HER EYES WERE FOLLOWING ME AS I started to walk away. I could never forget those eyes and where I saw them. Her smile was quiet as if she was almost embarrassed to let it out. There was another woman I recall from the same place who was perfectly sculpted with marbled skin and hair swept to the back of her head. She also had no arms. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to visit the Louvre museum in Paris. The building alone impressed me before I even stepped foot inside. After years of only seeing them as pictures in magazines or films, I could not believe I was standing in front of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. You know how you form an image of something in your mind on how it might look in reality? Well I had an image for each of them and when I stood in front of them I realized what I had in my mind paled in comparison to seeing the actual painting and sculpture. Mona Lisa’s eyes were fascinating because they seemed to follow you going to the left or right side of her. They simply looked alive is all I can say. SITUATED IN THE HEART OF the city I live close by to is an art museum that some say is a world class museum. I have been a visitor to it numerous times throughout my life. The collection is extensive and varied with art pieces from the masters like Monet, Picasso, Hopper and Rembrandt. To see these artists’ works close up gives me an enormous amount of pleasure. When I look at a painting I not only study the brushstrokes, shading and choice of colors; I also envision the period of time it depicts. Besides paintings and sculpted pieces this museum has a space devoted to miniature rooms; I am talking rooms that are only as big as a shoebox. The detail in each room is remarkable and each room represents a different period of time, going back centuries. When I am looking at them I feel as if I am getting a glimpse of history. Now just imagine if some of the paintings were able to come to life and talk about themselves, one could get a real dose of the past. Well that is what I experienced when I watched this animated, biographical crime film that was nominated for an Oscar award. POSTMAN JOSEPH ROULIN, voiced by Chris O’Dowd (Molly’s Game, St. Vincent), was determined to get the deceased artist Vincent van Gogh’s returned last letter to his brother Theo. With no forwarding address Joseph assigned the task of finding Theo to Armand, voiced by Douglas Booth (Noah, Jupiter Ascending). Armand would start his search at the town where Vincent had died. His arrival would unveil clues to what really happened to Vincent. This film festival winner was visually one of the most incredible movie watching experiences I have had in a long time. The entire film was hand painted by over 100 artists. Taking inspiration from Vincent’s works, it literally looked like the characters came to life. The result of this process created a pictorial feast, seriously. The shading and illumination in this picture amazed me; I cannot even fathom how the artists did it. Not too familiar with Vincent’s life story, I did not know what was true or false. Honestly it did not matter to me because I enjoyed the way the story allowed each character to spin their thoughts about the situation. After I finished watching this DVD I felt as if I had been touring an art museum and all I wanted to do was learn more about Vincent van Gogh.
3 ½ stars — DVD
In love; when one is experiencing it, everything in the world appears to have taken on richer hues. Each step a person takes lands on soft pillows with an ah, instead of hard concrete. There is a refreshing lightness that is always ready to be swept up into the breezes of affections and dreams. For every waking moment, the imprint of a deep hug remains to caress, calm and soothe the body. But when one has it and then it is gone, love can reach deep into the body to squeeze the heart of its breath. The loss is replaced with a pain that thrives in the veins of the soul as it seeks out new ways to cripple daily functions. I will go with the notion everyone is familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet; two young lovers from two feuding families, the Capulets and the Montagues. So story wise, there is not much a screenwriter can do to change the story if they want to stay true to the Shakespeare piece. In this latest film version I felt the writer was updating the story for a new generation. Douglas Booth (From Time to Time, LOL) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) played Romeo and Juliet. For me, they were the main reason I had issues with this movie. The two actors were way over their heads with their characters. There was no connection, no emotion, no desire between them; their performance came across as an amateur school production. To make matters worse, the adult cast had several wonderful actors such as Paul Giamatti (Win Win, Barney’s Version) as Friar Laurence, Damian Lewis (Dreamcatcher, Homeland-TV) as Lord Capulet and Lesley Manville (Another Year, Vera Drake) as Nurse. The acting from these gifted artists was on a completely different level than Hailee and Douglas. Visually I enjoyed this beautiful movie with its gorgeous scenes around the city of Verona and surrounding areas. With such a disconnect for me between the familiar story and the lead actors, I was bored for a good portion of the time. Honestly, if someone wanted to see a film version of this classic story, I would recommend seeing writer and director Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 movie. Knowing a thing or two about love, I can certainly say I did not love this film.
1 3/4 stars