I am behind on this since obviously we are in May. I was a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of wrapping up two years of life in Albania and start thinking about the future. The movies have kept me grounded. I forget the name of the professor, but in a coursera class he described how through fiction we live out other possible lives and scenarios, testing ourselves and possibilities from a safe distance. In this review I’ve enjoyed being a smuggler, conflicted, a sperm donor restauranteur, a drag queen undercover cop and a hundreds year old vampire polymath.
Smokey and the Bandit
I saw this because Jen insisted. Jason liked it for the car stunts, and it’s enjoyable if you don’t think about how very little there is to an absurd plot.
Based on the life and essays of David Sedaris, Jonathan Groff shines as a young intelligent and well-educated man, who goes out into the world and finds he knows very little about it. A journey of self-discovery, it feel like a collection of Sedaris work rather than a single story line, with multiple situations rolling from one to another and levels of characters revealing themselves to show that people are not black and white.
The Kids are All Right
This movie is not all right.
This film is true Almodovar fashion, a high melodrama concerned with transformation of character and the relationship between parents and their children. Rebeca goes to pick up her actress/singer mother Becky del Páramo from whom she has been estranged, after the latter, freed conveniently by the death of an overbearing husband (supplied by her daughter), returns to Spain after 20 years abroad. Like most Almodovar films the plots are convoluted, as are the relationships between characters. Love is a messy business, and sometimes deadly we find, when Rebeca (who works as a news anchor), confesses on live television to murdering her husband (a former lover of her mother).
[THERE BE SPOILERS]
Recriminations and blame run rampant, but what intrigued me most about this film is the Oedipal/Elektra nature of it. Rebeca is so in love with her mother that she kills her father (or at least, the father figure) to be closer. Of course this doesn’t work, and early on when mother daughter are reunited, Rebeca admits to both loving and hating her daughter. The nature of her complex also is found in her attachment to a drag performer “Femme Letal” (Miguel Bosé) who mimics the early work of del Páramo, who transforms in the film from mother substitute to lover, and fathers a child with Rebeca.
Guilt, love, and absolution are sought by the two lead characters, who both yearn to return to the home. Becky comes back to her childhood home, and in her final act, releases her daughter to transform herself into a mother and create a new home and life.
Only Loves Left Alive
Esther Perel discusses the human need for security and surprise in relationship.
I think her discussion sets up my thoughts on Only Lovers Left Alive quote nicely. She says in her conversation with Guy Raz, that love is an all encompassing experience, leaving no part of ourselves untouched, but when couples enter relationship, at least in Western society, there is a tendency to conflate “partnership” and “friendship”, “stability” and “adventure”. We ask too much of the other and drive them away.
In her talk, she gives insight into how this paradox of love can be managed, and there is no better example I can think of, for a couple that has maintained love and desire, than Adam and Eve, the long-time lovers and protagonist of the film. Their names are evocative of the first couple and this lends to their tale of two people who individually are wonderfully complete characters with passions, and interests, beauty and wisdom that is each their own, living on opposite ends of the world when the film begins, yet even when apart and they complete each other. During an early scene, while in the throes of blood ecstasy, a spinning record fades to an overhead spinning shot of Adam and then of Eve. Like yin and yang (also depicted by Adam’s full black dress to Eve’s pure white).
These two persevere throughout time, maintaing beautiful ritual until interrupted by the chaotic entrance of Eve’s sister Eva, whose actions toss their world into a tizzy. The main crux of the film rests on restoring the balance to their relationship and world, and the audience wonders will they survive and endure. In the final scenes I think there is hope they will.