Thursday, June 18, 2009

Misc reviews

Smart People (Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Hayden Church, Ellen Page)

Wow, I stumbled upon this on the Netflix "watch now" online section. Just looking for a comedy the wife might enjoy, but got much more. I throroughly enjoyed this "romantic-comedy" which dared to show some real pain and confusion between the characters. Not only did we get authentic pain and confusion, making me feel physically uncomfortable for a brief moment, but many other qualities you rarely see in a comedy: the protagontist, Quaid's character, in full messy beard, is never completely likeable yet still I cheer for him; they paint Parker up to look less beautiful; Ellen Page gets drunk and kisses her 40 something adopted uncle which doesn't turn sexual; Church is brilliantly repugnant and cuddly.

Slumdog Millionaire

As always wishing I'd seen it earlier while everyone was discussing it but this will have to do. Luckily I waited for my teenage son to catch up to me and then we finished it together--we both will remember this one. Solid movie but I do understand some of the criticisms about the unrealistic nature of the film which was strangely highlighted with the singing and dancing in the streets and airport after it was over. Unimportant item I loved: the announcer's pronunciation of "Who wants to be a Millinare"--I smiled everytime.

Kent Haruf's Where we once belonged.

I love Haruf; his characterization of the Mcpheron brothers in Plainsong and Eventide was superb. And I quite enjoyed this book too, but the ending tore my fucking heart out. I generally do not bemoan depressing books or endings; still this one caught me off-guard. I get it intellectually--the book is about a town football hero who has always taken advantage of the townspeople and so it must end with him reeking havoc to illustrate the sins of the town. But, man oh man, it hurt. Maybe, in my somewhat depressed state I just couldn't face the reality Haruf left me with.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Why I hate graduations

Because they ask you to condense your experience (often years of experiences) into an hour and FEEL it: are you feeling it?

Because they are always caught up with flag waving and thanking our military for our peace—go tell the Iraqis about your fuckin peace. And, btw, what the hell does this have to do with a group of sixth graders moving onto junior high?

Because there is forced kitschy consensus

Because they bring the worst out in many people—a hyper uni-focus on their kid/grandkid, dads tripping over each other to get the right photos with video cams recording every precious moment, and that galling look of pride

Because they always seem to highlight the same kinds of kids: either the talented and extroverted who need no attention OR the sympathy cases like the girl with cancer asked last minute to sing in a trio even though she can’t sing

Because they package life into beginnings and endings, the big events where we pat ourselves and others on the back—of course life is actually a long day to day process with few endings and none we really choose

And lastly because they continue to multiply exponentially—kindergarten graduation, 6th grade graduation with pomp and circumstance and diplomas, one week music camp graduation with trophies, first level piano graduation with graduation photos…

Whew, I'm glad I got that off my chest--lots of downright nasty, pessimistic, cynical feelings on my part. Now I will be ready to face the next kid graduation when it comes. Thanks.

With my luck they will institute "Summer graduation" to start off the new year for all those children who successfully made it through the summer without their parents killing them. They can give awards to any child who did anything other than watch TV and play video games: like eat a veggie, make a bed, fold clothes, read a book, write a poem... And, if the budget allows, they can offer pins to any child who made it to Lagoon more than three times. And trophies, yes trophies, for children who made it up before 9am on 10 or more mornings.

The possibilities are limitless; our futures are so bright with glorious graduations on all the horizons.