Mortality Movie Weekend

Last night, we watched Tim Burton's “Big Fish“.  I barely remember hearing about this movie when it came out for some unknown reason.  I only picked it up now because it was recommended a couple times in a thread I posted on AskMetafilter asking for suggestions of works about fathers and sons (a big theme in my recent reading and viewing).  

The movie was pretty good but the father-son thing didn't hit me as hard as promised in that thread – perhaps because I was expecting some big sentimental or tragic ending.  It was a touching enough film but didn't reach the next level.  (And for those who say it's Burton's masterwork, I think I'd still take “Edward Scissorhands”.  Hell, I might take the first Batman over this one!) 

In the end, more than the father-son theme, it was the other themes in the film – the idea of how you live your life, how you remember it for yourself and how those memories are passed on to others, whether they are children or others you come into contact with, are what define you is what really resonated.

Then tonight, Pace had his first ever “real” (ie. not grandparent, not other relative or family friend) babysitter and man, there's another transition moment – thinking back to being the babysitter yourself twenty (holy shit – TWENTY?) years ago and now, it's some teenager coming over to your house with a backpack full of homework and you're the one saying “here's our cell phone number and he likes toast for his nighttime snack and there's pop in the fridge – help yourself and did I give you our cell phone number?”  Shea and I went to the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (I joked to someone that it was that or “Marley and Me” but this one had a longer running time meaning we'd be out of the house longer so we went for it!) and I really liked it.

(Shea always teases me that I let reviews – whether I read them before or after a film – influence how I feel about a movie too much.  There's a bit of truth to that – as soon as I get home tonight, I get on the Net to read Ebert and Salon's reviews and they both felt the film was lacking.  Ebert was actually pretty harsh about the film.) 

So yes, a couple negative reviews do temper my enthusiasm for the film.  But it's not like I now hate it because Ebert thought it wasn't realistic.  Brad Pitt, besides being one of the few men on the planet I would happily sleep with (er, too much information) is also a really good actor who rarely to never disappoints.  (Note to self: time to re-watch “12 Monkeys”) 

And, as with “Big Fish”, the themes running through the film about aging, family, memory and love all resonated heavily.  (And there were a couple scenes, especially near the end, that caused the waterworks to be turned on for the person sitting next to me too. )

Anyhow, I have a feeling that if we watch a movie tomorrow, it'll probably be about…death and dying and memory and love and family.  Hmm, now where's my copy of “Ghost”?

(Oh, one last Benjamin Button thought – I'd love to see the very similar “Time's Arrow” get a film adaptation someday.  One of my favourite novels of all-time which I highly recommend to everyone.)

Comments 6

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    I love Time's Arrow, but don't think that it would make a good movie.
    I really love it in two ways. It depicts a man's life backwards, so it sort of shows an ideal world. You pay an organization so you can go to work for them, and in the time you are there the work (this is backwards from evening to morning remember) removes all of your stress until you are ready to go home, have breakfast and go to bed. If you have a lot of stress, you go in “early”. That sort of thing really appeals to me. Heh.
    The other thing is that when actions elicit an opposite response when unfolded backwards, it suggests that there are moral absolutes. I won't spoil the book for anyone, but there is one scene which is beautiful when read as written, but heartbreaking when understood from a normal chronology. The same action forward and backwards is the ultimate evil or the ultimate good.
    Not that I crave moral absolutes, but it is reassuring to think that there is some measure of certainty somewhere and it isn't just the powerful making up the rules of morality.

    Posted 11 Jan 2009 at 5:21 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh, I see that Wikipedia has the spoiler.

    Posted 11 Jan 2009 at 5:24 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Do NOT watch Ghost – it's rubbish! Run out to your local video store/library and get “Truly, Madly, Deeply”. A funny, touching, resonant movie about love, life, death, etc. Of course I can't trust myself to watch it since Chris died – Marley & Me practically put me over the edge yesterday! I did enjoy Benjamin Button – I feel the same way about Cate Blanchett ;-D. Just read the Fitzgerald story it's based on… the movie is an interesting interpretation in retrospect.

    Posted 12 Jan 2009 at 4:26 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    It's true that “Time's Arrow” isn't very cinematic, at least in terms of tension and conflict – it's more like a, well a blog – events happen in reverse order all sort of along the lines of “I did this” then “I did that” with the lead character's conscious (or whatever it is that narrates the story and sees reality as moving in the same direction as we do) trying to figure out what's going on.
    But if they can make Benjamin button out of a very brief Fitzgerald short story, I'm sure they could take similar liberties with the basic “Time's Arrow” story to make it play better as a film. To me, Benjamin Button uses the reverse aging trick to talk about love. And as you say, an interpretation of “Time's Arrow”, if well done, could do a similar thing to talk about morals, ethics and the notion of whether they are absolute or not.

    Posted 15 Feb 2009 at 8:35 am
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    That's very common in my experience and I hate it too. Shea and I both whipped through the Twilight series and before I started the last book, I happened to find myself looking at the page for Edward Cullen on Wikipedia. Of course, the very first paragraph of the entry has a spoiler that I thought gave away the big twist of the whole book (luckily, it only spoiled the first third of the book or so.)

    Posted 15 Feb 2009 at 8:37 am
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    I was trying to think of the most schlocky, sugary film in the “love and mortality” sub-genre – obviously from your reaction, I succeeded! 😉 But thanks for the recommendation – I think I'll have to check out “Truly, Madly, Deeply”.

    Posted 15 Feb 2009 at 8:40 am

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