“Man In The Chair”:
Christopher Plummer plays an irascible old key grip, who
happened to be in on some of the early, glory days of Hollywood
(making “Citizen Kane” with Orson Welles), but now he’s
reduced to shouting impotently at the screen during the matinee,
the other patrons trying to shush him, to no avail.
He’s made a career of being a curmudgeon, and there
isn’t anybody left who has to put up with him, so he’s
terribly lonely, as well. Enter
a messed-up teenager, Cameron (Michael Angarano), who’s got
family issues, but who wants to make a student film, and…..well,
we all know what’s going to happen.
But it’s fun to get there, because of this unlikely
May-December alliance, and because there are no easy victories.
Book of Secrets”: It
takes a young fool to go on a treasure hunt for the City of Gold,
but an old fool to make him think he might succeed.
Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) somehow has no problem scouring
the private desks of
and Presidents, and how convenient that his Mom (Helen Mirren) is
an expert linguist, and his Dad (John Voight) a venerable
historian of obscure artifact, like the diary of John Wilkes
Booth. Oh yes,
we’re in for a fun, cute, little adventure story that takes us
to exotic locations like London, Paris, and Mount Rushmore.
Sure, we’re on a most unlikely treasure hunt, complete
with riddles and maps and secret codes to decipher, and throw in a
little relational fireworks for good measure (venerable, revered
Mom and Dad fuss at each other like the estranged old married
couple that they are), a token bad guy on your heels for urgency,
and you’ve got a popcorn movie that the children can enjoy with
you. Just don’t
take it too seriously.
“P.S. I Love You”:
A chick flick about a grieving young widow, played by
Hilary Swank, and the way she works through the loss of her
husband with the emotional support of family and friends.
The trouble is, they had a senior moment when they edited
this, and forgot to make the main character charming enough for us
to care what happens to her.
All we see are the arguments, depression, and pity parties.
The chicks can have this one.
“Starting Out In The
Schiller (Frank Langella) is a formerly successful author, who is
still faithfully sitting at his typewriter each day in his
New York City
, working for ten years on his next great novel, but the
characters just don’t come alive for him the way they did
before. He is a very
quiet, inner-directed man, with such enormous personal reserve
that he appears to be suppressing his interesting self behind a façade
of determined dignity. No
wonder his characters don’t spring to life.
His wife has died (we find out later that she left him
first), and his only daughter, Ariel (Lili Taylor) is single,
fortyish, teaching Pilates, and sinking back into a relationship
that she had only painfully broken from several years before,
after determining that there was one gigantic incompatibility:
she wanted children and he didn’t.
When they happen to re-meet, she finds herself easily
falling into the familiar emotional trap of investing herself in
that which doesn’t meet her goals.
Her non-affective but doting father fusses at her, but he
has developed his own inconsistencies.
It seems that a young graduate student named Heather
(Lauren Ambrose) has insinuated herself into his life, by claiming
to be doing a master’s thesis on his work.
Naturally, she exhibits a great deal of interest in his
current project, which seems hopelessly quagmired.
Not surprisingly, her admiration and alleged hero worship
then morph into a sexual tension which merely amuses her, but it
leaves him dumbfounded. She’s
eager enough to be playful with him, not understanding that she is
toying with his deep-seated emotions in ways that cannot be
fathomed or controlled. In
the end, while there’s no fool like an old fool, still, there
was a kind of resuscitation
there that perhaps would not otherwise have been experienced.
Senior moment, indeed.
Questions For Discussion:
Have you known some May-December
relationships to benefit both?
What is your toughest grieving
experience so far? What
helped you get through it, and what didn’t?
What is your far-too-comfortable
emotional trap, and how do you avoid falling into it again?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen,
Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church,