Thursday, August 21, 2008

Five Movies

"The Register also noted that owner Bea Dozier-Taylor "doesn't press her
many visitors to buy, but she does encourage them to read. One patron
sat quietly in a corner reading for hours. These quiet readers may not
bring in the bucks, but they represent quiet social change that comes
from the cultivation of the mind."
"Books are life sustaining, they take you past your limitations," said
Dozier-Taylor, who is currently celebrating the bookshop's 20th
anniversary." This is from Shelf Awareness' daily listserve, which is a list about bookstores and books, librarians and authors.
I feel strongly that the above quote is true, that books lead to cultivation of the mind, and are life sustaining entities that help us grow as human beings.

This quote from my favorite short story writer is also true:

"You've got to love libraries. You've got to love books.
You've got to love poetry. You've got to love
everything about literature. Then, you can
pick the one thing you love most and write about it."

~ Ray Bradbury

Amen and Halelluiah Ray!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog.
I recently saw five movies on DVD, and was honestly surprised at how terrible most of them were.
They were Eden, Losing Chase, Marie Antoinete, The Laws of Attraction and Arms and the Man.

Marie Antoinette, staring Kirsten Dunst, was one of the most dull, boring and ridiculous movies I've ever laid eyes on. Yes, life for royalty was proscribed and rigid, and yes, they married monarchs off at a ridiculously young age, but that's no excuse for film makers to force audiences to sit through long scenes of the daily life of the Queen of France, including embarrasing shots of her naked cold buttocks as the court ladies vie for the honor of putting on her nightgown or her undershift. Nor do we need to watch the Dauphan, soon to be the king, sit and mince away at his food. Snore. When Marie finally gets to take a lover, its short-lived, and then we see her go back to being a dutiful wife and mother with a passion for confections, clothing and gambling that nearly beggars the treasury. Whoo-hoo.
The Laws of Attraction, by contrast, actually had a plot, and starred Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore as competing divorce attorneys who fall in love and 'accidently' get married in Ireland. While they're working on opposite sides of a rock stars divorce case, they learn to love and trust one another, as well as learning to live together and deal with the real work of marriage. Pierce Brosnan, besides being a very hot guy, can also act, and is Irish, so he's shown to his best advantage here, and Moore plays an uptight attorney in an charmingly nervous fashion. I'd just seen Moore play a mother of 8 in "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" so I know she has quite a range, and I admire her red-headed beauty that can be chameleon-like, turning her breathtakingly lovely or wan and fierce. I'd recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a decent romantic comedy.
Losing Chase, though it has the redoubtable Helen Mirren tagged in the lead role, is an abysmal little film, starring the also great Beau Bridges and Kyra Sedgewick. Chase is a lifelong resident of a tiny seaside town like Marthas Vineyard on the East Coast, and she's recovering from what would appear to be a nervous breakdown. Her husband, Beau, hires Kyra's character as a "mothers helper" to watch over the couple's children, help with the household cooking and, of course, bond with Chase and try to help her stop being a mean old harridan, or at least a less insane one. The plot follows the usual route of movies with crazed housewives: the mothers helper is at first reviled, then something awful happens to the helper which gains the sympathy-empathy of the nutty housewife, who then embraces the helper, starts to learn from her and the housewife seems to recover and learn to be a better person via the helper. In this case, they threw in some bizarre sexual tension between Mirren and Sedgewick that lead to Mirren/Chase kissing Sedgewick, her mothers helper, on the beach and claiming to be in love with her. This leads to a tearful goodbye as Beau races to get Kyra off the island and away from temptation. It also leads to Chase telling her husband that this may be why she went crazy in the first place...intimating that as a closet lesbian she found life with Beau and the kids to be stultifying, apparently. One of Chase's sons is a horrible, mouthy and nasty brat, while the other is sensitive and kind.No one ever seems to discipline the nasty kid, however, and for some reason by the end of the movie he's a nice kid who has ceased to vilify his mother every time he opens his mouth. The movie ends with Chase saying that she lives alone now and splits custody with her ex husband, who is now remarried, and that she thinks fondly of her former mothers helper. My question is, so what? Are we, as an audience, supposed to assume that its important to make a movie about women not realizing their sexual preferences could make them insane if they're not acted on or let out into the open? I felt much of this movie was stupid and pointless.
Eden, on the other hand, had a clear agenda from the outset.This movie, which had no real 'stars' attached to it, was about a woman with Multiple Sclerosis finding her self having out of the body experiences and coming to terms with her spiritual self. It's also clear that the movie producers wanted the audience to see that her husband, a hidebound prep school professor, had to let her go and allow her to make the choice to become the person she needed to be. The old "If you love someone, set them free" theory. There are three young prep school students living with the main characters, and one of them develops a crush on the housewife with MS, and in talking to her and learning from her, he also becomes more of his own person, and finds his own path. This young actor is a dead ringer for David Cassidy as a young man, so I found it fascinating to watch him as he followed her around like a puppy. The ending was a bit fantastic, even for an HEA-loving gal like me, but it was still an interesting study of intellectual women of the 1960s who were often in stultifying situations because of societies expections of women at the time. There were some good thinking points in this movie, but it could have used some editing to keep it moving along at a swifter pace.
Arms and the Man was so deadly dull that I only made it halfway through before I gave up completely and took it back to the library. Perhaps it was the over wrought acting of Helena Bonham Carter, or the way the firm appeared too bright, like videotape, but either way the plot moved along at a snails pace and Carter pranced around like a filly on steroids. Bleh.
I would recommend Eden only to those who have a penchant for the 1960s and the spiritual quest of women at the time, and The Laws of Attraction for its fun escapism and romantic theme.

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