Friday, July 20, 2007

Hidden Gems

I have a network of film fanatic friends that keep me informed as to the hidden gems they discover in their various festival forays. The film that I kept hearing about from many of them was an independent film called “Sweet Land”. It finally became available on DVD and I made sure that HBPL ordered a copy for our collection. I watched it last night and it is worth the praise and the wait. It was the winner of the Best First Feature award at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards. The lead actress, Elizabeth Reaser, took home the Best Actress award from our own Newport Beach Film Festival in 2006. The film follows the fortunes of a young German woman, Inge (Elizabeth Reaser), who travels to America to marry a Norwegian immigrant farmer, Olaf (Tim Guinee), and suffers from the post-World War I prejudice against all things German. The film also has Alex Kingston (Dr. Corday from E.R. – you wondered what she had been up to!), the always watchable Alan Cumming, John Heard and Ned Beatty. It is a lovely film.

And while we are talking about lovely films; HBPL recently added “Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont” to our DVD collection. I don’t remember this playing in the theaters in Orange County but I got a chance to see it last year while in New Zealand. It was screening only one night in the town of Napier and I happened to be in the right place on the right night. This film is based on the novel by the same name by English author, Elizabeth Taylor and stars the gifted Joan Plowright (the wife of the late Sir Lawrence Olivier). It is about an elderly woman who is all but abandoned by her family in a London retirement hotel when she strikes up a curious friendship with a young writer.

These might be a bit “chicky” but not so girly that men won’t find them charming as well.