Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bee Season: Adults Are Fucked Up

Last night, me and the kid, again desperately in need of distraction and that whole "gettin' outta da house" thing, and since we'd seen almost everything already (not Chicken Little, that's just not gonna happen), and that, despite the fact that her mum could have almost been like a totally famous ballet choregrapher once, the kid flat out refuses to see Ballet Russes, so...Bee Season was it.

Now, don't get me wrong, Bee Season looked okay. But, I have this long-standing hatred for Richard Gere. That guy has always given me the creeps, even in Pretty Woman, (which he was totally phoning in, not that I blame him there). I know he's all buddhist and shit, which I totally support, but he's always seemed to have his head so far up his own ass that his eyes are brown. Well, they are. [Why is this post becoming so potty? Oh well.] The point is, I hate Richard Gere. He ruined Chicago, or at least the parts he was in. He's so stuck up and sanctimonious. And probably because of that, he's pretty much perfect for Bee Season.

Spoiler alert: I'm about to tell you what happens. Skip to the end if you care.

The synopsis is: cute, intellectual, quasi-euro professionals Saul (Gere) and Miriam (the always incomparable Juliette Binoche) have a couple of kids, careers at Berkeley (he apparently teaches Kabbalah Studies and she peers through microscopes), and one of those perfectly art-directed wood paneling and Shaker furniture homes that Hollywood pretends people like this could afford. They've got a couple of talented kids, the younger of whom seems to be developing an affinity for spelling. And that's good, because mom is emotionally distant, and dad only notices the kids when they do something exceptional. Both kids are impossibly fragile, perfect and broodingly dreaming looking.

And while I'm on the subject, the son is played by Max Minghella, son of Cold Mountain director Anthony Minghella. According to IMDb, Max is 20 years old, which is good, because, he's totally do-able. You know that dewey, creamy, dreamy quality some boys get right before they learn to grow beards and become men? Damn. I knew a boy like that once when I was 22, and was great, even if I was technically breaking the law. Sweet.

Anyhow, compliments of some nifty CGI, the daughter starts to spell really, really well, dad takes an interest and decides she's some sort of Hebrew saint. Son gets involved with a cuddly Hari Krishna hippie girl (played perfectly by Kate Bosworth in a bit part), and, because of childhood trauma, mom begins to go quietly but spectacularly nuts. See, mom likes to drive around until she finds a house she likes, break in, and then steal something inconsequential that the homeowner is not likely to miss. It turns out later that she's building a massive chandelier sort of deal inside a storage unit. Why is it that in Hollywood movies, the insane are always so darned artistic?

Well, as the kid moves up the rankings of the spelling bee kingdom from local to national, all the other players progress in their own, quiet desperation. Dad is obsessed with the daughter's spelling skills, and begins to train her in secret Kabbalah mysticism, even though he keeps saying it's dangerous to do so. Mom gets caught and goes to the funny farm. Son pouts. The daughter has visions and convulsions. Is she a mystic, or just an epileptic? It's not clear. In the end she throws the nationals in the 11th hour, dad cries tears of bitter shame, but mom smiles in the nut house, magically connecting with her daughter through the television screen. Is she somehow cured? It doesn't matter.

Now, I have to say, this was a good movie: beautifully acted, nicely filmed, cool effects, do-able boy, Juliette Binoche, what have you. But, ultimately this is a movie about how parents fuck up their kids. Saul didn't care about his daughter, just about what her skills meant about him. Miriam tries to be a loving mom, but tender moments at bedtime are not enough. I've personally seen parents ruthlessly push their kids to succeed at all costs before, not so much for the kid's sake, but for the parent's own bragging rights. Somehow spawning a talented kid makes the parent more valid. God, those are really selfish reasons to mess with your kid. I hate it.

As we left the theater and my evening progressed, I couldn't get past the bad feelings this movie left. I think the film makers were trying to say something positive about love, family and redemption, but all I was left with was sadness. Parents are assholes.

My recommendation? See it anyway. But love your kids for who they are and not what they can do for your ego.

Bee Season snack food? first I thought oatmeal: bland and nutritious, but a bit icky. Or corn nuts. But now I'm thinking challah bread. "I ain't no challah back girl...", hardy har har. (Okay, apparently nobody but me thinks this is funny, damn.)

Later last night I watched the Victoria Secret Christmas Fashion Show, which was supposedly Tyra Bank's swan song as a runway model. I'll believe that when I see it. Tyra looked really pissed off during the whole thing, maybe because her thighs were flapping to the wind machine during her runway walks. One girl got her shoe stuck in a crack. No bras fell off or anything. The whole thing was oddly boring, even with alien girls traipsing around in snazzy underpants. Oh well.

Happy vegging boy's n' girls. Speaking of Tyra, I'm off to watch America's Next Top Model and Lost, yippee. And the new season of Project Runway. I'm such a slut.


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