Sunday, August 12, 2007

ORLANDO



This week's movie:
ORLANDO

I like this movie - a lot - and I’m not sure why.

I saw it years ago when it first came out (1992). That was right around the time when I first started to appreciate the vast untapped resource of “movies nobody has ever heard of”. I wasn’t expecting it to be good because ………well, because I’d never heard of it, and for goodness sake, if I’d never heard of it - how good could it be?

It was damn good.

When I was done, I watched it again.

It was unlike the “ordinary” films that I was used to. Who’d of thought that I could be moved by a film that wasn’t a tearjerker or didn’t have a plot or really wasn’t about anything. But a film doesn’t have to have plot to be interesting, and a film doesn’t have to manipulative to be moving, and a film doesn’t have to tell jokes to be funny. I like this movie but I can’t put my finger on why.

The story is about the amazing life adventures of Orlando, a wealthy gentleman dandy in England during the Elizabethan era. During a party, having charmed Queen Elizabeth I, she commands Orlando to remain young forever.

So he does.

What follows, are episodes of his life over the next 400 years, first as a man, then later as a woman. About halfway through the story, Orlando wakes up as a woman. No big deal is made about it (”Same person. No difference at all… just a different sex.”) She’s lived for nearly 400 years, but because this is England, people pretend not to notice.

Orlando (both the man and woman) is convincingly portrayed by the fabulous and visually striking Tilda Swinton. She imbues her character with just the right amount of dignity, desperation, and humor. When she occasionally winks to the audience or gives an aside, it allows yourself to become his/her companion as we keep her company throughout his/her long life.

The film is based on the novel (of the same name) by Virginia Woolf. People often refer to this as a “chick flick” because it seems to favor the female Orlando. I don’t agree. Although Orlando does seem to be happier and more fulfilled at the end of the movie, I don’t think it’s because, as many claim, he’s become a woman. I think it’s more because she’s had 400 years to get it right.

If you think that this movie’s not for you, or you’re not interested in seeing it, fear not! I have provided a list of potential excuses below for your convenience (we at FranksFilms are always thinking of our readers’ well being).

  1. It’s based on literature? Sorry, I’ve swore off literature since high school.
  2. Virginia Woolf? Wait! Didn’t she write that book “Mrs. Dalloway? Christ, it took me forever to get through that!
  3. It can’t possibly be any good. I’ve never heard of it.
  4. I’ll wait for the remake starring Angelina Jolie.
  5. Tilda Swinton? Wait wasn’t she in that Chronicles or Narnia movie? Christ, it took me forever to get through that!
  6. I never watch movies. I don’t even own a television set. I only read books - and only books that I’ve heard of - and only books that have never been made into a movie.
  7. I have small children and can only watch movies that are appropriate for kids.
  8. I won’t watch British films. I only watch movies that were made right here in the U S of A ……………………like Star Wars.
  9. My husband/wife will only watch movies about sports. And I don’t think polo or cricket count.
  10. FranksFilms? Wait! Didn’t you once recommend The Saddest Music in the World? Christ, it took me forever to get through that!

ORLANDO, oh yeah. Now I remember why I liked this movie.

Because it’s good.
Enjoy.

view trailer

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