Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Thousand Acres and 2 Angelinas.

A Thousand Acres

“When the aging patriarch of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa decides to retire, he offers his land to his three daughters. For Ginny and Rose, who live on the farm with their husbands, the gift makes sense---a reward for years of hard work, a challenge to make the farm even more successful. But the youngest, Caroline, a Des Moines lawyer, flatly rejects the idea, and in anger her father cuts her out--setting off an explosive series of events that will leave none of them unchanged.“

I really hadn’t plan on liking this; I think I saw the film when it first came out and don’t really remember anything about it other than the farm stuff. But sometimes ten years can feel like a million; I’m older now and stories like these carry a lot more weight (I grew up on the farm my mother’s parents had though my dad was not an official “farmer.”). And I really loved reading this. It was very well done and always interesting but also very much like something unpleasant you can’t look away from (like I don’t know, Jersey Shore or something but worse because there is no joy at all in this story, like, none).

Like I said, my parents weren’t farmers, but they lived on a farm and did a hell of a lot of farm work there; it's part of my earliest memories. Once a rat found its way into the horse’s feed box and my dad killed it by shooting it with his shotgun; after it was dead he yanked it out of the box and carried it off into the field by its tail using a pliers.

Anyway: some passages:

“My mother died before I knew her, before I liked her, before I was old enough for her to be herself with me . . . I have noticed that a mother left eternally young through death comes to seem as remote as your own young self. It’s easy to judge her misapprehensions and mistakes as it is to judge your own, and to fall into a habit of disrespect, as if all her feelings must have been as shallow and jejune as you think yours used to be.”

“I looked him square in the eye. It was my choice, to keep him waiting or to fail to give him his eggs. His gaze was flat, brassily reflective. Not only wasn’t he going to help me decide, my decision was a test. I could push past him, give him toast and cereal and bacon, a breakfast without a center of gravity, or I could run home and get the eggs. My choice would show him something about me, either that I was selfish and inconsiderate (no eggs) or that I was incompetent (a flurry of activity where there should be organized procedure). I did it. I smiled foolishly, said I would be right back, and ran out the door and back down the road.”

“ . . . I experienced, for the first conscious time, the peaceful self-regard of early grief, when the fact that you are still alive and functioning is so strangely similar to your previous life that you think you are okay. It is in that state of mind that people answer when you see them at funerals, and ask how they are doing. They say, “I’m fine. I’m okay, really,” and they really mean, I’m not unrecognizable to myself.”

Wow. And accurate.

Two Angies:

Salt, 2010, directed by Philip Noyce.Starring: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber.

A CIA agent goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy.” (IMDB).

Tricky, tricky. This was fun. Mostly it was fun because of the chases over ledges, buses, and trucks, but I just find Angie kind of fun to watch in general. And I was completely caught off guard by the twists, well, probably only the first ten. After that? Silly, but still fun if you can relax and just be entertained.

The Tourist, 2010, 

directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
starring: Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Steven Berkoff.

Revolves around Frank, an American tourist visiting Italy to mend a broken heart. Elise is an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path.” (IMDB).

There are people out there, many of them friends of mine, who would have seen *everything* coming and probably would say this was overly predictable. I am luckily someone who is surprised pretty easily, and this was no exception. I thought the trickery was good and I was absolutely clueless until the very last scene, although I said (very distantly) to myself, “it would be pretty cool if . . .” and then, well it happened. I had a good time.

And WTF is with Steven Berkoff? He’s gotta be at least 120 by now and looking every bit as much. Yikes. I could honestly only tell it was Victor Maitland from the voice; the rest of his appearance was almost unrecognizable. But, you know, way to keep giving it your all, I guess.


Justin Garrett Blum said...

I had to read A Thousand Acres in college, but outside of the general idea of it, I can't remember much anymore. The only problem with that book is that it wasn't science fiction (well, I'm exaggerating--that's not all I read).

My wife and I enjoyed Salt aiight. I did a quick review of it at the time. Basically, it's crazy far-fetched in every single way, but still fun. And I did like seeing Angelina Jolie busting some heads.

Anna said...

can you link your review? I'd love to read it . . .