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Aftersun, and The Master Plan: the joy of art

It’s gloomy and chilly and the world is in terrible shape. Horrifying terrifying monstrous. From my perch in southern Ontario, I need to shut it all out on this silent Sunday and celebrate what there is to celebrate. Because otherwise the heart will shrivel.

First, as always, thank heavens for art and artists. Saw a good film on Friday and a fabulous play yesterday. Aftersun, a British single father and his 11-year-old daughter on vacation in Turkey, is so slow, an impatient viewer like my son, who likes action, might abandon after a few minutes. But it’s worth sticking with the pace, as the story sinks us deeper into the characters’ lives. We watch the young girl watching as she takes in teenaged sexual antics and her father’s love and flaws. There’s something going on with him that’s not quite right, but what is never made explicit, except that he’s fragile, even at risk, and she knows it. The film is intercut with jarring snippets of the adult daughter trying to make sense of the memory of their vacation, even as the viewers do too.

It’s powerfully written and shot by Charlotte Wells, but mostly carried by two superb actors, the incredible Paul Mescal, who has more depth in his little finger than many actors in their entire bodies, and the very young Frankie Corio, making her spectacular film debut. I know I use the word ‘haunting’ too often, but this film truly is.

And then, a matinée yesterday of The Master Plan at Crow’s Theatre, which has two huge hits simultaneously; I’m going to see the other in a few weeks. How to take a nonfiction exposé of a municipal debacle and turn it into an extremely entertaining yet informative piece of theatre? They do. It’s about the small parcel of land owned by Waterfront Toronto, that handed the development opportunity to a Google affiliate called Sidewalk Labs, and how the city reacted to a giant U.S. conglomerate that demanded more land and would use a scary amount of possibly invasive digital technology. We meet and get to know all the characters, including a tree – you hadda be there for that one. There were lots of Toronto jokes about the inefficiency of our bureaucracy, our boring NIMBYism – “People in Toronto love NIMBYism more than hockey,” says one frustrated developer – and the idealism of the people at Waterfront and a young city planner from Sidewalk, who had hopes for the project that included affordable housing and sustainable design, now scuttled. There was brilliant use of video and avatars and comedy and Jane Jacobs quotes. One of the best things I’ve seen in ages.

I chatted at intermission with a group of bright young city planners. Could not be a better show for them to see. All Toronto should have seen it. Hope it’s picked up and runs somewhere else. David Mirvish, are you listening?

And now a quiet Sunday. I’ve been finishing last Sunday’s Thanksgiving dinner all week, but after eating it again yesterday, my stomach complained bitterly. Anna yelled at me, Mum, they say poultry should be thrown out after THREE DAYS! Even my stomach of iron rebelled.

I also want to celebrate family today. Anna, in her work with Indigenous elders, fell in love recently – with a screech owl. And then she took her older son to a local hockey game.

And is there anything more relaxing to look at than a sleeping cat? Who’s on my lap right now. So much to do, so much work – book launch prep, marketing, the So True reading event next Saturday, U of T term beginning Tuesday, two home classes next week too, and more. But for now, just me and my cat looking at the garden, still green under a grey sky. I am in pain for the world and beyond grateful for peace, such welcome peace, for now, at home.



4 Responses to “Aftersun, and The Master Plan: the joy of art”

  1. Christopher Loranger says:

    I loved that movie and Paul Mescal. One scene will stick with me forever as perfect filmmaking. The director of that film is a genius. What happiness a great film brings!! Cheers, Beth!

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    What scene was perfect, CLo?

  3. Chris Loranger says:

    He and his daughter are eating in the restaurant and a man comes by selling photographs he takes of people to his subjects. The camera zeros in on the photograph as it develops and as we hear the conversation of the two people in the photograph. As their conversation makes their souls clearer to each other, we see the photograph become an image of them. Stunning direction, in my opinion.

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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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