Wearing Your Insides on the Outside

My lovely daughter and I have been catching up on some movie watching.  She had her wisdom teeth out a week ago so we have had a lot of bonding time.  That’s a polite way of saying she’s been lying on the couch while I cater to her every whim and invent new and exciting ways to blend food into something edible by a person who most closely resembles Fat Bastard.

As I scanned through the online movie listings for the fifth day in a row, I realized why the movie business is in trouble – most of the movies out there truly suck.   And I don’t mean that they are just not to my somewhat eclectic taste, I mean they are really and truly bad.   They can introduce VIP movie theatres and fancier seating all they want, it won’t get me past paying $12 bucks for crap.  The only thing that might help is the recently approved sale of drinkies at movie theatres (a new and wondrous concept in Canada)  – a few bevvies might make some of it bearable.  But then again . . .drinking bad beer and worse wine while watching the latest schlocktacular – nah, I’m just going to vote with my dollars and skip the whole process.

But if you are prepared to put in some time looking there are some real gems that are intelligent, quirky and interesting.   There are no car chases, no-one gets blown to bits and if you can catch them at a theatre it definitely won’t have stadium seating an massive screens.   But the reward will be a story that stays with you for a long time.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World:  Steve Carell and Kiera Knightley.   An asteroid named “Matilda” is going to destroy the Earth in three weeks.  What would you do?  Take a road trip with a perfect stranger?  Or a stranger who is perfect?  As people stop going to their jobs and indulge in “take no prisoners” lifestyle choices, law and the social order breaks down in predictable,  violent and often pathetic ways.  The smallness of people’s imagination when faced with their last days never ceases to surprise me.  Out of that comes the friendship between two strangers who go on a roadtrip to find his long lost high school sweetheart.   Great music, to be expected from director Lorene Scafaria who wrote the screen adaptation for Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, adds to the treat.   With the looming end of the world (according to the Mayan calender) in December, I am most heartily glad I will be putting my time to excellent use in New Orleans!  I can’t think of a better place to be for the (putative) end of the world.

Safety Not Guaranteed:  Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass.   The world is not coming to an end in this inspired original set in Oregon, but time travel just might be involved.   A jaded magazine writer takes two interns along with him when he is assigned to investigate a classified ad placed by someone looking for a companion to join him in a time travel experiment.   Various skills are required, but “safety is not guaranteed”.  Sci-fi, comedy, romance all rolled up together into a funny, touching and beautifully nuanced movie.  Multiple threads push the story forward while the characters develop into people you can completely identify with.  And you can never quite figure out if the time travel storyline is sci-fi or just plain gonzo-ness.   Another delicious piece of quirky entertainment from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine.

Hysteria: Maggie Gyllenhall and Hugh Dancy.  I’m outing my predilection for English movies, they have a sense of humour that most American movies just can’t touch.   Have you ever wondered how the vibrator was invented?  Yes, that vibrator!  In Victorian England, the male medical establishment believed that women (at least those of proper birth) could not “experience pleasure”.  Not surprisingly, they also suffered from a proliferation of nervous complaints grouped under the misnomer “hysteria”, which was believed to be caused by “a wandering uterus”.  Dr. Dalrymple the owner of the best women’s clinic in London, develops a manual “pelvic massage” treatment complete with stirrups, red velvet draping and scented oils that relieves their symptoms.  When he takes on the young and handsome Dr. Granville as his partner, there is soon a line up out the door for “treatment”.  The unfortunate Dr. Granville develops carpel tunnel syndrome from the “treatments”.  Faced with patient complaints about his waning abilities, with the help of a friend he converts an electronic feather duster in the first vibrator.   A hilariously funny and  relevant movie about women taking control of their own bodies and pleasure.    Premiered at  TIFF 2012.

Silver Lining Playbook:  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.  Set in Baltimore and Philadelphia, the film opens with Pat Solitano’s release from a mental institution where he has been sentenced for an act of violence and treated for bipolar disorder.  Pat’s release might have been a bit premature, especially as he has to live with his parents and his father, played faultlessly by Robert De Niro, suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  It’s not a smooth homecoming.  Pat is trying to reconcile with his wife, but it’s tricky given the restraining order.  He meets Tiffany, the troubled daughter of neighbourhood friends and she offers to help him but only on the condition that he helps her with her dream.   A brilliant story that includes the family obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles and gambling, a hilarious tail gate party and a “silver lining” ending.  I loved this complicated, warm, uplifting story from beginning to end.  And another fantastic soundtrack featuring the Alabama Shakes and a gem from Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.  Gala presentation at TIFF 2012. 

Girl from the North Country  – Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.  I included the lyric because I loved it so much.

Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she’s wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin’ winds.

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That’s the way I remember her best.

I’m a-wonderin’ if she remembers me at all.
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.

So if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

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