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October 08, 2005

Two "Women of a Certain Age" films

The Driver's Seat
Giuseppe Patroni Griffi - 1974
Cheezy Flicks DVD

The Mother
Roger Michell -2003
Sony Pictures Classics Region 1 DVD

There are films that I should probably have resisted pairing up. There are certainly films I should not bother to have seen. This is certainly one of those times.

The Driver's Seat may well be one of the worse films I have ever seen. Considering I see on average a different movie every day, I think that's saying a lot. This is not entertaining badness like Plan Nine from Outer Space. This is what the hell was anyone thinking, appallingly bad. Even though the film is based on a book by Muriel Spark, the film still seems like everyone made it up as they went along.

When Liz, in all her blowsy glory, complains about the fabric of a dress, or yells for service in a department store, or just walking past lines at an airport, she seemed to be behaving as the pampered person she's been most of her life. Taylor stomps around Rome, spurning several would-be admirers, declaring that she has other interests besides sex. At least when you see her demanding to go to a Hilton hotel, you know that La Liz carries no grudges against past husbands.

Astonishingly, this film had Vittorio Storaro as cinematographer, and Franco Arcalli as editor. It's hard to judge the photography on this film as the DVD version is a full frame version of a film that was shot in a wider format, and the print seems very washed out and not always in focus. Storaro and Arcalli would work to better effect a couple years later on Bertolucci's epic 1900. Wondering in and out of the film are the terrific character actors Mona Washbourne and Ian Bannen. Andy Warhol appears in a cameo for no particular reason. He's suppose to be playing the part of an English Lord, but all you can think of is that Andy Warhol appears to stop this film dead in its tracks. I guess some people will do almost anything for a free trip to Rome.

Liz Taylor could have possibly starred in the title role of The Mother had she continued to concentrate on acting rather than being a living legend. This is a heartfelt film about age and loneliness. Like other films written by Hanif Kureishi, this is confrontational in its own way. Instead of the rage of Sammy and Rosie get Laid, we are forced to consider the sexual longings of older people. Even the younger actors are drab looking. A scruffy looking Daniel Craig hardly looks like the object of lust. The film contrasts the difference between the body as seen in life and various artistic representations, life as lived in the present tense and life past in writing. The Mother is almost like being visited by a real life relative: you recognize the sincerity, you feel uncomfortable, you're glad you spent time together, and you breathe easier when it's over.

Posted by peter at October 8, 2005 04:54 PM