8:00 PM, 10th April, 2010
For those interested in a cinematic experience of the highest quality, director Jane Campion delivers brilliantly in Bright Star. Set around 1820 in north London, the film follows the burgeoning relationship between the romantic but tragic poet, John Keats (Whishaw), and the girl-next-door Fanny Brawne (Cornish). This period marked a time of exquisite poetry from Keats and it is a joy to gain a fragment of insight into how his only true love influenced his style.
The focus on the impetuous Fanny makes for an intimate and lively story rather than an emotionally removed historical retelling. The tension in the relationship comes from Keats’s collaborator at the time Charles Brown (Schneider), who is keen to keep Keats focused on writing, and from Fanny’s mother (Fox) who, despite appreciating Fanny’s infatuation with Keats, realises that his parlous financial state makes him a most unsuitable suitor.
Campion does a superb job of communicating Fanny’s emotional state, such as in the butterfly scene and where the breeze gently blows the curtain in her bedroom. The light and colour are fresh and the exquisite costumes and design add to the overall piece without being overly distracting. Fanny’s grief scene towards the end of the movie is as moving and as deeply honest as one will find captured on film.
And to cap the movie off, don’t even think about leaving the theatre until after the credits roll off the screen and you’re immersed in a beautiful rendition of Keats’s “Ode To A Nightingale”.
10:14 PM, 10th April, 2010
Allen has wisely cast someone other than himself in the lead role of the maladjusted New York Jew – because although it’s the same role, Boris Yellnikoff (David) is a completely different character. Allen whines; Boris kvetches (Oy! does he kvetch). Allen was self-deprecating; Boris thinks he’s a genius, and tells us so – that’s right, he tells us, straight down the barrel of the camera. He’s such a genius he’s the only character who realises there’s a theatre full of people watching him. Moreover, he’s alive to the fact that everyone else is a moron. He makes something approximating a living by coaching children in chess; his coaching technique is to tell these 10-year-olds what morons they are.
The story begins – after some preliminary kvetching – when Boris meets Melodie (Wood), a sweet, boundlessly optimistic, not-very bright (in her own and Boris’s estimation, anyway) small-town girl, lost in New York. The scene is set for a clash of opposites – except they don’t clash; for some bizarre reason, they hit it off. Well, whatever works.
Half a dozen other characters find their way into Boris’s life in Melodie’s wake and in various ways they too learn to accept whatever works. Although everyone’s life is turned inside out, nothing bad actually happens to anyone in this film – except perhaps to Boris; but then, in my view, the more bad things happen to him, the better.