Reminds Me Of Garden State

“Maybe that’s all family really is a group of people who miss the same imaginary place.”

Ever since Garden State came out I’ve been trying to recreate the sensation I got when I saw that movie for the very first time. You know the laughing, crying, not wanting the story to end. Here are just a couple items in our collection that call that to mind:

bookofjoeShortly after graduating from High School Joe Goffman leaves and never looks back, but you can’t always run away from your past and fifteen years later its time for Joe to come back home. There will be no welcome banners or a welcome home parade because when you write a best selling novel putting down everyone and everything in your home town people aren’t too enthusiastic about your return home. It doesn’t matter that your dad is in the hospital after suffering from a stroke, no one cares that you’ve hit writer’s block with your possible next novel, the bullies in high school are still going to beat you up and even your own brother doesn’t want to see you.  Not to mention the copies of your book strewn all over the lawn of your childhood home by none other than the neighborhood book club! The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper, slated to become a movie in 2010, will have you laughing, crying, and reminiscing about your own past regrets.

In My Blueberry Nights we meet Elizabeth, played by Norah Jones, who is myblueberrynights2suffering from heartbreak after she has discovered her boyfriend has cheated on her. She finds solace in the small New York City diner where she learned of her ex’s indescresions and soon after gets to know the guy behind the counter Jeremy, played by Jude Law, and his blueberry pie. At the diner she finds comfort, but it’s  memories soon become too great and she decides to leave New York. She ends up in Memphis working at a diner and bartending at night then it’s a off to Vegas all the while sending postcards to Jeremy. Along her journey she meets plenty of characters who help her grow and understand the bigger picture: you can’t runaway forever especially when what you need has been there all along.

The novel Hunting and Gathering by Anne Gavalda takes us to Paris, the city of Light, but you’d be surprised how many broken people occupy a place hunting-and-gatheringknown for romance. You have Camille an artist unaware of how truly talented she is hiding in a freezing hovel wasting away and working nights cleaning office buildings, Franck who has no time to visit the grandmother who raised him, but rather slaves away in a restaurant that is not his and lacks the intimacy in his one nights stands to create a real relationship, Philou, Franck’s roomate, who disguises his anxiety by memorizing the factoids and histories of France and can recite his entire family tree, and Paulette, Franck’s lonely grandmother, covering up the bruises so no one will notice she is falling apart. When these four strangers’ lives begin to intertwine they heal in ways they never imagined. This novel was also made into a French film titled Ensemble, C’est Tout starring Audrey Tautou.

My Night with Greg Kinnear

“There is a story about the Greek Gods; they were bored so they invented human beings, but they were still bored so they invented love, then they weren’t bored any longer. So they decided to try love for themselves. And finally, they invented laughter, so they could stand it.”

I put two promising titles on hold. One that would make me think and the other to make me laugh…without realizing it they both starred Greg Kinnear!

Love gives us promise, but it can be a promise so easily broken whether it’s a parent for a child, a woman for her lover, or something as pure and innocent as a first love. Although still grieving from his son’s death Professor Harry Stevenson, played by Morgan Freeman, is the outsider seeing love the way others whom are in it can’t. He sees Bradley, played by Greg Kinnear, oblivious to his wife falling in love with a woman right in front of his eyes; he sees Chloe and Oscar start on the precarious path of young love. Behind closed doors everyone has a story…some give too much of themselves, but others don’t give enough. In the movie Feast of Love, which is based on the novel The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter, one thing is for sure love always comes when you least expect it in varying ways and situations and can just as easily leave in the same way.

In the movie Baby Mama Kate Holbrook’s career has been her life. Concentrating on the demands of the job while ignoring thebabymoma ticking baby clock until she decides to ignore it no longer, but it seems a little too late for her to start on the path of motherhood. Seeking a surrogate she meets the eccentric Angie who not long after being chosen is pregnant, but its not all nesting and patiently waiting when Angie shows up on Kate’s doorstep with no place to live. Angie’s frazzled world and Kate’s over organized life aren’t too picture perfect. How does this odd couple come out on top despite the power struggle? Just add Rob Ackerman smoothie guy, played by Greg Kinnear, a fake pregnancy, and a T-shaped uterus.

The Women

“Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm. Then again, what do I know? I’m only a child.”

I love the stories you read and the movies you see that remind you of your family. Although I’m an only child my mother was one of four daughters and with that came a plethora of cousins, as well as, my grandmother on my father’s side who is one of six sisters! On holidays and birthdays whoever is hosting has a packed house with the sounds of laughter and the smells of home cooking. The women in my family are the home and they are stubborn, proud, and strong.

The movies and books below call to mind some of my favorite family traits:

In the movie The Upside of Anger we meet Terry Wolfmeyer, played by Joan Allen, and her four daughters, Andy, Emily, Hadley, and Popeye. After realizing Terry’s husband has left the family to go off and live in Sweden with his secretary the-all-together-all-the-time suburban housewife is no more. She is angry and sad and lets everyone know it! As her daughters are not only dealing with this new side to their mother they are also at a loss at to why their father left them. One by one they go on about their lives making mistakes, finding out who they are, and all together trying to stay afloat. Terry soon finds camaraderie and comfort with her neighbor an ex-baseball player turned radio DJ, Denny, played by Kevin Costner, and as things begin to turn around the truth of why their father left is revealed and the question is: Is it to late to continue with the lives they had all been living and still hold on to each other?  Continue reading “The Women”

Loving in Limbo

In the movie Wristcutters: A Love Story we find Zia, played by Patrick Fuget, who is severely depressed after his girlfriend breaks up with him and decides to commit suicide by slitting his wrists. Too bad the pearly gates are not his afterlife, but rather a rundown desert limbo with fellow suicide committers. When Zia finds out his ex-girlfriend also committed suicide shortly after him he decides to go find her and sets off on a bizarre road trip with his Russian comrade, Eugene.

Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker named Mikal who is on a search of her own to find the “People in Charge” believing she is there by mistake. Each person Zia interacts with still shows the scars of how they “offed” themselves as a constant reminder of the decision they had made.  As his crazy road trip goes on, each interaction brings enlightenment to a world that seems beyond understanding.

Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Camper’s, which is from the book of short stories The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God by Etgar Keret, this movie is a wistful and whimsical tale of the “life” after suicide.

Off The Map

“William Gibbs’ first painting was twenty inches high and thirty-one feet wide,

one foot shy of the perimeter of my room.

The dimensions suited the subject, the ocean’s horizon.

He hung it so that when I lay on my bed,

I could stare out fourteen miles to the horizon any way I looked.

Encircled by water, I would turn and float on my back,

arms outstretched, chin up,

and feel in the small of my back the rounded curve of the planet,

supporting me like a buoy.

Like faith.”

Based on the graceful and thought provoking play by Joan Ackerman the movie version of Off the Map challenges our idea of what is ideal and will have us remembering a time when things for ourselves began to change.

Sometimes when you look back on your life there is one moment that stands out above all others, the one moment that changed the way you saw the world. For Bo Groden it was the summer of her eleventh year. Continue reading “Off The Map”