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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend entertainment

I can't remember when I last completely enjoyed all my weekend entertainment. I read a great book and watched 2 terrific movies.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin. I absolutely inhaled this book. I just loved it. It's an intriguing plot, based on the song, Scarborough Fair. The author wondered about the story behind all these impossible tasks being described, so she decided to make one up! It's basically a fairy tale, but it's so real too. Like the descrition of the main chracter, Lucy, and her friend talking late at night on the couch, with their heads at opposite ends and their legs tangled up in the middle. I remember doing that when I was that age. I really enjoyed all the people in this book, and I loved the way the author imagined the meaning of the song. Exactly the sort of book I'm in the mood for - a page turner, but not mindless crap. I was especially moved and fascinated by the explanation for the absent and mentally ill mother (she's being tortured by the Fairy King).

Adventureland. A really adorable movie from last year, set in 1987. James is a college grad with a degree in comparative literature who can't afford his planned trip to Europe with a friend, so he's stuck working the summer as a carny in a dumpy amusement park outside Pittsburgh. Based on the writer/director's actual experiences. Jesse Eisenberg is so freaking cute and he's just note perfect in this. And Kristen Stewart impresses me yet again with her portrayal of the tortured Emily. Great humor, great music and a wonderful rendering of the time period. Tons of cameos by terrific veterans like Wendie Malick and Jack Hader (who has the movie's funniest scene). Bonus - lots of kissing.

Dedication - a total gem from 2007; the directorial debut of Justin Theroux (a quirky character actor I remember from an episode of Sex and the City, years ago). So much more intelligent and interesting and involving than the contrived, forced, cringe-inducing crap that usually passes for romantic comedy. These two people, Henry (Billy Crudup) and Lucy (Mandy Moore) are seriously damaged, but see something in each other when they let down their guard long enough. The writing is incredible and the director has done wonderful stuff merging memory and dreams and reality that's not labored or arty or self conscious. Minor complaint - no kissing at all! Boo hiss. The only other problem I had was with the heavy-handed, distracting music. For example, when Henry refuses to answer the phone, the lyrics of the song over the scene: "I have nothing to say." Yeah, we got that. The movie is so charming that even this conceit can't wreck it. I plan to watch this again.



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