Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 Items or Less

I love Brad Silberling. He wrote and directed Moonlight Mile and 10 Items or Less. Moonlight Mile wrecks me. Using a similarly senseless and sudden loss in his own life as his inspiration, Siberling weaves this tapestry of grief and the human condition. His characters are all experiencing and expressing and coping with grief in ways that are almost difficult to watch because it is all so real. The illogical things you do. The way you get lost and don't remember why you walked into that room. The strangeness you feel when you learn you can still laugh or when you laugh at all the wrong times. The anger, the absurdity, the oddity of acknowledging the horrific thing that has happened right there in the midst of your world. And most shattering of all, the way life keeps moving on and stores keep opening and the mail gets delivered and new people come into your life and this horrible thing happened... yet nothing stops. And somehow in the midst of all of this - the film is hopeful.

It's clever, warm and strikingly spot on.

It's not at all what I wanted to write about tonight.

10 Items or Less I saw more recently. Morgan Freeman plays a sucessful older actor who hasn't worked in a few years. He's considering a role in a small independent film as the manager of a grocery store - so he gets dropped off at an out of the way supermarket to do research. Watch the locals. Get into the mindset of the store manager (this leads to a brilliant scene in which Morgan Freeman follows the diminutive, older Indian character actor Kumar Pallana around the store, mimicking his every move - HILARIOUS AND AWESOME). At the register Freeman (listed in the film's credits only as "Him") meets Paz Vega's character, Scarlett. She runs the ten items or less line. A frustrating, thankless job. She's too smart to be stuck doing this work but is struggling to find the self-confidence to get out.

Basically, they both have problems. Like we all do. And some of those problems are the ones it's just hard to see clearly on your own. So when they get stuck spending the day together (Freeman gets stranded at the shop and Vega begrudgingly offers him a ride) they both need some outside perspective. They spend one day together. Doing the most mundane things you can think of. The set up is so gloriously ordinary. The veteran actor raving about how amazing Target is. Gorgeous Paz Vega pulling a sandwich from a rumpled paper Arby's bag. And it's wonderful and strange. In the midst of it they are talking and learning about each other and helping each other do things. And eventually you are left feeling that just MAYBE they have changed each others lives.

In the midst of their day running around fixing problems and talking about everything, there is this one conversation in particular that they have that I just loved. Vega says that everyone wants more than ten items. No one is happy with ten. No one wants to give anything up. They talk about what they would get rid of if they could remove ten things from their lives. Then, more telling, they talk about the ten best things in their lives. What they would keep if they could only keep ten things. It's a wonderful scene. The "things" aren't just things. They are parts of life, moments, things you do, parts of their worlds. The ten best things. The things that, if everything else was gone, would be enough.

I loved that.

Ten things to rid yourself of is easy. But only keeping ten. Ten things. A simple life made up of it's ten best parts. What would you choose? What would that life be?

It's an intimate list and it's difficult to be honest and I think it's probably one of those conversations it would be easier to have with a stranger. Someone not invested in your world. Someone you could just TELL - give that truth to and then walk away and not have to admit to the rest of the world what really matters to you. Deep down. When it comes right down to it.

I have been working on my list in my head. Things. Places. The way certain things feel. People I couldn't live without. Ten items. Or less.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good one, Marisa. I rented "Bella" based on your recommendation and I LOVED it! I so agree with you. I want to have that movie on the wall -- like art. Or live in that family. The love and grace there. Beautiful.