Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Robertson Continues to Think about 'Amour'

Hiroshima mon amour
Hiroshima mon amour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'll put it this way.

* I continue to think about it, and everyday I think about it in a different way.

* The characters are particular; that is, I think of them as specific individuals, not as types from whom we should immediately generalize about how people should behave. That is not to say I do not judge their behavior and take a lesson from it. But my first reaction is as if they were real, which means they have their own reasons that I can never know, no more than if they were real people glimpsed and overheard. This is intriguing. I have to engage with them before I engage with myself. But you can only do that for so long. Sooner or later the movie is no longer a window but a mirror. (Nice, Robertson. Pretty nice.)

* As a man, I identify with the husband. I find myself asking: At which point does he go too far? At which point should he have ceased sacrificing? And I am not thinking of the suffocation. Having gone that far, he may be doing the correct thing. But I am thinking he should have stopped before that moment.

* Except when I don't think he should have stopped long before that moment. Who am I to second guess him? He's there, and I'm not.

* Except he isn't there. He's words on a page turned into sounds and images, just a construct. You could make the case the whole point of the thing is to force the audience to second guess.

* Every day I find myself asking: What would I do in a similar situation. (But I understand that my situation would only be similar and not the same situation as on screen. The movie is not a moral text.)

* What would I do? Don't know. Can't know. Might not want to know if I could know. I can't decide if the movie is comforting - I'm not a baby; I know this is coming and I will handle it as best I can - or challenging - I'm not a baby; I know this is coming, and I will handle it as best I can.

*I understand the director's intent is irrelevant. I understand The Intentional Fallacy. Variable kaleidoscopic interpretation is the hallmark of art.

* Right?

* If I were 21 and writing about this movie, I think I'd think, "Well, that will never happen to me. When I'm that age I'll be freshened up and turned out with the latest  assortment of fine pig organs. Very worst case my grandchildren will be carrying my brain around in a glass jar like a fashionable Vuitton purse."

 * One thing I do think every day:

    Amour or Amour?


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Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Review of NBC Sitcom The Office from Three Years Ago

A banner promoting Dunder-Mifflin, the fiction...
A banner promoting Dunder-Mifflin, the fictional paper company on NBC's "The Office" hangs outside city hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


12 February 2010
Arts Reviewing & Reporting

Apathetic is the best way to describe my feelings towards The Office. POTENTIALLY GOOD FOCUS STATEMENT. LET’S SEE HOW WELL IT WORKS.

I stopped watching The Office when everyone else did HYPERBOLE OR EXAGGERATION. WE UNDERSTAND IT IS NOT LITERALLY TRUE. IT IMPLIES SOMETHING LIKE: “EVERYONE WHO IS AS SMART AS ME…” —3 seasons ago—after Pam and Jim finally got together.  GIVES A REASON, A DETAIL FROM SHOW, FOR DROPPING OUT.

Well, that statement is not exactly true. HERE’S THE CORRECTION. SETS TONE FOR STORY: SOMETIMES I EXAGGERATE AS A FORM OF ARGUMENT. It seems the show is still going relatively strong with an average of 8.1 million viewers during its 6th season. While many viewers may still be addicted to the mockumentary-style and awkard interactions among employees, that does not mean anything BACK TO EXAGGERATION interesting is still happening in the plot of the show.

WE WILL NOW HAVE LOTS OF PLOT SPECIFICS. SUCH SUMMARY ISN’T THE PLOT KILLER IT MIGHT BE IN A MOVIE REVIEW. TV VIEWERS MAY NOT WANT THE DETAILS OF INDIVIDUAL EPISODES REVEALED AS THE SHOW MOVES FORWARD, BUT TALKING ABOUT PAST EPISODES ISN’T A SPOILER – UNLESS YOU ARE CONSIDERING JUMPING INTO THE SHOW. BUT IF THAT’S THE CASE, YOU ARE FOREWARNED BEFORE STARTING THIS STORY. The love triangle, (or in the case of The Office, it was really more of a rectangle) also the most dynamic and entertaining storyline of the show, VALUE JUDGMENT, AND THAT’S FINE. KNOWLEDGE OF SHOW=EXPERTISE between Jim, Karen, Pam and Roy, was relatively short-lived, only making it through the third season. Between Pam’s thick-headed fiancé and the sexy Karen, TWO GOOD SUMMARY ADJECTIVES there were only so many obstacles that writers could put between Pam and Jim. YES. GOOD INSIGHT ABOUT SITCOM CONVENTIONS. A PROBLEM IN ALL TV SHOWS CENTERED ON A BURGEONING ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP. TO THE DEGREE THAT A SHOW IS ROOTED IN ‘REAL LIFE,’ IT CAN’T POSTPONE RESOLUTION INDEFINITELY. AND ONCE IT’S RESOLVED? WHAT NEXT? Now that they are together, and with a baby on the way, there is pretty much no way one could write anymore drama between the two because they are far too in love with each other do to anything stupid. Hence, boredom ensues. I WOULD HAVE ADDED: OF COURSE, JIM IS ACTUALLY THE CENTER OF TWO RELATIONSHIPS, ONE WITH PAM AND THE OTHER WITH DWIGHT AND THAT ONE, BASED ON WORKPLACE CONFLICT, CAN GO ON FOREVER BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS SOMETIMES IN WORKPLACES. THE JIM-DWIGHT TENSION GOES ON AND ON (8.17.14 HOW WRONG THE WRITER WAS, AND HOW WRONG THIS REVIEWER WAS. JIM'S JOB IN SPORT'S PROMOTION AND PAM'S FLIRTATION - TALK ABOUT META - WITH THE GUY WHO HAD SUPPOSEDLY HELD THE CAMERA FOR THE FAUX DOCUMENTARY INSIDE THE ACTUAL SITCOM - CREATED TENSION)

There is nothing left in the show that is worth investing in. There is no relationship to hope for—no relationship that we hope fails—nothing.  BUT WHAT ABOUT …? WE THINK. SHE KNOWS WHAT WE ARE THINKING! NOW SHE LISTS THE OTHER RELATIONSHIPS ON THE SHOW THAT LEAVE HER COLD The most interesting storylines were between Jim and Pam and, to a lesser extent, Michael and Jan. Jim and Pam, for most obvious reasons, were an interesting duo because of their slightly-less-than-forbidden love and their so-cute-you-just-want-to-put-them-in-your-pocket appeal. CLEVER SHORTHAND. SHE SAYS: THIS IS HOW I FELT. Michael and Jan, on the other hand, were of interest because it was so fascinating to watch Michael actually interact with another human being and have that human being not want to punch him in the face. CLEVER Yet, that relationship also ended back half way through season 4. There was the hilariously creepy love triangle between Dwight, Angela and Andy. Yet, that was short-lived and sometimes hard to watch. WHY?

So what are we left with now? The show has simply run out of angles. BACK TO A BASIC PROBLEM IN LONG-RUNNING SITCOMS
Attempting to revive the secretary-employee affair we saw with Pam and Jim, the writers brought in Erin at the end of the 5th season. Unfortunately, she is simply a less attractive, less captivating version of Pam. And her new love interest, Andy, is a seriously less attractive (both in appearance and personality) and less relatable version of Jim. YEAH. IF THE OBJECT OF A SITCOM IS TO HAVE SOME CHARACTERS WHO ARE MORE ‘REAL’ AND WITH WHOM WE CAN IDENTIFY, ERIN AND ANDY ARE LESS SO. Watching their interactions in no way encourages the viewer to become invested in their relationship. SHE HAS GIVEN SOME DETAIL AND SHE EXPLAINS HER REACTION. I SEE HER POINT.
Michael Scott behavingly awkwardly is not enough. OH YEAH, I THINK: THIS IS THE SHOW’S PIVOT. The show has just lost its shine. It is not painfully funny IN TWO WORDS SHE SUMS UP MICHAEL SCOTT. IF YOU DISCUSS SOME THINGS IN DETAIL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO DISCUSS EVERYTHING IN DETAIL anymore. It is just kind of painful, but not enough to keep the viewer entertained for long. Recent episodes generally have one laugh-out-loud moment, I’D HAVE LOVED A ‘FOR EXAMPLE’ BETWEEN DASHES and the rest of the time is filled with slight awkwardness that is shortly followed by boredom. What made the show so successful, aside from the comedic appeal of a mockumentary-style shooting, was the balance between making the viewer feel so uncomfortable they may have to leave the room and the reward of watching the endearing, semi-depressing lives and relationships between the employees progress. THE PRECEDING STRIKES ME AS A REASONABLE SUMMARY OF THE SHOW’S INITIAL APPEAL, THOSE ‘CRINGE’ MOMENTS THAT SHOW MICHAEL SCOTT’S INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND COMMON SOCIAL NORMS, HIS ROLE AS THE OUTSIDER WHO DESPERATELY WANTS TO FIT IN. OF COURSE, LACKING THE COURAGE OF THE ORIGINAL BRITISH SITCOM – AND UNDERSTANDING THE ECONOMIC REALTIES OF AMERICAN TV – OFFICE/USA GRADUALLY SOFTENED THE ATTITUDES OF SCOTT’S UNDERLINGS TOWARD HIM AND GAVE HIM MORE MOMENTS OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. I THINK. IF I’M WRITING MY OWN REVIEW, I NEED TO COME UP WITH SOME DETAILS. Unfortunately, all the captivating relationships between the employees have either ended, or ended in marriage. Where’s the drama there? SHOULD THERE BE DRAMA? NICE PLACE TO COMMENT ON FACT THIS SHOW IS ONE OF THOSE SITCOMS IN WHICH WE ARE SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT SOME OF THE CHARACTERS, THAT IT IS A KIND OF DRAMEDY, THOUGH MOSTLY COMIC. CREATORS MAKE A DECISION TO HAVE US CARE ABOUT CHARACTERS AND THEN CREATORS RESOLVE THE MOST IMPORTANT OF THEIR PROBLEMS, WHERE DO YOU GO NEXT?


A large contributing factor to show’s dark comedic story IT IS A SHOW THAT GOT PROGRESSIVELY LESS DARK line is the imminent downfall OF the company due to the fact that they sell paper goods in a world that is attempting to go online and, well, paper-less. It has been hinted at since the beginning of the series that Dunder Mifflin was in some kind of trouble. Yet, when a series starts out on the basis of an impending doom, writers can only make so many excuses and surprise turns before the company must receive its death certificate.

The writers of The Office must be on about their fourth write-around in maintaining the Scranton Branch. SOLID ANALYSIS In the most recent episode, “Sabre,” Dunder Mifflin is officially bought out by Sabre (pronounced Say-bur). However the Scranton Branch is allowed to survive because they (somehow) were the only ones making any money. Though this is very hard to believe due to Michael Scott’s incredibly entertaining capacity to not do his job, perhaps this was supposed to be an ironic turn of events to coincide with the several other twists and turns in the show’s past that have been counterintuitive. PRECEDING ANALYSIS SEEMS SOUND. HOW HAS IT LASTED THIS LONG? YOU CAN’T ANSWER EVERY QUESTION IN A SINGLE REVIEW  Or, it could be the network’s attempt to keep the show running in anyway it can in order to preserve its trademarked “Thursday Nights of Comedy”? DUH

While this episode had a few laugh-out-loud moments, including the altered  version of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” to welcome the new Sabre to the Scranton Branch, and the interaction Pam and Jim had with the competitive preschool teacher, the episode seemed to kind of drag on. It begs the question: how can the Scranton Branch still running? Which then leads to the thought of—why do I care? AND BACK TO THE LEAD

Regardless of NBC’s motivation to keep the show running, it has already surpassed its 100 episode mark and is currently syndicated on three different networks. Thus, it may be time for NBC to let this baby go because they have clearly run out of ways to keep us invested in any sort of plot in the show. We know the company’s going under. We know what happened between Pam and Jim. We know Dwight is always going to be creepy. We know Michael is ultimately helpless. What we don’t know is when NBC will realize all of these things. AS IT TURNED OUT IN THE YEARS SINCE, THIS FINAL ANALYSIS IS RIGHT AND SOME WAYS AND NOT IN OTHERS. BUT HER STORY IS FILLED WITH SPECIFICS AND WITH  SOUND GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT TV SITCOM CONVENTIONS. IT HAS A CLEAR THROUGH-LINE. IT IS BRIGHTLY WRITTEN. I LIKE IT

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

When a Sitcom Jumps the Shark

We talked about the concept in class in the context of "30 Rock" and "How I Met Your Mother." When does a sitcom reach that moment when the rigidity of the format and the necessary stasis of the characters spread over scores of episodes mean there's nothing left to be done that hasn't been done before.

Twice.

I tried to describe the eponymous scene from "Happy Days" that I had so often read about. But, you know, I didn't actually watch "Happy Days," so I wondered if I'd gotten some key detail wrong. Apparently not. I had not been aware that the Fonz - a method actor to the last - would do the scene live on the water in his leather jacket. Oh yes the shark was well and truly jumped.


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Having a Conversation around Comedy

Comedy
Comedy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My comments yesterday were far-ranging and came to no particular conclusion about the most useful definitions of comedy and/or explanations for laughter. Here are some ideas I am going to apply to my comedy-watching as I watch our shows in preparation for reading your retrospective reviews.

Memo to self: You laugh at something.  Stop and ask yourself why you were laughing.  Ask yourself how you would feel if someone heard you laughing at this thing you are laughing at and asked for an explanation.  Even before you attempted an explanation, would you feel embarrassed acknowledging what it was at which you laughed? That laughter was spontaneous. It came unbidden. Where did it come from? Would you be pleased to have an opportunity to explain your laughter?

 My assumption is that laughter can be seen as encouragement.  It is a way of saying, “That’s right. I agree. Carry on.” Ask yourself what specific action you are affirming with your laughter:

* That we are all members of a community of one kind or another from which others must be sometimes excluded so the community can maintain its values?

* That there’s a community from which someone must be excluded unless they learn to conform to the values of that community? That the person being laughed should gain self-knowledge and behave better?  And that’s a lesson out here in the real world for anyone who hears our laughter? That sometimes we must be cruel to be kind? And remember. In a fictional setting, what harm can there be in being cruel to those who deserve it even in the most extreme form since no physical damage ensues? In other words, it’s all make-believe. What harm does a little ridicule do?

* That sometimes it’s good for all of us to play like children in wild and exaggerated word and action in defiance of social norms, and that sometimes all of us out here in the real world should be free and independent of social norms? That even if we are so oppressed by social norms we can never again play like children, laughter helps us endure those norms. (Wait. Unless our laughter is condemnation of childish behavior??? That would be sour, not joyful, laughter. Is our laughter joyful?)

* That human life is a futile, empty endeavor, and laughter sometimes equals acceptance of our imperfections? That the highest intellectual value is a cold-eyed, clear-eyed unsentimental view of life, a view that is invigorating rather than depressing.  We are able to face the void without blinking. This is sour, bitter laughter - but also brave.

Twenty-four hours later:  Having spent 90 minutes last night watching sitcoms - Parks and Rec and a very long Office - I concede that my initial formulation needs some tweaking. What I said seemed to imply that our laughter expresses approval of someone onscreen, of one of those involved in the joke, of one of the sitcom characters. That is clearly not the case. Laughter may express approval of the script, of the script writer (which is an interesting idea since I gather so many sitcom scripts are written, or at least massaged, by a group - hey! laughter supports a creative community). But you may be laughing hardest when everyone onscreen is playing the fool.

And let me be honest about the challenges of this exercise. Once I started "tagging" my laughs and coming back to them, I found it hard - so complicated and overthought it did not seem worthwhile - to tease out why I laughed. My wife said she thought our laughter quite often was expressing "unease." That doesn't sound like much fun. Maybe it's the context that matters most. It's a sitcom. At the end all will be well. Our laughter will not suddenly become evidence against us. So this thread continues to be a work in progress.

Generally speaking, the episodes we watched last night support some of our in-class comments about comedy and how it establishes and reinforces social norms. Parks and Rec ended with Leslie Knope explicit praising her community of friends who had overcome her absence to put together a gala to raise money to build a park that would benefit an even larger community. The Office didn't fit quite so well because, as it winds up its final season, it is creating as many conflicts as possible - Jim and Pam's marriage getting all tense and soapy - but I'm sure it's doing this so all these tensions can be resolved to everyone's final comfort. So we are  back to talking about community, in this case the work family. Pretty clearly this final season is suggesting the value of the work family by tearing apart the Dunder Mifflin work family. I assume comfort will be restored by placing all the principals in new work families.

Will any character be left in isolation and thus chastened? Will we laugh at the expelled individual? I do not think this will happen. This isn't Seinfeld, whose last episode was a piece of crap. You don't celebrate your characters' self interest for that many episodes and then suddenly punish them. It's clever but it isn't coherent. I always thought the last episode of Seinfeld was a thumb in the eye of its fans. But even that finale was better than the end of the Sopran



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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Review of Hansel and Gretel with Comments

Series for social welfare 1961, fairy tale of ...
Series for social welfare 1961, fairy tale of the brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel :*Ausgabepreis: 20+10 Pfennig :*First Day of Issue / Erstausgabetag: 2. Oktober 1961 :*Michel-Katalog-Nr.: 371 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have a Google alert that pushes a variety of reviews at me. I arbitrarily grabbed the first one in a recent push from the Woburn Journal, a newspaper in Massachusetts.

 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters Grade: ** | Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:08 pm Produced by Will Ferrell's company, UH-OH. THE PARTICIPLE ‘PRODUCED’ MODIFIES ‘YOU.’ NOT A GOOD START you can't be blamed for thinking that 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters', update on the famous fairy tale of the brother and sister, who escaped the clutches of a witch by burning her up in an oven, would be a straight comedy. THIS COULD BE RIGHT. CAN I FEEL CONFIDENT THE SMALL-TOWN REVIEWER KNOWS WHAT OTHER FILMS WF HAS PRODUCED? The film does contain its fair share of laughs, but coupled with the director's style, which seems anchored by the notion that there's enough blood in any scene, REWRITE THE PREVIOUS. THINK I GET IT BUT HAD TO STOP AND CONSIDER the movie ends up being a disjointed mess. OKAY. HE’S SET UP THE ‘DISJOINTED’ BY SUGGESTING THE MOVIE CONTAINS SOME LAUGHS AND TOO MUCH BLOOD.

THE REVIEW HAS A FOCUS The story, which is sprinkled liberally with anachronisms and gizmos, GOOD POINT begins with the young siblings being led into the woods by their father and deserted there together. LOSE THE ‘TOGETHER.’ The two, naturally, IS THIS HIS WAY OF SUGGESTING FAIRYTALES AREN’T REALISTIC? DUH. stumble into a cottage made of candy, where a ghastly witch imprisons them. They figure out early on how to kill a witch - you need to burn her. And as they save their own lives, they begin a career as witch hunters. ‘AS’? RIGHT FROM THAT MINUTE?

 Their latest assignment is from the mayor of Augsburg - Figure out who is kidnapping local children. Jeremy Renner (“The Bourne Legacy”) is a great actor REALLY? I DIDN’T KNOW THE CRITICAL WORLD HAD COME TO THAT CONCLUSION, and he gives his Hansel character such a tongue-in-cheek approach that you can’t help but like him. THIS JUDGMENT WORKS FOR ME Gemma Arterton (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) is his resourceful, no-nonsense sister Gretel. YOU’VE JUDGED HIS ACTING. HOW ABOUT HER’S? Both carry high-powered weaponry (for the period in which this is set, that is) and are expert shots. She carries a sort of automatic crossbow and he carries a kind of arm cannon.

 There are no surprises, unless you count the troll, OKAY. THERE’S A TROLL COMING BUT THE SURPRISE IS NOT SPOILED as this is a straightforward exercise of pursuit and deduction with the siblings figuring out that the lost children are being prepared for a rite to be performed on the night of the blood moon. That night, all the witches in attendance will be rendered fireproof, something the head of the coven, Muriel (Famke Janssen), wants desperately to see happen. LOTS OF PLOT. DON’T THINK I WANT TO KNOW QUITE THIS MUCH. NOW ALL WE HAVE LEFT TO IMAGINE IS THE EXACT NATURE OF HER DEFEAT.

 The film takes many stabs at humor along the way. Hansel is a diabetic, as he has been hooked on sugar since his first encounter with the witch's house made of candy, FUNNY while woodcut portraits of the missing children attached to bottles of milk can't help but make you laugh. OKAY. TOOK ME THREE READS TO UNDERSTAND THE PRECEDING; REWRITE, PLEASE; I THOUGH HE MEANT PORTRAITS OF CHILDREN SHOWING THEM ATTACHED TO MILK BOTTLES…

 Don't even bring up the odd variety of witches seen during the film's climax. The Siamese twins who can kill you with their ninja moves have to be seen to be believed. THE TWO PRECEDING SENTENCES AREN’T PARTICULARY WELL WRITTEN. I HOPE THE TWO CLICHES JUMP OUT.

 The film is like pollen in the spring - all over the place, and doesn't do anyone much good. NICE. CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE Renner and Arterton are good sports throughout, playing things straight in a film they must have had reservations about, TYPICAL COMMENT IN REVIEWS: ACTORS MUST HAVE FIGURED OUT AT SOME POINT THIS WAS A BAD PROJECT while Janssen is perfectly cast, bringing the right combination of menace and sexiness to the role. She admitted in a recent interview that the only reason she took the part was to pay for a new kitchen. GOOD KNOWLEDGE

 If I can say anything positive about “Hansel & Gretel” it’s that it at least looks cool. The action scenes are pure visual spectacle. THERE’S LAZY WRITING, AND THERE’S GOOD WRITING. THE REVIEWER HAS ALREADY SAID SOME POSITIVE THINGS. HE NEEDS TO TWEAK HIS “IF’ CLAUSE
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Monday, February 11, 2013

If the Original Honeymooners isn't funny, Is This Funny?

We watched "Mama Loves Mambo" in class today, and the consensus seemed to be that the "period elements" made the humor inaccessible. What makes us laugh, anyway? That's Wednesday's topic. Are there laughs in this bit from 30 Rock?


Check Out This Review and Love Note: Blue Valentine and Ryan Gosling

English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto Inte...
English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Movie Review – Blue Valentine
            Ryan Gosling’s performance in Blue Valentine made me want to find the love of my life and make it work.  It wasn’t just his impossibly beautiful face or his impeccable romantic capacity, but his desire to fully submerse himself in love's hardships and paddle through.  It’s been a rather long time since I’ve fallen in love with a character in a movie (think Leonardo DiCaprio, circa 1998) so I’ll tell you the reasons behind my heartfelt adoration. 
            Dean Pereira (Gosling) is the ideal man.  He is handsome, caring, manly, creative, hardworking, funny … the list could go on.  The perfect balance between a sensitive sap and a insensitive jerk, Dean turned out to be quite the idealistic man, despite his broken-home upbringing.  Through low ambition, he spends his days working for a moving company earning a small but honest living. 
            And then he sees her.  And he immediately knows he loves her.  And this is exactly what women want.  We want a man to see us, and in that split-second, decide that we are who he has been looking for his entire life.  And that's how she felt, special. 
            But then she fell out of love with him.  His wife Cindy, played by Michelle Williams, could no longer deal with the realities of their relationship.  Cindy lost herself, swallowed up in Dean’s love for early morning beers and wasted potential. 
            But it wasn't his fault.  Dean is a grown-up Holden Caulfield.  Childishly hilarious, selflessly giving, ever-youthful physically and emotionally, he won’t ever die.  Dying is for suckers.
            And that's what Cindy couldn't handle anymore.  In the flashbacks during the film, we see Dean captivate Cindy in his vigor for her, being as goofy and charming as possible to win over her heart.  But in the realtime scenes of the film, it was obvious that his sparkle had wore off throughout their short marriage.  But what exactly did he do wrong? 
            He stood by Cindy's side through an unthinkably tough situation;  the acceptance of a child that wasn't his own, and taking her hand in marriage when he did not have to. 
            He buried a dog that he loved because his wife neglected to keep it safe.  He was beaten to the ground over petty jealousy, and still brought her flowers.  He was concerned that his daughter's oatmeal wasn't cooked, and taught her how to eat the raisins.  He searched for his wedding ring in exceedingly tall grass, when most other men would walk away.
            Dean’s upper arm tattoo is just another emblem of his love for his youth and family – like the Giving Tree, Dean will give all that he has to Cindy and their 3-year-old daughter Frankie (Faith Waladyka). 
            Still, for Cindy it wasn't enough.  She felt resentment that Frankie loved Dean more; resentment that he wouldn't get a better job; resentment that their romantic getaway took place in a trashy rotating-bed hotel with blue illumination. 
            And I think this was director Derek Cianfrance's point (probably more so than to create a character for women to fall in love with).  Blue Valentine is ultimately a picture painted to show viewers that a husband and wife should grow not only as a couple, but as individuals through their marriage. 
            Cindy kept moving - she raised a child, worked for a career, drove the soccer van, changed her appearance, kept a household - things that matured her as a woman.  Dean on the other hand, was exactly the same, minus some hair.  It's hard to live your life everyday when you're leaving behind the person you're sharing it with.  The band grew so thin it snapped.         
            Blue Valentine ended with Cindy and Dean walking away from each other.  Cindy moving forward and Dean moving the same as he always has.  And that's fine with me.  

Review or personal essay? It works for me because it's a thoughtful analysis of the movie, giving away so many of the movie's details, including the ending. But it sets up a nice little tension, between the movie's point (which the writer understands) and her visceral, emotional  tilt toward one of the main characters.  Maybe she could have made that point: The movie is a rohrschack, and my reaction tells so much about me.  But maybe this is stronger because she trusts the reader to get that implication. Strong writing and focus all the way through. But, kids. This is not as easy as it looks.

Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance
Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Rated R:  real-live adulthood
♡♡♡♡♡ out of ♡♡♡♡♡


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