MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Lars & The Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl is one of those quirky movies a person either loves or hates.  I loved it; one of my critique partners loathed it and found it disturbing. But we frequently disagree on movies.

Ryan Gosling stars as a young man in a northern Minnesota town who is searching for true love. He’s also battling his way out of depression. He orders a blow-up sex doll on line and introduces her around town as his girlfriend, Bianca, a wheelchair-bound missionary.

As I said: quirky.

But not kinky. There’s no sex involved. Lars is deeply religious and Bianca is a missionary. Lars’s depression isolates him from human interaction. Once his brother and sister-in-law get on board with treating Bianca as “real”, the rest of the town follows suit . How the townspeople react to and accept Bianca helps Lars connect to others and heal.

I found it very sweet.

Perhaps I liked the story because the town in which I grew up looked after a family of intellectually disabled people.  Maybe outsiders didn’t understand why Henry/Hank  (depending on which side of town you lived) was allowed to wear out the grass under the big tree on the corner outside the Presbyterian church, but he sat there for years, being social. Some folks called him the mayor.  And Eddie was a particular favorite of the children who visited his grandfather’s front porch to purchase penny candy.

If you like offbeat and sweet, try Lars & the Real Girl.



MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Snow Cake

Welcome to the debut of MJ’s Movies, where once a month–the second Monday–I’ll talk about a motion picture.

I tend to like quirky, off-beat movies. A friend recommended SNOW CAKEa 2006 independent release starring Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver.

This movie should be better known than it is.

Weaver plays a high-functioning autistic woman and Rickman plays a man who “accidentally” comes into her life for a brief moment.  Wikipedia calls the movie a romantic comedy, while IMDb classifies it as a drama.  Amazon.com says:

Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver form the quintessential indie-film odd couple in this intimately observed drama that makes a memorable detour from the usual high-concept, special effects-laden studio fare.”

So, so true. Parts are funny; parts are sad; it’s all compelling.

I was lucky because my library has a DVD available.

This movie should have gotten more attention than it received, if for no other reasons than Rickman and Weaver.

If you’re able to get your hands on a copy, grab and watch it. You shouldn’t be disappointed.


#UpbeatAuthors: A Movie About Perseverance

One of my favorite movies of all time is Galaxy QuestI loved the original Star Trek series, so a movie spoofing the show is a sheer delight.

Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and the incomparable Alan Rickman head an amazing cast. In a nutshell, the movie is about an TV program that has been off the air for a while, but which has a huge, obsessed fanbase. Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, who played Commander Taggart on the TV show, a Captain Kirk knock-off. The problem is the TV show is bouncing around in outer space (along with every other TV show) and one alien culture believes they are “historical documents.” And so the fun begins.

The script is filled with delightfully quotable quips.

Nothing is sacred: the actors, the scripts, the fans who attend conventions.

Why am I writing about a 19-year-old movie? Because the motto of the character played by Tim Allen’s character is “Never give up! Never surrender!”

It’s all about perseverance.

Movie Review: Please Stand By

I saw a trailer for Please Stand By in early spring. My local library system had a copy, so I reserved it. A couple of months passed, but I love having my tax dollars work for me. We recently watched the film.

Premise: a young woman who writes Star Trek fanfic wants to enter her script in a contest. Oh, and the woman is autistic.

What’s not to love?

I really liked the movie. TV Stevie said it “had potential, but turned into a message movie.” He doesn’t like message movies. But all stories have messages. I like movies for story. Mr. “I Was a Cinema Major in College” has other things he looks for in a movie.  And that’s fair. But this movie wasn’t about those other things: texture, camera angles, and who the heck knows what esoteric other stuff. It was a story about a woman who had a goal, and despite all the circumstances against her, succeeds.

When a heroine doesn’t fit male-defined roles, men have trouble understanding them. Take The Florida Project. The women were variations on stereotypes: Madonnas and whores. Well received. Great reviews. But the females in the movie never stepped out of male-defined boxes.

Wendy, the heroine of Please Stand By doesn’t fit in a box.  I think that’s why men don’t “get” the movie.  One (male) reviewer even went so far as to write:  “it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.” Another man wrote: “Touches the viewer with the subtle emotional wallop of a feather brushing against the heart.”

A lot of professional female reviewers panned the movie, too.  It was generally thought too bland. I guess we know which reviewers are ignorant of autism.

Just because a movie isn’t about shedding blood or blowing up things doesn’t make it a bad movie. Exploring “women’s” issues–family, relationships, etc. doesn’t make a movie a bad. Lack of violence shouldn’t be a touchstone, but in today’s world, it seems to have become one.

There were many subtle parallel layers in the film. At least one was “mansplained.”

To me, the important thing was that Wendy had a goal and nothing was going to stop her from submitting that script to that contest. Her determination is what kept her going, despite the world conspiring to prevent her from achieving what she wanted.

That’s an important lesson for anyone to learn.



Me Movies

One of my goals for 2017 was a list of movies I’ve never seen but felt I needed to watch.

Part 1 of the list consisted of the six original Star Trek motion pictures. I loved the original series. I love the rebooted movies (with Chris Pine). How could I have missed the movies with Shatner, Nimory, etc.?

I finally watched the last one. It was probably my favorite of the six, except maybe the whale one.

Now, on to Harry Potter.