Tag Archives: Films

Grey Gardens

One evening, several months ago, I looked at the list of “On Demand” films on HBO and was disappointed that I’d either seen them all or was not interested in what they had to offer. Only one title looked at all promising: Grey Gardens — with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, what could go wrong with those actors?  Besides, I remembered hearing that it won some awards.  I watched about a half hour of the program and turned it off.  A movie about an eccentric pair of women, one of whom was bald, who lived in a vermin infested house on Long Island,  was not my idea of entertainment. How, I thought, could this have won awards?

A month ago I thought maybe I should give Grey Gardens another shot, so checked to see if it was available to stream on Netflix. I thought that I could watch it while I worked, and it wouldn’t seem so disturbing since I wouldn’t be paying as much attention to it as I would if I watched it otherwise.

I was in luck. I found it on Netflix and began watching it. It didn’t take me too long to realize that what I was seeing was not what I’d seen in HBO. This was the original Grey Gardens. The HBO version was a remake and Grey Gardens was a documentary.  It was fascinating. The real people looked exactly like the HBO version. I watched it and was really moved by the story about the dysfunctional bonds between a mother and daughter.

This morning I saw that the HBO version was back on HBO On Demand and watched it. Now I understood why it won the awards it did. If you’ve not seen Grey Gardens, I suggest you do it in this order: Watch the original version. Then watch the HBO version. Then watch the original again.

It was a good time for me to see Grey Gardens and to see what can happen when a mother is so needy that she prevents her daughter from experiencing life. I certainly don’t want to end up living in a house overrun with cats and raccoons, even if my daughter were to stay by my side.

Go, Clare, go, for both our sakes.

Becoming Dona

When I was in the 6th grade I had a friend (fittingly named Eugenia) who introduced me to romance (mostly gothic) novels. I began with Phyllis A. Whitney who, I just discovered, passed away earlier this year. I then moved on to Victoria Holt and all of her pseudonyms. Eventually I read some of the Brontës’ work. I never read Jane Austen.

One trait most of the women in these novels possesses is a sharp tongue and the habit of provoking bantering conversation with all men, but mostly the men they were interested in romantically. Being relatively sheltered and shy, I didn’t have much opportunity to converse with males other than my relatives, so I didn’t really know how to talk to them, especially guys I was interested in. So I took a cue from the romance novels I read and, in my imaginary conversations with guys, carried on sharp-witted banter with them in my head. Oh, I was witty. My fictitious retorts to imagined flirtations were brilliant.

My real conversations with guys wasn’t so successful. Either I’d blush and look down and stammer something unintelligible until they walked away, laughing; or I tried to be witty and the guys would look at me like I was insane. They never bantered back.

I didn’t realize that “normal” people didn’t talk like that. That it was just fiction. In fact, it wasn’t until the past ten years or so that I finally really understood that I was not going to find my perfect verbal sparring partner and that the banter I’d expected to experience just wasn’t going to be a reality in my life and, in fact, was a pretty annoying thing to listen to.

Clare and I started watching Becoming Jane last week. We got about a quarter of the way through it and couldn’t’ deal with the banter. Perhaps Jane Austen did talk like that. Perhaps men and women of the late 1700’s and early 1800’s bantered. Perhaps to be the ones bantering was exhilarating. But to listen to consistent banter? It’s downright irritating.