February 24th, 2020 – A discussion

The Souvenir – Alison wrote about this movie back in October.  Check out her thoughts.   I saw this on Crave on Tuesday night, and it has stuck with me ever since.

There are so many angles that one can take when reviewing this movie.   In its simplest terms it is a movie about relationships.   That can take you almost anywhere.   It raises so many questions as I watched.  All at once I was intrigued at what was unfolding and then moments later frustrated beyond belief.   There are a number of surprises along the way, and I won’t divulge them here.   The basics are that it stars Tilda Swinton’s daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, who is a young filmmaker in her early 20s.  She is attending film school.   Her actual Mom, Tilda plays her doting Mother who seems to just want to love and support her daughter and see her happy.  Mom appears to be on her own.   Daughter by happenstance meets a young man, played by Tom Burke.  The story and relationship unfolds for these two.

Questions arise like: how does an attractive, intelligent, driven young woman with a good vision of her goals become wrapped up in a toxic relationship?   How does any person get to be involved in these?   It’s so easy to spot a toxic connection as you watch from afar and catching the highlights and lowlights, yet not so easy being in the centre of it.  There is always an element of a lack of communication but once again this is nothing new.   Maybe the answer is that these situations just creep up on you, until an event occurs that makes it plain as day that this just isn’t for you.   The undercurrent which is a driving force to keep it going is that need in all people for love and connection.   One can overlook flaws, and in many cases substantial flaws, because there are some positive qualities there in this other person.   People generally are not all bad, through and through.  Do you really want to start all over again?    How does a Mother not see things that seem pretty plain, like a recurring need for a daughter to ask for money?   There is another “project” and another piece of “equipment” that just seems to be necessary and it will, of course be “paid back”.  The cycle continues with the hope of “this time it will be different”.  This movie for me raised these questions in my head as I watched.    It is not so crass as you insert a psycho-analyst and spoon feed it to the audience.   I like that.

Some other movies like Beautiful Boy, Ben is Back or Rachel Getting Married deal with challenges for families with a member who struggles with their own demons.  I will leave it at that.   There was a moment where I was thinking that this was autobiographical for the young Byrne.   Maybe so, I don’t know.

This is a slow burn.  It takes its time to bring you to the meaty stuff.  It allows you to see the characters interact.  Near the end the line delivered “I have been a beast to you…” actually floored me.    It highlighted in a few words what this was really about.

I hadn’t figured out entirely what the significance of the the picture in which this film was named but I will include it here.   Younger viewers of the movie may not understand all the complexities, but those north of 50 who have some “experience” behind us, should see the issues clearly.   This is another film where what you bring to it will likely impact your enjoyment.    It is a really good case study.

The Souvenir By Jean Honore FragonardI followed up watching this movie by catching Leap Year, a romantic comedy.   Many of my readers will know that I am a card carrying member of the I Don’t Like Amy Adams Club.   This likely impacted why I didn’t seek it out earlier when it was released in 2010.   I did really like Amy Adams in Arrival,  and also the series Sharp Objects.  I cannot forgive Lois Lane, starting in Man of Steel.   It also stars Matthew Goode, who was the smart, dark haired, good looking guy in Imitation Game who picks up women with ease.   As romantic comedies go, it is pretty basic.  Woman in longer relationship is expecting a ring from her boyfriend.  They live happily in Boston where he is a surgeon and she is a “stager’ for real estate brokers.  The ring wasn’t presented.    He gets called away to a conference in Dublin.   Her father John Lithgow reminds her of the Irish tradition of a woman being able to propose to a man on the leap years.   She decides to go to Ireland and find him to do exactly that.  Best laid plains go awry and she is detoured to a remote area of the UK.   She meets up with Goode character and they have their swords cross a few times.   You know how it will end.   For me, one of the highlights of course was the scenery around Ireland.  From the cliffs, to the countryside to the stone walled roads through the country and the castles.   It is beautiful.    It made me want to look up some of the spots and re-visit:

Amy Adams’ Leap Year: Where Was it Filmed? (The Locations You Can Actually Visit!)

As a travel log this was marvelous and beautiful.   As a movie, less so, but light entertainment.    I enjoyed nevertheless, even though I continue to carry my Card!

My youngest son and I this weekend watched Ma, starring Octavia Spencer.  She plays an outcast woman small town America, where she works for a local vet.  Some local teens are seeking someone to buy them booze for a fun night out and they happen to see her walking her three-legged dog.   Spencer decides to help them out and later befriend this group.   She offers up her house basement so that they can have some parties and not risk getting pinched by the local cops.   In time, you learn that she went to high school with some of the parents of these kids.   One of the parents is Juliette Lewis.   As an aside, Ms Lewis hasn’t seemed to age well.    Spencer is a year older than Lewis, and you would never tell it.   I guess being in the spotlight from a very early age, Lewis was nominated for an Oscar for her teenage role in Cape Fear with Robert De Niro back in 1991.   But I digress.   There are elements of Misery in this movie, and other movies similar like Carrie.   This is a thriller and typical teen thriller.   The performance by Spencer has been noted as why one would watch this.  I agree.   I think she finds a way to show that level of normal versus psychotic in an interesting way.   She channels in much the same way as Kathy Bates did that person who is just a little off.   In this case, more than a little off who will surprise in what they are capable of doing.

October 16th, 2019 – Bonus Alison submission

Joker is no joke.  I’m going to resist comparing Joaquin’s performance to that of Heath Ledger because they are incomparable in that they represent a pinnacle performance for each actor.  Joaquin’s transformation into this character was complete right down to his frighteningly emaciated frame and the physical stress the projection of the Joker laugh and unnatural run took on his frail person.  Performance aside Joker is a dark, depressing and surly poetry that you can’t help but stare at.  Its engaging from start to finish and as an origins story provided both the story of Joker and the Batman – two of the more prominent ‘superhero’ characters that have no special powers other than their menacing mindsets.  The film is well directed by Todd Phillips, who I had to look up to learn he’s best known for The Hangover franchise, and his offering here is to the standard set by Christopher Nolan.  Is it worth seeing if you’re not in the comic book movie scene?  Yes, albeit on the small screen.  Fans of the genre will be best served on the big screen.
The Souvenir is a film that both Rob and I had hoped to catch at the theatre and it was in and out of town before we even knew.  The art / independent film offerings are harder to track down as the rep cinema scene has been beaten back giving way to condo developments and movie-plexes.  The Souvenir stars Honor Swinton, daughter to Tilda Swinton who herself has a smaller role in this project.  The male lead was Tom Burke who played his role of master manipulator very well.  The Souvenir is about a young woman attending film school who meets a well groomed man who impressed with his scholarly conversation and fancy clothes.  An engaging conversation led to his crashing at her place for a week and of course feelings developed and the relationship progressed quickly…worts and all.  As I watched this slow moving piece I felt myself becoming more and more frustrated with the female lead’s decided naiveté where her love affair was concerned.  The director did a great job at dropping hints about the fly in the ointment with this particular prince charming and as the clues became more and more obvious I wondered why the critics gave this work such high praise.  Ugh!  But here’s the thing, this movie stayed with me for a few days as I mulled over my annoyance with the characters and the parents of said characters.  I’m deliberately not sharing any of the details of this film; I’ll let some paid critic ruin this element for you.  I still haven’t decided if I would have been happy to shell out full price for this film but it would certainly be worth paying for coffee  and cake that the film would be discussed over.
Booksmart.  I decided to watch this film on a whim and was so glad that I did.  This is the directorial debut for House’s old assistant, Olivia Wilde and it is entertaining, funny and creative.  The plot quite simply is the end high school and the class bookworms deciding they are going to crash the big end of the year party before going off to university.  These two quirky girls headed out for a night they will never forget and a couple of the best laughs I’ve had recently at a movie.  There is one scene involving barbies that I thought was brilliant.  The characters are likeable and are representative of pretty much every stereotypical high school class from back in the day.  Check it out on the Crave or wherever its streaming while you can.