My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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twenty ten

Awoke this morning to fat snowflakes spiralling past the window, sparrows squawking in the ivy – January 1, 2010. Twenty ten – easier to say than the OO years.

Louise, my hostess last night, was diagnosed as HIV positive more than 15 years ago. “I didn’t expect to see the millenium,” she said, “let alone still be here a decade later.” Not just “here” but thriving and impossibly energetic, she zooms around the world as an AIDS activist, has a cheery Xmas card from the Princess of Norway (also an AIDS activist) on her mantelpiece, speaks of her recent travels to Rwanda and Rio and her upcoming trip, not for work but for pleasure, to Mongolia – and cooks a mean lobster. In her spare time, she is writing her memoirs with me as editor and coach. We and another friend sat by the fireside drinking wine, dined on lobster, asparagus and champagne, and were watching Away we go, the new film by the admirable Sam Mendes, when midnight struck. A great way to see in the new decade.
The film has inspired such mixed reviews, some hating it and others admiring it greatly, I was curious to see where I’d fit on the spectrum. I liked it very much – a warm, humourous story of two decent and rather lost human beings who love each other and want to make a good landing for their unborn child. Because most of the characters they visit on their journey are hilariously dysfunctional, critics feel that the writers are setting themselves up as judges of others and morally superior themselves – there’s “a malodorous whiff of self-satisfaction,” one wrote. I don’t agree. They’re enjoying the spectacle of human selfishness and stupidity, yes, but more importantly, giving actors like Allison Janney, Catherine O’Hara and Maggie Gyllenhaal delicious parts to dive into and nail. The work of all the actors is superb; it’s clear how much they trust the director. It’s an honest, moving and wise film. Isn’t that enough?
Reading the “Tomatoes” reviews on-line led me to other sites listing the top ten films of the year and of the decade. With my sieve-like memory, I can’t remember all the movies I enjoyed this decade. But for what it’s worth, here’s a list of some of my favourites. This doesn’t include documentaries, which I adore.
The Lives of Others – perhaps my most favourite, except for #2 –
Up
and also loved In America
Ratatouille
The Barbarian Invasions
Wall.E
Juno
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire
The Last King of Scotland (though I couldn’t watch a lot of it)
Departures
The Band’s Visit
Caché (though I didn’t understand some of it)
Amelie
Etre et avoir
Entre les murs – The Class
Spirited Away
The Son’s Room
Happy-go-lucky
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Bright Star
Do any of you agree or disagree with one or more of these choices? Let’s argue.
I took a weekend-long screenwriting course once, where the teacher spoke with respect of hard plots and with scorn of soft plots. Hard plots can be described in a few words, he said; producers like that. Soft plots cannot. As in: Aliens attack the earth and are defeated. As opposed to: a Palestinian brass band visits Israel and gets lost, and all involved, especially the band leader and the Israeli woman he meets, learn a great deal about humanity and grow into bigger human beings.
Waaaay too soft.
There are more great 2000-2009 films buried in my memory bank. But this has taken much more than an hour and two cups of coffee. It’s still snowing. Time to go for a walk, blow the cobwebs from my misty brain, and jump into the new year.
P.S. Films I’ve heard a great deal about, which might be added when I’ve had a chance to see them: An Education, White Ribbon, Summer Hours, Gomorra, Anvil, Last Station, Invictus. What fun!
The New Yorker, in its list of the ten best artistic events of 2009, put as #1 Alice Munro’s new book of stories, Too Much Happiness. Way to go, girl.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

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Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

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