Friday, September 17, 2021
Elvira: And if they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than just a great set of boobs. I was also an incredible pair of legs. And tell them... tell them that I never turned down a friend. I... never turned down a stranger for that matter. And tell them... tell them that when all is said and done, I only ask that people remember me by two simple words. Any two, as long as they're simple.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
That's what Portrait of a Lady on Fire filmmaker Celine Sciamma's delicate swoon of a new film Petite Maman is all about -- in seventy brief minutes how do we map impossible landscapes, the ones that define who we are and where we stand in relation to the people who matter the most to our lives, our hearts? It requires magic. It requires storytelling. It requires a tree fort built in the trees -- between four trees, not three! -- in the middle of the woods behind the house where our loved one was raised. Going into those magical spaces, those ones that mean so much to the people who mean so much to you, already feels like some sort of wonderment -- Petite Maman makes that wonder real to the touch.
When we first meet sweet little Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) she's already drifting through someone else's space, a space where the ghost of what was an important person lingers -- her grandmother has just died and she and her mother (Nina Meurisse) are clearing out her things at the nursing home. From there they move on to mom's childhood home, packed to the rafters with ghosts, as we define memories, pieces of furniture and walking sticks -- they have got a few days to clean the place out, sort through an entire lifetime. Three lifetimes really, for three generations. Too much to cram into one backseat and go.
And then, like something out of Peggy Sue Got Married, Nelly wanders all of a sudden through that tree-fort straight into the past. On the other side, not over the river but yes through the woods, another grandmother's house -- we wonder if this place is Coraline adjacent, button eyes on our opposites, but no. There on the other Nelly nonchalantly meets Marion, aka her own mother as a little girl (played by Joséphine's sister Gabrielle), and they make fast friends. Fast sad friends, with their own sets of ghosts, but what a thing to bond over.
It's only days before Marion, Nelly's little mother of the title, is set to have surgery -- a surgery to right the illness that plagued Marion's mother, Nelly's grandmother, a lifetime to the grave. And it's here, in this twilight moment on the precipice of innocence lost, the place where Marion grew up and out of childhood, that Nelly finds her, woos her, and together they make crepes. They laugh, they make crepes, and reader how I sobbed. It's the sweetest crepe-making scene in the history of existence, I tell you, and Sciamma weaves the most delicate and tender crepe-making magic.
"You didn't invent my sadness," Mom informs Nelly in the film's deeply moving and wise final moments, but by then we know that already, and only too well -- we all move with them, independently defined by every damned person around us, squeak after squeak. To be granted the gift of seeing it, my god. What a gift. What a movie. What absolute magic.
...you can learn from:
Year of the Dog (2007)
Peggy: If you all didn't think I was crazy, I'm sure you will now. How do I explain the things I've said and done? How do I explain the person I've become? I know I've disappointed everyone and I'm sorry for that. I wish I was a more articulate person. I believe life is magical. It is so precious. And there are so many kinds of life in this life. So many things to love. The love for a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or girlfriend. The love for children. The love for yourself. And even material things. This is my love. It is mine. And it fills me and defines me. And it compels me on.
A very happy birthday to the magic and wonder of Molly Shannon today! If you weren't a Mike White Person back in 2007 but you are a Mike White Person now thanks to his HBO series The White Lotus I really recommend flinging yourself back in time to this 2007 gem, which asks a lot of the same thorny and complicated questions about humanity and our place in this world, coming up with no easy answers, just twenty more questions. Oh...
Thanks to the eagle-eyed anonymous reader who caught that both Lee Pace -- in his now legendary Met Ball get-up -- and David Harbour -- in his now legendary GQ photoshoot full of skirts -- were rocking the same Thom Browne single striped-sock / black boots aesthetic. David has the skirt going on, while Lee has the sock garters, giving both looks a kick, but who wore it best? Answer that poll above and we'll find out once and for ever!
Anyway I just wanted to take a moment to point out that long-time visitors of MNPP might notice a difference on the site today -- I got rid of the sidebar down below on the right where I logged what movies I'd been watching, and just replaced it with a link to my Letterboxed account. Follow me there! I loved having that sidebar, I really did, but I had gotten terrible at updating it regularly and every time I noticed how far behind I'd gotten I felt angry at myself -- and I noticed it every damn day! That's too much anger. And in the meanwhile I'd fiiinnally taken to Letterboxed and now use it regularly. So why not just bite the inevitable tekno-future bullet? We're so hip, after all.
I will admit that I have one bad Letterboxd habit that I need to break, which is that I log the movies I'm watching as I start watching them, so I don't rate or review things there very often -- our ol' sidebar always had letter grades which I know some of you found helpful, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry, okay! God! Anyway follow me on Letterboxd if you don't, is my point. Also that Manny Jacinto is pretty, but you knew that already.