Dear Frankie

Dear_Frankie_movie_poster

Last night I watched the movie “Dear Frankie”, a 2004 British drama available on Netflix.  That was the easy part of the “watch a movie” challenge for today – and the hard part is writing about it without giving away the entire plot.  So SPOILER ALERT!  I’m just going to go ahead and give away the entire plot.

Frankie is a 9-year-old deaf and mostly mute boy on the run with his mother (Lizzie) and his grandmother from an abusive father.  Frankie doesn’t know what they’re running from or the truth about his psychotic father (whose physical abuse is what caused Frankie’s hearing loss as a baby) (but we don’t find that out until much later) because his mother has been encouraging him to write letters to his absent da (Davey) and fabricating letters back in which the dad describes his exciting life at sea.

Well, no good can come of this kind of deception in the end, right?   Frankie becomes convinced that his father is taking a break from his exotic adventures and making his way back home to Glasgow, and that he is going to surprise them with a visit.  So Lizzie must make a tough decision: find another way to pacify Frankie’s desire to meet his father or tell him the awful truth.

With the help of a new friend Lizzie concocts a scheme to hire a man to impersonate Davey, and in walks Gerard Butler.  Well.  Who doesn’t love Gerard Butler??  I can’t think of anyone.  Lizzie gives him the letters after he accepts what she can pay him and he agrees to spend a day with Frankie.  Then both of them decide to spend a second day together, this time including Lizzie. It’s awkward, fun, strange, and a little heart wrenching in places.

When Gerard at the end of day two asks her how her husband could ever have left the two of them, Lizzie explains that she is the one who ran away and tells him the reasons why.  Lizzie has all kinds of self doubt about her decisions, saying she has kept up the letter writing thing because it’s a selfish way for her to ‘hear her sons voice’,  but Gerard says he thinks she’s a great mother for protecting her son.  Lizzie and Gerard share a kiss goodbye, and when he walks off down the street (with Frankie waving from an upstairs window) Lizzie discovers he has returned her payment envelopes, slipped into her jacket pocket.

Then Lizzie learns that the real Davey is terminally ill, agrees to visit him, finds out he’s still a complete asshole even though he’s dying and what’s the point, but she has a good enough heart to give him a picture of his son and a note and a picture that Frankie has made for him after being told how ill he is.  The real Davey dies.

Frankie turns out to be a lot smarter than the adults have given him credit for with all their deceit and little white lies.  He writes another letter, this time with the things he says letting his mother know that he has been aware for awhile that the stranger was not his real dad.  He lets them both know he will help his mother to get over her sadness, talks about school and his friends and football, and then closes the letter by saying he hopes the stranger will visit them again sometime.

And that’s how it ends, with Lizzie and Frankie staring off into the sunset.  Well, not really.  They’re sitting at the end of a pier looking out to sea.

Now all you need is a trailer to fill in the blanks and you can say you’ve seen the whole thing since I’ve effectively done it all for you.  You’re welcome.  Watch a movie for me sometime.

For Cin’s Feb Challenge/Witchy Rambles

Making It Better

The Many Sides of Neil Sedaka

The Many Sides of Neil Sedaka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Prompts for the Promptless, Episode 11:  Remake!  To remake is to make anew or in a different form. 

Here is a short list of things that you can remake.  It’s short because this is Friday and nobody wants to read a long list on a Friday.  (Never mind write one, if you want to know the real reason.)

1.  Your bed.  But don’t remake the beds of your children unless you want to risk scarring their little self-confidence psyches for life.  I read that somewhere, but never worried about it myself and remade my kids beds all the time.  Because seriously, what a mess.

2.  Plans.  Even if they are carved in stone.  Just get yourself a new stone.

3.  Lego and Puzzles.  Although if I had my way I would super glue the pieces together and never put myself through that agony again.

4.  Movies.  When there seems to be nothing new under the sun, movie makers start reminiscing about some classic film or other that was immensely popular back in the day and which made a whole shit load of money.  Then they start to believe that with a few changes, they could update, remake and improve upon it.  Plus rake in another whole shit load of cash.  Sometimes they’re right.  Sometimes they are sadly mistaken.

5.  Songs.  There can be as many versions of a song as there are people to sing it and genres of music to set it to.   If we like the original a lot, chances are we won’t be happy with a remake, simply because it doesn’t sound ‘right.’  If we dislike the original, a remake can turn out to be a happy surprise.

In the sixties I loved the original version of Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka, including every single “down-doobey-do-down-down”.  We were heavily into making up nonsensical gibberish lyrics to go with a beat back then.

Then I grew up a little, and so did Neil I guess.  I love this slower, jazzier version of the song even more.  Remakes can be a beautiful thing.

Saturday Night at the Movies

guardians

On the weekend I watched “Rise of the Guardians” with my grandchildren, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I think they did too. The popcorn at any rate was a big hit.

When I was a child I believed in Jack Frost.  I had a teacher who told me if I didn’t stop pouting Jack Frost would come along and freeze my “mad” face and I’d never be able to smile again.  You better believe I took that guy seriously.  So I was a little surprised to be watching a movie in which children didn’t believe in him, even though evidence of his existence was everywhere in the magic of their winter fun.

What a great cast of characters!  All apparently chosen by the Man in the Moon.

Nicholas St. North, Guardian of Wonder (aka Santa Claus) has a very strong Russian accent, and Yetis working for him.

E. Aster Bunnymund, Guardian of Hope (aka Easter Bunny) is six feet tall and has an Australian accent.

The Tooth Fairy, Guardian of Memories, collects children’s teeth, which hold their most precious memories.

Sandy, Guardian of Dreams (aka the Sandman) doesn’t speak, but communicates with sand images above his head.

Pitch Black, the Nightmare King (aka the Boogeyman) the essence of fear –  because every story needs at least one villain.

Jack Frost, eventually to become Guardian of Fun, if he can just get somebody to believe in him.

It’s a simple story with a lot of tense situations caused by the Boogeyman, who wants to stop children from believing in anything except him and his nightmares.  It was especially sad when it looked like he destroyed the Sandman, but don’t worry, he came back.  Hope that doesn’t ruin the suspense for you.

And of course there’s a lovely happy ending, with the Boogeyman banished back under the bed.  Kids can still believe in him, but if they don’t fear him, he has no power over them.  And if they believe in the Guardians, they will always be there to protect them.  How totally awesome is that.

At the end we all picked our favourite guardian – Omayja loved the tooth fairy, Corey liked Jack Frost, Madison thought Santa was the best even though he was kind of mean. (Or maybe because he was mean, I’m not sure.)   Kale might have said the big rabbit, because he’s eleven and was playing computer games the whole movie and pretending not to listen and therefore declined to comment so I’ve made that assumption for him.  And I liked the Sandman because he was so lovely and quiet.

So there you go, it’s a movie with something in it for everyone.

Liberal Arts Movie Review

liberal arts

Watched this on Netflix the other night and was pleasantly surprised by some excellent casting and a feel good story with a better ending than anticipated.  There were some funny parts and some thought provoking moments.  Movie watching doesn’t get much better than that.

Cast/Synopsis:

Jesse (Josh Radnor) introverted and uninspired 35-year-old admissions officer at a school in New York, recently dumped by his latest girlfriend, is invited to speak at a retirement dinner in Ohio for a former college professor.  He goes back to this nostalgic place where his life held the most passion and promise to face some truths and revelations about himself.  He encounters some influential people in his quest for connection and meaning in his life.  (Josh Radnor wrote the screenplay, by the way.)

Peter Hobert (Richard Jenkins) the retiring professor who is second guessing his retirement. (Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.)

Judith Fairfield (Allison Janney) One of Jesses favourite teachers – brilliant, but cold, cynical, and condescending.  (Put some armour around that gooey little heart of yours.)

Nat (Zac Efron) free spirit visiting a friend, killing some time, navigating life at university on his own terms.  (Don’t say no – fortune never smiles on those who say no.)

Dean (John Magaro) intelligent but angst ridden undergraduate student, always with his nose in a book, seen as a younger more self-destructive version of Jesse himself, depressed and suicidal.  (I kind of just wish this would all be over with as soon as possible.  Why did you love it here so much?)

Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) seemingly wise beyond her 19 years, embarks on a relationship with Jesse.  (Age is a stupid thing to obsess over. What if reincarnation is real, huh? Think about that – what if I’m like thousands of years older than you?)

Ana (Elizabeth Reaser) the clerk in the bookstore back home who has been patiently waiting the entire movie for Jesse to finally notice her. (I want to be an old lady with long, gray hair in a ponytail….and I want a really, really wrinkly face….and a small house, maybe by some water. I think getting old could be really nice.)

Warning:

This film contains classical music and references to great works of literature.  And no real violence or nudity or bad language.  So I guess it’s not for everyone.

Why You Should See It Anyway:

All the acting is good, but Elizabeth Olsen shines.  We get to look at life from the points of view of three different age groups.  Zibby wants to rush forward into her future, Jesse looks back in order to find out how to move forward, and Peter finds himself looking back and wondering what happened, regretting that there is no going back.

Best Quote:

Zibby:  I sometimes feel like I’m looking down on myself. Like there’s this older, wiser me watching over this 19-year-old rough draft, who’s full of all this potential, but has to live more to catch up with that other self somehow. And I know I’ll get there. It’s just sometimes I think I want to rush the process, you know? And I don’t know, maybe – maybe I thought you were some sort of shortcut. Does that make any sense?

Jesse: If I wrote you, I would be like, “This is the best rough draft ever.”

The Book, the Movie, the Movie, the Book

silver linings booksilver linings movie cover

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick.  And I’m glad I didn’t have Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro in my head when I did it.  Whenever a book is made into a movie it’s easy to be disappointed in one of them, probably influenced the most by wherever we begin.  Books make me want to see the movie, and movies make me want to read the book, and then the comparisons from one to the other keep me awake at night.  Okay, not really.  Mostly it’s just mildly entertaining thinking about our dissimilar thought processes and how differently things can be interpreted and how something can be dissected and twisted to end up with a wildly divergent result and a new meaning that never would have crossed my mind.  And then I can make up ridiculously long sentences about the concept.

This book was a brilliant look inside the head of a man with a lot of mental issues, and the story is told almost exclusively from his point of view.  Pat has lost what he thinks is only a few months (but turns out to be four years) of his life in “the bad place” spending “apart time” from his wife Nikki.  He is back living with his parents and working hard on continuing to improve everything about himself so there will be a reconciliation with Nikki and his own personal “movie” will have a happy ending.  He is obsessed with working out, has a therapist who shares his love of football, freaks out whenever he hears Kenny G, and is being pursued by Tiffany, who may be even more messed up than he is. His father mostly ignores him, his mother dotes and smothers, and his brother and best friend just want him to snap out of it and be normal.  It’s obvious to the reader that Pat is not going to get the silver lining/happy ending he’s counting on.  But he’s easy to root for, and endearing in his struggles.

I have not seen the movie in its entirety, but I’ve watched enough trailers and scenes and clips to know there are a myriad of differences.  For one thing, Robert De Niro has more lines in one snippet than Pats father had in the entire book.  In the book we see the world according to Pat.  In the movie we get to see it from somewhere else entirely – not just our own perspective but that of the screen writers and the director and the actors themselves.  It looks to be very different, but I don’t know how it could be otherwise.

This could be a first, where I’m less likely to prefer one over the other, but able to enjoy both for whatever diverse and peculiar reasons. Maybe the whole comparison thing in this case is just a silly waste of time.

Everything Will Be All Right in the End

…if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end. (Sonny, Dev Patel)

Daily Prompt:  Silver Screen – Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!

the-best-exotic-marigold-hotel

I really have come to loathe the word “favorite” because it is so limiting.  There is no one single movie that is my favorite, but there are many that I like for a lot of very different reasons.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is the movie I watched most recently, which was last night on Netflix.  It stars Judi Dench.  That in itself is reason enough to see it.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. (from Rotten Tomatoes)

Evelyn (pronounced Eve’ -lin) has so many quotable lines it was impossible to choose only one.  So here’s a few of the best.

The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we all must.

Initially you’re overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist, and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side.

There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.

Great acting, beautiful scenes of India, some funny stuff and some wonderful ah-hah moments for several of the characters.  Predictable?  I suppose so.  But thoroughly enjoyable anyway.

Where Do We Go Now (the Movie)

where do we go now

Where Do We Go Now is a great movie to watch if you like foreign films and don’t mind reading sub-titles through the whole thing.  Or if you understand Arabic.  (I’m assuming that’s the language they are speaking in this small village in Lebanon.)  Sub-titles don’t bother me at all (since I’m slowly going deaf) especially when it comes to making out some of the dialogue in movies.  So I almost always turn on the English sub-titles even when the movie is in English.  Otherwise I’ll have the volume up loud enough to break other people’s ear drums.

I suppose in part this movie is a sort of light-hearted exploration of religious tension. The setting is a small village where a church and a mosque stand side by side and the villagers are either Muslims or Christians.  And half the time I had no idea which was which.  Their country is in turmoil with fighting amongst religious zealots, so there is the potential for violence in their small community.

The women are tired of losing sons, husbands and fathers in previous flare-ups and decide to join together to try to distract their men from fighting.  They fake a miracle, destroy the only television in the village so no one can watch the news, hire some scantily clad Eastern European strippers, spend a day baking with drugs so that all the men at one point end up stoned.  There’s a lot of funny stuff.  But there’s also some harsh scenes, some romance, a tragedy, and some great music.

The over all message I think is simply to show us that war is futile.  All the fighting ultimately solves nothing.   It’s possible and preferable to peacefully co-exist despite our differences.  Yes, all those things we already know but find so hard to put into practice.

Sweet Land, the Movie

SweetLand

Let us hope that we are preceded in this world by a love story.  That’s a rather beautiful sentiment, isn’t it?

This is the synopsis from IMDb:

When Lars Torviks grandmother Inge dies in 2004, he is faced with a decision to sell the family farm on which she lived since 1920, or cling to the legacy of the land. Seeking advice, he turns to the memory of Inge and the stories that she passed on to him.

Inge arrives in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a young Norwegian farmer named Olaf. Her German heritage and lack of official immigration papers make her an object of suspicion in the small town, and she and Olaf are forbidden to marry. Alone and adrift, Inge goes to live with the family of Olafs friend and neighbor Frandsen and his wife Brownie, where she learns the English language, American ways, and a hard-won independence.

Inge and Olaf slowly come to know each other, and against the backdrop of endless farmland and cathedral skies they fall in love, a man and a woman united by the elemental forces of nature. Still unable to marry, they live together openly, despite the scorn of the neighbors and the disapproval of the local minister. But when his friend Frandsens farm is threatened by foreclosure, Olaf takes a stand, and the community unites around the young couple, finally accepting Inge as one of their own. 

I also read, after watching the movie, that most of the Norwegian and German (which of course sounded fine to me) was made up by the actors during filming and is complete gibberish with terrible accents.  I guess that’s why there’s no sub-titles for those parts!  And if you’re paying any kind of attention at all you will notice that Inge and Olaf harvest a gigantic field of corn and when they get it back to the barn it turns into wheat.

Oh well.  It’s a love story.  The details don’t really matter.  I think Elizabeth Reaser is amazing in this. You can skip to part four for the trailer, because if you play all six parts of this YouTube video, you won’t have time to watch the actual movie!  I’m still going to recommend it though.  It isn’t perfect, but there are beautiful scenes that will stay with you for a long time.

Jane Fonda is Peace and Love

Yesterday it snowed and melted and snowed some more.  When I drove home from work the roads were icy, dry, and icy again.  Mostly the ice was at stop lights and around road curves of course, so the going was slow.  And it unnerved me just enough to decide venturing out again, even three or four blocks to go out for something to eat, just wasn’t worth it.  Never mind sliding into someones bumper from behind, I don’t want to slip and fall on my butt in a parking lot either.

So what to do with a quiet couple of after-work hours (before reading myself into oblivion) while W watches sports on tv?  By the way, I’m not totally out of the sports loop.  I’m cheering for the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.  And no, I haven’t watched a game yet, but when it’s closer to the end I’ll probably get sucked in like everybody else.  If there’s a contest for world’s worst sports fan, I’m a contender.  Meanwhile, time to check out new arrivals on Netflix.

And this is the delightful movie I decided to watch;  Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, starring -


Chace Crawford (Cole), Elizabeth Olsen (Zoe), Jane Fonda (Grace), Catherine Keener (Diane), Jeffery Dean Morgan (Jude), Marissa O’Donnell (Tara) and Nat Wolff (Jake).  Do I pay attention, or what??

The story is predictable (not just somewhat contrived) fun, with great casting.  I cannot imagine anyone but Jane Fonda as the beautiful Grace, stuck in the ’60’s forever.  Diane is an uptight New York City lawyer whose equally uptight lawyer husband tells her he wants a divorce.  She packs up her teenage kids and goes off to visit her estranged (for 20 years) hippie mother at her farmhouse in the countryside near Woodstock.  It turns into a summer adventure of romance (for all three of them).  They attend a war protest and a music festival, participate in some moon howling, learn a few family secrets, and make some very clichéd self discoveries.

Perfect.  I wanted some mindless diversion, and this delivered. I don’t care that the movie got less than rave reviews – every movie doesn’t have to be some powerful statement about some controversial event.  Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding is harmless fun with a delightfully happy ending.  Good for the hippie soul.