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A work friend was commenting to another work friend about my liking foreign films.

“She even watches the ones in a different language!”

“Ummm….aren’t most foreign films in a different language?”

“There are some made in England.”

Seriously.

poster

“Habitually isolated in her quiet apartment, a vulnerable girl ventures out to a local video store, where she meets a charming store clerk who immediately falls for her and tries to win her affections. Leading actress and screenwriter Palka makes her directorial debut with this appealing story about finding love and handling new relationships.”

Don’t let Netflix’s description of this movie (or its movie poster) fool you.

IMDB has a somewhat truer synopsis: “Good Dick is a modern fairy tale about a troubled, reclusive young woman and the persistent video clerk who draws her out of her claustrophobic world by starting up a unique courtship with her.As they become closer, her sexual antipathy is met with his unflinching optimism, until finally her aggressive defenses overwhelm them both and the relationship bursts apart.Profoundly affected by his presence in her life, she finds that she has the courage to face her past.”

Unfortunately, I had checked it out based on Netflix’s recommendation.

Habitually isolated?  Vulnerable?  This girl is screwed up.  She goes to video store for old erotica.  She never voluntarily speaks to other people. She doesn’t appear to leave her apartment for anything else.  She has some mystery source of income that allows for such a life.  She doesn’t allow any physical contact.  She’s constantly insulting the guy and both physically/verbally trying to push him away. It’s obvious from her interactions with the guy that she has had some emotional, probably sexual, and possibly other physical trauma in her past.

Persistent? The guy seems nice and normal compared to the girl, but he’s not so much charming as he is manipulative.  He’s a former drug abuser living in his car.  He’s intrigued by the girl who comes into the video store, looks up her address on the computer, finds ways to get into her apartment,and peeps through her window to watch her masturbate to the rentals.  He then lies about why he’s in the building, and then he lies to force himself into her apartment after she has repeatedly told him no – and is holding a knife to him.  His creepiness knows no bounds.  He worms his way into sleeping on her couch and then later her bed. (Note that they didn’t actually have sex in the film.  She was disgusted by penises, and she would go absolutely insane when confronted with an erection.)

He used her, and he called it love.

She desperately needed  a human connection, so the movie seems to say, “Look how he’s helping her.  See?  How sweet.” But this is someone who obviously had been trampled and run over by a person (or several) in her life.  A person who didn’t listen to her cries to stop.  Now we have someone new in her life doing the same.  Sure, the movie says his intentions were good, but he didn’t respect her voiced wishes.

She needed someone to help her find the strength in herself.  She needed someone to help her find the confidence and self-esteem to expect others to respect her.  She needed someone who had a interest in her well-being who didn’t also have a vested interest in free housing.

In the end, she’s suddenly able to clean up, brush her hair, put on a dress, and confront the person who didn’t understand the word “no” so that she can go to another man who doesn’t understand the word “no.”  Yea!  Another happy ending!*

*Please note the dripping sarcasm.

I understand that relationships are not simple, but I’ve always believed in being with someone because you want to be with them.  I don’t want to be with someone because I need to do so in order to survive.   I’ve never bought into the “You complete me” line.  I’d rather hear “You complement me.”  Perhaps that’s why I didn’t like this movie.  I don’t like seeing such a co-dependent relationship put in a positive light.

Rotten Tomatoes recently posted a list of the 100 worst reviewed movies from 2000-2009.  Note: the worst reviewed movies.  Given the number of atrocious movies that get decent ratings from the general public, these movies are the dregs at the bottom of the Hollywood barrel.

New meme:   How many have you seen?  I scored 2/100.

100.  Whiteout (2008)

99.  Glitter (2001)

98.  Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005)

97.  Boat Trip (2003)

96.  All About Steve (2009)

95.  Lost Souls (2000)

94.  The New Guys (2002)

93.  A Sound of Thunder (2005)

92.  Babylon A.D. (2008)

91.  Surviving Christmas (2004)

90.  Dragonfly (2002)

89.  Basic Instinct 2 (2006)

88.  Kaena: The Prophecy (2004)

87.  Testosterone (2003)

86.  Pavilion (2001)

85.  Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006)

84.  Thr3e (2007)

83.  Doogal (2006)

82.  Supercross: The Movie (2005)

81.  Extreme Ops (2002)

80.  Big Momma’s House 2 (2006)

79.  The Adventure of Pluto Nash (2002)

78.  Deck the Halls (2006)

77.  Date Movie (2006)

76. Johnson Family Vacation (2004)

75.  Son of the Mask (2005)

74.  Envy (2004)

73.  Gigli (2003)

72.  Broken Bridges (2006)

71.  College (2008)

70.  New Best Friend (2002)

69.  The Cookout (2004)

68.  Yu-Gi-Oh: The Movie (2004)

67.  The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)

66.  The Fog (2005)

65.  Swept Away (2002)

64.  Corky Romano (2001)

63.  Yours, Mine, & Ours (2005)

62.  Serving Sara (2002)

61.  Good Luck Chuck (2007)

60.  The Perfect Man (2005) – It was playing on TBS/ABCFamily/some other  channel.  I couldn’t help myself.

59.  88 Minutes (2008)

58.  Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

57.  Godsend (2004)

56.  Because I Said So (2007) –  Truly, truly awful.

55.  The Celestine Prophecy (2006)

54.  Harry and Max (2005)

53.  Modigliani (2005)

52.  The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2005)

51.  Fascination (2005)

50.  Dirty Love (2005)

49.  In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)

48.  BloodRayne (2006)

47.  Soul Survivors (2001)

46.  Material Girls (2006)

45.  My Baby’s Daddy (2004)

44.  Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

43.  Darkness (2003)

42.  House of the Dead (2003)

41.  Zoom (2006)

40.  Down to You (2000)

39.  Miss March (2009)

38.   Happily N’Ever After (2007)

37.  Code Name: The Cleaner (2007)

36.  The Whole Ten Yards (2004)

35.  Deal (2008)

34.  The Haunting of Molly Harley (2008)

33.  Delta Farce (2007)

32.  Deuces Wild (2002)

31.  The Covenant (2006)

30.  Fear Dot Com (2002)

29.  Bless the Child (2000)

28.  Rollerball (2002)

27.  Battlefield Earth (2000)

26.  Kickin’ It Old Skool (2007)

25.  Meet the Spartans (2008)

24.  Texas Rangers (2001)

23.  The In Crowd (2000)

22.  Disaster Movie (2008)

21.  Epic Movie (2007)

20.  Crossover (2006)

19.  Half Past Dead (2002)

18.  The Master of Disguise (2002)

17.  Twisted (2004)

16.  Daddy Day Camp (2007)

15.  Alone in the Dark (2005)

14.  Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

13.  Constellation (2007)

12.  Killing Me Softly (2002)

11.  Merci Docteur Rey! (2002)

10.  Witless Protection (2008)

9.  Redline (2007)

8.   3 Strikes (2000)

7.  Strange Wilderness (2008)

6.  Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)

5.  National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2004)

4.  King’s Ransom (2005)

3.  Pinocchio (2002)

2.  One Missed Call (2008)

1.  Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

I could give a quick review of this movie, but I think I’ll just let you check out Pajiba’s review. Pajiba is the site I trust for movie reviews; it isn’t because I think it always gets it “right,” but because it always gets me. Opinions are just that….opinions. No movie reviewer has the final say, but you can choose to listen to reviewers that like and dislike the same movies as you.

One particular line struck a chord within me. Prudie and her husband, Dean, are having a fight. She’s upset because she believes he was flirting with another woman she knew from high school. Prudie is telling Dean about the horrible things this woman did to her when Dean interrupts. “Baby, high school’s over.”

“High school’s never over.”

What a powerful statement of how those teenage years can affect the rest of your life.

Lately I’ve been using Netflix mostly to catch up on “Veronica Mars”, thanks to a loving obituary from Pajiba marking its demise after three seasons. (Pajiba never lies. I’m just about half-way through season two, and I find myself again cursing the idiots who continue to allow drivel undue airtime.) In between discs, I take a break from Kristen Bell to watch movies.

Junebug and Sherrybaby are the latest in my rental history. They are two very different stories, and yet they remind me of each other. Both are just a period of time ( a few days to a few weeks) in the life of someone you don’t know. Much like You Can Count On Me, the focus is on individuals and their relationships with the people around them. There is no forced pacing or grand plot twists. Just life. A life that you can recognize and relate to because there are no perfect endings.

I was charmed by this sweet and funny little film. Morgan Freeman basically plays himself: an actor in the middle of a dry, four-year-long cinematic spell. He is driven to a small grocery store in a Hispanic neighborhood to do an hour or so of research for a movie he has yet to commit to. His ride never returns, and he is stuck with no cash (except a useless Diner’s Card) or numbers to call (they had just recently been changed for security reasons, and he didn’t know the new numbers). Paz Vega, a feisty clerk, grudgingly agrees to take him home after she takes care of her own plans that afternoon.

It is bittersweet to watch these two strangers connect, knowing that they will never see each other again.


“Ghosts do not cry.”

All of my preconceptions of “Volver” were delightfully wrong.

Until now my only cinematic knowledge of Pedro Almódovar’s work has been “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” for a high school Spanish class just before summer break. In what I know is not a fair assessment, I simply found it long and boring. All I can remember is a young Antonio Banderas among women… well, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Penelope Cruz was never an actress to draw any of my interest. Her performances have always been so stale and distracting in English, that I failed to consider the difference it would make to watch her in her native tongue and culture.

Pajiba’s review of the movie convinced me to give “Volver” a try. I found a beautiful film with a solid, well-paced story and excellent casting. The entire time I watched it I kept nodding in agreement as the plot progressed. The turn of events made sense to me, and yet they were unexpected. This was the kind of story I like to read and want to write. My biggest pet peeve in movies is knowing what is going to happen next. I want to guess and be wrong.

*** Spoilers Ahead***

I thought the movie was mainly about Cruz’s character dealing with her mother’s death and then seeing her ghost. From the beginning you understand that Cruz’s mother and father died in a fire a few years ago. Neighbors believe that the ghost of their mother is taking care of her elderly sister suffering from dementia. When the sister dies, a family friend claims to have been woken up by the ghost telling her of the death. The superstitions concerning the dead are treated with respect and accepted as fact by the main characters and , therefore, the viewer.

It is later revealed that the mother never died in the fire. Cruz’s mother found out that her husband had sexually abused Cruz and in a fit of rage set the fire that ended up killing him and his lover (the mother of the family friend). She went into hiding, but then she secretly moved in with her sister to care for her. She was able to use the superstitions to hide the truth of her living as any evidence of her presence was taken as evidence of the supernatural. When her sister dies, she reveals the truth to one of her daughters and moves in with her. It isn’t until later on in the movie that Cruz learns the truth, and their relationship is finally reconciled.

In the very end, the family friend is dying of cancer. The mother appears to her in her home at night and tells the woman that she is there to care for her now. The woman believes that she is a ghost, and she is comforted by her presence.

This twist was my favorite part of the story. Instead of the person actually being a ghost, this woman was living her life as a ghost.

“This is a story about a man named Harold Crick and and his wristwatch.”

I was pleasantly surprised by Will Ferrell’s performance in this sweetly absurd film about a man forced to question his entire life when he suddenly begins to hear his life narrated. The movie unfolds in a soothing rhythm as if you’re reading a good book.

It is worth seeing, especially if you don’t consider yourself a fan of Ferrell’s typical work as it is unlike any of his previous films. Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, and Maggie Gyllenhaal round out the main cast.

Who is the innocent?

This film plays with the roles of victim and perpetrator. It would have been easy for the movie to feel cumbersome with the heavy dialogue and tight camera work (focused with very few wide shots). Instead, I was kept interested in the plot by the incredible performances, Ellen Page especially and unexpectedly. (I’d only known her from the last X-Men movie.) “Hard Candy” is not a light film, but it is worth seeing when you’re in the mood for fine performances and beautiful cinematography.

I was left with the haunting image of a young girl in a red hoodie walking through the woods. Little Red Riding Hood vs. The Wolf. Who’s side are you on?


This is a charming romantic comedy starring Judy Holliday as a minority stockholder who is offered a dummy position within a corporation when she asks too many questions. The plan to keep her quiet backfires as she uncovers the crooked dealings at the top.

And yes, a solid gold cadillac does make an appearance.

My Happiness Project

1. Set a bedtime.
2. Make my bed every morning.
3. Always be reading something.
4. Move more.
5. Toss and organize.
6. Give proofs of love.
7. Leave the past.
8. Fight right.
9. Don't expect praise or appreciation.
10. Kiss more, hug more, touch more.
11. Aim higher.
12. Find some fun.
13. Ask for help.
14. Smile.
15. Realize it's possible.
16. Don't compare;be inspired.
17. Focus on what I have.
18. Beware of drift.
19. Take a chance.
20. Listen.
21. Be mindful.
22. Cultivate gratitude.
23. Spend out.
24. Do good, feel good.
25. Show up.
26. Have the courage to be imperfect.
27. Find joy in the ordinary.
28. Work smart.
29. Enjoy now.
30. Talk to strangers.
31. Go outside.
32. Start where I am.
33. Show up on time.
34. See art everyday.
35. Love with abandon.
36. Be colorful.
37. Dress the part.
38. Revel in accomplishments.
39. Learn something new.
40. Fear less.
41. Take pictures.
42. Speak with integrity.
43. Don't be critical about small things.
44. Manage my pain.
45. Surround myself with creative people.
46. Practice, practice, practice.
47. Don't force it.
48. Deal with something once.
49. Trust my instincts.
50. Avoid gossip.
51. Choose to see the best in people.
52. Take time to be silly.
53. Throw my own party.
54. Be a mentor.
55. Lean into my fears.
56. Find the others.
57. Do the unexpected.
58. Don't break the chain.
59. Do things others aren't.
60. Slow down.
61. Be cool with not being cool.
62. Be kinder than necessary and more generous than reasonable.
63. Pretend I'm good at it.
64. Keep in touch.
65. Row my own canoe.
66. Do what only you can do.
67. If it doesn't work out, find something that does.
68. Dream bigger.
69. Notice what's right.
70. Stop talking. Start doing.
71. When in doubt, choose laughter.
72. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
73. Respect everyone.
74. Be early.
75. Delete the unnecessary.

Three Simple Rules

1. If you do not GO after what you want, you will never have it.
2. If you do not ASK, the answer will always be no.
3. If you do not MOVE forward, you will always be in the same place.

All I Need

1. Someone to love.
2. Something to do.
3. Something to hope for.

What I’m Reading

Blood Meridian
by Cormac McCarthy
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston

U.S. States I’ve Visited

Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Colorado
Georgia
Florida
Louisiana
Maryland
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Texas
Utah
Virgina

Countries I’ve Visited

Mexico
Colombia
Thailand
Vietnam
Bermuda (British territory)

I write about…