A (Canterbury) Tale As Old As Time

As the ancient saying goes: the older one gets, the more films one forgets. As time drags on and stuff happens in life (kids, work, new pin codes) the brain space for old movie plots is overwritten by other stuff. Factor in the number of brain cells disintegrated by booze over the years and the room for retention just isn’t there. This is a good thing, because new films are mostly rubbish – so going back to watch a movie you know you loved but whose plot you’ve forgotten is a freebie!
As it happens, I’m married to someone who has seen precisely three films: Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing and Love Actually. Whenever I ask “Do you rememeber the bit in that film when…?” The answer is almost always no. So, as I forget plots and my wife has never learned them in the first place, we have decided to go back to revisit some classics. As we do, I hope to write down a few notes on each. Not a review as such, just a few thoughts.
This week, we were chatting about the upcoming 2017 Beauty and the Beast live action feature starring Hermione Granger among others. We watched the teaser trailer which has that brilliant sample/hint at the original Beauty and the Beast theme tune from the singing Murder-She-Wrote teapot. So we decided to watch it with the kids on Saturday afternoon.
B&TB in 1991: the time before Tinder
Some thoughts:

It’s a bit scary in places for a 4 and a 2-year-old. Honestly, it’s a bit scary in places for a 35-year-old. Just sayin’.

In the intro/narrator sequence we learn that a rude prince turns away a haggard old crone from his castle. Turns out this crone was a beautiful enchantress and she turns him into the beast. He has until a magic rose wilts on his 21st birthday to get someone to fall in love with him. We later find that it’s been ten years since he was cursed, making him 10 or 11 years old when it happened.

It’s a bit much cursing a child for being a bit mean, no? Anyway.

We also eventually learn that the entire castle staff was cursed at the same time. They were turned into teapots and wardrobes and clocks, etc. So here’s a question: where did Chip, the child cup who’s certainly younger than 10 years, come from? Do teapots reproduce or was he already a child? If he was already a child, why hasn’t he aged?

The Chip anomaly: more questions than answers

Someone else has already posed this question in greater detail – which saves me asking it again, but it did occur to me.

And as a human, isn’t she a bit old to be his mother? I mean, I’m not judging. Fair play to her. There doesn’t appear to be a mister Potts on the scene and she has a whole cupboard of delph to look after on her own. A teapot of her age (antique) is to be admired in that situation.

Mrs Potts and Chip: after a decade as crockery, no outward signs of trauma

Finally, and most importantly, and you’re probably not gonna like me saying this: both Belle and the Beast are perfect for each other because they are both dicks.

The first time we meet Belle, she’s bitching about how shit her life is in her crappy little town. “Oh look, here comes the baker selling his shitty bread like he does every day. FML. #rolleyes” AND THEN THE POOR MAN SAYS HELLO TO HER AND SHE’S LOVELY TO HIS FACE! How two-faced!

She’s also into books and brags about it constantly. Okay. Jesus, you can read. You live in a poor rural French town in the mid 1700’s. Not everyone has the means to be as educated as you – stop being a dick about it. And besides, the last book you read was Jack and the Beanstalk, so you’re hardly a literature professor. John Lassiter wouldn’t let that kind of thing slide these days.

Finally (and this is a weak one but worth noting) the way she rejects the advances of Gaston is quite mean and a bit up herself. Yes, he’s a douchebag, but he’s still asking you to marry him. He’s putting his heart out there in his own clumsy way and what does he get for it? Well, after the proposal he ends up in pig shite and before the end of the film… dead! This was a guy who had a stupidly long song sung about him just a half hour ago!

As for the Beast, we already knew he was a shallow tool (the whole reason he was cursed in the first place) but it gets worse. There’s a very long (too long) sequence once Belle has moved into the castle under his house arrest where he wants her to come to dinner. AND THAT’S AN ORDER NOT A REQUEST! And as his staff – who clearly care about him – are advising him to be polite, to keep his temper, how to engage with her, he shouts at and dismisses them and Belle in several scenes at this point. This is all with the knowledge that, as he approaches his birthday, she is most likely his last shot at reversing the curse – but nah, he’s just gonna act the prick instead.

Also this weekend: Se7en, starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman (From IMDB) Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Pitt before Angelina, Freeman before Bruce Almighty

We didn’t watch this one with the kids.

We were chatting about this the other night after I’d read an old interview with the director David Fincher and I knew my wife wouldn’t have seen it so we stuck it on with a bottle of wine and a takeaway.

That’s mistake number one. The first murder scene (as we later learn is gluttony) involves a guy who’s fed until his stomach bursts. It involves Brad Pitt discovering a bucket of vomit under a table and graphic descriptions of the state of the corpse. Yummy! We had to turn it off until we finished eating.

Other observations: Brad Pitt is really good looking in this film – but can he act? At one dodgy part I asked my wife if he’s any good at acting and she replied “YOU ASK THIS EVERY TIME YOU SEE HIM IN ANYTHING! AND THEN YOU REMEMBER MONEYBALL!” Oh yeah, I loved Moneyball. But is Brad Pitt any good or did he just get lucky? In this, I think he’s properly bad in places and quite good in other places. Freeman, Spacey and Paltrow act their boots off. The scene where Gwyneth Paltrow and Morgan Freeman meet in the diner was really, really great.

Fun fact: Morgan Freeman is the same age in this (released in 1995) as he is today.

Idea! How about a classic film club? Any of your thoughts on these films or suggestions for others to watch? I would love to hear from you on twitter @rayfoleyshow

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