Not everyone will go to the cinema to see a film that garnered a thirty-six percent critics’ approval rating. Rotten Tomatoes may have hurt this Mark Pellington film, but  this reviewer was glad I ventured ahead.

No one should expect an action movie with the title “Nostalgia”. Nostalgia lingers, takes its time, trumpets molasses-like meandering. Ten to one the four people who walked out had never experienced loss, or if they had, chose not to experience it again as a leisure activity. Having just come from a friend’s daughter’s funeral a few weeks ago, I was enmeshed in the vignettes of loss.

I admit to sentimentality. I keep things that have meaning to me. I even have trouble letting go of things that once had meaning to me. Admitting this, I enjoyed watching veteran actors become normal individuals wrestling with artifacts from their pasts just like normal people. Catherine Keener was at her best. No longer the old hippy, but a grieving mother, who wished that her daughter shared her interest in the detritus of her grandparents’ stuff. Keener’s shower crumble is dirge-like and real.

Other veteran actors are at their best here, too. A lonely Bruce Dern queries the insurance adjuster ( John Ortiz) with, “Might you be coming back?” Ortiz’s day moves from one tragedy to another. His  stops link one loss with another. Ellen Burstyn has a marvelous monologue after her house and that of a neighbor burns to the ground. Charred, walled debris surrounds her. Her items taken from a burning building are rhinestone jewelry from an aunt and her husband’s storied and signed baseball. Her retro traincase with its cracked mirror is evocative of so much as she drags it around to her numerous lodgings, that its symbolism becomes an archetype for both safety net and albatross. Burstyn’s lonely hotel meal is gray. “Can what we hold in our hands be the same as what we hold on our hearts?” Her treasure leads us to Jon Hamm and another remarkable sequence of  purveyor of artifacts to cherisher of them.

Hamm is mesmerizing as Will. He unwraps the Ted Williams’ ball like a priest. Each handkerchief fold is delicately lifted. He plants the seed that she ( Burstyn) is coming to unburden herself. He shares his own pain, really listens, and he holds her hand. Later, he admits to giving her a fair price~ “for me”. He restates reality to Burstyn, who opines that he won’t remember her. “Saying good-bye is hard. Ned is gone, and now so is his ball.” We love this guy. Soon he will have his own family ephemera to catalogue and keen over. Hamm is at his best in his silences. Lying on the floor listening to vinyl jazz, he is so watchable in hitting the right chords.

Keener’s daughter and Hamm’s niece, Tallie, is played equally as real and  true. Annalise Basso sounds like most of our children when she rejects any talismans of her parents’ or grandparents’ past. “ I don’t need anything.” When pressed, she explains,” It is hard for me to understand what all this means to you. This is your space, not mine.” Ironically, all of Tallie’s possessions and likes are digital. Soon to be nothing but lost. She is “wiped clean.”

There may be too many grief chords and platitudes repeated: too many “ lives lived” intoned, and when bare tree branches are framed over and over again, we get it. “Nostalgia” salvages some truth that is important~ not dumpster stuff all.



“Get Out”

 Jordan Peele’s directional debut is both a race satire and a horror flick. It begins presumably with a interracial romance. Chris, played by Brit, Daniel Kaluuya, is profiled while  “suburb walking”. He is meeting girlfriend Rose ‘s family for the first time.  The Michael Abels’ musical score begins with “Run, Rabbit, Run”, and it uses this Noel Gay and Ralph Butler WWII song throughout the film. Our trepidation and Chris’s is set.

The script is well-written and the pacing is superb. We want this couple to work. Why Peele, who is the product of a mixed-marriage and himself married to a White woman, doesn’t let it is to underscore the film’s point that racism kills. I consoled my romantic self with the fact that I don’t like Allison Williams that much anyway. She comes across as tough and haunty, too sure of herself for her young age. Distrust the masses, and here distrust your partner. Her character never gives a clue to her true loyalties. Rose understands all the micro-aggressions thrown at her honey. They seem in love. We hope for an “us against the world” foray. A scene where a deer is killed as the car headlights glow presages another end. Chris’ eyes look like the dying deer’s.

Enter the parents. Neurosurgeon Dad, named powerfully as Dean Armatage, is played by Bradley Whitford. His souvenir showing and travel bragging is given the apt cliche:  ” It’s such a privilege to be able to experience another person’s culture.” His Frankenstein operations remind us of the genre.

Psychiatrist mother, named sweetly as Missy, is played by Catherine Keener. Oft type-cast as the hippie liberal, Keener here plays to type. Condescension is equated with liberals in this film, as is phoniness and worse. When Missy stirs her tea cup, Chris is hypnotized and sent ” to the sunken place”. A trauma from his past is used to disorientate him. Can he get out ? The black servant holdovers from Rose’s grandparents have not been able to. The groundskeeper, Walter, and the housekeeper, Georgina, and Rosy’s creepy, Kung Fu brother all add to the unease for photographer Chris. Photos, ironically, show him the way to run, and it is not into Rose’s arms.

One of the funniest and most loyal character is Rod, Chris’s TSA ( Transportation Security Administration) buddy, who house sits and walks Chris’s dog.  Rod ( Milton  “Lil Rel”  Howery  ) invokes auras of Jeffrey Daumer as he tells Chris, ” All I am doing is connecting the dots!” He interprets Chris’s retelling of the Armitage’s partygoers by yelling “sex slaves!” to tip Chris off.

The three phrases of ” brain surgery” and the violent antler pitchforking and strangling are brutal to watch. Here the film has a slasher quality. The violence is in overkill. Rod, again saves the downward spiral with his response to Chris’ ” How did you know?” ” I’m a fucking TSA !”  Being proud of your work is way better than some trophy bride, I hear.