Sunday, May 27, 2012

Darling Companion & The Avengers

For whatever reason, one which I cannot remember, I stopped going to the movies many years ago.  There was a time when my friends and I would go nearly every weekend.  There’s been a long dry spell that I’ve recently broken.  The reason?  My two favorite screenwriters/directors both had new films out.
I adore Lawrence Kasdan.  I first discovered him with The Big Chill.  What an amazing movie, with a fantastic cast and wonderful music.  The story was great as well.  Then came Silverado, which IMHO is the best western ever.  I also love witty, funny dialog, and Kasdan does it brilliantly.  Being a wise-cracking, smarta$$ myself, I truly enjoy when I hear witty dialog coming from the mouths of marvelous actors.  It didn’t hurt that Kevin Kline and Kevin Costner (whose scenes were cut from The Big Chill – he was the dead friend) were in both.  Oh, and Jeff Goldblum was in both as well.  Kasdan also did The Accidental Tourist, a film I think everyone should see.  This film, in my estimation, portrays grief more honestly than anything I have ever seen.  I only recently discovered that Kasdan also wrote Continental Divide, a film I really liked and the only thing other than Saturday Night Live in which I enjoyed John Belushi.  I didn’t see Kasdan’s last two films, which both critics and audiences didn’t like.   

 A few weeks ago Lawrence and Meg Kasdan were interviewed on NPR about their new film, Darling Companion.  It is a small budget, independent film distributed by Sony.  It is only in limited release.  Nearly across the board, critics hated this film.  This movie was right up my alley, however, so I knew that I had to see it.  I am so glad that I did because I loved it.  The film stars Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest and Richard Jenkins.  It is up my alley because of the ensemble cast of wonderful actors, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan and it is about a dog rescued on the side of a freeway by Diane Keaton and then lost by Kevin Kline in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  The story is about the search for Freeway (the dog) and how family and friends come together during the search.  Anyone who has saved the life of an animal will understand and enjoy this movie.  I don’t like to give away endings, but knowing how rescue folks think and feel, I must disclose that there is a happy ending and you will certainly cry tears of joy when Diane’s character and Freeway are reunited.  

While I adore Lawrence Kasdan’s work, I worship the work of Joss Whedon.  The adjectives that come to mind when describing Joss include but are not limited to:  genius, brilliant, amazing, wonderful, delightful, funny, articulate, daring and legendary.  I am not alone in feeling this way.  Those of us who are fan-atics are said to reside in the Whedonverse.  Don’t believe me?  Visit the weblog dedicated to all things Joss & Joss related at   

I have seen everything that Joss has done, with one exception.  That’s his film Cabin in the Woods.  I don’t do horror, bloody, gory horror.  His works include the best TV show in.the.history.of.television – BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.   

Nuff said?  No?  There was the spinoff Angel, followed by Firefly, then the unprecedented and truly original internet video Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long-Blog, starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.  Joss’ first film was Serenity, the final ending to the prematurely cancelled Firefly TV series.  His next venture into television was another ground-breaking series Dollhouse.  

Joss has a number of actors he works with frequently, including Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Alexis Denisoff, Amy Acker, Felicia Day, Fran Kranz and Eliza Dushku.  Several of them will be in his upcoming movie, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which was filmed in 12 days at his California home.  He and his actors are like family and if you read interviews with any of them, they all say if Joss calls they say yes to any project he proposes.  Joss’ work is also filled with wisecracking characters and is peopled with ensemble casts.  He has the ability to take you to the depths of sadness one minute and have you laughing the next.  With Buffy in particular he was able to show the transformation of his characters to an amazing degree.  And, his work holds up even years later.  People are still talking and writing about Buffy, which ended its run in 2003.  There are college courses on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  

So now I come to The Avengers, which is well on its way to becoming the all time biggest grossing film in history.  I was an avid comic book reader as a child, but my childhood was the DC/Dell comic book era of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, et al and The Justice League of America.  By the time Marvel Comics hit the stands, I had outgrown comic books.  I was not an Avengers fan and have not seen the previous Avenger films like Iron Man, Thor or Captain America.  I knew, however, that since Joss co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film that I MUST SEE IT.  And that’s what I did this morning.  I had spoken to two of my co-workers (one whom I had already converted to the religion of Joss) who had already seen the film.  Both positively adored the movie, along with the rest of American moviegoers.  OMG, OMG, OMG!  


What a fantastic film.  The two and one half hour film was over before I knew it.  The dialog was trademark Joss and superbly funny and brilliant.  Not only the heroes, but the villain Loki – were sheer perfection.  I am not a special effects junkie.  In fact I generally avoid movies that include more special effects than dialog and/or character development.  I want a movie with character interaction and connection.  I want well written dialog.  This movie has all that plus the special effects.  And, besides all that the superheroes and superheroine are believable.  I was laughing, gasping and worried – again experiencing so many different emotions (ah, Joss you gotta love him) that it was a helluva rollercoaster ride.  I don’t ride rollercoasters, but I knew that I was safe in Joss’ hands.  When the movie was over, I was jazzed.  I seriously felt better than I had in years and actually felt 10 years younger.  What an experience.   I cannot wait to see it again, and maybe even again.  Now, one can only hope that Disney isn’t as unbelievably stupid as I think they are and they have already contracted Joss to pen and direct Avengers 2 and every other Avengers movie to come until the world ends.  As always, Joss has left me wanting more, and that’s a very good thing.  He is the one addiction that I hope never to overcome.