Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let Oscar Season Begin

It is now 30 minutes before the announcement of this year's Oscar nominations.

Time to get back to living.... back to blogging...back to moviegoing.....  and back to adding my small bit to this art form (and hobby) we call film criticism....

First, though,I want to thank all of you for your understanding, and for your kind words and support, during my sabbatical and period of reflection as I worked through of a mountain of difficult tasks during the last month.  It is not over...but the light is starting to emerge....

Just a brief note before Oscar season kicks off in earnest:

Despite my disappointment with the state of filmmaking over the long Spring and Summer, the movie year has shaped up to be overall one of the most interesting in years.  All of the high-profile Oscar hopefuls, based on the precedents of Critic's Awards, Golden Globes, and word-of-mouth, are movies that I have enjoyed and appreciated on many levels.

This year's potential Oscar nominees are also a decidedly lighthearted bunch, filled with nostalgia for the great literature and art and filmmaking of days gone by; and proving, by their audacious appearance on big screens in 2012, that we can still be entertained, stimulated, and aesthetically pleased by classic movie subjects and techniques that are in danger of being obliterated by studios in their search for big audiences.

Look for more---much more--about this idea in subsequent posts.....

Meanwhile, I will be cheering for the following favorites, should they be announced in the next 20 minutes:
"The Artist"..  Meryl Streeep..."Midnight in Paris"... Michael Fassbender... Viola Davis...  "Hugo"....  Ludovic Bource..... "The Descendants".......Michelle Williams.... Martin Scorsese...  Joseph Gordon-Levitt... Christopher Plummer...  "Moneyball".... Jessica Chastain.... Emmanuel Luzbecki... Octavia Spencer.... Jean Dujardin.... Michael Hazavanicius... "The Help"....George Clooney....Corey Stoll...  WOODY... TERRENCE...."TREE OF LIFE!"  (and a little groan if I hear the words Edgar, Bridesmaids, or Tattoo)...

And a special shout-out to the Best Supporting Actors of the Year who will not be nominated...Uggie and Cosmo.

Here's to a fun, artistic, and enlightening Oscar contest....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thomas M.--1928-2012

An important chapter has now drawn to a close.  It was written in anguish and caring, and in a strange way was predicted by the movies......

My father died on a quiet Saturday morning yesterday, January 14, 2012, one day after being released from the hospital to hospice care.

Not that it matters now, but he expired from the effects an as-yet-unknown cancer.  Brain tumors appeared to be the cause of his continued falls, and disorientation.  Until then there were no apparent symptoms.

He declined rapidly, in spite of a team of medical professionals, who sometimes seemed intent on thwarting my efforts to advocate for his recovery.  He passed peacefully.

My mother, who has struggled against her own afflictions of the mind and emotion, was released from the same hospital on the same Friday, and moved into the same nursing care facility on the same day as my father.  On the same floor.  We tried very hard to ensure that they would have some time together during his final weeks.

They had one day.

When the call came in, I felt anxiety drain out of my body through the floor.  There was so much we had to do for them since Thanksgiving, and now there is so much more to be done.  One just snaps to.

Emotions came in intermittent bursts throughout the day.

Mark and I, and my sister and  her husband, rallied to my mother's side to catch the fallout of....what, we could not easily predict.  Confusion? Hysteria? Resignation? Relapse?  She had come through her treatments so well....

Fortunately, amid some uncertainty, and the normal show of grief, my mom did fine.  She was a little confused, and mistook my father's death for that of her own father 10 years ago.  No matter.  She had her way of dealing with it, and it kept her strong, and pleasant.

The staff of her nursing facility was compassionate and low-key.

Mark could not have been a better support... He did what I needed, and stayed next to me all the time.

Our friends showed themselves to be loyal and worthy of our best esteem. Phone calls, emails, and visits with food, and never intrusive, but always caring.  Thanks to them all.

I have not blogged here for a while.  The overwhelming emotion of the last few weeks, and the drain on normal energy levels, kept me from committing to this effort.  Many nights, while feeling like I had to be in at least five different places at the same time (the hospital, the nursing home, my parent's house for cleanup, the attorney's office, my own job, etc.),  I hated myself for neglecting my writing. 

A strange calm has possessed me and Mark and our little household. 

I feel like writing again.

I want to read, and follow the zany antics of the Hollywood Foreign Press.  Tomorrow will be busy and anxiety-producing.  For tonight, little would please me more than to see Woody and "Paris" receive an accolade.


In a strange way, the movies of 2011 pay subtle tribute to our family's loss.  "The Artist" spans a few years beginning in 1928, the year my father was born.  In "Hugo", the young central character adjusts to the loss of his father.  In "Beginners", another character, closer to my age and experience, looks back on the weeks leading up to his father's death.  "The Descendants" observes a family whose mother, while not deceased, is no longer present for them.  "My Week With Marilyn" recreates the atmosphere of the mid 1950's, when my parents were married.  And "Tree of Life" looks at an average suburban family, and attempts to depict not only the origins of that life, but a speculation on their afterlife.

I am eager to return to the blogosphere, once the dust settles.....