The Meddler

meddler

I’m surprised this charming and insightful 2016 movie wasn’t screened at the cinemas here. I really enjoyed this autobiographical story about a mother and her daughter.

Susan Sarandon, whose movies I always watch, plays the mother, Marnie Minervini. Her husband died of an illness and she relocates from New Jeersey to Los Angeles to be near her daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), a successful screenwriter, with a comfortable bank account, an apartment near the prestigious The Grove and a new iPhone.

Marnie has lots of time on her hands, so besides volunteering at the hospital and helping a young employee at the Apple store, she smothers Lori with her motherly love. The dozens of texts, calls, unexpected visits and conversations dominated by unsolicitated advice force Lori to draw strict personal boundaries. Marnie finds other ways to channel her generosity to change the lives of others. She makes new friends, finds a new purpose in life and gets caught up with an unexpected romantic relationship with an ex-cop named Zipper (J. K. Simmons) who shows her why a Harley-Davidson “is not a motorcycle”.

Beyonce’s hit I Was Here features prominently throughout the movie. Other songs I like include Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon, Dolly Parton’s Here You Come Again and To Daddy, Shep and the Limelites’ Daddy’s Home and Chip Taylor’s Angel In The Morning. I also discovered a band called Blue Traveller, and their hit Run Around. (There’s a scene in which the band is doing a mini concert.)

I am particularly impressed with those scenes that go from anger to tears to laughing and back to tears. The movie is about people that are funny and sad and actually about humanity. It also tells of how people grieve, and about loss and loneliness. There are so many details that are relatable to many people and their mothers. The world is a scary place, but everybody knows mothers love their children unconditionally.

Scenes that involve movie making (shooting, how extras work on set, a Hollywood studio) and the many specific locations featured – The Grove, the Apple Store and the boat on Marina Del Rey – make this movie also look like it’s showcasing Los Angeles.

 

Apprehension

apprehension

The birds in the sky

Grassshoppers on the fences

Are free and blest

Raindrops multiply

Awakening my senses

Bringing me stress

I can’t help but cry

There’ve been many chances

For me to profess

The love you deny

Was too much a cathexis

For you’d transgress

You made me decry

A love so avaricious

Is now oppressed

Sad Music

sadmusic

 

Music is emotion

Music is good for the soul;

I love sad music

I love minor key melodies

Sad music expresses

nostalgia and peacefulness,

wonder, tenderness

and transcendance beautifully

Sad music expresses

feelings of melancholia,

turmoil, poignancy,

dissonance and distress so real

Sad music benefits –

It resonates within us,

Brings us release and

helps us cope with rumintation

An Explosion

explosion

Like strings of fire-crackers exploding

The sound was loud, scary and foreboding

Reminiscent of an unpleasant past

Today’s fire outbreak in the basement

Has left residents in bewilderment

And dampened the festive celebrations

The Police and the Civil Defence Force

Have worked hard for hours to find the cause;

Would they have an answer by tomorrow?

Memories (Lang Leav)

memoriesbyll

langleav

During a recent Poetry Writing Workshop, a participant asked about the poems of Lang Leav and my friend recommended the book called Memories, a collection of Lang Leav’s poetry and prose.

I’ve enjoyed reading the book and I like her style. Her writings, such as these, call to me:

from Virtual Love – … I wondered how I could be so afraid of losing something that wasn’t mine..

from Reaching Out – …I have given so much to things that weren’t worth my time…

from Stardust – …When we leave this world, we give up all our possessions and our memories. Love is the only thing we take with us…

from the Saddest Thing – …there is never one particular reason why two people are torn apart; …love is never a guarantee…; …sometimes you have to step back and look at these things from a philosophical standpoint…

 

I find the writings very mature and I hope my writings achieve something similar, even if some bona fide poets do not think much of Lang Leav!

Live by Night

livebynight

I went to watch this movie because I was impressed by Ben Affleck for his work in Argo (2012) and Gone Baby Gone (2007); however I was just a teeny-weeny bit disappointed this time.

Affleck wrote the screenplay based on Dennis Lehane’s novel Live By Night, the same author who wrote Gone Baby Gone. Live By Night is a gangster novel with a Latin influence set in the 1920s.

Joe Coughlin (Ben Affleck) is an embittered soldier who returns to Boston and turns to crimes like armed robbery and murder, despite being the son of a Deputy Suprintendent (who has been demoted after 37 years because of the crimes Joe committed). Joe is imprisoned for 3 years and 4 months and his father died 2 weeks before his release. With nothing left, Joe decided to become a gangster to get back at Albert White (Robert Glenister), a rival gang boss whose mistress Emma (Sienna Miller) was Joe’s love.

Joe goes to Ybor City, a district in Tampa, Florida. He gets into the business of rum and bootlegging and meets Graciela (Zoe Saldana), whose family runs rum from Cuba. Because of this Cuban connection, there is a fair bit of Cuban and Rumba and jazz music that I like, such as Moonglow and Moonshine.

Joe also comes up with the idea of building the Ritz Casino and getting gambling legislated. This is where another layer to the story – that of a preacher in the form of Loretta (Elle Fanning) – comes in. Her speech about heaven is repeated by Joe to his young son at the end of the movie: This is heaven. Right here. We’re in it now.

By the end of the movie, I understand why this movie is not a box office hit in the US; why the newspaper reviewer gave it a rating of only two-and-a-half stars and commented that Affleck shows no expression for much of the movie; and why a friend wondered how another actor in a recent movie could emot just with his eyes!

I leave the cinema in awe of the entire production team, especially the man in charge of the music, Harry Gregson Williams, the stuntmen, the people in the art department and set decorators, the special effects teams, the sound editors and sound design team, the location manager, the scenic supervisor, the choreographer and music editors. I think what Affleck has achieved here not evident in the earlier movies is the infusion of a glamorous and largely atmospheric Latin lushness. This alone is worth the price of the admission ticket.

Far From Over

farfromover

Just like the dozen other Sheila O’Flanagan novels I’ve read, this is another enjoyable book. And I can also imagine this being turned into a screenplay and a movie made out of it.

Gemma didn’t regret divorcing David; marrying him had been a mistake. Soon after, David met Orla and married her. Why would Orla, only 24, a successful and independent career woman, want to marry David, a divorced 40-year-old with two children (Keelin, 14 and Ronan, 11)? Would their marriage last?

Just a couple of months after the honeymoon, the newlyweds are in trouble. Orla feels like she’s been held together by pins but her best friend remarks that “one wrong move and the whole thing comes apart”.

Orla chases David out of their matrimonial home and he starts to realise he’s always regretting when it’s too late because there’s no way Gemma (and later, even the children) would want him back. To Orla’s shock, she finds her best friend has gone to bed with her ex-boyfriend, her first love, whom she meets again and thinks of reconnecting with.

Then there is an interesting development in Gemma’s life, as well as the children’s. There are also stories from the extended families (on both Gemma’s and David’s sides). There are so many layers in the lives of these characters that I think the title is a clever one because there are parts of a person’s life that are never really over. They may become the less important part of the overall patchwork quilt that makes up life’s experieces, but they’re always there all the same. One cannot simply close the door and pretend that they’d never existed.