Sunday, March 27, 2011

Morning Glory

What is it about woebegone guys that give them the starring role? Harrison Ford is a brooding, over-the-hill news anchor [and Jason Bateman is another woebegone lead in The Switch!] forced to co-anchor a morning news programme with fledgling ratings with Diane Keaton. The co-producer tasked with the formidable problem of resuscitating show ratings is an incredulously naive Becky Fuller [played by Rachel Adams] who has indefatigable amount of perseverance that makes up for her lack of sterling academic credentials. 

I like the behind the scenes of broadcast studios with realistic cramped, cluttered and chaotic offices [much like Mediacorp's behind-the-scenes], I like Diana Keaton anytime and I like the combination of Keaton with Harrison Ford. But most of the time, I was irritated with the character of Becky Fuller and the over-the-top acting of Rachel Adams. My girls loved it and thank goodness, the husband was released only by business demands; he would surely have emerged as the other over-the-hill brooding guy. 

I would classify this a comedy because the laugh quotient was consistently moderate, a drama because it has a story line though lame, but definitely not a romance though the Becky Fuller character often destressed by sleeping with a colleaque after she put her mobile phone in his fridge.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011


It's good customer service when the young chap behind the counter at the local video rental offers to help a customer select a suitable movie, understands instinctively when the customer says 'I'm looking for a movie that does not irritate me', and promptly suggests The Switch.

The front of the DVD jacket tells you 'From the people who brought you 'Juno' and 'Little Miss Sunshine' and the back reads '© 2011'. I put down $7, grabbed a pack of No Salt Kettle Potato Chips for no-guilt binge and headed home ready for an enjoyable evening with a girl's best friend, Jennifer Aniston.

The movie is about Kassie - a self-sufficient single woman who decides she is going to jumpstart family life by having a child through artificial insemination. Her best guy buddy is a loyal and brooding Wally [Jason Bateman] who, intoxicated by some herbal pills Kassie's female best friend handed to him, fumbled the sperm donor setup and decided to put his own 'content' in to the plastic container. Seven years later, he recognised his own 'contribution' through the idiosyncracies of Kassie's neurotic son, Sebastian.  

For me, this enjoyable 97-minute entertainment is an affirmation that family cannot be systematically created in a way that disregards relationship, love and genetic mysteries and influences. Material comfort cannot create a happy family anymore than good food creates health - more thought needs to be put to the process for a desirable outcome.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Finally caught the movie on MIO over dinner [ie TV dinner] on Sunday night to the exasperation of the rest of the family. I guess my teens couldn't see any appeal in the title 'Eat Pray Love' or consider the story of a woman facing mid-life crisis palatable dinner entertainment. They were right.

I watched it for a dose of Julia Roberts. But it turned out that even Roberts [or maybe because of her!] could not save a celluloid diet severely deficient of 'eating, praying and loving'. For a start, Roberts' character, a Liz married with-no-kids professor of something, had an epiphany that she was devoid of any more love to give to the jig and dance of marital life [ie, she's tired of the giving part, no mention of the receiving though]. So she initiated divorce with a husband who wouldn't trade in their marriage for 100 percent of her assets because he happened to remember and believe in 'till death do us part'. If it was a 'painful divorce' for her, it was only because it couldn't happen as quickly as a shower. Perhaps 'till death do us part' holds different meanings to different folks: for some, it could be a dying of boredom, dying to get out, dying to find something new! On that premise, this would not be a movie about love, but about self-absorption and the confusion of a woman in midlife.

Praying, by definition, is speaking to a divine being or object of worship. What is divine or god, by sociological postmodern understanding, has become increasingly secular. Hence, whatever experience you prefer or find to enhance your mental wellbeing is considered spiritual or divine. Whoever you speak to - your armchair, the air saturated with the aroma of ginger and spice that you don't find at home, the tree under which you find solace, the waters of the little man-made waterfall in your favourite spa where people speak in whispers, what's-the-name god, and Jesus Christ - all constitute 'prayer'. So to me, the element of prayer in this much-hyped movie that comes from a much-hyped book of the same title, is nothing more than a woman in her 40s saying what she wants to say that she likes to hear herself saying that is her own construct of what spiritual is. In the end, she is god.

You can imagine then, that even immersion into full-blooded Italian culture, the spiritualism of India, or a tempestuous love affair in Bali is not going to help much. I couldn't but feel sympathetic at the end of the movie, when she made the choice for the tempestuous love adventure, that it would not last beyond one month...[actually my gut feeling is one week for two narcissistic self-absorbed humans to be together.

Have I mentioned eating??? Well, I haven't seen much. My dinner was better.  

The basis for this movie must be that there are enough women in their 40s transiting into later life who suddenly find ample time in their hands because the kids have grown up, while they still have some vitality left for exotic experiences and unbridled self-indulgences. Probably the same audience who would love 'Sex and the City' 1 and 2. A phenomenon that can be aptly described by what I once read: 'Mutton aspiring lambhood'.

I should listen to my 3 lambs the next time they say a movie is not worth the time.