So, the one thing that Jack had to say about why he didn't like this movie was that it was too real. I don't want to quote him wrong, but I think he said something to the effect of, why would I want to watch real people? Well, I respect that, but I realized after thinking about it a while that some of the thrill I felt watching the movie was, "wow. these are real people. it's so refreshing to see real people on the big screen." I don't know if you can call that a matter of taste or what; it excites me to hear about real people and their real foibles and weirdnesses.
At first when I got out of the movie, I didn't know how to feel about it, and by the time I got back home I was ready to tell my roommate that this movie was depressing and only brought up the total pointlessness of everything. But somewhere between 11pm and now, I have started to feel that I don't mind that so much. I was stuck between identifying with themes or characters in the movie (I have often given thought to making sure I don't end up like Walter, feeling he made no difference in the world, or his wife, dulled to the point of seeming non-existence) and smugly feeling I'd never be like them. (I'm concious of my value in the world and will make sure that when I'm 67 I can look back on things ith pride!)
Part of my realization that I enjoyed the film was that my viewing was being colored by the rest of the audience; audience reactions weren't exactly matching mine. The crucial point where this caused me to feel sour was the scene where Kathy Bates' character condfidently hops in the hot tub with Walter, completely naked. This elicited a half-laughing, half-jeering response from the muvico audience. At first I thought that the movie was making fun of a middle aged woman's figure; but Tracy pointed out to me that the movie itself was simply trying to point out the awkward hot tub situation, and wasn't trying to get a rise out of people. It was a nice scene, and thinking about it well done.
Nicholson himself didn't particularly excite me either way; yes, he looks like a 67 year old man. Yes, he expresses sorrow, bafflement, and anger as the character goes through his journey. He elicits sympathy and disgust and embarrassment from the audience. Wait, I just talked myself into liking his performance. Maybe another actor couldn't have pulled it off.
For the feminist in me: the movie doesn't pass the lesbian rules for movie watching:
1. Is there more than one woman in the film? (yes!)
2. Do the women speak to each other? (a teensy bit)
3. About something other than men? (ok, not really)
I can't remember where I found these qualifications, I probably read them in a magazine somewhere so I can't give them proper credit, but I like to use them. Because you'd be damned surprised how many films on the market *don't* contain those things. But I think that About Schmidt is respectful to women; while at first you might think that Walter is utterly dismissive of his wife, you watch him learn about what it means to consider a whole person.
Besides, it's like the bit in The Notorious C.H.O. where she describes waking up next to her lover in the glinting morning sunlight, looking over at them sleeping peacefully, their face perfectly at rest, and thinking "I FUCKING HATE YOU!!!!" I can't do the bit justice, but it's hilarious. Because I think everyone kind of understands that moment.
Annoying bits here and there; the pacing is VERY slow. If you can't take that in your movies, you might want to pass on this one. Sometimes you're waiting so long for Nicholson to deliver the line that you want to shake him. But the final plus: there is one moment where he's piloting the Winnebago around the corner, and passing him in the other direction you see the tail end... of a little white Ford Aspire. Awwwwww, yeah.
Keepin' it real.
The Guru: Looks interesting, if not taken too seriously.
Bend It Like Beckham: Has Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, the Gormenghast guy, as a (really) hot soccer player. The main plus though, is that it's a movie about WOMEN'S sports. Hot in Europe already.
Nicholas Nickleby: The star-studded costume drama of 2003. Whee.
The Hours: If I don't see this I should be ashamed of myself. However if I see one more stupid news rag talking about how it's good that that is not Kidman's real nose I'm burning something down.