Movie nights

Kates and I are really enjoying this little vacation we're having from parenthood ... We can come and go when we please, and watch or listen to what we want. We can eat where we want and have civil conversations (On Friday night, we scouted a local Chinese joint and filled up on its stupendous buffet) without having to worry about a toddler creating a scene by squirming in her seat or shouting ...

Then something triggers an image of our silly, adorable little Pheebs. I imitate her "Moo?! On?!" request, and Kates and I sigh, missing her and longing to see and squeeze her again.

Either way, we took advantage of our quiet time this weekend to take in some movies ...

Last night, we watched "Junebug" and -- wait for it -- "Willow."

First, "Junebug." Thanks to Amy Adams' fantastic Hollywood run the last couple years, she's one of those actors right now who has me interested in seeing anything she does. Plus, I'd remembered the reviews of "Junebug" being positive ...

Scratch those thoughts now. I didn't like it at all ... Kates summed it up best when it was over, describing it as a film that leaves you wondering the whole time about what you're missing. It's a film, I thought, that never really seems to have a main theme or conclusion.

The story depicts a Chicago art gallery owner, Madeline, who travels to a rural town with her husband, George, to close a deal with a reclusive artist. As a side trip, they go to George's home and settle in for a few days with his family -- his prickly mom, detached father and verbally abusive brother, Johnny. Adams -- while her acting performance was pretty great -- plays Ashley, Johnny's childlike pregnant wife, who is instantly enamored with Madeline's charm and beauty.

The film follows the family to a church gathering and Ashley's baby shower, and eventually through a family tragedy as Madeline discovers the idiosyncrasies of George's family ... But none of it pulled me in, and I finished the film feeling more disturbed than appeased.

On to something much more fanciful, our second showing last night was "Willow." ... And there's a story behind this: I had never seen it, and frankly, I had no desire to see it. "It's about a midget man running through a forest with a baby; that's all I need to know," I said ...

Kates and her brother, on the other hand, grew up loving the movie and she received a DVD copy of it for Christmas last year. So Kates and I made a pact that I would watch "Willow" with her if she agreed to watch "Independence Day," a film I consider a must-see that Kates has not.

Maybe it was that I needed to get the bungling darkness of "Junebug" out of my head, but "Willow" turned out to be a welcomed, delightful fantasy film. Not great, but good enough ... It also was interesting to discover Ron Howard directed the film, and George Lucas, who wrote it, had his "Star Wars"-like themes and effects all over the film.

Saving the best for last, on Friday night, we watched "The Last Kiss." It was a film I had wanted to see when it was in theaters, but we didn't get around to it, as usual.

Like Amy Adams, Zach Braff is another one of those actors who has me wanting to watch anything he does. I so admire his acting chops, his ability to go completely silly on something like "Scrubs," and then reach into emotional depths on "Garden State," not to mention his writing ability. He's one of those people every girl wants to date and every guy wants to hang out with.

I also got the soundtrack months ago out of a curiosity for the music on it and a penchant for Mr. Braff's musical tastes. It proved to be a wonderful collection of music with some of my favorite artists -- Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Coldplay, Ray LaMontagne, Imogen Heap and Joshua Radin. But the music comes across more powerfully now having seen the film ... I love it when soundtracks do that. Radin's "Star Mile" is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

In the "The Last Kiss," Braff plays Michael, who's been dating his charming girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett), for three years, when they discover she's pregnant. But when they attend a friend's wedding, Michael meets free-spirited college girl Kim, who plays with his mind, pulls at his heart and leads him astray from Jenna.

It's got an awesome cast. Rachel Bilson is so adorable and captivating as Kim, it's no wonder Michael falls for her. Michael's buddies -- including Casey Affleck's miserable Chris -- also have romantic travails of their own that add other dimensions to the film. And the fact it all takes place in Madison, Wis., isn't bad either.

It's a quintessential film about 29 going on 30, about the grips of settling down versus chasing your youth, about keeping what you need or going after what you want. ... I loved it, and I'd love to watch it again -- which I should have seen coming, considering it's also a Paul Haggis film.

Yes, "The Last Kiss" has been added to my list.

No comments: