Reading An Unexpected Guest is like standing on the shore watching the waves. As much as it seems to be just one single mass of water, it changes composition each time it comes in, stirring sand, moving shells closer to the land, and stealing things away as it rolls out again. Continue reading →
This review is adapted from Reel Life With Jane,where I first wrote it as a rave for Hollywood–and Hollywood on the Thames for recognizing that life and love does not stop at 30-something. VMB
In the British film, “Le Week-end”, a couple in their sixties (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) travel to Paris for the weekend to revisit the scene of their honeymoon 30 years before. We get silent clues about their relationship as they ride the train into the city, each engrossed in his/her own newspaper. Even the choice of newspapers (see the picture above) tells us this couple are not on the same page.
He wants only to get to the hotel and settle down, she–to the delight of the viewer–wants to see all of Paris, and keeps feeding euros to the driver to keep him driving as we get a tour of all the gorgeous streets of Paris.
Boredom has crept into their marriage, turning her shrewish and him desperate. At times, the sharp dialogue sounds like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, ” except that it is interspersed with moments of true affection and plenty of humor.
When they arrive at their honeymoon hotel in Montmarte–after a lot of uphill climbing, which somehow they had not noticed thirty years ago–they discover that it has gone downhill and she insists they leave.
Maybe younger viewers won’t get it, but the over-60 crowd will understand that just because your knees rebel at climbing the steps to Sacre Couer with the same speed as in your 30s, life is not over.
The question is, how to stay alive while you are still living.
The couple are co-conspirators in life — used to playing supporting roles for each other in such capers as running away from a restaurant bill. Jeff Goldblum as a thoroughly obnoxious American writer serves as a catalyst for some painful truth telling at a dinner party that turns into denouement.
Le Week-end definitely rates as a movie for the traveler’s library. (Not out on DVD yet, the film just starting making the rounds of American theaters in September). As they enjoy the couple’s struggles in “Le Week-end,” viewers are treated to scenes in Montemarte and along the Seine and in expensive Parisian hotels and restaurants. Ahh, Paree, ageless City of (ageless) Love.
1. Prisons are not nice places. (duh!) Really old spooky prisons are really not nice places. So if you want to get a little shiver up your spine, check out the Yuma Territorial Prison In Yuma Arizona. In case you can’t get to Arizona–here’s a video tour that makes good Halloween watching.
2. Plenty of Haunted Houses will be vying for your attention this Halloween, but for sheer yuckiness, nothing can quite match the setting of the Ohio Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. That’s the abandoned and spooky prison that was the setting for the movie Shawshank Redemption, which I wrote about earlier. You can visit the spooky prison any time, but at Halloween it becomes the Haunted Prison Experience. Here’s a little taste of what you’ll see.
3. One of the most haunting (and probably haunted) buildings I have ever visited is the Conciergerie in Paris. That is the spooky prison where the Revolutionaries locked up their enemies, including Marie Antoinette, and later the counter-revolutionaries locked up the likes of George Danton and Charlotte Corday.
The building itself is not grizzly grimy like the Ohio Reformatory. Once the vast block of Gothic buildings on the banks of the Seine were a palace. You enter through the Hall of Men-at-Arms, a vast cathedral-like space that was created in the Middle Ages. But it is the thought of what happened here and throughout France during the Revolution that makes the whole scene give you the shivers. You can visit a replica of Marie Antoinette’s cell with dressed up forms representing the Queen at her prayers, while a guard stands a few feet away, separated by a short partition. I can’t imagine how humiliating it must have been for the Queen not to have a moment of privacy after being pampered and waited upon. There are other cells that vary in their furnishings because the prisoners were expected to provide their own accouterments.