The most terrifying moment we ever experience is the realization that we are responsible for the life of the perfect being who has turned us from people into parents. We want more than anything to keep them safe and teach them everything they need to survive, even though we know how impossible it is to do both at once. “The Road,” based on the acclaimed novel by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) takes that conflict to the extreme with an archetypal father and son (just known as “Man” and “Boy”) and on a post-apocalyptic journey.
We do not know what the cataclysmic event was. We do not know if it was a natural disaster or the result of some kind of attack. But the world as we know it has ended. Sometimes the Man (Viggo Mortensen) goes back to the before in his dreams, of the night before his son was born, the last night when life still held possibilities. Since that day, everything is wiped out, including plants and animals. It is always cold. There is nothing to eat. Almost everyone has died or committed suicide. Those that are left are either predators or prey.
Stripped down to essentials, the Man has just one occupation — protecting the Boy, physically and psychically. As all parents must, he tries to help his son make sense of the world around him, teaching him enough about treachery and danger to be safe but teaching him enough about hope and honor to be “the good guys.” The Man tells his son that he must always carry the fire and by that he means both the literal fire that keeps them alive in the eternal winter and the spirit of optimism and humanity that is as important to the fate of the world as their ability to find something to eat.
As they go toward the coast, for no other reason than that it might be better than where they are and because it gives them a goal, they have encounters that are sad, strange, and scary. They find a somehow-overlooked relic of the past, a can of Coke, as exotic and inexplicable for the Boy as a shard of Sumerian pottery might be to us. When they find the house the Man grew up in, the markings his parents made to measure his growth are still there, a symbol of stability and care. When he tells the Boy that this is the fireplace mantel where they used to hang their stockings, he realizes that memory has any no connection to the Boy’s entire lifetime of scrounging, moving, and staying away from desperate packs of people who might as well be zombies for all of the humanity they have retained.
Wrenching, elegiac, but ultimately inspiring, this is a film that knows how to hold onto its own fire. By stripping away everything but the essentials, it makes us ask ourselves about the compromises we make, the consequences of our choices, and the value of the things that we so often think are worth striving for.
The Lifetime television series “Drop Dead Diva” was one of the happiest television series surprises of 2009. As it returns for a second season, the first is out on DVD and I have one copy to give away.
It’s the story of a young woman who gets a second chance at life when she finds her soul in a new body very different from the one she knew. Deb is a pretty model who takes for granted all the good things that come to her because she is young, blond, and conventionally beautiful. She has a best friend, Stacey (April Bowlby), also a model, and a handsome fiancee Grayson (Jackson Hurst), a lawyer.
Deb is killed in a car crash. In Heaven, she is evaluated as a “zero.” She has not committed any major sins but she has not made any great contributions, either. So, she is sent back to Earth, this time in the body of a just-deceased size-sixteen lawyer named Jane (Brooke Elliott).
And so a woman who lived on her beauty has to become a woman who lives on her brains. Deb learns what it is like to be dismissed and marginalized based on the way she looks. She learns how much she can accomplish with knowledge and understanding. And she realizes how much she misses Grayson, who works in Jane’s law firm, and wonders if she can make him fall in love with her even though she is no longer blonde and slim.
The show is delightful, with a strong writing, a terrific cast, and some well-chosen guest stars, including “Project Runway’s” Tim Gunn and real-life divas Paula Abdul and Rosie O’Donnell. But in every way the heart of the series is Elliott, who is utterly charming as Deb/Jane. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Send me an email at email@example.com and tell me your favorite “Drop Dead Diva” moment. The first to respond will get the DVD set of the first season. Enjoy!
Stay tuned this week as I have all sorts of surprises and giveaways including goodies for children and their parents! DVD prizes include a popular Lifetime series, a sizzling crime story, and a drama about three friends struggling to balance work, home, and their own dreams. Good luck and enjoy!
The concluding chapter of “Lost” has prompted all kinds of speculation. On September 22, 2004, the show premiered with a plane crash on a mysterious tropical island and it has been an endless source of intrigue and speculation ever since. Some of the best of the salutes and round-ups include Entertainment Weekly’s list of the best and worst moments and most burning questions that the finale should answer and much speculation about what the last episode can and should include. The Washington Post’s resident Lost-ie, Jen Chaney has written about some of the responses to the show including the Field School’s high school class on “Lost,” its philosophy, and its references and the “recap” rock group called Recently on Lost.
If you watch tonight’s extravaganza, let me know what you think!