Remains of the Day

Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson

Everything about the new production of Remains of the Day is restrained.

The movie is all about English reserve and Anthony Hopkins, who plays the butler, James Stevens, shows this particular British trait to a tragic degree.  Restraint, and devotion to duty, is what makes him such an outstanding servant and allows him to rise to the top of a great English house ruled by Lord Darlington.

But it is what makes him lose the love of the head housekeeper, Sally Kenton, played with Emma Thompson’s usual brilliance.  And it is his British reserve and faith in the class system which keep him uninterested in the dangerous pro-German leanings of his master, Lord Darlington, before the Second World War.  His restraint also allows him to go back to work during a large party Darlington is giving, just moments after his father dies upstairs.

This is not a movie with a lot of action or comedy or even great passion visible on the screen.  The passion is always there, though, below the surface and rather than seeing it, the audience is made to sense that it is there.  One of the most intense moments in the movie for the butler, Stevens, comes when Miss Kenton tries to see what he is reading after he has fallen asleep with the book on his lap.  He struggles to keep the book away from her but she discovers his secret.  The book he has struggled to hide from her is a romance.

The film, which jumps back and forth in time between the 1930s and the 1950s, is beautiful to watch, and the two main characters are played with flawless precision.  Remains of the Day is what people used to call a “grown-up movie.”  This doesn’t mean it is unsuitable in its content or its images, only that it deals with adult themes from the point of view of mature experienced people looking back on their lives.

Patricia Ryan

A Perfect World

Starring: Cling Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Laura Dern

In a perfect world this movie would be seen by thousands of empty seats for a few days before being catalogued and filed deep within the recesses of a film library somewhere in Wyoming.  Instead, A Perfect World strikes to the heart of the woes and dilemmas of today’s society.  Like a good book which lingers in your mind for days after you have finished reading it, A Perfect World will command your attention for more than the two plus hours that you have paid for.

This movie has many strengths; its greatest is how well it is written.  From the witty references to past Eastwood and Costner films to the deeper references to the quality of today’s family life, the effort is first rate.  The story makes us look to the cause of society’s failings and helps us to appreciate how imperfect our world is.  It really is mentally stimulating and nowhere near as dark as any of Oliver Stone’s work.

Opening with an escape from prison, the film follows a convict’s flight from the law across the state of Texas.  Costner is equal to the daunting task of performing as a lifelong felon who we both admire and despise.  The stage is set when he rescues a mother from being raped only to kidnap her eight-year old son to use as a hostage on is journey.

Fresh on the heels of his Oscar winning work in Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood returns to star and direct this feature which may well send him back to the podium.  Clint plays the sheriff of a town in Texas in the 1960s.  At first it seems like standard fare for Clint; playing the head honcho, gun at his side, destined to get his man.  However, despite Clint’s limited screen time, the sheriff becomes more intriguing as the film rolls by.

Laura Dern is a fresh-out-of-university criminologist joining Eastwood in the chase across the state.  At the outset, her presence helps establish the many faults of Eastwood’s southern character.  But, by the climax, it is her character that challenges Clint to courageously make a difference.

This is an adult movie ad except for the stars in it there should be no desire for teenagers to check it out.  There is no action for the sake of action or violence.  Some may find that this creates a boring movie.  On the other hand, the action and the violence in the movie presented as real to the viewer which can often make it real scary and disturbing.

If you can leave your emotions in the theatre and don’t mind being a little unnerved, see the movie.  It is a Hollywood rarity for those who like a film to turn their mind on instead of off.

Jimmy Hughes