March 23, 2012

Love makes splendid movie magic

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Movies, Women at 3:56 am by dinaheng

Second chances at love come in all shapes, sizes and situations. If you’re in the mood for romantic tales that will give you a smile, you’ll find it in offerings this month that will  take you to Mars, Paris, and the Yemen.

First, love of the extraterrestrial kind… “John Carter,” an epic, action-adventure film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic, “A Princess of Mars,” has been called a box office flop, projected by Disney to lose $200 million or more.

Personally, I don’t get it. I thoroughly enjoyed “John Carter.” Having never read the Burroughs’ novel, I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the film. While I wouldn’t call the performances Oscar-worthy, the movie was a fun, entertaining ride.

Yes, the film follows in the shadow of “Star Wars” and “Avatar”-like movies, but the 1917 tale of John Carter clearly inspired many of today’s well-known authors and filmmakers.

In this version, Confederate soldier John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) is transported to Barsoom (Mars) and unites warring tribes to save Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) from a treacherous plot to control the planet’s future. The American Civil War veteran, who battles a mysterious enemy and his own regrets, must move heaven and Earthly forces to be with his princess love.

If you’re in the mood for a popcorn film that has great special effects, a smart heroine, and a story bound for a happy ending, “John Carter” offers a mindless escape to love.

If you’re after more thoughtful fare, “Delicacy” offers a nuanced tale of what happens when Nathalie (Audrey Tautou), a lovely and successful Parisian business executive, suddenly loses her soul mate after a happy, short-lived marriage. After burying herself in work, it’s an awkward, ordinary looking subordinate named Markus (Francois Damiens) who brings back her joie de vivre in this French language film.

The delicate question of whom we should love, and what they should look like, is deftly explored through the dismay of friends and co-workers as Nathalie comes to realize she’s falling in love with the ugly duckling, good-hearted Swedish man who dares to woo his boss.

Tautou, whom many viewers will recognize from “The DaVinci Code” or “Amelie,” brings a beautifully expressive face to a character that anyone will understand — regardless of whether or not you read the English sub-titles. “Delicacy” is a sweet reminder that love will always find us, if we just open the door.

Opening the door to love, of course, requires opening the door to faith, something that  British fisheries expert Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor) learns when he’s dragged into a wealthy shiek’s dream of bringing fly-fishing to the desert land of Yemen by the shiek’s quietly supportive London representative, Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt) in the wonderful romantic comedy, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”

This adaptation of Paul Torday’s novel is a wonderfully inspiring tale of what can happen when far-fetched impossibilities are shown to be not so impossible after all. For just as the shiek (Amr Waked) dreams of a time when his country will not be torn by violence, and fly-fishing becomes a common past-time that all can enjoy, Jones realizes that his unspoken dream of having true love can also come true, if he’s brave enough to walk away from a bad marriage and tell the woman he loves how he really feels.

On one level, we are all salmon, running upstream in hopes of finding love and rebirth. And on another level, we must all learn to be better fishermen. For as the shiek asks, “How many hours do you fish before you catch something?”  It’s often a long time, he notes, before you get a nibble on your line.

But if you’re a  true fisherman and persist, he says, “in the end, you’re rewarded for your faith… with a fish.”

For a joyous, witty affirmation of the power of love and faith, be sure to catch “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”

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