In celebration of my upcoming 49th birthday, and because I was getting nagged about it a lot, I finally got a mammogram. It was less traumatic than my first one, fifteen years ago, either because they've refined the hamburger-patty-breast-squashing machines, or because my breasts are less, um, dense, with age (read: droopy.)
In the waiting room at Alta Bates, as I was signing in, I heard "Ali! Ali!" and it was Marie, the mother of Patty and Abraham, the children I always played with from the old neighborhood. They are nineteen now, doing well--Patty is going to college and Abraham is involved with some good skill-building program. I took her number and will swing by and see them. I miss them!
Over dinner, C and I talked about his work. He's getting more involved with some of the young men he is a resource specialist for at juvenile hall. It's bringing him a lot of joy to support their interests, bringing in art books, teaching the rudiments of music theory to a kid that wants to learn bass. I feel so proud of what he's doing I could bust my britches, and it also rekindles my desire to do the same.
We also went to see In the Valley of Elah last night, hoping, like vultures (I am referring to myself here, of course,) to glean material for our musical.
The movie deals with PTSD and the monstrous effect war in general, and this current war in particular, has on the psyches of young men. How angelic looking young men may be hiding monstrous secrets. In that way it resembled The Winter Soldier, the documentary I saw about Vietnam Vets.
Tommy Lee Jones was spectacular as the father of a missing GI. I love Susan Sarandon and would happily pay nine dollars to watch her read the phone book or pick her teeth or any damn thing she pleases. Charlize Theron also starred and her performance in Monster is one of the best things I've ever seen on film. (If you haven't seen it, rent it! And be prepared to be deeply disturbed...)
The script wasted Theron's considerable talent by focusing on her sexuality and beauty, which are also considerable, but for God's sake, if she could be glammed down that much for Monster, she could have been glammed down more for this. C said that as soon as he saw her on screen, playing a single mother police detective and looking like a Hollywood model, he knew there'd be something wrong with the movie. It punched a hole in its credibility.
It wasn't only that she looked too good, it was the stupid dialogue they gave her to contend with; a colleague of hers sneered to her face that she'd "fucked her way up from receptionist" or something like that, and she responded in kind that yeah, she'd gotten her position as detective through fucking her superiors. Name me one woman who has had that obvious of an exchange in their workplace, in 2007, who would not run screaming for HR to file a sexual harrassment complaint. It just didn't fit, and took away from the darker underbelly of the story.
I wanted more of the relationship between the parents of the missing soldier--more Susan Sarandon, please.
And Paul Haggis missed a fantastic opportunity, given the theme of dismemberment, to refer to the Isis/Osiris myth, or even Antigone. Instead he used the story of David and Goliath as a metaphor and I was--and still am--unclear as to how that fits. Who was supposed to be David? The young American soldiers whose terrible fear made them commit atrocities, or the Iraqis, or the father, going up against the military establishment to uncover the truth, or Charlize Theron...? It wasn't clear how the myth related to the story which was not so much about fear and courage but about insanity and humanity. Paul Haggis is a writer and director I really admire--I loved Crash, saw it twice, and would happily see it again--so this just underscored how hard it is to get these things right.
I told C, "Ours will be better," and he laughed and said, "Oh, of course. Nothing simpler in the world."