Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Everybody's Fine

I was so excited to see an American remake of the Italian movie "Stanno Tutti Bene." Marcello Mastrianni's role as the father would be played by Robert DeNiro, and Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale as the daughters. It's about a widower who goes to see his children and tries to reconnect with their lives, but they all have secrets. It's beautiful and sad, and touching. I remember in the Italian movie all the kids were named after characters in operas.

This new version was definitely sad and touching. I had tears because I felt guilty for not calling my parents. (I dutifully did so the next morning and listened to my dad ramble on about books and tv shows, and allowed my mom to scold me for not feeding my family - even though we were getting late for lessons). Also, you could look at it from the parent's point of view and wonder what do you have to do with your own kids to stay connected over the years.

This movie was just slower and depressing. Maybe it's the American landscape. Taking a bus from one Italian city to another is not a big a deal as taking bus from Chicago to Las Vegas. Acting is very good, but there should be more life to it - maybe better dialogue, maybe less quiet landscape shots?

The ending was nicer I think that the Italian one, as I recall. So, it doesn't totally leave you flat, but more hopeful for reconnections.

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 2010

Now that the healthcare bill has passed, there is much uproar on the net. One of the boards I had read had a post that this was "the saddest day in American history". Really? This is it? The day a parent doesn't have to tell a kid to wait a little longer to get eyeglasses or their teeth fixed? An elderly person decided it was cheaper to buy Depends over the bladder control meds. Where's the dignity in being an American? If I had to truly point to the saddest day it was this month 7 years ago and we learned that "shock and awe" is not really a strategy.

I wrote these poems on March 19, 2003 11:30 pm, as the invasion would begin March 20, 2003 . The first poem is what I imagined it would be like to be an Iraqi in Baghdad, just waiting for the war to start. There were interviews with citizens on the radio - debating whether they would stay or flee. I always wondered about on particular family that stayed. At the time, my daughter was 2 and she'd get frightened by low flying jets from the naval air base. I could comfort her easily knowing it would pass. I don't know what that mom in Baghdad was doing. I usually edit my poems perpetually. This one I kept it unpolished.

We have fear
to pull over our heads at night
to shut out the prying eyes,
the fingers that crawl through the blinds.

We have fear
to protect us from the
Invisible Evil that
may fall from the sky

or hurt as we breathe.

let the fear harden our lungs
so it may not let out the
cries of anguish,
the turmoil we feel inside
should be hidden.

Tell me how one strikes
upon a city
that sleeps.

A city in a stupor
of silence

Do you feel stronger and braver
knowing you have concrete targets?
Had someone thrown the first punch
and you fought back with that awesome
left hook,

I would understand.

I would know where it came from -
a fire inside sparked.

Yet how do you light a fire
when there is only ice in the air?
Sand in your eyes?

We cloak ourselves in answers
knowing what we do not know
but say we do.
Is it all Right?

We will find out tomorrow

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Review: Up In The Air

So, we're catching up on the movies we didn't know anything about during the Oscars. I had heard enough interviews on NPR about this film, so I was quite eagar.
Jason Reitman is the guy who did "Juno" (seen it dozens of times) and "Thank you for Smoking" (also on my list). So right away you know it's going to have a lots of witty dialogue and quirky quiet music. Yes, the characters are witty, yet real and say the truth. Conversations we all have, but never see in a film. The plot and the dialogue are so well-crafted so actors just have to flow with it.

We recognized Anna Kendrick's character immediately - we've all met the eager 23 year old, trying to be taken more seriously than her age, but put into positions where she's limited only by maturity and experience. Vera Farmiga was good, but I wasn't impressed until the twist at the end. So that elevated her performance. I kept trying to imagine the Ryan character with another non-George Clooney actor. But, George really does fit the role of a polished, seasoned exec. He's such a subtle actor too - doesn't have to say a word, but just through facial expressions you know what's going on. That's my favorite type of acting. (Robert Downey Jr does this really well too!!)
And I can't forget that Jason Bateman is in this too -- I see him and I'm 15 again and want him on my locker.

The relevance of the subject matter stands above everything else. Systemic corporate downsizing, living in airports, virtual meetings, texting, and dynamic relationships with people -- if there was a cinematic time capsule, this movie would be a snapshot of our current times. I loved the aerial shots of the cities because that's how business travellers get to know each city. You're not walking down to the historic sections, you'll be going to your hotel and the suburban offices.

I plan to watch this again before we return the DVD just so I can revisit the dialogue and the story development.
Ok fine.. and George Clooney.