Sunday, February 10, 2008

Recent showings

1 We saw a lot of movies this month, in thanks to Mary Alice (we're almost done, MA...package in the mail this week!). I finally put our Netflix account on hold since those dvds were just sitting neglected. Juno was easily my favorite...just look at that picture! Could Michael Cera have less of an ego? I'm sure all the hype will ruin it for many people, but I loved it---such a fresh take, with a female character that we rarely see in movies---smart, quirky, flawed and funny.

I didn't like the Mira Nair version of The Namesake, though several friends who hadn't read the book did--so maybe it works better that way. As with Hysterical Blindness, I enjoyed listening to Nair's commentary more than the actual movie. She is such a visual storyteller, and I love learning how decisions were made and that feeling of "seeing behind the curtain" of the wizard. My main complaints: the missing story of Ashima's preparation for her first return trip to India, one of my favorite parts of the novel; casting Kal Penn or at least losing the repressed and controlled nature of Gogol. And a minor point, but Ashoke would never have playfully whispered Ashima's name through the door as portrayed in the movie. While it later made sense as a scene straight from Nair's personal life, it didn't fit these two characters.

Enjoyed Atonement, but didn't LOVE it. My brother Kevin, who had to deal with older sisters all trying to brainwash him with their favorites, finally put his foot down when he was 12 or so and declared, "No more movies with British accents!" I got teased among friends, probably deservedly so, for prefacing my distaste for this movie by sharing that I went through a major Merchant & Ivory stage when I was in high school, but it was true, and at this age, I finally relate to Kevin's frustration. Lovely houses and grounds, lovely flowing dresses and tea being served, but enough already.Atonement_movie_image_james_mcavoy

That said, James McAvoy (whom we enjoyed in "Starter for Ten" last year) was captivating as the housekeeper's son who attempts to cross class lines via an education. I could see what the movie was attempting to do in its Dante-inspired, seriously-long-one-take scene at Dunkirk, and if nothing else, the self-conscious technique led me to connect the essential questions of the movie/book (the power of storytelling and of lies, and the use of both to make right of wrongs...) with the great price England paid in WWII.

I really wanted to like Waitress, but didn't. Probably more a sign of my own limitations---I could see what the movie was trying to do, to play outside the box---of being realistic or playful or fantasy. But I couldn't make that leap and so wanted it to choose which reality it took place in. This isn't Austen's England or even America in the 1950's, so money is no excuse for staying with a  man you hate.

Loved The Great Debaters. With these two in it, how could I not? Bilde 

My favorite moment---when the youngest debater returns home after that drive through hell and runs into his father's arms.

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit we watched The Bucket List as well, and as MA put it, "the best thing I can say is that it's only as bad as I expected it to be." Actually I've always been fascinated by this idea of what you do when you know you have limited time. When I was in 8th grade, I wrote a short story---mostly plagiarized from the sappy "Six Weeks" with Mary Tyler Moore  as a mother whose daughter is terminal and they run around the world crossing things off her list. Only in my story, the girl had a younger sister who was being ignored while the family focused on the other one's list, and, of course, the youngest gets hit by a bus unexpectedly and everyone feels terrible (does that sound like a middle child's imagination or what?).

In our last year in Oregon, we lost two friends to cancer. I will always feel in debt to Richard and James because they gave us the push we needed to make changes. Not to jump out of airplanes (Bri already got me to do that when I was young and impressionable!), but to make more room in our lives for the things we cared most about. I'd like to share two links with you that contain more wisdom and inspiration that that movie even brushed on: Everyone Has a List by Leroy Sievers and One Month to Live, a post by Carrie Batt.

Ideally, if you ever received such bad news, you wouldn't do anything different really---just less of the things you "have to do" and more of things you love.

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