Broomstick flight to Cloud Nine
Director: Nora Ephron
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Will Farrell, Michael Caine, Shirley Maclaine, Heather Burns, Joan Plowright, Steve Carell
Feeling blue in gray weather' Go see Bewitched. Nora Ephron’s (Sleepless in Seattle; You’ve Got Mail) sunshine romantic comedy will surely lighten your heart. The beginning title sequence, with peppy lilting music (City of Love by Persephone’s Bee) and aerial shots of LA and San Fran with twinkling citylights, sets the magical tone of this feel-good movie that lifts your spirits up to Cloud Nine ' on a broomstick flight! And as flying sorcerer-camera swoops down in high-speed (slow-motion), landing in an unearthly time-space ‘witch-zone’, you take off on a trip into the magic-real world conjured up by the director.
Based on a popular 1960s American television series, the film tells a modernday fairytale about a good witch (Nicole) who badly wants a normal mortal life ' husband, home and happiness. Of course, she’s got the power to just snap her fingers, twitch her ears, wiggle her nose and get her wish. But nope. No more ‘tricks-for-treats’. Now she wants things to happen for real. She meets Mr.Right (Will), flop actor of TV remake called Bewitched.
But something goes wrong when she’s cast as witch on the same show. And she resorts to white lies and black magic. The humour is sometimes too camp and spoofy. And those not familiar with the original TV classic, might not even get the take-offs on aunt Clara’s chimney goof-up, or uncle Arthur’s mirror-cracking or Endora’s (Shirley) wicked antics. But the bitter-sweet love story’s universal Hollywood. So clue in! And the music’s retro, so tune in. Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Sinatra and Police singin’ ’bout (time) Ding-dong Witchcraft and Magic.
The cast spells magic, too. And charms and amuses with portrayals of lovable Silly-Billie characters who’re perfectly imperfect. Like Nicole says about Will, “He’s so messed-up and clueless I really want him!” And that’s what the movie’s about. What she wants. And having the power to get it. Girl Power! Like good warlock (Michael) says, “Every woman wants to be a witch.” Which is probably true. And it’s an exciting thought.
Feel the chill
THE skeleton key
Director: Iain Softley
Cast: Kate Hudson, John Hurt, Gena Rowlands, Peter Sorsgoord
Horror is not always blood and guts. The ghost film is more about sending chills down your spine than bile up your throat, and The Skeleton Key is one such effort. Based on black magic and vengeful Black servants, it succeeds quite well in making the viewer shiver at regular intervals.
The plot is simple enough, revolving around closed doors, the blood-curdling secrets they hide and, of course, the keys. While the performances are adequate, it is the technical aspects, especially the camerawork and editing, that make the movie rise above the mediocre. The dark, wild, brooding landscape of New Orleans is further enhanced by the background score of traditional Blues to create a mood of fearful melancholy.
The story of an old couple in a rambling old bungalow with an eerie attic and the inquisitive, modern young nurse ends with a satisfactory twist in the tale. The recurrent motif of keys, locks, voodoo equipment reveals its full significance. So if you like fingernails digging into your flesh take a look, feel the chill and chill out.
Nudes and yawns
Director: Francois Ozon Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier
One is Sarah Morton, a prim, middle-aged mystery writer, taking a sojourn in her publisher’s French mansion. The other is Julie, the publisher’s sexually hyperactive daughter, who comes for a visit. And their uneasy interactions form the theme of this slow moving relationship drama that largely depends on mammary and a murder to sustain interest.
Initially, the greatest excitement is Sarah’s rapid-fire typing. Then comes Julie, in swimsuit or naked, with sound effects of her one-night stands. The story warms up with Sarah’s growing fascination for Julie as a subject for a different kind of book. The second half features the murder, its cover-up, Sarah in the nude, the book, and some sort of denouement for all that happens. Swimming Pool is held together by a controlled performance from Charlotte who portrays a repressed, arrogant Englishwoman with conviction. Ludivine shows her talents are not merely physical. The script lacks clarity, the plot lacks imagination, and Ozon fails to pace it to best effect. The result is a bit of a yawn.