Hateship Loveship

MV5BMTQzMTc3MjY5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzM0MzI1MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_Hateship Loveship is the story of Johanna Parry (played by Kristen Wiig), a lonely woman who has spent her life caring for others. After the elderly woman she is caring for dies, Johanna finds employment working for Mr. McCauley (played by Nick Nolte) and his teenage granddaughter Sabitha (played by Hailee Steinfeld.)

Sabitha’s friend, Edith, convinces her to write a letter to Johanna from Ken (played by Guy Pearce), Sabitha’s ex-convict, drug-addicted father. Ken is a mess: he has a drug-addict girlfriend (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh), lives in a dilapidated motel which he is ostensibly fixing up, and was responsible for the death of Sabitha’s mother. Johanna decides to take a chance on love and abandons her job with Mr. McCauley and Sabitha to visit Ken.

Kristen Wiig is spectacular in this movie, delivering an understated, nuanced performance; she portrays a wide variety of emotions with a simple mouth twitch or a slight nod. This is surprising as she was mostly a comedic actress in the slapstick vein. Wiig plays Johanna as a person who has been beaten down by life, but refuses to give up and even is even able to make the best of a horrible situation caused by a cruel, mean-spirited trick. She is damaged, but not broken. She transforms from someone who has never loved but wants to into someone who does love, unconditionally.

Based on a short story by Alice Munro, “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,” the movie is a moving portrayal of realistic adult love. Broken people find each other and are able to fall in love despite neither being glamorous, wealthy,  or conventionally attractive. The film never feels like it is beating the viewer over the head with this message. Rather, it lets the actors play out the theme in slow, quiet and moving way.

The film can be kind of slow-moving, but the understated performances offset this; the film never feels as if it is lagging. Another minor criticism is that Ken and his junkie girlfriend, Chloe (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) look too fit. Ken is trim and muscular, he doesn’t look dissipated from years of smoking, drug abuse, malnutrition and soul-crushing guilt. Jennifer Jason Leigh is still very attractive; she looks nothing like an aging drug addict and is healthy with bright eyes. She’s not scrawny and emaciated as many drug addicts are. But this is only a minor gripe and does not take away from the movie or the performances of the actors.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Hateship Loveship

Worth a look if you like realistic portrayals of adult love.

Skip it if your are more of a rom-com person.

-Steve

Her

MV5BMjA1Nzk0OTM2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU2NjEwMDE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Her is the story of Theodore (played by Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely man in the last stages of divorce. He still loves his soon-to-be ex-wife, Catherine (played by Rooney Mara) but she clearly does not love him, if she ever did. Theodore buys and installs a new operating system who is sentient, self-aware and names herself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Theodore falls in love with Samantha but as their relationship develops Samantha grows in ways that neither could have predicted beforehand. Amy Adams rounds out the cast as Theodore’s friend in the midst of her own relationship failure.

One of the things that stands out is the use of the color red. Red in some form is featured prominently in just about every scene in the film, except for a few key scenes where its absence is conspicuous. The use of the color red is  established early on in the opening opening shots. There was red glass behind Theodore and he had on a red shirt.

The most predominant use of red was in clothing. Theodore  wore a lot of red items, mainly shirts. Even when he wasn’t wearing a red shirt, some of them had red in them, kind of a muted red. Amy Adams wore a red shirt towards the end. I think for the characters, red stands for love.

In some of the early establishing scenes when they showed the back story leading up to Theodore’s and Catherine’s (Rooney Mara) divorce, IIRC, Theodore had on a red shirt, but brown pants and a camel/khaki over shirt. I think this was meant to signify that he was still in love with his soon-to-be ex-wife, but there was a barrier to that love, namely her withdrawal and the subsequent divorce proceedings. The camel/khaki jacket was meant to represent that barrier. Of course, it could be that Catherine herself was a barrier to Theodore, it could be that she never loved Theodore at all. Or at least, she never loved him as much as he loved her.

Catherine’s character was interesting in that she mostly wore white, no red for sure. In one early scene she wore white pajamas in the early scenes with Theodore, and later a white blouse and black skirt when they met towards the end. I think for her the color white in the first scene represents death, most likely the death of her relationship with Theodore, which is possibly foreshadowing.  In the earlier scenes she’s in white and Theodore has a red shirt on and white boxers. I think this is meant to show that Theodore always did love her more than she loved him.  He even said later that Catherine was brought up in a family where nothing was ever good enough. I think the later scene when they met to sign the divorce papers and for Theodore to reveal to her that he was in love with Samantha, the white blouse signified the death of his relationship with Catherine. White is the color associated with death and mourning in Japan. The black skirt (along with the white blouse) signified her black and white thinking which lead to their divorce. The black skirt could also represent death as well.

I do think that the main meaning of the use of red in the film is love, though. He was portrayed as a kind, loving man, albeit very lonely. His soon-to-be-ex could not return that love. Samantha could, but she grew in ways that neither of them could comprehend. I thought it was interesting that Theodore was stuck in the pair bonding paradigm, one woman, one man. I think it hurt him to realize that Samantha could love more than one entity at a time (over 600). But ultimately, he realized that loving more than one made her love him even more. This was in contrast to Theodore’s relationship with Catherine. It seems to me that Theodore outgrew Catherine.

Her is a very thoughtful, moving film. It is beautifully filmed and the acting is well done. It is not an action film, however. It is an exploration of love, loss, and loneliness. Most of the the film reveals these themes through dialog between the characters.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Her

Worth a look if you like moving films which explore the nature of love in our modern age and the possibility of loving an artificially intelligent being.

Skip it if you like more traditional romcoms or action films.

-Steve

 

 

Cult Movies: The Warriors

MV5BMTYzMjE2MzE3MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzUyNDQ5._V1_SX214_AL_The Warriors is the story of New York City gangs. Cyrus, the leader of the most powerful gang in New York City, calls together representatives of all other NYC gangs for a remarkable proposal: quit fighting amongst themselves and band together to run the entire city as gang members vastly outnumber the police. Things go awry when a rogue gang member assassinates Cyrus and blames it on the Warriors, a gang from Coney Island. Word quickly spreads and unarmed and outnumbered, The Warriors must make their way back to their home turf through wave after wave of enemies.

Apparently the story draws inspiration from  Xeonphon’s “Anabasis” about Greek mercenaries who find themselves stranded behind enemy Persian lines after aligning themselves with Cyrus the Younger in the battle of Cunaxa, which was an attempt to seize the Persian throne. The movie itself was based on the 1965 novel by Sol Yurick which itself was a gritty, realistic portrayal of gangs and intended to be an antidote to the stylized West Side Story view of gangs. (1)

Released in 1979, The Warriors was controversial at the time. Gang related violence broke out at several screenings and the movie was soon pulled from theaters. Subsequent VHS, DVD and Blu Ray releases have cemented the movie as a cult favorite.

The movie itself is campy; each gang has its own name and costume. For example, the Baseball Furies dress as baseball players with painted faces and fight with ball bats. Despite the camp factor, the movie is hyper violent. And even though the violence is heavily stylized (again, the ball bat fight between The Warriors and the Baseball Furies) but brutal and unrelenting. Definitely not for the squeamish.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

The Warriors

Worth a look if you like hyper violent movies or campy, cult classics.

Skip it if you are turned off by excessive violence or you think that West Side Story is a more accurate representation of gang life.

-Steve

(1) Taken from the Internet Movie Database entry on The Warriors. Click on the link for more Warriors trivia.

 

Under the Radar Movies: Outlander

MV5BMzM3NzU3OTc0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzIwNDI4OA@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_The cover bills this movie as “Beowulf Meets Predator” and is a fitting description.

Jim Caviezel plays Kainan, an extraterrestrial human transporting a savage alien creature called a Moorwen. Kainan’s spaceship crashes in the Viking kingdom Herot, Norway circa 709 AD. He  finds his co-pilot dead after the crash and the Moorwen has escaped. It starts to destroy villages in the area and Kainan must hunt the creature down to destroy it.

Jim Caviezel as always is excellent in the role of Kainan. He is conflicted about the creature: on the one hand the creature is a destructive force of nature; inadvertently unleashed on the Vikings, it will wipe them out unless Kainan can stop it. On the other, Kainan’s people had initially caused the situation allowing the creature to become a problem; the creature is not inherently evil.

Ron Perlman and John Hurt have small supporting roles which make this film better than it should be. Overall, I like this movie, have watched several times and own it on Blu Ray. However, it is uneven. The special effects are decent but not outstanding.  The CGI-rendered Moorwen is particularly good and the monster is very scary.  The acting is good and the storyline is compelling.

On the downside, the story is derivative of both Beowulf and Predator, but this is only a minor criticism and didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. Some of the sets and props look kind of cheesy, but to be fair, it is a low-budget production. However, legends usually contain a kernel of truth and the premise that Kainan is Beowulf and the Moorwen is Grendel is an interesting idea. It is even plausible given that this is set in a universe where scientifically advanced extraterrestrial humans exist.

Click on the following link to place a hold in it:

Outlander

Check this out if you like science fiction/fantasy mashups involving Vikings.

Skip it if you think that it is too derivative.

– Steve

 

 

One Book One Broomfield part 2

The wait is over, and this blog update is overdue, the 2014 One Book One Broomfield (OBOB) choice is Blood Memory by Margaret Coel. This year the committee selected two books, Coel’s fictional work Blood Memory and her non-fiction work Chief Left Hand. Each title deals in its own way with the Sand Creek Massacre and its aftermath.

blood memoryBlood Memory is a mystery set in Denver that follows Catherine McLeod, investigative reporter for the “Journal,” one of Denver’s major newspapers. Her recent coverage of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes filing a claim for twenty-seven million acres of their ancestral lands has made her the target for assassination. Her investigation uncovers a conspiracy involving her ex-husband’s wealthy family and state politicians. As Catherine unravels the truth, she discovers some startling facts about her own heritage, making her would-be killer all the more desperate to find her.

Chief Left Hand recounts the life of the Arapaho chief, diplomat, and linguist, describes the experiences of his tribe during the nineteenth century, and discusses the Sand Creek Massacre.

chief_lg

The library has many events planned to tie in with the OBOB, culminating in a talk and book signing from Margaret Coel on Saturday, November 8. Follow this link for all the events:

http://www.ci.broomfield.co.us/index.aspx?nid=2042

The library has also created a bibliography if you want to read more about Arapaho culture, land rights and the Sand Creek Massacre. Here’s the link to that:

http://www.ci.broomfield.co.us/DocumentCenter/View/8699

-Sarah BG