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Saturday, July 28, 2007
two films: Junebug and The Squid And The Whale
Listening to:Dimming of the Day, Richard Thompson and Bonnie Raitt
Weather:67, muggy, overcast
On Wednesday evening I should have been cleaning my house in prep for Spring, Joe, and baby Alan's visit. But cuz I'm fundamentally lazy, I chose to watch movies instead. The Starz Comedy Channel was showing Junebug, then the Squid and the Whale, both of which sounded intriguing so I gave them a go.

The first of these two 2005 rather tragic comedies playing was Junebug, starring Embeth Davidtz, whom I really like. She's apparently from Indiana, though I think she has some kind of European air about her, which works particularly well for her as the NYC art gallery director character she plays in this film. Recently I've seen her guesting on both Gray's Anatomy and Scrubs, but my first memory of seeing her was in the wonderful 1996 family movie Matilda. She has an interesting look, and easily moves from comedy to drama. Celia Weston, who plays the southern matriarch here is another actor you've seen before but probably don't know her name. Her performance is really good here, and her character is fairly multidimensional, like we moms tend to be. Amy Adams is the third of the interesting-looking women in this one. She has done more TV than film, and I found her performance just a little overplayed for my taste. She plays the pregnant simple sister-in-law who instantly idolizes Embeth's character and somehow bounces on through her tragic little life.

The story is less compelling than its warts-and-all human characters, including a rather typical alien theme (the artsy city chick as a fish out of water in the humble dysfunctional southern country home of her hot boyfriend's family). But there are some poetic little bits: the boyfriend's spontaneous hymn at the church potluck, the outsider artist's dick fixation, the disturbed brother's late night twisted tete a tete with Embeth's character.

While I watched this movie I was giving it about a B, but I find some scenes still lingering in my mind days later. It's slowly moving up in my esteem, and that's probably the sign of a good movie.

Well now that I know Starz Comedy is not just funny ha ha stuff, I'm a little more prepared for the Squid and the Whale which would come on next. "Joint custody blows." I was instantly in tune with this one. For one thing, several of the characters were very reminiscent of one of my favorite movies you never saw The Secret Life of Girls. Though Secret Life is much more comedic (Eugene Levy plays the dad), the echoes are pretty close. A mom, a dad, and two sons struggle through the end of the marriage and finally see each other's damaged bits. The dad, like in Secret Life, is a college professor heading for a midlife crisis who used to be a well-known writer but can't get anything published anymore. His wife is emerging from the shadows to find success in her own writing, making dad's junk shrivel even more. The boys, one at puberty the other a few years younger, choose different sides in the breakup, and sadly screw themselves up as the broken aspects of each chosen parent are revealed.

I really liked this one, and not in small part because of the excellent soundtrack. Loudoun Wainwright III, McGarrigle sisters, back of the shelf classic Street Hassle by Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, and the sweet cherry on top, the hauntingly beautiful Figure Eight (from SchoolhouseRock!). I also liked the Brooklyn sets and scenery. But not only did it have a good story and characters, but the performances were really on, too. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney deftly played the parents, but the kids really stole the show. Some of the painfully awkward teenager moments were so real you just winced watching.

Time for me to play with my grandson who just woke up all smiley and adorable!

permalink posted by cat 7:15 AM

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two films: Junebug and The Squid And The Whale