Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Dad and America

Today was Father’s Day, and I deliberately had nothing else going on except to hang with my ol’ man.

It was a later start, but it was okay because we were playing it by ear. I decided on seeing a movie that he had been interested in called Winter’s Bone. The quick synopsis of this flick is that it’s a noir about a young girl desperately searching for her father, dead or alive, so that she can keep her family from losing their home.

We went to the Irvine campus theater, and soon discovered that a lot of other people wanted to watch this movie at the same time we wanted to. There was an impressive line almost going up the sidewalk. I’m not sure if all of them were getting tickets for Winter’s Bone, but the theater was packed. Luckily, we still found some decent spots and were soon watching the movie with rapt attention.

Winter’s Bone is mentioned as a film noir. And this is quickly apparent by the first scenes. The story is set in Missouri, in poor, poor America. The people that live here don’t have very much money, and even fewer options or opportunities. To live here, you have to be hard, cold, and a little desperate. Many people make a living making and selling drugs. And they barely make a living, at that.

The main character, Ree, is 17-years-old and raising her brother and sister. Not only is she doing that, but at the same time, she’s taking care of their nearly catatonic mother. Her dad is a dubious character that has been in and out of prison for selling drugs. Bad news starts when the Sheriff informs Ree that not only is her father missing, but that he has put up the family house and property to post bail. If he doesn’t show up for his court date, the family loses everything.

The suspects are limitless, the enemies legion, the secrets are dark, and even the best of outcomes are cold comforts. And the story and acting is superb. Watch this movie for Jennifer Lawrence, the actress that plays Ree, and John Hawkes who plays her uncle “Teardrop.” These two know how to boil and rage and agonize without saying a word or moving a muscle. Watch this movie if you like film noir or stories of moral complexity in bleak landscapes.

After this excellent movie, my dad and I headed to The Counter, a burger place in Irvine. This place makes great burgers with a huge selection of sauces and additions, from pesto sauce to garlic aoli and mushrooms to red bell pepper. And a pleasant surprise! Dads get free burgers on Father’s Day! That was pretty cool, especially considering I was buying him lunch.

We got home and watched an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher and talked about politics for a few hours. They’re aren’t many people I can talk about the big scary “P” word with, but my dad is one of the best to talk about that stuff with. Israel, Oliver Stone, embargos, religion, Canada, mixing economic systems, and all this and more. That’s me and my pop.

Happy Father’s Day, dad!

Topics of Conversation: Jeff Beck, cover songs, Israel, America in general, Summer’s Bone, the definition of “Film Noir,” no response to urgency, being bearded for others, etc.


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