Superbowl Sunday (for movie geeks)

Ladiez and Gentlemen,

It’s that time of year again… Superbowl Sunday for the movie nerds is fast approaching…

IT’S OSCAR TIME.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I really like to see movies and plays and (these days, with the wealth of great options) TV. What can I say? We all have our “things.” I have the distinct pleasure of living in NYC, where it’s as easy as hopping on a subway to catch the latest indie darling at the Angelika, or the newest British transfer to Broadway.

Now, artsy people aren’t known to be as competitive as, say, sports people. We don’t paint our faces and scream at each other. We don’t tune in every week to catch the big game. But if you’ve ever spent time around a bunch of intelligent, opinionated, well-read, -watched, and -listened artists (i.e. my friends), you will think we’re in the midst of a football huddle if you stumble upon us in a bar around this time of year.

We take this shit seriously.

One of the fun things about the Oscars, in particular, is that there really is a sort of underground, buzzy, pre-awards chatter. It’s sort of what I imagine it’s like when teams are picking their players (that does happen, right?) or people discuss the odds of a certain team winning. It’s opinion, it’s loyalty, and most of all, it’s the politics of the biz.

Every year my friends and I host a big Oscar shindig. I volunteered to host this year. Phewf. That’s another story. Everyone dresses up (formal attire, contrary to the misheard instruction of the one girl who showed up dressed as Juno one year), and everyone brings a dish wittily labeled to match a movie or movie person from that years’ ceremonies. This is the flag in the cap of our Oscar parties. This is where you prove your mettle. Previous favorite wordplay titles off the top of my head:

Up in the Eclairs
Mickey Rour-quiche and Marisa Tomei-toes (The Wrestler)
Another Year R and J didn’t come up with a title
Milk (I mean, really though)
Jes-sesame noodles in The Soba Network
CokeZero Dark Thirty
Hugo-gurt

Anyhow, all that aside, clearly we’re obsessed. Okay, I’ll single myself out. I’m obsessed. (I’m not alone, but I take responsibility for my own crazy).

I’ve seen almost everything this year. The only thing I HAVE to see before Feb. 24 is Zero Dark Thirty.

Now, hopefully you know that the noms came out yesterday. Big. Day. And the Academy went fuckin’ rogue for the most part. Even the awards bloggers who seem fairly certain about how things will go think something could cause a major upset. I mean, I know exactly what I want to happen.

Do you care about the Oscars?
What are your predictions?
What did you think of these films?
What’s your favorite movie of the year?
What did you HATE?

(also, don’t worry, I’m verbose at the beginning but it gets better toward the end)

So here, for your viewing pleasure, my personal analysis of the:

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards

Best motion picture of the year
My prediction for this category was almost 100% correct. My only mistake? I put The Master instead of Amour. I’m pissed that The Master missed its BP nom. I understand (it came out early in the year, it’s tough subject matter, no one likes Joaquin as a dude, there’s no “plot”), but I REALLY liked it. A LOT. If you’re a movie lover, it’s so worth checking out. To the casual observer, it may be slow, complex, and obtuse. But at the very least, if you take NOTHING else from this blog post, see the interview scene with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. It’s maybe one of the most incredible scenes ever put on film. I don’t think I breathed ONCE.

  • “Amour”
    Okay, to be fair, haven’t seen this either. I’m sorry… I love movies, but sad French movies about old people… Just not in the mood.

  • “Argo”
    This could be an upset, though it’s looking less and less likely. Honestly, I saw Argo and Lincoln in a double feature a while ago, and liked Argo better. After a second viewing of Lincoln, I’m on its team, but Argo really was a FUN, smart, excellent thriller. What can I say? I love the genre, I love the actors, I love the humor, and I was literally on the edge of my seat.
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
    Maybe my favorite movie of the year. I KNOW, I know, and I don’t want it to win BP, but guys… It was beautiful, and moving, and brave, and full of heart and soul. I haven’t seen a movie with quite that much chutzpah in… maybe ever. The girl was fucking amazing, the images were powerful, sure it was at times overwrought, but I was with it every. single. second. of the way. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it. It’s magical. It’s flawed. It’s big. It’s low-budget. But it’s so FULL, I dare you not to feel something.

  • “Django Unchained”
    I can go a few different ways with Tarantino. I don’t like the Kill Bills, but I did like Inglorious Basterds. No, it’s not “my” kind of movie, yes it was long, yes I was offended and felt uncomfortable. But if you go in knowing to expect that and you let yourself experience it, I dunno, Tarantino can get really fun. I still think I liked IB more, but Django had a couple of GREAT scenes (maybe the funniest scene of the movie, and the whole movie season, involves a pack of KKK members whining about the poor sewing job done on their white hoods), good performances (Waltz, DiCaprio, Foxx), and some genuinely intelligent moments. But I don’t think I can give a full endorsement to a movie where I had my eyes AND ears closed for at least five minutes total. Oh, also, they should’ve cut the second ending. Ya know what I mean if you saw it.

  • “Les Misérables”
    A fucking shitshow. I can’t believe I’m in the minority here, but I have no idea what on earth Tom Hooper thought he was doing. A mess, top, bottom, and sideways. I could write an epic blog post on THIS.

  • “Life of Pi”
    Beautiful! That’s my review. Haha, I mean, it’s really good. But in a year of really good movies, what makes this stand out is: “Beautiful!”

  • “Lincoln” – MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
    When I think about what movie I want to win BP, I try to think about what I think a BP should be. Of course it needs to be the strongest movie overall (acting, direction, design, writing, etc), but in a year of good movies, what constitutes the “best picture?” I think the Oscar should go to the film that will last. It doesn’t have to be a big movie, but it has to have something to say. We shouldn’t forget about it in ten years. I liked Lincoln the first time. The second time, I became convinced that by my criteria, Lincoln should win Best Picture. I may have been more attached to BOTSW, but I think Lincoln is the best film. This is “the” Lincoln movie. They did it. It’s definitive. And THAT’s a Best Picture.

  • “Silver Linings Playbook”
    Ugh. See my blog post: Silver Linings

  • “Zero Dark Thirty”
    I haven’t seen it– bad, bad me. I KNOW it’s going to be “good.” Of course! It might even be technically the “best” picture of the year. I find some of the torture stuff problematic, but I’m sure it’s good. I’m just gunning for Lincoln, folks. Gotta stand my ground. Plus, I know this is a dumb thing to say but… Didn’t Hurt Locker JUST win? So maybe let’s not re-award it? (ouch, that was mean)

 

Performance by an actor in a leading role
I woulda taken John Hawkes in The Sessions over Denzel (alum pride ova here, though!), but otherwise this was how I thought it would go. Dwight Henry for BOTSW was on a lot of peoples’ lists, and he was incredible, but I think it’s fair he was left off. For as much as I loved that movie, I know it wasn’t all “craft” in terms of the acting. Henry is a baker– that’s literally his job– who the filmmakers asked to be in the film. As much as I love crowd-sourcing low-budget movies, and as good as he was… I’m guiltily okay with sticking to the mainstream in this category. Strong category this year, too!!

  • Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook

  • Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln  — MY PICK / MY PREDICTION

  • Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
    I love Hugh. But guys, he’s a baritone. And Valjean is a tenor. So… yeah, that’s why his voice sounds like that! And it’s not supposed to! Just FYI!!
  • Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
    I will say, I think Joaquin gave the most interesting, engaging, and powerful performance of the year. It was like he invented a new way of acting onscreen. I’ve never seen anything like it. He won’t win, and I do admit he scares me a little, but Jesus. I’ve NEVER seen a performance like the one he gave. NEVER.

  • Denzel Washington in Flight

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Strong category here too! My only prediction misstep was discounting Alan Arkin. Again, he won’t win, but I do love the love for Argo. It’s just such a MOVIE! And it’s good! I feel like that’s a relatively new thing– a mainstream genre film (i.e. Argo is a high budget thriller) that is well-written, directed, acted, and asks larger questions and deals with larger issues. You go, Ben Affleck!

  • Alan Arkin in Argo

  • Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master MY PICK / MY PREDICTION
    I’ll bet this is the only nod The Master gets in terms of wins. While I think Joaquin stole the show, Phil was amazing. Sometimes I find him hard to read as an actor, but he balanced the complexities of this role impeccably. Extremely unsettling to watch him navigate through the film.
  • Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
    God knows I love TLG in this performance. I think he was the heart and soul of the movie. I just think he’s a little “goofy old dude” to take it. And for some reason not everyone loved him as much as I did.
  • Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Achievement in directing
SHIT GOT SO REAL HERE! Huge snubs that NO ONE predicted (even the bloggers who usually can catch the weirdness early): no Bigelow (ZDT), no Affleck, (Argo), and no Hooper (Les Mis). Instead, we got Haneke, Zeitlin, and O. Russell/Lee! Holy Shit!

  • “Amour” Michael Haneke
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
    Tell me I’m not crazy… after The Fighter, this shit is cliche, dumb, and fluffy. Right?!

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Really, a stupid category this time around. For a year of great movies, the choices were really limited. I’m REALLY scared Jennifer Lawrence will win for playing a really pretty girl who shows that in pretty girls, mental illness = fun quirky sexpot!! Yay! True love! Vomit. No one was more on the JLaw train than I when Winter’s Bone came out, but now? And for this? No, girl. I’m not condoning it.

  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty – MY PICK
    I haven’t seen it. Whatever. It’s a crappy category and I didn’t see
    Amour and frankly, I have no doubt Chastain is great. Ugh. I hate years like this.
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook —
    When ZDT was looking like it would take the cake, I predicted Chastain. But now, with the “golden four” acting noms (the first time since Reds that a movie has actors nominated in all four categories) and with none of the other three winning, I have a feeling it’ll go this way. Sigh. I’m unhappy, truly unhappy about this.

  • Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

  • Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
    I reallllllly wanted this adorable 5 (yes FIVE!) year old to be nominated. No, she shouldn’t win, no, she won’t win, but by golly was that a tour de force, huh?!
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Rough year for the ladies!! This was pretty much what I predicted except for the completely nonsensical inclusion of Jacki Weaver. I mean, yeah, she’s good, but like, WHAT? Really though, WHAT? That surprised EVERYONE. She hasn’t one a single previous award this season– usually a sure sign you won’t get an Oscar nom. In my predictions, I put Ann Dowd for Compliance in that slot, mostly just because of wishful thinking– the woman’s been around for YEARS and is just a delight.

  • Amy Adams in “The Master”
    I mean, I’d take her career, I guess. And by I guess I mean GIVE IT TO ME.
  • Sally Field in “Lincoln” — MY PICK
    So the thing is that no one likes Mary Todd. Anyone who knows anything about American history knows she was legitimately crazy, depressed, a pain on Lincoln’s mind and wallet, and fat and ugly. (one of my dearest friends made the AMAZING comment that if you take away the “fat and ugly” part of that, she’s just like Jennifer Lawrence in SLP!!) And even in this movie, she’s not likeable. Sally Field doesn’t make her likeable, really, but you understand her. And even if not that, you tolerate her. Which is some kind of achievement. Plus she’s eloquent and delightful and has been around and she wanted this part SO BADLY.
  • Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables” —MY PREDICTION
    Again, I can’t talk about Les Mis. I can’t. It makes me too angry. Suffice it to say I think this is bullshit and I think Anne Hathaway (who I used to think was charming) is the WORST.
  • Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Best animated feature film of the year
I mean, I saw none of these. Whoops!

  • “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
  • “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
  • “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore

Adapted screenplay

  • “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
  • “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
  • “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell

Original screenplay

  • “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
  • “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • “Flight” Written by John Gatins
  • “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION

Achievement in cinematography

  • “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
  • “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
  • “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
  • “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Skyfall” Roger Deakins

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Amour” Austria —MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Kon-Tiki” Norway
  • “No” Chile
  • “A Royal Affair” Denmark
  • “War Witch” Canada

Best documentary feature

  • “5 Broken Cameras”
    Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
  • “The Gatekeepers”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “How to Survive a Plague”
    Nominees to be determined
  • “The Invisible War” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (SEE THIS MOVIE– it’s on Netflix Instant and is completely amazing and utterly devastating)
    Nominees to be determined
  • “Searching for Sugar Man”
    Nominees to be determined

Best documentary short subject
Who knows?!

  • “Inocente”
    Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
  • “Kings Point”
    Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
  • “Mondays at Racine”
    Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
  • “Open Heart”
    Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
  • “Redemption”
    Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

Achievement in film editing

  • “Argo” William Goldenberg
  • “Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
  • “Lincoln” Michael Kahn — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Achievement in costume design

  • “Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
  • “Lincoln” Joanna Johnston — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
I don’t even care enough to pick.

  • “Hitchcock”
    Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
  • “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION
    Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Where is BOTSW?! That is the only soundtrack I remember distinctly from any film this season!!

  • “Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
  • “Argo” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
  • “Lincoln” John Williams — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
  • “Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
    Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
  • “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
    Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
    Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
  • “Skyfall” from “Skyfall”  — MY PICK (c’mon, Adele)
    Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
  • “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (ugh)
    Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Achievement in production design

  • “Anna Karenina”
    Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
  • “Les Misérables” — MY (upsetting, nihilistic) PREDICTION
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
  • “Life of Pi” — MY PICK
    Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Lincoln”
    Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Best animated short film
No one has seen these!!

  • “Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
  • “Fresh Guacamole” PES
  • “Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
  • “Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” David Silverman
  • “Paperman” John Kahrs

Best live action short film
Or these!!

  • “Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
  • “Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
  • “Curfew” Shawn Christensen
  • “Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
  • “Henry” Yan England

Achievement in sound editing

  • “Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
  • “Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
  • “Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
  • “Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION (anytime there are lots of bombs and guns, I generally thing that’s where it’ll go)

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “Argo”
    John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
  • “Les Misérables” — MY PREDICTION (OMG they sang LIVE! Which no one has ever done and people in this town do eight times a week for years! Did I mention UGH?)
    Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
  • “Life of Pi”
    Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
  • “Lincoln” — MY PICK
    Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
  • “Skyfall”
    Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects

  • “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
    Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
  • “Life of Pi” — MY PICK/MY PREDICTION
    Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
  • “Marvel’s The Avengers”
    Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
  • “Prometheus”
    Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
  • “Snow White and the Huntsman”
    Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
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The Rest I Make Up

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One week and one day since I flew home to NYC from home in Idaho, and today was the first day I called my parents. It’s like my energy flags when I think about calling– I just can’t. Finally, my boyfriend told me over sandwiches at Lenny’s that I really should, and that as we walked to his work, I should call. I’m telling you, the kid is a wonder. So I did, and it was good– mostly because my mom could only talk for a moment, and my dad is easier to talk to. Plus, there was only small mention of my sister’s illness. I have a very hard time finding compassion and understanding… I’ve written about this before. It’s something that gives me great guilt, but I struggle to even discuss it in a way that doesn’t make me feel “less” important, “less” vital… I don’t know.

I also came to realize over the last week that a major issue I had with this trip to Idaho was that in introducing my wonderful boyfriend to my family, rather than receiving wonderful words about how great/handsome/kind/smart/lovely he is, instead my mother made our relationship all about ME.

“Oh, you’re so affectionate! I’ve never seen you like this before!”
“Well, you were very distant on this trip, because you have someone else supporting you emotionally. But it’s better than outright anger!”

“Oh, no, I didn’t think that you’d die alone. I figured you’d die with a bunch of cats! Haha!”

It’s like all they could think about was that, like medication or therapy or whatever, having a serious boyfriend was somehow a proof of my “health,” of my “okay-ness.” Which makes me feel, once again, as though I’m inherently defective, and everything I do must be aimed towards proving I’m “okay” and “better” than I was. According to this theory, I’m not inherently “okay” and loveable and grounded and successful. Every “normal” thing in my life is some triumph over my illness, my inherent not-“okay-ness.” See how that’s a really irritating thing?!

So I guess there’s a huge part of me that’s glad to be home, here, because I’m not constantly proving I’m good enough. I mean, at least at home. I did receive a fairly passive-aggressive email from my agent last week: subject line “Happy New Year!” and body “You need to upload video onto ActorsAccess. It’s becoming imperative.” Which freaked me out (totally irrationally), so I emailed her back immediately listing all my awesomeness and how hard I’m working (which I AM, goddamnit!)

  • I reached my goal weight! (how? we’ll never know. perhaps even eating worse food but not binging really is the ticket… I’m not complainin’!)
  • I got great feedback from one callback– didn’t book it but was second choice!
  • Have another callback this week! Plus an audition next week! (now I have another audition the day of the callback, plus an EPA, plus therapy… plus meeting with my agent.)

Have tried to get video footage! Failing but trying!!

Anyway, I’ll meet with her on Thursday. I’m really anxious, but fuck it. What she thinks of me/tells me is not in my control. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. (right? I mean… right? Jesus Christ, sometimes I think I’m insane to do this job.)

And speaking of agents, A just signed with one. A literary agency. In London. For his book trilogy (he’s written one). The agency represented George Orwell.

Yep, let’s just get this out there:

  • A posted his book in an online forum sponsored by HarperCollins. We both did a bunch of work on it– social networking, making edits, commenting on others’ books, making friends. The ultimate hope would be to reach the top 5 on the site, earning a review by the HC editorial board. Thanks to our hard work, A’s book was likely to get there in the next couple of months. Since mid-Oct, his book rose from ranks in the 5,000 to around 150.
  • A got a message from an agent on his “profile” on the site. He said he loved the beginning of the book and would love to read the rest of the manuscript.
  • January 2, A got an email from the agent that he was halfway done with the book but he loved it so much he wanted to offer to sign A.
  • Today, he and A had a phone convo. The deal is set — A is signing– and the agent seems sure that he can get a great book deal for A and his trilogy.
  • My boyfriend is going to be a professional writer.

Which is what I wanted. Truly– this was what I dreamed for him, and I couldn’t have imagined anything more serendipitous.

Yet. There’s a part of me that, now, is anxious and a bit jealous. Why isn’t MY agent getting me great deals? Why does any email from her cause me anxiety slash why am I so certain she hates me (she doesn’t… I feel like she can’t… but fuck it, who knows)? I need to book a gig. And fast. Just to get my brain and heart out of this place where I feel like I’m failing and falling behind. Logically I know I’m in FINE shape– I have an agent, I’m in the union, I had a callback I almost booked, I have another callback this week, two audition appointments, an offer for a role in April, and it’s still technically the “break.” But.

I’m an actor. I’d like to act, please and thanks.

In other news, I got word yesterday morning that Maria Irene Fornes, one of my great heroes, is nearing the end of her life in hospice in upstate NY. As you may recall, I played the lead in one of her plays when I was a junior, and it was the hardest/most rewarding role of my life. Subsequently, I got to meet her on her 80th birthday. I wrote about it here: http://goo.gl/ipRr4

Basically, she has Alzheimers’, and unfortunately, in the waning years of her life, was placed in a hospice by her nephew– her legal guardian, but one who by no means has her best interests at heart. Being so far away from her community in NYC is very hard for her, and she really has no one except the few friends who occasionally visit. In the last week, she had refused both food and water (a symptom of loneliness and depression, not the Alzheimer’s), so it was looking like the end was near.

My former professor, Irene’s agent and dear friend, and the woman who introduced me to Irene, has been keeping people in the loop via a Google group and on Facebook. I sent Irene a letter, and I’ve been keeping updated on her progress. She has a Facebook page, and every day she has visitors, they will read the messages on Facebook, faxes received from loved one, play music Irene loves, and share photos and memories. The outpouring of love I’ve seen towards Irene from folks in the theatre community (whether they met her once, like me, a thousand times, or never at all) is remarkable.

The idea of Irene passing makes me incredibly sad. It sounds trite, but this woman is one of my greatest inspirations and heroes. Especially now, when I’m feeling kind of all-over-the-place and anxious about my life as an artist, Irene’s work and attitude never ceases to remind me that that’s all bullshit– the most important thing is the joy and the love of the art that you find within yourself. This woman is always smiling, always laughing, always singing. Her work is vast and inventive and unique. She thinks of her characters as having been born from her body. She sees honest artistic passion as the only reason to be an artist. As a playwriting teacher, she led physical exercises and songs and encouraged her students to paint and explore and play. Even in the darkest moments in her plays, there is humor and compassion.

I would love to be a great actor like so many I could name.
But I want to be an artist like Maria Irene Fornes.

If you pray or think (or think and pray– Shakespeare joke!), send some thoughts Irene’s way. She will pass, and it’s likely soon, but I truly believe that every single intention of love somehow reaches her and gives her comfort.

xoxo, my dear blog friends. 🙂
B.

My most prized possession. The amazing story won't move you unless you know who Maria Irene Fornes is, but long story short, she has dementia, no one thought she'd ever write again, someone encouraged me to ask for an autograph despite this, after a bit of pressure on all sides I said, "no, it's fine, I don't mind," and then all of a sudden Irene wrote in my book. Her documentarian, friends, agent, etc. all passed this around. Who knows-- I may have one of the last specimens of Irene's writing.

My most prized possession. The amazing story won’t move you unless you know who Maria Irene Fornes is, but long story short, she has dementia, no one thought she’d ever write again, someone encouraged me to ask for an autograph despite this, after a bit of pressure on all sides I said, “no, it’s fine, I don’t mind,” and then all of a sudden Irene wrote in my book. Her documentarian, friends, agent, etc. all passed this around. Who knows– I may have one of the last specimens of Irene’s writing.

"Of all the people I know you are the finest. You are the person I respect and feel most proud to know. I have no one to talk to. And sometimes I feel hollow and base. And I feel I don't have a mind. But when I talk to you I do. I feel I have a mind. Why is that? Why is it that some people make you feel stupid and some people make you feel smart. Not smart, because I am not smart. But some people make you feel that you have something inside you. Inside your head. Why is it that you can talk, Henry, and Lloyd cannot talk? Why is that? What I'm saying, Henry, is that I want you. That I want you here with me. That I love you." --MUD, by Irene Fornes

“Of all the people I know you are the finest. You are the person I respect and feel most proud to know. I have no one to talk to. And sometimes I feel hollow and base. And I feel I don’t have a mind. But when I talk to you I do. I feel I have a mind. Why is that? Why is it that some people make you feel stupid and some people make you feel smart. Not smart, because I am not smart. But some people make you feel that you have something inside you. Inside your head. Why is it that you can talk, Henry, and Lloyd cannot talk? Why is that? What I’m saying, Henry, is that I want you. That I want you here with me. That I love you.”
–MUD, by Irene Fornes

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"What’s the meaning of life Irene?"The meaning of life?
It’s doing what you like to do -
As simple as that
Doing what you like to do -
And enjoying it
Doing what you like to do -
And doing it
"Is that what you did?"
Yes
"Is that what you continue to do?"
Yes
And . . . doing it well
Doing what you like to do -
and doing it well
"And what about other people?"
People are a part of it
Doing it with people you like -
And people who do it well
See how simple it is?

Oneonta, May, 2009

"...I've been saying words in my head to see if word spirits would come... to join other words that were there... We just have to learn to listen and to let them come in easily because they... want to join other words to express something... of beauty or longing or despair." (Letters From Cuba, 2000)

“What’s the meaning of life Irene?”
The meaning of life?
It’s doing what you like to do –
As simple as that
Doing what you like to do –
And enjoying it
Doing what you like to do –
And doing it
“Is that what you did?”
Yes
“Is that what you continue to do?”
Yes
And . . . doing it well
Doing what you like to do –
and doing it well
“And what about other people?”
People are a part of it
Doing it with people you like –
And people who do it well
See how simple it is?
Oneonta, May, 2009
“…I’ve been saying words in my head to see if word spirits would come… to join other words that were there… We just have to learn to listen and to let them come in easily because they… want to join other words to express something… of beauty or longing or despair.” (Letters From Cuba, 2000)

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"The colors for me are very, very important. And the colors of the clothes the people wear. When it finally happens, the play exists. It has taken its own life. And then I just listen to it. I move along with it. I let it write itself. I have reached that point in plays at times. I have put scripts away then and picked them up three years later, and, reading them, suddenly I see the same picture with the same colors. The color never goes away. It could be ten years later. The play exists even if I have not finished writing it."

“The colors for me are very, very important. And the colors of the clothes the people wear. When it finally happens, the play exists. It has taken its own life. And then I just listen to it. I move along with it. I let it write itself. I have reached that point in plays at times. I have put scripts away then and picked them up three years later, and, reading them, suddenly I see the same picture with the same colors. The color never goes away. It could be ten years later. The play exists even if I have not finished writing it.”

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“You know there’s something that comes to me right now which is an expression – ‘seize the moment.’ Seize the moment. Grab the moment. Don’t miss it. Don’t let it pass without paying attention. In a way it can be confusing because it can be that ‘seize the moment’ means to hang on to it and stay there. But that’s not it. What was meant was not to stay there necessarily, but rather to just touch it. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the touch of cold glass against your hand. For no reason other than because it’s pleasant. The slightest thing, to acknowledge and respond to it, to let the moment be. You grab the moment. Don’t disown it. Don’t ignore it. It doesn’t mean that you become a crazy person saying, “Oh let me write this down because I may forget that I did this, or that this was fun, or that this was beautiful.” You could misinterpret it and become some kind of collector of little moments that really don’t need to be collected. But it’s very important to be in touch, to open yourself up, even to your own negative thoughts, negative feelings, to embrace those too, as well as the beautiful moments from your inner sensibility. So . . . I don’t know how I got into this, but here . . . we . . . are . . . “ Irene Fornés, Miami, February 2005

“You know there’s something that comes to me right now which is an expression – ‘seize the moment.’ Seize the moment. Grab the moment. Don’t miss it. Don’t let it pass without paying attention. In a way it can be confusing because it can be that ‘seize the moment’ means to hang on to it and stay there. But that’s not it. What was meant was not to stay there necessarily, but rather to just touch it. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the touch of cold glass against your hand. For no reason other than because it’s pleasant. The slightest thing, to acknowledge and respond to it, to let the moment be. You grab the moment. Don’t disown it. Don’t ignore it. It doesn’t mean that you become a crazy person saying, “Oh let me write this down because I may forget that I did this, or that this was fun, or that this was beautiful.” You could misinterpret it and become some kind of collector of little moments that really don’t need to be collected. But it’s very important to be in touch, to open yourself up, even to your own negative thoughts, negative feelings, to embrace those too, as well as the beautiful moments from your inner sensibility. So . . . I don’t know how I got into this, but here . . . we . . . are . . . “ Irene Fornés, Miami, February 2005

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Glowing

My Junior year of college, I was at my lowest weight. In the Fall semester, I took a scene study course taught by a relatively famous actress (anyone seen Star Trek: The Next Generation?) She commented about how “she would kill for my body,” how she wished she still looked like me. She assigned me great scenes and took a deep interest in me– I played Maggie the Cat from Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Emma in Betrayal by Pinter, Claire in Auburn’s Proof. In early summer, I saw her at the opening night of a Classic Stage Co production starring Dianne Wiest. She gave me a hug and then said, “You’ve gained like, a pound.” My face flushed, and I just responded, “Ha, ha. Haven’t we all?”

So she scares me. I fear that she’ll lose interest because I gained weight.

But I invited her to the show I starred in in December, and she came. Afterwards, she brought me, a costar, and a friend (all of whom were in her class) out to dinner and wine next door. She wined and dined us and effusively complimented our work. She told us she would do her best to get her agents and managers and friends in the biz to our show. At some point, she turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You look beautiful. Truly.”

Last night, I emailed her to tell her about my exciting new project. She responded with this email. I’m glowing.

I am tremendously proud of you! I am not surprised, but I am thrilled to see that not only are you made of wonderful complexities, colors and textures as an actor but you have the steel to go with it. B, this is a great accomplishment for an actress of your age and experience and anyone in this industry would agree with that. I am going to do my level best to pass this information along to people who I think might actually make an effort to go to New Jersey – including myself – although I must tell you that this summer is pretty crazy and that I’m all over the place. If there’s even a remote chance that I will make it – I will. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see you walk out on the stage as the leading lady – and thus I am sure it will be for the rest of your life. Brava!

I Am Enough.

Yesterday, I hopped on a train to New Jersey to audition for a play. On the way there, taking a break from prepping my sides and gazing out the window, I casually checked my iPhone email. I received a brief, incredibly passive aggressive email from an agent (this was in response to a recommendation email sent on my behalf, which I’d followed up on Monday with, granted, a long-ish email introducing myself). This is not “the” agent I’d met, but it’s his superior in the agency. I have a pretty tough skin in terms of rejection, but this, for whatever reason, went deeper. I felt prickles run up and down my skin, and I knew my face was flushed. My breathing didn’t even change as tears began to roll down my cheeks. Goddamn it, I’d already put on makeup.

I had about forty five minutes left on the train and could barely put myself back together. I reapplied my mascara once, twice, listened to mood-bolstering music, carved the words “I AM ENOUGH” onto my upper thigh in pen, just to have under my shorts all day… Yet I still felt physically ill. I wandered through this po’dunk New Jersey town, crunching on broken glass bottles with my converse sneakers, getting honked at by semi-truck drivers, observing this tiny, terrible, Detroit-level disaster of a town as if out of a thick, bottle top glasses through a haze.

I had an hour to kill, so I wandered towards the shore, my iPhone map guiding me along “Broadway” towards a county highway, past abandoned buildings and split-levels rimmed by fenced in dumps, feeling lonelier and less safe than I ever do in New York City. Once I’d crossed the threshold of the highway, I found myself in another world, of Gold’s Gyms and microbreweries and apartment complexes named for beaches and purported paradises. I ambled towards the sound of the shore, my styled hair already beginning to frizz in the humid air. The air was thick with it, and warm, but as I found myself standing on a cement boardwalk gazing over a sand back towards the sea, I caught a brief whiff of the sweet, earthy scent of the ocean. I planted on a bench nearby, dropped my backpack and crossed my legs and breathed as more tears slid into the wrinkles to the sides of my eyes, dripping then into my ears. I still felt like I was observing the world through a thick fog, I was invisible in my “moment.” And it was odd… no one looked twice at the girl on the bench silently weeping over the ocean. I’ve found that when I cry in public in NYC, I am always stopped: “Are you okay?” “Do you need a Kleenex?” or just, “Here you go, here’s a tissue, sweetie. Feel better.” It was odd to be ignored– not good or bad, just… different.

After a while, I wiped the final drips of tears from my face with a corner of my sweater and hiked my backpack back on. I knew the way back, now, and I simply took one step at a time, confined to my own bubble of feeling, and hopefully, thereby impervious to the outside world. I simply didn’t have the energy to deal with the “Hey mami! Hey pay attention!”s or the stares of the women from out of their stores of santeria (seriously) or the stoners and drug addicts nestled in shop corners.

I reached the theatre (if you can call it that) and sat on a cement bench in a small area between the parking lot, a foreman’s office, and an abandoned bank. For the first time since deleting that email, I pulled out my phone, and for the first time all day, I reached out. “Hey buddy,” I texted to my friend P, “Having a really bad day and now I’m in Jersey. Can I get a digital hug?” I set down my phone and set myself to the task of doing SOMETHING with my now-ruined face and non-compliant hair. After a moment or two of brushing my hair actually out of my scalp and caking foundation underneath my puffy eyes, I felt the buzz of a reply text. “Of course! **HUG** What’s wrong, princess?

I wasn’t going to tell anyone, I mostly just wanted a hug. And I could very easily just get by on the warmth of feeling growing in my chest from what I knew that **HUG** would be in real life, but I texted him back. Started out with few details, then added some more, and he responded with compassion and understanding and just enough suggestions for ways to feel better that I actually became excited about something again… namely, drinking delicious cocktails at my new favorite bar in Midtown. He did it. And I did it for reaching out. I knew he was the right one.

And then the whole reason I went there in the first place. I walked into a glorified storefront, where an overdecorated hall led to what I assumed to be the theatre. I could hear someone acting from back there, quite clearly in fact, a pretty bad sign in general. I met the stage manager (?) who took my headshots and my intake form and directed me to the waiting room/lobby. There were about five other people there, none reading for my role until towards the end, when a tiny little girl approached (the character is like… 16ish). I pulled out my sides, but let them simply sit on my lap as I watched the other actors sit in that room. Some were nervous, some couldn’t care less, some seemed like they were old hats at this theatre, and I knew I looked completely out of place.

Finally, they called my name and I entered the… theatre. It was a weird, wide rectangular space with three long rows raised above the stage floor. It seemed disproportional to me, and also really, really, really small. No more than 45 people could possibly fit. How do they make money? I introduced myself to the director and the Artistic Director, and in very short order I started the sides. Luckily my reader was good, so that was something, and they let me get all the way through. I hadn’t planned on doing an accent, but since the other guy was and I totally can, I let it slip right in through the second half. He had me do the side again, more playfully and teasingly. Girl, I was born for that. After I finished a second time, he asked how tall I was. And YUP, that’s when I realized what a waste this was. If I seemed tall in this space, then everyone who is supposed to play older than 16 is fucked. And I’m 5’5″. He also complimented my work quite effusively and sincerely, but I knew I was done and I was really ready to go home.

I finished, relieved, packed up my stuff and walked back down Least Cool Town Lane to the train station. I picked up an Izze and a snack at the Rite Aid (hadn’t eaten since 10am and was about to drink) and waited. The entire train ride back, I was in a much better mood. I listed to Mindy Kaling’s audiobook, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, which is no Bossypants, but is still pretty delightful. I love to hear her voice and I love how unabashedly her girlie, sassy, determined, but also average Mindy is. I like to think we’d be friends.

I arrived back and headed uptown to meet P at Breeze after changing into a dress and my favorite gray bootie heels for the show. Oh, I didn’t tell you? I saw WIT on Broadway (play about cancer with Cynthia Nixon) for free with my friend L (friend with lymphoma), and afterwards, I’d spoken to my friend who is an understudy and she brought us to meet Cynthia Nixon. In other words, no big.

P and I drank and talked and got well-soused on their delicious drinks (mai tai and Blue Moon for him, “kimono” sake cocktails for me), and I remembered why I am the luckiest and have the most amazing friends. He in particular is easy to talk to, smart, funny, willing to let me go a little bit mad and still think I’m special. About four drinks and two hours later, it was time for WIT. We paid (only about $10 each, because Breeze is the BEST), and parted ways on 47th St, where I met L, her mom, and our friend N.

The show was brilliant. Truly. As was Cynthia Nixon. And when my friend found us at the stage door and pulled us backstage, I felt a little like I was going to die and I was so proud of being the best friend on the planet. She guided us up the stairs towards the dressing rooms, past other actors, and past VANESSA REDGRAVE NO BIG DEAL JUST THE BIGGEST DEAL and finally into Cynthia’s dressing room. It all went very fast– L introduced herself, hugged Cynthia, Cynthia gave her a book, the rest of us introduced ourselves briefly, and then I helped L’s mom get her phone to take a picture of us. I, at least, was on air all the way out of the theatre. We capped the night with one more delicious cocktail and a yummy meal at one of my favorite restaurants. L and her mom dropped me at my apartment in a cab on their way home, and I went straight to bed, but not after posting this picture on Facebook for all to see:

L, Cynthia, Me

And I didn’t even notice until this evening that “I AM ENOUGH” was still visible on my upper thigh. And over 24 hours later, I’m beginning to believe it.

Love,
B.

P.S. I’ve been bingeing a lot in the last couple of days, which I do want to write about, but not in this post. Soon. Also, more updates on the boy front. Also for another time.

“Now is a time for, dare I say it, kindness. I thought being extremely smart would take care of it. But I see I have been found out.”
Margaret Edson, Wit

How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet “You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh”

Yesterday, I did an informal reading with a director two of my friends worked with our freshman year. When we were done at 3:15pm, none of us had anything to do (I was theoretically seeing L after 5pm– I had a feeling she’d cancel though, and I was right), so we decided to indulge in happy hour.

We drank cheap cocktails and talked abouteverything, the kind of talk you don’t get to do so much. The boy, J, is the “brownstone commune”set, but the girl, R, I really never get to spend as much time with. Sometimes she makes me nervous, or self-conscious, since she always seems together, and beautiful, and well-loved and perfectly imperfect.

At 6pm, I sent J home with Chipotle and waited for R to finish doing a brief musical rehearsal she left us to do. J’s text when he got home:

Then, we went out and drank more cocktails, eventually holding hands and revealing to each other each of our own insecurities and fears and struggles (she had eating issues I’d never really noted… unfortunately our dear friend and roommate K had a bad influence on us both, by accident of course and we were already prone… but still). Basically, it was 7 hours of such intense, blooming, life-altering friendship. That’s my favorite. Her text to me after we parted ways to head home:

I mentioned a few posts ago about seeing my old friends N and R again. That experience was another explosion of LOVE and friendship and honesty and trust. I love to drink with people I’m close with– I become so SO happy and feel so SO loved. It’s just in my nature, I suppose, without much inhibition. A text to N about seeing R:

And of course, there’s L. Lovely, lovely, sick, brave, sad, strong L. I didn’t see her last night, but I did spend nearly 5 hours with her at the day hospital today. We napped, we chatted, we waited. It’s interesting how my mind does this thing where I wonder what I would do if I were her in those moments… I’d probably want to be alone, watching bad TV or sleeping alone. But Leslie wants to be touched, to be consoled, to have me not just sitting near her reading, resting, whatever, but to be snuggling, my hand on her shoulder.

It’s also hard to want so desperately to do what she needs me to do. I want to give her total happiness, total comfort in every moment. It’s an impossible hope, because I’m not a magical mind reader. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough, and despite the enormous amount I want to be her rock, I sometimes feel like I’m failing. Then I get a text like this from her mom:

And then, these from her. Different days, not really prompted. But so beautiful and special and more meaningful than almost any actual compliment I’ve ever received.

And this.

When I remind myself of these people… when these moments bump up on my phone with a ding or a buzz… I can feel my heart sweel and grow. I can feel the power of their love and I remember why I fight for myself every second of every day, and why I forgive myself every time I make mistakes.

They are amazing, and I am lucky.

Okay, here are a bunch of quotes… They’re just all so good! (All AA Milne)

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh.
“There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

“And by and by Christopher Robin came to the end of things, and he was silent, and he sat there, looking out over the world, just wishing it wouldn’t stop.”

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

 

 

Does anyone know Tina Fey?

Dear Tina,

In May 2007, my best friend L and I graduated from acting school in New York City. Like most acting students from super-serious pre-professional programs, we had a Showcase for agents and casting directors. We each got two 3-minute scenes to try and show all those theatre industry bossypants’ that they wanted us. It’s a psychical crisis waiting to happen.

During the time we called “Showcase Season,” L lent me her copy of Bossypants. Even after I finished the book, I kept it in the dressing room during performances. After facing a sea of our own headshots staring back at us from the audience of industry bigwigs, backstage L and I would refer back to our favorite chapter of Bossypants, in which Amy Poehler tells a room of execs that “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Y’know what, big bad world, we’d say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”  That line got us through (and I’m not hyperbolizing—we would have probably had severe nervous breakdowns otherwise).

Only two months into “real life,” on November 16, I went with L to a doctor to get some test results back. I sat with my best friend as the doctors told her that she had lymphoma. The world upended.

L is deep in chemo treatment now. Its physical effects are, of course, extreme, yet the emotional toll is in many ways even more difficult. To L, it often feels like she is losing time—two years of treatment is two years without a career, two years of living with her parents, two years of looking like a patient. She is learning, in the hardest way possible, how to find her identity when the only job she can have right now is to beat cancer.

Tina, your book helped L and I make it through the first test of our self-confidence together. Your words (and Amy Poehler’s) reminded us of the most important role of beauty (“who cares?), that it’s okay and totally normal to be “blorft,” and that life “will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated.”

Now, L is facing a frontier that she has to battle through alone. Yet even more than before, if that’s possible, your writing brings her comfort. You remind L of her identity. Me too.

Thank you for assuring us that there are perfectly imperfect, super-silly selves inside even when the world outside ourselves, like agents, critics, and cancer, seem to scream “NO!” Well, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to say yes. Yes to love. Yes to life. Yes to staying in more! And we don’t fucking care what you think.

If you have a moment in your busy time, might you write/call L? I can’t quite describe how important you are to both of us, and to our friendship. THANK YOU.

I’d really like to be you when I grow up.

B.

“Higher Ground”

I saw a lovely, lovely movie tonight with my dear friend L. We’ve been meaning to see it for what seems like months, along with two of our other close friends, but schedules (and my illness) didn’t cooperate. Finally, we sucked it up and made a date.

The movie, Higher Ground, was directed by Vera Farmiga, one of my favorite underrated film actors. She’s been around a while, and when she first broke out in the indie movie scene, everyone predicted she’d be the next big movie star. She’s stayed underground and underrated, thought, while continuing to make marvelous (though often depressing) movies, as well as a few blockbusters, like Up In The Air with George Clooney.

Basically, Higher Ground is the story of one curious, thoughtful woman’s lifelong struggle with finding her faith. Corinne (Farmiga) experiences religion first as a child, and though brought up in a somewhat non-religious home, something
about it touches her. It’s never articulated what quite resonates, but we see the thoughtful child morph into a thoughtful young woman (played by Farmiga’s sister, Taissa Farmiga). She falls in love with a young man, a musician, and their relationship is true and sweet, yet not without difficulty. Their love, truly the cornerstone of the film, lasts through marriage, through a terrifying near-disaster that knocks him towards a new faith, through their three children, and yet it too is changing and complex. Corinne and Ethan (Joshua Leonard) clearly love each other, but they are both human, and both have needs and desires and differences, the compassionate negotiation of these differences gives the film an underlying goodness and tenderness that is unique.

While the main focus is her interactions with organized faith, from her childhood pastor telling her Jesus is knocking on her door (“tap tap tap”), to her husband’s conversion to a more fundamentalist, almost Baptist-like worship, it’s less about religion than it is about finding something solid, something real. Higher Ground doesn’t pit one faith against another, doesn’t take a stance on whether certain actions are right or wrong, doesn’t give us pure and unclouded notions about anything at all.

Nina Arianda, who is being positioned as the next big star on stage (and certainly has shown herself in a number of films this year too) is wonderfully funny and different as Corinne’s sister, Wendy. She has a self-entitled “fucked up life,” but we see her love for her family, and her ultimately good intentions, and her sadness when they fail. Another stage actor with great resonance onscreen is Norbert Leo Butz as Pastor Bill. There is much about the religion Butz’s character espouses that goes against most people’s beliefs, I’m sure, but he’s played with compassion and gentleness. He may not be right, but he honestly wants to provide happiness and support to his parishioners, Corinne and Ethan included.

The most powerful relationship in the film is between Corinne and her friend Annika, played by Dagmara Dominczyk (who I

actually also saw onstage, and is Patrick Wilson’s wife, lucky dog). Annika is another member of Corinne’s church, but the two connect as they each try to find their own paths towards truth and happiness. The honest, beautiful friendship between the two women gives them both strength and understanding– they are a refuge for each other. It is the subtle, tragic loss of that mutual refuge that propels Corinne to once again re-examine her search for the real.

All of these many characters are three-dimensional, compassionate, and likeable. There are no “bad guys,” no cliched relationships or conflicts. One of the most powerful moments in Higher Ground is late in the film when Corinne’s estranged parents’ eyes meet over a table at a birthday party (they’re played by two wonderful actors, Donna Murphy and John Hawkes). It’s a brief and pure moment, and tells you more about the complex shifts of their love than any line or exposition could.

Higher Ground is a gentle, subtle film that never once tells you what to think. It embraces the complexity of humanity and the constant, often frustrating search for something that is constant and clear– for some “higher ground” that we can stand on. We may never find it, but isn’t that the ultimate journey of humanity? Isn’t that search what it means to be human?

In other words, it’s a great film. I highly recommend going with a dear friend and with your heart very open.

G’night.
B

“Look, I’m a thoughtful seeker — struggler — like we all are… Being genuine, that’s the only way to change things about any relationship. [Corinne is] looking for that within … the human relationships in her life, with her husband, with her sister, with her mom, with her children… It’s rare to encounter really, fully dimensionalized portrayals of women as I know women to be. I want to see women relating to each other more in the ways that have been very helpful and integral in my life. When I look at female characters, I want to recognize myself in them: my trials, my tribulations as a mother, as a lover, as a daughter. I want to see the things that I struggle with. … I want to see the murky stuff.”
— Vera Farmiga, about Higher Ground