Sunday, January 31, 2016

So, I Finally Went...

Film: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Format: Market Square Cinemas.

There are benefits to seeing a huge release on opening weekend. No need to avoid spoilers. There are smaller, but no less real, benefits to seeing something for the first time weeks later. One of those benefits is that you get the theater pretty much to yourself. I finally went to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens at a late show last night. There was only other person in the theater with me. No screaming kids, no rabid fanboys. Just the movie, and that’s pretty great.

My relationship to the Star Wars franchise is that of many. I’ve been hurt by it. It was my first cinematic love. I saw the original nearly 20 times in the theater as a 9- and 10-year-old, going literally every weekend to the second-run theater in my home town the summer of 1978. I loved The Empire Strikes Back more. It was darker and more disturbing and, as a good middle section of a long story should, put the heroes as low as they could go and the bad guys has high as they could. I liked The Return of the Jedi even if it was the least of the original trilogy (damn Ewoks).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Off Script: Prison

Film: Prison
Format: Internet video on laptop.

There’s a sense with any list of films that advertises itself specifically as containing obscurities of the listmaker(s) putting things there specifically because they are obscure. It’s not so much a measure of quality as it is a measure of “let’s show how much I really know.” In the case of Prison, there’s a little bit of that. On the other hand, this is a film directed by no less than Renny Harlin and starring Viggo Mortensen at an early stage in his career. So, while it’s pretty obscure, it’s got a slight pedigree.

As the title suggests, this takes place in a prison. Specifically, this was filmed in a dilapidated old prison in Wyoming, and evidently used actual convicts for a number of the convicts in the film. We start 20-some years in the past, witnessing the execution of an inmate for a reason we’re not told. One of the people witnessing that execution is Sharpe (classic that-guy Lane Smith). This will become important eventually.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Guess Who's Coming to Marriage

Film: One Potato, Two Potato
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

There are some movies that age well and play pretty much the same way now as they did when they were created. Other movies, particularly social issue movies, don’t always age that well. We look at something like Brokeback Mountain that was really special in 2005 would be a lot less so now. It wouldn’t be less of a movie, but the story itself would be much less of a conversation in a world where marriage equality has become much more normal in many places around the world. This is also the case with a film like One Potato, Two Potato, made almost hand-in-hand with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the United States. Since this is a film about the way races are treated in the U.S., that’s a nice little bit of history.

It’s worth noting that the virtually forgotten One Potato, Two Potato came out a solid three years before In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, two films that are regularly trotted out as moving the conversation forward. Why this film is forgotten may simply be a case of having less photogenic and personable stars. Specifically I mean that those two films feature Sidney Poitier and One Potato, Two Potato does not.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Make a Wish

Film: Three Coins in the Fountain
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on various players.

I have online office hours on Sundays and Tuesdays. It’s a rare event that someone actually shows up to them, but I have them anyway. On nights like these, I spend a couple of hours in my office and need to find something to watch to pass the time. I have a tendency to watch things on NetFlix in this situation, because I can use something other than the laptop, which I need for those office hours. Tonight, for no reason beyond whim, I decided on the oldest of the movies on my Oscar lists currently streaming: Three Coins in the Fountain. I expected something light and breezy. What I got was a film that never really figured out what it wanted to be.

The fountain in question here is Trevi Fountain in Rome. An American secretary named Maria (Maggie McNamara) arrives in Rome to begin working at a U.S. government agency. She is met at the airport by another secretary, Anita (Jean Peters). In fact, Maria is replacing Anita at her position; Anita is returning to the States to get married. The two head to Anita’s current and Maria’s new home, and apartment they share with Miss Frances (Dorothy McGuire), who is the private secretary for a well-known writer named John Frederick Shadwell (Clifton Webb).

Monday, January 25, 2016

I'm Gonna Live Forever

Film: Fame
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

Anyone who knows me knows me knows about my girls pretty quickly. Most parents are proud of their kids, of course, and like most parents, I’m extremely proud of my kids. I think I have reason. My older daughter is 17 and a college junior. She was invited into the dance program during her sophomore year in high school, and she finished high school a year early. My younger daughter was just accepted into the Joffrey Ballet’s five-week summer program, an offer made to 150 students nationwide. So, based on the fact that I live in a world of ballet, jazz, and tap, it’s surprising that it’s taken me this long to get to Fame.

Fame follows four years of students at a New York high school for performing arts. The students spend their mornings working on their specialty—acting, dance, music—and the afternoons on academic subjects. It’s no surprise, though, that this is not going to be a drama about chemistry or English. No, we’re going to be dealing with drama all about, well, acting, dance, and music. We’re presented with a standard variety pack of students with the standard variety pack of issues. To whit:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Dickens of a Tale

Film: Little Dorrit
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

When I did the 1001 Movies list, one of the (many) things I tracked was film length. I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of three-hour movies in the last couple of months. I made it a goal to watch two of the top-10 in length movies every month, and it really helped. That’s something I’ve gotten away from in the last year or so, and because of this, the lengths of the movies I still have to watch on my current list has slowly crept up and up. Well, no more. Today I’m reversing that trend by knocking out Little Dorrit from 1988. It’s not only the longest movie I had left to watch, it was the longest by almost two hours, clocking in at just under six hours total.

This version of Little Dorrit (and this might be common—this is the only one I’ve seen and I’ve never read the book although this seems to be consistent with the novel) is broken down into two three-hour segments. In the first segment, we see the story from the perspective of Arthur Clennam (Derek Jacobi). Arthur was shipped off to China to work for his father at a young age. When the story starts, Arthur has returned home to England after the death of his father. He’s realized that his entire life has been lived at the behest of other people and that he’s never really done anything that he’s wanted. His mother (Joan Greenwood in her final role) is a fundamentally religious harridan who hasn’t left her room in a dozen years. All he wants is to get out from under her thumb.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mach One

Film: The Sound Barrier (Breaking the Sound Barrier; Breaking through the Sound Barrier)
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

A week ago, the only Ann Todd film I had seen was Things to Come and I can’t say I remember her in it at all. Here I am watching my second Ann Todd film in three days. Funny how this seems to happen. There’s something very striking about Ms. Todd. Every time I see her, I think she belongs in something produced by Val Lewton. I don’t know if it’s the way she’s lit in these films or the way she looks at the camera, but she belong in something like Cat People or I Walked with a Zombie. But here she is in The Sound Barrier (also called Breaking the Sound Barrier and Breaking through the Sound Barrier).

The Sound Barrier is an indubitably British film about, well, attempting to break the sound barrier. It’s not going to be a huge shock that the sound barrier gets broken here, but let’s also remember that this bit of British propaganda for jet aircraft is highly fictionalized. While it’s certainly true that British aircraft companies and pilots worked on the problem of getting past the speed of sound, The Sound Barrier definitely wants to imply that the British got there first. I have three words to say to that: Chuck Goddam Yeager.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Film: The Seventh Veil
Format: Internet video on laptop.

Sometimes I play coy in my first paragraph or two when it comes to the film I’m reviewing. I might suggest that I really liked the film when I didn’t, or hint my opinion one way or the other. I’m not going to do that for The Seventh Veil because this is a film that doesn’t deserve that kind of respect from me or from anyone else for that matter. I’m also going to spoil the hell out of this movie, so if you’re game to track this down and spend 90 minutes watching it, you’ve been warned. I am going to lay all its secrets bare and there’s nothing you can do to stop me, save from not reading further.

Why am I being this cruel to a 70-year-old film? Because The Seventh Veil is a perfect storm of terrible elements. It contains in roughly equal parts misogyny, physical and emotional abuse, Stockholm syndrome, incest, an actress in her 30s playing a 14-year-old, and egregious psychobabble. Evidently this passed for quality screenwriting in the mid-1940s, but today it does nothing but frustrate me. How in the hell did this pile of abusiveness and bad psychiatry win Best Original Screenplay?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sinister Birth

Film: Blossoms in the Dust
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

I suppose I must be a Greer Garson fan. Garson was nominated for seven Best Actress awards (winning one for Mrs. Miniver) and after tonight I’ve seen all seven. Garson is hard not to like. She’s a classic screen beauty for one thing. For another, she had genuine skill in front of the camera. I’m almost a little sad that I watched Blossoms in the Dust tonight, because it’s the end of my watching her nominated performances. Oh, she’s not going to replace Barbara Stanwyck or Myrna Loy in my classic actress pantheon, but I’m certainly going to reserve her a place.

That said, another reason I might be saddened by watching Blossoms in the Dust is that it might be my least favorite of her nominated films. Oh, it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a very obvious one in where it goes. The melodrama is piled on thick and heavy here, and no mistake about it. There isn’t a moment here that doesn’t call out for strings. Despite this, perhaps because of it, it’s also a film that doesn’t ever stay too long on a single emotional beat. Tragedy is regularly followed up with an immediate shift in emotional focus. Yes, one needs a good emotional transmission for this to avoid stripping the gears.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Emotional Rescue

Film: The Prince of Tides
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

I wasn’t 20 minutes in with The Prince of Tides when I realized it was going to be one of “those” movies. The Prince of Tides would, by most standards, be called a “women’s” movie. It’s about relationships and feelings and things coming out in psychotherapy. It involves emotional breakdowns and family trauma and attempted suicide. In the cinematic world. this is the purview of women; men aren’t supposed to like this stuff. I sometimes do and sometimes don’t—I hated Terms of Endearment despite being able to recognize that it’s a well-made film. Then again, I’m a huge defender of Ordinary People, a film that involves psychotherapy, family trauma, emotional breakdowns, and attempted suicide. But I knew while we were still establishing characters and relationships that this was going to be something that, with a lesser cast and budget, would be on Lifetime.

Tom Wingo (Nick Nolte) is an ex-English teacher and ex-football coach living in a fairly palatial house in a beach community in South Carolina. He has a strained relationship with his wife Sally (Blythe Danner) but a very good one with his three daughters. His mother (Kate Nelligan), with whom his relationship is terribly strained, shows up one afternoon to tell him that his twin sister Savannah (Melinda Dillon), a poet and author, has attempted suicide again. It’s up to Tom to make the trip from Charleston to New York to see what can be done.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Nick's Picks: Chef

Film: Chef
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on The Nook.

This is the first in a series of twelve movies selected by Nick Jobe.

One has to be careful when watching a movie in which food is a major plot point. Go into them too hungry and all you can focus on is the food. Go into them too full and the food just makes you a little ill. Chef has been on my radar for about a year, and with Nick adding it to my list this year, there was no time like the present. But again, there’s that worry. I love food a lot. I don’t eat to deal with pain in my life or to compensate for issues. I eat because I fucking love food. To compensate while watching Chef, I made dinner for my family—chicken in an onion and tomato sauce with carrot and parsnip fries. It didn’t help that Chef made me hungry, but at least I got to eat as soon as the movie was done.

Chef Carl Casper (director Jon Favreau) is plying his trade at a well-thought of restaurant, but he’s not particularly happy about the idea that he’s not really doing anything new with his craft. He’s also struggling to maintain a relationship with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and something like a relationship with his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), who is inexplicably wealthy. When an influential food blogger with the foodie-inspired name of Ramsey Michel (Oliver Platt) arrives, Carl clashes with restaurant owner Riva (Dustin Hoffman) about the menu. Riva insists on the classics that made the restaurant famous instead of Carl’s more interesting and inventive choices.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Descent into Hell

Film: A Simple Plan
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

Recently, a few people around the country won a share of the massive Powerball jackpot and have gotten to experience the dream of suddenly finding themselves in the middle of a vast fortune. It’s a common dream. In movie terms, three movies of the last 20 or so years have taken a dark vision of finding a fortune. Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave looked at the psychological aspects of three people who suddenly can’t trust each other when their roommate drops dead while holding onto millions. A similar basic story in the hands of the Coen brothers yielded No Country for Old Men. It’s the movie that falls chronologically in the middle of those, Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan that is perhaps the darkest version of that basic story.

Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton) is a fairly regular guy working in a feed store in a small Minnesota town. In fact, the only thing that really distinguishes him from almost everyone else is the fact that he is college educated. His wife Sarah (Bridget Fonda) works at the library and is pregnant and due any day. One night, Hank is out with his slow brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob’s friend Lou (Brent Briscoe). A fox runs in front in Jacob’s truck, and Jacob steers into a tree. His dog chases the fox and the three men go looking for the dog. What they find is not the dog, but a crashed small plane with a dead pilot. Also in the plane is a large duffel bag holding more than $4 million in banded stacks of hundreds.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Skin Trade

Film: Mrs. Henderson Presents
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

My local library is closed, which means that I’m forced one town over. It was a nice surprise to discover that the library I’d been hitting through interlibrary loan has a substantial movie collection. I’m evidently in a whimsical mood these last few days, with Designing Woman yesterday and Mrs. Henderson Presents today. Since comedies tend to be in short supply on my Oscar lists, staying in this mood for too long might mean a lack of comedies for the next couple of years.

Mrs. Henderson Presents purports itself to be based at least partially on the truth, or inspired by real events. I don’t know enough about the history of the stage in London to know if this is true or not, but I suspect it is. As we open, Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) has just been widowed. Her friend Lady Conway (Thelma Barlow) tells her that widowhood isn’t all bad. It means that she can have affairs and buy things for herself that her husband would have balked at. Laura takes this to heart and purchases an old theater.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Film: Designing Woman
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

The heyday of the screwball comedy was the 1930s and the early 1940s. It was a sort of escapist fare, sex comedies without the sex because of the Hays Code. The whole point of a good screwball was to pit a strong-willed woman against a strong-willed man, toss them into a crazy situation, and make ‘em fall in love. It was a good enough formula for a number of years when people wanted 90-120 minutes of escapism from crushing poverty. With Designing Woman, the question is how well it would work in the late 1950s.

Like any good screwball comedy, Designing Woman features a perfect storm of events, starting with our romance. Sportswriter Mike Hagen (Gregory Peck) goes on a bender at a golf tournament and wakes up the next morning wondering where the money he’d won on a crazy bet had gotten to. Even more importantly, he’s wondering if he filed his copy on the golf tournament and still has a job. He finds the answer to where the money went when he encounters fashion designer Marilla Brown (Lauren Bacall). He finds out the second when he talks to his editor Ned Hammerstein (Sam Levene). His story did get filed. Turns out he wrote it with Marilla, and he gave her $700.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Who Would You Vote for?

Film: Bulworth
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on The Nook.

It’s 2016, which means that we’ve got a presidential election coming up this year. That being the case, a film like Bulworth seems completely appropriate. Bulworth is political farce that treads on ground similar to Wag the Dog from the year before and Dave from a few years before that. At least that’s true in the sense that it’s political satire. That’s where the similarities stop, though. It’s a fascinating premise for a comedy, and it generally works pretty well.

The film is set in 1996 during a presidential campaign, but that’s not where the film is focused. Instead, we’re focused on the senatorial campaign of Jay Bulworth (director Warren Beatty), a democrat who has moved into neo-con territory of family values and anti-Affirmative Action positions. Despite his platform, his marriage to Constance Bulworth (Christine Baranski) is a sham, with the two of them having affairs with complete knowledge of the other.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Picks from Chip: The One I Love

Film: The One I Love
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on The Nook.

This is the first in a series of twelve movies selected by Chip Lary at Tips from Chip.

Last year, one of the movies Chip picked for me was Safety not Guaranteed, a weird little science fiction/romance starring Mark Duplass. This year, one of the movies Chip selected for me is The One I Love, a weird little magical realism/romance starring Mark Duplass. And so I have to wonder if Chip has a penchant for recommending weird little romance movies or if he’s just really a big fan of Mark Duplass.

No matter. Ethan (Mark Duplass) and his wife Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are having trouble in their marriage. It’s clear through conversation (though not admitted until later) that a big part of that is trust issues caused by infidelity. Their therapist (Ted Danson) recommends that the two of them head off to a retreat for a weekend. They arrive and find themselves completely isolated—there appears to be no one else there. Oddly, the property not only has the house they are staying in but also a guest house.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Off Script: Signs

Film: Signs
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

As hard as it may be to believe, there was a time when people believed in the various talents of M. Night Shyamalan. While his first couple of films were no great thing, his third film, The Sixth Sense was a significant breakthrough. His second major film, Unbreakable, didn’t get the same critical acclaim, but still gets a lot of love in the movie nerd circles for being a unique take on the super hero genre. Signs was his third major film, and it gets a lot of love from a lot of people as well. For me, though, this is where Shyamalan started to lose his edge.

Even if you haven’t seen Signs, you probably know the basic plot. Farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) and his family find a crop circle in their corn field, which is located a few dozen miles outside of Philadelphia. A few strange events occur in the area—people showing up in the local town, causing problems, and then disappearing and animals acting strangely. In fact, one of Hess’s dogs seems to go crazy and has to be killed by Morgan (Rory Culkin), Graham’s asthmatic son. Graham also lives with his young daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin) and his younger brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), a failed minor league baseball player. It’s important to know off the top that Graham’s wife was killed when the local vet (Shyamalan himself) fell asleep while driving and struck her. It’s also important to note that this event caused Graham Hess to give up his position in the local pulpit, not that this stops anyone from calling him “Father.”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Basic Training

Film: Private Benjamin
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

Despite an earlier Oscar nomination and a win, it wasn’t really until Private Benjamin that Goldie Hawn took control of her career. This was her first foray into producing, a decision she apparently made to give herself more control over her career. It’s not at all ironic that Private Benjamin is about a woman discovering who she really is after a lifetime of being told what to do. I can imagine that there was a great deal of personal satisfaction in making this film, and a great deal more when it ended up so critically acclaimed.

The film starts by telling us that Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) has only really wanted one thing in life—to marry a professional man and spend her time making sure her servants did their work. After a failed first marriage, she is set for the life she believes she wants to live, marrying Yale Goodman (Albert Brooks), a lawyer. Sadly for Judy (and Yale), six hours into the marriage, Yale dies of a heart attack. Now adrift with no one to take care of her and nothing to do, Judy is convinced by a slick Army recruiter (Harry Dean Stanton) that joining up will be like a paid vacation. She enlists, and discovers that the Army isn’t what she thought it would be.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Obligatory U2 Reference

Film: Sunday Bloody Sunday
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on laptop.

I’ve liked a good amount of John Schlesinger’s work in the past, so I went into Sunday Bloody Sunday interested in what I might be getting. This is also a highly acclaimed film and wound up on four of my Oscar lists. That’s often a good sign.

I think Sunday Bloody Sunday is a good movie. It might well be a great movie. But it’s not one that I ended up liking very much. It’s daring for its time (although far less so now) and beautifully filmed, and I don’t really have anything specific to say against it. But something about it rubs me the wrong way. There’s something about this film that I really don’t like. It might be the characters themselves. It might be that I think I’ve decided I don’t like Glenda Jackson much even if she was the only thing I liked at all in A Touch of Class. Ultimately, I think it’s that there’s a lot going on here that feels really unnecessary. The film feels messy to me, and not in a good way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Unitarian YHWH

Film: Oh, God!
Format: HBO Go on rockin’ flatscreen.

When you are making a movie that has God as a character, it’s an important casting decision, and an easy one to screw up. Morgan Freeman, for instance, was an inspired decision. I’ve got to hand it to the makers of Oh, God! as well, because in 1977, I’m not sure there was a better choice to play the role of God than George Burns. Actually, the casting is really nicely done all the way around here, even if it seems strange at first blush in a few places.

Oh, God! is a high concept film. I love summarizing these because they’re so short and convenient in summary. God decides that the world needs to be made more aware of his presence, so he appears to the assistant manager of a grocery store in Tarzana, CA. It’s a pretty fun high concept, even for an apostate like me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Every Breath You Take

Film: Julie
Format: Turner Classic Movies on rockin’ flatscreen.

You know that scene in a cheesy thriller where our heroes are in an airplane and the pilot has become incapacitated and someone else has to land the plane? That trope started with Julie from 1956, so it gets the credit or the blame, as you see fit. Evidently, it’s pretty accurate in terms of the technical method of having a non-pilot land a large plane. I realize that in this case I’m giving away the ending of the film, but Julie stars Doris Day, and you didn’t think that a film studio was going to kill off Doris Day, did you?

Julie kind of wants (and by “kind of” I mean “desperately”) to be a film noir with a female protagonist. It succeeds in this for the first two acts and then jumps right out the window with our airborne drama. Ah, but I’m ahead of myself. It’s important to know, though, that Julie is very much a film of two halves.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Girl Can't Help It

Film: Rambling Rose
Format: DVD from NetFlix on laptop.

Movies can show us things both terrible and beautiful. When we’re given something awful to see, at least in my opinion, the context matters. I love horror movies, for instance, but I’m not a fan of gratuitous gore. Use well, gore can really add to a movie. Used poorly, it’s there for cheap shocks and fan service. Rambling Rose is not a horror movie, but the analogy still holds. Within the first half hour or so of the film, a minor is sexually abused, and the film doesn’t really seem to care much or think that it’s a real issue.

I don’t want to start a rant here, but this is something that really bears talking about. I’m not a fan of seeing the sexual abuse—or any abuse—of children in a film. However, there are times when it is legitimate for the story, and as unpleasant and terrible as it is, I understand why it is a part of some films. To me, it ranks as one of the worst things a human being can do, but it’s also a sad fact of reality that it happens. Depending on the film, that can be a real place to go. When it’s trivialized or, as happens in the case of Rambling Rose shown as something akin to a positive, I mentally and emotionally shut down in terms of the rest of the film.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Editing 101

Film: 21 Grams
Format: Streaming video from Hoopla Digital on The Nook.

The movie 21 Grams gets its name from the apocryphal story that the human body loses 21 grams at the moment of death, making some believe that this is the weight of the soul. There are a bunch of bad assumptions and fallacies at play here, but I’m not going to go into that, because that’s not the point. It’s worth mentioning, though, because it gives us a pretty pretentious title for the film, and that’s a theme that’s probably going to be explore pretty thoroughly in the next few paragraphs.

21 Grams was the middle of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s informal trilogy, smack in the middle of Amores Perros and Babel. As the middle film, it tells a smaller story (like Perros) but attempts to tell it in a grander, sweeping style (like Babel). Because of this, I’m not sure it works at either of these two things.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Gender Blender

Film: Victor/Victoria
Format: DVD from Manhattan Elwood Public Library through interlibrary loan on laptop.

Before I get into discussing Victor Victoria, I should comment on Julie Andrews, the film’s star. I’m not a huge fan of Mary Poppins and my hatred for The Sound of Music is the stuff of legends, but I won’t put any of that at the feet of Julie Andrews. Even if those two roles are glurgey and saccharine, I can’t fault the woman herself. The reason for that is that she also did Victor/Victoria, which demonstrates that Julie Andrews is the definition of an entertainer. Holy crap, but the woman is good.

That’s a good thing, because the premise of Victor Victoria is the sort of thing that beggars belief. It’s not that the basic premise of the film is impossible; it’s that the basic premise of the film is impossible with Julia Andrews as the star. Then again, the film also goes out of its way to work against that premise as much as possible, so the whole thing works out.