Tuesday, 1 January 2008

I'm gonna wash that man right out of my basket

"As the first day of the year goes, so goes the year," intoned my husband, as we trudged down through horizontal snowfall to the bus stop. I got really worried about this ten minutes later, as I stood blinking back tears, gazing into the window of one of the neighbourhood's recently bankrupted coffee shops, wondering why I persist in leaving the travel planning to him. A bus eventually showed up and we made it to Atonement on time, our choice for this year's New Year film. Therefore, I am refraining from doing the Resident Fan Boy's laundry today, as he has just told me that there is a superstition which holds that washing someone's clothes on New Year's Day will wash that person out of your life. Which means, I guess, that you should offer to do laundry for your bĂȘtes noirs today.

This has been the sort of Christmas that Ottawans like to imagine is typical of their Christmas. Less than half of our eight (oh gawd, 8?) Christmases here have been white; the rest have been grey, kind of khaki, and usually icy. The Resident Fan Boy and I made our way through the streets from the movie, there being little bus service on this eighth day of Christmas. I cursed myself for failing to bring my camera as we waded down a deserted Sparks Street where a quartet of naked black statues gamboled in the swirling flakes, past the nearly whited-out tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by Laura Secord standing forlornly like the little match girl, only far better clad in her empire-line coat and bonnet. Story-book flakes continued to dance down on tobogganers at McDonald Gardens Park ("If we were half-decent parents," I remarked, "we'd be taking our children tobogganing instead of pissing off to movies.") and people with the countenances of pilgrims parading down Charlotte and over the St Patrick's bridge, shouldering snowshoes, cross-country-skiing paraphernalia, or snowboards.

Atonement, all in all, seems a splendid way to start the new year. I think the Resident Fan Boy found it a tad depressing, but I'm with Stephan Moffat who has Sally Sparrow in his Doctor Who episode Blink declare: "Sad is happy for deep people." Moffat may be full of it, for all I know, but sad good art doesn't depress me, while bad art invariably does, no matter how upbeat.

Anyway, Atonement: splendid cinematography; Keira Knightly acting like Helena Bonham Carter for the first half, and Winona Ryder for the second; five glorious minutes of Vanessa Redgrave; and a plot which, despite zigzagging back and forth (which would drive my mother wild), is enthralling and plausible --- except for one bit and by the end of the movie, you know why this is so. Oh yes, and I'm not sure what James McAvoy's character would be doing deep in the war and ready to be evacuated from Dunkirk four years after the initial events which are supposed to have occurred in 1935. Not-so-upbeat artistic license, perhaps?

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