Sunday, June 25, 2006

Minnesota is Where Buddha Lives

I saw A Prairie Home Companion tonight by myself. I wouldn't have minded seeing it with someone, but I'm glad I saw it alone. This way I could gush unabashedly.

One can't explain what the movie is about; there is no real plot
. It just details the last taping of a radio show and the characters who make it special. Nevertheless, it is still about so much. Death, the power of art, family, the way of life that is uniquely Minnesota's. Garrison Keillor, playing "GK," has a very zen attitude toward everything. I think he's meant to embody the essence of Minnesotans. When a character dies and he refuses to acknowledge it during the broadcast, a character screams at him, "What if it were you? Wouldn't you want to be remembered?" He calmly responds, "Yes. But I don't want people to be told to remember." Maybe it's just me, but that line hit me right to the core.

Another thing about this movie is that you get to see great actors at work. Any actor in a Robert Altman film better have his/her shit together...that is doubly true for this film. Altman's style relies heavily on improvisation. Combine that with the subject matter - a radio show that relies heavily on improvisation - and you better be a pro. My favorite times during the film were watching two dynamic actors just being their characters with each other. Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep were amazing together! It was part of Lindsay Lohan's character to absorb all that was happening between those two, however you could see Lindsay the actor paying attention as much as her character was. Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly were having so much FUN was joy to watch!

It is quite an existential movie...Virginia Madsen plays an angel of death...but it was also very funny. The funniest moments were when the movie was celebrating and poking fun at Minnesotans. The way its people skirt right over uncomfortable or painful topics, the way everything can be solved with some sort of food, the VERY dry sense of humor.
Rhonda, after listening to her niece read a poem about suicide by sticking a hose in the tailpipe of a car: I'm not letting you borrow my car anymore!
Watching this movie felt like the radio show was giving me a big hug.

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