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Young Adult (2011)
Sad, Mad, and Bad to Be Around: A Pretty Flippin' Good Film
If I could summarize three emotions or thoughts I walked away with after seeing Young Adult, they are: empathy, the familiar recognition of the carnage of life, and moments of dark, simpatico humor.
There are two scenes that stick out for me: 1) When Mavis is at the other end of an act of unkindness from her ex's wife's friend. And, when she thinks no one is watching all the hurt and pain and wretchedness of that recognition is in her eyes and probably everyone has had that moment. And, then she sees Matt watching her with what I like to call "pain recognition". It broke my heart and reminded me of the times you are aware that everyone thinks you deserve to feel bad about yourself. 2) Mavis reveals a painful secret, one that most likely forged, in part, and the direction her life took. And, you see why she left and why, besides Matt and his sister, these are not particularly likable people in Mercury. And, they are certainly no more likable than we are supposed to think Mavis is.
I didn't think Mavis was unlikeable at all. I thought she was someone who had some problems that no one was around to help her with in Minneapolis. And, in Mercury she found an unlikely support system, people seemed to care, or at least understand her, far more than her own family: Matt and his sister, Sandra.
The person I watched asked me what I thought happened to Mavis. I said "She isn't going to be a different person; but she might forge a slightly different future for herself." Even if that isn't the case, I knew she would never go home and she wasn't going to forge a future in Mercury. Kind of a rite of passage in the midst of a breakdown. It happens. And, that's why I liked this film.
Charlize, Patton, and Collette, and (frankly Dolce :)) all brilliant.
The Debt (2010)
Go See This Film...Now
I went to The Debt because I had seen the trailers ages ago and was instantly telling myself I wanted to see this film. Not to be reminded about one of the ugliest of human stains in world history; not because I wanted to think about images in a WWII documentary I happened to watch unattended at an adult party when I was seven years old and will never forget (but, I try); not because I wanted something to feel bad about.
I went because of the reviews, the trailer, and Helen Mirren, and pretty much the entire ensemble of brilliant actors. It was a bit slow starting according to my companion, and some of the initial flashbacks left one a little confused, and then once the story started when the Mossad agents were in Germany to track down and bring the "Surgeon of Birkenau" to trial, I was so glad it was a reminder film. That no one will ever fully understand what drives a nation and group like the Mossad to do what they do. This made me understand a little bit more.
This was a very tragic, thoughtful film with the embodiment of the mortal coil and well worth watching and thinking about. Helen Mirren and Jessica Chastain as the young Rachel were so good. Give Mirren another Oscar already. And, the men, including the "Surgeon" who I wanted to kill myself, were all so very good in this.
I don't agree the film lagged at the end. In fact, it left you wondering, questioning, the twist was unexpected, and I am glad, despite the lingering tears in my eyes as I write this, that I saw it. My fellow cinematic partner agreed as well. Go see this film. You won't forget it. And, we really shouldn't ever forget it.
The moral ambiguity of greed - an honest examination
I haven't seen a film in a theater for over 12 years. It is interesting the two films I have actually gone to a theater to see involve George Clooney. This film is the mirror that the United States citizens might not want to look into. But, once you stare into it, you can't look away. Every sub-plot, every actor gives nuanced, subtle, and powerful performances. The underlying tragedy and sense of doom you feel for some of the characters, actually made me cry. At the same time, it is intelligent, with moments of humor in the midst of all of the ugliness of utter greed, and again a strange sorrow about humanity in general pervade. I loved Good Night and Good Luck, but I would be hard pressed to choose between these two films. Kudos. I haven't seen films like this in years.