Friday, September 24, 2010

15 Movies - Part Deux

And rounding out the 15 movies that most impacted me (+1 honorable mention) are the following:

9. Evita - And I never liked Madonna - but she makes a good corrupt politician with a bad reputation. I loved the beautiful location shots in Argentina. Madonna sings from the same balcony that Evita gave her speeches from. I want to learn tango and dance with Antonio Banderas too.

10. Fools Rush In - 2nd favorite chick flick. I love that Salma Hayak is so proudly Mexican-American, and that Matthew Perry is so befuddled and enamored by it. Loads of funny one liners. "Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do!".

11. The Crying Game - I saw this movie when it first came out, and was one of a theater full of people who gasped at the "surprise part". I had a hunch about it, but didn't expect my suspicions to be confirmed in such an in-your-face way. I was taken with the theme of entrapment in the movie. Every time a new character is introduced, you see them as having power over another in the movie. Then you see how they too are entrapped by circumstances.

12. To Live and Die in L.A. - another movie that made an impression but was not a favorite. It deals with police corruption, and even the hero in the movie is not really a good guy. The catch: I saw this in Ecuador, and was acutely aware of how horrid the movie made Americans look. Everyone was staring at my friend and I as we left the theater. Creepy. I swear I never cut off someone's finger. Really.

13. Romancing the Stone - a stupid, frivolous movie that toyed with the ego of a whole nation (Colombia, that is). I saw this right before going to Colombia. It was no preparation whatsoever for what the country was really like. Colombians hated it and booed it out of the theaters. Filmed on location in PANAMA.

14. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - meet So-crates, take Napoleon bowling, and time travel with feisty young Keanu Reeves. 80's escapist humor at it's finest.

15. Hijo de la Novia (Son of the Bride) - an Argentine movie that has so many uncanny parallels to my own family that I swear they just rearranged some details to cover our identities. The protagonist's mother has Alzheimer's, and his father wants to surprise her and grant her wish for the church wedding that they never had. The church won't allow it, so it leads to an elaborate farce that poor Alzheimery Mom can't see through anyway. Funny and touching. I loved the use of almost literary motifs in the movie, such as the protagonist's reading glasses. He only occasionally holds them in front of his eyes to quickly read something in the beginning of the movie, but at the end when he is more happy and comfortable with himself (read: the jerk is redeemed) he wears them unashamedly.


Honorable mention goes to Fast Times at Ridgemont High: my brothers and I had mom convinced that a kid named Jeff Spicoli went to our school and was really pulling all kinds of pranks like ordering pizza during History class. When Mom was ready to call the PTA and raise a storm we had to fess up to our fibs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

15 Movies

Facebook - what can I say?  It is a new creature every day.  Something is always going around, spreading from user to user faster than Swine Flu, only to be replaced by the next big thing in a day or two.  I rarely participate.  I gave in when it came to the movie list.  We were supposed to write about 15 movies that most impacted us.  Notice that the operative word is impacted - not liked or loved.  Here are my first 8:

1. The Breakfast Club - This was SO my High School, and I SO knew all those people. How uncanny that my High School could be summed up in one movie. Were we that much of a cliche? And why didn't they just go ahead and film the thing at my High School?

2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - If a movie could serve as an anthem to my teen years in the 80's, this one is it. A little rebellion and fun without too much harm done. I also love the fact that Ferris reminds me of one of my brothers (who will not be named here) who was popular and could charm and fool anyone back in the day.

3. Slaughterhouse 5 - This movie impacted me, but is NOT a favorite. I saw it once and never want to see it again. The fickle nature of injustice in the movie had me in tears.

4. Last of the Mohicans - Who paid attention in history class to the French and Indian War? Here is your refresher course. Does away with any sanitized notions of Colonial life that you may have had. Amazing music and stunning filmography.

5. Blackhawk Down - Begins with a well deserved nod to the UNHCR for the get-your-hands-dirty kind of work that they do in war-torn countries, and reminds you why the US was there in the first place. The "making of" on the DVD is a must-see, as we watch the actors attend Delta force and Ranger training. A bonus: Eric Bana saves the day. Did we expect any less? (For a great backdrop on the thug-ocracy that was/is Somalia, read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.)

6. The Sound of Music - A sappy cliche to some, but always a favorite to me. Makes me think of my mother, and I can't watch it without remembering watching it with her when I was a kid, and hearing her comment on her favorite lines and songs. This movie was my childhood introduction to the topic of WWII. Salzburg gets my vote for most beautiful city in Europe. Can I grow edelweiss in Texas?

7. Return to Me - My favorite chick-flick. I love the Chicago-ness of this movie: the pub, the accents, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the old Irish neighborhood where the same families have lived for over a century. Bonnnie Hunt's director's commentary is fun - she cast half her extended family as extras. This was Carroll O'Connor's last movie.

8. Traffic - Some have called it a modern-day "Reefer Madness". So be it, I think it serves as a warning to all that there is no such thing as harmless dabbling with drugs. I like that it digs deep into the underworld of dealers in the US and cartels and corrupt officials in Mexico. My hero is Benicio del Toro, who does his best to work within the system as it is. The movie is short on hope - or is it just realistic?

More to come...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Broken Pieces

It was one of those evenings when our family of five had to be in three places at once.  I felt pulled many directions that day, and made every effort for things to go smoothly.  It was all worth it when my husband and I finally got to the party that evening, a surprise party for Scott's 40th birthday.  My friend Laura had made every effort to to add meaningful and personal touches to the celebration.  Pictures were everywhere that bespoke years of happiness together.  Scott and Laura with friends, Scott and Laura in college, Scott and Laura when they were married, and when they adopted their little girl.  Scott and Laura.  ScottnLaura, really.  And yes, names have been changed to protect the innocent, and the guilty.

While we laughed and enjoyed our time with friends, I have to wonder what was going on in Scott's mind.  Yes, he looked a little sheepish, but I chalked it up to being the center of attention, and to being the butt of so many jokes.  Maybe he was thinking that we were all blind fools.  Or maybe he had a moment of clarity and realized that he was the fool.  We laughed all evening, and by the time we went home, I was hoarse.  How blessed we are to have friends like them, I thought.

One week later, let me repeat that, ONE WEEK later Scott did what only he knew was coming.  Well, he and another woman who hadn't been invited to the party.  He left Laura and their daughter, giving the tired old line of not being in love anymore, going through the motions, blah blah, blah.

Now Laura and her daughter will move to be closer to the support of family.  Her daughter Baily is best friends with my daughters, and the tears have been flowing at our house.  Just adding up the losses is astounding: marriage, family, home, identity, community...  How unfair for him to inflict this on Laura and Baily.  Yes, I am angry and shocked.  I know that divorce is common, but statistics are one thing, and people that you care about are quite another.  I grieve for them, and I grieve for my own children as well, because a piece of their innocence was shattered by this too.  My son asked, "If Daddy leaves us, who would take me to Cub Scouts?" 

There is a small subplot that almost gets lost in this sad tale.  While we were at the party, Baily stayed at the house with my daughters.  The girls made a tent, and tied one end of a blanket to a shelf in their room.  This careless mistake caused the shelf to fall, and with it a collection of ceramics.  Things the girls had painted, souvenirs, etc.  Every one of them broke; not one was spared.  They wrapped their collection of broken treasures in a blanket, and realized how foolish they had been.  I was quick to dismiss it as a worthwhile lesson to them, but even I've opened the blanket and fitted the pieces together wondering what can be saved and what must be tossed.  Through this week of tears, I've reconsidered these broken, childish treasures.  I think I need to give it another try, and maybe look for just the right glue to fix them.  Some things in life can be fixed.  I want my kids to know that.

Watching the clock

I'm not a fan of blog posts apologizing for the lack of recent blog posts.  They are as annoying as a poet that writes to bemoan a reluctant pen.  None of that here; the truth is that I have been watching the clock.

The blessing of homeschooling and staying at home with my kids does not preclude the need to be aware of the days and hours as they rush by.  The balance may be all the more delicate because I have taken on the responsibility of home education.  Perhaps I could just stop, slacken the self discipline, and let plans and goals scatter to the ground like autumn leaves.  The consequences would not be immediate, in fact, I might even be able to delude myself that this new approach is superior, but the consequences would come in due time.

There has been much buzz among homeschoolers in my circle about an article in which the author, a college professor, states that he believes homeschooling would be the best option for his yet-unborn daughter.  In the end, he is honest that it probably won't happen.  Time is one of his worries.  Some see a selfish man who did not want to make the sacrifices necessary, but I see something else.  He is counting the cost, and he is insecure.  In my mind, only a fool would not stop to count the cost, and only a deluded person would face this responsibility without trepidation.   Time.  Oh yes, it will cost you.  I'm ok with it, even if it means fewer blog updates.