Things have been tough lately for Amelia. Her best friend moved out of the apartment, her cat got cancer, and now her best friend, Laura, is getting married. She copes with things, from the... See full summary »
Two families, sort of neighbors in Manhattan, cross paths as they navigate marriage, parenthood of a teen, ennui, a first date, and end-of-life care. Rebecca and Mary are sisters; their cranky 91-year-old grandmother's neighbors, Kateand Alex, run an upscale retro-furniture business, and will expand into her flat after she dies. Rebecca is quiet, without a boyfriend until a patient at the clinic where she works introduces her grandson. Mary is acerbic, stung by a recent breakup. Kate looks for meaning in her life, wondering if she should volunteer. Alex, too, is at loose ends. Their daughter, Abby, has zits and teenage moods. What does it mean to be good? Written by
Kate is shown reading a book, 'Assassination Vacation', by Sarah Vowell. That author appears in a brief but credited role as a shopper. The actress playing Kate, Catherine Keener, is also a featured voice in the audio book of 'Assassination Vacation'. See more »
And now we're two people walking around with shit in a bag. I mean... I mean, what if we didn't have dogs with us, and we were doing that? That would be disgusting. But, because we have dogs, it's normal.
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Greetings again from the darkness. If not for a friend's recommendation, I probably would have avoided this one on the basis of writer/director Nicole Holofcener's last film, Friends with Money. I found that to be a miserable film filled with miserable people. This one, on the other hand, is a wonderful film filled with miserable people!
OK, that is a slight simplification, but it is an extremely well written story that showcases the imperfections of people, social situations and society as a whole. Sometimes it seems the harder we try, the worse things turn out. Such is the life of Catherine Keener's character. She and her husband (Oliver Platt) run a furniture resale shop. She carries this enormous burden around because they stock the store by buying cheap from grandchildren stuck with death's aftermath ... and then reselling to arrogant metrosexual types who live for kitsch and cool. Keener spends her time trying to scrape off the guilt by doling out money and doggie bags to the homeless.
There are many interesting characters in the film and this always adds to the fun. Rebecca Hall (uptight Vicky from Vicky Cristina Barcelona) plays the dutiful granddaughter taking care of her 90 plus year old monster granny played colorfully by Ann Morgan Guilbert. Many will remember Ms. Guilbert as Dick Van Dyke's neighbor in the early 60's sitcom. Her key job in the film is to get closer to dying so that Keener and Platt can take over her apartment and expand - the ultimate dream for a NYC resident. Hall's character is the budded flower - the one just waiting to bloom as soon as the rain hits (granny dies).
The mean-spiritedness of the grandmother is matched only by the vile spewing from Amanda Peet, Hall's less than caring and trustworthy sister who is obsessed with tanning ... and the girl who "stole" her boyfriend. Peet's character often just says what she is thinking which adds dimension to most conversations! There are some terrific scenes and moments and characters in the film, but the best written scene is the dinner party. Keener and Platt invite Hall, Peet and Guilbert over in an guilt-easing attempt to be civil while waiting for Granny to kick the bucket. The scene takes on an entirely new life when Keener/Platt's daughter makes an appearance. Sarah Steele plays Abby as a smart, insightful teenager. Oh, and she is also mad at the world and bitter about her complexion and slightly pudgy build (which makes finding the right jeans a quest). The whole scene is one uncomfortable statement or moment after another. Beautiful to watch.
I could go on and on about the intricacies of the characters and their relationships with each other and outsiders, but what matters is that the film is well written and well executed. It is not some sappy, save the world rom-com, but rather a character study of what goes on in real life and in real moments. Plenty of humor, but also plenty of truth. Amazing how often those two go hand in hand.
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