Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday Night at the Movies

After being on the computer writing cover letters and submitting with resumes, working on my poetry book and studying, I decided to make it “Friday Night at the Movies” night. Of course, I’m not one to rent known movies—Oscar nominated; I enjoy Sundance Films or Independent. Instead of getting a romantic comedy, my favorite genre movie, I wound up with two sad and depressing movies—Blue Valentine and Like Dandelion Dust. Even though they were sad and depressing, I liked Like Dandelion Dust better than the promoted Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

Blue Valentine was sex induced, which led me to be unsympathetic to Michelle Williams character, Cindy. In the movie, she is promiscuous and her relationships are about sex. When Ryan Gosling’s character, Dean wants her emotionally and she claims she doesn’t have any emotion left, I thought, “I didn’t think she ever had any.” Her character was bland and the storyline dragged like a wet blanket hanging from a car door.

I prayed Like Dandelion Dust would be better. This is a story about two sets of parents, one biological and the other adoptive. The biological parents played by Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper are poor, and the adoptive parents played by Kate Levering and Cole Hauser are rich. Barry Pepper’s character, Rip Porter goes to prison at the beginning of the movie for domestic violence due to his alcoholism. Mira Sorvino’s character, Wendy Porter finds out she’s pregnant and gives her child up for adoption. When Rip finally gets out of jail, she tells him about the pregnancy and adoption, and he wants his son back. He’s a changed man and never signed the papers.

Like Dandelion Dust comes from the idea of making a wish on a dandelion and blowing on it—this sets the wish free. Each set of parents has a wish, which both entail their son, Joey. It shows what lengths each one will go to for their son as they break from the pressure. In the end, their wish is granted—for their son to be safe and happy. 

If you’re looking for a compelling drama, I recommend Like Dandelion Dust and skip Blue Valentine.  

Do you have any movie recommendations?

Have a great weekend!


  1. Hmm... Like Dandelion Dust sounds like an intriguing premise. I might have to check that one out. I'll see if it makes the cut for my twice a year movie viewing, lol.

    I remember seeing some promo stuff for the Blue Valentine movie and wondering how they were going to pull it off as a full length movie. Didn't the two actors stay in a house together for a while to get into the role of their characters?

    I've got no DVD recommendations for you. Though I can tell you, I really want to see The Tree of Life at the theater. Have a nice weekend too. :)

  2. I don't watch a lot of movies either.

    I'm not sure if they lived together in a house, but I don't think doing so made it better if they did. There wasn't much to their characters to get into the role, IMHO.

    I never heard of The Tree of Life. I'll have to look into that.

    Have a nice week!

    P.S. Can you do something about the rain?

  3. Love movie recommendations. Thanks :) We've been digging into some bad old movies just to get us by on netflix some nights. LOL!

  4. AB, I've been there with the bad movies, but I'm never bored or disappointed with the 80s movies...and I know you enjoy them as much as I do.

  5. Hi Bea – It sounds like movie night was a much needed respite! Escaping into a movie can help with the clutter and recharge the senses – catharsis by cinema.

    There is no denying that these films are weighty, emotionally complex with expressively damaged and morally suspect characters. As a viewer we have to set aside scrutiny and embrace story in order to connect with the characters in a way that doesn’t preclude us from caring what happens. If we get hung up from the start there is little chance the world will matter and in a void the characters are as you write, bland and the plot plods.

    I can’t help but recall films like The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon (about a pedophile released from prison who sets out to rebuild his life against every obstacle otherwise) and Sling Blade with Billy Bob Thornton (about an emotionally and mentally unstable man and murderer released from state hospital unwillingly and faces an ordinary world that isn’t so ordinary). Like these examples, Blue Valentine and Like Dandelion Dust require a mindfulness that we’re not going to entirely agree with these characters or their crimes and failures. Ultimately we have to ask ourselves, are we put off by our prejudices or the mechanics of the film itself?

    I agree that these films were marketed in different ways. I see your point regarding themes of sexuality and intimacy; though I’d argue the story successfully explores the layer-effect of relationships and the consequences of two people facing opposing emotional expectations. Michelle Williams character, Cindy is looking for a specific kind of love that for the most part has been elusive her whole sexually active life; she wants intimacy rather than just sex but ends up exhausted in the realization that she cannot marry the two. Her admission of not having any emotion left exemplifies this confusion with the physical (sex) and the intimate (emotional). Ryan Gosling’s character, Dean lives in the moment where the physical (sex) is as close to intimate as he can or wants to get; revealed in his lack of ambition and thoughts for the future, for sharing conversations and togetherness (intimate/emotional). I’d argue against bland and pacing as character films are generally rooted in confined spaces, both literal and figurative.

    I was very interested in the premise of Like Dandelion Dust (LDD) – the perfect opportunity for dramatic tension and carefully layered characters. While the plot put all the pieces together, though a little too quickly in the first act, the story slowed to a crawl and never got going again through the second act – the ending felt anti-climactic and abrupt. The plot points were too obvious and clunky; the staged collisions between the parents skittered across the surface and never felt rooted, revealing too much too soon until the inevitable ending. There were moments here and there but not enough to rely on.

  6. As far as quirky, well-defined character-centric films:

    Pieces of April (highly recommended, a great performance by Katie Holmes)
    Requiem for a Dream (though admittedly deep, dark and disturbing can preclude the senses)
    You and Me and Everyone We Know (though watchable, it suffers from Indie-malaise)
    Run Lola Run (stretches the odd bounds but nevertheless memorable characters)
    Animal Kingdom (really deserving more attention, though dark with prickly edges)

  7. Hey Rory,

    In my opinion, Sling Blade was a great movie. The characters came to life through the performances.

    I agree that I think the story wanted to convey the layers of Cindy wanting intimacy and Dean only wanting sex, but I didn’t feel that in the movie. There was no contrast—character development. Cindy started off sifting through sex to find a deeper connection, something her father never showed, and she continued. I never saw a shift. As a writer, you need to show your characters developing through the story. As an actor/actress, you need to show the same thing. Maybe it was written that way, yet Michelle Williams didn’t deliver it in my book.

    As for Like Dandelion Dust, there were clunky parts, but I don’t feel the end was abrupt. By the end, the viewer already knows what’s going to happen. Sure, maybe they could have shown Wendy and Rip for the last time, but I don’t think that would add to the story. I just think they played their parts well.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You are the expert on movies. It’s nice to hear someone else’s take.

    I appreciate the suggested movies, too. I'll have to look into them.

    Take care.