Tag Archives: Minnie Driver

Return to Zero

Maggie and Aaron are happily anticipating the birth of their first child, right up until the moment his heart beat can no longer be detected on the ultrasound and she’ll have to deliver her dead, full-term son.

Losing a child is possibly the worst thing you can survive, and surviving is the tough part. It’s hard to go on without the baby you expected to take home, and without any living memories to cling to, all you have is the loss. And while the mother and father will MV5BNzk5MjgwMTQtYTFiZi00MzMzLWIxY2QtNjRmZGU3ODk1NmU0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNDMwNzI@._V1_survive, often their couplehood does not. Up to 90% will have extreme marital difficulty during a bereavement, and how could they not? No two people grieve in the exact same way, even while grieving the same loss. And this kind of grief can’t help but change you.

So what’s in store for Maggie (Minnie Driver) and Aaron (Paul Adelstein)? Well, it’s going to be a very long and hard road for them, and a part of me wants to say: you’ll have to watch and see for yourself. Except you’re not really going to watch this, are you? I mean, who in their right mind would? That’s what I was asking myself when, halfway through this movie, I had a tension headache from crying so much. My face hurt.

It must be hard to let go of your grief when grief is all you have left. But life moves on whether you want it to or not.

This movie is dedicated to one stillborn baby in particular, and many more besides. I hope the making of this was cathartic to someone who needed it. I think grieving parents themselves will have a better handle on whether or not this is movie may be a comfort, or a trigger. What the film makers do recommend is that it’s watched by health care professionals as an education tool. You can find out more here.

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Wilde Wedding

Eve Wilde (Glenn Close), famous actress, is getting married. She should be good at it by now: it’s her 5th attempt. She has inspired a whole family’s worth of broken marriages, which is common enough I suppose, but I’m not sure why so many exes were invited to the wedding.

Eve’s  first love, Laurence (John Malkovich), not a movie star but a very serious actor, is included. Eve’s current love, Harold (Patrick Stewart), a writer with terrible hair, is a bit MV5BNDAzYWQwZGItNGI1Ni00YzI5LWEyNzctNmZhM2I2YjUxYmE1XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjc3NTA3NzI@._V1_intimidated. Is this civilized, or insanity? Eve’s granddaughter Mackenzie is making a documentary, “what does love mean to you?,” and the lineup of family members covered is immediately confusing. With so many spouses, are any of these people related?

The Minnie Driver and Peter Facinelli introduce lots of drugs to the mix, and what better on the eve of a family wedding where the first cousins are already kissing?

We tend to use ‘corny’ and ‘cheesy’ interchangeably, but they’re two different sentiments, and this movie highlights that fact perfectly: one will make you roll your eyes, the other will make you cover them. Both are incredibly uncomfortable. This is one of those movies where everything goes wrong, and wronger, in the most charmless way possible. The person who wrote this script clearly believes that bad behaviour at weddings is de facto, and that wild behaviour is entertaining. In fact, it makes me quite sad for the very venerable cast, brought so low by the material on display here. And just when you think they’ve hit every wrong note in the book, it gets worse. Predictably but not forgivably worse. To the point where even my dogs were barking at the screen, though that may have been in response to my increasingly high-pitched and indignant “REALLY?s”. Do not watch. The end.

 

Healing Fest 2015

Matt and I decided to curate a little film festival for our coworkers. Our theme was Healing, and so we have put forth the following selections:

Good Will Hunting: Hey, remember Minnie Driver?

Ordinary People: See Donald Sutherland before he was old!

50/50:  Seth Rogen will teach you how to use cancer to your advantage when picking up girls in 50/50

Postcards From The Edge: Now with 20% more old lady thigh!

The Lookout: See Chris Pratt before he was famous and when he was played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

As Good As It Gets: Carol the waitress, meet Simon the fag.

Reign Over Me: 9/11 + Adam Sandler = do I have your attention?

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: “A stroke of genius” says Matt.

Life As A House: “A movie more emotionally manipulative than my mother-in-law” says Jay.

 

What’s your pick?

 

 

Grosse Pointe Blank

I dug this old DVD out from our shelves recently because one of the Assholes (coughSeancough) is just old enough to be attending his own high school reunion. It’s impractical to tease him about it 24 hours a day, so I took a 107 minute break to watch this movie.

John Cusack is attending his own high school reunion in this movie – his 10th – and going back to grossepointeGrosse Point, Michigan means confronting the feisty prom date he stood up a decade ago (Minnie Driver) and his tenacious feelings for her. Oh, and did I mention he’s a hitman? You’d think ‘professional assassin’ would be a card you kept close to your chest, but actually Martin Blank plays it frequently, confessing to anyone who will listen, only no one ever believes him. I mean, would you, Sean, take the kid who repeatedly forgot his geography homework seriously if he told you he killed people for money? Or would it take finding a bloody corpse with a Bic pen sticking out of his neck crumpled by your old locker to think “Gee, this guy might be a psychopath”?

Going back to your old haunt after so many years away is never easy, and to be honest, I believe that high school reunions are for two types of people: 1) the geeks and nerds who have grown up to be either hot or rich or preferably both 2) the popular kids who ruled and peaked in high school and now, having gone down hill, want to relive their glory days. Not my cup of tea.

And for spouses, it’s even more awkward. This is not your school. These people are not and never were your friends. I liken it to being in a grocery store full of strangers, only for some reason you’re required to shake everyone’s hand and stand around making chit-chat with them as if you care. And you don’t care. You don’t want to see pictures of their stupid kids. You’re there for one of two reasons: either 1) you’re a trophy wife to show off or 2) you’re a crutch for when your spouse’s old high school insecurities start to flare. And now you’re obliged to stand around in uncomfortable shoes for hours while people you don’t know reminisce about things you weren’t there for. And it’s pointless to get invested – these people haven’t spoken to each other for 20 years and will go back to ignoring one another until their 40th. No one really cares, they just want to see and be seen. They hope that their social standing will have improved. They hope their successes will compare favourably to their peers’. But they don’t really care. If they really cared, they wouldn’t have lost touch. I mean, hello, it’s the age of Facebook. Aren’t high school reunions kind of obsolete now? What’s stopped you from Facebook-stalking any of these losers? They’re just somebodies that you used to know.

Okay, you can see that I’m hard on this whole high school reunion thing. I don’t get it. Have you been to yours? Would you? Was it terrible? I’m watching movies to prep myself, because that’s what I do. Next up: Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. That should be educational, right?

Beyond The Lights

I confess I hadn’t heard of this movie, nor would I have likely given it a chance had it not been nominated for an Oscar this year. It’s been nominated for Best Original Song for “Grateful” (music and lyrics by the estimable Diane Warren, who has 7 other deserved nominations under her belt).

It’s not always a delight sitting through a whole movie just to hear a song, and for judging purposes, it’s not usually even necessary since tonnes of the songs only appear over the credits and thus don’t have the benefit of a lot of context. But for once, I’m not even feeling resentful.

Beyond_the_lights_StillThe movie opens as Minnie Driver brings her little daughter Noni into a hair salon, hoping the woman can help her do her (black) daughter’s hair before a big talent show. The little girl sings beautifully but mother is furious when she only takes second place. Cut to: present day. Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is on the verge of pop star success with a purple weave and a crotch-grabbing music video. But everything she’s always wanted is not quite what it’s cracked up to be. Why else does she feel like throwing herself off her glamorous hotel balcony? Along comes knight in shining armour (also known as celebrity bodyguard) Kaz (Nate Parker) with a dose of reality and some ambitions of his own.

Is this supposed to be The Bodyguard of 2015? Or just a guard with a damn fine body? It’s not gugu-and-nate-parkerexactly an original story. I bet you can guess right now how it goes! But that didn’t make it unwatchable. I mean, Nate Parker taking his shift off makes it watchable. Gina Prince-Bythewood, the writer-director (Love and Basketball), has all the elements of a classic backstage story, but is just shy of having it feel genuine. Minnie Driver, who easily could have turned out to be a one-dimensional “momager” villain, is credibly handled into a multi-dimensional one. Mbatha-Raw is a shining star, and this movie is just a twinkle in her rising star; I’ve heard she’s just divine in Belle, which I haven’t seen yet but has been is securely at the top of my list.

celeb_beyondthelights_stars_tvspotThis is not exactly a great movie, and it does rely on at least one corny montage on the beach that the world could have have done without. But there’s also a gentle exploration of race and gender, so it’s cheesy, but it’s a nice cheese rather than generic.

Good Will Hunting

Good-Will-Hunting-01-4This movie is worth watching if just for Ben Affleck’s matching windbreaker and tear away pant outfits alone. He has the EXACT wardrobe of my Catholic school gym teacher\music teacher\ librarian, who accessorized hers with orange lipstick, a popped collar before they were cool, and faux-black curls that reached at LEAST three inches in height.

Matt & Ben, god love em. I love how these two high school drop-outs laboured to make the college classroom scenes authentic, but couldn’t be bothered to learn how to use a mop. I love Hollywood for that. Actors can learn to box and DJ and make a béarnaise sauce, but they can ben-affleck-and-matt-damon-owe-everything-to-good-will-hunting-co-star-robin-williamsnever convincingly fold laundry or pump gas. Why is that?

Anyway. The interesting thing about this movie is that it fools you with its quirkiness and quick wit into not seeing the incredibly predictable story arc. Sad, abused, troubled kid is actually a genius and he just needs someone to provide the Armour-Piercing Statement: “It’s not your fault” enough times to crack through his tough-guy veneer and get some healing on. Despite the basic cliché upon this film is predicated, the film succeeds in its smaller bubbles of truth. The defense mechanisms feel true. The relationships are charismatic. And blessed be, it avoids the gift-wrapped perfect ending. I like the ending of this movie so much, I’ve written about it before:

Like every other morning, Ben Affleck pulls up to Matt’s house with a product-placement cup of coffee, and jobs up the front stoop in his latest sport-douche look. This time, though, the last time, he knocks on the door, and no one answers. We already know that Ben has always secretly hoped for this very thing: he has said that his favourite part of the day is between his knock and Matt’s answering, that length of time where he can imagine that his brilliant friend has left his desultory life behind to chase the starsbenny. So we know that Ben is happy, but we also know that he will inevitably also be sad, having just lost his best friend, and having no such escape route himself. It’s a very bittersweet moment where not a single word is spoken, but so much is said. All of this is communicated with just a slight grin, but the script and the director have set this moment up so perfectly that it plays on the audience’s emotions for all it’s worth. Love it.