Colin Firth

What is it about old school dancing? Waltzing. The Tango. Even those 16th and 17th century precursors to line dancing. They put to shame the kind of dancing I grew up with (my forced P.E. excursion into square dancing excepted).

The first dances I attended were as a ninth and tenth grader in the school café. Loud pop and hair band ballads meant that dancing was bouncing and twisting in a gaggle of girlfriends or watching couples lean against each other. Where was the elegance, the intent, the exchange of information a person needs in the pairing game on the ark of  life?

I was reminded again of my woeful lack of skills Saturday night when Rob and I slipped into the city for yet another celebratory dinner and a movie. The film was an English one, Easy Virtue, based – loosely would be my guess – on the Noel Coward play of which there is a silent film adaption by Alfred Hitchcock no less.

Like most films that originate over the water without much interest in American audiences, the accent and speech patterns took a while to get used to and we missed a few jokes in the beginning. I adore English humor. It’s caustic. Corrosive and wicked, in a way I dream of being able to emulate someday.

The story is set in the late 1920’s but still pre-crash and involved the sudden marriage of an English country blue-blood to an older American woman who drove on the European racing circuit. Scandalous. His mother and sisters are horrified while his WWI shattered father merely smiles and cracks witty at the expense of all.

At different points her past becomes clearer (yeah, that old widow thing rears its predictable head) and she realizes that her love for her young husband cannot overcome the obstacles of his family and position and she decides to give him up for his own good. It’s Christmas and there is a dance taking place. And she tangos her defiance.

“A woman shouldn’t really dance like that with her father-in-law,” I whispered to Rob, who later brought up the valid point that having never had a living father-in-law myself, my observation was an interesting one.

Plot points in dance. Character motivation and intent revealed. It reminded me of Niles and Daphne on Frasier. Another favorite.

I only rarely slow danced. Not because I wasn’t asked, but I didn’t want to be that close to someone. There is nothing innocent about full body physical contact with another. The intimacy is suggested and as the dance continues it becomes more than just an invitation.

I am curious about others’ experience or perceptions. Leave a comment or link back.

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.