Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 9:28 am
When I first moved to the Pacific Northwest, I was amazed at how many people had the same landscaping complaint. "I spent all weekend cutting down the blackberries," some co-worker would groan on Monday morning, looking for sympathy for the lost hours and aching back. However, as someone who didn't grow up in such Edenic surroundings, I was totally dumbfounded. Cutting back blackberries? Why would you cut back blackberries? Don't they, you know, give you blackberries?
Our Best YA Fiction poll has only been live for a few hours, and already the cries of outrage are echoing through the intertubes! Where are A Wrinkle in Time, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Ender's Game? What about Watership Down? My Side of the Mountain? Where the Red Fern Grows? Most of Judy Blume's oeuvre? The Little House books?
Ruby (Zoe Kazan) comes to life when Calvin (Paul Dano) begins writing her into existence on his typewriter in Ruby Sparks. Kazan also wrote the new romantic comedy from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine.
Credit Merrick Morton / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Gertrude (Annette Bening) and Mort (Antonio Banderas) are Calvin's hippie parents, who win Ruby over despite Calvin finding them irritating.
There's a fine line between satire and the nasty snigger that marks so much of pop comedy these days — which is another way of saying that the corrosively funny takedown of child beauty pageants in the 2006 movie Little Miss Sunshine moved me to forgive (by a hair) its creepiest creation — Alan Arkin's heroin-addicted grandpa. Still, I wonder whether my 14-year-old, who has roared her way through that movie at least a dozen times, can tell the difference between sharp commentary and the juvie desire to shock.
Young-chan lost his sight and hearing as a child, though after he learned to speak. His wife, Soon-ho, cares for him, and the intimacy between them is the most striking part of Planet of Snail.
Credit Cinema Guild
Soon-ho, who suffers from a spinal disability, helps Young-chan navigate his daily life, but prods him toward increasing independence. In one tense scene, she waits anxiously after sending him out for a day on his own.
The obvious way to approach South Korean director Seung-jun Yi's modest but potent documentary Planet of Snail is to think of it as a story about a disabled man making his way through the world with the help of his companion. But more simply and more accurately, it's really a movie about marriage — about the way two people can smooth over each other's cracks to achieve an imperfect yet sturdy wholeness.