TRANSCRIPT of March 2 chat, with lots of good ideas, but it shouldn't be read except by people who've seen the movie.
SandraDodd: I guess chats with homework aren't going to draw crowds. LOL!
Zamozo: I did my homework
reneecabatic: hey -I watched it last night-first time
JillP: I loved the homework!
Zamozo: I watched it once a long time ago then twice over the weekend
SandraDodd: Hugh Grant homework is fairly pain-free
reneecabatic: yuck--hugh is not cute to me!
So was it hard to watch it? Sorry.
If someone wanted me to watch a Kevin Costner movie, I would just have to decline politely
Zamozo: Peter Hedges -- one of the screenplay writers, went to my high school and so I try to catch movies that he's
reneecabatic: I know I am in the minority, about Hugh
JillP: Sandra, were you going to start with a comment or question about the movie?
reneecabatic: (me too about Kevin!)---I really liked About a Boy---it was sad and hard to watch in the beginning...but got
JillP: I wrote down two heavy quotes.
reneecabatic: let's hear the quotes..
SandraDodd: Yes. What are your quotes. I don't have an outline. We can meander and hop around in it.
1. What is the point of your life?
2. Once you open the door to one person anyone can come in.
SandraDodd: That second one is in my notes, too.
My five sticky-notes worth of notes.
JillP: The movie was more meaningful to me this time around. because of this chat. and because I like being a hermit, so
I could relate to Will
SandraDodd: My favorite line in the whole movie is not profound (or maybe it is)
Zamozo: Yes, me too Jill!
SandraDodd: "you daft, fucking hippie," which he says to Fiona in the restaurant when she comes to confront him.
JillP: I loved that! how he would just say it out...whatever he wanted.
what about "you granola lunatic"
reneecabatic: I was ROTFL when he said that
SandraDodd: I wrote that one down too: "I do not want to spend Christmas with Miss Granola Suicide and her spawn."
Zamozo: I liked when Marcus was thinking.. during the restaurant scene, and he said something like how it was odd but
that Will had it right and his mom had it wrong -- about how she's set him up to be picked on at school
reneecabatic: I liked what the boy said about how he had a crush on the girl at school---he wanted to be with her anyway
she wanted to be with him
SandraDodd: It does kind of go against the "you know your child better than anyone" theme of some of the "support" of
mothers for each other.
JillP: oh my, it sure does.
reneecabatic: yes--and i liked that the Ma admitted to that truth
JillP: I like the way she didn't get offended by the comments,
SandraDodd: I do actually have an outline of sorts, in my head, or rather a set of things I wanted us to comb through for.
Music, morals, conformity, truth
SandraDodd: Even when he said "You're not a bad mother, you're just a barking lunatic," she wasn't offended.
JillP: good, start off. otherwise I'm all a swirl without a rudder.
SandraDodd: I thought the acting was really great. I've seen it a dozen times or more and I still notice things.
Zamozo: When Zach was in Jr. High band as a homeschooler, he didn't care about what clothes he wore but I paid close
attention to what the other kids wore and made sure his wardrobe was adequate
I figured he was oddball enough as it was, being a homeschooler and that I could help him fit in a little better by paying
attention to his clothes
SandraDodd: I think it's that same restaurant scene when he's with his friend with the new baby (who wanted him to be
the godfather ) and the waitress asks "Do you know what you want?"
JillP: about the acting I liked the facial expressions that said so much.
SandraDodd: And there's a flash of his eyes, and a thought. He heard the question as literal, and about life, first, and then
realized it was about food.
JillP: ah i missed that,
reneecabatic: yes-- I saw that too
Zamozo: I watched the bonus features and they talked about how Hugh Grant is very much like his character, Will.
Awkward around kids -- doesn't really care to hang around them all that much.
SandraDodd: The kids in the audience at the school assembly are acting the heck out of their thoughts, too
Zamozo: Wasn't that his sister? I always thought it was his sister.
SandraDodd: Oh! Maybe so. I missed that then. I need to watch it another dozen times.
Her accent is nothing like his, though, so I think they're just friends.
SandraDodd: And I think he was an only child.
and so isn't sharing the royalties from Santa's Super Sleigh with anyone else.
reneecabatic: i was like that around kids until I had my own
SandraDodd: The author of the book is big on music. All his stuff is music-based.
Zamozo: right, and I just looked at IMDB and it sounds like they're his friends, not relatives too
SandraDodd: And so I was especially interested in Fiona (Marcus' mom) being a music therapist.
reneecabatic: the song in the movie soundtrack with the lyrics: "about a boy" was the only music I noticed
Zamozo: they didn't really go into her job much though
reneecabatic: has anyone read the book?
SandraDodd: That means she should know WAY more than her character displays about child psychology, the realities
of school, and the effect of music!
Yet she has a very depressing favorite song.
And it sets the tone for her relationship with her son.
SandraDodd: "Killing Me Softly.
Zamozo: and she can't sing
SandraDodd: I've read the book, but I don't want to discuss that here.
reneecabatic: it was the song that allowed her to communicate her depression
Zamozo: neither can I but... you'd think a music therapist might
SandraDodd: She should know that music can make or break a moment, and yet she isn't using music in her own life to
create a more positive atmosphere.
Music therapy doesn't require singing.
Zamozo: no, but it could help
JillP: Maybe she was so sunk in herself that she didn't see around her.
reneecabatic: her depression is oppressive and horrible--they never say she is getting help--other than SPAT
SandraDodd: The way they played her ex-husband was fun.
JillP: and got stuck in her kid helping her and not the other way around
SandraDodd: It kept you from thinking maybe Marcus should be with his father more.
JillP: That was funny/awkward funny
SandraDodd: So the set-up of characters and their relationships was really cool, and easy to see. I loved that.
Zamozo: So, Marcus' realization that it's good to have "back up" was a bit of a wakeup call for me
JillP: I guess the point was Will (the island) helped her to have a slight epiphany
SandraDodd: Marcus was hanging in the air between and among a lot of interesting but not very helpful people, until
Will came along. And he certainly didn't WANT to be helpful!
I think every major character had a major epiphany. I love when that happens.
SandraDodd: The epiphany-free people were Marcus's father and kind-of-mother-in-law.
But they were comic relief, and not "real characters."
JillP: yeah.... sheik yurass
Zamozo: sheik yur mph
JillP: from the MIL misinterpreting everything.
Zamozo: Are we having duck for dinner? Delicious!
Zamozo: When WIll walked on stage I was hoping that he'd break into some rock/rap music to coolify Marcus to the
school -- but I guess the story is better with his just getting into "Killing Me Softly"
reneecabatic: I wondered what was angle they were going to take n that scene---i think they stayed away from the
"hollywood" version---it wasn't really all wrapped up pretty -
JillP: I like the way he allowed himself to be more foolish than Marcus on stage.
and took the heat.
giving Marcus a way to be saved from the humiliation
reneecabatic: that is love and maturity
SandraDodd: Yes, and the womenfolk certainly got that. The dawning realization that Will might be a prick but he really
did care about Marcus showed both the moms' faces.
showed IN both I mean
Kirby called and I just got up and walked around talking to him and forgot all about the chat for a little while. I'm sorry!!
JillP: lol, no worries.
Zamozo: no problem
reneecabatic: i am interested in the question of autonomy (no prob)
Zamozo: me too
SandraDodd: I want to save autonomy a little bit, but I don't want to talk about it.
reneecabatic: waiting for more folks?
SandraDodd: There were some visual things that weren't about the acting that I wanted to bring up, and you might have
some too, yourselves. There's depth in every direction in that movie.
OH YIKES! I meant I don't want to talk about it yet.
Not "I don't want to talk about it. "
reneecabatic: i gotcha
SandraDodd: When Marcus comes back from the picnic he sees his reflection in the doorknob.
That seemed very cool, and not just gratuitous photo-art.
Doorknobs are what keep people out of houses and let them in. Just before he touched the door knob, where his mom's
possible suicide scene was, he saw himself (or at least we saw him) clearly but a little distorted in the doorknob.
JillP: ah, interesting, I can see why 10 times watching the movie is not enough.
SandraDodd: And it was brass. That might or might not be meaningful. And it had to have been freshly polished to get
that shot without fingerprints
I'm still thinking about that.
reneecabatic: yes, and he spoke of how he would have felt if he knew what he was walking in on--and the scenes from the
birdseye view of the schoolyard were interesting to me
what meaning does brass have?
SandraDodd: But then when he's home waiting for her to come back from the hospital, he's wearing a sweater with a
rainbow, and there's a rainbow sticker or something on the front window of their flat. And they have a shot of him
standing kind of posing, so he'll
look casual when she enters.
And they show it from outside the window, with the two rainbows showing together.
But it's NOT a happy rainbowy moment. He's just read the suicide note. And they hardly even show his face, but there
he is, alone, waiting for this mother who's not very nurturing at all, and controlling in her hippie way
Zamozo: I noticed the contrast between Will's gray, dimly lit bachelor pad and Marcus & Fiona's warmly lit, softer, more
natural materials apartment.
SandraDodd: and was willing to leave him TRULY alone (or with the dad, his girlfriend and her clueless mom)
JillP: ((so sorry all, I need to go deliver meals on wheels with Addi now, and next chat I'd like to do in Sandra's living
SandraDodd: Brass is hard and
Zamozo: bye Jill
reneecabatic: bye Jill
SandraDodd: famously "brazen." Brave.
Bye, Jill. You're coming over Wednesday for the food chat? ,g>
reneecabatic: Oh--didn't know that about brass-thanks
SandraDodd: Come on then! You can ride with us to Arizona.
(ah she's gone. )
Chris, say more about the apartments.
The decision of how to decorate them, as contrast?
reneecabatic: will's apartment was all hard angles and things on display for show
SandraDodd: and techno-kitchen.
And yet Will's ended up being the safe and nurturing one.
reneecabatic: that was so interesting because Fiona's apartment was all warm and happy and SHE was NOT, Will's was
hard and cold --i didn't think he was hard and cold at all
SandraDodd: There's a lesson for unschoolers.
socal77 (Guest63): hi everyone, weird I had the chat open in another tab, and I could read,but the text bar was
unresponsive and it would not let me sign in...but over here, here I am
reneecabatic: he was more willing to be changed--"willing"--WILL!
SandraDodd: Sorry socal. Glad you're in, though.
socal77 (Guest63): no worries, sorry I ma late
reneecabatic: hi socal!
socal77 (Guest63): hello
SandraDodd: ! Good one, Renee. And also "will" perhaps like "willing" his life to happen, though he really was entirely
going with the flow.
Zamozo: sorry, got distracted
SandraDodd: I hear water running and need to go check that out.
Zamozo: Will's place was the better place for Marcus to hang but I don't think it was because of how it was decorated but
because Will was there for him -- literally and figuratively.
reneecabatic: yes Zamozo--agreed
SandraDodd: Holly's up and in the shower; that's all.
reneecabatic: Will went with the flow until it meant Marcus would be hurt--he stepped up when it involved Marcus
SandraDodd: But why? He didn't even like kids.
socal77 (Guest63): The actor that played Marcus, Nicholas, was pretty unknown, but he had an amazing sense of emotion
that few actors are in touch with
SandraDodd: Maybe he had memories from his (apparently alcoholic) dad?
Zamozo: He liked Marcus, eventually.
reneecabatic: he enjoyed things even a little bit--like the game show
enjoyment in life was not going to come from Fiona
SandraDodd: On Sunday, though, he could have chocolate cereal.
I don't remember the name of the cereal he wanted and she said "It's not Sunday."
socal77 (Guest63): I caught that, interesting...
Zamozo: But remember, Marcus had an ulterior motive
SandraDodd: Right. He wanted Will to marry his mom so his mom would be happy.
And so Marcus would have backup.
reneecabatic: I used to think less of my husband because he enjoyed things that I thought had no
value---(embarrassing-but I could relate to Fiona that way)
reneecabatic: COCO puffs!!!
SandraDodd: Ah yes. Thanks.
reneecabatic: they were my fave as a kid
SandraDodd: I have a friend from LLL days. Her two oldest are about the ages of Kirby and Marty.
We've known them all that time, close and well.
She attempted suicide Christmas before last and was in a coma and the whole thing, and
a month or two later we were doing her a huge favor (letting some homeless young woman she had taken in stay with us,
because my friend's housemates threw her out for being a troublesome flake)
And IN MY HOUSE, she said "I made [#2 child] drop a class because she was taking too heavy a load at the university
and I think she should enjoy life."
I gave her a very knowing and meaningful look and it wasn't half a second before she backpedalled and said "well I mean
Because I was pretty damned sure that once a mom attempts to check out completely, she loses ALL right to advise her
kids (let alone "make them") on things intended to make them happy.
And in the movie, her recommendation to Marcus that he should join the school show wasn't really about him, it seemed
to me. It was about her.
SHE would feel like a better mom if Marcus had more friends, and it made her feel good when he sang.
reneecabatic: she wanted him to sing to make her happy
Zamozo: Ugh - she kept telling him that it made her happy when he sang -- pressure
socal77 (Guest63): absolutely, even her weird ex bristled at that statement
SandraDodd: Renee, thinking less of people who are happy is that kind of cynicism that drags the family down the hole.
I'm glad my husband thinks it's fun that I'm so easily amused. And he is too. I have a prism on a little solar-operated
turntable in the window,
and he played with repositioning it for a long time yesterday
socal77 (Guest63): Will drilled in the idea that you can only make yourself happy or unhappy
SandraDodd: Someone could have come over and told us that was stupid, but we would have known better.
Zamozo: I grew up in a family like that though -- thinking less of people who are easily entertained. It's hard work to
move away from that kind of thinking.
SandraDodd: There seems to be a fad in the past 15, 20 years, of glorifying cynicism.
I know there have always been negative people and people who thought that criticism was equal to intelligence. It sure
doesn't help unschooling! But now there's a whole sub-culture that lives as darkly and cynically as they possibly can.
Holly works at a skateboard/snowboard shop, and sees more of them than she used to.
One scene on Will's couch involves one of those grabber extension toys, and it's just a throwaway scene, but Will has lots
of toys and gadgets, and Marcus makes them fun and alive.
Zamozo: I think Zach has had a similar experience at the used video game store he works for but then, most of his
co-workers have more difficult lives than he does.
SandraDodd: socal, now I need to watch the movie again to note the ex husband's reaction to the statement about singing.
The tambourine moment...
Zamozo: roll of the eyes I think
SandraDodd: I don't mind watching it again!
socal77 (Guest63): I don't remember exactly, just that they drew the camera towards him
SandraDodd: Will said the words, but he wasn't managing to make himself very happy! Maybe that was part of Will's
I liked, too, that Will's lies were more interesting than his truths.
His money and intelligence weren't really building a life for him.
His island was kinda stagnant.
I have what I think might be a lead-in moment to the idea of autonomy as portrayed in that movie, if no one else has more
about characters or art or music.
socal77 (Guest63): go ahead, Sandra
we can always go back
Zamozo: Unfortunately, I could relate all to well to Will's initial thoughts about autonomy.
SandraDodd: When Fiona walks Marcus to school, she has a little speech/dialog that was presented as though they do it
Who are you?
What are we not?
I might not have it word for word.
reneecabatic: was gone--back now--yes I was one of those cynical=intelligent people--not anymore--learning all the time
SandraDodd: I should have written down EVERYTHING!
Zamozo: What do sheep say? Baaaa
reneecabatic: what do sheep say?
jinks-Zamoso! you owe me a coke!
socal77 (Guest63): ah yes, the sheeple
SandraDodd: And so in his memorized, recitative "autonomy" speech, he recites in unison what sheep don't do.
That's about the sheepiest scene of all!
socal77 (Guest63): very ironic
SandraDodd: That plus "did you always know I was going to be a vegetarian?" or something
reneecabatic: ---he never had a choice and he is figuring that out
SandraDodd: and Will saying "He's not expressing himself, he's expressing you!"
And yet Fiona feels herself to be the most individualistic, independent person in all of her situations, it seems.
And she takes pride in her son having plain old lace-up shoes, and homemade sweaters with rainbows across the back.
When she does the sheep scene, she's wearing a knitted hat with two points on it, like ears or horns, maybe.
reneecabatic: who are the real sheep?
SandraDodd: I would think I was reading too much into it if I hadn't seen the movie enough to think there's not
ANYthing in there they didn't mean to show or say or do.
socal77 (Guest63): the hats were bad...
reneecabatic: what does it mean to be sheep?
SandraDodd: To follow without thinking.
To be indistinguishable from the others who are following without thinking.
reneecabatic: right---so she is asking him to not follow the rest of the students--rather follow her
SandraDodd: I don't think she sees it that way.
socal77 (Guest63): I watched the making of part, and it was interesting that the brothers from American Pie directed it
SandraDodd: I think she believes she's helping him think for himself
reneecabatic: of course not but that is what happened
SandraDodd: So even though she's a trained therapist (for groups of children or special needs; they never specify), she
has very little self awareness and little direct knowledge of her son
But she knows what she thinks is cool.
Music! (albeit suicidally depressing music)
reneecabatic: maybe she did her thinking came to some conclusions , and then quit thinking!
SandraDodd: depression keeps anyone from thinking.
It turns brains to slow-mo sludge.
socal77 (Guest63): many people with issues of there own pursue careers in psychology and therapy
SandraDodd: I think it's a parallel to people thinking criticism is the same as doing better than the artist/writer/musician
If someone can say "This movie is stupid because..." sometimes I think they feel they've just made a better movie or
reneecabatic: or shown their superior knowledge
SandraDodd: So if someone can help a troubled person be less troubled, they can feel they're superior and even LESS
socal77 (Guest63): not to get too off topic; but octo-mom is completing her masters in marriage and family or some such
SandraDodd: Perfect example, socal!
Fiona didn't get much better, either, after she was out of the hospital, and
that's what Marcus was going to Will's about, too. He said at some point (in thoughts) he was afraid to go home
so he'd go to Will's.
socal77 (Guest63): he couldn't get the image out of his head
SandraDodd: I don't think Will ever says anything about his own mom. He sees his dad, in a vision at the grocery store,
kind of like Marcus saw his mom in a vision across the lake.
Zamozo: In the restaurant scene, Fiona tells Will he can't just abandon Marcus -- it hadn't occurred to Will that he
socal77 (Guest63): I didn't notice any reference to his mom
Zamozo: One moment where she has some clarity about the whole thing
reneecabatic: will says she made him sing the santa sleigh song to drunk relatives every Christmas
socal77 (Guest63): oh, right
SandraDodd: OH right.
reneecabatic: ANd I wonder if Will's Dad drank himself to death--the image in the store
Because Marcus' image had to do with death.
socal77 (Guest63): it was rather ominous
reneecabatic: cuz Marcus --yes
SandraDodd: But Will's dad seems to have been dead a while.
reneecabatic: long enough for Will to have been made to sing with him not around
socal77 (Guest63): maybe he was just a boy himself when it happened
SandraDodd: I'm so glad you mentioned the mom thing, Renee! So when Marcus's mom wanted him to sing, that
must've stirred the mom-memory in Will.
Zamozo: how was Marcus' image about death -- his mom standing on the other side of the pond?
reneecabatic: it was when she was killing herself
SandraDodd: At the time she was committing suicide (taking the pills and writing him a note), he saw a vision of her
reneecabatic: the dead duck day
socal77 (Guest63): the dead duck day
socal77 (Guest63): ha, must type faster
Zamozo: okay, I think I'm missing something
SandraDodd: across from the dead duck he had killed with her loaf of bread, that wasn't good; it was healthy.
Zamozo: never mind
SandraDodd: So that's something too. "Healthy" isn't good, many times in that show.
reneecabatic: yes-- and it was so healing when Fiona offered to take Marcus to Mc'D's
SandraDodd: Though they were mother and son living alone together, they didn't pronounce McDonald's the same way.
That bothered me at first, but then I thought maybe it's just because they never SAY it.
socal77 (Guest63): I wasn't sure he trusted the offer
SandraDodd: And she couldn't easily come up with the name of "big mac" when she was saying it.
So she might never have pronounced it ever before!
She might be pronouncing it as a last name in England, rather than the name of a fast-food restaurant from California (or
So in the story, among those characters, was autonomy coming or going?
reneecabatic: she said Marcus couls "Murder a ....Big Mac"---interesting
Zamozo: I'd say going
socal77 (Guest63): yes, going
reneecabatic: autonomy was bad --connection better
socal77 (Guest63): but at the same time, Marcus was exerting his independence
reneecabatic: autonomy from Fiona-aaaah.
SandraDodd: His mom wasn't after autonomy in Marcus, even though she had the "what are we not?" speech.
Zamozo: I think of it more as being an autonomous unit -- family
Is that an oxymoron?
it makes sense.
The "island chains" speech (Will's thoughts) at the end was about that, I guess.
reneecabatic: Fiona was not very connected or nurturing to Marcus---and she was all about autonomy from the sheep-ish
society ----so their autonomous family unit was sad and lonely
SandraDodd: I liked the symbolism of his lying on the bed while his hamster ran in the wheel, too.
Neither of them was getting anywhere.
reneecabatic: I liked him saying he wished he could be home but he'd have to figure out how to pay his Ma 400 quid(?)
Oh-and he cleaned his hamsters cage lovingly---like the warm loving home Fiona kept him in
Zamozo: I like when he stood up to his mother at the Christmas party
reneecabatic: "healthy"---no coco puffs!
SandraDodd: True. I think he was taking better care of the hamster than Fiona was taking of him, and he might've been
very aware of that.
and both times--then and at the restaurant--when Will was about to say "suicide," Marcus yelled as a distraction.
Zamozo: I was impressed with how Marcus knew what he needed and was figuring out ways to get it
SandraDodd: Almost like a referee's whistle
Zamozo: sad but impressive
reneecabatic: I was impressed with Marcus a lot
SandraDodd: But he was a pitiable dweeb at the same time.
socal77 (Guest63): I liked the island chain metaphor, a little behind, sorry
reneecabatic: he was resilient and brave and ...i just liked him--guess i like dweebs!
socal77 (Guest63): even the geeky kids didn't want to be associated with him at school
SandraDodd: Someone said something about the camera shots at the school.
reneecabatic: birdseye view---
socal77 (Guest63): oh yeah, that was neat
reneecabatic: i could see the circles of friends--cliques and then Marcus walking alone
Zamozo: sorry, I need to go hang with Zoe -- thanks for the opportunity to chat again, Sandra.
socal77 (Guest63): bye
reneecabatic: or when Will sprinted through the schoolyard to save Marcus
SandraDodd: Holly was talking to me and i missed Zamozo leaving.
I wonder if those were, in part, to help those of us who've been to school to fill in our own faces and people?
socal77 (Guest63): hhmmm
reneecabatic: I want to watch it again now----with all this knowledge
SandraDodd: And there's one scary kind of shot when he'd going to sign in for the contest. The camera is mounted in
the ceiling (boom or whatever) and totally turns upside down to follow him down the sign-up sheet, and then rotates so
that it's rightside up again.
And that reminded me of the kind of heart-stopping feeling when one's deciding whether to commit to something or not.
reneecabatic: yes--and behind glass as he signs it
SandraDodd: Marcus was doing that to save his mom.
WE know it won't save his mom, but he didn't know that.
reneecabatic: gosh--i really like Marcus--he is amazing
does he think it will save her ---or is it like a last ditch effort...you know?
like he knows it's "suicide" cuz the girl he likes tells him so
last ditch to get Fiona to SEE--to see him, to see anything really
SandraDodd: To be happy
reneecabatic: even if it kills him to do it?
SandraDodd: She said when he sang it brought sunshine into her life? Was it sunshine?
Oooh. True. He's being totally brave and self-sacrificing.
And that's too much pressure to put on a little guy.
I've thought sometimes that the "boy" of the title might be Will.
Poor Marcus has more responsibilities in life than Will has.
socal77 (Guest63): I think it is both of them, the parallel
SandraDodd: Will doesn't even have a hamster!
(Until Marcus becomes his hamster, in a way. )
SandraDodd: When he chases off the boys who are throwing candy at him.
That seemed a turning point.
reneecabatic: he sees Marcus.....as a person outside of relating to Will (himself)
SandraDodd: And the speech about the baby girl shows Will's cluelessness and lack of a identification with
babies/children as people.
But helping Marcus is healing for Will, I think, the way helping my kids has been healing for me.
socal77 (Guest63): when they ask him to be godfather?
SandraDodd: It was a catalyst for Will looking at his own childhood, maybe.
His was cushier, but it was a fluke.
One good song that made money, not longterm competence on the part of his dad.
And not "a good song" in terms of inspirational life-changing sentiment.
socal77 (Guest63): and his father's perceived failure as an artist
reneecabatic: yes--healing can happen or some people choose to inflict he same old wounds--Will was learning this---I
SandraDodd: Other movies with some similarities in theme there are Love Actually (also about a Christmas song) and
Music and Lyrics (about the value of a song).