First up was Jodie Foster's HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Holly Hunter plays Claudia Larson, a recently unemployed art restorer whose life is kinda a mess (not just the recent unemployment, but also kinda making out with her soon-to-be-ex-boss, and learning that her daughter is planning to lose her virginity to her boyfriend over Thanksgiving.) She heads home for a Thanksgiving with her insane family, dominated by her annoying man-child of a gay brother played with gusto by Robert Downey, Jr. It's a movie of all the most awkward holiday moments. It skips over the family meals and gets right to the family fights. And yet, there's still a positive, supportive heart to it all. It's about family--both the ones you're born with and the ones you make--and how frustrating, insane, and insufferable they can be. And how they're the only ones you can turn to when you need help dealing with your frustrating, insane, and insufferable family.
And then we moved on to LOVE ACTUALLY. It's become kind of a cliche to finally see this film after avoiding it for a long time and then admitting that LOVE ACTUALLY is a surprisingly good film (this showed up as a throw-away joke in the Holehead film BUCK WILD.) Well, let me live up to the cliche by admitting this is the first time I've seen the film (after my girlfriend won the award for seeing it more times than anyone else in the audience) and I will admit that it's actually a pretty good film. What's surprising (and made me enjoy it more) is that it's not a particularly romantic movie. It's about love in all it's surprising, awkward, sometimes silly, sometimes sad forms. It's about love that almost sparks an international conflict, but it's also about love that a cynical, bitter rock star feels for his manager that was with him through all the worst times. It's about love that blossoms between co-workers--especially when they're stand-ins for a movie blocking out some particularly steamy love scenes. Or it's about love for a mentally ill brother that gets in the way of romantic aspirations. Or it's about the love between an old, reserved husband and wife when he is tempted to cheat, comes back as a fool, and they stay together for the kids. Or the love of a man for his dead wife, or the first boyhood crush of a kid who is wise enough to know that falling in love means his life is over. Like I said, not actually as romantic as you'd think. But kind of an interconnected survey of all kinds of love, straddling the line between cynical realism and cartoonish comedy, with everything in between. And most importantly, it's pretty damn funny.
And then the theater crawl to the Roxie for Harmony Korine's TRASH HUMPERS. It's a movie about... humping trash (why should I be surprised.) And while it didn't feel that festive at first, it's definitely the movie I thought about the most afterwards. It's intentionally lo-fi, ugly, and difficult to watch (even boring and long despite a bare 78 minute running time.) Old people (who are obviously young people in old-age masks) run around at night, break shit, and hump trash. And near the end they make a grand speech about how they're free. And in the middle there is one Christmas carol, so at the very least it superficially fits the theme. But it's also about our consumerist culture. Imagine all the trash and waste from the holidays. Now think, is it more shocking to hump that trash than to create that trash? Well, by the norms of society, yes it is. But that's the sort of weird idea that kept me awake for a few nights after seeing it.
Total Running Time: 316 minutes
My Total Minutes: 347,784