08 February 2002

The two films we've seen in the cinema most recently are The Royal Tenenbaums and Gosford Park.

The former was the very quirky, but likable story of a laywer father estranged from his family, an archaeologist wife and three children (a businessman, a playwright, and a tennis player), and how he comes to reconcile with them. The film is amusing and touching, quirky not only in its characters and plot, but even in its cinematography, devices, and sets. While the various characters are at first difficult to identify with in their eccentricities, and the plot appears to be overly disjointed, by the end of the film it all weaves together as we are drawn in by the pain and distance between the family members and their need to experience healing.

The latter film is a very well-acted murder mystery and comedy of manners set in a upper-class English household of the 1930s, seen from the perspective of the servants. It is suspenseful and illuminating with regard to British class relations of an earlier era and with regard to the kinds of abuse to which men in power are prone. The mystery of the film moves from the typical "who-done-it" to "why" and therein lie the central themes. In addition to many marvelous performances by a number of seasoned British actors, the script is both smart, funny, and insightful.