Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why are all the good guys already in love with anatomically correct dolls?

I'd like to do something new today, something I've never done before around here. You may have noticed the sidebar, where I keep track of what I'm currently reading, watching, and listening to. And this is all well and good, of course, but occasionally I come across something, a book or a movie or an album, that really touches me in some way. And sometimes I have a lot to say about this particular thing that touched me, but until now I've had to channel that energy into papers on the medieval chansons de geste, or lessons on the partitive, or correcting sixteen essays titled "Mon restaurant préféré." But now that the paper-writing is over (forever!!!!) I find myself languishing, in a way, now that I don't have to write fives pages double-spaced a day in order to make a deadline. And so, I've given myself an assignment, if you will, to fill this new void in my life, and I'm going to call it Rachel's Raves (and no, there will be no glow sticks involved). The terms of this assignment being as follows: whenever I come across a movie, book, or album that floats my boat, tickles my fancy, or what have you, I promise to tell you about it. I will carefully and thoughtfully lay out my arguments, and in return, you will tell me what you think of it, either based on your own personal experience or on my review. You can even grade me if you want, just to keep that academic flavor that I am sure to miss. (Just be nice, and remember, grad students don't like B's). I hope you'll even share some raves of your own (and some rants too, if you insist on being contrary). I think a good time will be had by all. And so, without further ado, I present to you my first rave:

Lars and the Real Girl
Ok, so superficially this film is about a mentally ill man who falls in love with a sex doll he buys over the internet. I hestitate to mention that first thing, knowing it might drive people away, as it presents a sort of slapstick, Weekend at Bernie's-type image, which is not at all the case. This movie is not about that. This is a quietly soulful movie with heart. You may not laugh out loud, and you may not cry actual drippy tears (though I did), but it will keep you smiling throughout, even as your eyes well up and threaten to spill over. A touching movie about loneliness, community, and family, it's guaranteed to make you want to pick up and move to a remote Canadian village, volunteer in a hospital, and go to church every Sunday.

I loved Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson, and his complete 180 degree departure from that role in this film just attests to his brilliance as an actor. He plays Lars with sensitivity and humor and real affection. (Watch the special features on the dvd to hear how he prepared for his role). Emily Mortimer also gives a brilliant performance; it's obvious how much all the actors in this film truly love their characters, which only makes sense- the characters are so damn loveable. (Possibly too loveable, as I was left thinking, now where can I find a painfully shy, mustachioed, beige sweater-wearing, possibly delusional man of my own?)

So, have you seen this movie? If not, would you see it now, after reading this? Have any movies of your own to rave about? Do share. I have a Netflix account and eighteen days (and counting) of nothing better to do.


  1. We just saw Lars and the Real Girl earlier this week. I absolutely thought it was going to be silly slapstick and was SO pleasantly surprised that it was deep and dark and touching.

    Tonight: (if I can stay awake) The Savages (with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney)

  2. Yes, Laura Linney! She wants to have my children (only she doesn't know it yet because her people keep blocking my emails). I believe this. Anyway, she never gives a bad performance.

    Just saw "Into the Wild" and was blown over by the lead actor, of whom I know nothing. Emile something? Sean Penn wrote and directed! Who knew? A wonderful, sad, traumatic, very affecting movie.

    But two movies for my last night on Earth? "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Some Like It Hot." Fantastic writing and acting, stong stories, well-paced direction, everything you need in a classic.

  3. I have the tip for LATRG from several sources. I just watched Cloverfield, and loved it for scariness sake. I will also recommend that you check out Shortbus. Or did you watch that already. And no matter what 20th Cent. American Lit professors tell me, none of these films should be viewed through the lens of a post-9-11 NYC attempting to make sense of itself. Art is bigger than politics.

  4. I just watched Lars this weekend and I loved it. Ryan Gosling is so believable and real in his character. I laughed, cried, and just loved it, too.

  5. I have wanted to see this for a while - thanks for the reminder. I think I'll rent it tonight!

  6. Thanks, everyone. Your suggestions have been duly noted and added to my Netflix queue. (Except maybe Cloverfield. Sorry Erin; I just can't do it!)

  7. oh yes yes! Rachel, I loved this movie so much and had the same reaction you did--- I am SO looking forward to your recs this summer . .