Tag Archives: Julia Ormond

The Music Never Stopped (2011)

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Sentimental but sweet, like biting into a candied confection you haven’t tasted since the idyllic days of your youth, “The Music Never Stopped” is elevated beyond ‘disease of the week’ territory by terrific lead performances. Good storytelling leaves the viewer with a genuinely warm n’ fuzzy feeling, while J.K. Simmons’ development not only as a father, but as a man is inspirational without being too maudlin.

Henry Sawyer (Simmons) is a traditional dad and husband who provides for his wife Helen (Cara Seymour,) but is completely incompetent in handling anything to do with the management or the upkeep of the house. After many years of marriage, Henry still needs his wife to decide for him if the milk in the fridge is bad and can’t fathom the idea of Helen getting a job.

Henry and Helen have a son, Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci,) who has been absent for almost twenty years after having a fight with his father and running away from home. One fateful day, Henry and his wife get a life-changing phone call- Gabriel has suffered a brain tumor that destroyed his short-term memory and is lying disoriented and confused at the hospital.

Left reeling by this news, Henry initially grapples with feelings of resentment and bitterness at the prospect of seeing his son. But when it is revealed that music from the time period he broke away from his father’s interests and eventually, ran away from home help Gabriel retain memories, Henry really steps up to be the father his son needs.

Music is an extremely important component in the lives of the Sawyer family, and “The Music Never Stopped” features a fantastic old-timey folk-rock soundtrack. Initially it seems somewhat silly that Henry would take Gabriel’s decision to break free from Henry’s musical interests so badly.

But it is also important to understand that it wasn’t just Henry’s music Gabriel was rebelling against- it was his whole way of life. Henry’s politics, socioeconomic beliefs, lifestyle- Gabriel was rejecting of these in favor of the new groove that was sweeping the young people of America at that time While Henry’s thoughts and feelings were becoming old hat, Gabriel was becoming what Henry feared and hated- a hippie.

In many ways this is a standard story- there’s a mother who just wants everyone to get along, a gruff dad, a medical crisis, and even a Doctor (Scott Adsit) who exists merely to say “no, this can’t be done.” There is a sweet romance between a kind woman (Mia Maestro) and a disabled man that never goes beyond chaste PG-13 kisses. The character of music therapist Dianne Daley (Julia Ormond) is never anything more than a stock inspiration to a desperate family who’s prayers are answered in the form of good, hard science.

However, the outstanding performances of the three leads (Simmons, Pucci, and Seymour) have  to be taken into account. You know you probably shouldn’t be moved by the somewhat predictable story, but the filmmaker hits all the right notes so that somehow you find yourself falling under its spell.

Director Jim Kohlberg incorporates genuinely heartbreaking moments into the script (such as the reunion between Gabriel’s adolescent girlfriend (Tammy Blanchard) and the addled adult Gabe,) and both Gabriel and Henry’s points of view are served well, instead of using them as an opportunity to put down a certain set of political beliefs.

Adapted from Oliver Sacks’ essay “The Last Hippie,” “The Music Never Stopped” is tender and bittersweet, an example of somewhat formulaic film-making hitting it’s mark. I’m totally looking forward to seeing J.K. Simmons play the asshole jazz teacher in “Whiplash,” for which he won an academy award. This man is one of the most incredibly versatile character actors in Hollywood!

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Temple Grandin (2010)

“Temple Grandin” is a really interesting movie about a fascinating woman that allows us an inside look at an unknown world. This is a must-see for people struggling to understand loved ones with autism or for AS people themselves, because close family members will understand autism better and people on the spectrum might see themselves in the intrepid but troubled Temple.

“Temple Grandin” is the real-life story of the eponymous character, who struggles with severe autism from an early age, then goes on to become a pioneer in the cattle industry. Temple suffers from an autistic condition which deprive her of a ordinary childhood, but give her an astonishing and intuitive mind and a unique way of looking at things.

As a young woman, Temple (Claire Danes) stays at her aunt’s farm, where she becomes familiar with the cattle who live there. When she witnesses a cow being calmed by a squeezing machine, Temple is inspired — when she leaves the farm and goes to college, she builds her own ‘hugging machine’ to dilute the tension that most people relieve by giving and receiving hugs.

However, Temple’s new classmates and teachers don’t understand the relief Temple gets from her machine (instead thinking it’s something perversely sexual,) and she must fight for her right to express herself, a fight that continues throughout her life.

The film, which premiered on HBO, is based on Temple Grandin’s non-fiction books ‘Emergence’ and ‘Thinking in Pictures.’ As you may have heard before, Claire Danes nails it as Temple. I watched Mrs. Grandin in interview on the special features of the DVD the first time I watched this, and… wow. Mrs. Danes really emulates Temple’s speech and mannerisms.

I just hope the actress nails my speech in the upcoming biopic of my life (ha, ha.) The rest of the cast is good too. The film features some well known actors such as Julia Ormond as Temple’s courageous mother, Catherine O’Hara as her aunt, and David Strathairn as her teacher, who passes on important lessons to her.

I like the way the film visualizes the intricate workings of Temple’s mind so that I can understand them better. “Temple Grandin” is frank in the way that it deals with the bullies Temple must deal with on the road to success. Just think about it this way… are these people heard of except as bullies in an HBO TV film? They’re not even a name. The way I see it, Temple got the last laugh in the end.

This film is definitely worth watching, and will keep you intrigued throughout its running time. It definitely makes you think in terms of the people who you slight because you assume they are mentally retarded and have nothing to offer you, but are they?

Everyone assumed Temple was either crazy or stupid. Even her childhood doctor blatantly stated that she should be institutionalized and kept from tormenting the masses. And she turned out to be one of the great minds of her time. Anyway, you just never know. Have a great day, and don’t forget to comment *wink*!