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The Bottom Shelf #92


It's my birthday this week, boys and girls. On January 27th I'll be turning 27 again, so I felt that I could abuse my minimal amount of privileges here and do a couple of reviews for movies that personally make me feel happy. Unless someone can cough up a plane ticket to Saskatoon to distract me, you're just going to have to deal with it.

Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams

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This movie fulfills so many of the desires that I have when looking for an excellent film. Great acting, skilled directing, a script that pops and a story that you actually give a shit about. Well, that I actually give a shit about. I'm highly criticized for not being a fan of Gilliam's greater known and more beloved piece of cinema, BRAZIL. But where I found that movie to be a convoluted mess constructed simply for the sake of giving the director his own set of jollies, I've always held THE FISHER KING in the highest regard for giving a wider audience its own set of jollies. It's romantic, funny, dramatic and uplifting. It is quite simply: brilliant.

Even if you know nothing about the paralleled back story about the search for the Holy Grail, you can relate and appreciate the story about Jack, a shock jock who falls down on his luck after one of his devoted listeners decides to take his ranting too seriously and shoots up a nightclub in Colombine fashion. As Jack is attempting to navigate his uncharted waters with a woman who loves him despite his alcoholic and self destructive ways (Mercedes Ruehl won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn as Anne, the suffering girlfriend), he finds a mission in the guise of a homeless man by the name of Parry. Trying to give Parry a piece of happiness after a jaw-dropping revelation, Jack believes that in doing so he will earn his place back in the reality he feels he is destined to be a part of.

There are so many different elements at play in this movie that the average movie goer got lost. The lead character does redeem himself but is also so loathsome at times that you wonder if you should even bother caring for his plight in the first place. He is where he deserves to be. However, there is such a strong cast here, with supporting roles delivered to perfection by some veteran character actors, including the departed Michael Jeter, that any distaste you might have had for the players is seasoned with the deft hands of the actors. I f*cking LOVE this movie. I still don't like coffee, but I LOVE this movie.

Favorite Scene:

I'd like to be able to say that the entire movie is my favorite scene considering that when I'm hard-pressed, this is the movie I give when asked which is my favorite of all time. There are so many incredible scenes that I love, I'm not sure if I could do it proper justice by naming just one.

Favorite Line:

"I don't believe that God made man in his image. 'Cause most of the shit that happens comes from man. No, I think man was made in the Devil's image. And women were created out of God. 'Cause after all, women can have babies, which is kind of like creating. And which also accounts for the fact that women are so attracted to men... 'cause let's face it... the Devil is a hell of a lot more interesting! Believe me, I've slept with some saints in my day, I know what I'm talking about. So the whole point in life is for men and women to get married... so that God and the Devil can get together and work it out. Not that we have to get married. God forbid."

Trivia Tidbit:

While it is not mentioned in the film, Parry's name is short for Parsifal, the "pure fool" and legendary knight of the Holy Grail. Parry brings redemption to Jack Lucas just as Parsifal brings redemption to the Fisher King Amfortas. Also, like Parsifal, Parry does battle with a Red Knight. In still another parallel, Parry experiences a cosmic awakening after kissing Lydia, just as Parsifal experiences a cosmic awakening after kissing the beautiful Kundry.

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ABOUT A BOY (2002)
Directed by: Chris & Paul Weitz
Starring: Hugh Grant, Toni Collette

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I should point out that I give this movie more credit than some might argue that it deserves based on the fact that I normally detest Hugh Grant. I've never found his smarmy charm to be in the least bit appealing and was usually forced to watch movies that he was in due to the insistence of others. Even when people would thrust a DVD case in my face and demand that I think a movie was good, if Grant was in it, I just couldn't bring myself to admit it. ABOUT A BOY is the only time that I have.

There is nothing special that happens in this movie that should have changed my mind. Grant plays another self-absorbed playboy type who refuses to grow up or commit to a healthy relationship. When he discovers that he can date single mothers with little guilt, he latches onto a group of single parents and ends up learning more about himself than he imagined. That realization comes from interaction with a weird kid of a depressed neo-hippy mother, played by Toni Collette with the same perfection that she attacks all of her roles with.

I can't discount Nicholas Hoult's performance as the oddball Marcus, a true mama's boy who wants nothing more than to cheer up his mama. When her behavior gets out of hand for even him to handle, he begins stalking Grant. Reluctantly Grant grows to value the kid's existence in his life. The quote used in the movie is that no man is an island, the validity of which is found suspect by Grant's character. The better statement is that two isn't enough. You need back-up. The movie is a calm little beacon floating in cold waters. In our world today, we've fooled people into believing that they can't do it alone but that they also shouldn't be co-dependent. ABOUT A BOY demonstrates that there is no shame in reaching out as long as that hand is looking for another hand to hold and not just to pull the other person down.

Favorite Scene:

Quite simply, Marcus' explanation of rap music.

Favorite Line:

"I'd be the worst possible Godfather. I'd probably drop her on her head at her christening. I'd forget all her birthdays until she was 18. Then I'd take her out and get her drunk. And, let's face it, quite possibly try and shag her."

Trivia Tidbit:

It's amusing when the character of Marcus suggests that if he were Haley Joel Osment it would be easier to take care of his mother, since actress Toni Collette played Osment's mother in the movie THE SIXTH SENSE.

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There, that wasn't all that painful, now was it? Certainly not as painful as getting older is. If you'd like to help ease my pain, feel free to look up my wish list while you're over at Amazon buying these fine movies for yourself. If a girl can't visit Canada for her birthday, what better way to appease her than with a book or CD, right?



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