In the palace of Versailles, a tremendous garden is maintained. One day, the builder and head gardener sees an ordinary woman arriving at the palace, and, throwing aside ideas of conformity, chooses to rearrange some of the garden into something that pleases her. He takes her on with the hopes of updating and adding some life to the traditional gardens, and steadily begins to fall for her. As she finds difficulty integrating into the high society that he is from, he ensures her that, in fact, she is envied by the upper classes for her newness. But when that envy turns into something more, the gardener will have to fight tooth and nail to maintain the garden, their love, and their lives.
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Love Is the Devil is one of few films that is probably just as good -- if not better -- with the sound turned off. Listening to Bacon (Jacobi) talk incessantly to his gay lover George (Craig), whom he meets when he breaks into his studio, gets nuaseating after about 20 minutes. Watching the film is nauseating too, but only because of all the camera trickery. Overall, this is pretty cool -- though you realize quickly that it's a crutch to avoid showing you none of Bacon's art, since they couldn't get permission to do so for the movie. No surprise -- Bacon isn't exactly a hero here.
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Vera Drake is no exception to this practice. Set in working-class London in the 1950s, it explores the path of a middle-aged woman who performs illegal abortions to young women in need. Vera (Imelda Staunton) is one of those truly kind-hearted souls who constantly helps out anyone and everyone around her. It's hard to imagine that someone that positive and giving may exist, but her charm and energetic encouragement easily win you over as genuine. She, her husband Stan (Phil Davis), and their two adult children share a cramped but warm apartment together.
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When hubby-to-be doesn't show up, Tanya declares herself a refugee to avoid being immediately sent back to Moscow, then finds herself imprisoned in an urban gulag -- actually an abandoned seaside resort with roller coasters and video arcades that's been converted to a refugee camp.
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You may need a program to keep track of the two dozen-plus characters in Robert Altman's soap opera, murder mystery, chamber comedy-of-manners "Gosford Park."
Carpeted with dry wit and filled to the rafters with salacious secrets and unspoken animosity, the film takes place at an English country estate in 1932 and unfolds from two points of view -- above stairs, where a multitude of aristocrats size each other up in subtle sociological war games, and below stairs, where their gossipy maids and valets fall into a strict pecking order based upon whom they serve.
The estate is the home of the aloof upper-crusters Sir William and Lady Sylvia McCordle (Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas) and it's gathering place for their many coattail-riding relatives, including Aunt Constance (the wonderful, quizzically austere Maggie Smith) who habitually puts on airs as if she's not living off an allowance from the McCordles.
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Bustling around drizzly, post-WWII London with a happy, doughy face and gleaming eyes, Vera (Imelda Staunton) works as a floor-scrubber for the wealthy, humming to herself and calling everyone "dear."
She lives in a graying flat with her auto mechanic husband (Phil Davis) and her grown son (Daniel Mays) and daughter (Alex Kelly). When she subtly plays matchmaker for her shy, homely daughter by inviting a poor, reserved bachelor and war veteran (Eddie Marsan) over for some real food, their awkward walk together in a park is one of this movie's oddest delights.
For Vera, no problem is ever so great that a nice cup of tea can't solve it; she often visits ailing neighbors and occasionally helps expectant girls by performing homespun abortions. When one of these patients almost dies, Vera is arrested and tried for her "crime."
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