This past summer, when Transformers 2: Revenge of the Loud Movies with No Plot was ruling the box office, an artsy little film called Cheri came and went. I'm not really sure it ever came to Edmonton as we are a smaller market, and on the rare occasion we get the good little films they are here for a blink and then gone. Cheri is now out on dvd, and I just watched it. And totally enjoyed it - fun, drama, romance, great one-liners, amazing costumes and sets, terrific acting, unexpected plot twists, the works.
Cheri is based on the French novel by Collette, and is the stylish romantic drama about a pre-war Paris courtesan (aka uppity well-dressed hooker). Think Dangerous Liaisons light, with more love, more humour, and less scheming.
It is the story of Cheri, a 19-year-old son of a former courtesan, who falls in love with a 50-year-old courtesan, Lea, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Lea is brought on by Cheri's mother to school him in the ways of women, and so she does. Of course nothing goes smoothly, as age and money and society's expectations get in the way of love and lust and shopping. Like my life.
Pfeiffer is in full diva mode, the film has a supporting cast that includes Oscar winner Kathy Bates, and was directed by Stephen Frears of Dangerous Liaisons and The Grifters. So why did Cheri vanish without a trace?
Cheri is smart, sassy and stylish. And it made like four cents at the box office, while Saw 8237 is headed our way. Who's to blame? Much as I would like to blame the red states, truth is I own a piece of that because I didn't seek it out and pony up my dinero at the theatre. And it's not some boring NFB film that we "should" see, whatever that means, Cheri is an intelligent entertaining movie when I know that more and more I am seeking escapist fluffy stuff, although as I write this cannot remember a single film I saw this summer. Okay, think.... I saw Star Trek. And Julie and Julia. Loved them both. Still, two flicks ain't a lot for me.
So am I not going to the movies very often? Probably more likely to rent a movie, watch seasons of "Bones" on dvd, or spend time online. Maybe read. Is it just me that finds the movies less appealing? I have no desire to see loud junk like 2012, or some pompous art house flick. Christ, I am difficult to please.
And not to sound like some old fart pining for the golden days of hollywood - I mean, yawn - but what happened to Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Debra Winger, Julia Roberts? They used to make lots of good movies, and do good box office. Sure some of the movies are duds (that's you, Mary Reilly), and some are really good. Are they too old? Julia Roberts is my age. Is the entertainment world really revolving around Miley Cyrus and those Twilight kids? Holy crap, shoot me now.
So what's my learning here? Vote with the wallet, gegt off my ass and seek out smart movies (or at least not dumb movies), ideally in theatres or at least to rent or buy. Rent Up. See Capitalism: A Love Story. See It's Complicated right when it opens.
There is hope for the adults out there; Julia Roberts is filming Eat Pray Love, based on a charming and touching grown-up book I really enjoyed. Cross fingers now and pray they don't screw it up!