Become a Man With Spike Jonze, John Krasinski and George Clooney
by: Jeremey Gingrich
You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, Flix66.com has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.
Trifecta #18: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE + AWAY WE GO + UP IN THE AIR
Folks, as much as we like to think of movies as purely entertainment, sometimes they can touch at parts of our psyches and act as either a mirror or a foil to our lives that lead us to a level of introspection that therapists can’t break through no matter how many sessions they bill you for. 2009 had no shortage of such movies, and they ran the gamut through the stages of development, and if you’re prepared for it, if you can wrap your head around it and emotionally prepare yourself, you can take that emotional head trip in 311 minutes of movies that showcase characters in diverse situations but still hit on the hopes and fears of the average human being, and to do that in the same medium that produces stuff like DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR? is a feat to be respected.
To tackle this celluloid exploration into the human psyche chronologically (by developmental stage), we will start with the recently released Blu-Ray WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, directed by Spike Jonze. Jonze is no stranger to the realm of psychological filmmaking after helming ADAPTATION back in 2002, but here he helped pen the script with Dave Eggers based on only 10 sentences from Maurice Sendak’s famed children’s book. In the film, young Max, played with a myriad of emotions by Max Records, deals with his loneliness and confusion by creating an imaginary world of frightening creatures, all of which represent the different emotions he himself is experiencing. A licensed therapist would charge you $100 bucks a session for this ability, to remove yourself from your situation, to look at it as an outsider, and grow from that aspect as a spectator. Catherine Keener plays the struggling single mother with exasperation which gains instant sympathy, even in limited screen time, and her cathartic ending with her son will have you interrupting your trifecta to make a phone call back to Mommy Dearest (not a reference to the movie MOMMY DEAREST).
AWAY WE GO is our second foray into the human mind, but this time viewing growth through the newfound realization of parenthood. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play new parents as Rudolph is pregnant through most of the film as they try to find a new place to call home to raise their child. They visit friends in Phoenix, Tucson, Wisconsin, Montreal and Miami, with each visit giving us examples of the different types of parents or adults they could be. The close of the movie has one of the best parental moments as Burt and Verona help their niece through a tough time, and then contrast that with their fears of becoming new parents; fears most every new parent has, but expressed in a realistic and funny way. The close of this movie makes us wish for the happiness of this couple as we would wish for the impending happiness of every average, regular couple. It’s their ability to represent that average couple that makes us applaud their efforts, and love the ending of this gentle film that much more.
The last film in the trifecta comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 9th, so you’ll have to wait a bit on this one, folks. It’s UP IN THE AIR, starring George Clooney and directed by a man who has done no wrong from THANK YOU FOR SMOKING to JUNO and now with this great film. Clooney still looks like Clooney, but he still has to deal with the question of settling down or living his life of travel and random hook ups. He then finds what could be the way out in a sexy Vera Farmiga, but her cool exterior hides something inside that maybe we aren’t ready for. But that doesn’t even matter. What matters is Clooney’s journey, best seen in the marriage of his sister, and that journey, perfectly conveyed through something as simple as facial expressions, is what gives the viewer the best opportunity to look inward and see what he himself is made of. I know I’m ending a lot of sentences with prepositions but it just flows that way. Such films need to be expressed in that way.
So how will you react to this trifecta? Will you weep uncontrollably at the futility of attempting to solve life’s mysteries in 311 minutes? Or will you simply fold to one way of thinking over another? Psychiatrists would prescribe medicine either way. The important thing is continuing to use movies to look inward, not just outward. And let the ProZac rain down like dollar bills in a strip club.