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Cinematic Art - Throwing Pearls to Swine

April 4, 2011

Critics call it "dull," a "chore to watch"; "artificial," "turgid," "self conscious."  In fact, this is a delightful movie for people whose sensibilities haven't been destroyed by a steady diet of sex, violence and special effects.

by Henry Makow Ph.D.

"The City of Your Final Destination," James Ivory's latest and probably last movie is a gem, but you're unlikely to hear about it, let alone see it.

The 83-year-old director of such classics as "A Room with a View," "Howard's End" and "The Remains of the Day," couldn't find a distributor for his last movie. Dim witted critics panned it, giving it 37% approval on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie bombed at the box office. It cost something like $8,000,000 and only grossed $500,000. Anthony Hopkins is suing for his $750,000 fee.

The movie is about intelligent, articulate, attractive, honest, civilized people trying to improve their lives. It is set in beautiful surroundings and is a great escape from the sordid, hypocritical, materialistic world in which we live. 

The premise doesn't seem promising at first. Graduate student
Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally) has a grant to write a biography of Latin American writer Jules Gund but needs the cooperation of his estate controlled by his widow, Christine (played by Laura Linney); brother Adam (Anthony Hopkins) and mistress, Arlen (Charlotte Gainsbourgh) with whom he had a child.

They say no and Omar is about to give up. However his plucky girlfriend Deirdre (Alexandra Maria Lara) convinces him to travel to Uruguay to convince them to change their minds.

He shows up unannounced at their estate, called Ochos Rios. The film is about how civilized people try to get what they want from other civilized people. It is about how they interact. Omar's career depends on getting permission for the biography. Caroline, the widow, doesn't want to cooperate. Deidre is pushing Omar to succeed.

It is a study in character. Omar and Arlen are gentle, unassertive people, who seem to want each other. Christine and Deirdre are very strong and determined people who want success and culture. Anthony Hopkins puts in a magnificent performance as Gund's gay brother who wants to provide for Pete, his life partner.

This is Ivory's first film after the death of his producing and life partner Ishmael Merchant. It was written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who is a German Jew, who was married to an Indian.   Jhabvala has done the screenplays for most of their movies, which are hit-or-miss affairs.

After this movie, my favorites are "The Bostonians,"  about a man who deprograms a feminist in the nineteenth century; "Soldier's Daughter Don't Cry" and "Le Divorce." 

I rummage through the video store in vain looking for well written movies about
intelligent, urbane, attractive people. There aren't many. And when someone like James Ivory makes one, it is like throwing pearls to swine. The world no longer cares about civilized behavior.


The Trailer


Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "Cinematic Art - Throwing Pearls to Swine"

Rollin said (April 5, 2011):

Thanks for your comments on James Ivory, whose filmmaking I've enjoyed too. (You were right; I hadn't even heard of this most recent film of his.)

How I miss movies whose characters are real adults with real lives. And actors who can play them. Have you noticed how comics don't do impersonations of actors anymore? They could impersonate an actor like Humphrey Bogart because Bogart was a real person, someone with character. Imagine trying to impersonate someone like Brad Pitt or Leonardo diCaprio.

If you've never seen it, try to get a copy of Eric Rohmer's film, Ma Nuit Chez Maud (My Night at Maud's). It's another great adult (in the true sense of adult) movie.

MW said (April 5, 2011):

I am shocked and appalled that the so called elites have NOT funded the gay-police to attack those studios that failed to promote this movie to the hilt on the basis of NOT being "fair" to "gays".Why on Earth were there NOT free Trailer DVDs posted throught every letter box in the land ?I don't know about you, but unless I have "gay sex rammed down my throat at every opportunity every time I switch on any kind of media device,I am appalled at how "gays" are being HORRIFICALLY descriminated against.You article here clearly states :

Anthony Hopkins puts in a magnificent performance as Gund's "gay" brother who wants to provide for Pete, his "life partner".

How on Earth will "gays" sleep tonight ????

I might just petition my local politician to public funding of the therapy all the "gays" in the land will obviously need.

This is EXACTLY why I hated V FOR VENDETTA, I 'm watching this cutting-edge wake-up movie and all of a sudden "gays" [Large homosexual stephen fry] and a coupla rug-munching dykes are NOT ONLY grouped in with the rest of the population's persecutions BUT ALSO given some kind of SPECIALNESS above & beyond the rest of us in just how much more they suffer because they are abnormal with their genitals !.Made me wanna puke.If it were NOT for Natalie Portman being so lovely looking [spoiler : even with a bald head] I'd never have watched it again...and again...and again.

ok, I'm ordering this DVD as it does sound worth a look,as I am sick to death of Shia LeBouf special effects exstravaganzas with 3-D action, 2-D stories & 1-D acting,...but I'll have a bucket ready for the Anthony Hopkins scenes where he probably "caresses buttocks of another male and whatnot"....ewwww

MW- There are no gay sex scenes, hardly any sex scenes of any kind. The movie does not promote homosexuality and it is not central to the story. It merely recognizes that some gays are very fine people, something I do not dispute. James Ivory would be at the top of my list.


Dan said (April 5, 2011):

Yes, literary film is definitely being smothered with a pillow. 20 years from now they won't be using actors or writers at all. It's been straight down since the 90's. I rarely go to the new kinds of movies because I don't like paying to be programmed by insidious subliminal special effects and neural linguistic scripts, not to mention the covert ritual workings and spells they layer into it all.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at