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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Prime

Today I saw an adult movie at the Essex Outlet Cinemas. No, not a porn film, but a real live movie made for grown-up people. There were no explosions, no car chases, no aliens, no attempts at world domination, but instead there was a thoughtful story about about relationships between thinking, complex, three dimensional people. Prime is a wonderment and I am surprised it was even able to get made in this day when demographics rule what the studios make.

So what is Prime about? First, it is not what is commonly called a "chick flick" in the sense that it is a fluffy romance. It is a romance, but a rocky one, chock full of the type of potholes that exist in real life. Uma Thurman plays Rafi Gardet, a woman who at the beginning of the film has just signed her divorce papers and is reeling at the idea of being single again after nine years. She is, as always, stunningly beautiful, and it the biggest breach into the realm of fantasy is to imagine Uma is the 37 she tells us in the movie. In short order Rafi meets and falls for David, a stunningly beautiful young wannabe artist. When she finds out he is only 23 she is determined to end the affair, but that would make for a very short and dull movie. By the way, Bryan Greenberg who plays David managed to elicit loud squeals, giggles, and gasps from the teenage girls in the audience whenever he appeared with his shirt off, which was in about half his scenes, which wasn't nearly enough.

Now Rafi confides everything in her therapist, Lisa Metzger, played by Meryl Streep as a perfect if tightly wound neurotic. Her hair is perfect. Her clothes are wrinkle-free. Her accessories are bold and should be listed as supporting characters. Meryl sits rigidly in her therapist's chair and yet still milks great laughs from the audience with a simple eye flutter or twitch as she listens intently to Uma during their therapeutic sessions. Rafi's descriptions of her amorous advances with David grow steadily more graphic until she is devoting considerable time to the state of her orgasms (she's not having them but she's "willing to put in the work to improve that"), the locales of their sex ("Every surface in [her] apartment"), and the beauty of David's penis ("It's a work of art"). While such candid revelations might not seem out of place in therapy, in this case the audience knows something Rafi doesn't and something Lisa has only just figured out: David is her own son. Ewwwwww.

Despite her protestations, Lisa is advised by her own therapist to maintain the patient/therapist relationship with Rafi and not reveal her own connection to David as this love affair is so casual that it will no doubt burn out in a short time.

Of course that is the most horrible advice and poor Lisa is subjected to Rafi's sharing David's rants about his controlling and unpleasant mother who is determined to have him marry a nice Jewish girl. For Lisa, her Jewish heritage is the most important part of her life, and she can not imagine that her son would not want to continue the traditions as they are in the family right now. This allows the movie to segue into some schtik that could edge dangerously close to Yentl territory but steers clear and hangs closer to 1970's Where's Poppa? . What follows is a shtikl of Jewish culture coupled with a lot of noshing and shtupping (more gasps and squeals from the girls), breaking up, making up, plotzing, and tsuris, all designed to make Meryl go meshugge.

I really enjoyed this movie, probably because it was something original in this day of CGI. The acting was believable, the scenery (and by that I mean Uma and Bryan) is easy on the eyes, and how often do you get to hear Meryl Streep talk about someone's tuchas? Best of all, the ending is not tied up in a bow and presented with typical resolution. I won't ruin it for you, but let's just say I was surprised because it was so refreshingly different than what one expects from the typical Hollywood big budget movie. Oy!

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I was so busy chatting with the Chapmans when I arrived at the Essex Outlet Cinemas that I practically forgot about the pre-show cartoon they are now featuring in each theater. Fortunately I got to my seat in time to catch it ~ the 1957 classic "What's Opera, Doc?" featuring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd singing Wagner. You've probably seen it on tv growing up. It's the one with Elmer singing "Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit!" over and over, but it is a completely different experience to see it as it was first presented on a big screen. Actually, it's better than when it was first shown because the Essex Outlet Cinemas has digital stereo surround sound, so the experience is even clearer and crisper than ever before. What a great treat before the main feature! Best reason in the world to arrive a few minutes early at the theater rather than arrive at the very last moment.

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