“Away From Her”
Based on the great short story “The Bear Came Over The Mountain” by the ever-amazing Alice Munro, “Away From Her,” adapted for the screen and directed by 28-year-old Sarah Polley, chronicles the devastation of Alzheimer’s without flinching or resorting to TV Movie Of The Week melodrama. Julie Christie is almost a cinch for an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of the protagonist, Fiona Anderson, a brilliant, complicated woman who, when the movie begins, still has it together more or less, but has also reached a point where she must label which drawers contain which kitchen utensils. We stand with her husband there in that kitchen, helplessly watching her put a frying pan in the freezer. Of course, it gets worse from there, much worse, but the movie is never for a moment sentimental and does not gloss over the weaknesses of its characters or the fissures in the marriage between Fiona and Grant, played with startling subtlety and restraint by Gordon Pinsent, an actor with whom I was not previously familiar. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, the movie is going to ring dead true. There are few experiences I can imagine quite so frustrating and painful as watching someone you know so well and love so much crumble inside themselves, falling away from you even as their bodies remain, hollowed out, frightened, uncomprehending. “Away From Her” gets all of this exactly right. Polley is a young writer and director to watch for, and “Away From Her” is one of the year’s best movies.
Magic, Bruce Springsteen
Although I do not consider myself one of the Springsteen faithful, I do like him and consider Born In the USA and Nebraska great albums. When I read rumblings that his latest was another great album, I had to hear it for myself, and while at first I was put off a little by the very grungy mix, after one or two days of constant play as I made my commute to work, the songs really began to sink in. Now, I can hardly wait to get back in the car and drive somewhere just to here it again. Can’t say yet whether it will measure up to his best albums, but I can certainly recommend it as more than a diversion.
As if we need reasons to spend MORE time on the computer, here is online Scrabble waiting for us, with literally thousands of players from around the world waiting in one of the enchantingly named virtual rooms, places called “Cloud Nine” or “The Oasis” or “Auntie’s Corner.” Brew up a pot of tea, log in, and match wits with a nice elderly lady from South Africa or a college kid from London. But be fairly warned before you venture in: After a couple of hours, this will cease to be a diversion and will begin to resemble an obsession, as you rack your brain for words that contain a “Q” but no “U.” Have fun, but do be careful, or we may wind up meeting each other at 4:30 a.m. in the “Addicts’ Attic” room.
— By Chris Cox