Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reviews by Hubie Goode: According to Greta

According to Greta

Genre: Dramas
Starring: Hilary Duff, Ellen Burstyn,
Melissa Leo, Evan Ross
Director: Nancy Bardawil
Screenwriter: Michael Gilvary

Budding actress Hilary Duff is a disaffected teenager caught in the middle between what she once was and the world she is being dragged into with two tons of baggage hung over her shoulder for a travel companion. She plays snarky and “in over her head teen” Greta, a name she sarcastically refers to as a variation on the word GREAT, who has been in bad need of some tough love for quite sometime. Her mother, played by actress Melissa Leo, has been swimming in her own traumatized life, diving in and out of marriages since the death of her husband, Greta’s father, and has had little success putting the anchor on Greta and her own teetering ship of a life that is uncomfortably “three sheets to the wind” and heading for the rocks.

Greta’s mom ships her off to spend the summer with grandma, Ellen Burstyn and Grandpa, Michael Murphy, on the Jersey shore, and almost immediately she begins to spread her disruptive bile into the lives of her careful grandparents. Greta keeps a diary full of lists and drawings, and even ties the diary to her wrist when she goes about the town, once even dunking herself in the nearby ocean in a full prom dress (her grandma’s) while holding the diary high above her head. This scene is one of three, I think, that seemed to have an inner theme of baptism and rising from the waters, that for Greta, needed to be done more than once in order for her to find her grace to carry on with the rest of her life at this point.

The diary holds a special list of possible ways to commit suicide and she visits it often, sometimes even editing and correcting as she goes. When she unashamedly informs her grandparents that she plans on ending it all as soon as she is eighteen, just so she can stay young and pretty, she makes the audience and her grandparents squirm a bit with such talk. But one really can’t say just what Greta’s degree of commitment is to this plan, even though we all know it’s a movie that’s not geared to end in such “goth” type finality.

Surprisingly, Greta takes her grandma’s advice and gets a job at a local restaurant where she continues to berate everyone she meets, even the customers who seem to find her flat out disregard for their patronage to be a selling point for returning; kind of like a Don Rickles Vegas show. This soon takes it’s toll though, and the situation comes to a head, but not before she has befriended a young ex-con from juvie named Julie, Evan Ross, son of Diana Ross.

Evan does quite a good job of giving us the picture of a young man who has slammed on the breaks in his own life and turned straight, and in his words, “forever”. Julie and Greta find some mutual attraction, and they make a cute couple of kids struggling to make sense of the world they have been thrust into. Within time, we find that Julie and Greta share similar experiences of trauma but have chosen different paths and for a time this comes between them, but not for too long.

Greta soon begins to wear thin on everyone and Grandma is taken to the hospital for a mild heart attack after Greta ruins a fine day of boating by endangering her life (another underwater scene) and also Julie’s as he comes to her needy and yet unnecessary rescue. This brings Mom into town to gather Greta up in order to send her off to a military type camp for the summer so they can straighten her out. It’s at this point Grandpa has had enough of all this female drama and lowers the boom! His solution is so sound for these proceedings that even the new guy in mom’s life agrees and abandons her to the resolution. This is not something one would expect to see in a modern movie, and I was glad to see it. No kowtowing to the politically correct in spite of the logical resolution. Nice to see, since ANYONE in the cast can have the solution, and it doesn’t need to be solely who the audience wants to see.

And speaking of kowtowing, I was also quite pleased to see the interracial relationship simply played out as two kids who met and liked each other, and who could have been of any race. I see movies and TV these days that place racial characters in a story because it’s currently the “cool” thing to do, even despite the obvious reverse racism that becomes involved. If you want to see an example of this, just rent Harold and Kumar at Guantanamo Bay. A truly awful film anyway, but a prime example of politically correct pandering by the numbers, where all the bad guys are of a certain race and all the pretty girls, the only desirable ones by Hollywood’s measurement, are also of that same race. This kind of crap is happening all over the place in entertainment and needs to stop. If we truly agree that America is past racism, then we need more movies like According to Greta where ANYONE of ANY race could fill a role.

I can also say this about the writing here, too. I was quite pleased with the character study and the natural way events come to pass according to the characters in the film. This was not by any means a paint by numbers film. I didn’t feel I had seen this movie before or was able to point out thirty other movies with the same parts in them. That’s probably because of the refinement of the characters and the setting, which are all part of the development of the narrative. And that’s the way it SHOULD Be. If you would like a fine example of paint by the numbers writing, then rent the recent 2012 disaster movie, where you could pick out 20 cliche’s from other movies and TV shows from old Star Trek to the Posiedon Adventure and beyond. I had nothing to say about that movie beyond the amazing computer visuals, so I didn’t write a review. You don’t need to hear me bitching all the time.

The principles are all fine, and Miss Duff is quite the little up and coming actress. I found her quite believable and a little too familiar in her presentation of a troubled teen, but then again how far did she have to stretch with a little outside direction, she is, after all not much older than the character. Still, all things being equal, she did a fine job, and this really should catch some notice among the directors looking for new and credible talent. I say that with a lot of hope for her, but does anyone remember Shannon Sossaman from almost ten years ago? Where did she go? Good luck Hilary, keep up the good work no matter what.

If you are in the mood for some basic psychology study of young people in the throws of angst, I would say you could enjoy the story and the movie for it’s writing and acting. It’s not going to make a lot of money, but it’s not a waste of an hour and a half either. It’s a 3 out of 5, but a really good 3.

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