Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Tom and I saw eight movies he borrowed for free from our wonderful local library. Except for “My Fair Lady”, we’d never seen any of them before. So each movie was a new experience.
Westworld (1973) Written and directed by Michael Crichton, this is a fascinating premise. The cutting between the expensive “reality theme parks” with realistic robots and the behind-the-scenes technicians with their computers controlling everything is effective. Yul Brynner is especially frightening as “the gunslinger”. Then things go terribly wrong—no plot spoilers from me! The story is exciting and gripping until the end, when it fizzles out. It’s as if Crichton ran out of ideas.  Recommended, especially for science fiction and thriller fans.
Funny Face (1957) Starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. The story is overlong and never quite coheres of an intellectual beauty who works in a New York City bookstore and how she gets discovered as a fashion model by a magazine photographer. Astaire can dance, but Audrey can REALLY dance. She rejects the young handsome philosopher for the old man fashion photographer. Is this a brand Hepburn was developing? That a much younger woman gets transformed from a plain girl into a glamorous woman and goes off with an older man? She did that in “Sabrina”, this movie, and “My Fair Lady”. Recommended especially for fans of Audrey Hepburn.
Passengers (2017) The actors, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, were at the top of their game and got paid millions for this movie. Which was a huge flop at the box office. That didn’t deter Tom and me from seeing it. The film is overlong and mixes passionate romance and science fiction, two genres that don’t always mix well for viewers. Still, it was an interesting premise—5,000 passengers and 250 crew are put in hibernation pods awaiting their arrival at a distant habitable plane 99 years from now–had moments of suspense and excitement, a falling-out of the protagonists, and ultimately a happy ending. Recommended for viewers who want to be entertained by a mix of genres.
Downton Abbey (2019)  As an egalitarian American, I dislike “Upstairs, Downstairs” dramas, the rich and poor classes in England. Apparently there is a series on television (I don’t watch TV, either), but this was a delightful movie. The King and Queen are going to visit Downton Abbey (which looks like a castle) for a dinner—one night—and  bringing their own staff of cooks, dressers, detectives, and servants. And off we go, the aristocrats are worried about the visit going well and the servants are fighting among themselves. Witty and engaging. Recommended for fans of, well, the Downton Abbey TV series.
Capricorn One (1978) The film has an interesting premise for anyone who entertained the notion that the Moon walk was faked. This time it’s a trip to Mars that gets faked. I’m surprised that NASA allowed its name to be used as a fraudulent, murderous organization. (Maybe the filmmakers got sued, I don’t know.) The Mars astronauts supposedly get killed on re-entry to Earth, and the chase is on. There are plenty of plot holes, Hollywood logic, and not-so-amazing coincidences. It’s not a great movie, but recommended for science fiction fans.
Closer to the Moon (2015 ) This film is based on a true story of 1959 Bucharest under Communist rule. Five high-ranking Jewish members of the Party staged a bank heist and were sentenced to death. But before they face a firing squad, they enact the bank heist for a propaganda film. Darkly humorous, very scary, and unstinting, going backwards and forwards in time. Recommended for serious viewers.
Archive (2020) Recalling “Ex Machina”, a scientist attempts to recreate his wife who was killed in a car accident. Her memories are preserved in “the Archive” but only for so long. The scientist lives alone in a technological house on a cliff facing a steep waterfall, has created two more primitive AI entities who apparently love him. The end has a shocking twist this viewer didn’t see coming. Recommended for science fiction viewers.
My Fair Lady (1964) I’ve already had my say about this dreadful movie on my personal Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/lisa.mason.7393264. Misogynist, cold, classist, mean.
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