grrgoyl: (Jayne momma's boy)
[personal profile] grrgoyl
Today is No TV Tuesday, a new concept proposed by Tery to get us out of the rut of eating dinner and watching TV every single night.  Her thought was reading quietly together with music in the background (Pandora.com, where you can put in your current favorite bands and create a custom radio channel that plays only similar music).  I convinced her a laptop (and blogging) doesn't qualify as a TV.  So far we consider it a smashing success.  I just tried to suggest an All Sex Sunday, which went down in flames.  Poop.

~*~

The day shift at the hospital doesn't seem to grasp the idea of recycling.  Specifically, every weekend I'm greeted by the sight of a towering stack of cardboard boxes, still in their original shapes.  I attacked them, grumbling to myself as to why these people can't figure out that if you break them down, they're easier to stack and carry.  Then I realized that these boxes originally contained Wisk liquid detergent bottles and the edges were super extra reinforced, and that the day shift is for the most part made up of 4 foot 5-inch pixie elves with the upper body strength of a bowl of linguini.  I tore the boxes apart easily, but there was no reason they couldn't have used a pair of scissors or a knife.

I shouldn't complain.  Tery told me one of them, a little 20-something, actually said she'd heard on the news that the recycling facilities were overwhelmed!  They couldn't keep up and were just throwing the overflow away!  They were asking people to cut back to help them out.  Tery told her to go back to Fox News and get out of her face. 

Yes, recycling is a pain.  Sure, things were much simpler when we just threw everything away.  Most aspects of life used to be much simpler.  But times are changing and the world is facing some very serious problems.  Do these kids not see we're trying to take steps to save the world for their sake?  That soon, in the not distant at all future, these will be their issues to deal with?  Tery and I both blame this attitude on the up and coming generation who seem to have become accustomed to having problems solved for them.  Or Tabby, who just doesn't care if they're left with a burnt-out cinder to live on.  Until, you know, it actually happens.

Their laziness is astounding.  I found three cans of dog food sitting open in the fridge, which wouldn't be a huge deal if we didn't have an enormous plastic bag full to overflowing with dog can lids.  Literally the work of 1/16th of a second to step to the side and get one.  I left a note in the communication book, "Why are there uncovered cans of food in the fridge when we have 6,000 lids?"  A smartass left the response,"Ummmm, because no one put one on them?  Haha."  Ha ha.  Laziness is HI-LAR-IOUS.  Only slightly funnier than half-full cans of food rendered dry, crusty and inedible.  Then bitch and whine about how Tery can't afford to give anyone a raise because of all the discarded food, among other wasteful practices.    I fucking can't stand these stupid entitlement queens who can't see a cause-and-effect relationship to their actions (or lack of). 

~*~

Enough of them.  Another weekend in pursuit of Oscar nominees (this time with the actual list in hand).  Four, to be exact, if you count Tery enduring The Dark Knight to make an informed decision about Best Supporting Actor (she was impressed with Heath, but felt as I did about the length and the interminable-seeming number of climaxes.  While we're on the subject, my sister doesn't feel his Joker was necessarily an Oscar-worthy performance.  Neither do I, necessarily, however, Brokeback Mountain was and this is their last chance to make it up to him.  If you think Oscars are given solely on the strength of individual movies, think again). 

First was Doubt:  Poor Sister James (Amy Adams) -- all she wanted was the simple life of a nun, teaching children, living a sheltered existence in the cloister and avoiding a man's touch. 

But her boss, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), is a raving bitch on wheels.  EVERYTHING is a stepping stone to sin:  Hair barrettes, sugar in tea, even Frosty the Snowman.  She'll have none of this modern progressive thinking such as students touching the teacher's arms to get their attention.  And now she's turned her naturally suspicious and cynical eye on Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman -- who has inspired a whole category of Oscar party game --  Fill in the missing name:    James Jones.  Michael Duncan.  Daniel Lewis.  Evan Wood.  Jason Leigh.  Night Shyamalan (okay, that was too easy).)

The case against Flynn is pretty circumstantial.  He's taken an obvious shine to Donald Miller, the one and only black student and the most in need of a protector.  Donald is summoned out of class to the rectory, returning with wine on his breath and appearing distraught.  And pretty much that's it.  Kind of flimsy.

Not to Sister Aloysius.  She is unshakeably convinced something unspeakable is occurring, which made Tery and I speculate just how common it was back then (1964).  The accusation is brought up couched in such vague terms that we'd probably be confused if not for the current very public scandal, yet everyone seems to know what's being said.  Sister James is horrified.  Sister Aloysius is contemptuous of her naivete.  Father Flynn naturally protests his innocence, for all the good it does him. 

His case isn't helped when Aloysius meets with Donald's mother (Viola Davis, who I think impressively earns the nomination based on this one scene), who tearfully makes mention of how the boy's father would kill him for "this" (his implied homosexuality -- "the boy's nature") and begs her to drop it.  To Tery and me, this turned the whole thing on its head:  Was Father Flynn merely acting as a role model for a boy coming to terms with his sexuality?  Not that that would exonerate him either back then.

There's a lot made of windows left open, which enrages Sister Aloysius (well, she gets mad at wind blowing, so take that for what it's worth).  It's done often enough that we started to wonder what it was meant to represent.  Tery thought perhaps it was the winds of change, and/or the outside world trying to penetrate Aloysius' narrow way of thinking.  I don't have anything better than that.

Ultimately Aloysius backs Flynn into a corner, leaving him no choice but to resign.  She states smugly "his resignation was his confession," which of course isn't true; his resignation was to prevent the accusation being made publicly, which would have ruined him whether he was guilty or not.  No actual proof exists one way or the other, leaving the viewer (and admittedly Aloysius in the final scene) full of doubt (I choose to believe he was innocent.  I was swayed by the excellent speech he gives to Sister James about the eagerness of some people to see evil everywhere and spitefully destroy the happiness of others until everyone is as miserable as themselves.  Aloysius in a nutshell). 

All in all a very provocative movie, very taut acting, with a surprisingly at times humorous screenplay.  I'm surprised it isn't up for Best Picture, because it would be Slumdog's first serious competition.  5 out of 5

Second The Reader:  Kate Winslet is Hanna Schmitz, a German trolley ticket puncher who has a steamy affair with law student Michael Berg (David Kross/Ralph Fiennes).  When the novelty of the sex wears off, she has him read his assigned texts to her as foreplay.  I instantly deduced that she was illiterate.  It takes him considerably longer to arrive at the same conclusion (guess deductive reasoning is a little more challenging when you're a hormonal male teenager). 

Fast forward some years, when his class attends the trial of some Nazi war criminals.  To his astonishment, Hanna is one of the defendants.  She and five other guards are accused of locking a bunch of Jewish women in a church as it burned down.  Hanna puzzlingly doesn't seem to comprehend the seriousness of the charge, and confesses to writing the incriminating report rather than admit she's illiterate.  That's when Michael realizes the truth, but protects her secret.  I chose to see his silence as synonymous with the complicit uninvolvement of the world that allowed the Holocaust to go as far as it did.

She goes to jail for life.  Michael doesn't visit her, but starts sending her recordings of himself reading books -- the birth of the audiobook?  She loves them, and in fact uses them to teach herself to read.  I wondered why she didn't do it before then.  It seems to me during a life sentence you've got nothing but time.  Plenty of opportunity to do all sorts of things you never got around to outside.

She comes up for parole, and Michael is her only contact, so it falls to him to help her out when she's released.  He visits her for the first time.  Her face lights up, but his disappointment and maybe even disgust for her crime is written all over his face.  Maybe she sees it.  Maybe she doesn't want to burden him.  Either way, she kills herself in her cell, ironically standing on a stack of books she can finally read. 

She bequeaths her only thing of value, a tea tin full of about 6000 marks, to the daughter of the sole survivor from the church.  Michael delivers it and the woman is actually very well off now.  She has no use for the pittance of money, but keeps the tin, which is similar to the one that had been stolen from her in the camps.  The End. 

It wasn't a bad movie, just not as good as some of the other contenders for Best Picture.  We're perplexed why Kate is in the Best Supporting Actress category for this, unless she's considered supporting David Kross.  Have they blurred the lines between actor and actress?  I commented that if you want a nomination, you can't go wrong with a movie either about the handicapped or the Holocaust.  If they could find evidence of someone developmentally delayed in a concentration camp, it might be a slamdunk.  3.5 out of 5

Finally, though not at all least, The Wrestler:  Very simple story:  Mickey Rourke is Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a professional wrestler quite a bit past his heyday.  His body is falling apart, he needs heavy duty pain medicine to get through the day, and he can barely afford to pay the lot rent on his broken down old motorhome.  His daughter hates him and his only real companion is a stripper (Marisa Tomei).    He's got one last big bout coming up, but he has a heart attack and the doctor tells him he can never wrestle again.  But wrestling is all he knows, and he realizes the pressures of the "real world" are more difficult to cope with than guys breaking metal chairs on his face.

Don't watch this movie for the plot -- it's simplistic and almost as slow-moving as Benjamin Button.  What makes it compelling is the tiny bits of this man's life which are painted in such exquisite detail by Rourke and director Aranofsky.

Everything about Randy is a study in tragedy.  From his decrepit motorhome to his down jacket held together with duct tape, everything about this man has taken a beating.  His soundtrack is made up of cheesy 80's hair band anthems.  His sole entertainment at home is playing a woefully dated Nintendo game because it features his legendary match with The Ayatollah -- which tells you how long it's been since he was on top.

These things are sad, but it becomes painful to watch Cassidy (Tomei) disabuse him of the idea they have anything beyond a stripper-customer relationship (even though Tery points out they have a lot in common -- they both have careers better suited to younger bodies).  Or when she agrees to help him shop for a gift for his estranged grown daughter, and he's drawn to a hideous lime-green satin jersey that's more appropriate for, well, a wrestler from the 80's.  His reluctance to leave the past, and his glory days, behind is nothing short of heartbreaking.

One thing I loved about this movie was how it revealed how truly fake the wrestling industry is.  Not only do the fighters agree beforehand exactly what moves they'll use, but they mutter directions to each other in the ring.  Even wrestlers that act like sworn enemies go out for beer together afterwards.  Randy smuggles a razor blade in under his wrist bandages to cut himself on the floor to make a hit seem much harder than it was.  Stuff like that that might anger true fanboys to learn, if they haven't already.     

Anyway, he makes a go of it behind the deli counter at his grocery store, but the demanding customers are nothing like the roaring audiences shouting their love for him.  In the end he reschedules the big rematch with the Ayatollah, against the wishes of Cassidy.  During the fight you can tell he made the wrong decision; he starts stumbling, clutching his chest.  He knows he made a mistake, but he won't let the fans down.  He mounts the ropes for his signature high-wire pouncing move.  He balances there, victorious for the last time in his life -- and cut to credits.  Which is the perfect ending.  I didn't want to see him die.  But if he did, he went out in a blaze of glory, not a whimper of obscurity. 

I want to make it clear, I have no love of either Mickey Rourke or Darren Aranofsky.  But I loved this movie.  The way we get so totally inside Randy with barely any words being spoken.  And Rourke, despite being radically transformed from the last time we saw him, still has a shade of that boyish charm of old that makes you really feel for him.  Best Actor unreservedly -- and we spend 40% of the film staring at his back.  5 out of 5 
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grrgoyl

December 2011

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