Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Take This Waltz

So it's that time of the year again.  It's January, the middle of winter, and we are all trying to convince ourselves that March is a pretty decent month (it's not), and so we will be out of these winter blues in just a couple more months.

In the meantime the December solstice has just passed, which means the days will be gradually getting longer but we are still dealing with some of the shortest days of the year.  Not that it matters since it is consistently overcast with a persistent grey hue throughout the day. 

It's also got to be one of the colder winters we've ever had.  How many days did we have below -20C?  It's cold.  So cold.

All we want to do is curl up into a ball, in front of a fire, cuddling our loved ones with some popcorn and a good movie.

But sorry folks you are out of luck!  Even though the Oscar's have been slated for March 2nd, for us moviegoers the movie watching season ended December 25th with the release of Wolf of Wall Street (Scorsese is Amazing!)

Unfortunately for us. All the movies of a higher caliber seem to be stacked at the end of the year and we are left with movies of a much inferior quality at the beginning of the new year.   I suspect this is due to the studios not having any faith in the memory of the members of the Academy who vote on the Oscars.  I can't blame them since it is purported that the average age of  judges of the Academy Awards is 62.

So instead we are stuck with the 14th Paranormal Activity iteration and a movie called I Frankenstein that I haven't even bothered to check the description of. 

So we will have to find some other means to comfort us while we wait for the spring thaw and the heralding of better movies.

Or you can do what I do and look at movies that may have been missed in previous years.  Since I watch as many movies as I do that usually ends up being a bunch of independent films.

I just so happened to watch one recently that is actually quite good.
It is written, directed, and produced by Sarah Polley. 

She's a name I instantly recognized since I knew her from both Go and Existenz.  Or her much better known  role in the 2004 remake of Dawn ofThe Dead (of which the original was still better but the remake is still pretty darn great).

She apparently started out as a Disney actress, and experienced widespread recognition with her role on The Road to Avalon, but then had a falling out with Disney and also turned down major roles like the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous, and instead opted for more independent films.

As a result she has turned away from the fame and glamour of Hollywood and has been highly successful on the smaller stage winning numerous awards.

Take this waltz is her second full length film that she has directed and is pretty darn good.

Before I begin dissecting this film I do have to caution you.  This is not going to be a spoiler free blog entry whereby I simply mention what the movie is briefly about and whether or not I liked it. 

I will be going over certain scenes, sometimes at length, and exploring what I believe Sarah Polley was attempting to communicate or what I derived from the scene.

However I do not believe any spoilers will take away from the film.  In fact I think most people will simply overlook this movie after reading a brief synopsis and any spoiling I do will only increase the probability of it being viewed while taking away very little.

Furthermore this isn`t a whodunit film.  I detest any films relating to mystery or suspense (with the exception of Clue which is just great fun).  I do not go to a movie to try to figure out the ending.  I experience a film to be transported and  enveloped within the film so that I lose myself and for a brief time that is my reality.
Ok pomptatude aside (shut up spell check, add to dictionary, it is a word now), what i'm saying is that I won't be revealing any major plot points so don't worry about continuing to read my very amateurish analysis of this film.

So lets get to that brief synopsis.  This film is about a typical couple who have been married for a while, have   gotten into a rut, and how the wife deals with the monotony that is marriage.  The only true spoiler I could give, but wont,  is revealing whether or not the main character cheats on her husband,

Sounds pretty boring eh?  Well I'm pretty sure that is exactly what Sarah Polley was going for.  See when I say a typical married couple I mean a real life, we know each other, and spend so much time together, so we have nothing to say when we go out to dinner, kind of married couple. 

Not the highly fictionalized, and unrealistic, married couple who has Steve Carrel go from total geek to ladies man in order to win his wife back kind of married couple.

Instead we get to see ho w Michelle Williams, who plays the wife, deals with a husband, Seth Rogen, who is not only unexciting, but appears to show no interest in being anything but his boring self.  And while Seth Rogen is only playing the husband in the film, I picture Seth Rogen, as a real husband,  being very similar to his character.  That is extremely goofy and playful, which can be alot of fun, but to the detriment of intimacy.

If that sounds a little harsh to our Canadian boy Seth, it really isn't.  I feel the same way about myself only Seth is clearly much funnier then I'll ever be.

But that again is the point.  The realism of this film lends itself to its audience picturing their selves, in their relationships and relating to the characters on the screen.

And this isn't the first time Michelle Williams has played this role.  She reprised a similar role in Blue Valentine opposite Ryan Gosling.  Only this film was far more depressing as it delved deeply into a slowly, and painfully, deteriorating marriage.  Hard to watch but a great great film.

But back to Take This Waltz.

Now we contrast Seth Rogens character with that of Michelle Williams love interest and you get to see two very different men.

You have the goofy Seth Rogen character who is the nice guy.  And the love interest is unflinchingly, and unrelentingly, seductive.   He's confident, he's forward and to the point, and isn't afraid to put himself out there, but most of all he's exciting and new.

The kind of guy that us nice guys have no choice but to hate.

This dilemma is summed up quite nicely in a scene with two of Williams' characters friends, one of which is played by my unexpected crush and always adorable, Sarah Silverman.

Silverman:  At least I like my husband.  Is it worth trading that in for someone exciting who I may not even like in ten years?.

Other Friend:  Sometimes I just want something new.  New things are shiny. 
Wise 80 year old woman overhearing:  New things get old. 
Silverman:  That's right.  New things get old.  Just like the old things did.

And the rest of this movie is spent with Williams confronting this dilemma between the new and exciting or the old but comfortable.

Man I just hope us nice guys get a win for once.

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