The Modern Widower

The neighborhood is alive with gardeners mowing lawns,
                                       and trimming hedges,
                 the mechanized hiss of twirling sprinklers
          and for those just joining us,
           it’s a beautiful day and Hailey is dead and I have nothing to do,
nowhere to be. ~ How to Talk to a Widower

From 1960s TV sitcoms such as the Andy Griffith Show and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father we have seen the widower portrayed, but what about the modern widower’s story? How does one truly handle the loss when the setting isn’t picture perfect Mayberry?

After the death of his wife, Joe Warr, played by Clive Owen, has to step back from his career as a traveling sportwriter and come to terms with not only the tragic loss of his wife, but the raising of their six-year-old son without a mother. When his teenage son from a previous marriage joins the mix, it is an experiment of raising sons without female influence. With his “just say yes” philosophy — which includes water balloon fights indoors, riding on the hood of the car and jumping into bathtubs — the standards of parenting are stretched and altered. In the movie The Boys Are Back, which is based on the memoir The Boys are Back in Town by Joe Carr, life may be Continue reading “The Modern Widower”

Peter Dinklage: Larger than Life

It’s funny how people see me and treat me,

since I’m really just a simple,

boring person.

There is just something about Peter Dinklage that I find so fascinating and it’s not the fact that he is a little person. The depth of his characters far exceed his four feet five inches.

After his father’s death, Daniel, played by Matthew MacFadyen, has the unfortunate task of planning the funeral, from handling the costs rather then being able to invest in a flat for him and his wife Jane, to ensuring the relatives all arrive since the dreadful Uncle Alfie is wheelchair bound, and giving the eulogy rather than his famous author brother. Then as if that weren’t enough things begin to spiral downward even more with a mysterious guest lurking about, played by Peter Dinklage, a bottle of Valium that’s not actually Valium, and male nudity. All this wrapped up with an incredible cast makes Death at A Funeral anything, but boring. Continue reading “Peter Dinklage: Larger than Life”

Not Just a Pretty Face

It’s not the power of the curse – it’s the power you give the curse.

Born with a pig snout for a nose due to her rich family’s curse Penelope, played by Christina Ricci,  must find one man to marry her from the world of high society blue blood to make that curse go away forever. Forced to hide away from the outside world by her mother while a matchmaker searches for a suitable blue blooded man Penelope’s initial interaction is an interview with each guy through a one sided mirror, but Penelope soon pushes the boundaries forced upon her and starts to reveal herself even after it frightens most suitors away. When down and out blue blood Max Campion, played by James McAvoy, gets paid to woo Penelope out of isolation they both bring out the best in one another. When she finally reveals herself to him will he be the one to break the curse forever? Produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon, Penelope, helps us discover that we have the greatest power of all.

After being horribly burned beyond recognition in a car accident the narrator goes through the endless pain and depression of his wounds. Dark and tragic the only light is a schizophrenic sculptor from the psych ward named Marianne Engel, who tells him that they have known each other for hundreds of years. In order to prove this to him she begins to tell him the story of their love along with other love stories to weave a tapestry of comfort and calm. Soon he finds himself in Marianne Engel’s care and the narrator begins to grow with Marianne Engle by his side, but at the same time his addiction to morphine becomes even greater and her manic state begins to overwhelm her time carving out the final gargoyles she must finish before their time together runs out. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson tells the story of a love that transcends time and physical appearance.

Lars and the Real Girl is charming tale of love with no bounds. After his father’s death Lars, played by Ryan Gosling, moves into the garage turned apartment on his father’s property with the house occupied by his brother Gus, played by Paul Schneider, and pregnant sister-in-law Karin, played by Emily Mortimer. Isolation is what Lars prefers and he only ventures out to go to work and attend Sunday service. Karin starts to worry about Lars’ isolation and tries in vain to get Lars to interact. When a large box arrives for Lars revealing a life sized doll Karin’s worries are no longer exaggerated. Lars is convinced that this doll is a real person named Bianca, a Brazilian missionary that is wheelchair bound! Karin and Gus seek the help of the town doctor and psychologist Dagmar, played by Patricia Clarkson. She urges Karin and Gus that the best way to help Lars is to treat Bianca as if she were a real person and soon the whole town beings to do the same. With parties and meetings with Bianca Lars is caught up in a whirlwind of activity that forces him to not only interact, but to decide how he wants his life to be.

The Men of the BBC

“I’m not hung up about Darcy. I do not sit at home with the pause button on Colin Firth in clingy pants, okay? I love the love story. I love Elizabeth. I love the manners and language and the courtesy. It’s become part of who I am and what I want. I’m saying that I have standards.” — Amanda, Lost in Austen

The men of the BBC make me melt. Maybe it’s their propriety or the way women are seen through their eyes that I find myself missing in my everyday life. The exchanging of glances across a crowded room and a light hand reaching out to touch the other’s for an instant can even been seen as too much. In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine a time when any man or woman would hold back.

Elliot Cowan got my attention in Lost in Austen. Amanda, a lover of all things Austen, finds herself swapping her present day life in London with Elizabeth Bennett’s estate of Longbourn. Clumsily walking through Pride and Prejudice society, she must find her way back home without destroying the best love story ever told. With her modern day language and clothing it’s very hard for attention not to be made to her, but the longer she stays the more the characters of Pride and Prejudice become a part of her — and she a part of them. The biggest question she must face: Can she go back to her real life when her heart has already been given away to the leading man? Continue reading “The Men of the BBC”

An Unfinished Life

We all start out so damn sure, thinking we’ve got the world on a string.

If we ever stopped to think about the infinite number of ways

we could be undone,

     we’d never leave our bedrooms.

 

I’ve had a plethora of women in my life expecting children. Some married, some not, some engaged, some first time mothers, and some expecting their second child. Being an only child I am completely enthralled with these little bundles entering my life. It gives me the opportunity to be an auntie to these little ones and an even better friend.

But sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. Some babies don’t get their first steps and some siblings don’t get that brother they’ve been patiently waiting for. Some relationships are tested, while others completely fall apart. Sometimes distances are too far to cross when a friend’s life is quietly unraveling.

During some of these trying times I’ve been running across material in the library that has soothed me and pushed me to examine my life, to hold tighter, and to let go.

Revolutionary Road, directed by Sam Mendes, shows us a more unpleasant revolroadside of marriage. Set in 1955 we meet April and Frank Wheeler, played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicaprio, a seemingly perfect young couple filled with all the hopes and dreams that start out, but then quietly and silently vanish.  Based on the novel by Richard Yates we see both characters give in and give up in order to live in their suburban confines, while having little satisfaction at home and work. When April suggests moving to Paris it reignites their hopes, but with skepticism silently stewing in Frank April attempts to make sure their dream comes true no matter how high the cost. Continue reading “An Unfinished Life”