Daydream Nation is a Canadian drama that was released in 2010. It stars Kat Dennings and was written and directed by Michael Goldbach. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews.
I saw the film first on Netflix, in 2012, and it quickly became a favorite movie of mine.
Daydream Nation (2010)
Written and directed by Michael Goldbach
Movie of the Day
“People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world’s about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don’t need to last forever to be perfect.” – Caroline
A quirky town shadowed with a darkness that is reminiscent of a Stephen King novel “town”, or maybe a darker Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls), or a little lighter/a little less weird Twin Peaks. The town boasts a white-suited serial killer legend and an industrial fire that endlessly burns. Caroline (Kat Dennings), the sarcastic, well-read, whipsmart protagonist has just moved to this town and informs us at the start that this is the year where everything happened.
Caroline played brilliantly by Kat Dennings (sarcastic, well-read and whipsmart is so Kat Dennings jam) is bored, lonely and more than a little lost when she decides to shake things up in her life. She instigates an affair with her young-ish, attractive-ish English teacher (why is it always the English teacher? Played by Josh Lucas), while the resident “misfit boy” (Reece Thompson) in town pines away for her, and tries clumsily to win her heart.
I know, I know, the summary does come off as a bit contrived, and perhaps it is, but the writing, dialogue, and execution is refreshingly realistic, well-written and witty. The teacher/student affair has been done ad-nauseum (including it always being an English teacher), but in this case, we see the teacher’s side of things, what issues are going on with him that fuel an inappropriate relationship, and how both sides of the dysfunction really play out. The “lost boy”, too, is more than he seems, as is his family, especially his single-mom, who teeters on the line of a desperately lonely woman and an aggressively protective mother. Andie MacDowell is fantastic and heartbreaking, as is her “lost boy” son, Thurston, played by Reece Thompson. When Caroline genuinely falls for Thurston, it is not a moment of predictability, it is a real moment of “YES” because you see why it happens, and as a viewer, you are feeling it, too.
The last act of the movie has the most “happenings” (Caroline is right, this is the year when everything happens), and at times is slightly dizzying. It works, though, as the chaos, like everything else in the movie, is believable, and you feel like you are running through it all with the characters. The ending had me teary-eyed and wanting, desperately wanting, for the story to continue; to me, that is the best kind of ending.
Other Kat Dennings films I love: Defendor, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor and Charlie Bartlett.
Musically speaking (and with me, the music matters), Daydream Nation has a great soundtrack (something else I have always loved about indie movies). The soundtrack includes songs from some of my favorite artists, Emily Haines, Stars, Devendra Banhart, and Sebadoh.
“Telethon” by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeletons
Chasing Amy is a rom-com dramedy indie gem written and directed by Kevin Smith. It was released in 1997 and is the third film in Smith’s View Askewniverse series. The movie stars Joey Lauren Adams (who the movie is partly inspired by), Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and of course Jason Mewes (Jay) and Kevin Smith (Silent Bob).
The film won two awards at the 1998 Independent Spirit Awards (Best Screenplay for Smith and Best Supporting Actor for Lee). (from Wikipedia)
Chasing Amy (1997)
Written and Directed by Kevin Smith
Movie of the Day
“Since most of these people are cheering for the home team, I’m going to root for the visitors. I’m a big visitors fan. Especially the kind that make coffee in the morning before they leave!” – Alyssa Jones
I’ve always loved Alyssa (the film’s “Amy”), her spirit, her fluidity, her sense of self, her persona, her humor, and her heart. When I first saw Chasing Amy in the ’90s I remember wishing I could be like her, seeing her as brave and bold in ways, and about things, that I was shy and insecure about.
I feel closer to her now, and was once in a relationship much like the one she is in with Holden, and have had to defend my past before, too – I think she’s such an important female character (is she the first bisexual female film character?) – cheers to Kevin Smith for writing her, and for Joey Lauren Adams portrayal (and part inspiration) of her.
Alyssa is on my list of fictional characters I relate to the most. Not that I share all her experiences (some, but not all), but her way of living and loving, her take on things, and her reactions, I feel completely. This is, and always will be, my favorite Kevin Smith film, one that makes me laugh, cry and feel (a lot).
There is something about this scene, the vulnerability in it, and that moment where you know that what is being opened up will change everything. It could have been terribly cheesy, but it is not, not even at all. To me it is believable, relatable, and painful in that way that when I first saw it I watched it through my fingers, with my hands covering my eyes, dreading what the outcome would be.
I think there is this universal feeling to it. That feeling of falling into an impossible situation, and having it burn you so deeply that you feel there is no way you can keep your feelings inside any longer, and that risk, that utter and complete risk, of telling someone you are in love with them in the face of rejection.
Beyond this scene, there are so many other things I love about Chasing Amy. Alyssa is one of those characters that I relate to on an under the skin level, one of a few that I feel in a visceral way. I love how complex they wrote her friendship with Holden, and her own self-actualized journey, and reality. I love the friendship between Holden and Banky, as well, and the wit and pop culture peppered into a very real love story.
Like most of Kevin Smith’s films, the movie is hilarious, but also heartfelt. He has a knack for making you laugh until you fall over, and also FEEL in big capital letters.
Some movie soundtracks transcend the film they are part of. Though Some Kind of Wonderful is one of my favorite John Hughes’ movies, it’s not among the universally agreed upon “best John Hughes”, not like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 16 Candles, and even Pretty In Pink are. For some reason, Some Kind of Wonderful gets forgotten. Maybe its because it came later, or it could be its lack of Molly Ringwald or any of the so-called Brat Pack. Whatever the reason, it tends to get overlooked.
Some Kind of Wonderful – Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)
The soundtrack might be overlooked, too. It’s hard for me to say, as it’s always been one of my favorite movie soundtracks. It would even be on my list of quintessential albums. The soundtrack to Some Kind of Wonderful is utterly unforgettable, to me. Tied closely with Pretty In Pink, as the best Hughes’ movie soundtracks of all-time.
Released on MCA Records in 1985, the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack features songs by Pete Shelley, Flesh For Lulu, Stephen Duffy, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The March Violets, among others. The soundtrack is full of lesser-known, “alternative” (before the term became a “genre”) bands and artists that have this unmistakable cool-factor. This helped keep the compilation fresh sounding (still is) and not crammed full of stereotypical ’80’s hits that many of us have had our ears over-filled with.
Every song on the soundtrack fit perfectly into the moments and scenes they accompanied in the movie, from the attention-grabbing opening track to the nightclub scene, the kissing lesson/first kiss scene, the climactic party, and finally, the unusual and beautiful cover of the Elvis classic, “I Can’t Help Falling In Love” which starts up at the ending of the final scene, and then plays in full over the closing credits. Every song appears to have been chosen with meticulous precision, acting as part of the scene itself, if not as a supporting character.
The end – Some Kind of Wonderful
The songs on this soundtrack remind me of the “Imports” section in my favorite record stores during my teen and twenty-something years. The bins where I discovered bands and artists that weren’t getting airplay on even the edgiest radio stations of the time. I loved mining for these albums, uncovering new favorites that I would devour, and share with other music obsessive friends of mine. This soundtrack is full of just those kinds of bands and artists.
Furniture’s melancholic “Brilliant Mind” and Flesh For Lulu’s pop-culture laden “I Go Crazy” were my first-listen favorites, when I first bought the album. These were tracks I immediately started including on mixtapes made for myself and others.
I remember thinking it was refreshing to hear a Stephen Duffy song other than “Kiss Me”, and to have other people start finding out who Pete Shelley was. Oh, and The March Violets’ version of The Rolling Stones’ “Miss Amanda Jones” and Lick The Tins rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” quickly became part of my endless collection of best-loved cover songs.
Do you have any favorites from the soundtrack?
Top 5 Some Kind Of Wonderful Songs
1.”Brilliant Mind” by Furniture, featuring David Jacob
2. “Do Anything” by Pete Shelley
3. “I Go Crazy” by Flesh For Lulu
4. “She Loves Me” by Stephen Duffy
5. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Lick The Tins
Let’s head back to the 90’s, to Generation Xers, Slackers, 70’s nostalgia, post-college crisis, friends, lovers, and other complications. To the world of doily dresses, jobs at the gap, pay-phones, gas cards, and god-damn Troy Dyer. Reality Bites came into my life at the most appropriate of times, like the Hughes/Ringwald Movies of the 80’s, Reality Bites happened right when being in my twenties was my reality, and I recognized a lot of myself in Laney, and a lot of my friends, and clumsy relationships in Vickie, Sammy, and Troy. It was both wonderful, and terrible, to be in my twenties in 1994. Writer Helen Childress and Director Ben Stiller, they got it. And the Music, it was the kind that favorite Soundtracks are made of.
Reality Bites (1994)
The Soundtrack to Reality Bites started around the time when RCA Records met with Music supervisor Karyn Rachtman and Ben Stiller three weeks into the Movies filing to discuss ideas for the Soundtrack Album. They finalized a deal and the label opened its roster to Stiller who picked only one band, Me Phi Me.
The Soundtrack was aggressively marketed and five of the Album’s Tracks were on heavy MTV and Radio rotation. Crowded House’s “Locked Out” had its Video edited to include footage from Reality Bites. Also, Ben Stiller directed a Video for Juliana Hatfield Three’s Song, “Spin the Bottle”, which featured Film clips, as well.
The Reality Bites Soundtrack sold 1.2 million units and reached #13 on the Billboard 200. It also earned a #1 Single with Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You).
Reality Bites Soundtrack includes songs by World Party, Squeeze, The Knack (My Sharona featured prominently in one scene from the film), Juliana Hatfield, Social Distortion, and two contributions from Crowded House (Locked Out and Something So Strong, the latter not included on the soundtrack album) in addition to the runaway hit Stay (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb, which earned Loeb the distinction of being the first artist to top the Hot 100 before being signed to any record label.
My Top 5 Reality Bites Songs
1. “Spin the Bottle” by The Juliana Hatfield Three
2. “When You Come Back To Me” by World Party
3. “All I Want is You” by U2
4. “Tempted” by Squeeze
5. “Bed of Roses” by The Indians
The Shape of Water (2017)
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
“If I told you about her, what would I say? That they lived happily ever after? I believe they did. That they were in love? That they remained in love? I’m sure that’s true. But when I think of her – of Elisa – the only thing that comes to mind is a poem, whispered by someone in love, hundreds of years ago: “Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.”
What did I know when I sat down to watch Guillermo del Toro‘s new Film, “The Shape of Water”? I knew there was an unconventional love story. I knew there was a creature. I knew there was a mute heroine. I knew that it was complicated and magical. I knew I might cry. I knew that I’d probably love it because I’m a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro’s work.
What I didn’t know (without spoilers, I promise). I didn’t know that Sally Hawkins was such an incredible actor and that she would steal my heart and literally shine off the screen. I didn’t know that the film was as much about friendship then it is about love. I didn’t realize what a commentary about humanity and society it would be, and how applicable it would be to right now. I didn’t realize how beautiful it would be.
Oh, and the Music. Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack is whimsical, emotional, beautiful, heartbreaking, and beautiful – just like the Film is.
“The Silence of Love” by Alexandre Desplat
I mentioned Hawkins performance, which is radiant and spectacular. There’s more though. Richard Jenkins, one of my all-time favorites, takes us through this world, and story, with humility, with vulnerability, with his heart on his sleeve, and with enormous humanity. Octavia Spencer, who is always amazing, is just that in this. She is strong and unwavering, full of love, and seems to be almost impervious to the racial inequality of the time (I say almost because her eyes show more pain than she lets on).
I love the way that del Toro writes women, and how he presents their sexuality. I love how human and vulnerable, beautiful, and appealing both del Toro and Doug Jones make the “creature”. I admire the unique story, the strong characters, the way everything has a green and grey sheen to it except in very significant moments when bold reds and blues appear. I love that we never know everything. And, I love Elisa and the family she has built, the courage she has, her beauty and heart, and how she doesn’t need to speak to say so much.
I love that the misfits are the heroes, have the most heart and humanity, and love big. And that they become family to each other.
Michael Shannon is tremendous in this, even if I despised his character and shuddered at so many things he did. He really did portray the perfect villain without being vaudeville “boo hiss”, or stereotypical in his performance, and characterization. Michael Stuhlbarg, who I don’t think I’ve seen before, gave a great performance, too. A quiet heroism that was so heartbreaking.
I’m going to end this here because if I write any more I will give away things that I think you should experience yourself, so no spoilers. I will just say go see this. Don’t wait to watch it at home, go take it in on a big screen, lose yourself in it, be a part of this world for two hours and three minutes. You won’t regret it.
The Shape Of Water Trailer
List your favorite television and film theme songs :: MusicListography
courtesy of Music Listography : Your Life In (Play)Lists
(will continue next week with television)
1. Almost Famous
Tiny Dancer :: Elton John
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime :: Beck
3. Lost In Translation
Just Like Honey :: The Jesus & Mary Chain
4. Wild at Heart
Wicked Game :: Chris Isaak
5. Modern Girls
But Not Tonight :: Depeche Mode
6. Reality Bites
All I Want Is You :: U2
7. Pulp Fiction
Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon :: Urge Overkill
8. Take This Waltz
Video Killed the Radio Star :: The Buggles
9. The Breakfast Club
Don’t You (Forget About Me) :: Simple Minds
10. Until the End of the World
Until the End of the World :: U2
11. Donnie Darko
Mad World :: Gary Jules
Lust for Life :: Iggy Pop
13. Velvet Goldmine
Ballad of Maxwell Demon :: Shudder To Think
14. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Last Words :: The Real Tuesday Weld
15. 9 1/2 Weeks
Slave to Love :: Bryan Ferry
16. Daydream Nation
Telethon :: Emily Haines & The Soft Skelton
17. Fight Club
Where is My Mind? :: Pixies
18. Mulholland Drive
LLorando (Crying) :: Rebekah Del Rio
19. Grosse Pointe Blank
Under Pressure :: Grosse Pointe Blank
Into Dust :: Mazzy Star
21. Garden State
Let Go :: Frou Frou
22. Natural Born Killers
Sweet Jane :: Cowboy Junkies
23. Dancer in the Dark
I’ve Seen it All :: Bjork & Thom Yorke
24. Begin Again
Like a Fool :: Keira Knightley
25. Say Anything
In Your Eyes :: Peter Gabriel
26. Pump Up the Volume
Everybody Knows :: Leonard Cohen
27. Valley Girl
I Melt with You :: Modern English
28. On the Edge
Seven Day Mile :: The Frames
Falling Slowly :: Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
30. Rocky Horror Picture Show
Time Warp :: Cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show
Lost Boys (1987)
Written by Jan Fischer & Jan Fischer (story & screenplay) & Jeffrey Boam (screenplay)
Directed by Joel Schumacher
“I still believe”
Last Night (2010)
Written & Directed by Massy Tadjedin
“In the middle of most nights, when I can’t sleep I still replay you.” ~ Joanna
Movies that happen over the course of one night (or one day) are a favorite of mine, as I mentioned in a recent post where I listed my 10 favorites. Also, I am quite a big fan of Keira Knightley, and many (if not all) of the roles that she’s played. So, when I stumbled on the movie, “Last Night”, while searching through movies in one day/one night, I realized Keira is in it, and that I’ve never seen it before.
I’m also a fan of unrequited love, chance encounters, and unpredictable love stories. All that said, I’m not sure that this was any of those, not completely. I could argue that there was unrequited love between Joanna and Alex, but it was definitely not the theme of the film, or what the unfolding of the story was meant to be – at least not from my perspective.
I was severely split on the characters in this film, and the storylines. I would have been perfectly happy to have never met Michael, or had any time spent on his storyline with both Joanna, and Laura. It was Joanna’s story that interested me, and no, not just because Keira played her, but because she seemed more flushed out, more complex, and definitively more interesting. She had a complicated relationship with herself, as a writer, a wife, and an individual. She wasn’t any one thing at all, which is refreshing in a female cinematic character, and made me pause to think…oh, well of course, this is written and directed by a woman.
Alex was also interesting, even though we only really saw him through the eyes of Joanna, and his friend/agent (I think), Truman (yay, Griffin Dunne, please be in more films). Alex was the quintessential one that got away, but he was more than just that past fantasy that we all (or most of us) have, we got to see a bit of his side of it, and that Joanna, too, was his one that got away – maybe in a much bigger, deeper way than he was to her.
There is a moment on the train, towards the end of the film, where I think we really see how Alex feels – and its done silently, through expressions on his face, as he clicks through photographs of Joanna, and flashes on memories he has. There is also a moment with Joanna, as she sits in a window sill quietly crying, that says volumes about her, and how she is feeling about not just Alex, but about her life.
I wanted more of her, and honestly think her husband Michael, and his encounter with his coworker, could have been left out. We still could have understood the conflict and confusion, and doubt, Joanna had about her marriage without meeting him. Also, his story, and his dalliance with his coworker, were too surface and stereotype. There were no surprises there, or complexities (except a glimpse at complexity with Laura, and her being a widow, which I wanted more of), to these characters. They felt predictable, and throw away.
It made me feel that the writer’s heart was really invested in Joanna, and in Alex, and even Alex’s friends, and that flushing out a story with Michael and Laura was just an afterthought.
All criticisms aside, the movie was worth seeing for Joanna and Alex. For them, I would recommend it.
Points for a haunting, romantic, moody soundtrack, too. One I think I may need to own.
Daniel :: Bat For Lashes
Pillow Talking :: Clint Mansell
About a Boy (2002)
Written by Nick Hornby (book) & Peter Hedges, Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Directed by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
“Once you open your door to one person anyone can come in.” Will
Movies adapted from books are a tricky thing, and most often not something I end up enjoying. This is especially true when its an adaptation of a book I love. I go in with so much hope, and typically leave completely disappointed. About a Boy, and honestly, all adaptations of Nick Hornby’s books), seem to be the exception.
Though there are a few minor details I wish they’d done more like the book (mostly just wishing the character of Ellie was more flushed out), overall I loved who they cast, how they paced the film, and how it brought one of my favorite books to life.
Even some of the smallest details, like Marcus and his mother closing their eyes tight while singing “Killing Me Softly”are captured perfectly in this. And the dynamics between Will and Marcus, Marcus and his mom, Will and Marcus’ mom, and later, Will and Rachel, are complex and in-color, and in many ways just how I pictured them while reading (and in some ways more/different than I pictured, in a good way).
Music done well in movies means so much to me. The soundtrack to “About a Boy” is mostly filled with Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) songs and they fit just so perfectly that now whenever I hear any songs by Badly Drawn Boy it is About a Boy I think of.
There is something about his voice, the tinge of melancholy, the jadedness, and the sprinklings of hope, that all just fit. It feels like post-modern folk tales set to song that weave in and out of the plot, and move the story along, sometimes informing the emotion in a scene.
I can’t think of a better choice for the music.
A Minor Incident :: Badly Drawn Boy
Fiona. Though the story really is about Will and Marcus, as the title to both the book and the film suggest, as well as the plotting, the interactions and scenes, it is Fiona that I want to mention here. There are not a lot of representation of depression on-screen, and especially not in a way that doesn’t simplify it, or make it easily fixed, or tied up in the end. Fiona is one of those rare times when a character is shown in more than one dimension, and that one of the facets of her is depression. It isn’t solved, it isn’t given an easy “reason” to be there, it isn’t pretty or fixed at the end, but it isn’t all she is either.
The film doesn’t soften the impact depression has on others, either. You see the pain and fear it inflicts on Marcus, and what the consequences are. And Fiona, you see her struggle in such a real way, to be okay in herself, to be honest, to be a good mother, and to deal with her depression not always in a way that plays well on camera. I truly applaud the depiction of Fiona (and Toni Collete is just fantastic as Fiona – but then again, she is always fantastic.)
As for Will and Marcus, they are, of course, part of what I love about the movie. The awkwardness of both of them, the way they trip over themselves, albeit in different ways, and what they learn from each other is wonderful to watch. Every time I watch the film (or re-read the book, actually) I change my mind a bit on who helps the other more. I think in the end though, they both help each other to grow, to feel a part of something, to be less alone, and to embrace life and love in a new way.
Stealing Beauty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1996)
Monday Soundtracks :: Top 5 Songs
Another movie soundtrack that I wore out playing in the 90’s is the soundtrack to the Bernardo Bertolucci movie, Stealing Beauty. It is trip hop goodness mixed up with some classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Billie Holiday, together the blend is dreamy beautiful.
I miss my CD I had of this, and really need to get another copy soon.
There isn’t a bad song on this. I love them all.
Top 5 songs from Stealing Beauty: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack:
1. I’ll Be Seeing You :: Billie Holiday
2. 2 Wicky :: Hooverphonic
3. Glory Box :: Portishead
4. Alice :: Cocteau Twins
5. I Need Love :: Sam Phillips