A projectionist, Miss Marple and a frog princess: movies viewed

THE STARS’ CARAVAN (2000) is a documentary about a film projectionist in Kyrgizstan, doing his best to travel and show movies for nomads and village residents despite the cuts in government support in the post-Soviet era. The loss of support also led to an increase in foreign action movies rather than propaganda, which made me think this would double-bill well with Chuck Norris vs Communism. Interesting, but not hugely interesting. “This is an important shepherd, a hero of socialism, and his family.”

MURDER AHOY! (1964) was Margaret Rutherford’s second Miss Marple film (following Murder, She Said) in which she inherits a position on a local charity’s trustee board just in time to see one of the other trustees drop dead before he could make a Big Reveal. As Inspector Craddock of course refuses to believe Marple’s theory the man was murdered with poisoned snuff, it’s up to her and Mr. Stringer to investigate the old sailing vessel the charity uses as a training camp for wayward youth. Good fun, though even further from Christie than its predecessor. “I cannot ignore the death of Nelson!”

As Disney’s first black princess, the hardworking waitress Tiana really deserved a better movie than THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009). It’s N’Orleans in the 1920s and while Tiana sweats away to save enough money for her own restaurant, jazz-loving Prince Naveen is in town to party and land a rich wife (a white one, in fact — the movie just ignores all racial issues). After the sinister Shadow Man (who also deserves a better movie) turns Naveen into a frog and Naveen’s servant into the prince, Tiana tries curing him, but only winds up a frog herself.

Which is where the movie tanked, because it turns into stock funny-animal adventures with a jazz-loving gator and a lovesmitten firefly as supporting casts. On top of which, the romance felt completely unconvincing (plus it’s that annoying trope of the woman who’s too focused on her job to have a love life).  So thumbs down for me. “It’s the first rule of the bayou — never take directions from an alligator.”

That said, Princess Weekes of The Mary Sue explains why as a black woman she still loves princesses. More from Weekes about Tiana here, and another blogger looks at how prince characters have changed.

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