Much Needed Downshift: I Lost My Body

I haven’t teared up from an animated flick since “Up” (ok maybe Despicable Me) though mostly because I don’t watch them. I always think of them as lesser preferring truly human forms, but I Lost My Body, an Oscar nominated animated film from France created by Jeremy Clapin has changed my way of thinking.

First, the haunting score by Dan Levy, reminiscent of my favorite Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise”, an apt comparison considering the end of the film ends in a wintery scene, helped put me in the meditative trance for optimal viewing.

Second, my emotional roller coaster of a week opened me up wider to appreciate this; Kobe’s shocking death, my best friend’s Dad dying the very next day and with it my hopes of seeing him* (spoiler alert, happy ending coming), the coldest winter I’ve experienced in Florida (I know ‘don’t cry for me Argentina’)which also diminished my usual tenacity especially when my 1980’s condo’s heating element decided to malfunction, and last but not least, back to back unnecessary drama from two other areas of my life. For the record: I never seek out drama, but like the disembodied hand in I Lost My Body, it seems to track me down.

Third, the amazing animation which I am truly humbled by as I know zippo about 2d and 3d animation. I love to draw, but animation is an entirely different animal. The story, (no big spoilers) is about a disembodied hand’s mission to find its original owner, quite the novel concept written by the director with the help of Guillaume Laurant, Oscar winner for best original screenplay for Amelie (2001, wow how time flies!).

Ok, here’s where I find the foible; an aspect of the story. If you’ve read any of my blogs or had many conversations with me (and if not, welcome!), you know that one of my pet peeves is mean, insensitive women and men who self-destruct when jilted rather than pick themselves up, brush themselves off and hey, Fred Astaire wrote that song! At any rate, THAT happens in this story which annoyed me. I know women aren’t kind to themselves sometimes, but I’m remiss at naming a film off the top of my head. If you think of one, shoot me a note.

Still I appreciated the complexity of the plot and like a good lover, wouldn’t kick this one out of bed for eating crackers/or that small quibble.

Available on Netflix and an easy way to get you film fix before the Oscar Awards.

*Tim’s mom gave her blessing for him to complete his much deserved break, proving she should be Mom of the Year.

Over the Story Board Shuffle Limit: Little Women

I’m standing by my original review below, but do like the story of Little Women more now that I’ve learned some context. I didn’t grow up with reading this story and now understand the narrative is part of many family’s (especially New Englanders) tradition. Having said that though, the film lover in me still had problems.

Dear Greta,

I’m sorry I didn’t love “Little Women”, I wanted to, trust me.

I’ll be positive first: Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet should be in every movie you ever do. When they are on screen, I’m in hook, line and sinker.

Beyond them, though, your film was too bloated and yes, by that I mean probably the original was, too. Leave Chris Cooper (an acting God), Meryl as well, but ix nay all the others. And come on, you’ve been an innovator before and The Favourite should have given you courage that old stories can be modernized. The cloying speech of the 1800’s just sounds silly coming out of Laura Dern’s mouth.

The flashbacks were way too numerous and you needn’t bother showing us someone almost dying if you’ve already showed us later times when the character survived. I also don’t need to see schmaltzy dance and play scenes that are self-congratulatory in a look how cute we all are.

The biggest sin was a pivotal scene near the end between Saoirse and Timothee, when the camera could not sit still on Timothee. What’s up with that? The bouncing stole some of the crucial and worthy emotion Mr. Chalamet does so well.

And everyone loooved the ending. Oh really? So we want women to sell out and marry which is exactly what Jo was against?

I enjoyed and appreciated Jo’s argument of needing to be loved more than feeling love, but I guess as soon as her intellectual equal came back to town, she found her heart. Ironically, I cancelled a second date due to being easily spooked combined with men in their enthusiasm who overly complicate or use high pressure sales.

Oh how I yearn for the oxymoron, a complex man who doesn’t need to say too much. The cherry on top of a frustrating film and my disappointing date dissolution (I was as disappointed in myself as I was at him) was the phone ringing and for me to find one of the men for whom I have the utmost regard (unfortunately he’s married and states away). Even with those obstacles, my fun conversation with him made my afternoon. I almost felt like Saoirse when Louis Garrel knocks on the door.

Blame The Film Stage Email: Harmony Kormine’s “Beach Bum”

When searching for yet another movie to get through my holiday enforced work days off, I read a top ten cinematography list on The Film Stage website. As well as The Lighthouse (AMAZING), the site offered up Harmony Kormine’s “Beach Bum” starring Matthew McConaughey.

So I took the bait, choosing the company of my bawdy friend Jack and his 30 something son. Great company for this rather white man’s fantasy where Matthew’s character Moon Dog drinks, screws and smokes his way through marriage, affairs, fatherhood and friendship.

True to The Film Stage’s credit, the film is drop dead gorgeous, the Florida Keys never looked so pretty. And I appreciate McConaughey’s ability to inhabit despicably corrupt, yet handsome men. I also loved Jonah Hill as the Foghorn Leghorn accented uber wealthy publisher and Martin Lawrence as a dolphin excursion captain. Isla Fisher needs to have her head examined as a vapid wife to MM and lover to Snoop Dog, but a pay day is a pay day I guess.

Harmony Kormine is known as a jaded individual. You wonder what happened to him to make him such a nihilist. There really isn’t a redeeming character in the entire flick, but hey if you like Florida landscapes and beautifully nude bodies without, but close to, porn, what the hey, give Beach Bum a whirl.

The Bees’ Knees: Honeyland

I looked at several movies to watch this afternoon trying to fit in one more film that was ‘in the conversation’ as the hipsters say, so I chose Honeyland, which has been Oscar shortlisted for both best doc and best foreign film. Additionally, Honeyland’s been nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and won prizes at both Sundance and even the little ol’ Sarasota Film Fest.

Part The Gods Must Be Crazy and Ulee’s Gold (sorry the last beekeeper movie I’ve seen), Honeyland is a survival of the fittest story that makes Biggest Little Farm look like Disneyland.

Set in Macedonia (geographically, think of it like the toilet paper that Italy kicked off it’s heel) the story follows a 50 something female beekeeper and her relationship with the noisy neighbors that move in next door.

Directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, the film is a miracle in the cold hard truths about life in the Macedonian frontier. The neighbors who come with five children and herd of cattle, are the European Grapes of Wrath. The children are fundamentally uninsured employees, kicked by cows, injuring each other in play and work, at times refusing their abusive existence.

Meanwhile the main character, Hatidze Muraova, beekeeper and dedicated daughter to an sick elderly mother, had made out adequately by caring for bees and selling honey at local markets. Even in the primitive world, Hatidze tries to improve herself by buying chestnut hair color. I marveled at the fact that our first world and her third world have some of the same preoccupations.

Yet, without giving any spoilers, suffice to say, her world is turned upside down by the interlopers. Morally, I wonder how film makers justify filming families in chaos and suffering just as I wonder how dispassionate reporters detail the afflictions of other third world countries. On the one hand, it’s good to bring awareness to the needs on our collective human planet. And true, I’ve read that the documentarians did share their awards income with Hatidze, so I guess good karma does outweigh exploitation.