No longer playing in Helena
We travelers have all heard the familiar warning: “Please do not leave your baggage unattended.”
TSA doesn’t have a sense of humor about a lonely bag. I found that out at the Helena airport a few weeks ago, when I realized I’d left a coat in my car, so I left my bag alone for not more than two minutes and ran out to fetch the jacket. As I ran back two friendly cops were waiting to greet me.
Thankfully, they cut me a break and didn’t destroy my bag.
All this is leading up to a bad movie, but first something you likely didn’t know about those luggage announcements at airports: Two people, Carolyn Hopkins and Jack Fox, are “the voices heard in airports around the world.” Yes, Carolyn and Jack have a corner on the airport airwaves.
And, useless fact number two, director Guillermo del Toro Gómez was walking through the LAX one fine day and heard Jack’s voice over the speakers. Guillermo told the studio to get that voice for his movie “The Shape of Water.” Sure enough, Jack-the-voice-of-LAX was hired as the unsettling voice heard in the ominous laboratory of that Oscar-winning film.
Now you know. You’re welcome.
Where was I. Unattended baggage.
An unattended purse starts the plot rolling in “Greta.” A sweet young lady named Frances sees the purse and, being a Good Samaritan, decides to try to find its owner. Turns out that’s easy, because the bag has a name and address in view, perhaps conspicuously obvious?
She returns the bag and stays for tea with a lovely old lady who is ever so grateful.
“Oh, Grandmother, what big eyes you have,” says Frances. “The better to see you with,” says Greta.
OK, I made that up, but that’s really all you need to know about “Greta.”
For about 30 minutes, “Greta” is quite captivating as two exceptional actresses play a creepy game of cat and mouse, without letting us know where the cheese is hidden.
I love French actress Isabelle Huppert, and am always eager to see her on screen. She was one of Claude Chabrol’s sirens, starring in seven of his films. She was also loved by Jean Luc Godard, Bertrand Tavernier, Otto Preminger and Joseph Losey.
Roger Ebert, on whose shoulders I stand, loved Claude Goretta’s 1977 film “The Lacemaker.” Ebert described Huppert’s performance with his usual keen insight: “Isabelle Huppert is good at the very difficult task of projecting the inner feelings of a character whose whole personality is based on the concealment of feeling.”
That’s Huppert in a nutshell: an interior actress of the sublime kind.
Huppert plays our little old lady, Greta – except Huppert forgot to sip her sublime sauce this time.
Sitting across the chessboard is Chloe Grace Moretz, an actress I’ve loved since she stole the show as a 13-year-old super-heroine in “Kick Ass” in 2010.
Working with Huppert, is precisely the kind of mentoring Moretz, 22, needs to find her place at the table with Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence and Saoirse Ronan.
The two are wonderful together, but no amount of acting acumen can save this sad script – although God knows the ladies try.
Irish writer/director Neil Jordan, who has an Oscar on his mantel for writing “Crying Game,” apparently forgot to refill his ink bowl because his dip pen ran dry.
Suffice it to say, the spider doesn’t see the web for a long, long time. And the black widow is quite patient.
This script asks Huppert to channel her inner Bette Davis, clawing at the curtains as she sashays across the stage. She throws herself into the pit, seemingly relishing the hysteria.
Just for the record, if there are any relatives of Franz Liszt around, I’d sue “Greta.” His famous “Liebestraum” is the movie’s musical motif. Creepy Greta plays the piece on the piano – which hides a secret room.
As the script gets sillier and sillier, Liszt never goes away. Hardly fair to Franz. Sue!
Enough is enough.
The innocent rescue dog should have known better than to drink the milk offered him by Greta.
And discerning moviegoers should know better than sip this silliness, Huppert or no Huppert.
And don’t touch that unattended bag, either.