Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The little sick followed by The Big Sick

This is the spot that would ordinarily be reserved for telling you about my second trip to MIFF, but I didn't find it all that interesting so I'm going to send it to the bottom of the post and opt instead for the clever post title.

Just because I'm spending most of my available theatrical viewing time in August on the Melbourne International Film Festival doesn't mean I can fall behind on current releases, and in fact, there are about four things other than The Big Sick I want to see in the theater right now. But The Big Sick was the priority as one of the films I was most anticipating this year. And so when my 6:30 Tuesday night MIFF screening of The Ornithologist got out, I made it a double feature with Michael Showalter's new film.

But first, I had to deal with the little sick at home.

That being my soon-to-be seven-year-old, who is "little," but also only "a little sick." Yes, he threw up twice during the night, which would ordinarily be a bit alarming. Except that my other son and myself are also "a little sick," as only my wife -- whose immune system should be the most compromised from her recent international travels -- is fully healthy. Although my son was pretty much fine in the morning, it was an obvious choice to keep him home from school. And as my wife was busy with an all-day workshop, I was the obvious guy to stay home with him.

It was quite a nice day. With him being officially designated as sick, I didn't put any pressure on myself to get up to anything productive with him -- you know, going somewhere, doing something. Instead I let him watch TV and play video games. It's what sick people should get to do. (We did also play some games of Uno, relieving some of that guilt that was creeping in.) In the meantime, I was quite productive myself. I cleaned and organized my entire cubby area in our bedroom, which may not sound like a big task. Trust me, it was.

I just wish The Big Sick had been quite as satisfying. After Dunkirk, here is another 2017 film whose massive appeal mystifies me a bit. Sure, all the ingredients are there, and I do like this film enough to recommend it. I was just surprised at how little I laughed during it. Like, I did not laugh once. That's certainly not the only thing The Big Sick professes to have going for it, as I had heard that you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Well, I did neither. It was just a lot more limp than I thought it would be, with many scenes playing awkwardly or trying to end on a laugh that never came. Each performer brought certain strengths, but each also mixed in unanticipated weaknesses, with Ray Romano possibly being the only guy on screen who had only the former. I suppose the discrepancy between how much I liked it and how much I expected to like it probably can explain some of my unfavorable impression of it. With me having loved previous works by Showalter (The Baxter, Hello My Name is Doris), Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks among others) and Kumail Nanjiani (anything he's been in, ever), I really expected to love this one. This sounds awful to say, but I barely even liked it.

That still made it slightly better than The Ornithologist, a perfect "film festival film" if ever there was one. I hardly need to go on at length about it because you will never see it and probably never even hear about it, but it's about a Portuguese ornithologist who gets lost on a river and has a bunch of bizarre adventures that involve heavy Christian allegory, gay themes, and any number of supernatural occurrences. Toward what end, I couldn't tell you.

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