Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 May 2008

Auto Insurance Drama, Spiderwick & George Washington

So I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to figure out some auto insurance. Turns out, if you let your auto insurance lapse, you have to pay a penalty (what they mendaciously call a surcharge) even if you go with a new company. That is dumb. Anyway, I changed auto insurance providers yesterday. I was with GEICO, but I am going to save $115 every six months with AAA, so I am changing. It's the exact same coverage for so much cheaper! I am all about it. I am having the laziest week! When the most exhausting thing you do all day is change auto insurance providers, you are definitely living the high life in Talla-classy. Today I am going to Costco. That might be the most exciting thing I do all day.

Two movies:
I finally saw David Gordon Green's 2000 feature George Washington and it is flat-out brilliant. I completely, totally loved it. If you haven't seen it, it's a poetic meditation on a small, impoverished town in the South, following five kids as they poke around during a summer. The film also features Paul Schneider (who I loved so much in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Lars and the Real Girl). The film has one real gasp-worthy moment that works brilliantly, but mostly its just a slow, poetic piece of cinema that I was completely in love with after the first ten minutes. Not to be missed, if you haven't seen it. Green's next feature, All the Real Girls is on its way to me right now, so I will review that one soon.

I was cool with The Spiderwick Chronicles for most of its length. It's an unpresuming kid's film intended to scare and be sweet, starring Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger and Mary-Louise Parker, with Nick Nolte, Seth Rogan, David Strathairn, Joan Plowright (!), and Martin Short. It's a cute story about goblins and fairies and a magic book and all of this business that we are all very used to. The trouble with Spiderwick is that it does not play by its own rules. This didn't bug me at all until the film's last three minutes, when Joan Plowright turns into a little girl and walks off with her dad to fairyland. It was a sweet moment, but completely impossible in the world of the film. One of my companions said "But it's a Nickolodeon movie! There are fairies and goblins. And you won't accept that she turns into a little kid?" My answer to that was that I will accept a film on its own terms. In the world of Spiderwick there are fairies and pig-demons that eat birds and griffins and salt has magic powers and all that. I buy into all of that, but when a film tells me that there is no time travel and that certain things cannot happen because there is no time travel and then someone goes back in time without explanation, I cry foul. The trouble is that once I start thinking about something that makes no sense in a movie, I start thinking about other things that make no sense in the movie. And then I start to get bugged by the movie's shoddy storytelling. All this to say that Spiderwick is not that great, really.

P.S. I still like Freddie Highmore a lot. I haven't really liked many of his movies, but I still like him.