Saturday, February 15, 2014

Triple feature—Unrequited love

This post Valentine's Day triple feature might seem unromantic, but these three films really are all about the L-O-V-E. . . even if it's a bit one-sided.

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Onegin — made in 1999, starring Ray Feinnes and Liv Tyler
This is a beautiful adaptation of the Aleksander Pushkin novel. In a nutshell, Onegin (Ray Feinnes, way before he was Voldemort) is a blasé urban hipster who is bored with the St. Petersburg social scene in the 1820s. Onegin's recently deceased wealthy uncle has bequeathed him a large estate in the country, where he goes and soon falls in love with a beautiful neighbor, Tatyana (Liv Tyler). She makes her feelings known to Onegin in a love letter, but he cruelly rejects her advances to him because he feels she is too young and provincial for him. That's one unrequited love story.  Onegin flees the country after a duel, and returns six years later—older and less cocky—then re-encounters Tatyana, moe noble via a marriage, and he begs her for a second chance, but by this time she it is she who disses him! So that makes for two heartbreaking unrequited love stories in this film. Evgeny Onegin—"If you but knew the flames that burn in me which I attempt to beat down with my reason."

Orlando — made in 1992, starring Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane, and an amazing cross-dressing performance by Quentin Crisp
This film is an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's sui generis tale of a man floating through the ages... and through sexes. Confused? Well, you just have to see it. The tagline on IMDB reads: Orlando lived for 400 years and hardly aged a day; but, because this is England, everyone pretends not to notice. Orlando has been ordered by Queen Elizabeth I to —"Do not fade, do not wither, do not grow old." Indeed. So Orlando, first as a man, loves a woman, but is rejected, and comes to understand this feeling when later as a woman, she loves a man but he rejects her. Orlando—"Nothing thicker than a knife's blade separates melancholy from happiness." The film has some gender-bending madness, but it's so very beautifully filmed, so do stick with it because it's a great film with stunning costuming and set designs. Love the winter skating scenes in Russia. "Oh the treachery of men, and the treachery of women!"

The Age of Innocence — made in 1993, starring Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder
Edith Wharton's brilliant story of starchy Archer Newland and an intriguing Russian woman sucks me in every time. He loves her, but she is a free spirited and scandalous woman who has been ostracized by proper 19th century New York society. He is a proper 19th century New York society gentleman, who furthermore, is already engaged to another woman! It simply would never work out. There's lots of fancy dinner parties, pretty dresses, tuxedos, white ties and gloves in this film, along with seductively beautiful vignettes. Love, resistance, and mad obsession. OK—respectably mad obsessionEllen to Newland"Don't you see? I can't love you unless I give you up." 

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