Art House Films

In an attempt to reverse some of the effects (and remove aftertaste) of our weekend of man movies, the last two nights we have been watching arty flicks. I am not sure what makes something “art” as opposed to “commercial” because the intent to reach audiences and sell tickets and dvds is the same, but art as I see it is quiet, not bludgeoning one with story though perhaps it is doing the same thing with its pretensions.

Run Fat Boy Run is the David Schwimmer  (yes, that would be Ross of Ross and Rachel fame) directed rom-com of this last summer. Set in London, it’s about a man whose life is seriously devoid – of just about everything. Dennis is just a bloke who works a security job at a lingerie store, hangs with his best friend who is a professional gambler and spends his free time with his five year old son. The son is the product of a relationship Dennis abandoned literally at the altar, leaving his obviously pregnant girlfriend with a few issues.

Over the course of the movie, Dennis’ ex, Libby, inevitably gets serious with a new man and this revives Dennis’ latent manhood to the point where he decides to enter the Nike Charity marathon to prove to her he is capable of changing his drifting along with life ways.

It was a very good movie. Funny. Uplifting in an everyman beats the system sort of way.

Then She Found Me is a Helen Hunt co-scripted and directed project that I think I remember reading didn’t do well in the theatres. Not a surprise. The blurb sells it as a “hilarious” comedy, but it is funny in the way that those really uncomfortable dark ironic moments of life are, which is to say – you laugh because what else can you do?

April (Hunt) is adopted. She is 39, recently married to a mama’s boy (Matthew Broderick) who seems to have a mysterious sexual hold over her and desperate to get pregnant and have a baby of her own. Already, I am not laughing. As Rob told me after,

“I didn’t think when I picked it out the issues would hit so close to home for you.”

Notice he said my issues, not his. He was 39 once and married for twenty years with two nearly grown kids. I was the old maid who had a baby at 38 after a two year battle with my fertility and married to a man whose mother loathed me because I wasn’t going to give her the horde of grandchildren she become a mother for in the first place.

Oh, and have I ever mentioned that I am adopted?

Big theme in the movie is the whole blood tie aspect of family. I am of two minds on the subject. It matters a lot and not at all.

There is a burial scene, April’s mother dies early in the picture – also not hilarious – and at the grave while everyone is bowed in prayer, she is scanning the mourners. They are her family. Her dark, eastern European Jewish family and she the only blue-eyed blond. And I felt for her in that moment because I have scanned family photos looking for some camouflage myself . I watch people when they are gathered in large crowds and wonder if any of them are related to me. I have been startled by pictures in the paper or faces at the mall that seem to mirror my features. Mostly before I had BabyD. Her arrival anchored me more firmly to humanity than I had ever been because I finally had a physical connection to it.

Yet, the majority opinion in the film is that genetics don’t matter. It is hard to make someone without those ties truly believe that though. It is easy to dismiss something as small when you have it. And even so, it is true on a certain level. 

The characters are all too human but quirky beyond what most of us would consider entertainment . Perhaps that is what makes it art? The story meanders as real life does. No one is particularly good or bad. Choices are not black and white and those taken by the characters will not necessarily make you cheer or like them.

I continue to be disturbed by skeletal leading ladies. Helen Hunt was emaciated. How I am ever going to get my own body image issues in order if I am continually being exposed to women my own age who embody the idea that I must shrink and shrivel with the ensuing decades because the only thing worse than being an aging woman is being a fat one to boot.

The cast was rounded out by Colin Firth as April’s new love interest who literally steps up to the plate within hours of her husband’s leaving her. Matthew Broderick plays the husband. He is Ferris Bueller minus the wit and with a beach ball belly. And Bette Midler is the “she” of the title. April’s birth mother. She is wonderfully over/understated.

Don’t believe anything you read on the box for this one, but if you like uncomfortable slice of someone else’s life movies, it might be for you.


*Sorry this is late today. Our worthless internet provider is having its semi-annual “we don’t give a fuck about consistent service – just pay us” issues again.

5 thoughts on “Art House Films

  1. We Netflix’d *Then She Found Me* a few weeks ago. I only laughed at one line, when Helen Hunt’s character returns to her former MIL’s (where her estranged husband is again living) and asks “can he come out to play?” or something along those lines.

    We have a few indie theaters around here. My husband doesn’t care for movies with subtitles so I’ll go with a friend.

  2. thanks for the reviews. i think i’ll wait for both of these to come to the library shelves.

    and just what the heck is wrong with man movies? without them, men would have to watch chick flicks and you know where THAT would lead… lime green dog sweaters, doilies on the golf clubs, beer clutches… chaos!

    ..and you must have Time-Warner… bastards.

  3. I actually made the trip to the theater to see Then She Found Me after I heard that Helen Hunt wrote, directed, and acted. I liked the movie and have it on my list to see again with my daughter. Hunt was thin, and I wonder if part of that was the enormous responsibility she carried for the film’s success. I haven’t seen Run Fat Boy Run but will add that to my list. (We joined Netflix when we moved to the woods and lost all but 5 television channels. I’d recommend it for anyone who doesn’t have easy access to a library or movie rental store.)

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