You know how there's always this one movie that you're ignoring in your Netflix recommendations? It's been there for quite a while now but you just scroll past it because it just isn't catching your attention. Every day you go past it thinking, I really ought to go to Netflix and block this movie from being recommended. For me this movie is In Your Eyes.
Over the weekend I finally decided to (got bored enough) to watch it. It's scary how well Netflix knows me at this point. Of course I liked this movie. I only vaguely knew that it was a love story. The movie poster alone will tell you that. Even reading the premise had me concerned that I wouldn't like it. A guy and a girl share a psychic connection from across the country and fall in love? Sounds ridiculous.
I should have looked into it further. The movie is written and produced by Joss Whedon. That alone should have sent me running back to my TV. Only Whedon could pull off something like this.
For the entire movie, the main characters are talking out loud to each other. They can see what the other person sees, they can hear/smell/taste/feel what the other person does. Both Rebecca and Dylan are lonely and just trying to make it through the drudgery of everyday life. Dylan is an ex-con and Rebecca is a purposeless housewife who appears to be controlled by her husband.
As they get to know each other you learn more of their backstories and you start to see them try and improve themselves. Dylan starts to clean up his life and Rebecca basically works on getting herself out into the world. Of course, they struggle with the surrounding world since they appear to be crazy. They keep looking like they are talking to themselves. At first Rebecca occasionally attempts to play it off by scrambling for her phone. One wonders why they wouldn't just use ear pieces so that it would always look like they were on the phone, but without that part of the movie, the plot fails to move.
One of my favorite scenes occurs when there is something wrong with Rebecca's car and the mechanic tries to overcharge her. Through her eyes, Dylan is able to help her fix the car and put the mechanic in his place.
What should be a ridiculous premise ends up being charming and delightful. Even with the drama at the end, you already know they are going to find their way to each other and it's a heartwarming union. The movie is both predictable and unpredictable. Considering this is primarily a movie about two people talking to each other, the extraneous cast is well rounded and fleshed out. What could have come off as cheesy comes off as rich and layered.
Thanks Netflix and Joss. You got me again.
While trying to get into the holiday spirit a little more last night, I decided to watch two holiday movies that I had not yet seen. Christmas on the Bayou and Wish Upon A Christmas.
Both were equally cheesy and ridiculous. Both involved a single parent in some way. Both involved going back home and rediscovering what is "truly important". Both involved discovering that the first love that got away was the true love. Aside from all the incredibly obvious things that are wrong with these scenarios, I think what bothered me most about them is how they made me feel and how they portrayed women in general.
Maybe it was watching them back to back. Maybe it's just me. I had a hard time with the idea that being a career minded woman is somehow wrong or at the very least unfulfilling. The idea that a guy is the only way a woman can be fulfilled or happy is a long standing trope that has always irked me. It especially irks me around the holidays because these movies imply that the only gift worth receiving is the gift of love from an unexpected man.
Honestly this whole portrayal of women in movies is an entire other blog post. It'll be a while before I can fully form the words to express my disdain for the majority of the movies out there. One of the very first scenes in Christmas on the Bayou is of the main character behaving as though she is harried and scattered. She thinks her life is together but it's not and she clearly needs to find a way to be grounded. Oh no! She accidentally played the video of her kid begging her to come to his soccer game. Oh that pesky promotion she keeps getting passed over for! But her boss is worried she'll quit after she completely flubbed a client pitch? It makes no sense.
There I sat on my couch last night. A fully formed and self-aware woman and I'm watching movies that make me feel as though I'm missing something. And listen, I get it. Love is an amazing thing. I'd like to believe that someday I'll experience an actual reciprocal romantic love. In the meantime though, my life is full. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and a job that I'm really good at. I feel like when love comes around for me it's going to be a nice addition to my life, not something that will replace some theoretical gaping hole.
So why do I still watch this drivel? Partially because it's the only thing on TV right now aside from weird reality shows about the Real Housewhores of Plastic Surgery County or Little People wedding planners (side note, WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE ON TV AND I'M IN A CUBICLE?!?!) Partially because despite all my gruff and complaints, I just like happy endings in whatever form they take.
There is so much hatred and anger and death happening in the world right now. I need a little cheese. I need a happy ending. Even if it's fake. It makes the rest of the BS on TV that we're bombarded with worth it.
I realize I'm a flip flopper on this one. It happens to the best of us. Do you have a favorite Holiday movie?
While everyone else was out watching Star Wars this weekend, I went for a movie with a little less action. For weeks now I've been reading nothing but good things about Manchester by the Sea. There is nothing that I will be able to convey in this post that will fully describe to you how much of a gut kick this movie is.
By now you likely know the basic premise. Lee's brother dies unexpectedly and he has to go back to his small hometown to handle the arrangements and take guardianship of his sixteen-year-old nephew.
The writer/director gives you a nuanced view of death and family that while attempted in the past by others, has never been fully realized until this movie. It's a hundred other minor details that make the movie though. It's when he goes to see his brother's body and you don't even notice his face because you're watching his hands and how he's struggling to know where to put them. It's simple and nuanced and heartbreaking. It was the trying to put the falling meat back into the freezer and not being able to get the door to shut and then knocking your head on the door. It was leaving the funeral home and forgetting where you parked. It was falling on the ice on the way home from the store (90% certain it was a real fall too). It was all the little things...plus it was real snow in New England, none of the fake stuff.
The world they created was real and heartbreaking. The idea that this could happen to anyone latches on to you and doesn't let go.
It's also a masterful portrayal of depression. From beginning to end, even though we go through Lee's journey of trying to make it through his sadness we are left with the idea that there are some things that will never be OK. Throughout the first half of the movie I found myself wondering why he wasn't reacting more to his brother's passing. When the reveal came, everything fell into place.
Casey Affleck's portrayal of Lee is so perfect that it was hard to remember that you're not watching a real person go through these things. To say that he inhabited his character is an gross understatement of fact. He should win every award possible this year. I can't imagine that there will be a movie that will come close to this one.
Do yourself a favor. Despite the sadness, you should go see this movie. It's been days and it's still with me.