The Manolo cannot recommend the new version of the Jane Eyre highly enough. It is moody, expressive, boldly funny, and completely worth your time. The Manolo suggests that after you watch the movie, you turn on the director’s commentary and watch it again, so as to appreciate Cary Fukunaga unconventionally sensitive artistic choices.
It is strange, but the Manolo, who has yet to read the first page of the Harry Potter corpus, picked up The Mysterious Benedict Society at the book store, and found he could not put it down. It was remarkably enjoyable, the perfect thing for the bright 10 year-old reader, or the Manolo.
Although the Manolo read this book the few months ago, he has returned to it this week, as it has finally been published in the United States.
We Had it So Good is nothing less than the biography of the whole generation of middle class peoples, telling the story of the Baby Boomers through the eyes of the Californian who settles in London and ages through the past forty years of tumult.
And yet, what the Manolo likes the best is that, even though the book is ambitious, it never forgets that it is about interesting individuals with individual and particular experiences. It is the entertaining story well told, and because of this it would be the good book for the intelligent book club, something that gives you much to consider and discuss, even as the story pulls you along.
Just before the Christmas, the Manolo had the pleasure of accompanying some young friends to the new Disney Rapunzel movie, Tangled. He is happy to report that he found both the outing and the movie to be delightful.
Two things about this movie were exceptionally gratifying to the Manolo. The first is that the screenplay was unburdened by the endlessly annoying and out-of-the-place pop cultural references and adult-oriented jokes so common in most children’s movies today. In the other words, there was none of the tiresome Shrek Dreck, those catty references to assorted pop divas and their many problems.
The second gratifying thing, was that the actors in Tangled were chosen for the expressive quality of their voices, not for their fame and/or stunning good looks. Yes, the Mandy Moore and the Zachary Levi, the leads, are moderately well known, but they are not the big, big stars, and this is the good thing.
The recent trend in the animated movies has been to use the muy famosos to provide the voices for the cartoon characters, thus reducing the sort of work that has customarily gone to the character actors.
This is bad. Not only because the Manolo counts among his Hollywood friends many, many character actors, but also because such actors are usually superior in talent to their more beautiful, and more famous co-workers.
The Manolo made the mistake of going to see this latest movie starring the Johnny Depp and the Angelina Jolie, The Tourist.
Watching The Tourist was the disappointing experience, much in the way that setting out for the hairdressers, but somehow winding up at the dentist’s office, where two teeth are extracted, is the disappointing experience, but only if the procedure were done without the benefit of anesthesia.
That is to say, it was the sort of nightmare.
The nightmare in which, after your are seated in your chair, and about to ask for the enjoyable little trim over the ears, the dentist and his assistants appear and convince you that, while you are waiting for the barber, perhaps you should kill the two birds with one stone by having the little checkup of your teeth.
“What is there to lose,” thinks the Manolo, “the Manolo has heard of this dentist. He comes most highly recommended, and the degrees on the wall are impeccable and impressive. And, his assistants, in addition to being strikingly beautiful, also have the elevated credentials which impress and reassure. They must be good, yes? Because the examination room of this strangely combined hairdressers/dentistry office is the most handsomely decorated space the Manolo has seen, betokening success and respectablity, with the original Renaissance art on the walls, and the rich leather chai….AYYYY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THOSE PLIERS!!!!!!”
And then you notice that the dental assistant, whom you thought the great beauty as you were seated, has the strangely frozen face, and the overly large alien eyes that unnerve you by staring blankly into your soul, and that, worse, she does not know her job, because she spends much of the time posing as if for the Vogue photo shoot, and sashaying as if doing the runway show.
But, it is clear from the very beginning, she does not know what she is doing, because whenever she appears, OH GOD, THE PAIN!!!!
While the second assistant, the charmingly quirky man with the fine, handsome features, seems to grow pasty and bloated and more lethargic before your very eyes, his charm devolving in the repetitive series of annoyingly mannered ticks and affectations that make you want to punch him, even though you are the practical pacifist.
You abhor violence, yet you keep thinking, “If only the Manolo can get his hands free from the leather restraints he will give Mr. Poppin’ Fresh here the hearty clout on his doughy face.”
But you are trapped, and this ham-handed dentist with the impeccable credentials is inexpertly pulling at your teeth, and yes the office seems to have the original Tintorettos on the walls, and the dental chair is made from the buttery smooth leather, but your teeth, THEY ARE BEING PULLED!!!!
And then it ends, in surreal absurdity, and you are exhausted and spent, and there are gaps in your smile, and you hate everyone involved, including that tall skinny billing clerk who kept popping his head into the room to tell you how much this whole procedure was costing you.
And as you leave the premises, still in need of the little trim over the ears, you vow to never visit this place again, indeed to avoid everyone involved in this nightmare, for it is clear that they are buffoonish incompetents.
So, in conclusion, the Manolo cannot recommend that you see The Tourist.