Winter Solstice and House of D (review)
Why did the most successful marauding army in the history of the world, the Mongols, turn away from fresh, guaranteed conquest and head for home at the height of their plundering? "They found out their leader died," high-
Rudderless grief hangs like a shroud over Winter Solstice, the feature debut from writer/
And yet, there is plenty that's identifiable to anyone who's muddled through it. Within the context of a sharp storytelling framework, Sternfeld beautifully, sadly replicates that state of functional, low-
With its title that hints at how the sun is about to start shining on the Winters men again, Solstice isn't just about the smallness of the getting through of every day, but also -- perhaps seemingly paradoxically -- about how sometimes tragedy can only be dealt with by making a big life change. Gabe, much to the consternation of his father, announces he's moving to Florida, like, tomorrow. And Jim finds an unexpected new friend in Molly (Allison Janney: How to Deal, Finding Nemo), who moves into the neighborhood to housesit for a friend -- she's also dealing with something she doesn't want to talk about except that it made her feel like she needed a "change of address."
This isn't the kind of thing that you could ever explain to someone who hasn't experienced it, and Sternfeld knows this and so doesn't try. He simply lets the experience speak for itself, and it does so with a soft steeliness that is unforgettable.
Burning down the house
Tom Warshaw (Duchovny: Connie and Carla, Full Frontal) is looking back, after all, three decades to the year he turned 13, and to the something horrible that happened that year that froze him in his tracks, kept him from becoming the man he thinks he should have been. Now, he lives in Paris and his own son is about to turn 13, and he's ready to think about it all again. So we flash back to New York's Greenwich Village in the 1970s, where Tommy (the absolutely delightful Anton Yelchin: Taken, Hearts in Atlantis) lives with his mother (Téa Leoni: Hollywood Ending, Jurassic Park III; yeah, Duchovny's wife playing his character's mother elicited a few snickers at the screening I attended, but the performances all around are so wonderful and so heartfelt that any weirdness is quickly forgotten). Mom is severely depressed, unable to bounce back from the death of Tommy's father; Yelchin particularly shines in the scenes in which he becomes the adult of the little family, as when he counts out how many of his mother's sleeping pills remain in the jar -- has she taken too many? And there's strain in the relationship Tommy has with his best friend, Pappass (Robin Williams: Robots, Noel), a mildly retarded middle-
The complexity and unusualness of Tommy's life hints at the shape the tragedy to come will take, and while we're dreading it, we're also entranced by Tommy's peculiar relationship with "Lady" (Erykah Badu: The Cider House Rules), an inmate at the Women's House of Detention Tommy converses with only by shouting to her high-
But it is, ironically, the oddity of the surrogate parents Tommy has in Lady and Pappass that imprisons him for 30 years in his own House of D -- their advice and influence is perhaps not the best to be had when disaster strikes -- leaving him stuck at the moment when childhood is about to crash over into adolescence. It's the framing story, of the grown Tom looking back at the past, that makes House of D so poignant, so able to transcend its clichés of mentorship and reluctance to give up childhood. By the time the adult Tom finishes explaining his extraordinary life story to his wife (Magali Amadei: Taxi, The Wedding Planner), who'd never heard the tale before, we're as in love with him as she is becoming once again.
Wed Apr 13 05, 10:46AM
by MaryAnn Johanson
Fever Pitch (1997) and Fever Pitch (2005) (review)
The Amityville Horror (review)