It started in innocence, out of charity. I scanned the table hopelessly, longing to bid at the silent auction for the so worthy cause, but even for a worthy cause I can not buy ugly jewelry or day trips to anywhere.
I went around and around the table, slower and slower… I drank, I ate, I made small talk... finally I spied a basket of environmentally sound cleaning products and a spray tanning session. This time they looked good to me. I bid , I scored, I won.
The next day I was at the salon, wearing a paper thong and being spray painted impersonally with a professional looking gizmo moving up and down my body as if I were a wall, being graffitied by children. I twirled my arms as instructed, rotated my body and received the oddly unpleasant treatment. It felt icy on my naked nipples and merely cold everywhere else. Blondie left the room.
The fan was on, I was to keep my arms up and twirl continually for 10 minutes in order to dry properly. Alas, I could not keep it up, I had my clothes on when Blondie knocked on the door. “You didn’t wait,” she cried out, “You will have bra lines. “I got bored,” I said, “I can’t twirl for 10 minutes. Life is too short, I am too old.
I ran off to have my hair low-lighted. Did I mention I was going to a wedding in the Virgin Islands?
Few people would know me there, which is good, because I look nothing like I did before. In fact, I do not match my passport photo and may not get to the wedding. After a tedious beauty treatment I was startled by the sight of hair that was quite a bit darker than I planned, which matched my skin, which was also quite a bit darker than I had planned.
Just minutes ago I purchased a very slutty dress to wear at the Charlotte airport where I change planes. Perhaps the plane will be delayed, giving that old, yet oddly attractive southern reprobate who’s been eying me, a chance to make his move.
He will be attracted by my tan believing me to be one of those leathery wealthy women who winter in Florida, the very lady who can help him out of a temporary fiduciary embarrassment and relieve him of the pain of endlessly cruel calls from collection agents, around the clock.
He is an alcoholic. I know this because he is thin. All men my age are overweight, except for those with long term drinking problems. He will be my first alcoholic. I have been ready for some time.
Don’t get me wrong I am a fool for period flicks. I have watched many a Hercule Poiret film just to bask in the atmosphere of a perfect reconstruction of a bygone era, the golden light, the architecture, the furniture, women’s clothing, shoes, hats, every detail so perfect.., mmm, all so delicious that it makes me forget that many of my little grey cells die off while I’m watching a mystery filled with all the tension of watching clothes go around in the dryer.
I went to Atonement ready to be swept away by the story and James McAvoy (that adorable kid who was so sexy in The Last King of Scotland.) But what did I get? I got a comedy masquerading as a romantic tragedy set against the background of the bloodiest of all wars. It should have been a Nichols and May send up of romance and silliness set among moronic upper class twits, but no, we have to get all-serious here.
If you’ve seen Cold Comfort Farm you’re familiar with the matriarch of the family, she who has kept to her room for 40 or so years (ruling the household with an iron hand in absentia) because she was scarred by seeing something (who can say what: moldy fruit? sex? ) horrible in the woodshed.
In Atonement, the high-strung youngest daughter Briony spends a lifetime nursing her guilt over destroying her sister and her lover because of a misunderstanding. This is one of those films that would be 20 minutes long if her sister just said: “Briony, honey, that stuff you saw in the library, that was, well… hot, consexual sex . And when that little Lolita was being ravaged. Robbie was busy searching for her awful twin bothers who were hiding somewhere on the estate. Sweetheart, do something basic math, he just didn’t have the time to jump the child and find her brothers. Looking for a suspect? Look no farther than your brother’s unattractive college buddy.
You can't take any those terminally uptight Brits seriously. The whole looney Bunch: Briony, Mom, Celia, the oh, so anorexic eldest daughter of a mother who has migraines and has to lie in a darkened room pretty much all the time, (a woman who, as a child, was kept indoors in the summer by her father, because he feared the heat excited the lower orders to sexual marauding...oh how foreshadowing was that?) And talk about foreshadowing that friend of Celia’s brother has no chin, sure sign of a pervert. He can’t help but have sex with a zaftig teenager and later be trapped into marrying her. I think he owned a chocolate company, a sure sign of moral turpitude.
A movie this silly shouldn’t bring in hideous losses of the war in ghastly detail, making it a horrific experience rather than what it should have been, an episode of Wooster and Jeeves.
Only the Robbie, the son of the housekeeper is true and good. And before the unfortunate incident he’s on his way to Medical School and a bright future. Faced with a choice of jail or enlisting in the war, he joins up. We see him leading his men…. sensitive and true and beloved by regular guys. Just as weak-chinned men have dirty secrets, brave, injured heroes are sure to die of septicemia.
And speaking of Robbie, blue-eyed, so hot, so short, would he really write a note to, an upper class young lady, the girl of his dreams, that casually uses the phrase "your wet cunt”? I think not. We are asked to believe he mixes up the “I’m sorry I broke the ugly vase” note with the cunt note. And who does he give the wrong letter to, to deliver? Biony,who's mad for him and mad in the way only a very thin, self-obsessed 12 year old who writes plays can be? I don’t believe it!
What a great comedy this would have made...that is if Ian McGowan had a sense of humor or even a good ear. We Americans are suckers for the Brits. We lose our critical sense. We didn’t give this film an Oscar, whew, that was close.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: on my list of movies to see if you’re past your 47th birthday.
I’m wiping the tears off my face and Gail says to me: “Thank god, I thought that piece of crap was never going to end.”
“Well,” I say, striving for balance. “ I can’t defend it, but I enjoyed it. In fact I loved it. It isn’t often you get to see a movie where a very plain woman, full of gumption and good sense, hungry and jobless, forced to stand at a soup kitchen for a bowl of Dickensonian-looking porridge magically lands a job as secretary to a dippy pretty young thing with a complicated love life and a dazzling social circle, all within hours.
Whereupon this same woman changes the life of everyone she meets and ends up with a man her own age (Claran Hinds, fabulous Irish actor, last seen in There Will be Blood) who is a great success as a designer of woman’s lingerie, but finds it unrewarding and decides to go back into men’s socks because really their structure is more complicated than you think and who tells her quite matter-of-factly (it’s the same performance he gave in There will be Blood ) that he’s been looking for her all his life.
Really, what’s not to like?” I ask her. “How many movies have you seen lately when a 40 plus woman ends up with a successful, handsome man, with no obvious health problems, who’s like her same age?”
She says: “It was a great big boring mishmash of every 40’s musical comedy I’ve ever seen and it didn’t even have any good dancing in it.” I retire from the argument… she goes to the ladies room and meets a young woman who loved it and now she’s rethinking the whole thing.
Don’t see this movie—a helpful blog for women over 47.
You can’t be too careful. I never go to a movie with a trailer showing bloody dazed looking people chained in basements screaming, “Why are you doing this? Who the hell are you!” But even the most careful person can accidentally watch something that will harm her even though it is British and stars Joan Plowright. I need a protective companion one that sits nearby and covers my eyes and rubs my cold little hands when movies turn bad.
Those of you who don’t have Tivo may be unaware that Tivo records programs that it thinks that you might be interested in based on other programs you may have watched while having a bad cold or when you briefly considered widening your knowledge of the animal kingdom and watched a program on the nature channel.
Tivo technology is not sophisticated; it cannot be programmed to avoid special areas of squeamishness. Mine are: animals, children and women in pain. Okay, I can’t stand to see anyone being tortured even if he is a man
And its no good closing my eyes or leaving the movie to wander the lobby until hideous scene is over. I always come back too soon. I was back before basement torture scene in Pulp Fiction and I returned to the Coversation just as the toilet is flushed and something bloody, comes back into the bowl. Or as they used to say on Monty Python: “Nobody expects and Spanish Inquisition” and I certainly didn’t expect to be cast into the a deep depression by a little Brit flick called Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Early in the film, Mrs. P. trips over a speck of dust on the sidewalk and falls in front of the flat of a young, amazingly handsome loser writer named Ludwig whose mother doesn’t appreciate him.
Mrs. P tells the young lad of her first date with her dead husband Walter in which they went to see Brief Encounter and both dissolved into tears and decided to marry on the spot.
Okay this is total bullshit, show me a man who dissolved into tears or even sat through Brief Encounter and I’ll give you my left ear…. didn’t happen. It’s a girl’s wet dream…. Later the young lad goes to video store and discovers a beautiful girl reaching for Brief Encounter at the same moment he’s reaching for it and because he doesn’t have a VCR, she invites him, a stranger resembling Ted Bundy, over to her flat to watch it.
Deeply in love, they ignore Mrs. P and she goes into a steep decline, verbally attacking the other lonely people at her hotel, and in a fit of pique dashes down the stairs and breaks her hip and then dies a few weeks later in the hospital, after having mistaken her young friend for Walter and telling him she’s looking forward to being dead and joining him. Well, she gets her wish and the young boy who we have to thank for this mawkish memoir gets a book out of it.
Okay it’s only a movie, but if we are asked to swallow the improbability of a straight man who cries during Brief Encounter, then why can’t we have Mrs. P recover from her fall, have a hip replacement and start running a squash camp for widows or a high class brothel or whatever… There’s too much reality around. Let’s put a stop to it now.
When I was 40 I created the cartoon character Sylvia. She was going to hack her way through the jungle of aging. She would always be ten years older than I. When I began to age, I found that I was unable to visit those telltale signs of aging on Sylvia. I had bags under my eyes, lines and wrinkles. Syl was a smoker, she should have those ugly little lines around her mouth...but I couldn't do it! She was a firm and unmarked as the day she was created...sometimes she even got slimmer.
Meanwhile I was writing essays about aging, which absolutely no one wanted to hear about. Publishers seemed to send the manuscript back before it even got to their desk. Then a miracle happened, the baby boomers began to age: Dolly Parton, Bill Clinton. And whatever happens to the baby boomers happens to all of us. My book, Tales of Graceful Aging...from the Planet Denial was published.