Film: Two Beauties

de Niro


RICHARD LUTZ on how two films, one new and the other old,  made his week

Early winter rain. Time to take in a movie.

Or rather two movies.

One is 30 years old  with no script and has not a speck of fungus on it because it’s so original and still so alluring.

And the other is a de Niro vehicle  with a quirky story driven forward by a sharp witty script about mental illness that left a Sunday evening movieplex audience applauding-a rare experience indeed.

Let’s talk about the new film that had them standing in the aisles. It is Silver Lining Playbook. Two edgy people, both with barely controllable psychotic problems, are attracted to each other and need each other. But they have, unfortunately, a range of psychological problems too. Bradley Cooper, who you may recognise from the Hangover movies, is blue eyed Pat, just out of a mental institution. He will richochet off anyone’s life with his potentially violent obsessions. He is matched with Jenny Lawrence  who is known for Hunger Games and made her mark with Winter’s Bone. She is Tiffany, armed with an explosive temper and the living hell of youthful widowhood.

You know it is going to end well (spoiler here) just by the Hollywood-ish feel  of the movie. But you stay with it anyway. The script is perceptively  funny and you get the feeling that the writer and director David O.Russell  (The Fighter/ Three Kings) must have had personal links with mental illness, medications and how the world treats adults with barely controllable emotions.

De Niro is Pat’s father- an  OCD bookie who does the de Niro thing with that bovine stare and the popped out eyes. It is  a beautiful little family comedy /drama though a bit too sweet at the end- let’s just say it finishes with a will they won’t they dance contest that leaves you suspending belief and hoping all ends well.

On the other side of things, I finally got to see, via dvd, Koyaanisqatsi.


Well, this is a 30 year old masterpiece shot mostly in the deserts of SW America and the urban canyons of Manhattan.

It almost defies description. It uses eye-grabbing  panoramics and music by composer Phillip Glass to reveal how we- yes, all of us- are slowly becoming unhinged from what is around us- whether it be silent deserts, the bubbling clouds or the endless wind.

Yes, it does sound a bit eco-friendly. But its allure is how director Godfrey Reggio  interprets the overwhelming beauty of, say, a Utah mesa with the frenetics of a morning rush hour in New York.

He lets  shots linger, and geometric patterns evolve, whether they be of a cloud scudding across The Grand Canyon or Modrian- like patterns emerging from lines of night traffic.

Reggio used  all kinds of tricks to get this huge idea across- hyperspeed, slo-mo,  aerials, time lapse- to pound out his vision about how connections are being slowly lost and new beauties (many man made) created. And Glass’s music thumps along. It is simply one of the most effective use of film and music ever  developed. And developed this movie was, by the way, by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. So there are big names attached.

Two films. Two ways of displaying meaning in our shifting scudding little lives. Two nice ways to whittle away a rainy week end.