Saturday, May 03, 2003

A totally amazing statistic: I have seen four movies in seven days. I never watch movies, definitely never volunteer to go to the movies, and tend to wander out of the room when we're watching them on video or TV. So four movies...that's a lot for me. Even more interesting, though, is the fact that every single one of them was about daughters in conflict w/their parents.

In order of appearance (but not preference):

1. Alma. I've had a few more thoughts on mental illness and its role in the life of an individual since seeing this last Friday. There were moments in the documentary when Alma really sounded as if she was suffering from schizophrenia, like when she was hearing voices in the "overhead," for instance. Partly I wonder if meds would help her, but then partly I wonder why we should medicate someone just because they're experiencing a different reality. And really, hearing voices from the cosmic ductwork somehow doesn't seem that implausible. If I can conceive of an "overhead," isn't possible that one exists?

But really, sometimes I wonder what the difference is between mental illness and just a solid will to survive. If you're raped at the age of three, and your family tells you that they can't take you to the hospital because the uncle that raped you would get arrested and no one wants that to happen, do they?, and then you start making up this story about your uncle being your first boyfriend because isn't that better than facing the fact your parents don't value enough to take you to the doctor, is that mental illness, or is that just a really efficient coping mechanism? If you suffer through all this crap, then tell yourself stories to rationalize it, or damage yourself physically to prevent it from happening again, is that really mental illness, or just surviving? I don't know, it just reminds me a lot of what they taught us about eating disorders: we become bulimic not because we want to damage our bodies and minds (that's just a happy coincidence); the real goal of bulimia is to give us something to distract ourselves with so we won't just give up and die.

Tough film.

2. Real Women Have Curves. I wrote out a lot in an e-mail to a friend about this one. I liked it a lot, but mostly was more interested in the peripheral characters than the main character (because let's face it, teenagers really aren't all that compelling). I'd really like to settle down with a novel about the older sister, and not just because I thought she was the cute one. I want to know what choices she made in life to end up owning a dress factory (okay, sweat shop). You could see her ambitions, and pretty easily speculate on the stumbling blocks that kept her from realizing them, but I would really like to know the specifics. She wasn't exactly filling a traditional role, since she wasn't married, but on the other hand, she was staying close to family in a way Ana wouldn't. So, anyway, I wanted to hear about her. And I really wanted to hear more about the old woman who started out the movie with a song.

3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Someone is going to have to explain to me why this was such a big hit. Same essential plot, daughter rebelling against parents, but just not very well done. For one thing, please explain to me why everyone keeps telling me, "Oh, it's all about how the ugly chick gets the guy." Nia Vardalos is beautiful, and I totally didn't buy the motivation (what motivation?) for her self-imposed makeover at the beginning of the movie. There was zero character development, zero plot development, and pretty much was a waste of my time. Blah. I wanted to like it, but just didn't.

4. Bend It Like Beckham. Man. I loved this movie, and for no other reason that it was about soccer. Yeah, it was also about the daughter rebelling against her traditional family values, but it's real value was the soccer. The story was almost exactly the same as Real Women Have Curves, almost exactly. But did I mention it had soccer? Well, like Real Women and Greek Wedding, the movie awards people would dump this into the "ethnic" category, and that always leaves the material open for comments like, "Geez, could they put any more stereotypes into this movie?" I guess all three had a little bit of that (but Greek Wedding was by far the worst), but sometimes I think you've got to put up with at least a little of that, otherwise you're going to be sitting in the movie theater for four hours instead of two.

Ah...that is why this isn't a real Indian movie, it was only two hours long! A real Indian movie should be at least five hours long! I loved the soundtrack, it made me want to run out and rent an Amitabh Bachchan movie.

The lesbian/gay subplot was okay, I guess. I get tired of the whole "my daughter's a lesbian!" routine, played for laughs. Of course, the daughter's not really a lesbian, it's just a big misunderstanding, and isn't that funny? Well, it was kind of funny, but still, how many times do I have to watch this same story?

But, mostly I just turned my mind off and enjoyed the sports. It's sappy, but I felt for Jess not being able to play soccer. I hated having to give it up, and although I've made peace with that, my sports emotions are probably still a little raw from having to leave hockey. So, there was a sports tear shed in there somewhere near the end of the movie. It wasn't the most suspenseful sports movie, doesn't come close to Hoosiers, but I still really liked it.

Oh. The closing credits alone made it worth the price of admission.

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