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Your September Unrandom Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: Remember when you couldn't wait for your life to begin... and then, one day, it did?

Pizza: Quickies

Preshow Entertainment: Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (Live)


I first saw Reese Witherspoon in a slightly disposable yet fun thriller (you know, like the kind I would write, if I were a writer) called FEAR. Not long after, I saw her again on cable in FREEWAY...and wow, did she impress me. This girl, probably still a teen when they shot it, blew me away with her screen confidence, complete grasp of her role (a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood) and the way she hit Kiefer Sutherland over the head...but I digress.

I've since watched nearly everything she's done, going back to a TV movie called WILDFLOWER, through ELECTION, PLEASANTVILLE, the LEGALLY BLONDES and another no-brainer yet enjoyable lark called OVERNIGHT DELIVERY. From the serious (RENDITION, TWILIGHT...no, not that one, VANITY FAIR) to the frivolous (JUST LIKE HEAVEN, CRUEL INTENTIONS), I kept watching Reese. But I never knew until now that her best work was actually her very first film, released way back in 1991 when she was all of 14 years old. I can't believe I've never seen THE MAN IN THE MOON before, but I do believe that I will see it again.

A coming-of-age story right up there with LUCAS and THE WONDER YEARS, THE MAN IN THE MOON is about Dani Trant, a curious and rambunctious 14 year old who's starting to question the world, and more specifically, trying to understand exactly what love is.

Opening with a shot of the moon that hangs over 1957 rural Louisiana, we see the Trant sisters (Dani and 17 year old Maureen, played by Emily Warfield) prepare for bed. On these hot Louisiana nights, they sleep on the screened-in porch. Dani is listening to LOVING YOU by Elvis while proclaiming her wish to be more like Maureen, who is "so pretty it hurts." When Dani sees herself as "just a lump," Maureen reminds her of something their mother (Tess Harper) used to say to them: Tell your troubles to the man in the moon, and he'll sort it all out for you by morning. But Dani's growing up - "That's kid stuff, Maureen." And Maureen agrees. It's time to grow up and figure out the world on their own. So it's fitting that the very next shot is of an egg, the very symbol of new life, cooking in a skillet. And it's a brand new day.

When they return from church, Dani breaks the land-speed record of changing into shorts and a tee shirt, and running to the pond for some skinny dipping. And it's here where she meets the (literal) boy next door, Court Foster (Jason London), but I'm not sure the man in the moon will be able to solve what happens next.

MOON has its share of conflicts; stolen love, accidents (yep, that's plural), birth, death, you know...Nicholas Sparks stuff, but not crappy 'n sappy. Though on occasion the plot points hit you a little too hard right between the eyes, there's so much honesty in the story and in the performances that it all just works perfectly.

THE MAN IN THE MOON is one of the best coming-of-age movies I've ever seen. We recently watched TUCK EVERLASTING, but that can't come close to the MOON. This is a story that could really happen (Tuck has supernatural elements). In fact, it feels like it did happen. It's ripe (excuse the pun) with the budding sensuality of a teen who doesn't yet understand her feelings. She's a firecracker filled with gun powder and curiosity, so it's troublesome for Dani when she doesn't understand. Dani's just a tomboy, not yet a woman ("Mama, do I have to wear a skirt?").

And she's not the only one who has trouble figuring things out. Maureen struggles with doing the right thing, as does Court. Even Dad (Sam Waterston) is constantly trying to understand his feelings. After all, he is outnumbered, with a wife and three daughters (infant Missy is in the crib), and another on the way.

But let me get back to Reese. I was going to say "once again," but this was her first movie, so I can't. But I can say that Reese is Dani Trant. And, I imagine, a lot of other girls at 14. Walking with arms flailing like someone who doesn't yet know how to work their body, and armed with the rebellious facial expressions that are reactions from the heart and mind, the polar opposite of The Nic Cage Acting School. Reese can make you laugh with a simple twitch of the nose or cry with a subtle eye widening. After all, this little tempest didn't get her childhood nickname "Little Miss Type A" for nothing (Type A is also the name of her prodco). And she did score the role while trying out for an extra.

Although Reese clearly steals each nanosecond of the movie, I can't ignore the other performances. Tess Harper as the mom, perhaps the only one who knows how the world turns, and who she is. Sam Waterston, who I normally find flat and uninteresting, was great as the conflicted dad who finds it hard to express his feelings in words. And Emily Warfield, who's so terrific I don't understand why she doesn't work more. And while I'm at it, where is writer Jenny Wingfield? This was her only movie?? Uchh.

THE MAN IN THE MOON is paced like a Southern day. Let's thank recently departed director Robert Mulligan for that (MOON was his last movie). Mulligan made some great movies like INSIDE DAISY CLOVER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and the similarly themed SUMMER OF '42. The fact that he was a Bronx boy makes his grasp of a character like Dani even more impressive.

I once heard a story, though it could be just a "story," about Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. After she made MOON, she was hanging around some film company's offices, lamenting about how she'd never get another acting job. I'm glad she was wrong, because in an era when actresses are celebrities, Reese is a Movie Star. Possibly the only one around today. Yeah, I love Reese Witherspoon. She hangs the moon.


I recorded this from VH-1 and soon realized it's just Disk 2 of PULSE, a double-live DVD from a 1994 performance.

Now, I'm a huge WALL freak. But even though I like THE WALL better than DARK SIDE, I have to admit that DARK SIDE is the superior record. Released in 1973 and on the charts longer than any record in history (741 weeks), its relentless mood and simple songs that are secretly complex is a work of art. Lacking the pretension and vitriol of THE WALL, DARK SIDE gives me a feeling that I'm swimming inside the music. And sure, it's depressing when you listen to the words ("The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older. Shorter of breath and one step close to death."). A lot of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is about their ex-bandmate Syd Barret, who had lunatics in his hall, in his head and on his lawn.

This show features guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, Keyboardist Rick Wright, drummer Nick Mason, and a bunch of other musicians (2nd keyboard, percussionist, 3 backing vocalists and bass player). By this time, Roger Waters was 10 years gone.

Always known for putting on a great show (I still can't believe I've never seen them), this performance is note-for-note from the record, right down to the guitar solos (though I believe the MONEY solos are longer and the female vocals in THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY were expanded). Many know it for its single, MONEY, which I believe is not nearly the strongest song. This is a record where a hit single damages the scope of the piece. Sure MONEY's a great song, but so is MEAN MR. MUSTARD, which I rarely listen to without the rest of Side 2 of ABBEY ROAD.

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON clearly deserves to be called a classic record. A lush moodscape that's unbeatable. I can't believe how much more I love this record now than I did so many years ago.

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