Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Movies for Mature Audiences

     While I was on vacation from my blog, B and I drove down to our local "arthouse" movie theater to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and several other acting veterans. It's definitely a film for "mature audiences only."

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
     The movie tells the story of a group of English elders who for one reason or another have fallen on hard economic times, and decide to move to India where retirement promises to be less expensive. The drama develops as dreams of exotic India clash against the reality of crowded streets, strange customs and a run-down hotel, and as some of the characters embrace the new life while others cannot abide the unfamiliar circumstances.

     It's a fine movie. It's not a great movie. It's only grossed a little over $38 million at the box office. But the story makes you think, and it stays with you for a while after you've left the theater. Something that doesn't happen when you see one of the summer blockbusters like The Avengers (gross: $600 million) or Madagascar 3 (gross: $160 million) or Men in Black 3 (gross: $165 million).

     We've been to our arthouse theater, called the Jacob Burns Film Center, any number of times, and I always fear that I will seem out of place because the audience will consist of sophisticated 20-somethings who dress all in black, sip exotic coffees, and read French literature.

     But I am always wrong. After we saw Marigold Hotel, B and I repaired to a nearby restaurant for dinner, and we joked about the audience that actually does show up for these movies -- movies that rely on plot and character and dramatic tension rather than car chases and special effects. The audience for these movies that make you think consists almost exclusively of people with expanding waistlines and gray hair, and who are dressed not all in black, but in "mom" jeans and faded golf shirts.

     No matter how many times we go to this theater, I am surprised by the audience. And every time I am also startled, at some point, by the sudden realization that we fit right in to this crowd -- with my gray hair, my expanding waistline and my faded golf shirt.

Naomi Watts, 43, is one of my favorites

     But I finally am beginning to accept the fact that it's the adults of the world who truly are the sophisticated people interested in stories that carry real emotional impact, rather than the impact of computer-generated explosions.

     The Film Center is the place where last winter we went to see The Descendants (gross: $82 million) and The Artist (gross: $45 million).

     Last year we drove over there to watch Helen Mirrin in The Last Station (gross: $6 million), a movie about the final days of Leo Tolstoy. And Sarah's Key (gross: $8 million) starring Kristin Scott Thomas -- who knew she could speak French! -- as an American journalist, married to a Frenchman, who stumbles on a secret about the family apartment in Paris.

     Before that, we caught Summer Hours (gross: $2 million) with Juliette Binoche, a movie about three siblings who converge on their aging mother's house in rural France. We saw the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (gross: $10 million). I later had to go back by myself to see The Girl Who Played with Fire (gross: $8 million), because B thought the movie was too violent and she didn't want to subject herself to the experience again.

Benicio del Toro, 46, seems to be one of hers
     A couple of years ago we saw Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson in Le Divorce (gross: $9 million), and Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro in 21 Grams (gross: $16 million). B knew 21 Grams was going to be kind of intense, and depressing, but she felt the presence of Benicio del Toro in the movie would compensate for that deficiency in the subject matter.

     The point is, it's the older, mature audience -- not the young, hip audience -- that goes to see these more ambitious movies, movies that stick with you longer than the butter from the popcorn. If you have Netflix, or access to the DVD collection at your local library, I could recommend all of these movies to you. Some are better than others -- some are not even in English -- but they all give you something to think about.

     Meanwhile, B and I are getting ready for our next trip to the Film Center, maybe to catch up on the new Woody Allen movie To Rome with Love. Or . . . I hear Naomi Watts is going to play Princess Diana in an upcoming movie. Gotta put that one on my list!  


MerCyn said...

So the question is, will some of today's twenty-somethings eventually replace us older folks at these movie houses?

Vagabonde said...

I saw many of the movies you mentioned and am planning to see the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel if it is still playing in our area. Unfortunately in the Atlanta area these types of movies don’t last very long – the audience is not there. But you know it could be the culture? I saw many young people waiting in line on the Champs-Elysees in Paris waiting to go in to watch some of the movies you listed – could it be the culture?

Olga said...

I am hopelessly behind on movie watching...even keeping up with what it available. My family cannot understand why I don't get Netflix. Someday, maybe.

Stephen Hayes said...

Mrs. C and I are contemplating a trip to India and are interested in seeing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It seems to be getting mixed reviews but we love many of the actors in it.

June said...

These movies sound so interesting!
Like Olga, I too am hopelessly behind in movie knowledge/watching.
I think it might take a major life change for the 20-somethings, even 30-somethings to develop an attention span that would allow them to enjoy movies such as these. (She said, the Old Curmudgeon - if a curmudgeon were not, by definition, male)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Tom, I agree with you about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It's good --not great-- but good and you do walk away from it with many thoughts and feelings -- like the other movies you mentioned. "Marigolds" only played here in the sticks in Arizona for a week and I'm so grateful I had a chance to see it. (The Avengers and the youth targeted movies are in theaters here for weeks and weeks). Like you, I prefer films that make me think instead of simply escapism.

Arkansas Patti said...

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is definitely on my to do list. I love Judy Dench and watch all the "As Time Goes By" reruns. Sadly my closest theater is a 3 hour round trip. Might have to wait for the DVD.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

I never go out to the movies anymore, so it is my fault the good ones are not grossing more. Regarding Naomi Watts, I like her too. The last film I saw her in was the thing she made with her husband at the time and Liev Schrieber, her husband now...I think.

Yes, I knew KST could speak French, she is married to a French physician and lives in Paris.