Monday, April 18, 2011

In Defense of Amelie

A dreary November weekend seemed the perfect time to catch up on some movie viewing. Wait! Did I say November? I did. Although the calendar clearly says "April", and we should be enjoying the first breezes of Spring, I fear a mistake has been made. Maybe its time for astronomers to rethink the Gregorian calendar, and bring us a new way of determining that no longer lulls us into believing that patterns we have known for decades are still relevant.

I'm just crabby about the cold today, and about the threat of snow for tomorrow.

So, I really wanted to talk about this neat little movie today, Amelie. My book group alternates books and movies, and this was our March pick. After years of listening to me go on and on about this movie, they finally caved, and watched it. Well, next time I have a movie near and dear to my heart, I will not be as persistent...and I will definitely back off of my praises for my other favorite film, The French Lieutenant's Woman.

The reception for Amelie was polite, but lukewarm, and the discussion lasted all of five minutes before turning to more pressing matters, like the royal wedding! (Valerie even brough us all royal wedding commemerative coasters to set our tea upon when we all get up at 4 A.M. to watch to ceremony.) No one said anything horrible about Amelie, no one really said anything. They are all so nice, and I guess they just didn't want me to feel badly.

Yet, I say, go rent this film. It is charming, funny, provocative and memorable. Amelie, a Young French woman, defies her sheltered upbringing, changing many lives in the process. Early on we learn that Amelie's childhood companion, a goldfish, repeatedly attempts suicide, setting up the symbolism for the rest of the movie...people trapped by circumstances they are afraid to rebel against. In a series of deviously creative capers, Amelie becomes a sort of fairy godmother, coaxing people out of their fishbowls, giving them a bigger, happier view of the world.

If you like magical realism, ala Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate, you will love this movie. I keep it protected on my DVR and watch it on November-ish days in spring! I have watched it so many time, I can recite lines in both English and French.

At a customer's urging, I checked out Howl, a movie based on the obscenity trial of beat poet, Allen Ginsberg. The entire beat movement has baffled me, but I might try some Jack Kerouac once more. I have a vague recollection of Larry Ferlinghetti's poem about the Pope's underwear...hmmm...

What am I reading? A very old book called Mrs. Miniver, the story of the effects of WWI on an British family. Solid writing. Somewhat stuffy; at times overly sentimental, but these are characters deserving of our sympathy and respect.

*****WARNING! Heart-A-Rama tickets are going fast. Get yours today. Don't be caught without some.