SOMETIMES BEARS DO COME OVER THE MOUNTAINS

I love movies. The last month has been quite hard for me because I just haven’t felt like going to the movies. You know I’m not well when that happens! But, I shall be back in form soon! And, thank goodness for the DVD player and B’s big screen TV!

I normally know just what films I want to see. I am very definite in my tastes and usually feel duty-bound to support the work of artists who I respect or who are operating from the fringe. So, it was really tough for me to avoid this film when it was released in the US several months back.The reviews were/are incredibly positive and we are talking about Julie Christie in a lead role. Julie Fucking Christie! — One of the greatest of the greats! —- In a film by a darkly talented woman, Sarah Polley! There are not many women who make it in the film industry as directors and I feel we need to support them when they get a break. …And, all the more better when an artist of substance such as Polley secures that break! But, this film is based on a short story by one of the most impressive writers I’ve ever read, Alice Munro. My bestest pal, Ing, actually fully turned me on to Munro. …if I had to describe her work I would suggest Joyce Carol Oats gone to an even darker place. Munro takes the reader to places so dark that I can only describe her words as pain and dread of the human heart. Her words can embrace, ache and make me worry. After Ing exposed me I looked into a bit more. I didn’t even attempt “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” when I realized what it was about.

And, when I read that Polley was adapting it for a feature length film — I thought “Oh, wow! That will be soooooooo good. I don’t want to see it at all!!!” …but, then I found out that Polley made a major score by talking Julie Christie into taking the female lead! Ugh! And, I remember thinking, “Oh no. This is going to be really good. Maybe I will see it.”

But, then it came out. I was at one of the Landmark Cinemas when a screening let out. The audience members looked as if they had been to a funeral or some form of blunt trauma. Then, one of my fave bloggers, HOT LUNCH, saw and wrote about it and I knew I didn’t have the stamina to see it. I skipped it and regretted it the very day after it finally closed here. I mean — I had missed out on the first important role Christie had tackled in years! Ugh! The DVD came out on Tuesday. NetFlix delivered it to our door yesterday. We watched it last night.

I will not tell you what it is about. It was almost flawless in execution. The acting was beyond effective, but Julie Christie was really amazing. And, this little film broke my heart. And, B, who was so very tired last night — was clued to the screen till the last image. He didn’t say too much about it — but I could tell it had touched him. And, I think it frightened us both a little. …this fate that comes to so many every day and lasts for years. For me, it was a bit like a gut punch.

I wonder how faithful it is to Munro’s story. I suspect it is. It felt like one of her stories: realistic, harsh, beautiful, crisp, fresh, filled with a sort of dread, and injected with a love for the characters — actually, a lot like life. Never easy, but worth it.

I can’t imagine better performances than those given by both Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent. In fact, the only other performance this year that comes close to matching them, in my opinion, would be Ashely Judd in William Friedkin’s paranoid, twisted and oddly effective socio-political adaptation: BUG.…another film which I believe had been intended for 2006 release but held up till earlier this year. Of course, Judd’s work in BUG is almost an experimental work of art unto itself — tho, totally matching the odd pitch of the film. …which I really loved despite the very confused reaction of the audience with which we shared the viewing experience. BUG was an art house experiment released to the mainstream mega-screen’d cinemas. And, it seemed to confuse and waft over the heads of almost everyone who saw it. Too bad.

AWAY FROM HER is an art house film as well. Because it avoids being too sentimental by opting to be real. And, it never flinches away from the reality of an all-too-real situation. Unlike BUG, it is not cynical or paranoid and it is concerned with what matters most to us.

…I don’t want the bear to come over the mountain. k?…no matter how well one might write about it.

Maybe like Jack Nicholson once bellow’d — I can’t handle the truth!!!! (slamming my fist on the table)

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September 12, 2007. Uncategorized.

9 Comments

  1. Daniel replied:

    I ordered it from Amazon just now. Alice Munro is one of the most powerful writers I’ve encountered.

  2. matty03 replied:

    Daniel — I agree. I just find her work too upsetting for me to read. I’m a fiction wimp. Let me know how the story compares to the film.

  3. ing replied:

    Daniel! I think we have similar tastes in a few things! I love Alice Munro and I love The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band!!

    Anyhoo, Matty:

    I am DEFINITELY going to rent this movie. Yay, thanks for writing about it! Yay!! And when you get your record player, you better invite me to one of your disco nights!

    Has B seen Julien Donkey Boy yet? I was wondering if he liked it better than Gummo.

    I hope you two aren’t too tired with all the changes going on. . . it’s a busy, busy time for the two skinniest Castro bitches in SF! ( ;

  4. ing replied:

    p.s.

    A rocks the rekkid circuit, yo. (Do I sound all hip and whatnot?)

  5. ing replied:

    Oh, and also, here’s something I want to see with you, when it comes out.

  6. matty03 replied:

    Ing! I wanna hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band! Yes! Rent it and let me know what you think and if it follows Munro’s story — as I skipped it while reading that other collection.

    I don’t feel skinny, but I do suspect I’ve been a bit bitchy with these stupid headaches. Feeling a bit run down. New medication starting today! Woo-hoo! …not.

    YES! I wanna see that, too! It’s a date!

  7. ginab replied:

    oh I saw the trailer to this one and was geeked that way in the small lettering I indeed found Alice Munro, her name there, in a flash. Only reminded me how much I love her stories.

    i didn’t make it to the cinema here where it was showing on the big screen and I’m only now going to be able to see Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (all by my lonesome). But alas, yes….

    I am so happy for Alice M. It’s truly about time her work was adapted for the screen. She provides so many images. Always.

    -ginab

  8. matty03 replied:

    Gina! Oh, THE VIRGIN SPRING! …that’s a beautiful film, but perplexing to me. Will be curious to see what you think of it. I don’t know. Sometimes I think films like this are best viewed alone. Focus goes deeper. Yeah, Munro has a way with words which borders on the cinematic.

    Ing! I forgot to answer one of your questions. B didn’t care for JULIEN DONKEY BOY. I don’t think he goes for the whole Dogma95 movement. He has yet to watch FAT GIRL. I do think he will like that one.

  9. ing replied:

    Oh, wow! I thought that film was so beautiful. . . But I really really respond to that Dogma95 thingie.

    I haven’t watched FAT GIRL. Is it good?

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