Baroque Tree Silhouette

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Baroque Tree Silhouette

It’s the heart of the gray times here in Salt Lake City, so I’m posting heavily processed images to give this place a little color. This weather makes me want to stay in and read, do nerd code and drink warm drinks. I suppose this is the time to do a bunch of photo editing, because it’s too damn miserable to shoot new work. If the sun comes out at all, I’ll shoot, but this gray isn’t inspiring me to shoot too much. Which is a good thing. I’m not complaining about winter. I like winter. I’m just saying that the forced edit time is good. The harshest winters make for the best spring and summer.

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This tree might be more rococo than baroque, but my intent is baroque. Vivaldi harpsichord. Hurrying home before the sun goes down and it gets even colder. Trying not to breathe in through your nose because of snot and that weird sensation that there is an alien inside your skull, freezing it from the inside out.

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I’m travelling this week to Texas for the Dad 2.0 Summit, where I will try to redeem myself for being so morose last year. It was that weekend that I felt like things were turning for me, that opportunities would be opening. I’m a lot less sad this year and my way forward more clear. I won’t lie and say there aren’t days where pangs hit pretty hard. Friends have warned me to stay away from any romantic comedies. And I have heeded that warning. But I couldn’t stay away from Silver Linings Playbook, which finally opened here last week. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. Jennifer Lawrence is hot, yes, but she’s inappropriately young for me, even though she’s working all kinds of amazing in this movie. So I like the movie, but not because of feelings in my pants for the leading lady. Both the lead performances are shockingly good. And yes, I know I’m talking about a romantic god damn comedy. I don’t think I’ve seen a film in a long time that is as hard to watch, awkward and funny and warm and made me want to see it again immediately. There have really only been a handful of movies of any genre to affect me like that, but this is one. Silver Linings feels like a classic already. I know. But it does. Just bear with me.

The comparison movies: Moonstruck, Tootsie and maybe a more deft and hard edged Jerry McGuire. Moonstruck for the familial elements and the scenes of intense fighting and yelling, but not in a Mike Leigh kind of way. The cast chemistry also recalls Moonstruck; there are some really great moments between Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper and the onscreen chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is palpable. Some critics have dissed parts of the movie, but I could care less.

I was reminded of Tootsie on several levels. In Tootsie Dustin Hoffman’s character starts out kind of prickly and then redeems himself (mostly). Same with Cooper in Silver Linings. He’s not likable for most of the first act. The love geometry in the rising action of the third act in Tootsie has been untouched by any movie in my lifetime, with the climactic scenes in Crazy, Stupid, Love coming pretty close. But the moving parts of Silver Linings create enough suspense that its third act is on par with Crazy, Stupid, Love in a few ways and outshines in others. The chaos as the movie builds is closer to Tootsie and Moonstruck. You think you know what’s going to happen, but these characters have been spinning the whole movie and the whole thing could explode at any second. Still, Tootsie holds the prize for a frenetic and yet skillfully written and performed multilayered ending to a comedy.

Silver Linings is like Moonstruck in how music is used to accentuate the narrative and show us interiors of the characters. In fact, the lyricism of the soundtrack and verit√© camera work is reminiscent of how a Martin Scorcese soundtrack works with the cinematography and editing. Good Fellas and Casino come to mind. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anybody. I’ll just say that I did pretty well through the movie until Dave Brubeck’s god damn “Maria” was used in a pivotal scene. I don’t know why I lost it, but I did after two beats. I knew instantly it was Brubeck. I didn’t have any personal pain in the movie, even with the subject matter which could potentially be a trigger. It wasn’t. Maybe it was the hopefulness of it all, that maybe I’ll find love again, even though right now, that’s the furthest thing from my mind. I need to be alone. I’ve been listening to “Maria” all weekend. The chord changes are delicious and Paul Desmond’s sax moves so effortlessly through the notes in a sweet, yet sultry way. There is a spot in the turnaround where Desmond punctuates with a single bent note that rather tastily bends down before the final figure into Brubeck’s solo turn at the top of the form. There is a tension and release with the chorus as well and maybe that’s part of the genius of David O. Russell and whoever else worked on the music supervision.

Here’s the song I’m on about:

and if that doesn’t work, here’s a link to the song on Rdio that should let you hear it.

I was reminded of Jerry McGuire in that when you watched that movie the first time, you weren’t sure if they were going to make it as a couple. This movie has the same shifting landscape and it’s not clear how things are going to play out. Which is what makes a good romantic comedy. One should think that the leads will never get or stay together. That tension is handled expertly in Silver Linings.

Tootsie was a holiday/winter release and Hoffman won the Oscar that year for his performance. I think this year, Daniel Day Lewis has it in the bag, but Cooper showed surprising depth in Silver Linings. Sometimes you see actors in a good movie and their real life persona or their roles in other successful movies overshadow every character they play, stopping any movie from being really great. Going in, I feared that would be the case, but I was wrong. Definitely the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in a long time. I’m trying to figure out when I can see it again. I want to see it before it leaves the theater. Just to watch again the moment when “Maria” starts. So good.

This is the internet. I’m sure many of you disagree or will disagree. Fine. All good. But don’t spoil it for anybody in the comments. I don’t want to rob anybody who might like the movie from enjoying it to the fullest.

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Affirmation: Think not of horses and saddles. Don’t even think about riding any horse. You need to dial your shit in before you can saddle up, buddy.