Flying from JFK to CDG took seven hours, and the return trip took eight. I guess we’re going to be watching some films on a plane. These are in the order I watched them, which also involved viewing a few television programs.
A Man Called Otto (2022). I saw this trailer in the movie theater more than once but was wary of seeing it. Otto was a remake of a 2015 Swedish film, A Man Called Ove, which my wife had seen in the cinema, but I had not.
The trailer made it appear that Otto was a grumpy old man won over by the spunky Latina and her cute kids. Meh.
The actual film was much more substantial, with a backstory that reminded some of the emotion tied to the first ten minutes of the animated movie Up. Tom Hanks plays Otto, and his son Truman as Otto in flashbacks with Sonya (Rachel Keller).
Marisol (Mariana Treviño) is a stronger character than I believed she’d be. This article compares the film with some major spoilers. The last line: “The unique traits in Otto’s interpretation of this story make it clear that this is no shameless carbon copy of what’s worked in the past.”
A Man Called Otto is recommended.
I managed to miss Crazy Rich Asians when it came out in 2018. In many ways, it is a basic rom-com with Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) going with her boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding back in Singapore.
When they went out, Nick avoided telling Rachel that 1) his family was insanely wealthy and 2) he was expected to take over the family business. Rachel meets Nick’s disapproving mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), and others in Nick’s sometimes vicious circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.
Mostly, I liked it, even when the jokes were broad. But I was unconvinced by the tidy ending. I was excited that a film with a different geography and demographic existed.
I had heard about Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, the 2021–2022 Emmy-winning series about the actor traveling across the country “to discover the secrets and delights of the country’s regional cuisines.”
The episode I saw was about Venice. It was interesting because it showed how eclectic and wide-ranging the foods of the region were, in large part because of the wide-ranging immigration in the port city, both ancient and recent. Very interesting.
On the return flight, I decided to watch First Cow (2019), which I had seen teased in the cinema. But it was too dark. I don’t mean the story was too dark, though a skeleton was found early on. The visual contrast on my screen made it difficult to see, so I abandoned it.
I watched an hour-long television program in French with English subtitles. The title translates to The great history of animation cinema in France. It was fascinating.
The industry started to turn around somewhat with the success Kirikou et la sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress), 1998; Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville), 2003; and Persepolis,2007. Still, the French felt they were playing on an uneven playing field when they spent $8 million on a movie, but Disney et al. could spend $80 million.
I had always wanted to see The Triplets of Belleville, which did play in the cinema in Albany in 2003 or 2004, but I had missed it.
I needed to see Persepolis, Oscar-nominated as the best-animated film. The graphic novel I’ve owned for years.
“In 1970s Iran, Marjane ‘Marji’ Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family of a long dream being fulfilled of the hated Shah’s defeat in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However, as Marji grows up, she witnesses firsthand how the new Iran, now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, has become a repressive tyranny.”
It is a compelling autobiography. The animation is somewhat rudimentary but effective.
With less than an hour before landing, I watched an episode of Friends in French, the one with Elle Macpherson; the dubbed voices made it enjoyable.