sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 1, 2010

happy new year!
posted by soe 11:03 pm

Welcome to 2010! I hope that your New Year has started off on the right foot.

[Editorial note: Generally, I try not to give spoilers to movies that I see. This particular post does, however, hint at certain aspects of three films currently in theaters that may lead you to guess their outcomes. If you want to maintain a tabula rasa on A Single Man, Up in the Air, or Sherlock Holmes, I’d skip reading today’s post and stop in again tomorrow for a new topic of conversation.]

Rudi and I began the year the same way we have the past several — in the movie theater. Last night as the apple dropped in Times Square, we were about halfway through our showing of Sherlock Holmes.

We started our annual movie marathon off at E Street Theater with A Single Man, the new Colin Firth period piece, which he totally deserves an Oscar nod for. Whoever was in charge of the cinematography also deserves a nomination for their stellar use of color to convey emotion. I would not, however, suggest the film when you’re looking for something heartwarming or uplifting, since the crux of the story focuses on how a man, whose partner has died suddenly, copes (or doesn’t) with his overwhelming grief and depression in the early 1960s. I left the theater feeling drained and glad we’d slated it first in our trio of shows for the day.

We headed a few blocks to Gallery Place, where our friends Michael and Julia joined us for a bucket of popcorn and Up in the Air, the George Clooney flick about air travel and professional firers. It, too, was well acted, but its conclusion again left me feeling discouraged.

Both movies shared a commonality of characters ultimately willing to transform themselves but unable to find their happy ending (at least on-screen). I like happy endings. Ultimately, I’m not going to like a movie if it doesn’t give me one, even if I can appreciate its greatness otherwise.

Up in the Air did provide the four of us with fodder for conversation during dinner at Ella’s, a decent pizza joint in downtown D.C. Over salad, pizza, pasta, drinks, and dessert, we agreed that the reactions depicted by those being fired/downsized/reorganized out of their position were not likely to be ours if faced with a similar situation. It did make me feel that perhaps I ought to figure out what I am passionate about and determine if there’s a way to make a living at it, rather than continue indefinitely at a job that I wouldn’t be devastated to be let go from. I have another whole lifetime to go before retirement, so it seems like something pretty important to sort out.

Michael and Julia, who’d already seen Sherlock Holmes last week, liked it enough to watch it again. I admit to being nervous the violence that I’d heard about the Guy Ritchie film would be sufficient to make me regret our evening triad. I am pleased to report that was not the case. Although there were several scenes where I had to close my eyes, I found this movie’s violence to be similar to those in the Lord of the Rings movies, where it was sufficiently divorced from reality for me to be able to survive it (unlike last New Year Eve’s Slumdog Millionaire). I quite enjoy Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, but I found Robert Downey Jr.’s impish yet bipolar take on the character to be a compelling one. And Jude Law’s Dr. Watson conveyed an emotionally plausible combination of camaraderie, admiration, and interdependence that explains the character’s continued presence as one of literature’s most famous sidekicks, something I feel the Granada series lacked.

As Rudi, Julia, Michael, and I headed out into Chinatown’s emptying streets at the conclusion of the movie, I felt like the night had been a rousing success. I finally had my happy ending. And if you can’t end up with a happy ending on that night of nights, when can you?

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