Tag Archives: Films

Grey Gardens

The two Edie BealesOne evening, several months ago, I looked at the list of “On Demand” films on HBO and was disappointed that I’d either seen them all or was not interested in what they had to offer. Only one title looked at all promising: Grey Gardens — with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, what could go wrong with those actors?  Besides, I remembered hearing that it won some awards.  I watched about a half hour of the program and turned it off.  A movie about an eccentric pair of women, one of whom was bald, who lived in a vermin infested house on Long Island,  was not my idea of entertainment. How, I thought, could this have won awards?

A month ago I thought maybe I should give Grey Gardens another shot, so checked to see if it was available to stream on Netflix. I thought that I could watch it while I worked, and it wouldn’t seem so disturbing since I wouldn’t be paying as much attention to it as I would if I watched it otherwise.

I was in luck. I found it on Netflix and began watching it. It didn’t take me too long to realize that what I was seeing was not what I’d seen in HBO. This was the original Grey Gardens. The HBO version was a remake and Grey Gardens was a documentary.  It was fascinating. The real people looked exactly like the HBO version. I watched it and was really moved by the story about the dysfunctional bonds between a mother and daughter.

This morning I saw that the HBO version was back on HBO On Demand and watched it. Now I understood why it won the awards it did. If you’ve not seen Grey Gardens, I suggest you do it in this order: Watch the original version. Then watch the HBO version. Then watch the original again.

It was a good time for me to see Grey Gardens and to see what can happen when a mother is so needy that she prevents her daughter from experiencing life. I certainly don’t want to end up living in a house overrun with cats and raccoons, even if my daughter were to stay by my side.

Go, Clare, go, for both our sakes.

Becoming Dona

When I was in the 6th grade I had a friend (fittingly named Eugenia) who introduced me to romance (mostly gothic) novels. I began with Phyllis A. Whitney who, I just discovered, passed away earlier this year. I then moved on to Victoria Holt and all of her pseudonyms. Eventually I read some of the Brontës’ work. I never read Jane Austen.

One trait most of the women in these novels possesses is a sharp tongue and the habit of provoking bantering conversation with all men, but mostly the men they were interested in romantically. Being relatively sheltered and shy, I didn’t have much opportunity to converse with males other than my relatives, so I didn’t really know how to talk to them, especially guys I was interested in. So I took a cue from the romance novels I read and, in my imaginary conversations with guys, carried on sharp-witted banter with them in my head. Oh, I was witty. My fictitious retorts to imagined flirtations were brilliant.

My real conversations with guys wasn’t so successful. Either I’d blush and look down and stammer something unintelligible until they walked away, laughing; or I tried to be witty and the guys would look at me like I was insane. They never bantered back.

I didn’t realize that “normal” people didn’t talk like that. That it was just fiction. In fact, it wasn’t until the past ten years or so that I finally really understood that I was not going to find my perfect verbal sparring partner and that the banter I’d expected to experience just wasn’t going to be a reality in my life and, in fact, was a pretty annoying thing to listen to.

Clare and I started watching Becoming Jane last week. We got about a quarter of the way through it and couldn’t’ deal with the banter. Perhaps Jane Austen did talk like that. Perhaps men and women of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s bantered. Perhaps to be the ones bantering was exhilarating. But to listen to consistent banter? It’s downright irritating.

It grows on you…

You know the phrase “it grows on you”? I’ve never really believed it until recently when a couple of things have gown on me.

One is a movie I’ve tried to watch a couple of times: The Science of Sleep.  I’d had high hopes for this film when I saw the previews and knew that Gondry was involved, but the first couple of times I began watching it, I didn’t like it. I thought it was contrived and silly for no reason.

Then last night, I sat down to watch it again. I began from the beginning and watched it all the way through and LOVED IT.

I wonder what was up the first two times.

Another thing that has begun to grow on me is Facebook. I joined because I could. My kids were on it and I wanted to know what the pull was. I found little to interest me – no one but my teens and their friends seemed to be on it. I got lots of friend invites when I joined, but because I didn’t know those people online nor off, didn’t accept the invites.

Recently I was “friended” by a former classmate of mine – someone who got me sent to the hall in 3rd grade. It’s interesting to see what his life has turned out to be – although since his brother married Dean’s cousin, I could have easily found out that way.

In the past few days I’ve begun to explore that (and Myspace) more and I think I could become a convert.

That’s all I need – another Internet addiction.

Fun Friday

Did a little work on the HTCA site again, messed with the themes. We’ll see how that goes. Put in 4 straight hours of work for pay – barely even blinked. Finally finished the ten templates – and put them in the correct spot. Monday will send to the SME for her approval. Finally feeling better about the process. Still very time consuming, but it seems to be working ok now. The still have tons of work to do on the forms though.

Bade Clare farewell as she went to GS camp. Poor thing – she has a ton of studying to do and didn’t want to go. She’s also feeling a little sick – allergies. Her voice was nearly gone by the time she left. Andrew was at a band function – Six Flags in NJ. So, being child-free for a few hours, Dean and I went to a Scottish Pub in Wheaton for dinner. I a bottle of my favorite beer and an order of fish and chips. Then I had a wee drop o’ Ardbeg. Yum.

We thought about going to the AFI to see a film, but since we had three Netflix movies at home, chose to watch one of those instead.

I let Dean choose the movie since I’d picked them out from Netflix. He chose Closer – which is what I was hoping he’d pick. I knew nothing about it, and was pleased with the location and actors. However the dialogue was very contrived, none of the characters were likable and nothing much seemed to happen. I was disappointed and Dean left before the movie ended. This morning I looked it up and found out it was a screen adaption of a play. That made a lot of sense. The dialogue was more along the lines of what I’d expect in a play.

Since I had to stay up to get Andrew at midnight, I watched another movie on cable. I’d begun watching Match Point before, but thought I’d save it to watch with Dean. Last night I felt I deserved to see it, and did. Same setting as Closer – sort of. British men and American Women (well, one woman in this one was American). Match Point was the better of the two movies, although still not going to be on my top 50 list.

Picked Andrew up at school – left here at 12:00 got back home at 12:50. The bus was late, then he had to wait around to take his instrument into the building. Lots of kids just dropped their instruments off at the door, Andrew was going to, but I insisted he stay and help take the other instruments in. He admitted that it was the right thing to do, even though he was tired and wanted to go to bed. He said he had a great time.

Review: Notes on a Scandal

I don’t get out much – with friends at least, so when Janet called to see if I wanted to see Because I Said So, I replied that I’d love to go. I had not heard anything about the movie, but figured that if Diane Keaton was in it, it couldn’t suck too bad.

Janet called back and said that she was rethinking the film we’d see. She’d looked at films playing at Landmark’s Bethesda Row Cinema and named a few. She recalled that the last time we’d seen a movie together (The Queen) we thought that the trailer for Notes on a Scandal looked good. I did a quick check on Rotten Tomatoes and saw that it received a tomato meter rating of 86%. Since Because I Said So only received a tomato meter rating of 6% we decided to see Notes on a Scandal. While I’m glad we went to Notes instead of Because, both Janet and Alison would have preferred the comedy.

Notes on a Scandal which stars Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy is no comedy, although there are occasional amusing moments. It is disturbing on many levels and I know of several people who would be seriously offended by the subject matter. Luckily for me, I’m not one of them.

Dench plays Barbara, a lonely aging teacher in a school in a poor area of London. Her attitude as well as the voice over while she writes in her diary relays a disdain of the students she teaches as well as for her fellow teachers. In fact, Barbara doesn’t seem to like anyone. She lives alone with her similarly aging cat.

Blanchett plays Sheba (short for Bathsheba?), the new art teacher at Barbara’s school. Barbara’s voice over describes Sheba as wispy and fey. Sheba has difficulty managing the students in her class, and Barbara swoops to the rescue. Sheba invites Barbara to lunch where Barbara meets Sheba’s husband, played by Bill Nighy, and her two teenagers, one of whom has Down Syndrome.

Before long we discover that Sheba has entered into an affair with one of her students, a 15 year old boy. Barbara also discovers this and the film focuses on what she does with that knowledge.

The acting in the film is superb. Dench is excellent in this unflattering role as a sick, lonely older woman. Blanchett’s acting makes you believe she could do nothing about the affair “it just happened”. Nighy’s role as the caring, albeit somewhat absent minded, father is more or less the role he plays in other films, but it serves him well here. Young handsome Andrew Simpson, as Steven, the 15-year-old boy, plays the part of a randy teen aged boy quite well.

Janet said she liked The Queen better, Alison didn’t really say. I liked this film better – the acting was far better and the story was more interesting to me.

Continue reading Review: Notes on a Scandal