Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Liev the Life Preserver?


I've mentioned here before that I run a home for low income seniors - mostly vets. I know many of you also work jobs which are so consuming they literally spit you out at the end of the day. That is the way of my life. My family is very supportive, but when it's particularily bleak they urge me to leave and that's not the answer. For me, it's about coping not quitting. So, my movies are something I cherish with an almost voracious protectiveness. I get to hit the back button on my day and fill the blank space however I please. And in those times when I'm monosyllabic by 4:00pm, God help you if you get in the way of me and my remote.

Not every film is going to do it for me every time. Certain films are called upon in certain moments. Are we always looking to be educated or enlightened? The beautiful, magical thing about the entertainment world is that there's room for Schindler's List and Pauly Shore. It's up to us.

The other day, after hearing grimmer-than-grim news about an 89 year old friend with whom I've shared the paper every morning for the last 6 years, it was fitting that my order arrived. I got home that night and delved right into Spring Forward. Auspicious timing? You bet. But it was more than that. This film actually beckoned me over, letting me know there was a place for my head in the crook of its arm.

It used to be that when I got a sense I'd really hit a homer and a film was blowing me away, my first instinct was to start writing copious amount of notes and questions, which I would then try to answer in the course of viewing. I'm deconstructing the story as it permeates the room. And the wannabe in me needs to know where the stakes were first raised and other technical stuff.

Watching Liev's Paul throw a wobbler and run into the woods made me pick up my pen and drop it just as quickly. I was not ready to start dissecting just yet.  As I continued to absorb this gem of a film, I realized that it's about human connection. And since that's the name I gave this website, it all just sort of fit.

There's a moment when parentheticals and performance straddle each other. The bad films are the ones where that crossing feels cumbersome and clunky. Not at all the case here. As someone who's passionate about screenplays, I found myself (after 2 more viewings) needing the deets. I'm dying to get a hold of a shooting script! I haven't found one for sale anywhere on the internet.

Did Liev feel Paul slipping over from annoyance to piqued interest in the moments when he decided to ask Georgia out?  I've watched it over and over, and it's so subtle that you cannot pinpoint it. One minute he's anxious to meet the car guy, the next he's fumbling around, awkwardly not-sitting on the kitchen chair. At first I thought it was the dog that disarmed him; but I think it was actually Georgia speaking to affection. "Well, that hungry little puppy sure loves you." He needed to hear those words.

Did writer/director Tom Gilroy urge Liev to look at the neighbour with disdain when he came outside for a smoke at Bobby's funeral? Or was that something Liev came up with on his own? For some reason it plays like an organic decision on Liev's part.

When Paul gives Murphy the pendant and says it's the symbol of family, he's really sticking his neck out. I loved the way Murphy, who initially avoided this little exchange, followed that up with "What's it mean?"  He knows that for Paul he has been family, and I adore the way he wants the point reinforced.

Most of all, what I love about this movie is what isn't said. When Murphy tells the story of Bobby putting his head on his shoulder in church, Paul responds with a tale about his own miserable father. And without Paul having to utter the words, you know he means that Bobby was an incredibly lucky son.

Liev's performance in this movie broke my heart in 100 ways. I will make a list if enough people ask. Paul is the kind of character I want to write about, and this is the kind of world I want to live in. So, there's another jewel that I can keep tucked away to myself for those days when life is full of sharp edges and bad smells.

Merci beaucoup, Liev. The prospect of coming to work today was a harsh one and your perfect delivery of the line "You kind of go with the flow there, dontcha Murph?" while partaking of your most tasty and potent hoot on the park bench makes me giggle every time I think of it.