I am typing this from my own room above a shop in Greenwich, one of the nicest places in London. When I say “my own room,” I mean the one I will be residing in for a month, but being alone in a room is a novelty I relish.
The weather this weekend has just been perfect, sunny and warm. I have met up with friends, had conversations, visited a free vintage fair, went to the cinema and visited the Glamour of the Gods exhibition.
I have done my research and prepped for my day in the office tomorrow, and I have finished the outline for a pilot-script.
Outside, the world is still bustling – there’s a pub next door and my window is open because of the heat. I don’t mind: it’s a reminder that the sound is outside and inside it’s still.
No matter what happens tomorrow: tonight, I am just stupidly happy.
Beginners by Mike Mills is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Ewan McGregor plays Oliver who is coming to terms with the death of his father, while falling in love with French actress Anna (Melanie Laurent). Oliver’s mother died a couple of years earlier and when she did, his father Hal confessed he was gay. At the age of 75 , he wanted to live his real life – so he got himself a younger boyfriend before he got ill with cancer. A quirky story that is actually based on Mike’s life.
It is a quirky film that makes the heavy subject of cancer and having to hide one is gay more palatable. Oliver is the narrator of the story and his drawings as well as pictures of his thoughts intercut the scenes. A more grown-up version of 500 Days of Summer perhaps.
Christopher Plummer at the age of 81 shows his bravery by taking on the role of Hal. (Is that the faint sound of an Oscar-nomination chiming in the distance?)Hal, in the winter of his life, has decided to embrace being gay and once out of the closet, he is all out; yet not annoying and not stereotypical. The notoriously difficult Christopher Plummer makes Hal even likable and really works up to the punchline of the film. It’s an eye-opener, if not for commitment-phobe Oliver (who blames his issues on the example that his parents set with their marriage), it is for the audience who’s been lured into sympathy for Oliver and his lonely crazy mother.
That is the beauty of this film: it’s not just flying the flag for gay-acceptence. It is perhaps even more about self-acceptance: when do you stop blaming others (family, society) for the way your life turns out?
All this is done in a light-hearted, dare I say, funny way. Heavy subjects are handled beautifully: a particular moment of genius when Anna and Oliver recreate a phone conversation between Anna and her father, in which she reveals her fathers emotional problems. In Dutch there is a saying that roughly translates as “every home carries its cross.” Meaning that every family has its problems, in fact everyone has their problems but as Hal shows us: it is never too late to stop those problems interfering with your life.
My dear friends, if you have 18 minutes this weekend make yourself a cuppa and watch this: Isabel Allende is funny. ( Gentlemen, don’t be offended by her quips. In any case if you are a friend of mine, she does not refer to you.)
As I’m struggling to balance dream and reality/ morality and money, I hold onto this quote: ” Nice people with common sense do not make interesting characters.”
Hang on… where was I? Oh yes, the part where this marathon to become a writer is becoming tedious. Recently ( and by that I mean two minutes ago) I looked at what I had written under the tab “Issey Q” and how this blog is all about my – oh horrible word – journey to become a writer.
Quick evaluation shows that updates have been sparse lately: mostly because I have actually been writing for websites or for projects. So I would say that I have become a writer of some sorts. Hoorah! Some would argue that if you look at it that way, I always was. (yeah yeah, whatever…)
Thus, am I ready to wrap this blog all up then? Ehm not quite. It still feels like I am not finished yet: I am writing but I am not getting paid.
Now, not getting paid for my writing is really more a pragmatic problem than an egotistical one. I like writing and everything that comes with it. Having said that, I need to live.
I am done with living on people’s floors too; as much I appreciate everything everyone has done for me over the last nearly year, I know this writing malarkey needs to turn into something more sustainable.
I was going to write something about how I have been looking for writing jobs and why I keep holding out. Make brave statements about money vs. dreams. However, I’m also done with justifying my life choices to everyone so I will only share the adjusted focus of my quest a little:
This is my account of my – oh horrible word – journey to become a paid writer, so I can afford my own space, somewhere to return to from my travels and just live my life happily: I want to be a travelling storyteller with homesickness.
So in a top-secret undercover mission ( see previous post) I managed to see Bridesmaids in a cinema in Islington on a Sunday morning. Was it worth it: it sure was.
Annie (Kirsten Wiig) is going through a tough time: her cake baking business has gone bankrupt, she is sleeping with the wrong man and she is asked to become maid of honour of her best friend Lillian ( Maya Rudolph). She tries to organise all the bridal rituals, from engagement speeches to hen nights (bachelorette) and bridal showers in competition with Lillian’s new friend: the perfect Helen (Rose Byrne) . This with disastrous consequences.
The main characters are excellent. Annie is going through a tough time, makes wrong decisions but at no point is she just a fuck-up or an idiot, you feel for her. Lillian is played beautifully as the bride stuck in the middle of two of her friends. She tries to handle the awkward situations ( and there are some Cringing Situations) as gracefully as she can. This is where you can see the script is written by women. The relationships are very much build through dialogue. Deadly blows are made with big happy smiles, a subtle skill that only women have. The bitchy side to Helen was the best part of her: when she started whining about how she had no friends, the film lost me. I liked the subtlety and allusion to problems. Her stepchildren telling her to fuck off really said enough.
Then the other three bridesmaids: the butch Megan ( Melissa McCarthy) was clearly the comic relief but why were the Disney loving Becca (Ellie Kemper) and Rita (WendyMcLendon-Covey) the desperate mother of three, still in the film? One can only assume that their parts were cut, either from script or film, to something non-essential. Perhaps there were scenes in which they had more to do ( a previous Vegas scene?). Actually, that was the only ‘negative’ with this film: nothing much happens: there is no real action, no big situations ( apart from a dress fitting scene, which is just too funny and gross for words.) everything happens through small recognisable situations.
Every cringe worthy scene is so painful because you can imagine it happening (the competition in Maid of Honour speeches) or you can relate to the situation ( Nice guy tries to make an effort but gets it completely wrong and you don’t want to explain yet why it is wrong. Footnote from writer: Guys, sometimes you just are.)
That is where the film’s beauty lies, in simplicity and recognition. Of course situations are exaggerated, that’s what makes it Hollywood entertainment and not an art-house film about life after 30. The dialogue is gorgeous: realistic, subtle and funny. It is a great film looking at a woman, her life and her choices, and for once not in a dramatic way but a damn funny one.