Category Archives: Romance

#43 – Buried Hearts

(1985, US/GB, 105 min) Dir Alastair Hirst. Cast Jessica Lange, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Hugh Grant.

Jessica Lange is the young American widow Ms Allison Fairley, the kind of person who one finds depicted in films as a ‘live wire’ or a ‘free spirit’ but that you, in real life, wouldn’t wish to be trapped in an elevator with. Since she has a lot of money from her late husband’s estate and a lot of free time Ms Fairley has decided to travel to Edwardian England to indulge herself in her latest hobby – the digging up of dinosaur bones. The reason she has her eye on England of all places is because of Sir Evelyn Pearson (Sands), the internationally acknowledged expert on all things paleontological. Of course he wants to have nothing to do with this forthright and crude American but she’s not easily put off – even if it means turning up at every one of Pearson’s digs she’ll get her man in the end. In the end, of course, she does but that’s not really a spoiler, is it? Produced by the estimable Merchant Ivory team though written and directed by TV veteran Alastair Hirst, this slight film seems at times to be trying a little too hard to out-Merchant Ivory the duo themselves. A young Hugh Grant adds value as Pearson’s flabbergasted student who is alternately appalled and besotted by the manic Fairley.

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#8 – Taste of Love, A

(2011, US, 110 min) Dir Marc Lawrence. Cast Hugh Grant, Katherine Heigl, Elizabeth Moss, Chris Pratt, Stanley Tucci.

Culinary romcom. Heigl – who is of course clumsy and unlucky in love – decides to go with her heart, packs in her job in some sort of an office and signs up for the notoriously difficult Culinarian school under the tutelage of Hugh Grant’s Gordon Ramsay Douglas Thatchell. He’s a hard taskmaster – sweary, volatile and fond of throwing things – but, wouldn’t you know it, he has a sensitive side, no doubt born from some past heartbreak to be revealed once Heigl’s peeled him like a big angry onion. Of course the road to the inevitable doesn’t run smooth and, along with her comic relief classmates Moss and Pratt (both stealing what they can of the show), Heigl has to cope with soufflé and blowtorch related mishaps en route to the high stakes finale of their end of year show where the dishes will be judged by Tucci’s snobbish broadsheet reviewer. While this is certainly no feast it’s a passable confection, though one with a high sugar content.

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#4 – Boxer’s Chains, The

(1986, US, 109 min, b/w) Dir Randall Hex. Cast Matt Dillon, Stacy Herr, Brad Dourif, Ogdon Marshall.

Matt Dillon’s Cal lives in a town called Blueford in an unnamed Mid-West state. Blueford has been gutted, a depopulated maze of cracked streets and leaning buildings – it’s the mid-Eighties and Reagan’s America is downsizing. Cal lives in an abandoned factory, sleeping the day and boosting cars at night to sell to Dourif’s Cash. He’s in love with Sandy, the skinny half-punk waitress at the local diner who’s too shy to talk (an ethereal Herr in her first film role). He takes her into the country and their love blossoms and they plan their escape from Blueford. So far so generic – one part Badlands to one part Drugstore Cowboy – but what sets it apart is how it’s shot, in luminescent black and white like it’s the last silver nitrate print struck. The film just glows off the screen. The still pace isn’t a problem when it looks this good, giving you all the time in the world to drink up every shot of the big cloud smeared sky, the never-ending wheat fields, the rusting factory hulks, the planes and angles of Herr’s face shot in enraptured close-up. The film ends, not with a bang but a whimper – no high dramatics or adolescent nihilism, just life moving on as life does. When it was released in ’86 it got lost between Blue Velvet and True Stories and Randall Hex – a former war photographer who had captured the war in Vietnam – died two years following this, his only film, in a car accident that some claim still was suicide.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms