March movies that came in like a lamb, went out like a lamb

Most of the movies from last month were not as memorable as the Cesar Chavez movie. The best of them that we saw was the Academy-award nominated foreign film, The Lunchbox. It is one of those films with a “sleeper effect” that doesn’t make a giant immediate impression, but keeps rolling over in your mind days later. 

The other reviews of The Lunchbox that I read didn’t understand it at all. One said it was about Indian food. It was actually about people’s need for one another in whatever form that may take. Apparently, urban Indians have an elaborate system of delivering more-or-less hot lunches to people at work. A lonely and misunderstood young wife does everything she can to impress her uncaring husband through the medium of lunch, but some glitch in the system causes her delicious preparations to go to a lonely widower who, like her, doesn’t really know what to do with his life. It doesn’t sound like much, and it doesn’t seem like very much when you see it. Then the next few days go by and you realize, after tumbling it over and over in your head, that you’ve had a truly interactive art experience with a film.

I was eager to see The Grand Budapest Hotel because its creator has done such fine whimsical works before: The Fantastic Mister Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom. Both of them raised whimsy to an art form, and so does this latest work. The problem is, its still whimsey. There’s an amazing array of big stars in central and cameo roles, and miniatures and photo effects are well used. It just doesn’t add up to much and we forgot about it as soon as we left the theater.

Breath In is about a man in mid-life crisis, and it’s not nearly as good as the song Jerry Lee Lewis did in the 1980s (“He’s middle aged crazy, trying to prove he still can.”) The acting is good, but it’s hard to care about a white fairly affluent middle-aged schoolteacher longing to return to his Bohemian days. The object of his affections, a teenage foreign exchange high school student, remains that, just an object. We don’t even find out, for sure, what motivates her into this mess. We get to understand the guy pretty well, but, try as we might, we still don’t care.

Photo: Official Fox Searchlight film site for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”