Italians, Macbeth and Sharknados: movies watched (#SFWApro)

BREAD AND TULIPS (2000) is a pleasant bit of Italian fluff in which a housewife misses a tour bus, discovers her family decided not to wait for her, so she winds up moving to Venice and  building a new family out of a grouchy flower-shop owner, a retired singer, a masseuse and a PI. Charming, if hardly groundbreaking; I am curious what Italians make of all these jokes about Venice’s overcrowding. “It would seem your husband is not a deep connoisseur of your soul.”

MACBETH (1979) stars Ian McKellan and Judi Dench as the Thane of Cawdor and his power-hungry wife, with Roger Rees as Malcolm and Ian McDiarmid as one of the supporting Scots. This looks like an actual filmed stage play, its big strength being how well the leads connect as a married couple (I don’t know I’ve seen them care about each other so much). McKellan plays Macbeth as almost as crazy after the murder as his spouse, which works, though I think I prefer his Richard III. “Would you let ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I will’ like the cat in the adage?”

For all its cult status, SHARKNADO (2013) couldn’t keep me even as a “talking lamp” — the premise (freak floods and waterspouts drop a school of sharks on Los Angelinos’ homes and cars) is handled with all the quality and dramatic power I expect from The Asylum, and when Tara Reid is the biggest name you can boast, that doesn’t bode well for the acting.  I expected cheesy fun, but all I got was cheese (and it was bad cheese). “Ever time it rains in LA they say it’s the storm of the century.”

PALE FLOWER (1964) is an arty Yakuza drama of Japan’s New Wave school, wherein a fresh-out-of-prison gangster finds himself fascinated with a sylphlike gambler who shows an irresistible attraction to high-stakes everything (“I shot up yesterday.”). A pessimistic film of people who are taking long walks together on short piers, though visually flashy and stylish, from the fast cars to the sounds of the gambling dens. Worth catching, but I’d advise against if you’re looking for something feel-good. “I was told there was a reason I shouldn’t kill you.”

1468679918-001-the-dick-van-dyke-show-theredlistTHE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW is one of the 1960s’ most fondly remembered sitcoms, and with good reason. The casting is excellent: Dick Van Dyke as TV comedy writer Rob Petrie, Mary Tyler Moore as his wife (she’s unbelievably funny in one episode where she has to hide how much she hates the ultra-huge necklace Rob picked up for her), veterans Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam as Rob’s staff (Carl Reiner is supposed to have based the workplace on his days writing for TV comic Sid Caesar). I just finished the first season; it’s funny, but the fondness for working in song-and-dance numbers doesn’t work for me, whether it’s an impromptu concert in the Petrie’s living room or promoting some entertainer who’s supposedly appearing on the Alan Brady Show Rob writes for (everyone’s good, it’s just not what I’m watching for). The sexism of the era periodically surfaces too, like one episode in which Laura briefly goes back to work and Rob’s friends glumly predict divorce or disaster in the offing (the episode takes pains to emphasize that Rose Marie’s Sally isn’t one of those career women since she’s eager to get married and go housewife). So YMMV. “Then Alan opens the closet—and out comes the train!”

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