[Possible-Spoiler alert]

After having heard an interview by my favorite interviewer in the world, Terry Gross of Fresh Air, I had to see this movie. I don't, for the most part, watch movies. And, it is odd that I would choose to see a movie about lesbian love. (I'm of the gender that does not have ovaries.) I am, however, quite impressionable and Terry and the people she interviewed (Todd Haynes, the director, and Phyllis Nagy, the screenplay writer) made it seem so fascinating with their stories about the making of the movie, the novel that it was based on (The Price of Salt, originally) and the author of that novel. It was irresistible, even. I thought about the movie constantly before I saw it. I carried it around in my heart for days, like an amulet.

Cate Blanchett is incredible. She is not a classic beauty. Her eyes seem to close from the bottom up. Her cheekbones are pronounced and her mouth always seems like she's about to cry – not in a pouty French way, but in a way that kept me on edge. Is she going to smile? Is she going to laugh? Is she going to cry? She played the part of Carol Aird to the point that I believe this is what she's really like – a severe, intelligent, determined (wealthy) housewife and mother in the 1950's who is an agent of her own destiny and perfectly capable of making her own life given the resources available to women in 1950's United States. In scenes involving men she is 100% in control of the situation (at least in appearances). She has grace and composure that people naturally respond to. With Therese Belivet she is always more focussed. But, she also lets her guard down so that Therese sees emotions and insecurities that men would not be privy to.

I don't know that I've seen Rooney Mara before. She plays Therese, a timid yet competent young woman in New York City who falls in love with Carol, a customer she sees at the department store where she works. She reminds me very much of the character Amélie in the movie by the same name. Her dark hair and timid personality are reminiscent of that character. Therese knows she wants to be a photographer, but it takes some prodding from others to convince her to pursue it. She's subservient in the roll of a department store clerk in a rather abusive environment and she loves to hang out with the guys. She's at an age where she can, and does, accept whatever adventures life throws at her. So, falling in love with a another woman, while it may not be what she expected, she is predisposed to go along with it, without resistance. She does, however, intercede meekly in destiny. For example, when Carol – accidentally or not – leaves her gloves on the display counter Therese mails them to her using the address from the order she placed for her. From there Carol invites her to lunch.

There were a couple of scenes that stuck out to me. In one, Therese's boyfriend is walking her home. He has declared that he loves her and wants to marry her, and as they walk she talks about her photography. When she says she is thinking about putting together a portfolio, he abruptly changes the subject to their trip to Europe (which he's paying for.) He is a 1950's man and her world is supposed to revolve around him. She can have her little hobbies, but he's there to keep priorities straight. Compare that to the scene in which a friend gets her a job at the newspaper where he works, almost insisting that she pursue photography. Also, compare it to a scene in which Carol buys her a nice camera.

In another scene early in the movie Carol is brushing her daughter's dark hair in front of a vanity mirror and teaching her to count by counting the brush strokes. Later, in a motel, Therese is sitting in front of a vanity mirror and her dark hair is so like Carol's 4-year-old daughter that the similarities in the scenes cannot be an accident. Carol is much older than Therese, and sophisticated. Carol has experience and Therese is learning her way in this different world.

The cinematography in the movie is incredible. I don't even know where to begin to analyze that because I know nothing about the art. But, I can say that it is captivating, it is beautiful and it makes me happy that there are people making movies like this, (as opposed to blockbuster films.) If you didn't speak English I would still recommend seeing the movie, and without subtitles or dubbing (*shudders*). It would still be a captivating movie, and I'm not certain how much you'd miss without understanding the dialogue. (I wouldn't recommend turning the sound off and watching, because the ambient noise is very much a part of the experience.)

Somebody heard me talking about the movie and asked if she should go see it. That's a tricky one to answer, but my thought is that if you find yourself asking that question, then yes, you should see it. As for everybody else... well, it is not a blockbuster movie, it is not action-packed, it's more or less an artsy movie. But, it is such a good movie that I couldn't stop thinking about it for days after I saw it. The passion is still there when I think about it even a week later.

So, do consider seeing the movie, either at the theater or at home. Terry Gross didn't let me down on this one. It is amazing.

Thank you for reading. Do come back.


e A r n i e

Ignorance is Bliss

July 30, 2012

There's something surreal about coming of age when you've led a rather sheltered life. There are so many things that you're supposed to know, indeed that people assume you do know, and yet so many of them you've not even heard of. I wasn't raised in an Orthodox Jewish or an Amish society, but we definitely were not part of Main Stream America. I speak of my sister and myself, the sixth and seventh of my mother's eight children – the first and second of my father's three. And, there is the key to it all. I did not create this blog to bash any set of people, even those who happen to be my father. But, one can't deny that a father has quite a bit of influence on his children and as it turns out my particular father happens to hate people and he went to great lengths to make sure that we, also, hated people. He has his own history and reasons for being who he is, but there you are and there you have it. The five older siblings had a different father and they had their hands full with him, from what I understand, and my younger brother came along 5 years after me, and he began kindergarten and graduated from the same school system with the same class of people and he had a different life than Lottie and I did.

Some things aren't worth going back to try to recoup. I mean, at the age of 42 I don't think I would get a lot out of watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Breakfast Club. They both seem to be movies made for teenagers growing up in the 80's. IMDb writes this about Ferris Bueller, "A high school wise guy is determined to have a day off from school, despite of what the principal thinks of that." That along with the smug look on a very young Matthew Broderick's face make me think that I should let this particular phenomenon go. About The Breakfast Club it writes, "Five high school students, all different stereotypes, meet in detention, where they pour their hearts out to each other, and discover how they have a lot more in common than they thought." Now, that sounds more substantial, but I can't help but think that this is basically a formulaic showcase for an up-and-coming brat pack. I will admit that it's entirely possible that I'm wrong, and if so, then so be it.

Even drugs seem pointless. I mean, most people did their experimentation with marijuana, cocaine and so on in high school and college and most of those people have moved on to different things. Like children. It feels like if I were to try to start now it would seem like a pathetic middle age crisis and that's not really the image I want to foster while I'm going through a middle age crisis.

It's really interesting how, during the transition into the world, I couldn't tell what was new and what was old. When I was in high school I heard a song, which I now know is called Rag Doll and is sung by Aerosmith, and I remember thinking that it was a good song and I distinctly remember assuming that it was an old song that had been played for over a decade. Turns out, I was hearing it as it was released. I was actually hearing it at the same time that my classmates were; I had just assumed that they'd all known the song all their lives. That's another thing about growing up sheltered; you assume that everybody else knows so much more than you do. You probably assume this because 95% of the time it's true, but there are times when you accidentally come face to face with something contemporary.

While others were listening to The Cars, Pink Floyd (We Don't Need No Education was old, but still incredibly popular in Boerne, TX), AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and others that I mix up in my head but that I'm certain were popular when I was in school, we were getting down to the rhythms of The Andrew Sisters, Glen Miller and Peggy Lee. My little brother once called me in San Antonio from college in Austin to confirm to whomever he was talking to that there is, indeed, a song called Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. (There is.)

It's not that I think I missed out on so much. I mean, I like Peggy Lee and Spike Jones. But, it's awkward when somebody makes a reference to something and you're left standing there with a blank look on your face because you didn't even have the sense to know that you were supposed to recognize whatever it was that was just referenced. And, you learn out of self-defense not to talk about new things unless you know for ABSOLUTE certain that they are new. About two years ago, I heard a new song that I kind of liked. It was being played on an alternative radio station, so I had reason to believe it was relatively recent. And, even though I've been through this same thing so many times, it never occurred to me that the song just might not be new. Then, while I was in a waiting room somewhere, I heard The Man in the Box by Alice in Chains on a TV show about the best videos of the 90's. According to Wikipedia, that song was released in 1991.

A lot of this is my fault. About the time I graduated high school I developed a distaste for TV and I gave up watching it. That's not to say that I got my news and stayed up-to-date by reading magazines and newspapers and thus look down my educated nose at the television-watching boors. I just puttered along in ignorance, and still do to a great extent. I'm much more aware of current events these days. And now that there are home computers on every desk in every house and office and on every phone and radio and even on refrigerators I can always log into Facebook and see what people are making fun of with ecards and then I can google the key words and figure out what's going on. This is how I figured out that a man in Florida really did eat another man's face while that other man was alive. But, I'm not entirely sure that I wanted to know that. Plus, if I can be delighted to hear a new song, who cares if it's been around for two decades?

These days I read the online version of the Austin newspaper at work; I read Newsweek on my Nook and I listen to KGSR, which has a mix of folkish singers, singer/song-writers, alternative musicians, and some musicians who are played on every other radio station known to man. Church is nice because the Bible's been around for 2000 years. We're all kind of on equal footing in that regard, though granted some people have spent more time studying it than I have. I mostly accept that I'm ignorant to everything I should know and I savor Agatha Christie mysteries, Masterpiece Mystery on PBS and I don't even try to understand what's going on in the contemporary world of popular culture. I'm too far behind and it's just not worth trying to catch up at this point. I have, however, stopped apologizing for it. Now, when I flaunt my ignorance I do it with a flair. Then I go home and google whatever it was I missed, unless I've lost interest by that point, which happens about half the time.

Well, it's getting late again and my head hurts and I want to sleep tonight, so perhaps I'll go to bed. I'll write more soon.

Until then I remain,

Yours truly,