In Search of Lost Time

The winter chill is gone, replaced by a perfect blue sky and sunshine. It may only be temporary, but it’s a hint of spring. I feel like walking without a specific destination in mind and forgetting about all the things I should/could/must do.

I sneak away to the movies every now and then. Last month I saw “Toni Erdmann”. As good as I expected it to be. Funny in an uncomfortable, confrontational way. A retired music teacher decides to surprise his career-driven daughter Ines. She is working in Bucharest, doing an outsourcing project for a management consulting company. Work spills over into her social life, which seems fine with her. Polished and ensconced in beautifully austere pantsuits, Ines is as self-contained as her father is not. A prankster by nature, his life is a series of performance art sketches, putting people off-balance. He is liberal, left-leaning, product of German post-war generation. Ines is opposite, capitalist striver, tough and seemingly unemotional. Her father adopts his alter ego persona (Toni Eerdmann) for his visit and embarrasses Ines at every turn. She rolls with the punches, but amidst of all the disruption that “Toni” unleashes, we get to experience Ines’ annoyance, frustration with gender inequality, cultural clash (Romania’s post-communism malaise). We also get a glimpse of Ines as a chip off the old block. There is a very funny scene where Ines is throwing a “team building” party in her apartment and before her guests arrive, she is trying to change out of her too slinky dress. She finally extracts herself from the dress when the door bell rings, and she decides to open the door naked. She stays naked and the reaction of the arrivals is priceless as she tells them that it’s a naked party in the spirit of team building. The movie ends with Ines and her father talking about the nature of happiness, about moments lost, sometimes forgotten. “Toni Erdmann” is going to be Americanized. Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig will star. I wonder if something will be lost in the translation.

On Friday, my escape was “John Wick – Chapter 1”. I missed Chapter 1. It’s incredibly slick, stylized movie full of violent and sometimes beautiful images. Like a kung fu movie, the plot doesn’t matter, it’s all about action. Keanu Reeves has a detached quality in the film that works. I never saw his action films – “Point Break”, “The Matrix”, “Speed”. I saw “River’s Edge” when it came out in 1986 and loved it. Keanu was very real in it. I saw snippets of “My Own Private Idaho” but didn’t want to see the whole movie – felt sad. I might go back to it now. “The Lake House” was flaky, didn’t really believe the premise.

By the way, how can John Wick be Baba Yaga? Being Eastern European, I know all about Baba Yaga. Usually portrayed as an old crone, ready at any moment to grab a child who has been bad.

My TV escape is Tom hardy’s “Taboo” which is all about excess. it’s squalor and violence in Regency England, with a bit of overacting and pretty entertaining dialogue (when Tom isn’t grunting). Tom holds it all together by the sheer force of his personality. It’s not peak TV, more like good pulp fiction.

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