THE INTERIOR LIFE OF A SOUTHERN FAMILY — A REVIEW

I first saw this movie years ago and loved it.

What I enjoy most about this film is how the sleepy, seemingly unchanged Southern way of life comes apart slowly for this family…and then comes together again in a new version.

The movie opens with scenes of moonlight on water, and from there, we are gifted with wonderful moments that spotlight a relaxed and comfortable way of life.

Youngest daughter Lucille seems like an old soul, taking care of her father after her mother leaves them unexpectedly. I get a sense of how she wants everything to stay the same and fights for the permanence of the life she has envisioned.

But none of the family members stay the same. The father, Warren (Albert Finney) gradually begins to move beyond the four walls of the old family home, perfectly portrayed with spreading verandas and live oak trees surrounding it. His new woman friend (Piper Laurie) is like a breath of fresh air.

Meanwhile, his wife Helen (Jill Clayburgh) has moved into an independent life, one that allows for change.

When oldest daughter Rae comes home with a new husband, and announces her pregnancy, another change is forced upon them all.

Another favorite scene is when Rae, her husband Billy, and Lucille go out to a night club owned by a friend (Alfre Woodard), and Rae gets up to sing. Her husband is stunned. He knew nothing about this version of Rae.

In fact, the themes of this film are all about change…and how, in spite of what any of them want, change is inevitable. And not necessarily a bad thing.

A feel-good movie that shows that change can bring a richness to life, in spite of one’s fears, Rich in Love is one I’ll enjoy watching over and over.

I especially loved Finney’s portrayal of Warren Odom, as well as Suzy Amis’s ability to inhabit the role of Rae Odom.


IN SEARCH OF FORMER GLORY — A MOVIE REVIEW

 

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed every Diablo Cody movie I have seen…and this one is no different.

Charlize Theron inhabits the role of Mavis Gary so completely that it is hard to imagine that she is not that person. From the opening scenes, when we see Theron in the messy apartment, the TV playing in the background, and she is sleeping in what can only be a very depressed state, we know that this is going to be a very dark tale.

We slowly come to see what her vulnerabilities are. As a “ghost” writer of a YA series that is about to end unsuccessfully, it is no surprise that she seeks out her former glory days. High school was the pinnacle for her, and her former boyfriend (played by Patrick Wilson) becomes an obsession.

Going home to the town where she was a “star” turns into another kind of journey.

I could not turn away from Young Adult, even though it definitely was not going to a happy place. This is a movie I will watch whenever I want to study a character whose sad and lonely life is hidden, sometimes unsuccessfully, behind a veneer of apparent self-confidence.

PARALLEL UNIVERSES — COPING WITH GRIEF — A REVIEW

What if your perfect life morphed into something dark and dreary, with one day following the next in slow motion? And what if you tried all the suggestions of your friends—like grief group, or keeping busy—until finally, one day, you just had to try something completely off the grid?

In Rabbit Hole, we meet Becca and Howie eight months after their four-year-old son is killed when he chases his dog into the street. They are living like soldiers in parallel foxholes—or rabbit holes, if you will. The connections they once shared are slowly disappearing. And then we see them putting one foot in front of the other until the journey seemingly brings them back to one another.

Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart are fabulous as the grieving parents. Diane Wiest portrays Becca’s mother, a slightly ditzy and graying woman who frequently puts her foot in her mouth, but who at one point, shares something kind of deep about the nature and longevity of grief. She tells her daughter that it is always there, but eventually, it’s like you come out from under the weight of the loss; it turns into something smaller, like a brick, that you carry in your pocket…always with you, but you’re not always aware of it. It’s familiar and you don’t mind it as much anymore.

A sad, yet uplifting journey of recovery that earned five stars from me.

A BITTERSWEET DRAMA — A REVIEW

Watching The Last Picture Show: The Definitive Director’s Cut (Special Edition) again after all these years felt almost like reexperiencing those times in my life.

It was released in 1971, at the beginning of a decade charged with revolutionary emotions and challenges. Depicting a time in small-town Texas (the 1950s), this movie leads us through a few months in the lives of several characters in coming-of-age moments. A frank, bittersweet drama of social and sexual mores that are shifting, it is also most notable for the talent-laden cast of characters: Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Timothy Bottoms, Cloris Leachman, and Ben Johnson, to name a few.

Filmed in black and white, the movie is set against a dreary tumbleweed-cast backdrop, with an almost ghost-town appearance. It called to mind for me where I was when it was released. I had just moved to what could almost be a twin of the dreary town of Anarene, Texas. The counterpart was a small former oil town to the west of the Central Valley city where I now live. The desolation in the film mirrored the emotions I felt when “dropped into” this town; I was young, with three small children, and cast rudderless onto what felt like a barren landscape. Uprooted from the urban life I loved (in Northern California), I could completely identify with the feelings of desolation experienced by the characters.

As I watched the film today, those same emotions swept over me, and I almost felt as though I were back there.

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, the movie can best be described as a timeless coming-of-age tale that spotlights a season in the lives of a disenchanted group of young people.

Five stars.