Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movies: Silver Linings and Being Flynn

We recently went to the movies and watched Silver Linings Playbook.  This movie caught my eye last summer when I saw the first trailer. I immediately thought it looked appealing, and I wanted to see Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in these types of roles.  And then the movie came out, the buzz came on, and I avoided seeing it.

I read the reviews, and some glowed, said it was the best movie of the year, while others hated it, were turned off by the spectacle of manic depression being used as a "disease of the week."

For me, it wasn't the greatest movie in the world, but I wasn't exactly opposed to the subject matter, either.

The cast was as near perfect for this type of movie as you could get.  I think Cooper is getting less attention than he should, and Jackie Weaver, too, but that's how it goes some times.  Best to get some light instead of none at all.  

This movie is emotionally uncomfortable in places, and there's no way any movie can relate the extremes of living with this disease, but this one comes close. I'm glad there's a positive conversation about depression emanating out in the world from this movie.  Statistics are available, you don't need me to educate you about how rampant the disease is, and how no one is immune to depression.  My guess is that none of us have to look to far to see the damage untreated depression can do.  But this movie is about more than a disease, it's about the human spirit, about battling for love and happiness.  That touches us all, and for that reason alone, I recommend this movie.

Another movie that I have also avoided, but recently caught on HBO, was Being Flynn.   I recommend it, too.

This is another difficult movie, and I applaud it for a lot of reasons, the most prominent was the exact opposite of Silver Linings.   The filmmakers didn't exploit any specific illness, though there's a serious look at addiction and alcoholism in this movie--and I don't use "exploit" in a negative term about the previous movie.

This movie is unflinching, and difficult to watch at times, too, something I hadn't really expected.  It shares a lot with Silver Linings; the battle for love and happiness in difficult circumstances, and finding your place in the world when the cards are stacked against you. 

I was initially attracted to this movie because of the connection to being a writer, and there's plenty here that touches on the difficultly of that affliction, most specifically, that no one would really chose to be a writer. It's too hard--but you really can't outrun it if you truly are a writer. 

Robert De Niro shines is both movies, but I really think his role in Being Flynn is another master class for actors and storytellers. Paul Dano is also effective, and quickly proving why he's considered an actor to watch.

Both movies are based on books, Being Flynn is based on Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by Nick Flynn and Silver Linings Playbook is based on the novel of the same title by Matthew Quick. Go buy them both and support the authors.

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