1. I don't know exactly why, but I've been through a long movie drought. Today I broke the drought and it wore me out. First, Doubt. Then, The Reader. Taken together, both movies drained me, demanded a lot of me, mentally, emotionally, and morally. I watch movies to be drained, to have my knowledge of the world expanded, my ways of thinking challenged. So, while these movies both challenged me, stirred me, and set my mind whirling with questions, the deepest pleasure I felt was admiring the acting. Meryl Streep's willingness and ability to fully occupy a character staggers me and she fully occupied Sister Aloysius. Kate Winslet also fully occupied the character Hanna and she played her role with authority, unsettling authority.
(I don't know when I've been more astonished by Oscar nominees in a single year than by four of the five nominees a year ago for Best Actress. I haven't seen Angelina Jolie, yet, in The Changeling. I will. But Melissa Leo in Frozen River, Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, and the two performances I just wrote about moved me deeply, really got inside me, and entertained me in the deepest possible ways. I don't pretend to be a movie critic. I don't pretend to even know what makes a movie good. I don't even want to act like a critic. So I don't have vocabulary right now for the impact these four performances had on me. Maybe the best word is fierce. They are all fierce portrayals.)
2. The designers/landscapers measured the front and back yards. Another step forward.
3. While I watched those movies, drinking Tetley's British Blend black tea with milk seemed so right. It was.