Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Dark and the Daylight

"Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That's known as the children's hour."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I know I said I was going to talk about movies and food, and in a way this will be about movies, but not the movie "The Children's Hour" but about another movie altogether. What I want to introduce you to is my a movie called "Parenthood". I don't remember when or where I saw this movie but I own the VHS and I watch it often. It is on the top of my list as far as movies go. There are others but this one had quite an effect on me when I first saw it as a struggling step-mom.

What is was remarkable about this movie to me is . . . being a parent was something I came by through marriage by my husband had/has two daughters who were nine and eleven when we married. I was an only child who had never really been around kids that age except when I babysat at that age myself. It was pretty foreign to me and scary.

In "Parenthood" Steve Martin plays a pretty uptight stressed out dad. Father of three, with a wife who has really lost her identity raising three kids, the eldest of whom is having some learning issues and may need to be enrolled in a "special" class. Diane Weist plays a single mom with two kids who are really struggling with the divorce of the parents, their own raging hormones and wanting to be independent.

There is also and really wonderful grandmother, who reminds me very much of my own great-grandmother. She is probably eighty-five plus and filled with the wisdom that can only be acquired through time and living.

The parents of Steve Martin's character have another son who just can't seem to get it together, gambles and is always looking for a "sure thing", get rich quick, with little effort on his own. There are other folks in the movie but I don't want to bore you with a long, blow-by-blow of the whole story.

What I took away from this wonderful movie is that, life is unpredictable, scary and wonderful all at the same time, like a roller coaster. What I found here was a beautiful assemblage of people who represented a cross section of a lot of parents in America. They worry about their kids, will they be smart, will the catch the ball thereby spoiling the other teams hopes of a home run. The daughter who just can't wait to grow up but who is still in high school and in LOVE. The eleven year old boy who is just angry about the loss of his dad, confused about sex and a mom who is so caught up in trying to survive and keep the family afloat but who just doesn't seem to have time to really reach out to the kids.

The young man who is the love interest of the daughter has some great line which I've posted here. I hope the language doesn't offend anyone. Remember, it's his words not mine but I think they really embrace a very profound thought about parenting.

"Cowboy Gil" rescues his nine year old's birthday party when Cowboy Bob is accidentally sent to the wrong party and a stripper shows up for the nine year old's party. I love it. This dad is desperate to have this party be a success so he finds a child sized cowboy hat, makes chaps from a round, green bathroom mat that he splits up the middle and ties on with string. He has pizza cutters attached to his boots for spurs and a child's vest and the red bandanna. Somehow he captures the essence of a cowboy and those little boys buy it. They understand that it is all a made up thing but they are willing to just go with it anyway.

I love this movie. Yes it is a bit sentimental, so what's wrong with sentiment? Real life doesn't always come with everything resolved, but this movie certainly takes you through the pain, laughter and hope that most of us parents feel, on a good day. We want out kids to succeed and be happy, what parent doesn't? "Parenthood" just does it all so deftly, humorously and with such tenderness. I just think that anyone out there who is a parent needs to encouragement and shoring up this flick can provide. It is a feel good movie that shows the ups and downs. It is a great cast, really great. It's a great movie, enjoy the preview. It says in video what I've been saying in words. Enjoy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What to Ponder in Your Wandering Mind

I have read and heard that writers should write about something they know. Well, if you're like me, you know a little about a lot of things. So, I was thinking this morning as I was fixing brunch, how do I know what I like, what am I passionate about and what do I know. I wondered how do I grasp hold of that. I decided that, for me, the things I'm passionate about, are the things that are there in my mind when its on a sort of auto-pilot. What was it? What was I thinking about as I stood there with my hands and pans moving automatically but my brain was wandering through? It was first, movies and second, not surprising,was food.

I am the adult version of a child who grew up in Southern California, 30 minutes (at that time) from Hollywood and Vine, the studios, and all those things that you think of when you think So. Ca. Going to Disneyland was like going to the zoo, readily available and cheap! In 1950s-early 60s you could have a really great time at Disneyland including something to eat, a book of tickets and admission for about $5.00. I know, it sounds amazing and it was.

However,that is not what I want to write about today. I realized as I stood there, that I absolutely loved movies and food, and, I loved food/cooking and most especially movies about food. There are quite a few examples about food movies, most recently "Julie and Julia," then there was "The Big Night" and a real classic is "Babette's Feast." If you haven't seen Babette's Feast, do, rent it, or steal it but watch it because it is perfect and wonderful. We took our daughters to see it in the theater, their first foreign movie with subtitles and then after the movie, dinner. It was great for all of us to experience. It is a classic is the most literal sense of the word.

Also, as I stood there, I was thinking about the movie I watched last night as the New Year crept in. "Gran Torino" and I thought first that it was a wonderfully crafted movie, Clint Eastwood is amazing. His body of work in Hollywood is beyond my ability to express its wonder. But I was also thinking about the other actors who were in the movie with him, young people who were getting the opportunity to not only act in a movie directed by him, but to also work with him as he acted his part. What an amazing time for all of them. I get the sense the Clint (hope he doesn't mind first name basis) is a teacher of his craft and those who are lucky enough to be in the same space as him for a movie walk away with the most incredible experience imaginable. I'm not interested in doing a critique or review of the movie as much as talking about the process.

Movies have become incredibly complex and multi-layered, with almost more post production work than actual live action. One that jumps to my mind is "Avatar". Wow, so many new ground was broken with that. Yeah, it didn't have a great plot, and the script wasn't remarkable, but everything after that was. I did see it in Real 3D and it was amazing. The creativity that flowed through that movie was boundless. I just kept being blown away by what came next. As most of the reviews have said, it doesn't have a lot of plot strength but I don't think that is what most people who saw it were looking for. It was the up close, real encounter with a new world created in the studio and in the computer. Wow, have we come a long way.

I guess this is my new train of thought about my blog. I know that nothing I've talked about here is earth shaking but, I am finding what drives me and what it is that inspires me to write. I hope you will enjoy the journey too. I welcome your feedback, good or bad.

I have plans to share some of my favs about movies and food so you will find some links here pretty soon. Until then, keep watching those movies and cooking and eating. They go together surprisingly well.