If It’s Not Okay, It’s Not the End

I have determined again what I already knew, that I am a hopeless romantic. Not romantic in the sense of rebellion against the industrial revolution and age of enlightenment, but romantic as in loving happy endings, but that isn’t exactly right either. It isn’t the happy ending I love so much as the happy possibility. Maybe romantic isn’t the best word; perhaps idealist. Yes, I’m an idealist (but I already knew that. I take those Myers Briggs personality tests and always end up the idealist (you are 1% of the population–lucky me!)). In any case, yesterday I saw Silver Linings Playbook and loved it. Just loved it. I left the theater feeling all warm and fuzzy. Then when gushing about it to a friend I realized it was similar to Crazy, Stupid Love, another film I absolutely adore, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Sliding Doors. I LOVE these movies. Love them. I can watch them over and over and over. I’m lying here thinking about them this morning because I was unable to sleep past 6:30 even if I didn’t fall asleep until nearly 1 a.m. because my daughter was wiggling because of the extremely late nap she took after a belated Thanksgiving dinner with Daddy and his family that ended with the nap beginning at 6. I thought she was down for the night, it was that late when she finally went down. I’m going to pay for this lack of sleep. Give me a few hours and I’ll be nodding off in my soup.

Alas, I digress. I’m lying here this morning in my sleepless state thinking about these movies and I realized yet again that yes, I’m a romantic/idealist. There is no getting around it. I like possibilities. These films are all like one another, and they are not typical romantic comedies. They are bittersweet. They are dark. . .then light. I leave them feeling like it’s possible the couples will last beyond the first blush of new love, that perhaps they will not be hating one another in four or five years, that perhaps because they see who their partner is and not who they want them to be, their loves might last. Yes, I’m an idealist. It will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

I do not always adore or believe romantic comedies. Some of them make me absolutely cringe. They can be so formulaic or so far from believable, I squirm. I hate the ones where the couples fight the whole time because they are completely different people and will not accept one another’s flaws, but they have incredible sexual tension and therefore end up together at the end because Hey! they can get it on. Incredible sexual tension is just that, incredible sexual tension. It is meaningless in the scheme of things. What happens when they no longer want to screw one another blind? Then they just hate each other. Boring. What was that film with Jennifer Aniston and the hot Irish guy who is a bounty hunter? Oh, right. Bounty Hunter. I didn’t buy it for a second.  They’ll be miserable in 8 months.

Worse are the movies where the man is a shit to women his whole life but this woman saves him. Suddenly he becomes mature and honest after being shitty. He discovers that she is so golden and perfect, he must give up his evil ways, and of course, she takes him back, or he gets her, or whatever. It’s a miracle! Yuck. Or one of the couple has trouble with commitment, but the other gets them and so they certainly must end up together. All is well. Commitment issues — poof! Gone! No Strings Attached or Definitely Maybe. I don’t buy it.

Yet in spite of these bad ones I don’t believe, there are some I do, some that make me want to believe in the happy possibility. Most romantic comedies I like well enough. It’s a go-to genre I can watch if I have a couple of hours to spare, but a lot of them I forget as soon as the credits roll. Yet there are a handful I truly love. I think Silver Linings Playbook might be one of them. I can tell a film is a real favorite if I enjoy watching it multiple times. I won’t know if this is a keeper until I have seen it again and still want to see it again. I’m hopeful about this possibility, that since I want to see it again now, I’ll want to see it again after seeing it again. I can add it to the list of movies I really love. I remain the hopeless idealist, wanting the happy ending.

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This is Life and How it Goes Sometimes (hopefully without a bad soundtrack)

I wish when movie makers make movies and they want their movies to seem “fresh” and “modern” that they wouldn’t use music that will be dated in under a decade, especially when the movie really isn’t that bad, but the music makes the whole thing distracting. A couple examples of this? Top Gun. Oh gawd, that music is rotten and dated. Roxanne, same thing. Reality Bites. Yep, you got it. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. A theme in these three actually is bad saxxy jazz. Not good saxxy jazz, but baaaad jazz. It’s so distracting. All of these films have okay music mixed in, usually classics that stand the test of time. But those transitional melodies that aren’t really any songs anyone listens to, that were probably made just for the movie, long horn solos to show us this is a place to feel something? The worst.

And now for the non sequitur from my musings about lame movie music. This has been an interesting week. Guess all those astrological prognostications about funny business in the sky maybe apply to me. When faced yesterday with the realization that certain people in my life were capable of Machiavellian treachery, my initial response was disbelief. I finally decided late in the evening that continuing to chant “I don’t believe it,” was not going to remedy the situation, nor was “why me?” In an effort to root out all personal hypocrisy, I asked myself when I have been less than honest, what I have done that might make another shudder in disbelief. I do not want to make anyone feel the way I felt upon this discovery. The goal, going forward, is to behave as honorably as possible in all circumstances because all I can only control is my behavior and my reactions. So now I pick up the pieces and move ahead, knowing what I know and knowing who I’m dealing with. It certainly makes life interesting.

During all this, somewhat in a dither, I called my counselor. She pointed out that when people are operating from fear, they do some mighty unpleasant things. Fear and greed, maybe? In any case, she asked if I was feeling afraid and I had to admit that yes, I am. Part of me is fine, moving forward, setting up shop. The other part of me is scared shitless. How do we root this out of ourselves? Maybe it isn’t possible. Maybe it’s just enough to go ahead anyway in spite of being afraid? I don’t know the answer. I’ll go read my Pema Chodren book on such things and see if she has any advice. I don’t like the unpleasantness of it all, though. Not a bit. But this is life and how it goes sometimes.

Foot Tied

I don’t know why I did it. Curiosity mostly. I could tell from the opening scenes that it was probably a bad idea, but I kept on, waiting to see if it really was as bad as it seemed like it was going to be. Time proved to be no cure for my presumptions. As the thing went on, it only got worse. The sanctimonious preacher became even more of a blowhard. The naughty teen girl became even more frisky. The bad boy lead character became even more BAAAAD!

What is it I’m speaking of? Footloose, the 2011 version. The 1984 movie is certainly not Academy Award material, but it is a testament to the folly of its year. Everything about the 80s begs parody, 1984 was ubiquitous, and Footloose was no exception. Big hair! Big music! Big dancing! Big blowhard politicians setting up the destruction of future decades!

But this version, this 2011 version, has such a self-important air it too begs mockery, but it does so too many years too late. We are living what the 80s wrought. This new Footloose should have changed the title and the names of the main character and put itself out in 1984. It might have been a classic. Now we are too jaded and it’s just too awful. And not only that, the music of Footloose wasn’t really so horrible, but for this version, they took it and “updated” it. WHAT were the producers thinking, that viewers today are stupid? Apparently so, because the thing was released. They got me, for about 15 minutes. That’s all I could take before I shut it off and wrote this.

There is a bright spot in the crap that is this movie. It can be used in B-Movie Bingo! B-Movie Bingo is a game played at the Hollywood Theater near my house. You get a card with various bad movie stereotypes all over it, and then you watch a bad movie. Whenever one of the bad stereotypes shows up onscreen, you mark the square. If you get a line, it’s BINGO!  Soooo much fun. This movie would be PERFECT for B-Movie Bingo. At last, a purpose for this really awful movie beyond another acting job for has been Dennis Quaid. B-Movie Bingo redemption.

Oh, and one other thing. The kid actors in the new Footloose are too young. They look like teenagers. The teenagers in the original Footloose looked like they were pushing thirty. The least they could have done was pay tribute by hiring some 35 year old actors to play teens. Jeez.

Dolly and Steve, What Have You Done to Your Faces?

Dear Steve Martin and Dolly Parton,

Your age would have looked better than whatever it is you have done to your faces. You both have always managed to present an aura of self-possession through which the surgeries have exposed a fissure, a dissonance.  It’s a shock, frankly. There are other entertainment figures who, if they were to undergo such drastic and obvious alterations, it would seem in character with the person they have presented to the public over the years. But not you.

It’s ironic too, that on some level you were seeking to pass as youthful, with that sort of attractiveness, and in your bizarre caricatures, you have made yourself even more noticeable, but not for the reasons you sought. The attractiveness of your age would have been enough. Having spent years watching you, we would have understood the grace it takes to remain public and mature.

In any case, you surprised me. You under met my expectations. I do hope on a personal level that the extraordinary surgeries have helped you to understand how little important what you desired was to who you are.

Blue Valentine

I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out.  The thing was depressing and I could not get into it.  I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it.  Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video.  I’m glad that I did.

Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship.  It brings back memories.  Funny, they caught  the things in the beginning that would go wrong later.  Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight.  The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you.  You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster.  In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew.  I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work.  At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.

The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too.  There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster.  She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning.  The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu.  The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy?  What the hell, indeed.

There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them.  However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy.  I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in.  Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it.  Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that.  I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway.  One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.

Women Dancing

Have you ever noticed that in movies that are “chick flicks,” billed and marketed to women, where there are women in a family going through something or women who are friends going through something, that the movie creators always throw in a scene of them dancing together, often on a bed, sometimes resulting in a pillow fight, usually for the montage of how special their relationship is, or sometimes it is to show how women who were enemies are now good friends, and then they use that in the preview to market the film?  Damn, it’s dumb.