Monday, February 16, 2015

Magnificence/ Christmas TV movies

This was on my

Dec. 18 Magnificence: I cut out this Globe and Mail book review “The struggle to stay open to love” by Lisa Moore.  She reviews the novel Magnificence by Lydia Millet.  After I reread the article, I didn’t really like the story.  I probably cut it out because of the title “The struggle to stay open to love.” Here’s the whole article:

Early in Lydia Millet’s novel Magnificence, Susan Lindley discovers that her husband has been stabbed to death in a dark alley in Central America. Susan is a chronic adulterer and self-professed “slut.” When Susan’s husband, Hal, catches her in the act of cheating with a man she couldn’t care less about, he opts to go on a journey to Belize.

He is going to rescue Susan’s young boss, T., a real estate developer who “fetishized his Mercedes and wore no suits retailing at less than 5K,” but who has undergone a Kurtz-like transformation on a remote beach in Central America.

T. has decided to divest himself of his considerable wealth by creating a fund for the world’s most endangered species.

Millet can be very funny. The narrative voice here is bracing and bold, sometimes purposefully grating. Susan pronounces on the failings of men with a table-turning brand of female machismo, snappy and skewering: “In one sense, though, she didn’t blame the men. That would be blaming the victim. They were hobbled by their repressed rage and Asperger syndrome, variations on which were lavishly spread throughout the male population.”

The women don’t fare much better: “In a society of aggressive or even merely confident women, she would be overlooked, but since most of them were passive and most men were lazy, the field was wide open.”

As with the female protagonist in Zadie Smith’s recent novel NW, Millet’s protagonist deals with emotional loss or numbness by partaking in as many meaningless sexual encounters as she can muster.

The promiscuity, Susan believes, has led to her husband’s death. Hal may have said he was going to Belize to find T., but Susan knows he was going to get away from her. She sees herself as Hal’s murderer.
From here the plot torques and corkscrews in all directions.

Susan’s daughter, Casey, a paraplegic and phone-sex worker, falls in love with T.; Susan inherits a Gothic mansion full to the brim with taxidermy, fauna from all over the globe; a handful of geriatrics are invited by T.’s mother, who suffers from dementia, to the mansion for a Christian book-club meeting.

The old women, who come bearing frozen cakes, sandwiches on white bread and massive numbers of paper napkins, decide to stay indefinitely (Millet is having fun here; imagine an author imagining a book club that moves in). There is a three-page critique of NPR radio host Terry Gross conducting an interview with a rapper while Susan is stuck in traffic on her way to court to fight distant relatives who want to take the mansion away from her. (I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that very interview with Terry Gross and loved it. Millet clearly has something against rap, or at least something against white, middle-aged, middle-class women who pretend to like rap); and finally, the buried mystery at the core of the novel is tantalizingly unearthed.

The subplots are slight and delivered with sleight of hand. Themes accrue; there are the questions of infidelity, environmental preservation, the moral quagmires of real estate development.
Millet touches on ideas about wealth, class, aging, sexism and female desire.

Complex characters and deft caricatures rub shoulders with each other to produce a hybrid of bright satire and touchingly brittle, broken-hearted souls who struggle to stay open to love.

Susan’s daughter, Casey, who became a paraplegic after a car accident, is potty-mouthed and brave. Though her appearances are brief, she sparkles. Millet is convincing about the restrictions of life in a wheelchair and affecting about how those restrictions can sometimes be overcome.

Magnificence, the final book of a trilogy, is more fable than realism, and promises a kind of moral or eerie warning at the end.

It is also more of a long short story than a novel, as all of these subplots are funnelled into the service of a single, graceful, short-story-like epiphany.

What Susan discovers under a manhole in her backyard, which leads to a buried basement, is both sinister and revelatory, bringing all the plots and themes together in a poetic rumination on the nature of extinction and the opposite: existence.

Lisa Moore is a novelist living in St. John’s. Her novel February was long-listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter: Last month I found my old vampire script.  I then thought about this movie.  I went on Youtube to watch the trailer and there are these comments:

Aval154: Love how everyone would break out in laughter in the theater when this trailer played lol

Armando Diaz: This movie was actually really great!!! I HATE how people already judge this movie and others based on their trailer.
Tristian1: Now I wanna see MLK hunt warewolves  ;)

Dec. 23 Christmas TV movies: I cut out this Globe and Mail article "The new Christmas classic is ridiculous romance” by John Doyle on Dec. 20, 2014.  He reviews some TV movies.  He is completely right about how all these TV movies are the same with variations on these love stories.  Here's an excerpt: 

In TV movies where the holidays are major part of the plot, nobody is seen sitting around watching TV. (Unless, of course, it’s a rare scene of some guys watching a sports event, because that’s what guys do from American Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.) Mainly there’s no TV-viewing featured because all the characters are too busy having breakdowns and then realizing the true value of family. Or realizing they have met their soulmates. And yet a vast amount of our time is spent watching these silly, slight TV movies about the holidays. The viewing numbers for them are staggering.

Christmas Under Wraps (Sunday, W, 9 p.m.) is one of this year’s Hallmark Channel movies. It stars Candace Cameron Bure as a doctor who gets relocated to the small town of Garland, Alaska, where, after hating it at first, she falls in love with a handsome local. This is the fifth time that Bure has done a holiday TV movie. She always plays a successful businesswoman or professional who is too busy to appreciate the season until she falls in love with a nice chap. Yes, the fifth time.

Merry Ex-Mas (Sunday, Lifetime Canada, 10 p.m.) is new and stars Dean Cain as a guy whose wife (Kristy Swanson) divorced him when, wrongly, she thought he’d had an affair. It’s three years later and they are snowed in together along with his new girlfriend. Stuff happens. Everything turns out right and the necessary hook-ups happen. This is Cain’s 15th Christmas-themed TV movie. Yes, 15th.

The point is that this is the new Christmas ritual – dozens of similarly themed TV movies are made and aired featuring romance achieved after setbacks. It’s the new holiday reality.

My opinion: Dean Cain and Candace Cameron Bure doing Christmas TV movies all the time, it’s because they’re actors and they need to get work.  If they can and want to work on these kind of projects to make money, then it’s their choice.  There are lots of people who work at one job, company, or industry for years because they like it.  

I watched Call Me Mrs. Miracle and wrote about it here:

I did watch the Christmas mystery TV movie Deck the Halls.  My favorite Edmonton actor Eric Johnson is in this one, but if he wasn’t in it, I would still watch it.  It’s based on a book by mystery writers Carol Higgins Clark and Mary Higgins Clark:

“Detective Regan Reilly and cleaning-woman-turned-private-eye Alvirah Meehan, investigate the kidnapping of Regan's father and a young female driver just before the holidays. The race is on to rescue the pair and get them home in time for Christmas.”

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