Saturday, August 7, 2010

The perils of curiosity

Last night I treated myself to the most unlikely double-bill: The Kids are All Right (playing now at the Twin) and Splice (playing at 9:25 until Aug. 11 at the Original). Typically, theatrical double-bills will have some thematic similarity or they may have something else in common, such as two films by the same director or actor. The only thing last night's films shared was the topic of the scientific intervention of biological procreation: the offspring of the lesbian couple in The Kids Are All Right were the result of a sperm donor, and the human/animal mutation of Splice is the result of questionable genetic engineering. I know, it's a bit of stretch to link these two films, but I had a great night out and both films, in their own unique ways, were fantastic. At the end of Splice, I realized that these films actually had something much deeper in common: curiosity. The curiosity of one (or more) of the characters in these films drives both narratives, and in both films, the characters have to deal with the consequences of curiosity. Once the Pandora's box is opened, of course, it can never be closed again. It's a lesson for us all. 
A face only a mother could love: Elsa (Sarah Polley) imprints with Dren, in Splice

I won't say too much more about these movies because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but what I will say is: Mark Ruffalo, why haven't I noticed you before?   Wow, is he a sexy Lothario in this movie, with his laid-back, ruffled California charm. Boyish and easy-going, he's another Gen X mid-lifer (as is Julianne Moore's character, who goes through an identity crisis of her own.) Actually, every character in TKAAR is transformed by crisis. It's tough-going at times but, we can assume from the title that this family is going to be okay, and most likely, stronger and better because of their trials. I'd also like to add that it was great to see a believable lesbian couple on screen. The writing and dialogue in this movie is so fantastic, and it's the little details that add up, like the way the kids naturally pluralize "moms." The Kids are All Right also features an excellent soundtrack (with no "Our House" by Madness, thank god, contrary to what the trailer might have you believe.) One of my favourite David Bowie songs is in this movie: Black Country Rock. Oh yeah! I think I was thoroughly sold on this movie when I saw Ruffalo's character drive up on his vintage motorcycle to the strains of this lesser-known Bowie song. Very cool.

Now that I think of it, a lot of David Bowie songs have been used to powerful effect in movies. Off the top of my head I can think of a few recent films: the inclusion of 'Heroes' at the end of The Cove brought tears to my eyes; 'Cat People (Putting Out Fire)' in Inglorious Basterds; and 'Life on Mars' in (only) the theatrical version of Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves. I've been thinking about David Bowie and his Uranian ways lately. Bowie and film: might be a blog for another day....

See you at the movies!


  1. I'm an avid Princess cinemas fan who has a child via sperm donor and in vitro fertilization surgery and I look forward to seeing TKAAR. When I was seeking a donor, I only considered those donors who were already part of the "Mutual ID Consent" program (were willing to be contacted by their potential offspring later in life). It was important to me that my child have a chance to connect with the other half of their biological parentage and, it also said something to me about the donors themselves who chose to participate in this program - that they also believed a hole like that in a child's life (not knowing anyhing about one of their biological parents) might carry a huge effect later in life. For myself, I knew there might come questions that I simply could not answer for my child. I do hope that someday they very well may have a connection but only if my child wishes for that to happen. (I will also have to check out Splice - love Sarah Polley.) nancy

  2. I think you'll love The Kids are All Right. I enjoyed it much more than I anticipated. What a delight. The juxtaposition of Splice and TKAAR was stark, and it took some adjusting to get into Splice after the funny naturalism of TKAAR, but Splice was fascinating from beginning to end, and the second half of the film is really riveting, once Dren gets older and sex gets involved! The film moves into a really cool mythic realm. It was shot in Ontario and I learned (by staying on to watch the credits) that Martin Tielli of the Rheostatics and Mary Margaret O'Hara did the vocal effects!

  3. neato. my son has a Rheostatics poster from their second-last concert hanging in his room. But sadly, Martin hadn't been able to participate that night at the Starlight. Love his voice. Very cool. Will be sure to check both out (that is, if I can find a babysitter or if the Twin shows either of them at Movies for Mommies! Though I imagine Splice won't fall under the kind of movies chosen for those matinees, maybe? Ha!)