Belle – Movie

I saw the previews for the movie Belle at the theater but it came and left so fast that I never got
to see it on the big screen. I intended to watch it on On Demand but then life
got busy and I missed it again. I finally saw Belle the other night on HBO.
I may have put off seeing Belle because subconsciously I did
not think it would be as good as it looked. Now that I have seen Belle I have to
offer my praise to the writer Misan Sagay, the director Amma Asante, and the
Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was the daughter of an African woman
and an English member of the Royal Navy, an Admiral. Uncharacteristically he
truly loved Belle’s mother and he found Belle in Africa and he took her to
England to be raised by his uncle, her aristocratic Great Uncle. Her new guardian
is Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), a barrister, and these events are happening
in the 18th century so perhaps you can imagine how difficult a
social task Belle’s father had assigned to his uncle. The Great Uncle is a good
man who fulfills responsibilities to his nephew once he has agreed to them. He
decides the child, Belle, will be known as Dido.
Belle’s father never came home. He died at sea. Dido’s Great
Uncle and his enlightened wife have another daughter the same age and the girls
grow up together. Mixed race and blonde – these things did not matter to the
cousins who were very close.
In 18th century England aristocratic girls were
taken to London for the social “season”. They were fitted with a lovely
wardrobe and they attended endless teas, afternoon visits, shopping
expeditions, park promenades, assemblies and balls. This was how young men were
introduced to young women in these days when the innocence of a young woman had
to be carefully guarded until she married.
Sadly, lots of matchmaking had to do with money. Aristocrats
who did not have enough money would trade their good name to marry a young lady
heiress. Dido happens to be an heiress. Her father left her an income of 2,000
pounds per year. Her cousin, the lovely blonde Elizabeth (Sarah Gabon), has no
inheritance. So although England was in the slave trade and saw people with
darker skin as property, less than human, Dido did better than Sarah in the
marriage mart because of the living she inherited. At least it seemed that way.
But there is a second story going on in this movie. A young
neighbor, the vicar’s son, John Davinier (Sam Reid), has been learning the law
from Lord Mansfield. There is a case about to be tried in the courts. A ship
went down and all its cargo was lost. The cargo was insured. Should the
insurance company have to pay? Simple case, right? But the cargo was people,
African people, destined for the slave market. John Davinier had a huge
objection to looking at human beings as cargo. We can guess how Dido felt when
she learned about this case.

This case and what happens with it, what it proves about
Dido’s Great Uncle and about Dido, about John Davinier and even about Sarah
turned this movie from just a nice period piece into something deeper and more
satisfying. This movie, Belle, is also based on a true story which made me like it even
more. My first thought was best; this movie was well worth seeing.
By Nancy Brisson

The Imitation Game – Movie

Before we met Sheldon Cooper (The
Big Bang
) we might have found it difficult to understand Alan Turing of the
movie The Imitation Game. Alan
Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) has no sense of humor, and although
Sheldon is, as TV tells us, “very funny” we are usually laughing at him rather
than with him. Both of these men have long, thin attenuated bodies. It is clear
to their peers that each of these men lacks social skills. Both are
self-absorbed and conceited and arrogant because they know that the greatest
gift they were given was a genius brain and that they were given very few other
skills to back those brains up. I am guessing that these days both Sheldon and
Alan would land on the autism spectrum.

Sheldon Cooper is a fiction, a character created to be fun and perhaps
to make intelligence more acceptable. Alan Turing was a real person and his
genius for codes really did help us win World War II. He made a computer that
related to modern computers the way an abacus relates to modern calculators.
But his beast of a “computer” decoder made of gears and wires and electrical
connections worked.

The story of Alan’s achievement was one that involved opposition,
especially the hostilities of one particular officer who happened to be in
charge of the whole project. He was a man of no imagination and he was full of
hate because he could not accept that someone with Alan Turing’s predilections
should be allowed anywhere except in a jail. Alan Turing was a homosexual in an
England that punished those who were publically discovered. There were
enlightened people also at that time who saw that one’s sexual orientation did
not necessarily prevent a person from making a contribution to society.

There is suspense. Everyday Germany picks a new code with their Enigma
machine. Every night Enigma generates an entirely new code. England has
collected the best code breakers in the nation and Alan Turing is the best of
the best. Those who choose him never imagine in their wildest moment that Alan
will build the code breaking machine that he builds. They expect him to sit
quietly at a desk in a room full of code breakers and work with pencil and
paper. Because the code changes every 24 hours Turing discovers that pencil and
paper will not do, a more inventive approach is required.

Under the disapproving eye of his nemesis Alan Turing puts together a
crack team of code breakers that he finds through a contest which features a
cross word puzzle. This is how Joan Clarke (played by Kiera Knightly) becomes
the only woman on his team, but a team member who cannot work with the team

This film may sound dry as old dust but it is not. It has its own
brand of suspense and derring-do and what Alan Turing did required its own
brand of courage. Although it may seem to be about another age and another time
I watched this movie On Demand just as we were sorting out the controversy over
Indiana’s religious freedom law (RFRA). There was an uproar because this law had
some flaws which turned it into more of a law to discriminate against those
whose sexual orientation is categorized as “other”, in case they should want to
marry in Indiana and offend someone’s religious beliefs.

There is a French saying “plus ça change, plus et la meme chose”, the
more things change, the more they remain the same. Obviously this movie still
has cultural relevance and perhaps that is part of the reason that it won
awards at the 2014 Oscars.
By Nancy Brisson

Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence (a Little Late) – Movie

I saw Birdman:
The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence
before the Oscars but I didn’t even
attempt to write about it because so many other people did. The critics loved
this movie and I cannot pretend to compete with what they know about films.

Initially I had very mixed feelings about the movie.
It was beautifully put together, perhaps one of the best films I have seen
lately in terms of production values. The acting was also top notch. But, at
the time, the story struck me as self-indulgent, an aging actor missing his
fame and trying to mount a comeback on the boards doing a play based on a short
story by his favorite author, Ray Carver.

Often, when moviegoers see back stage we are shown
scenes at a production such as a big cast musical with lots of chaos and cuing
action, or we are seeing an investigation following a murder that was committed
either off or on the stage. But here we have the Birdman, well, the ex-Birdman,
who is used to swooping through space and being the center of attention or in
other words to being heroic, yet now, in this little theater for this quiet
little play he reminds us more of Willy Loman and it’s pissing him off. He
wavers among his many real life roles, sometimes a stage manager, an actor, a
boyfriend, an ex-husband, a father, someone who is almost broke and then that
heroic winged avenger he once was. He wants to be that winged avenger again,
but he is too old, he looks ludicrous in the role. So what? Why should we feel
bad for him? He had a wonderful life. Not our fault if he mismanaged his money.

Then there is that soundtrack, all percussion, which
I liked at times, but mostly found annoying. It created a tension which made
everything seem dire and foolish at the same time. Sometimes it was pure jazz
sophistication and sometimes it was vaudeville with all its slapstick and

I mentioned to my sister after the movie that aging
actors seemed to be the topic of the moment because we had just finished
reading Station Eleven by Emily St.
John Mandel in which Arthur, another aging actor plays such a key role, even
though he dies early in the book. My sister pretends she is not at all literary
but she sometimes gets things quicker than I do. She said that this topic is popping
up so often because the baby boomers are old – ouch! She is not a boomer, I am
almost a boomer. I do believe, though, that she summed up the universal appeal
of this movie and figured out the meaning of the ending all in one easy, if
slightly snippy, little sentence.

The Birdman is not just the actor known as the
Birdman, he is all us obsolete boomers. Everyone is ready for us to leave the
stage but we still want to be relevant, even if we may make ourselves appear
foolish to others. Perhaps the daughter is smiling at the end of the film
because Dad gets to leave the world as the Birdman, and he has left her the
center stage position that he cannot recover. (You can see the cast list at

By Nancy Brisson

The Fault in Our Stars – Movie

Are some of us born under an unlucky star? We all have
challenges and sadness in our lives but there are people who get more than
their share, at least it seems that way sometimes. My family knows a family
with a child born with a rare mitochondrial defect. These parents were told it
was highly unlikely that this genetic defect would present in another child.
However, they now have two children with this same genetic disorder which makes
life complicated for the two children and their whole family. It is a life full
of medical crises and near-death experiences. Each one of us probably knows one
or several people whose lives seem to be lightning rods for tragedy.
Hazel Grace Lancaster, played by Shailene Woodley is one of
these young people who appears to have been cheated by fate (or just her
genetic material). She has a cancer that is tough to fight, that can go into a
sort of remission but will not be cured. By the time Hazel is a teenager she is
an old hand at chemo and is fairly fatalistic about the rest of her live and
with good reason. She stands to miss the good parts of life by just a hair. She
is most likely clinically depressed.
With great reluctance she agrees to go to group therapy – a
cancer support group. That’s how she meets a friend, a friend who understands
her feelings because he has fought cancer too. Once she meets Augustus Waters
(Ansel Elgort) we know she will not miss the rest of her life. We know
something will happen that will make both of their struggles less burdensome
for a while. What does happen is at the heart of this movie.
We expect that things will not end well in this film. We
expect to go through a lot of tissues. Are these two done with adversity? Not
at all. But they have something they never had before; they have each other. I
heard that the book was great, that lots of people read it and loved it. Well, I
loved the movie and, although it did have the predictable arc of tragedy we
expected, there was something quite upbeat about it because of the spirits of
these two young people.

I didn’t need too many tissues. How something so sad seems to
also contain a sense that these two have been handed just a tiny soupçon of
cosmic joy is due to the skill with which John Green wrote this story (which
seems as if it might be based on a real story probably because he worked at a
cancer center with children facing fatal illnesses and multiple medical
procedures). Tears yes; total meltdown, no.

Interstellar – Movie

As I am obsessed with apocalypse books I could not
pass up the chance to see an apocalypse movie. So I dragged my sister, who is
my frequent movie go-to person, to see Interstellar. (She likes them too.) There are so many perils our tiny planet could succumb to and has succumbed to
in fiction. We’ve been prey to a tug of war between religion at its best and
religion at its worst (The Bone Clocks,
David Mitchell), we’ve been a target for a giant asteroid (The Last Policeman trilogy, Ben H. Winters), disease and pandemics
have done us in more than once (The Road,
Cormac McCarthy; Station Eleven,
Emily St John Mandel)(just to name a few). Oddly enough we’ve had zombie wars
but no global disaster brought on by World War III since the Mad Max movies. Contemplating such an
end is probably just too grim to make a readable novel or watchable movie. We
always skip the war and go to what life is left when the war goes away. Civilization rarely survives these disasters intact. Usually we must start over. We seem to enjoy imagining what it will be like to start over.
In the
movie Interstellar, the planet is
being starved into oblivion. A combination of population growth, plant blight,
and climate change is making earth uninhabitable. Matthew McConaughey plays
astronaut-turned-farmer called by his NASA name, Cooper. Some strange phenomena
have been experienced by his daughter who sleeps in an upstairs bedroom with
wall-to-wall bookcases.
Cooper’s farm is about one year away from failing
altogether. Giant dust storms move across the land sending grit everywhere as
Coop is called back into active service as an astronaut by someone he thought
was dead (Dr. Brand played by Michael Caine). He is being sent through a
wormhole to follow three missions sent in secret to look at promising planets
in other galaxies. How Cooper and his daughter save us is a great story
centered on the kind of spacey words that spell the romance of conquering
intergalactic travel. Say them like a prayer – a space prayer – tesseract,
black hole, gravity… and, not the answer supposedly, but the  underlying impetus, time.

The better you understand physics or at least want
to understand physics, the more sense you will make from the ending. The love
of a father and daughter provides a reason to care about the physics and makes
all possible, but not in any mushy way – this is love that is cosmic in scale.
It is trust and loyalty and dedication. But it still ends with starting over. Good movie; I may have to watch this
one again.
(Check out movies in the iMdb – the imovie data base for all the credits.)
By Nancy Brisson

Magic in the Moonlight by Woody Allen – Movie

Last night I got some Magic in the Moonlight. I know that Woody Allen is a controversial figure who has been accused of pedophilia and whose current significant other could be a possible victim of his sexual aberration. Or these could be the unfounded accusations of a woman scorned. It doesn’t sit well with any of us. But artists are often “kinky” people and if we assume that there was no pedophilia, and only that one glaring lapse of falling in love with a sort of “stepdaughter”, then we can try to justify continuing to enjoy the films Woody Allen creates. Is this some brand of complicated rationalization or does it grant absolution? Probably neither, just selfish indulgence, like eating cookies even though they are bad for us.

Anyway I ate a Woody Allen cookie last night and it was delicious. He doesn’t do “huddled masses yearning to be free” or peasants flooded with rich brown Rembrandt light. He writes what he knows and he knows the wealthy and the educated. He seems to be on a sort of extended nostalgia kick. In Midnight in  Paris his doppelganger wanders into a midnight time warp which allows him to hobnob with Ernest Hemingway and his Paris pals. In Magic in the Moonlight we find Allen back in the late 1920’s, in the flapper days that followed WWI, preceded WWII, just prior to the Great Depression. We drop into a magic act being performed by an Englishman a la Chinois. He is an arrogant, opinionated, mean-tempered, and confident man, made rich by his own efforts but in a career where he is basically a sophisticated con man. We are in a time when superstition was giving way to science and reason.  We are plunked down in an age which disparages spirituality or anything unproven or un-prove-able as clap-trap. You can see why a man who practices magic but has a cynical view of all things magical might find his own fans worthy of contempt. Until our magician meets Sophie Baker (played by Emma Stone),  brought to his attention by a friend he trusts who says she is a very talented psychic. Our guy, Stanley, played by Colin Firth, sets out to disprove her talent as hokum.

Does he succeed amidst the trappings of upper class life in the South of France, amidst the fine furnishings, the stylish dresses of lawn, handkerchief linen, and creamy lace, the convertible roadsters and the flowers? I can’t tell you that. You should go see the film. If you want to cheat by looking up the summary online then at least it won’t be on me.

However I will tell you that in this movie we have Woody Allen’s
 homage to those great thinkers,  Nietzche and Freud. I don’t know if it is magic,  but it’s an entertaining bit of intellectual fluff and how often can you say that about a movie these days

Edge of Tomorrow – Movie

I went with one of my sisters to see Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and
Emily Blunt and I liked it. In this film earthlings are at war with aliens –
nasty, electrified tumbleweeds from we don’t know where out there in space, but
it seems like they are from Hell. They show no emotions although they have a hierarchy
because they are a collective civilization which must protect its anemone-like
“brain” at all costs. They are imperialists spreading throughout the universe
annexing asteroids, planets, etc. and they are interested only in the natural
resources – any inhabitants are superfluous.
Tom Cruise is not a soldier. He does PR
for the war effort and he is an officer, but not a fighter. He may have
condescended to the wrong general though, because, on the eve of the new
Normandy invasion he finds himself kidnapped, busted to private, and sent into
battle with J Squad after very little training. As his new and reluctant mates
train, they do so under a giant poster of the Angel of Verdun, played by Emily
Soldiers buckle into huge exoskeletons
with much mechanical clanking and their arms are inside really serious guns
which, mysteriously, seem to need reloading all too frequently. Their
exoskeletons buckle along an overhead rail inside a troop ship which opens
under their feet as they push their release buttons and are ejected directly
into a raging battle. Their superiors thought they had the element of surprise,
but were actually sending soldiers into an alien ambush.
Our ex-PR soldier, now Private Cage, meets
the Angel of Verdun a few seconds/minutes into the battle and she tells him
some things he doesn’t really understand. Cage is killed by an alien who is
larger and meaner than your average run of the mill alien with a tiny mouth
full of sharp teeth backlit by a powerful blue glow. Tom manages to kill this
dervish from Hell before he is killed and he is covered in his enemy’s blood.
Next thing we know everything starts over
from the launching area with TC once again handcuffed and drugged on top of a
pile of green duffle bags. He meets J troop again, dies again, resets again and
pretty soon he is telling his J troop compatriots all about themselves. It
never really gets monotonous to reset because each reset moves the story
forward a bit. Cage (TC) eventually remembers that the Angel of Verdun seems to
know something about what is happening and he finds a way – after many resets –
to team up with her and make a plan to go after that head alien honcho.
That’s all I can tell you. It’s not your
typical war flick drowning us in blood and sorrow, but we do get involved. It’s
in 3D, but not the kind that makes you “oo” and “ah” – rather the kind that
envelops you and pulls you into the action.

The film was excellent entertainment for a
Friday night and, who knows, it might be helpful some day if we ever run into
this particular species out in space. After you see it you can drop me a
comment and explain the ending, please.
By Nancy Brisson

The Monuments Men – Movie

The Monuments Men is a George Clooney film. I love
George Clooney. I think we all love George Clooney. However, as an actor George
Clooney does not always show the great range of emotions or put out the kind of
charismatic energy that the very best actors do, although he has had a few
memorable moments in film. But The
Monuments Men
is a film based on a true World War II story which doesn’t
need to offer a great range of emotions in order to succeed as a film. It is
documenting a piece of history that has all but been forgotten.
Adolf Hitler
was obsessed with the rare and the beautiful. I am guessing it was, to him, a
sign that he was a “special” person and as one of the most horrific persons we
have ever encountered the word “special” is hardly the correct term to describe
him unless we think about other things that it could signify: one of a kind
might arise because we hope that is the case, and special in the sense of
psychotic might come to mind (as it does in the case of our too numerous mass
shooters), or warped and delusional might be more appropriate to the kind of
special the world found in Adolf Hitler. Anyway, and for whatever reasons,
Hitler was obsessed with stockpiling as much Western art as he could get his
hands on in order to be sure that when the Third Reich was firmly in control of
the world there would be plenty of classic art to enjoy. If the movie is
correct, and I assume that they tried to be as correct as possible, then Hitler
had no taste for modern art and often torched Picassos and other art by
Picasso’s contemporaries.
FDR put
together a small group of men who were considered American and British art
experts, he put them through a modified version of basic training because they
were not all young or all fit, and he turned them into a division tasked with
finding the art stolen from museums and personal collections in every nation
the Nazi’s conquered or occupied. No one knew where the art was hidden but
there were a few people who documented what was taken and who attested to
seeing it driven away in trucks.
Clooney plays Frank Stokes who led this group of soldier/artists. Other members
of the cast include Matt Damon who played James Granger, Bill Murray who played
Richard Campbell, John Goodman who played Walter Garfield, Jean Dujardin who
played Jean Claude Clermont and Hugh Bonneville who played Donald Jeffries.
operation begins as the Allies are storming the beaches in Normandy and as
German soldiers are being pushed back towards Berlin. Retreating soldiers are
nervous and have little to lose so they can be quite dangerous. There are great
risks involved in this operation which sounds quite simple and straightforward.
These men have to find the art before Hitler really comprehends that he has
lost and decides to take these treasures with him by destroying them. It is
believed that he will feel that if he can’t have these things no one should
have them. Three other actors played people who helped the Americans find the
hidden art. Cate Blanchett played Claire Simone who kept such meticulous
records of the art that disappeared from her museum that her records helped
identify works of art when they were found. Bob Balaban plays Preston Savitz
and Dimitri Leonidas plays Sam Epstein, two men who were also instrumental in
this operation.
After a
number of false starts and after losing a couple of men from their group, after
excursions into towns in Germany that are just barely free of retreating
Germans, they catch a break. They learn that the destinations given for art
shipments do not refer to towns, they refer to mines. We can’t help the catch
in our throats as they enter that first mine and find thousands of pieces of
art torn from museum walls and people’s living rooms. They catalog the art pieces
they find, send them back to the west and move on to the next mine. There is
plenty of tension as they move east. At one point, after an article in the
press about the paintings and the mines, German troops get to one of the mine
storage sites first and they torch as much art as they can before the Americans
can get there. As the war winds down they must race to get to the last mine
before the territory the mine is in falls under Russian control. Russia is an
ally, but also very competitive and they covet these art items also.

It is not
the kind of movie that requires talented acting, it is not The Dirty Dozen, but it is full of good actors and it shares that
sense of urgency and that same edge-of-our-seats rush that we experience in The Dirty Dozen, and in a number of other
great war flicks. It may be a history movie but it was not boring.

By Nancy Brisson

12 Years a Slave – Movie

I was very
apprehensive about watching the film 12
Years a Slave,
and for very good reasons. I knew it would raise feelings of
soul-sucking and unassuageable guilt along with massive anger at injustices
that cannot be set right except in a pay-it-forward sense, and that it would
dish up a huge serving of sorrow that one group of human beings perpetrated
such oppression against another group of human beings.
How did
anyone survive slavery? There was no hope offered for a better life after a set
number of years of “service” as there was for indentured servants. There was no
hope at all, not for a happy, productive life, not for an intact family, not
for any personal ambitions, not even for humane treatment if you were “owned”
by a harsh or mentally unbalance “owner”. You were simply snatched from your
home and placed in hell for as long as you survived. The strength of character
and the ability to create private internal structures that offered some
personal dignity proves to us right down through history the mettle of these
African people transplanted so criminally to American soil.
So then
imagine that you are Solomon Northrup, a free man, a learned man, a man of
means with a wife and two children whom you love. You are a talented musician,
you play violin and fiddle. Imagine that one summer, when your wife and
children leave to complete some temporary work at another household, you agree
to join two fellow musicians for a “gig” in Washington, DC. Then you are plied
with alcohol (perhaps drugged) and you wake up in your undergarments with
chains on your limbs. And so begins your long nightmare, twelve years of
slavery. As if it were not excruciating enough to be a slave at all, to be
slave when you know you are a free man, to just be stolen from your family, to
disappear, as if you have deserted them without a word, to be unable to
communicate with your family because it is against the law for a slave to read
or write or even own a piece of paper; how much more excruciating is this
situation Mr. Northrup finds himself in? And while there are stories of more
enlightened slave owners who might have overlooked a slave’s ability to read
and write or even found a way to secretly make use of it, Solomon was not
fortunate enough to land in any situation like that. In fact, his owners knew
he didn’t seem to be in the right place, so they guarded their investment even
more carefully.
I watched 12 Years a Slave the day after I
completed the book The Invention of
by Sue Monk Kidd, also about slavery and so I ingested all that hard
subject matter in one week, and it was depressing in a way, but it was also
uplifting because American is not there anymore (and because both the book and
the movie were so well done). We don’t keep slaves (at least not in this old
way). We have made strides to learn respect for all humans on this earth and we
will make more strides with this issue – as long as we remember what was. That
is why it is important that authors and screenwriters and poets and
songwriters, et al keep writing about and making movies about this horrible
chapter in our history in the same way that writers must keep writing about the
By Nancy

**I did not
mention the actors in this film because most of us already know who they were
and how great they were, but you can always find a list of actors for any film
if you go to the movie data base by typing the title of the film into your
search engine.

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Movie

Everywhere I looked there was an quiet little ad for the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel and it was
obvious that it was not a Hangover
movie, but one for the artsy crowd. I’m not sure why we are loathe to take a
chance on a movie unless it is the weekend’s blockbuster, or based on a story
we already know, or from Disney/Pixar, because it is, after all, only a few hours
of our life, which we may waste from time to time just playing solitaire or
surfing the internet, or, my personal favorite (as the Red Light Queen) waiting
for green lights at various multilane intersections. Even though movie prices
have gone up quite a bit it is still not an absolute disaster to blow some
bucks on a chancy movie. We spend more sometimes on lotto tickets or at the
casino, and a good movie, after all, feeds the mind and perhaps the soul. So I
threw caution to the wind and made my sister go with me to see The Grand Budapest Hotel and I didn’t
hate it. In fact, it has stayed with me all week and its quirky Eastern
European style is still playing in vivid detail on the screen in my mind.

The story of how a concierge of a grand hotel
comes to own that grand hotel is a complex one, full of intrigue, danger,
Nazis, prison, imminent death, and sexual bed hopping by said concierge who
appears to be somewhat ambisextrous (made up word that I did not make up). He
provides pleasure to aging, wealthy, blonde female hotel guests (one of whom is
the original owner of this grand hotel). She happens to be the matriarch of a
very brutal bunch of offspring who plan to inherit said hotel. How the
concierge ends up as the owner of the hotel and a famous painting is a story told by the current concierge (who
was the lobby boy when these events occurred) to a guest of the
now-less-than-grand Grand Budapest Hotel.

The movie is a bit campy but not trivial as this style is used to present some serious upheavals in Eastern European history. The most terrifying
occurrences do not faze our hero in the least. He stays suave, unflappable, and
charming throughout, facing danger and imprisonment with aplomb, which is why
he is our hero. It is a bit unsettling to glide through all of these events
with barely a blip on our emotional radar, but I guess that is how the smart
set kept a stiff upper lip and how a man with a goal kept his eyes on the prize
in pre-World War II Budapest. Underneath the gliding however there is the gravitas of the end of an era and the slide of a proud nation. There is also the inbred entitlement of the aristocracy and the vulnerability that comes with being dependent on luxury and service. 

This is one of those movies that feels better with
time and reflection. Look up the cast; there are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of very good actors in
this film.
By Nancy Brisson