Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Home of the Brave and Sunshine Cleaners

I bring to an the first of my Wall to Wall film, although until I have caught up with present schedule of available films I will probably watch one to three films day, some only parts because the I did not wish to complete the experience with other catching some with the intention of watching all at a later date if a showing becomes available. This applies to the latest Bond film, the Quantum of Solace where I missed the start and went to sleep for a time towards its end and never really understood or cared much about the action. I will watch all the way through when the opportunity next arises, having seen all the Bond films. I did see Harry Potter and the half blood prince in the cinema about two years ago, but this time missed the start and the end because of something else I wanted to do. It will be good to have the instant record box when the HD is set up early next week.

It was very different this morning when I missed the start of Home of the Brave 2006 and was immediately engaged because I connected with the process the four principal characters experience on their return home from their National Guard tour of duty in Iraq. The film was rushed out in time for Oscar consideration but failed miserably with the critics and at the box office. It only opened in three theatres and the following year in another 44. Why it was not liked tells us a great deal about contemporary USA. It is not an anti war film, or anti the USA continuing operations in Iraq. Perhaps this is one explanation for its lack of success. It is too realistic about the necessity for military intervention on behalf of others and the reality of that intervention.

The film begins in Iraq just before the end of the tour of duty when a small convoy is taking medical supplies to a remote community. The convoy includes a doctor surgeon who has become overwhelmed by the deaths of so many young boys, barely older than his son, by the inability to save limbs or prevent the mental and emotional scarring which will affect the rest of their lives. His part is played my Samuel Jackson who on return home fails to adjust, does not sleep, begins to drink heavily, and reacts disproportionately to the behaviour of the rest of his family especially his son who admits that he is against the war and against his father having been in the war. His wife feels shut out having carried the burden and responsibility of caring for the family when he was away and the marriage approaches breaking point. Dr Will Marsh had the problem which all those who are in senior positions in the broad church of caring professions face, accepting and getting the right help when it is needed. However while it might appear more difficult the more senior position held, it is always difficult, something which I thought the film brings out exceptionally well.

Divorcee National Guard Sgt Vanessa Price left her son in the care of her mother and a loving and caring boyfriend to serve as a driver in Iraq and as with the others is on her final mission when the vehicle is blown up and her passenger killed. She loses an arm and on returns finds she had nothing any more in common with her family, lover and friends. She return to her teaching job alienated from the students she is employed to help. She finds salvation through a fellow teacher who appears ready and able to accept all that she has become and has been.

Someone who calls himself 50 cents, a rapper who mother was shot dead when he was 8 after his father had left them, plays a very angry, I need practical not psychological help, returnee. He has killed a civilian woman in mistake for a bomber and ends up being killed by the police as he takes hostages in theory to get the help her wants quicker unable to understand and therefore accept that the main problem is his emotional and mental state.

Brian Presley is a Home Guard Infantryman who witnesses his best friend from home being killed and is unable to stop grieving and get on with the rest of his life with a career in the police force awaiting him. His blue collar red neck role of a father appears not to understand the way his son is reacting or does but cannot cope and at the end of the film Tommy played by Brian Presley enlist to return knowing he has unfinished business for himself, his friend and his country before he can continue with his life, if he survives. While the film is about four individuals who come together during one warfare incident they do meet up with when Vanessa takes her son with a friend to the pictures and finds Tommy working as a box office assistant. They briefly chat yet find they have more in common with each other than their family and friends. Vanessa seeks out the Doctor (Walt) who cared for her immediately following the explosion. She hopes he will help her not realising he is in more need of help than she. She watches the game at the school where she works and sees the doctor again when he attends with his wife and daughter to support his playing son. Tommy meets up with 50 Cent Jamal Aitken at counselling sessions and then is called by the police to try and help Jamal when he takes the hostages. He also meets up with Samuel Jackson when he leaves a session with Samuel pretending he is calling for someone else, still unable to accept that he is in need of professional help. I believe the film deserved better attention at the time, and hopefully will do so now.

Having spent the past five months in a confidential adventure the change to my former pattern of daily experience has been swift. It is not true to say former pattern precisely because I continue the early morning swimming averaging five visits a week in what is presently week 18 and having raised the daily average to 735 and 49 lengths. Today Wednesday, the first day of Winter, dark, cold with sleet and more horrid weather forecast. Writing now there are brief patches of blue. It does not last long.
There was a minor achievement earlier in the week when reaching over 17 million points for the first time on Luxor Mahjong. Since learning to play I have successfully pushed the total from just over 16 million to regularly over 16 ½ and then over recent plays to just under 17. This progress has been made by playing in sessions lasting no more than half and hour. So my life has come down to this?

After the excitement of Sunderland thrashing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge a week ago I anticipated Monday night’s home game against Everton, again televised on Sky, would be an anti climax. In the event it was a good game which either side could have won in the final seconds. Everton scored early on to a stunned Stadium of Light but Welbeck who scored his first goal for Sunderland against Chelsea levelled the match before half time and then brought the home crowd to frenzy with his second. In fairness Everton had given the better overall performance and Sunderland only showed flashes of their performance last weekend. I suspect they wanted to impress the home crowd too much, individually and collectively after all the praise that continued to be heaped on them during the week and before the game commenced. There was also the problem of the return of top scorer, Golden boot winner, Marcus Bent, who missed the triumphs of the past two weeks. On Saturday they play at Wolves and this will be a greater test.

I had no knowledge of a third Indie film Sunshine Cleaning which is a good film but unlikely to live on in the memory other than for the unusual occupation, small business set up by the main character Rose Lorkowski and her sister, recommended by her married policeman lover, to clean up the mess of in the homes of suicides and murders. That there is demand for such a business provides another insight into contemporary society in the USA. She works as a maid and has her own home using relatives and friends to help care for son while she is at work.

I am not sure about some aspects of the story but gained the impression that she the lover had been her high school boyfriend but they had parted, he had married another but they had established the relationship later, although my impression is that he is not the father of the boy. He sister has less social skills than her and lives with their father who brought both girls up after their mother had committed suicide. The sister loses her job as a waitress and things start to overwhelm Rose and her family when the son is expelled from state school because of behaviour which suggests Attention Deficit Disorder (something which I experienced undiagnosed), because I was not engaged by the content and presentation of the lessons, or understood and was too shy and afraid to seek help.

The business nearly fails because they have not addressed the basic health and safety requirements or possess the right equipment. When this is remedied and the business begins to take off, the sense of achievement and satisfaction is such, especially when she find she has rapport with the partners or relatives of the deceased, she cannot resist attending a baby shower event so she can boast of having become a success at something Unfortunately the event coincides with a sudden job assignment so she sends her sister alone and the sister accidentally burns down the house thus destroying the business and creating a substantial debt.

The film ends on a positive note when her father who has tried one unsuccessful business venture after another, sells his house in order to clear the debts and restart the business with his daughter. During the film Rose admits she has had a series of love affairs with unsuitable men but has been befriended by a local store keeper to whom she turns when needing someone to care for her son who is waiting for a place at a private school which she is yet to afford. She invites the man to the son’s birthday party with the prospect of her commencing are relationship with someone dependable and caring. The boy also commences at a private school which appears to immediately meet his needs. The film has charm and is well written and acted.

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