A Giveaway in Honor of My 86th Ex-Step-Cousin Twice Removed

05.16.13

alexander skarsgard autographed poster giveaway

If Alexander Skarsgård shows up at my front door, knocks three times (no doorbell and no knocking two, four or five times) and says, “Leave all this and come run away with me.” I’m going to abandon everyone and leave here with this slightly broken very handsome tall man.

Ok, maybe he’s not slightly broken but his character in What Maisie Knew sure is.

Yesterday William and I saw a screening of What Maisie Knew and it was a ridiculously uncomfortable movie to watch. It was a great movie (see William’s review) but I found myself not breathing regularly. I was holding my breath and my hands would unconsciously find their way to my chin where I’d just hold myself steady and hope for better. Onata Aprile made me forget I was watching a movie. It was that good.

So I left the theater moderately disturbed. I think that these are the best sorts of movies, the ones where you can’t get it out of your head. I had two hours left in the day before picking kids up with a few errands to run. The first was to exchange Alexander’s XL shirt from the Gap to get him an XXL. The kids have a performance at school and they’re meant to wear plaid shirts like ranchers do so I bought him one and asked him to try it on two weeks ago. He tried it on alone and told me that it fit. Two mornings ago I thought I’d like to see it on him and when he put it on the sleeves were ridiculously short. Apparently the solo try on session hadn’t included rolling the sleeves down.

The Gap doesn’t carry XXL shirts. I guess they do online and I don’t think I’ve shopped there in 10 years prior so I wasn’t sure what to expect and as I returned his XL shirt I had this moment where I realized I would no longer shop for my son in children’s stores. I didn’t expect to be moved by this but I was and immediately ducked outside to catch my breath and text my friend Laurie begging for time with her kids. I adore Laurie but let’s face it, yesterday I just wanted to use her for her toddlers.

Immediately after texting Laurie, still reeling from What Maisie Knew and feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, who should come tromping through the mall but my ex-stepmother and her favorite shopping buddy. Lucky me. I sort of smile and fake a hello, get the updates on her kids, get the updates on which celebrity kids are going to kindergarten where, mentally make a note that I’m so so happy that my kids aren’t at that school, smile, nod, marvel at the odd look of plastic surgery and get on my way to find my son a shirt that’s too big to belong in a kid store but really small for an adult one.

Maisie and I didn’t have a lot in common in the ex-stepmother department.

In any event I loved the movie and obviously William did too but we have different frames of reference. My parents were divorced by the time I was four, Williams parents are married. I’m a mom, William is a very young adult and had better not have any kids (do you like how I managed to squeeze in some finger wagging?).

The folks over at What Maisie Knew want to do a little giveaway. There will be three winners in this one so be sure to enter to win What Maisie Knew poster signed by Alexander Skarsgård, an autographed copy of Julianne Moore’s newest children’s book from her Freckleface Strawberry Series and What Maisie Knew pens from Millennium Entertainment.

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Keep in mind I never do giveaways but Cassie asked me in a moment of weakness. Don’t ask!

 

What Maisie Knew: Storytelling Done Right [Guest Post]

05.15.13

Onata Aprile What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew is a gem of a movie. Its subject matter – divorce, family dysfunction, loss of innocence – is the stuff of made-for-TV movies. But, accompanied by a talented cast, Scott McGehee and David Siegel manage to navigate the titular character’s story with great skill and empathy.

Maisie is six years old. Mother Susanna (Julianne Moore) is a has-been, middle-aged rocker who dreams of returning to her days of glory, while father Beale (Steve Coogan) is an art dealer with the attention span of a squirrel. The two are engaged in the aftermath of a bitter divorce, where Maisie serves as a pawn in their constant struggle. Alexander Skarsgård (Lincoln) and Joanna Vanderham (Margo) provide supporting roles as Susanna’s well-meaning boyfriend-cum-husband and Beale’s nanny-turned-wife, respectively. While unrelated to Maisie, they care for her deeply and provide the support she desperately needs.

The first half of the movie is dedicated to Susanna and Beale fighting over time with Maisie, both in and out of court. Any good editor would tell you that these first 40 minutes could be reduced to a simple 5-minute scene, but McGehee and Siegel use the repetitive nature of the struggle to underscore Maisie’s perseverance and uncanny maturity.

In one scene, Susanna succeeds in gaining custody of Maisie, only to take her home and immediately leave her alone while she complains to a friend about what an irresponsible parent Beale is. In yet another scene, Beale is scheduled to pick up Maisie for his court-ordered time with her. Maisie waits patiently in the lobby, but he never shows. Notice a pattern?

Throughout the movie, Maisie maintains her composure, never buckling under the pressure of her parents’ need to use her as a bargaining chip. When Susanna pries about Beale’s life, Maisie is careful to answer with a meek, “I don’t know.” And yet, she sees everything and knows what’s at stake. In the heartbreaking opening scene, a pizza delivery man shows up at the door while Maisie’s parents are fighting about money in the background. Without missing a beat, Maisie runs upstairs to her piggy bank and returns with a wad of bills for the delivery guy. “Here’s your tip,” she says with a smile.

The nature of love, and especially of that between parent and child, is a major theme throughout the movie. While Maisie’s parents fight tooth and nail for custody, their actions belie any claim to actually wanting to care for their daughter. Both parents are extremely possessive of Maisie, and the courts are alternatively a source of validation, or a site of great pain and struggle.

In the final thirty minutes, the movie reaches its boiling point as Maisie falls asleep in a bar and is literally passed along from person to person until she ends up at home with one of the female bartenders. Upon waking up, Maisie panics and wants to go home, though her parents are nowhere to be found. Lincoln and Margo provide Maisie with stability from this point forward, and for the first time we see her be playful. In short, she is allowed to be a child.

If you enjoy a great story and fantastic acting, watch this movie immediately. Julianne Moore deserves great credit for playing what can only be described as a truly ugly character. McGehee and Siegel are fair, though, and grant her a moment of redemption at the end.

The only gripe I have about the movie is that the fantastically talented Onata Aprile is given sixth billing in the credits. Once you watch the movie, you’ll see why this is such a crime.

Thanks to William for this wonderful review.