Saturday, March 29, 2008

Married Life

One of my WIP's that's more of a WFIP (formerly in progress) is/was a series of interconnected stories about single people. And I was planning to have the audacity to to suggest that some of my characters were very happy about their marital/relationship status. I have nothing against marriage or other forms of domestic partnerships and I'm sure many people are extremely happy in their marriages. But what irks me is the assumption that many/most married people have that people who are not married are defacto unhappy or missing something in their lives. That they'd be happier if only they were married. This assumption really offends me and that's the theme I was hoping to bring out in my book. That happiness comes in all kinds of packages. It's not one-size-fits-all kind of thing. And without turning this in to a way-too-personal post when it was supposed to be a movie review... I'm not anti relationship. If the right man came along. Sure. But I so love the freedom I have now to do whatever I want whenever I want.

Now, my book never got off the ground for a variety of reasons... I may still write it some day... but watching the film Married Life made me think about it again, because it made me a little bit happier about my single status.

The Globe and Mail reviewer, Kamal Al-Solaylee suggested in his review that the film Married Life poses two questions. One: can you build your happiness on the unhappiness of others; and two: can attempted murder spice up a marriage.

All I can say to that second question is, "HUH?" Did we see the same film? Just shows how different two people's perceptions of the same film can be. I'm really curious to know if Mr. Al-Solaylee is married and my guess would be yes. And that his marriage needs some serious spicing up. For me, the second very obvious question asked in the film was: Can you ever really know what's going on in the heart and mind of the person sleeping next to you.

In fact, that question was not just implied, it was specifically asked. And to me, that's what the film was about. It was a pretty depressing take on marriage if you ask me. Now, not to get too biased the other way, at the end of the film all the characters seemed outwardly happy. Like I said before, happiness comes in all kinds of packages. But by the end of the film there were a lot of secrets never shared between all the couples. Big secrets (including an attempted murder) brushed under the rug, never to be discussed in order to save relationships.
Hmmm... Now that I think of it, perhaps it wasn't meant to be an entirely negative look at marriage, merely a realistic one but brought to an extreme to make a point.

Interesting film, anyway. Not amazing. Didn't entirely work for me, I think mostly because of the Chris Cooper character. I normally love him in just about anything... but I found his character's motivations too much of a stretch to be believable in this story. But obviously the film got me thinking.

I'd recommend it as a rental, unless if you suspect (or know) there's a big secret between you and your significant other. Warning. Watching this film together might bring secrets to the surface, and this film certainly suggests that some things are best left buried.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Odd characters

A few years ago, I started making notes whenever I noticed odd characters or events in public, thinking some day I might use them in a book.

Haven't done that for a while.

But I just had to share something. I'm sitting across from a man at Starbucks. I'd guess he's about seventy, but might be younger. He's wearing eighties style big glasses and a paper-boy type navy cap. He's tucked a paper napkin into the buttoned except for the very top button plaid shirt that he's wearing over navy slacks. He came in wearing a decent, clean looking, Columbia sportswear ski jacket over top.
He has one of those metal framed grocery carriers with him. He bought a venti size of some kind of tea. To doctor it, he took his own liter of Silk soy milk out of his carrier and something else that looks like pepper, but I'm not sure. Must be a sweetener of some kind stored in an spice jar? Then... he took out an entire pumpkin pie and has proceeded to eat almost half of it -- straight from the pie tin with a plastic fork. Did I point out that he might weigh a hundred pounds? Tiny man. And he's not eating quickly. Just taking casual bites of pie in between looking at his paper and sipping his tea.

What's his story? I should run a contest. :-)

I should get back to my WIP, that's what I should do.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Definitely, Definitely

I went to see Definitely, Maybe one night last week. The film had already been open for about five weeks and I my expectations weren't that high.

I like Ryan Reynolds but the fact he was in it, plus the way it was advertised and the fact it opened on Valentine's Day made me expect something a bit cheesy and silly and I was okay with that.

Wow, was I wrong. I loved this movie. The characters were real. The dialogue rang true. And the writer really pulled off the mystery love story thing. As many times as I tried to guess who he'd end up with and the few times I thought I was right, the writer flipped it again and again. Nice to see Reynolds in a more serious role. His boyish charm and wit still showed through, but his character was a devoted single dad and deeply romantic and responsible, as opposed to the perpetual boy type characters he usually tends to play.

And the other performances were really good, too. The only one I wasn't sure about was Elizabeth Banks... but Rachel Weisz and Isla Fisher were both great--you could really understand why he fell in love with both women--as were all the supporting characters. Kevin Kline does an amazing small part in this movie. Really great. But he's almost always great. Another minor character of note was played by Liane Balaban. Her part in this was tiny and not all that interesting, I guess... but so nice to see her in a bigger film. Her debut, in a film called New Waterford Girl was nothing short of astounding to me. Love that movie. If you want a quirky cool rental, try it. Probably won't find it at your corner video store in the US, (it was an independent Canadian film), but at a specialty video store or netflicks should have it. And in case I haven't talked you into seeing New Waterford Girl, yet... Andrew McCarthy is in it. :-) And it's set in the 70's -- so great music... But I'm showing my age with both of those arguments, I guess.

Looking through the writer/director Adam Brooks' list of screenplay credits... I think I have a new hero. And, he's from Toronto. How cool is that? I had no idea going in. He did the second Bridget Jones movie, which was pretty good considering how silly the second book was, and Wimbledon which I thought was so smart for a rom com staring Kirsten Dunst (another low expectations, nice surprise film for me) and The Invisible Circus, (a little seen movie, in spite of Cameron Diaz being in it, but I really liked having read the book), and French Kiss (which might explain how he got Kevin Kline to do a small part in this new movie) and Practical Magic and Beloved.

Very interesting list of screenplay writing credits. All smart films that rose above genre -- or in the case of Beloved, defied genre.

Has anyone else seen Definitely, Maybe? Did it work for you?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Since my blog is green and my website is green and I have a very Irish name... I figured I'd better wish everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day.

I'm actually about 5/8 Irish... but it's funny, because I think the other parts of my heritage were stronger influences in my life growing up. Scottish and Welsh and a little Dutch/Flemish.

About 10 years ago (was it really 10 years???) I went on a cycling trip in Ireland. Fabulous time. I had tacked it on at the tail end of a business trip, so I had too much luggage and a few business suits mixed in with my bike shorts.

Anyway... One night, about 3 days into the trip (and 4 drinks into the evening) I was enjoying the Irish music in a pub and told our tour guide I was really feeling my Irish roots that night.
She turned to me and said, "When I saw your name on the list, I thought you'd be an Irish girl. Then I saw your hair and skin and I assumed you were, but then I saw your luggage and knew you weren't." She nudged me. "But you do drink like an Irish girl."

Never have I been so proud.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Long time no blog

I am becoming a total blog slacker. Sorry. (Or maybe no one has noticed.) I've had a lot on my mind, but somehow haven't managed to translate any of those thoughts into blog posts. Might be just as well, come to think of it...

I made a personal resolution to blog about the movies I see in theatres this year, and I haven't even managed to get to the movies much. But I did go to In Bruges last week.

What did I think of this movie? Two main things.
1) Colin Farrell is an acting god when he's got good material to work with.
2) I really wish I'd gone to Bruges when it was suggested to me on a business trip to Brussels.

But at least now I have Bruges to visit all on it's own someday and probably wouldn't have had enough time on said business trip to do it justice. What a pretty city.

Actually, one of the jokes of the movie is how unimpressed with the city the Colin Farrell character is, while the Brendan Gleeson character is amazed by it.

But back to the movie... Certainly not ever going to be a blockbuster success... But while it's a quieter, dialogue and character driven film, the story is interesting and keeps you guessing for a long time before coming to a more traditional violent, gangster-movie-type climax. But little about this film is traditional. And the characters and dialogue were amazing. Even though the language and actual dialogue is very different from Pulp Fiction, it reminded me of Pulp Fiction in a way, in that the writer shows us brutal killers as humans talking about everyday things. But these are more layered and interesting brutal killers than any Tarantino created, in my opinion. And they both have consciences and their own codes of right and wrong -- where they draw the line and how to deal with conflicting loyalties.

This film isn't for anyone easily offended, but I found bits of it hilarious and both Gleeson and Farrell gave amazing performances for Martin McDonagh, a talented Irish writer/director I've seen compared to David Mamet on a message board on

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Slanderous Miss Snark

For those of you who don't follow such things... the websites Predators and Editors, Writer Beware, the Miss Snark blog, and others dedicated to protecting unsuspecting newbie writers from unscrupulous individuals purporting to be agents or publishers (but really charging money) exposed an agent a few years ago and put her on a 20 Worst Agents List. (I'm not going to mention her name, because I'm scared). Said agent is now suing everyone on the planet.

Check out this link, for a very funny take on this. Probably funnier for fans of Miss Snark... :-)
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