Is anyone else suffering from a bad cold and general November in June state of mind?  While my friends and countrymen congregate on patios throughout the city tonight, I will be curling up with some must-see rentals.  Although I’m lucky enough to have the Film Buff on my doorstep, I had to travel to the back room of Queen Video at Queen/Spadina (no, not that back room) to acquire these goodies.  And of course, it’s a real estate themed double bill.  This is Housefly, remember!

First up, Indecent Proposal.  Weird choice you think?  Although this movie was made almost twenty years ago, it’s never been more relevant.  As you’ll probably recall, Demi Moore is offered a million dollars in exchange for one night with Robert Redford.  At the time, that was a ton of dough but in modern times, it barely covers the cost of a Toronto home in the Annex with necessary modifications for personal taste.  Doesn’t it feel much more realistic for an average person to be offered a mil in 2010?  I can kind of put myself in Demi’s shoes now.  And what you probably don’t remember is that the whole reason Demi agreed to this crazy scheme was because her dream house (a modernist architectural gem designed by her husband Woody Harrelson) was going into foreclosure due to the recession of the early ’90’s.  Seems like Demi and Woody over-stretched.  Um, hello – how’s that for tapping into the cultural consciousness?

The house that Woody built. Here he is admiring the ocean views and contemplating whether it was all worth it... unobstructed ocean views are very hard to come by!

 

Now for a slice of the lighter things in life – The Money Pit.  This movie was very hard to track down and I could only rent it as part of a Tom Hanks retrospective DVD.  So now I’ve got Dragnet and The Burbs if anyone’s interested.  Don’t all volunteer at once.  The Money Pit stars Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as a fresh-faced couple who purchase their first house without a home inspection only to discover it’s basically a tear down.

First of all, isn't this the best sweatsuit you've seen in ages? Move over Lulu Lemon! Note the never-ending drywall repair in the background. Apologies to the purists, but we're going to have to lose that lath and plaster!

I remember this being one of my childhood favourites, along with Teen Wolf and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  Lots of Home Alone-esque physical gags which is always fun when you’re ten (don’t deny trying to set up a Micro Machines trap for your siblings!) but we’ll see how it holds up for 2010.  Given that it’s one of the only movies  I can think of that has a plot centered around renovation, I think we can safely deposit The Money Pit in our time capsule for the people of 2210.

Bon weekend, houseflies!

Is there any better way to spend a Monday than a spa date followed by lunch and a matinée?  In honour of Mother’s Day, I took the day off work and lived it up downtown with my husband a la Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson.

We saw a great movie that combined my love of real estate with my desire to see movies that explore authentic female characters.  Nicole Holofcener’s new feature “Please Give” is a sharp, elegantly written film that explores the guilt of the privileged and the middle-class disease of longing for what we can’t have (whether it be $200 jeans, a larger home or an affair).  Finally a movie about the Manhattan experience that moves in the opposite direction of the “Sex and the City” mega luxe fantasy train.

What have you done to my Carrie?! How did a brilliantly written series exploring power, love and friendship become this out of control showcase for materialism and narcissism? In the series, the Manolos and cosmos were just the icing on a very hearty cake, but the movies are a complete icing binge with no cake to balance it out - yuck. I'll be there opening weekend though.

Kate, played by Catherine Keener, and her husband, Alex, played by Oliver Platt, own an upscale vintage furniture store in Manhattan that sells mid-century modern pieces.  If you’ve ever wondered where Machine Age Modern or Filter acquire their goodies, wonder no longer!  Kate buys her (mostly teak and rosewood) furniture for a song from the children of recently dead people and then sells it to Living Etc subscribers for a serious upcharge.  While her business is profitable enough to cover an upcoming home expansion (pending the death of her 91-year-old neighbour) it causes her considerable angst, which she tries to overcome by giving a homeless transvestite Chanel lipstick or volunteering — if only the disabled and elderly weren’t so… depressing.

Kate and Alex admire their Danish modern kingdom.

“Please Give” is much funnier and more entertaining than Holofceners’s last exploration of the modern affluent experience, “Friends With Money”.  While I did adore the renovation B-story in “FWM” where a third floor extension causes immense strife amongst neighbours in suburban Los Angeles, the characters in “Please Give” are much more enjoyable to watch.  However, don’t go into this movie expecting a big statement about the human condition.  It’s more about the subtleties of urban angst, and little truthful moments that are both awkward and funny.  If you’re like me and enjoy some interesting human conversation with a backdrop of Eames chairs, you’re in luck.

The set of "Modern Age Furniture". Photo by production designer Mark White.

A little bonus feature – I’m always fascinated to hear what inspires writers to tell particular stories so I’ve included a statement from the film’s press kit from writer/director Nicole Holofcener:

A friend’s apartment in New York was both the source and the setting for PLEASE GIVE.  My friend bought her elderly neighbor’s apartment, just as the couple does in the movie, and they became good friends. When it came time to find a location for the film we ended up shooting in that actual building, and in one of its apartments.

One of the great things about living in New York (if you have money) is being able to buy a beautiful place and fill it with beautiful things. But how do you do that and feel okay about it when there are hungry people right outside your (beautiful, newly stripped solid walnut) door? I’ve been struggling to forgive myself for those contradictions my whole life, and I think that’s a struggle I heaped upon my characters, especially Kate. We tend to instantly sympathize with people who are struggling, so even though my characters do some unattractive things, I hope we can forgive them, especially while we laugh at them.

PLEASE GIVE begins with a montage of mammograms. Mammograms are like life: potentially tragic but really funny looking. You’re stripped semi-naked, divested of dignity, shivering with cold and filled with dread. It’s ridiculous but very necessary. With PLEASE GIVE I wanted to illustrate these kind of contradictory moments that make us human.

— Nicole Holofcener