The Ice Storm (1997) directed by Ang Lee (R, 112 minutes)
Ang Lee’s 1997 drama The Ice Storm (now available on Blu-ray) is, in my opinion, the director’s finest work in an impressive filmography that includes Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, Sense and Sensibility and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The Ice Storm is a witty, funny and ultimately tragic study of 1973 suburban Canaan, Conn., in which bored middle-class families cut loose and take chances with spouse swapping, substance abuse and too much honesty. The results, revealed over Thanksgiving weekend during a fearful spell of wintry weather, aren’t pretty.
The cast includes Kevin Kline as Ben Hood, the over-drinking husband of Elena (Joan Allen) who’s having an affair with his sarcastic neighbor Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver), who’s married to none-too-affectionate Jim(Jamey Sheridan). Their kids follow their examples: Wendy Hood (Christina Ricci) pursues Mikey Carver (Elijah Wood) while her older brother, Paul (Tobey Maguire), heads to Manhattan in search of sex and whatever else he can find.
Performances, particularly that of Weaver, are terrific, and the film’s memorable conclusion makes it clear that Lee deserves the fame he’s achieved.
Ginger & Rosa (PG-13, 89 minutes) Two inseparable teenage girls in 1962 London, living under the growing threat of nuclear war that casts a shadow over their very different lives, is the subject of Ginger & Rosa. The film features terrific performances and good looks but not much of a script. With Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Oliver Platt, Christina Hendricks and Annette Bening; directed by Sally Potter. “Ginger & Rosa is probably Potter’s most accessible movie to date, but the script is perhaps nothing special,” says our critic Philip Martin. “More important are the tempered performances. Timothy Spall and Platt show up as Ginger’s gay godfathers, and Annette Bening has a smallish part as a radical American poet who serves as a corrective to all the British repression. The deeply resonant details - including the girls soaking in the tub in their jeans to achieve the proper tight fit - suggest autobiographical experience.”
Babette’s Feast (G, 102 minutes) This modest 1987 drama (seen by every indie film fan alive in the late 1980s) is the first Danish film to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s based on an elegant story by Isak Dinesen. Set in the 19th century, the story concerns two pious sisters who live in a small village with their father, pastor of a cult-like Protestant church, and Babette, a spirited French refugee who is an extravagantly talented cook. With Stephane Audran, Jean-Philippe Lafont, Jarl Kulle and Bibi Andersson; directed by Gabriel Axel. Subtitled.
Home Run (PG-13, 108 minutes) The predictable road to redemption traveled by Home Run takes an unexpected turn for the better, thanks to the engaging performance of its slugging star.
Scott Elrod, a curly-haired Mike Piazza lookalike, plays Cory Brand, a major league hitter whose career is taking a slide because of his dependence on adult beverages.
In case you’re new to redemption movies, here’s the story progression for Cory: top of his game, a series of uh-oh incidents, a steep tumble downward grounding out, then finding salvation through forgiveness and atonement.
The conclusion is not hard to figure out. What makes the film worth consideration is its lack of heavy-handedness with doling out information about Brand’s experiences in a Christian recovery program (a real deal, with eight principles for recovery inspired by the Beatitudes shared by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount). The topic, for the most part, is treated with respect. It’s not Leaving Las Vegas, but it has its moments.
MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 07/26/2013
Print Headline: HOME MOVIES