Sunday, February 21, 2016


Year 8, Day 52 - 2/21/16 - Movie #2,253

BEFORE:  Gwyneth Paltrow carries over from "Emma", and I'll circle back to watch "Pride and Prejudice" in a couple days. Now there's just over a week left in February and the romance chain, so I've got to get to everything, which is impossible.  I'm going to have to extend the topic a few days into March, and even then, there will be a few romance films left over.  I'll just have to work those in during the course of the year, which seems quite possible.

Here's the TCM line-up with actor links for tomorrow, February 22:

Dorothy McGuire carries over from "Friendly Persuasion" to:
"The Enchanted Cottage" with Robert Young carrying over to:
"The Sin of Madeline Claudet" with Lewis Stone carrying over to:
"Romance" with Great Garbo carrying over to:
"Grand Hotel" with Lionel Barrymore carrying over to:
"Captains Courageous" with Mickey Rooney carrying over to:
"The Strip" with Louis Armstrong carrying over to:
"High Society" with John Lund carrying over to:
"A Foreign Affair" with Jean Arthur carrying over to:
"The More the Merrier" with Joel McCrea carrying over to:
"Foreign Correspondent" with Robert Benchley carrying over to:
"The Sky's the Limit" with Elizabeth Patterson carrying over to:
"Hide-Out" with Muriel Evans carrying over to:
"The Prizefighter and the Lady"

Damn, I've only seen two of these, "Grand Hotel" and "Foreign Correspondent".  I've avoided "High Society" because it's just a remake of "The Philadelphia Story", but if I'd known they were going to run more Fred Astaire, I might have recorded that and also "Top Hat".  Anyway, 2 for 13 brings me up to 78 films seen, 173 unseen, with 6 on the list.  Eh, Monday's films seem like mostly filler material anyway.

THE PLOT:  A man switches plane tickets with another man who dies in that plane in a crash. The man falls in love with the deceased one's wife.

AFTER:  This is a bit like "Random Hearts", only in reverse - the love affair here comes about as a result of the plane crash, and in that other film, the plane crash revealed one love affair, and led to another.  

But this is a topic I think about sometimes, usually when flying to or coming back from San Diego, preparing to board an overbooked plane, and the airline personnel start offering incentives for people to give up their seats.  Since I need to be there on the first day of Comic-Con to set up the booth, but on the way back, I could be persuaded to take a later flight, if they make it worth my while.  So they start offering vouchers for future travel (if they offered me an upgrade to first class, one day I just might take it...) but I think, no, what if I change my flight and then the new flight crashes and I die?  Then I'll feel really stupid, at least for a short time before I die.  So I stick with my original flight - but then I think, what if the new flight arrives fine, and my original flight crashes?  Then I'll feel extra stupid, but just as dead.  

I once missed a flight to Portland and had to reschedule - and it's not that I wished ill on the flight that took off without me, but if any flight is going to crash, you want it to be the one that you missed, right? The important thing to remember here, however, is that plane crashes happen, and they're not the passengers' fault - not usually, anyway.  Until they somehow devise plane travel that's 100% safe, which, let's admit it, seems to be impossible, it's safest to avoid all plane travel unless it's a business trip, family emergency, or someplace you really, really want to go.  I won't get on board a plane to go to someplace relatively nearby, like Boston or Baltimore, because that feels like I'm pushing my luck.

The main character here is an advertising executive, and we all know those are terrible people, right?  Rich, arrogant, self-righteous - hey, I don't write these stereotypes, I only notice them - and his life gets turned upside-down when most flights aren't leaving Chicago, and he gives his boarding pass to a man with his family trying to get home to L.A.  Our man works for an agency that has the airline's account, so he figures he can always get a free trip the next day, plus there's this blonde in the airport lounge who's got a hotel voucher.  This act of "kindness", however, becomes anything but when the plane goes down.  

It was very nearly a NITPICK POINT that you can't swap boarding passes, even if this film was made before 9/11 there were still terrorism concerns and I.D. requirements, but they do deal with this issue later in the film.  The reason that they check your I.D. again right before boarding is to make sure people don't check explosive baggage, and then not show up for the flight - that's a big red flag. 

But it is interesting to see a film made in 2000 that deals with a plane crash, and the airline decides to do full-on publicity that celebrates the lives of the crash victims, against the advice of our man at the agency, who finds himself in an alcoholic downward spiral after his brush with death.  Once his rehab is complete, he feels obligated to track down the people affected by his decision, which is perhaps one of the twelve steps.  (However, I wouldn't say that the other man died because of his drinking, unless the step applies to all decisions made while drinking, which would then cover the boarding pass swap.)

This is another example of a movie plot stalling for time - the main character has one simple piece of information to relate to the dead man's widow, and he just can't bring himself to do it.  At first it's because he doesn't know her well enough, and then later it's because he knows her too well, and is starting to have feelings for her.  OK, well, I guess he's just never going to talk about it - what was his plan here, or did he just not have an exit strategy?  

There's very little insight here into what makes two people fall in love, even two people drawn together by similar tragedies.  Are they both thinking that love will make up for the losses that they've suffered, or is their love just a by-product of spending time together?  It's difficult to tell, because it didn't feel like much of an attempt was made to get inside these characters' heads.  Maybe I'm just picking up on the undoubtable barriers between the two actors, who had dated previously but were no longer a couple when this was filmed.  

Also starring Ben Affleck (last seen in "Argo"), Tony Goldwyn (last heard in "Someone Like You"), Jennifer Grey, Joe Morton (last seen in "Dragonfly"), Johnny Galecki (last seen in "CBGB"), Caroline Aaron (last seen in "22 Jump Street"), Sam Robards, Natasha Henstridge (last seen in "The Whole Ten Yards"), David Dorfman, Alex D. Linz, with cameos from Jeff Garlin (last seen in "In a World..."), David Paymer (last seen in "Unforgettable")

RATING: 4 out of 10 acid-free mattes

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