Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekday Matinee: Beginners



It's 1999. Hal Fields, a retired art historian, loses his wife of 44 years, tells the world he's gay, buys a new wardrobe, subscribes to The Advocate, takes a young lover, makes new friends, goes clubbing, grows closer to his son, finds out he has cancer, lives it up, and dies in 2003.

That's pretty much the first 10-minutes of the film.

As for the rest of the hour and a half, we play with time. Look at life from the 40s to the early Otts, how people are shaped by history, circumstance, society, parents, personal instincts and inclinations, longing and desire.

It's a film about connections -- between father and son, husband and wife, friend and friend, man and man, man and woman, and people and dogs. Yes, a dog definitely has a co-starring role here -- he's kind of a Greek Chorus with subtitles. Don't worry, it's not twee, not for a moment. Most of all, the story explores communication in all its forms -- laughing, playing, drawing, gestures, sexuality, silence, talking, barking, crying, writing, staying, leaving.

It's a film about the internal and eternal struggle between sharing who we are versus protecting who we are, a struggle determined both by place and time -- where we are and when we're there. And the courage to seek a place in the sun.




Not a comedy or drama, "Beginners" is humanity with humor. Streams on Netflix. Probably elsewhere, as well.

PS: You'll wonder where Christopher Plummer has been all our movie-going life.

17 comments:

  1. I liked so much that film! Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor acting his son, are both great. And the dog is so cute.
    Good recommendation, Karin!

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  2. I love this movie. And where Christopher Plummer has been all our lives? On stage, right here in London.

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  3. I liked him when he played Merlin's father.

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  4. I saw this awhile back... enjoyed it immensely.. btw did u see Elsa and Fred? again, another side of Christopher..

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  5. Loved Beginners....love Christopher plummer one of my early childhood crushes....The Sound of Music has a lot to answer for!!

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  6. Thanks. Added to the list.

    BTW, I agree, Elsa and Fred was enjoyable.

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  7. I was surprised by St. Vincent this weekend. Bill Murray in an almost-drama, little bit comedy. Melissa McCarthy being not funny was great! So I guess it was a weekend full of movie surprises.

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  8. The dog was the best thing in that movie, and the lighting, and the art direction.

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  9. P - Yeah, the art direction. Marjie, I'm always game to try a flicker if Bill Murray's in it.

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  10. This is a great recommendation; I haven't seen it though I'm a Plummer fan. Looks like I'm about to be a Ewan McGregor fan, too. I'm also a Bill Murray fan, he just gets better and better.

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  11. Looks like a good one to see. And I've always liked Christopher Plummer. And Bill Murray in his later films, particularly.

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  12. Thanks, Karin . . . another reason for an afternoon at Port Townsend. (The theaters on the island? Except for the Clyde, oy vey.)

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  13. Oh I remember seeing this movie in the theaters. I loved it, too. Thus it made me one of those annoying movie goers who laughs and laughs (loudly) and then bawls their eyes out (not as loudly...if I remember correctly).

    Then later I realized that he was Captain Von Trapp.

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  14. CVT -- I didn't even realize that until you guys mentioned it.

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  15. I liked Beginners so much in the theater that I watched it again at home so my husband could see it. If it's streaming, I will take a chance to watch again. I've had Elsa and Fred in my queue so now that's moved to the top of the list. Christopher Plummer is in the same category with Bill Nighy, another one I like in whatever role he plays. We liked St. Vincent too for all the reasons mentioned here.

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