[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap] he Magic of Belle Isle is a quaint movie in the tradition of The Legend of Bagger Vance or perhaps The Man Without a Face. It is a Rob Reiner directed film which automatically makes me want to see it. I have always been a fan of Reiner’s and were it not for the utter sweetness of this movie, I would even say that I see traces of Stand By Me. But Reiner seems to have evolved to a very mellow place. A place where a nice story about redemption and love without lust can bring happiness to little girls who have “lost” their father.
Morgan Freeman plays Monty, the grizzled and soured ex-writer of Western novels, who is trying to drink himself into oblivion. Now Reiner shows his mellowness in making Monty one of the least offensive or abusive drunks in movie history. He can barely bring himself to been mean-spirited to a 9 year old girl. Monty moves in next door to Virginia Madsen, who is a divorcee who lives on a bucolic lake in the magic town of Belle Isle , which looks like Maine, but seems to be within a quick drive of Manhattan (another Reiner idealization).
The story is about Monty rediscovering his muses (mother and daughters) and both symbolically and physically letting go of his pain of the death of his wife and the stagnation of his cowboy character. He dreams of a waltz in the moonlight with the beautiful neighbor lady….and she more or less obliges in that he fills the genteel void of a father to her daughters and a companion to her simple but cultured life.
there is a soft spot in all of us for a movie like this and especially when it is acted and directed by such pros. Unfortunately, I suspect I watched this as an iPad rental because it is simply too vanilla nice to interest the viewing public at large. Too bad, it’s a sweet film.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap] hick as Thieves (aka The Code) is a heist movie with some Usual Suspects type twists. Tony Scott directs this and there are bits of Man on Fire and is paced like Unstoppable, so you will get your money’s worth from this largely forgotten film with two notable stars.
Freeman and Banderas meet as only thieves should meet….on the subway while one is casing the other and the other is pulling a heist….or so we think. This is double, triple cross territory with a love interest for Banderas thrown in so we can see his ass while he charms Rhada Mitchell, who you may remember as the hot mom in Man on Fire (wife to the sleazy Mark Anthony). They go through their paces planning the heist of two Fabrege Eggs from the Russian mob (that would be the uber-sophisticated Russian mob) while getting tangled up seemingly in each others’ lives.
Now the Russian mob certainly traffics in diamonds and precious items like Fabrege eggs, but what they really traffic in is $100 bills. I am reminded on the story of how Frank Newman, en Deputy Secretary of the Treasury made the call to switch out the old $100 bills for the new $100 bills. The big issue, it turns out was whether to order the destruction on the old ones or leave them be. It’s nice to know that everyone, including the Russian mob has a say in U.S. Monetary Policy…..the old bills remain legal tender……and all’s well in the Trans-Siberian world…….
This is a fine heist movie with fine actors and a great director….I can only conclude that it passed by without notice since it is, after all, thematically a case of same-old same-old.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] D [/dropcap] olphin Tale has been out for a while, but I missed it in theaters and am sorry I did. Now, I tend toward the sappy and idealistic, but I have to say that director Charles Martin Smith did a fine job with a somewhat predictable tale. No one who goes to this movie does not understand that this is a story about an injured dolphin who is saved by a young boy and a community that rally behind getting Winter the dolphin a prosthetic tale.
Naturally, the story needs more texture than that, so the writers (Karen Janszen and Naom Dromi) fleshed it out (no prosthetic pun intended) with the story of an injured veteran and a financially-challenged aquarium. There is certainly some Free Willy in this and even a touch of The Horse Wisperer. Morgan Freeman is the kindly prosthetologist who makes the tale wiggle. Luckily, they stopped short of throwing in a love affair between the two emotionally crippled single parents.
The hedge fund manager and ex-developer in me soared when the potentially evil Sneidley Whiplash developer / distressed property investor buys the aquarium and does NOT throw the poor dolphin and the management (Harry Connick, Jr.) out on their blow-hole. Undoubtedly there was at least a 1031 tax exchange angle that made his good deed break-even or better.
Seriously though, I liked the sentiment and the true-life nature of this story and the real tale-less dolphin made this a story worth telling and a film worth watching. This and a positive memory of my youth watching Flipper on TV made up for having to watch Kris Kristofferson yet again play the wizened and kindly yet hip grandfather of our collective dreams. Go see it or rent it and enjoy the plentiful feel-good.