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Movie Review by Susan and Shelly Frome
On the surface, The Help is strictly a woman’s film, concerned with domestic issues in Jackson, Mississippi circa the early sixties. It seems to be mainly about raising babies by black maids who are relegated to cleaning upscale houses, cooking meals and tending to little toddlers and putting up with insults while their employers--a gaggle of pampered, gushing and downright silly members of the Junior League--are off displaying their tea dresses, coiffed hair dos, gossiping, playing bridge and coming up with events and “worthwhile” activities to mindlessly while away their time.
It All Ends
Perhaps the most obvious question here is: can a viewer walk into the last installment of the Harry Potter series cold; does the movie stand on its own? The first indication that the answer is no aside from the “Part 2” in the title is the eerily quiet opening. Three young people looking the worse for wear and extremely trouble are ensconced in some sort of safe house in the middle of nowhere. There is obviously a lull in the action as if moviegoers had taken a dinner break and just returned for the second half and final conclusion. That doesn’t mean it’s all indecipherable.
The title of this film recalls a time in the 1970s when the thought of making a movie and entering it in a contest would fill any 13-year-old living in small-town America with wonder. First you’d have to get hold of a Super 8 camera and cartridges (or is it rolls) of film. Figure out some way to hook up a tape recorder and come up with a story. Influenced by the “cool” movies of the time, it would probably involve zombies and the like that are infiltrating the country, perhaps with a little sappy love story thrown in--the girl saying things like, “Oh, John, don’t go. Please I’m so frightened. What will happen to you? What will happen to us?” Then, there are the location shots which would probably involve photographing little models and, for lots more realism, shots indoors and outdoors in the outskirts of town. Afterwards, of course, the film would have to be sent out to be processed and later edited and spliced by hand.
If anyone were to take the latest installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise seriously, the search for Ponce de Leon’s legendary spring that restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters would lead them to the shores of Florida and what is now the city of St. Augustine. Or the islands of Bimini in the Bahamas. Or to some fabled stream or lost river somewhere north of Hispaniola, Cuba and Puerto Rico. However, it seems that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has taken the definitive map from a rival pirate by the name of Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Then again, what this map was based on (when you consider all the tales floating around about the Fountain of Youth) would not lead any self-respecting ship’s captain rushing hell-bent on a narrow trajectory. Let alone King George, a bound and determined Spanish vessel, Angelica (Penelope Cruz) as a would be double-dealing first mate, former lover of Sparrow; plus an incorrigibly-evil Blackbeard the pirate (Ian McShane) some two-hundred years later.
In a sense, the movie “The Company Men” starring Ben Affleck as Bobby, Tommy Lee Jones as Gene, and Chris Cooper as Phil is a throwback to the Great Depression as well as a reflection on today’s recession and downturn in the economy.
Shelly and Susan Frome are a husband and wife writing team from Litchfield, CT, who collaborate on movie reviews for the Waterbury Observer. Susan wrote the column for more than a decade before joining forces with Shelly, who taught theater at UConn for several decades. Both Susan and Shelly have been highly involved in the theater and the arts in Waterbury and Northwest Connecticut.