Monday Movies :: The Letter “A” :: 10 Things

00a7a1a348cf0aff8c77815fc140f891.jpg

Monday Movies :: The Letter “A” :: 10 Things

1. Almost Famous

Tiny Dancer sing-a-long on Doris the tour bus

2. Allison Anders

allison-anders-camera

3. Alabama Whitman-Worley, True Romance

alabama-worley-002-480x203

4. Away We Go

Home

5. Alyssa Jones, Chasing Amy

chamy-jla02.jpg

6. All Over Me

Trailer

7. Pedro Almodóvar

93463-004-F3D9E048

8. Andie, Pretty In Pink

Andie and her father

9. Ash, Evil Dead series

Ash-in-Army-of-Darkness.jpg

10. Gregg Araki

gregg-araki-kenzo-x-max-farago.jpg

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)

1.jpg

The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
Written by Jonathan Evison (book) and Rob Burnett (screenplay)
Directed by Rob Burnett

Trailer

I told you I only date assholes.” ~ Dot

Yes, and I’m not an asshole. And since you want an asshole, my not being an asshole makes me more of an asshole than the assholes that you normally date, because they’re giving you exactly what you want, whereas I, by not being an asshole, am not. Which makes me an asshole.” ~ Trevor

I can’t believe I actually understood that.” ~ Dot

The-Fundamentals-of-Caregiving-Movie-Poster

Five minutes in and I knew I was going to like this film. A bit more than five minutes in, when I realized that the majority of the movie would be “on the road” my heart did a little two-step, and that gypsy soul of mine who LOVES road trips did a twirl, and I knew I was going to love this film. And yes, I did love it.

Meet Ben Benjamin, beyond his unfortunate name (I mean, it isn’t even superhero-ish in its alliteration), he is a seemingly stunted individual who has a vacancy about him that is initially undefined. We see him reluctant (to say the least) to accept the reality of his pending divorce, and we meet him at a crossroads, pleading somewhat with a mother and son to be given his first shot as a caregiver.

2.png

We learn soon that Ben’s vacant demeanor is caused by grief and a PTSD-type haze that paralyzes him momentarily with flashbacks of his deceased young son. Ben is searching for something – redemption? Maybe. Forgiveness of self? More than maybe. A new hope? Yeah, I think so. Ben definitely needs a chance at something.

the-fundamentals-of-caring.jpg

Meet Trevor. He is wheelchair bound with limited capacities. He’s sarcastic and dark humored and also grieving, but in a more resigned way. He is definitely in need of a chance and some kind of hope and an adventure outside of his TV room and meals of frozen waffles and short trips to the park.

2.jpg

We also have Dot. A runaway/hitchhiker/gypsy on her own way to redemption-adventure-new chance at something. They make up an unlikely trio who will have you laughing and caring a lot. This could have fallen into over-sentimentality and tragedy, but it never did. It has tons of heart, but also humor and realism and damn likable characters who are all significantly flawed.

2

The writing is sharp in this, wit with a heart of gold. The performances are tops, especially Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts and Selena Gomez. Please, please, please put Craig and Selena in more films.

There are some twists in the story, and there are some predictable moments, but the film is not based, nor hinged, on either. This is about people, about family – both the ones we are born into, and the ones we choose, about firsts, and about chances.

download

The movie made me laugh more than cry, though I did do both. It also made me itch to go on a real road trip, with ridiculous roadside attractions as the main, and multiple, destination(s).

This one has definitely made the list of a favorite films.

2.png

“This is what road trips are all about.”

This is the Only Time We Have :: Ryan Miller

Top 10 Movies that Unfold in One day/night :: Monday Movies

large.jpg

Top 10 Movies that Unfold in One day/night :: Monday Movies

Another kind of movie I love are ones that take place in a 24-hour period, whether it be one night in the life, or one day, whether it be just two characters, or many whose stories may, or may not, intersect, all of it, that kind of one-day storytelling, is a favorite of mine. There are MANY more movies that utilize that storytelling technique than I realized, so coming up with JUST TEN was a challenge – a few I love had to be left off – but they still live in my cinematic heart.

I love that my lists crosses movie-genres, and that it includes great scenes and memorable soundtracks. And just like with the road trip movie lists, some of my favorite movies of all-time are on this list, too.

I’d love to hear/read what yours are. Please share in the comments.

before-sunrise

1. Before Sunrise (1995)
Written by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan
Directed by Richard Linklater

1

I feel like this is, uh, some dream world we’re in, y’know.” ~ Jesse

Yeah, it’s so weird. It’s like our time together is just ours. It’s our own creation. It must be like I’m in your dream, and you in mine, or something.” ~ Celine

And what’s so cool is that this whole evening, all our time together, shouldn’t officially be happening.” ~ Jesse

Yeah, I know. Maybe that’s why this feels so otherworldly.” ~ Celine

5.jpg

2. The Breakfast Club (1985)
Written & Directed by John Hughes

Remember how you said your parents use you to get back at each other?” ~ John Bender

[nods] ~ Claire Standish

Wouldn’t I be OUTSTANDING in that capacity?” ~ John Bender

2

3. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Written by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (book), Lorene Scafaria
Directed by Peter Sollet

Are you sad that we missed it?” ~ Norah

We didn’t miss it. This *is* it. C’mon. You wanna go home?” ~ Nick

moderngirls3.jpg

4. Modern Girls (1986)
Written by Laurie Craig & Anita Rosenberg
Directed by Jerry Kramer

You know, Cliffie, the hottest nights are the ones where you don’t know who you are coming home with. . .here we are. . .we don’t even know who we are going out with!” ~ CeCe

Go.jpg

5. Go (1999)
Written by John August
Directed by Doug Liman

rebel-without-a-cause-2.jpg

6. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Written by Nicholas Ray (story), Stewart Stern & Irving Shulman (screenplay)
Directed by
Nicholas Ray

Once you been up there you know you’ve been someplace.”  ~ Jim Stark

7. Empire Records (1995)
Written by Carol Heikkinen
Directed by Allan Moyle

empirerecords.png

We mustn’t dwell… no, not today. We CAN’T. Not on Rex Manning day.” ~ Mark

tumblr_mdkltcOpyW1qe1wvco3_1280.png

8. 200 Cigarettes (1999)
Written by Shana Larsen
Directed by Risa Bramon Garcia

You need to find somebody that likes you the way you are.” ~ Lucy

And who would possibly like me the way I am?” ~ Kevin

I have no idea.” ~ Lucy

mallrats_704.jpg

9. Mallrats (1995)
Written & Directed by Kevin Smith

Suitor number one. If we fell in love, how would you propose to me?” ~ Brandi

[aside] “When Jaws popped out of the water...” ~ Brodie

you-instead06.jpg

10. Tonight You’re Mine (2011)
Written by Thomas Leveritt
Directed by David Mackenzie

[singing] “Tonight you’re mine, you’re mine, you’re mine!” ~ Ada,

6a00e54ee7b64288330167673f86c2970b-500wi.jpg

My Top 20 Music Moments in Film :: MusicListography

image_181

List Your Favorite Music Moments in Film
courtesy of Music Listography : Your Life In (Play)Lists
Listen via Spotify Playlist – Here

1. Tiny Dancer :: Elton John
from the film, Almost Famous

“Blue jean baby,
L.A. lady,
seamstress for the band.
Pretty eyed,
pirate smile,
you’ll marry a music man.”

I couldn’t say how many times I’ve watched this scene, honestly, the number would be staggering, both from re-watches of the movie itself, and also just the scene itself (see above). This is by far my favorite go-to music/movie moment that I turn to whenever I’m feeling low or stressed or sad. Everything about it, the characters joining in to sing one-by-one, the connection between everyone that the music is helping to forge, the unspoken (but yes sung) forgiveness that is happening all in the length of a song, and this feeling of hope and wish and want that I feel because my heart would love to be “on the road” to somewhere, anywhere, especially if there was music along for the ride. I wish I could spend a vacation riding along on Doris with Stillwater, the Band-Aids and William “The Enemy” Miller.

2. Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime :: Beck
from the film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

“Change your heart,
look around you.”

The first moment this song plays in the film is heartbreaking, and it never fails to bring me to tears. Later, when it replays, it brings a bittersweet kind of hope that can also bring tears, but also make my hopelessly romantic heart (jaded as it is sometimes) believe in all that “love conquers all” stuff. Clementine and Joel are so dear to my heart, and this film (my all-time favorite) and this song, have become very personal to me.

3. Rise :: Eddie Vedder
from the film, Into the Wild

“Gonna rise up,
burning black holes in dark memories.
Gonna rise up,
turning mistakes into gold.”

This movie is so inspiring to me, even in its moments of tragic heartbreak and loneliness. My gypsy soul who longs for adventure and exploration attached itself to this story, and though I know I could never go and get lost “in the wild” like Christopher does, there is still this feeling of “go out there and live” that this film gifts to me every time I watch it. I love the entire soundtrack, every song, but this one fits the most into favorite music in movie moments as it makes my heart soar and builds that “adventure awaits” feeling of freedom that is part of this film, and Christopher’s story.

4. All I Want is You :: U2
from the film, Reality Bites

“But all the promises we make,
from the cradle to the grave,
when all I want is you.”

There is a part of my heart that lives in this film, I think, and that part has grown with every year and each re-watch that happens. The entire soundtrack is one of my movie soundtrack favorites, but it is definitely this song, and the moments that transpire, that mean the most to me. Oh Troy Dyer, how you ruin me.

5. The Only Living Boy in New York :: Simon & Garfunkel
from the film, Garden State

“I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

I have so many favorite moments from this movie, but this one may be my absolute favorite one. I want my own “infinite abyss” to go to and yell into and hold hands with someone who can be there while we both break down and let go and just scream. There are so few moments in lie where we are able to just scream.

6. Where is my Mind? :: Pixies
from the film, Fight Club

“With your feet on the air and your head on the ground,
try this trick and spin it.”

Endings are hard, both in life, and in stories told. This is one of those perfect endings that is made more so by the use of this song. Everything about this moment is spot on, emotional and impactful and darkly beautiful.

7. Falling Slowly :: Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

Take this sinking boat and point it home,
we’ve still got time
.”

This movie, and the music from it, all the music, means so much to me. This song though, it is so heartbreakingly gorgeous and fits the bittersweet almost love story that Once tells through music. This is another song from a film that always makes me cry.

8. Like a Fool :: Keira Knightley
from the film, Begin Again

“And you have broken ever single fucking rule,
and I have loved you,
like a fool.”

In a similar vein as Once, and by the same creators, comes another music movie that hits so many emotional parts of me. This song hits hard and on a very personal level, and is so perfect in this moment, musically, cinematically and from a storytelling and character perspective. It is another that brings tears, which seems to be a running theme in many of these favorites of mine, doesn’t it?

9. Evergreen :: Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson
from the film, A Star is Born

“Two lights that shine as one,
morning glory and midnight sun
.”

I have loved this movie, and this moment in this movie, since I was a little girl. There was a part of me back then that wanted to grow-up to be like Esther, and I know for certain that I had quite a crush on John Norman. This moment is so wonderful, intimate and real feeling, with so much emotion between the two of them – it almost tells the entire story in this one scene.

10. Shame, Shame, Shame :: Shirley & Company
from the film, Pride

“My feet wanna move so get out my way.”

I love everything about this moment – the song, the dancing, the energy, and the way Dominic West moves. This is another go-to movie and music moment that I find myself going back to when I need to smile and de-stress. This makes me miss going out dancing so fucking much.

11. Perfect Day :: Lou Reed
from the film, Trainspotting

“You just keep me hanging on.”

Moody and melancholic, this song fits the movie moment so “perfectly” in that “love song to heroin“/this story may break your heart kind of way. There is a complexity just underneath the surface of this song, and there is a complexity to Mark’s life and circumstance, as well as his friends, that is hard to pin down and define, as at some points it is reckless and carefree, at other times it is full of desperation and tragedy, and at other times it feels lost in itself – much like growing-up can feel like, and this song, about some “perfect day” that you can tell is not perfect at all, that is rather indicative to life, too.

12. Nature Boy :: Nat King Cole
from the film, Untamed Heart

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn,
is just to love,
and be loved in return.”

This is a nearly kills me heartbreaking moment that always leaves me sobbing. The song itself is one of my all-time favorites, and its significance and emotional heft in this scene is just completely incredible. On a side note, this movie is one of the biggest reasons I love Marisa Tomei so much.

13. Slave to Love :: Bryan Ferry
from the film, 9 1/2 Weeks

“We’re too young to reason,
too grown-up to dream.”

I don’t know which came first, me falling in love with this song after this movie, or me falling in love with Mickey Rourke after seeing this movie. Most likely the latter, as I became a Roxy Music fan a few years before, but the two – the song and Mr. Rourke – are forever linked in my musical heart now. This song is haunting, seductive and mysterious, much like the movie itself, the New York it portrays and John himself.

14. But Not Tonight :: Depeche Mode

“And I haven’t felt so alive in years.”

There was a time when my night times were much like those of the girls of Modern Girls. Hollywood at night in the mid-late 80’s, the music, the clubs, the fashion, the feelings, the times my friends and I had that were often a complete adventure in the span of sunset to sunrise the next day. This movie brings it all back, and this song is my favorite from the soundtrack, and the one that I immediately connect back to the movie, and their night in the city of Angels.

15. Don’t Stop Me Now :: Queen
from the film, Shaun of the Dead

“Tonight,
I’m gonna have myself a real good time.
I feel alive,
and the world it’s turning inside out.”

A brilliant use of music and choreographed fighting that seems plays out like an interpretive dance of zombie killing. My first reaction after seeing this scene for the first time was just a that – “fucking brilliant!” This has always been my favorite Queen song, and this music/movie scene made it even more the best to me.

16. Wise Up :: Aimee Mann
from the film, Magnolia

“It’s not,
what you thought,
when you first began it.”

Typically the most effective use of music in a film does not overtake the action, it sits somewhere in the back almost acting as back-up singers, a melodic coloring-in, making the picture more vivid and the emotions almost leap out and chase after you, it is usually only within an actual musical that the music steps out of the imaginary fourth wall to become the voice of the characters, and often in that situation it lifts the story into a suspension of disbelief’s playground; because it is not often in everyday life that people just break into song. This scene from Magnolia is an exception to the rule. It is done in such a moving and remarkable way that it brings every character’s inner demons, fears and emotions into the center; all of them singing in a round robin style to Aimee Mann’s Wise Up.

17. Just Like Honey :: The Jesus & Mary Chain
from the film, Lost In Translation

“Listen to the girl,
as she takes on half the world.”

What an ending, what a moment, what a way to keep everything somewhat open and up to the viewer to decide. This song is just perfect for this moment, it feels like the city, like the emotion between Bob and Charlotte, and like the emotional connection itself in all its mysterious and unexpected wonder. The two, the song and the film’s ending, are perfectly intertwined to me.

18. Miss Misery :: Elliott Smith
from the film, Good Will Hunting

“To vanish into oblivion,
it’s easy to do,
and I try to be,
but you know me,
I come back when you want me to.”

This moment, with this song, takes my heart along with it. All the hope and wonder, sadness and joy, the juxtaposition of conflicting emotions when you let someone you love go. The ending is one of those perfect ones, like the Lost In Translation end that I mentioned above, where there are things left unsaid and unknown, so that as a viewer you can come up with the next chapter; this song works perfectly for that sense of possibility.

19. Try a Little Tenderness :: Otis Redding
from the film, Pretty In Pink

“You won’t regret it, no, no,
some girls they don’t forget it,
love is their only happiness.”

Me and Molly are the same age, so her “coming of age” movies always felt like they got me, and I got them. This moment, in the record store, I remember wishing to be a part of it (which may have been integral in my going after record store jobs after High School). This was also the moment when I thought “Otis Redding? I need to hear more!”

20. I Melt With You :: Modern English
from the film, Valley Girl

“I’ll stop the world and melt with you.”

I didn’t live in “the valley”, though in some ways Orange County felt the same, and I was too young to hang out in Hollywood, though I would get there in a few years, but still I felt like I understood the plight of Randy and Julie. Or, maybe I just wanted to be Julie and melt away with Randy. Hearing this song, well, there is a little part of me that still wouldn’t mind melting away with that boy from Hollywood, or at least sharing a soda with him at Du-par’s.

One Day :: Lunch and a Movie

hum_filmreel_canister_lg

Lunch & a Movie Series :: One Day

one_day

One Day (2011)
Written by David Nicholls
Directed by Lone Scherfig

Trailer

About the MovieAfter spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day, but whether together, or apart, speaking, or not speaking, present, or not present, they are intertwined in a way that changes them both, and helps shape who they are.

Brief SynopsisEmma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet for the first time on July 15, 1988 after their graduation from the University of Edinburgh . They spend the night together, but not in the way they initially plan, and ultimately agree to be friends. The film goes on to reconnect with Emma or Dexter or both on the 15th of July (one day) over the next 23 years.

2011_one_day_002

There are monumental years, and seemingly insignificant years shown. Some years the film spends more time exploring, others seem to flash by in a blink of an eye. There are years that are heartbreaking, years that are beautiful, years full of hope, some with the awkwardness of trying to be adults, and others that are pinnacle to what comes next.

One-Day-2011

The years are captured with the help of music and other subtle clues that hit every note perfectly, giving the feeling of passages of time, and also reminding the viewer (if they were alive during these years) of those times in their own lives.

To honor the integrity of the storytelling, and to not ruin the experience of the film, I will not give an overall plot synopsis past those details.

one-day-focus-features-2011-anne-hathaway-jim-61838

Why I chose it: I have a running Netflix queue that I toss movies and television series in and mostly I take one at random to watch for the “lunch and a movie” viewings, but this one was a little different, this one came up immediately as a “one to watch” recommendation as soon as I opened up my Netflix App and I thought “why not“. I honestly had no idea what it was about, or even who was in it, except that the poster looked familiar to me. The passage of time storytelling technique is a favorite of mine, one I have been using in a novel I’ve been working on for the past six years off-and-on (always putting it aside because of the personal nature of it), and one I’ve loved in Richard Linklater’s Before films, as well as his recent Boyhood release. Oh, and I also have loved the Neil Simon adaptation Same Time, Next Year, since I was a wee girl. As the opening credits began I was excited to see some favorites of mine in it, Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess and Patricia Clarkson, and thought that I had definitely made a good choice this week.

Anne-Hathaway-in-One-Day.-007

My thoughts in three sentences: For the first half of the film I kept thinking to myself two things, 1) this is a very well executed story and quite enjoyably clever, and 2) why oh why is Jim Sturgess not in more films, he’s so talented. Then the second half came and it grabbed hold of me in a very emotional way, and I felt pulled in to the people and their lives, and really cared about them, and not the film anymore, or the way it was made, or who was in it. This is more than a clever film, or a nice romance, or even a well-acted movie, though it is all of those things too, but it is a realistic look at life, at growing-up, at choices we make, and those rare, few people who change us and make us so very happy, and so very miserable, and so very alive.

one_day_26281

Best: Dexter.His story, his coming-of-age and into himself, his struggles and his self-esteem and the way he changes were so well-written and acted, and so raw and real, hard to watch at times, wonderful to watch at others, he was my favorite of the film. I loved Emma, too, and some of the secondary characters, but truly it was Dex that I fell for in this, and who I felt for, too.

tumblr_lopnrfw8dj1qdcy1bo1_500

Worst: Honestly not sure I have a worst. Perhaps I would have liked a bit more of certain years, one in particular, but maybe its better that some left me wanting. I really loved this movie.

One-Day-10-007

Rating (out of 5): 5

“We’ve actually never met.”

Albatross :: Lunch and a Movie

hum_filmreel_canister_lgLunch & a Movie Series :: Albatross 

albatross-movie-posterAlbatross (2011)
Written by Tamzin Rafn
Directed by Niall MacCormick
watched on Netflix

Trailer

About the Movie: Albatross is the story of Emilia, an aspiring novelist and seemingly free spirit with a questionable past. She takes a job  in a family run Inn and befriends the family (well most of them) in complicated, and potentially devastating, ways.

Brief SynopsisEmelia Conan Doyle (Jessica Brown Findlay), a rebellious teenage dropout who believes she is a descendant of Arthur Conan Doyle, takes a job as a cleaner in a seaside hotel owned by Jonathan Fischer (Sebastian Koch). Jonathan is a writer from Germany who has struggled with writer’s block since his successful first novel, The Cliff House, was published 21 years before. He lives in the hotel with his wife Joa (Julia Ormond), a reluctantly retired actress, and their two daughters, Beth, 17, (Felicity Jones) and Posy, 6 (Alexis Zegerman).

Jonathan is constantly sequestered in the attic working on his writing, leaving the hotel to be run by Joa. Their marriage is stormy as Joa is unhappy about Jonathan’s lack of success in his profession and his disconnected parenting, as well as the fact that she’s had to put aside her career to run the Inn and raise their daughters. In contrast, Emelia has lived with her grandparents since her mother committed suicide.

alb_04ca

On her first day of work, Emelia catches Jonathan in a compromising position alone in the attic. She meets Beth, who is applying to study medicine at Oxford. Beth invites Emilia to dinner with the family, during which Emelia reveals she is writing a novel but is struggling to live up to the Conan Doyle name. Later, Jonathan offers Emilia creative writing lessons. They conduct their lessons secretly in the attic, which eventually leads to a romantic affair.

1

Meanwhile, Emelia teaches Beth to explore her rebellious side and the two become best friends. Emelia’s friendship with Beth causes guilt in regards to Emilia’s dalliances with Beth’s Father, which she tries to end without anyone ever needing to find out, which may or may not cause a breakdown for all the characters, in their own way.

albatross

Sometimes breakdowns are necessary, sometimes clarity comes out of chaos, and sometimes rebellion masks the search for understanding.

Why I chose it: This one came directly from a recommendation from my oldest daughter who said a friend had told her about it, and after watching the trailer, she felt it was a movie I would love. I am a huge fan of indie films, and stories that center on coming-of-age and of friendship, even better, if the movie has a strong female lead.

My thoughts in three sentencesJust as the Fischer family fell in love with Emilia, I did I as the story unfolded. What I didn’t love, though, is the lack of full character development in the other female characters, especially Joa and Beth; at first I took the story as to be seen through Emilia’s perspective only, but there were scenes without her in them, and in those scenes I would have liked to have seen more complexity to the other women in the film. Emilia though, felt fully formed and complex, a character that I wanted to know what happened after the credits started to roll.

0607136_30443_MC_Tx360

Best: Emilia and her relationships and connections with people, most especially her friendship with Beth and her bond with her Grandfather, both relationships that I wanted more story about. I loved the trip to Oxford and the ups and downs of Emilia and Beth’s friendship. It was real the way it was portrayed, including the parts where Beth didn’t see how she was hurting Emilia by underestimating her, and in some cases, using her as a way to rebel. In the end, when we see Beth in Emilia’s tee shirt I wanted her to say something to her, to connect with Emilia somehow, but maybe the sight of the shirt was enough. I sort of hoped that somehow Emilia would have ended up at Oxford, too.

still-of-felicity-jones-and-jessica-brown-findlay-in-albatross-(2011)-large-picture

Worst: The lack of character development for Joa and Beth. Joa seemed to written as a caricature of a bitter, aging wife and mother, but I wanted to know more about her, more about her past as an actress, and some kind of sign that she and Jonathan had love between them, at least in some way, way back past. She seemed angry all the time, but it felt too one-note. As for Beth, she did have more layers to her, to a certain degree, but I wanted to see more of where she fit in her life, with her friends (she must have had some friends), and with her mother. The good girl attracted to the allure of the bad girl is certainly a well-worn plot device, and it is one that works well, but in this case I wish we’d gotten to know the “good girl” a little more – I’ve seen Felicity Jones play complex characters, and at times there were hints of it in her portrayal of Beth, I just wanted more (maybe the “more” wound up on the editing floor).

albatross (1)

Rating (out of 5): 3.5

Oxford Comma :: Vampire Weekend
featured in the Albatross’ soundtrack

A-47

Silver Linings Playbook :: Lunch and a Movie

hum_filmreel_canister_lg

Lunch & a Movie Series :: Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-playbook-oscar-poster-joshua-budichSilver Linings Playbook (2012)
Written by David O. Russell (screenplay) and Matthew Quick (book author)
Directed by David O. Russell
Watched on Netflix

Trailer

About the MovieSilver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat Solitano, who after a stint in a mental institution, the bipolar former teacher moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife, Nikki. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own, and whose sister is friends with Nikki, Pat’s estranged wife.

Brief SynopsisAfter eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder, Pat Solatano, Jr. is released from a mental health facility into the care of his mother Dolores and father Pat Sr. Pat soon learns that his wife, Nikki, has moved away, and that his father is out of work and resorting to illegal bookmaking to earn money with the hopes of opening a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode sent him away.

silverlinings7

While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Cliff Patel, Pat explains why he was hospitalized: Coming home early from his high school teaching job after getting into an argument with the school’s principal, he had found his wife in the shower with the history teacher from his school, and nearly beat the man to death. Despite this, Pat doesn’t believe he needs medication to manage his condition. He tells Cliff that he has taken a new outlook on life. This is a reference to the name of the film, as he attempts to see the good, or “silver linings”, in all that he experiences, however challenging. As part of this outlook, and transformation, he has lost weight and has attempted to read all the literature books his estranged wife (Nikki, who is also a teacher) teaches from her class syllabus.

silverliningsplaybook-lawrence-closeup

At dinner with his friend Ronnie, he meets Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Maxwell, a widow who had just recently lost her job. Pat and Tiffany develop an odd friendship through their shared neuroses, and he sees an opportunity to communicate with Nikki through her. Tiffany offers to deliver a letter to Nikki if, in return, he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition. He reluctantly agrees and the two begin a rigorous practice regimen over the following weeks. Pat believes the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man. Tiffany gives Pat a typed reply from Nikki, in which she cautiously hints there may be a chance for a reconciliation between them.

“Dinner at Ronnie’s”

Why I chose it: Alright, so I tried to watch a screener of this back when the movie was up for all the Oscar’s and could not get through it, not because it wasn’t good, but because the character of Pat was too close to that of my late husband, and it was incredibly painful to watch. I was ready to watch a different movie that was next on my Netflix queue this week, and when I turned on Netflix I was served up an AD for this one and thought, okay, I can do this, this time I’m going to finish it.

My thoughts in three sentencesStill so incredibly painful to watch in so many ways, some in how Pat is, some in the things he says (most especially his fixation on Nikki), and also the ending, which hurt a lot to see, the ending I would have liked to see my late husband find instead of the ending he made happen to himself. The acting is tremendous, especially Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence, and the music, too, really made moments and scenes come to life even more. It is a very honest and realistic portrayal of families and illness and recoveries and hope, and I’m glad I made it through, though I don’t know I could ever do it again.

SLP-Screencaps-silver-linings-playbook-35200493-1920-800

Best: I loved Tiffany and all her complexities, her unapologetic self, her bluntness, her strengths and her weaknesses. I could relate to a lot of things she said, especially about giving to others, and about opening up and being judged for it. This was my favorite role that Jennifer Lawrence has played. I love what she brought to, and out of Pat, and what she demanded for her life and self, her tenacity, and the way she loved even after so much pain and loss. She embodied hope to me.

tumblr_mj4hd130Kk1qeaao5o1_500

Worst: Dr. Patel. I thought he was a terrible therapist, especially when he insinuated that Nikki would want to see Pat acting in certain ways which encouraged his delusions and fixations on her, and winning her back. It was really irresponsible in my opinion, as was his presence in Pat’s family home after the fight at the game. I wanted better for Pat than what this therapist was offering.

Rating (out of 5): 4

“The dance”

SLP-Screencaps-silver-linings-playbook-35200483-1920-800

The Curious Dr. Humpp and Cactus Flower :: His and Hers Drive-In Feature (1969)

HIS HERS HEADER

The Curious Dr. Humpp and Cactus Flower :: His and Hers Drive-In Feature (1969)

Back to the Drive-In, and back to what seems like our signature genres, though in my defense I tried for a return to the “haunted house” movie genre, but the movie I was after we couldn’t track down. So, instead, I chose a story about a bachelor dentist who has convinced his much younger girlfriend that he is married in order to maintain his bachelor status, only to decide he wants to marry her after all, trapping him in a web of lies fitting of farcical comedy stage plays.

Charles dug deep into the realm of bad Sci-Fi/horror and came back with what is now the worst film I have ever sat through. It was a dubbed (though there was such little dialogue that it hardly mattered) sexploitation story about a failed experiment turned mad scientist whose obsession is sexual domination of the world, and who also seems to be healed by being a total creeper voyeur while various sex acts take place in his “laboratory“. This is no Masters of Sex, let me tell you. No, it is a movie so painfully bad that you will be wishing for your 87 minutes back and wondering where on earth does my husband find these movies.

Our first film (Charles’ choice) is The Curious Dr. Humpp, an dubbed Argentine film that plays out like a cut together porno with bad Halloween masks and a flimsy plot that is hard to locate. There was no trailer available.

tumblr_n7dq4qlVb51rge9zro1_500

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969)

Our second film (Laura’s choice) is Cactus Flower, a story about a lie that takes on a life of it’s own, and also leads to love connections between unexpected people. It is a comedy that starts out with a suicide attempt, which really doesn’t seem all that funny at all. It also features a night club that seems to only play a psychedelic, instrumental remix of The Monkees I’m a Believer, and is popular enough to always be entertaining the entire cast (oh the coincidences!).

Cactus Flower (1969)

hump

Brief history:

Originally titled La Venganza del sexo, The Curious Dr. Humpp is a film with zombie-like creatures wearing what appears to be dime-store rubber Halloween masks who kidnap various sexy subjects and bring them to the island-based laboratory of the title crazy Doctor/Scientist, Dr. Humpp.

curiousdrhumpp

Dr. Humpp’s research on a youth-sustaining elixir is missing a crucial ingredient, a substance released into the human bloodstream during orgasm. So, the Doctor goes about kidnapping those he finds either in the midst of a sexual act (including lesbians, strippers, lovers in cars, and orgy attendees) and bringing them back to the lab to copulate over and over again, until their bodies are spent, and then he incinerates them.

All of this is to keep himself from being turned into a monster, though it all begins to shift into an obsession of turning the world into a sexual madness. The Doctor consults, and is instructed on all things sex and “Science” by a talking brain.

humpp2

The movie was originally filmed in 1967.

Rob Zombie sampled some of the Enfermera’s dialogue from the English-dubbed version of the movie into two of his songs. The line, “Use my body to keep you alive!” opens the song, Never Gonna Stop, while the line, “Give it to me!” can be heard several times in Feel So Numb.

Never Gonna Stop :: Rob Zombie

Feel So Numb :: Rob Zombie

The United States edited soft-core version contains numerous sex inserts featuring among others American sexploitation actresses Kim Pope and Kim Lewid.

Curious Dr Humpp, The.3

His take:

This week’s little tidbit was yanked from my childhood memory of the Grand Prairie Drive-In in Grand Prairie Texas (small town between Arlington and Irving). And while I was too young to see this film there, at the time, for some strange reason the name “Dr. Humpp” stuck in my mind. Thanks to the folks at Something Weird Video I was able to bring this film to my wife, who will probably never let me hear the end of it for the rest of my life.

L2XtD88

This film is so horrendously bad (this coming from the man who has watched ALL the Ernest films). It is nothing but 50 minutes of soft-core porn, with a half-hour of chopped down, dubbed dialogue, giving you the idea that the director planned on giving us a story, but failed miserably. The only thing the director succeeded in was reminding us how poorly trimmed people kept their nether-regions in the 60’s.

4080048702_c5f02bae99

3 B rating (1 point given for Boobs, Beasts and Blood): 3-B’s. Plenty of breasts, bad beasts, no blood, so the third “B” has to be for bush (and lots of it)!

MV5BMTcwMTYyNjk4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTIwMTcyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_

Her Take:

What more can I say that I didn’t sum up in saying that this is the worst film I have ever seen? I mean, I sat down to watch this with expected trepidation, but I did not expect it to be as bad as it was. For the most part the film is soft-core porn the likes of what Cinemax was to cable in the 80’s trying to somehow pass itself off as Sci-Fi/horror, or perhaps this is a prime example of sexploitation films, a genre I have not had a lot of exposure to.

feastoffl20

The film is mostly sex, most of it mindless and staged, even before the sexed up were kidnapped and drugged. The sex is badly choreographed, bodies in awkward positions and angles that would not work, and could only be believed as actual sex by someone who hadn’t actually had sex before.

humpp0991

Oh, and the lesbians? If you are to believe this film’s interpretation, lesbians just touch each other’s nipples – a lot – and that’s it. No, seriously, every scene with the lesbians was various nipple play, a lot of blank, expressionless faces, and some moans here and there. Is it safe to assume that this was a male’s interpretation of sex between two women?

005

There are monsters in this, or creatures, or are they clones or the undead or zombies? It is never quite clear. We are made to believe that Doctor Sex, I mean Doctor Humpp, will turn into these bad Halloween masked and gloved monsters if he doesn’t drink sex-potion daily, but we don’t really understand what the monsters are. The main one, who is the worst costumed of the bunch, is sent out to do the Doctor’s bidding. He goes to pharmacies for bags full of aphrodisiac ingredients, as if that isn’t suspicious when there are newspaper articles and police sketches that look just like said monster, and all these “disappearances”.

bscap0279gn

The key monster seems to have a Frankenstein’s Monster kind of heart, and falls hard for the busty brunette, Rachel, bringing her flowers, serenading her with his monster guitar and spying on her sexual antics.

tumblr_m9a5zeF9Q81qzbra9o1_500

But Rachel has her lusty eyes set on the persistent reporter, who seems to be the only one “on the case“. Humpp’s faithful busty blonde, Enfermera (yes, that’s her name) seems to only have eyes for him, and is constantly offering up her body for him to do his best, and worst, to. In a drugged up, hallucinatory state she has sex with the reporter, thinking he is the Doctor Humpp finally come to take her, but when she realizes her error she doesn’t seem to bothered by it. She seems to have eyes for the reporter, too.

bscap0210vc

A poorly executed trap is laid, and some action (well, a lot of “action”) happens, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what plot existed, and where it was trying to go. All I can honestly say is I was so very glad when the whole thing was finally over.

drhump-02

Her Rating: Out of 5 stars: Can I give it a 0-? No, really, it is THAT BAD.

curious dr. humpp vhs front & back2

cactus-flower-movie-poster-1969-1020685456

Brief history:

Cactus Flower is a 1969 comedy film directed by Gene Saks and starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her performance. The screenplay was adapted by I. A. L. Diamond from a Broadway stage play written by Abe Burrows, which in turn was based upon the French play Fleur de cactus by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy.

cactus-flower-original

The film has been remade a few times. An unauthorized Hindi version titled Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?, starring Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Katrina Kaif, was released in 2005. An English language remake, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was released in 2011. An Egyptian version titled “Nos Sa’a Gawaz” (Half-hour Marriage), starring Rushdy Abaza, Shadia and Adel Imam, was released in 1969.

3.154565

21-year-old Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn) attempts to commit suicide by inhaling gas from a second-hand stove. Her neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz), smells the gas and rescues her by using mouth to mouth resuscitation, which evolves into a kiss after Toni regains consciousness.

cactus-flower

Toni’s failed suicide attempt stems from her despondency following a romantic breakup. Her lover, Julian (Walter Matthau), ended the relationship by announcing he had a wife and three children. Unknown to Toni, Julian is not married. Upon learning of Toni’s suicide attempt, Julian decides to marry Toni, but he needs a wife to divorce in order to sustain his earlier lie. Julian asks Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman), his long time assistant, to pose as his wife. At first unwilling, she ultimately relents, since she has long had a crush on her employer.

Cactus Flower Goldie Hawn Ingrid Bergman

Toni senses Miss Dickinson’s feelings for Julian and asks Julian to help Miss Dickinson find another man. Ultimately Julian’s friend Harvey (Jack Weston), Señor Arturo Sánchez (Vito Scotti), and Igor all become embroiled in Julian’s scheme. Toni suspects Julian’s untrustworthiness and leaves him for Igor. Julian finally falls in love with Miss Dickinson.

Cactus Flower 3

The prickly cactus Miss Dickinson keeps on her desk in the office gives the film its name. Like Miss Dickinson, the cactus thrives in the driest of settings. By film’s end, however, both the cactus and Miss Dickinson have “bloomed“.

ingrid bergman the cactus flower

On release, the film was acclaimed by both critics and the general public, becoming the eighth highest grossing film of 1969. Howard Thompson of The New York Times stated that “both the expansive scenario of I. A. L. Diamond and the flexible direction of Gene Saks open up and even ventilate the story“. Roger Ebert declared that “the chemistry works” and “the movie is better than the play“.

Cactus_Flower4

The film marked the return of Ingrid Bergman to the movies. After the 1940’s, Bergman had moved to Europe and pursued a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini, diminishing her appeal to US audiences. After returning to film in Anastasia, Bergman agreed to star in this film, her first comedy, again gaining critical praise.

In her first major film role, Goldie Hawn, once described as the “dizzy cream puff who is constantly blowing her lines [on Laugh-In]“, was praised for being “a natural reactress; her timing is so canny that even her tears run amusingly“. Hawn’s performance in Cactus Flower won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her sole Oscar to date.

lauren-bacall-barry-nelson-brenda-vaccaro-arny-freeman-cactus-flower-playbill_217bd853a9e450058682ab2dfc688b51

The original Broadway production of Cactus Flower by Abe Burrows opened at the Royale Theater on December 8, 1965 and ran for 1234 performances starring Lauren Bacall and Barry Nelson. Lauren Bacall played the part of Stephanie Dickinson on the Broadway stage.

In the record store, a customer approaches Toni and asks her a question. The album he is holding happens to be the original cast recording of the musical Mame starring Angela Lansbury. This is an homage to the film’s director Gene Saks, since he also directed Mame when it opened on Broadway in 1966.

1353469060-hawn

His take:

It’s obvious from the first scene of this movie that this was a straight adaptation of a play, from the rapid back-and-forth dialogue, to the simple setting/settings. To me, it’s rarely done well when a play is adapted, with the exception of Neil Simon’s work brought to the screen.

GH-10-goldiehawn-cactusflower-danci

Having said that, I wanted to really like this film. Being a fan of Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman, I found them to be the only likable characters in the movie.Why Walter Matthau was considered a decent romantic interest to either of them, but especially the perky Goldie Hawn when he is such a curmudgeon, is almost as mystifying as Brian Keith’s role in our last “Drive-In” installation. And, the character of Igor was as boring as watching a cow chew his cud.

tumblr_lvssqsr9Mv1qj71muo1_500

The only enjoyable male characters in this were Señor Arturo Sánchez, played by Vito Scotti, who was definitely not Hispanic, but who has always done wonderful character roles, and Harvey Greenfield, played by Jack Weston, who has also been in tons of films as a recognizable character actor.

Cactus Flower Walter Matthau

3 B rating (1 point given for Boobs, Beasts and Blood): 1 B. No Boobs or Blood, but 1 B for Beasts goes to Walter Mathau’s Dr. Julian Winston for his elaborate lies to avoid commitment.

cactus flower poster

Her Take: 

This was my second choice for 1969, as I was wanting to break my “genre” trend and go back to a “haunted house” tale, but Haunted House of Horror evaded us. Despite that, I had wanted to see Cactus Flower for a long time, as I love both Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman, and I have enjoyed Walter Matthau in many films, so I was happy and set to enjoy the film.

cactus_flower

I have to say I was surprised at what transpired at the start of the film as I watched Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn) set her small apartment, and herself, up to kill herself. There were some attempts at comedy in this suicide attempt, but they fell flat to me. Suicide is very rarely done well as comedy, Harold and Maude the only exception I can think of. It ended up being just an attempt, and a failed one at that, as writer and next door neighbor, Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz) smells gas coming from Toni’s apartment, breaks a window and comes in to save her. He does save her, and also kisses her twice, once as part of his “resuscitation“, and once when she is half-conscious and calling him by her lover’s name, and not her own. Again, this felt odd and off to me, and definitely not funny.

Cactus Flower 1

Toni explains to her “hero” that she was distraught over her boyfriend who is married with kids, and is never going to leave them for her. At this point the storyline seems like a typical relationship trope, the young single girl and the (much) older married man. But, all is not what it seems. When we meet the “lover“, Dr. Julian Winston (Walter Matthau) it is revealed that in his quest to be forever a bachelor, and to avoid commitment at all costs, he has made up a fake wife and kids to keep his girlfriend as nothing but that. What better way to keep from taking the “next step” then to be the ultimate of unavailable.

november2012cactusflower14

But Toni mailed a suicide note to his dental offices, and before he can find out that she did not succeed in taking her own life, he receives the letter, and the presumed news, and realizes his feelings for her may be more than arms length. He races to her apartment, and is surprised and relieved to find her alive. In the heat of the emotional moment he proposes, and Toni asks “but what about your wife and kids?” And so the lies become bigger and more tangled.

Cactus Flower (1969)

Julian taps on his over-worked and faithful office assistant Stephanie (Ingrid Bergman) for help in his situation, and she joins in on the ruse pretending to be his wife. The twist here is she really wishes she was his wife. The comedy kicked in here, and both Goldie and Ingrid were fabulous in this. They had great chemistry with each other, and also just had these delightful personalities that were enjoyable to watch. But what on earth did either of these women see in Julian?

8123241078_57a55e9ccf_z

Julian was completely unlikable, and had no chemistry with either women, making the love triangle hard to understand. He seemed terribly miscast, and was way too old to be matched up with a very young Goldie Hawn. I think I would have enjoyed the movie so much more if someone else had been cast as Julian.

Goldie and Ingrid though – fantastic. And Toni (Goldie Hawn) even worked in a record store!

cactus3

Her Rating: Out of 5 stars: 3.5, mostly for Goldie and Ingrid – they definitely make the movie worth watching.

At the night club!

Reality Bites – has it really been twenty years?

tumblr_n56fw9dcaX1rp4397o1_1280

Reality Bites (1994)
Written by Helen Childress
Directed by Ben Stiller

Twenty years is a long time, and in some ways it is staggering to think that it was twenty years ago that I first saw this movie. I was in flux at the time, halfway out of a relationship and halfway in one, in that on the cusp of getting back together place that I would find myself in, over and over again, during my twenties. I was twenty-five, I had a two year old daughter, and I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I wrote a lot in journals, I worked at a record store, I faltered in relationships, and I had some amazing friends.

The halfway out of a relationship boy said I reminded him of Lelaina, especially in the scene in the gas station mini-mart, when Laney and her friends dance to My Sharona. He told me he always felt held back and that we were so overwhelming in energy and enthusiasm, to an embarrassing degree. I suppose I should have listened, that I should have realized that this was part of what I ended up despising, how cold and collected he seemed, how much of his emotions seemed in constant lock down.

I fell for boys like Troy. In the twenty years since Reality Bites, I would find myself falling for the intellectual slacker, the unmotivated musician, the boys who were irresponsible, often addicted, and hopelessly attractive to me. They were full of passion, great in bed, and were the kind of boys that you could have all-night conversations with, night after night after night. They were not good at the real life shit though. They never had money for dinner, or for rent. They were afraid of commitment, or so into everything so fast that they became unhealthily obsessed and jealous. Most of them were weak, not physically so, but emotionally, not one to stand by my side when things got rough, or needed to be faced. Most of them turned out to be nothing but nightmares and heartache.

tumblr_n25b26ftWq1s0ia04o2_1280

And yet, even knowing that now, knowing what most Troy’s are like from first hand, and heart, experience, I still sit here watching, at 45, feeling completely that I would still fall for Troy, that I would still choose Troy, that he is still my god-damn ideal.

original

There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a… a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know… a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle… and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt.” ~ Troy Dyer

I watch Lelaina now, in this end of Summer Saturday afternoon, the weather punishingly hot, and I still relate so much. Under skin that has lines now, and hair that grays quickly, I do not feel all that grown-up, no, so much of me still feels like that 25 year old who was confused all the time, who didn’t know what she wanted to be, or who she wanted to be with. I look in the mirror half expecting to see a younger me, the me that still sneaks into so much of my writing, but instead I see this older woman who resembles her Mother, and her Grandmother.

I’m not afraid of aging, I’m not afraid of age, but I don’t feel much like this reflection that seems to be me. I think I thought I’d really be somebody by the age of 45, and 35, and 25, and maybe even 23. Do we ever arrive at that “somebody” we think we’ll be?

tumblr_mw68msgKly1qarsh8o2_500

I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.” ~ Lelania

Lelaina and Troy’s relationship stayed with me, and always will, as a defining kind of way to live and love. It became a flawed ideal of what I wanted out of love, and in some ways I have found it at times, maybe not with all the elements of it, of their fictional love story, but definitely the sensibility of it. When I sit back and look at it, really take it in, I know I still want a “you and me and five bucks” kind of love. I don’t know how to not want it, no matter how naive it is, or doomed.

Maybe it’s part of why I like to say Troy Dyer ruined my heart.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-14849-1364229741-9

Vickie is more than just the stereotypical best friend character that we see all too often on film, especially in the romantic comedies and “coming-of-age” drama/dramadies. No, Vickie is more than that, she is complex, she has her own goals, her own struggles, her own insecurities, and is far more important to the story than just as a plot device to move Lelania’s story along.

I love her friendship with Lelania, and the moments we get to see this, like in the car, singing together, and at the diner, talking about life and death, and everything in-between. Their love and friendship is believable, and beautiful, and at times reminds me very much of my closest friends, and our friendships.

Watching it now it makes me miss having a best girlfriend close by, the kind you spend so much time with, live with, or might as well live with. I miss having that kind of confidante, someone to drive around with playing music loudly and singing-a-long to. A best friend to share my secrets with, go on adventures with, stay up late drinking coffee and making each other laugh.

Sometimes the worst part about growing-up is growing apart from your friends, or being long distances away from them.

22

Twenty years is a long time, and not so long, as well. I still feel like Lelaina, but I also feel like I’m Laney with some years behind her. I’m still a mess, but I know myself more. I still have vulnerability and tenacity, I still want to create something and be something more than my “job”, and I still am full of flaws, but maybe those flaws are part of what make me creative, and make me me.

And sometimes I just really want to dance around to My Sharona.

Fish Tank :: Lunch and a Movie

hum_filmreel_canister_lg

Lunch & a Movie Series :: Fish Tank 

twod3

Fish Tank (2009)
Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold
Watched on Netflix

Trailer

About the Movie: Fish Tank is an award winning British film written and directed by Andrea Arnold, starring newcomer Katie Jarvis, as well as Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing and Harry Treadaway.

Brief Synopsis: Mia Williams (Katie Jarvis) is a volatile and socially isolated 15-year-old living on an East London council estate with her young, single Mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), and her younger sister, Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths). Mia is antagonistic toward everyone around her, her Mother and sister, her friends, and herself. She is a loner, appearing to have had a falling out with her best friend. The film starts with Mia provoking said friend and getting into a physical fight with another girl who is with Mia’s ex-friend.

Fish+Tank+%282009%29+Official+HD+Trailer+%281%29

Mia often sneaks into an abandoned flat in the building she lives in to practice hip-hop dancing and drink.

Near the estate, Mia comes across a skinny, tethered horse in a trailer camp. She tries to free it twice, the second time being caught, taunted, and assaulted by two young men, the horse’s owners. A third young man, Billy (Harry Treadaway), the brother of the other two, appears more sympathetic, trying to explain that the horse is old and ill, and attempting to offer Mia kindness.

Enter into Mia’s world her Mother, Joanne’s, new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender). He is a charming and handsome Irishman. He drives them all out of town on a day-trip to the countryside, seemingly intent on making a good impression on Joanne’s daughters. He introduces them to his favorite song, Bobby Womack’s cover of California Dreamin’, and teaches Mia how to catch a fish. He asks her to show him her dance moves, the ones he caught a quick glimpse of when he caught her off-guard in Joanne’s kitchen after he spent the night with Joanne for the first time. Mia is abrupt with him, but she complies with all that he asks, and is noticably intrigued by him.

11423229_WT3JE

Connor seems to fill a space in Mia that she’s longed for, sometimes parental, and other times something else entirely. He lets her use his video camera to record her dancing for an upcoming concert, and she opens up to him in spits and spurts. Upon witnessing Connor and her Mother having sex she pulls back from him, becoming abrupt and verbally volatile, but then warms up to him anew when they are alone.

Things happen in the third act that change everything for Mia. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is full of suspense, heartbreak, and action. There are moments here that are so intimate that it almost feels uncomfortable, and intruding, to watch. Not everything is neatly tied up in the end, but there are some resolutions and a feeling of hope for Mia. A near perfect ending, in my opinion.

“Early morning introductions”

Why I chose it: Initially it was due to my friend’s post about the film on her tumblr, and also because I am a huge fan of Michael Fassbender, and find him an interesting and compelling actor (and yes, quite easy on the eyes). I’m also a big fan of stories with a female lead, especially ones by female writer/directors.

My thoughts in three sentencesA realistic, sometimes bleak, always authentic feeling, coming-of-age story about a girl who is both isolated and angry at the world, and who is taking action to change her world in both positive and negative ways. The film is full of imperfect, flawed characters who have moments of beauty and kindness, and moments of ugliness and cruelty, at all times crafted in a way that does not seem like a role or a character or a film, but real people living their lives. The performances are stunning, the film intimate and claustrophobic and thought-provoking and never easily resolved – a movie I have not been able to shake off, or cease thinking about, since I watched it.

fassbender_jarvis_fish_tank1

Best: Mia, in all her sharp edges and soft bits, her bravery and intuitive nature, her mistakes and missteps, her anger and her isolation and her unlikability, and her empathy and hope among the bleak reality of her life. Connor, as well, whose attractiveness and appeal were not missed on me, even if I didn’t want to feel them. I love how the world we see unfold is through Mia’s eyes and perceptions, how that means we don’t always see truths (if there is such a thing) or complete characters in Connor, Joanna, Billy and Tyler, because Mia doesn’t see the complete characters, which was so real and relatable because none of us do in life, especially when we are young.

vlcsnap2011121312h42m55

WorstHonestly nothing was the worst with this film. I mean, of course I would have loved to have learned more of Joanna’s story, and Connor’s. I would have liked to have understood his motivations and his choices, but then again, I appreciate that we aren’t meant to. I really think this film was near perfect.

Rating (out of 5): 5