February 17th, 2011

Rose-coloured reviews a nice day (and the movie *Somewhere*)

After finishing a stressful project at work, I’m taking a few days off to rest, read, write, and bum around. It’s magically warm in the city right now, and I have a busy weekend ahead, so it’s been really nice to float around in my own happy cloud. I get sick of my own company though–I’m much less of a solitaire than writers are supposed to be. So midafternoon today I headed out to a Starbucks, hoping to write there and also eavesdrop on a few angst-ridden teens (yes, I timed my excursion to coincide with school getting out).

I was totally not in luck, winding up in a cafe filled with sullen old people (“You’re sitting in my seat. I left my things there!” pointing to a stir stick) and shrieking toddlers. I wound up between two fellow laptop jockeys, so had no choice but to work for a while. Then I lucked out when an old woman passing in the street glanced in the window, spotted the fellow beside me and came in (Toronto is far more like a small town than most people give it credit for). I think she was his mother, and they proceeded to get into an argument about whether he was doing enough to help his brother find an apartment. Then they looked at some places on Craigslist, but nothing was really resolved. Then she left, and we all got back to work.

Starbucks bonus–on my way out, I finally found a table of young teens and as I passed, one who was *maybe* 14 dropped her head into her hands and exclaimed, “Worst life *ever*!”

Then I did a little gift shopping for a friend, and went to have dinner in a food court. While I was eating my ginger chicken, a man and a woman approached me to ask if I would take their picture. There was nothing scenic about this underground food court (why, yes, I *am* happy with how I’m spending my vacation, thank you), so I guess they just wanted to be captured together. They both spoke imperfect English, but she was Asian and he maybe Middle Eastern. They were unhappy with the first shot, and really also the second though they were too embarrassed to ask me to take a third (I wouldn’t have minded). I thought they were a couple, but as they were walking a way, I heard her ask him for his email address. What was their story, I wonder.

Then I went to the bathroom, and as I entered a woman brushed past me on her way out. The woman behind her announced, “You have toilet paper on your shoe” in an Irish accent (ok, honestly, she could’ve been Australian or Maritime Canadian–I’m terrible with accents). The first woman did not stop and, slightly put out, the possibly Irish woman chased her into the hallway yelled, “YOU HAVE TOILET PAPER ON YOUR SHOE!” before coming back in to wash her hands. In this very same bathroom, I also witnessed a woman scrubbing her hands as if preparing to perform surgery, whilst singing a merry tune.

Then I grabbed some mango frozen yoghurt and went to the movies to see Somewhere. I’d read a review that said the film revisits director Sophia Coppola’s obsession with celebrity, but I always thought she was obsessed with people. Sure, Lost in Translation was about people touched by fame, but it was also about being stuck in your own stupid skin, which is what The Virgin Suicides was about (VS is also one of the few movies that comes close to being as enrapturing as the book on which it is based. Close.)

Anyway, stupid reviews aside, I knew I would like a quiet movie about a dad and his kid set in sunny LA, and I was right. This movie is a gentle confection, sweet not like sacchrine but like cherries. It’s about the theme mentioned above, but also about the simple solace of *doing things*–characters in this movie drive cars, ice skate, dance, play piano, play Wii and Guitar Hero, play ping-pong, cook, make masks, play guitar, and do a host of other things that require attention, often for minutes-long takes. It’s lovely to watch the characters shake off their misery (no one’s particularly happy here) and immerse themselves in the task at hand. This is also the first time I’ve ever seen video games portrayed in the movies as not the refuge of sullen dolts, but lots of fun. A milestone, I think.

The movie has no soundtrack until the 80-minute mark (I happened to glance at my watch), so we hear what the characters hear. They listen to music sometimes, whole songs even, but incidental noise looms really large, especially since there’s little dialogue. In the pole-dancing scenes, you hear the rub of flesh on pole, and in the Guitar Hero one, the click of keys.

Since the stars, Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning play it *way* understated, the cinemetography is the real star here, and the film is glorious to watch. All kinds of weird shot of models watching down the hall silhouette by the sun behind them, or the stars goofing about underwater. There was also a mysterious theme about plaster that I didn’t really get. Early in the movie, Dorff’s character Johnny breaks his wrist and spend most of the rest of the film with it in a cast, which he rips off towards the end–symbolism of butterfly emerging from chrysalis?? God, I hope not. Johnny also has a plaster cast made of his face for some movie special effects thing (never explained) and a cast of his hand made when he is welcomed to Milan (again, not really sure why). If anyone knows what the plaster theme meant, please let me know.

But really, who cares? This was such a quiet, gorgeous, incredibly sad film–this was the sort of film I would make if I could. I didn’t care too much for the epiphany at the end, but I suppose they had to give us something.

And then I trotted home, typed this up, and will write a few other little things, before cheerfully to bed. Tomorrow I’m trying a new ballet class!

3 Responses to “Rose-coloured reviews a nice day (and the movie *Somewhere*)”

  • AMT says:

    hey! ballet class! that’s lovely.

    also lovely: that ‘worst life *ever*’ girl moment. you are my favourite overhear-er ever.

  • Frederique says:

    what did you think of the ending? I found it troubling in the extreme. Where was he going?

  • Rebecca says:

    Derf, actually I thought it was an overly symbolic moment–the literal walk makes no sense, but figuratively, he’s making a fresh start, striking out on his own. Literally…uh, he walks to a gas station??? What did you think it meant?

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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