Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Movie Moments #1

So, I was watching Winter’s Solstice for the second time last night (from IMDb - Plot Outline: In this suburban drama, a widower (played by Anthony LaPaglia) confronts his older son's (played by Aaron Stanford) decision to leave home and his younger son's self-destructive behavior). I know, some of you haven’t even watched it the first time, and maybe never will.

The thing is, I LOVE movies. Not all, but there is a redeeming moment in almost every film ever made - well, maybe except for The Cat In the Hat.


So, I’m watching the movie on cable (even though the unopened Netflix version is sitting on the coffee table in front of me - don’t you hate when that happens?). The movie is a bit slow, not because of the story, but the camera has this little annoying habit of drawing out every single moment.

But, one moment pays off big time. There is the scene where Jim Winters (Anthony LaPaglia) has just arrived at Molly Ripkin’s (Allison Janney) for dinner. Molly had invited Jim and his two sons for dinner. However, the boys are a no-show and Jim arrives, where Molly has set the dinner table for four.

What follows is collaboration defined for me. It is where the screenwriter, the actor and director have each brought their talent and skills to the table. Alone, none of them would have been able to pull off the scene, but with each doing their part, the scene speaks volumes.

Molly walks into the kitchen, Jim follows. However, the director/camera never steps into the room. Instead, we, the viewer, remain in the dining room where we can only see Jim, and hear, only slightly, what Molly is saying.


Duh, I am no longer a passive observer. I am now in that house with those two people. In fact, I have somehow melded with Jim. Though he has stepped in the kitchen with Molly, he is not in that room. He is not there in that moment. Granted, I didn’t read the script, but I can only imagine that the writer gave us some indication that Jim is not really paying attention to Molly; that he is more concerned with something in the dining room.

However, it was the director who took it one step further and showed us, not told us, this bit of information. And LaPaglia does an amazing job in being a bit preoccupied. Though his body faces in the direction towards Molly, his eyes are ever-so-fixed in the dining room.

Finally, Jim can’t take it anymore, and he rushes into the dining room and carefully gathers two of the place settings.

There it is. The moment for me. The moment that sums up this character; this story. The writer, director and actor SHOWED me a deeply inner emotion, rather than have Jim explain later to Molly that he misses his family of FOUR - that he feels incomplete, and that he’s struggling with moving on, by forcing these memories from his every day life.

Damn, I love that scene.

Yes, I’m strange. But it’s these little gems that continue to serve as my education. I can read “show, don’t tell” in a million books. Actually seeing it put to practice, now that’s something else.

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