"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Escaping or Just Living

I love watching movies. I watched three last night.  When I was little I lived for the Movie for a Sunday Afternoon. Almost any genre was fine with me. I'd watch with other people or alone. When I lived with my first boyfriend, we didn't have cable or Pay TV, so I'd watch movies scrambled. We got TVO, though, and I spent every Friday night watching the foreign film festival until he got home from pick-up hockey. Typically the guys would barrel in as the second feature would be just ending, and I'd be on the couch with tears running down my face shushing everyone, "Just ten more minutes!" Then he and his hockey buddies and I would talk into the wee hours. Once VCRs became standard household fare, and I was no longer the slave of the networks, I was hooked. Now there's Netflicks. Yikes.

I paint, and read, and write, and go for walks. In the summer I bike fanatically. Sometimes I renovate my house. Those all seem like reasonable ways to spend time. Watching movies is somehow embarrassing. I don't tell people I might watch six or seven movies in a week. If I read as many books, it would be impressive. I'm not sure what the difference is. Am I escaping life by watching so many movies or is this just what a particular life looks like?

The movies last night were all highly rated, but I didn't love any of them (NO spoilers): Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Tamara Drewe, and Blue Valentine. They left me depressed.

Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery with gruesome rape scenes and many pictures of mutilated women. I'm not sure why it's so well-received. I found it disturbing. At least the main character was female, smart, and in control of the situation. She doesn't really fit in anywhere either, but she makes a go of it anyway. It's got that. But I'm not sure that makes up for the horrid visuals that I'll never get out of my head. I think I'd prefer the books.

I thought Tamara Drewe would cheer me up. It's light fare, and based on Far from the Madding Crowd. I loved Hardy as a teenager. I saw Tess with Nastassia Kinski when I was 14, then read all his books. Tess was so totally ripped off, and I related to that feeling. Sometimes people just take what they want, then ditch you and look down at you for giving it up. Jerks. I loved Bathsheba too despite her arrogance because she didn't need men the way so many other women I knew seemed to. Well, at least she tried to run her place by herself for as long as she could. The film is similar with the three suitors and a crazy dog, a rock star (named Sergeant) replaced the sergeant, and it ends the same, but it didn't have the same feel to it. Maybe it's my age, but I was more interested in the sub plots of the spurned author's wife and the bored teenagers than the main plot of the new girl in town - and the setting. I would love to live there forever. The spurned wife was really the one managing everything on her own, and the teenagers were engaged in their mischief. Tamara didn't do anything. She's a successful journalist, and she was writing a novel, but she wasn't doing the work to survive the way Bathsheba did at the start of it all. Okay, she was, but she didn't seem to struggle enough for my liking. It all came too easily for her to make her very interesting to me. I think the film was too short and light to capture the feel of the book. Tamara accepted proposals and propositions way too fast to show a truly independent spirit. It was cute, but nothing amazing - along the lines of Notting Hill.

I ended the trio with Blue Valentine - the movie I was most looking forward to seeing. I found it boring and annoying. A couple meets, marries, becomes contemptuous, and divorces. There's lots of fighting - none of it interesting nor poignant. There's a lovely little scene of her dancing while he sings, but it's in the trailer, and that's about it. It's sad and frustrating that people can't figure out how to live and love better. She wants to grow and develop as a person, to do more than just exist, and he just wants to play. She's stagnating with him. But what really bugged me about it was that the entire film took place over six years or so - judging by the age of the little girl, but everyone ages significantly. It's likely just a means to be able to separate the early and later scenes as they go back and forth, but I think they could have come up with something better. Almost everyone gets glasses over those six years, but most bizarre is her dad went from early middle age to needing an oxygen tank. Those were some six years! If you want a really good Ryan Gosling film, see Lars and the Real Girl.

All in all, relationships are hard to do well. Just like in Mr. Nobody, the take home message is make sure both of you are in love before you get going too far. But that's sometimes hard to figure out. Sometimes it feels like you're in love because someone's familiar or comforting or they make you laugh or feel something. And sometimes you're really truly in love and then it all just goes away. Poof. And sometimes it doesn't go away, but you just can't live with them anymore.

But there are moments in there. Moments of pure connection where we feel so understood and listened to and cared about. That's all that there is, my friends.

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