Laura Linney's new typecast is apparently the sister in brother-sister films (recall You Can Count on Me with Mark Ruffalo). Here, she plays the younger sister to Philip Seymour Hoffman's character, and together they brave the daunting task of caring for their ailing father stricken with dementia. It truly puzzles me that this has been categorized as a "comedy" by the Golden Globes. If it's a comedy, it's a really really really really really dark one.
This indie flick is driven solely by dialogue and will bore the less patient who are not enamored with so much talking and so little action (e.g., Mr. Monkey, who went to watch sports and play Wii at his friend's house last night). I enjoyed it, but you must be willing to watch quietly. I hope you understand what that means. I really liked the final scene, which was somewhat uplifting after so many minutes of wah-wah material.
Also, it seems that all indie films this year must include The Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking With You." This film couldn't have been more different from Juno, yet they both used this song. Am I crazy to have noticed this? Perhaps.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon)
What an incredible work of art. I will warn you, though, that it is a foreign film in every sense of the term -- total French sensibility and subtitles galore. Mr. Monkey, of course, wanted nothing to do with this. I watched this right after eating at Angelique Cafe and visiting Mode, so I was in the right Frenchy mood. He left to play basketball.
This movie is the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of Elle magazine. Bauby suffers a stroke and is left unable to speak due to complete paralysis. His brain, however, remains totally intact, and he can fully understand everything that is said to him and all that transpires around him. The film is methodical and thoughtful, told entirely through the eyes -- or, rather, eye -- of Bauby, who communicates solely through blinking with his one functioning eyelid.
I won't give away just how amazing the tale is, but this is a must-watch. You are literally in this man's head from start to finish. You may have to be in the right mood for something so heavy and plodding, but the film is astounding, heartbreaking, and beautifully poetic, even in translation.
Away From Her
Here's another movie I watched while Mr. Monkey was playing basketball. It was written and directed by Sarah Polley, who starred in the thrillingly fast-paced and comedic Go (which has an awesome soundtrack, by the way). I find it somewhat surprising that a 28-year-old would make a totally depressing film about old people, but Julie Christie should be kissing Polley's feet for giving her perhaps her last opportunity at an Oscar.
Christie plays Fiona, an elderly woman who begins to suffer from Alzheimer's and who is adored by her husband of 44 years, played by the wonderful Gordon Pinsent. To say the least, this isn't exactly a movie I would recommend to uplift one's spirits, but it is elegant and the acting exquisite. This is another total heartbreaker, and now J.S. Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV 846, is forever ruined for me. (This is what happens when you study classical piano for over 13 years; you develop the useless skill of identifying baroque pieces you played when you were six years old.)
Good film, but you may consider skipping it, if only because of its extremely slow pace and complete downer content.