My weekend plan was to watch movies. Before the weekend began, however, I made my way to the underbelly of Makati that is Makati Cinema Square to find myself stuff to watch. Oscar nominations out last week must have spurred the availability of art films in the market, and probably one good thing about the blackmarket movie scene is available copies of hard to find films. I picked up the sort-of documentary about Bob Dylan, the two Casey Affleck films that came out late last year (Assassination of Jesse James, Gone Baby Gone), The Counterfeiters (the new film nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, about a Nazi counterfeiting scheme involving the Jewish inmates in a concentration camp), Ma Vie en Rose (the biopic of Edith Piaf), Atonement, and three movies about pregnancy.
The first two are of American make. I had planned to catch Juno while in the US, but I changed my mind the last night I was in LA. The film is receiving great buzz, comparisons to last year's sleeper Little Miss Sunshine, and has now received Oscar nominations. I remember reading that the marketing of the film was quite home-grown, Juno's bedroom set was taken on a tour of America in a special transport bus. Wherever the movie opened, the set was taken to give people a chance to see the actual design. Her hamburger phone became more than a curio. And striped socks sold out.
Since Juno is about teenage pregnancy, but a comedic take on it, you realize she's not going to be one of the 1.2 million cases of abortion reported recently by the US Health Dept. I don't think all abortion clinics look as depressed as the one shown in the movie, I sure hope they aren't. But the movie isn't about public health issues, it's barely about the downside of teenage pregnancy. It's more about this quirky child with an ability to find love. It's a fairy tale dressed in urban teen clothes.
Waitress, with Felicity star Keri Russell, is the adult version, with the same fairy tale like glow to it, except in this case, the heroine hates her life, hates her husband, doesn't want to have the baby, and ends up having an affair with her doctor. At first what made me want to see the movie was the fact it was all about pies. Keri plays a woman who is meant to become a champion pie maker, win the big prize for her pies, escapes from her miserable life by imagining the kinds of pies she will make and comes up with great titles for them. But she is thwarted by her life, and can't seem to say the right thing because she's a coward. It takes the birth of her baby, and the help of a friend, which gives her the courage and the financial wherewithal to make the fresh start. Perhaps the mature tone of the film allows for more discussion about wanting babies (or not), the pains, the aches, the medical concerns (although that's secondary to her infatuation with her doctor), and, in two sequences, why you may not want to have a child. As the anonymous suffering mom tells Keri "they never tell you about the pain after you give birth" while her child continues to bedevil her. Reminded me of an award winning commercial where a man is made painfully aware by his kids why he should have used a condom. Ah, hindsight.
The third film I found is the Romanian film 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days. This also came out in 2007, and won several accolades for the portrayal of two women's lives in one day while struggling through the last hiccups of the Ceausescu regime. The music (or in some cases lack of it), the grit and grime in most of the scenes, the pallor of the actors' faces, and the underlying knowledge that it probably won't turn out for the best kept me focused on the film. This was not an easy movie to watch, not because of brutality or violence. There was a lot of anxiety throughout the film, and it resonates with you. You wonder if it's the difference in languages that makes you twitch a lot while watching the film, or if you should look away.
Three movies, three women, three babies.