We went to see "Marley and Me" in the morning, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had expected to find the movie
cute but cloying, but I found it a good, old-fashioned light movie with sufficient nuance in handling its conventional material that it worked. I love pets, too, which didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film. The point of the movie--that one stands by the pets one bring into one's life--resonated with me. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston both showed that they do very well in this type of thoughtful light fare. It was a pleasure seeing them work rather than reading about their personal lives. I found myself in tears during the movie, which was probably the idea, but I didn't mind.
We adjourned to Mimi's cafe where we each ate a satisfying French dip sandwich. Then we went for a walk around Glendover Pond. Then we took our dogs out for a walk. Then we headed to the second movie, down in Dallas at the Inwood Theater.
Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married" featured a number of fine performances, including Anne Hathaway's against-her-typecast-grain leading character. The film has the feel of a scripted homage to Altman, or of an uncharacteristically taut Mike Leigh film. The Robyn Hitchcock and Roger Corman supporting roles amused in just the ways they should amuse, while the use of surprising atmospheric elements to reduce the soap-ish nature of the material worked very well.
After the film, we talked about people we had known who had been in rehab, and I realized just how many people in the legal profession I had known who have stinted or needed a stint in rehabilitation. The film has familiar moments for anyone familiar with someone who faces the challenges of difficult-to-break chemical abuse, but as in the best of these films, the puzzle-mystery of the "how did we get here" trumps the "movie of the week" potential in the material.
I particularly enjoyed what I consider the Trollope-ian nature of the script, which told the viewer early in what the "big picture" is all about, so that Lifetime channel twists were not the order of the day. It was a pleasure to see Debra Winger in a movie once more, hitting the notes on her character in a way that worked much better than an "Ordinary People" treatment might have done.
After viewing these very two different films, each of which is Hollywood in a particular kind of way, I can report with assurance that life remains a difficult task to live, and offbeat music, real communication and the chance to love a dog remain among its deepest and most satisfying mysteries. Even a Hollywood movie and a Hollywood art film cannot take away from all that.
We supped at a restaurant called Cafe Istanbul on Inwood in Dallas, where a mixed grill of Turkish food was the order of the day. The meats and chickens were cooked to gentle perfection, and the service was impeccable. If I were to change something about the restaurant, I'd make the rice more of an experience, with basmati and raisins rather than the somewhat lifeless rice served to us. Still, we considered the restaurant a real find--and a 4:30 time for an art film at the Inwood followed by an early supper at the restaurant would suit us down to the ground.
I originally hoped not to work tomorrow, but duty calls. We had a wonderful New Year's today, though, and I am thankful that my dogs are so loving and that substance abuse is not part of my immediate family's challenges.