Thursday, December 24, 2015

Jason goes to Midnites for Maniacs for a "Family Matters" double bill

And no, I don't mean that Urkel TV show. Movies about family.

MRS DOUBTFIRE (1993): I wasn't all that excited to see this. Not that it's a bad movie, it's just that I've seen it so many times. But it was the first time I saw it in San Francisco, and it's a very San Francisco movie, in many ways. It's also the first time I saw it with Jess Ficks introducing it, and he has a knack for making me see movies in a different light. Like this time, I didn't watch it as a screwball comedy (I knew all the jokes by heart anyway) but watched it as a very real, heartfelt, heartwarming, and heartbreaking family drama. As much as it's about a guy pretending to be an old woman, it's about a man distraught over losing his marriage and his kids. You can see something of the pain of life that Robin Williams knew far too well. And it's weird to think of how he was only loved when he was pretending to be someone else. I've read this Cracked article many times since Williams' suicide, and I wouldn't pretend to know what was going on in his head and in his life when he killed himself, but reading that article...makes a lot of sense to me. I can't write any more about this.

THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999): And then David Lynch's most overlooked film. In a career known for strangeness and violence, perhaps his strangest film is this G-rated movie released by Disney and based on a true story. Also, strangely, it stars a man who killed himself (shortly after the movie was made.) Richard Farnsworth is brilliant as Alvin Straight. He's an old man, stubborn, self-reliant, living with his special-needs daughter (Sissy Spacek, who is also great.) When he hears that his brother had a stroke, he sets out to visit him. One problem--he has no car...in fact no driver's license because his eyes are so bad. So he puts his stubbornness to use and comes up with a plan--he'll drive there (some 250 miles) on his riding mower. Of course, he has some trouble on the way, but he also meets some nice people. And ruminates on aging, on life, on old wounds, stubbornness, and brothers who haven't spoken in years. And that ending...when I first saw it I didn't think much of it. After his long journey, he and his brother (Harry Dean Stanton) just lie outside and look at the stars, like they did when they were kids. But this time I noticed something strange about the stars. They were moving slowly towards and past the camera. Like this wasn't just a view of people watching the stars from Earth. They...or their souls...ascended out into the stars, and through them. Maybe far through them. Perhaps even to a galaxy far, far, away....

Which brings me to the next movie I saw...

Total Running Time: 237 minutes
My Total Minutes: 412,983


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