missed opportunities. 

There's something a bit strange about it: the film itself is quite dated, especially in the directing style. But the screenplay feels timeless and important and funny. On that note, it would've clearly deserved an Adapted Screenplay nomination. The acting is fine, but it's clearly a one-woman-show when it comes to the focus of the film; Shirley succeeds, though I find the performance less flashy than the material would led to believe.

My rating for the film: 8.5/10. It's a surprisingly important film that I think everyone should see.

The Straight Story (1999)

An old man makes a long journey by tractor to mend his relationship with an ill brother. True story. [imdb]

Nominated for 1 Oscar:

Actor: Richard Farnsworth

  As if we needed more proof that 1999 was an excellent year for films, I finally got to see David Lynch's most atypical film, a low key low budget film that might seem boring to some, but still keeps some of Lynch's trademarks (mostly from the camera shots). While this is not the most exciting film, it kept me interested and it's quite a special piece. It has heart, not just subtly-presented style.

Other than the cinematographer, Farnsworth is the star here. He gives the most realistic performance and his acting, just like most of the elements of the film, is very subtle. The eyes do most of the work and the performance feels even more effective if you know the real-life story of the actor, who was dealing with last stages of cancer while filming (Farnsworth killed himself 1 year after the film's release). So that makes it all more sad and touching. Overall, his nomination is much deserved and a win wouldn't have upset me.

My rating for the film: 8/10. I might've went for a different ending, but I have to respect Lynch's choices.