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“A Movie Review…”

February 16, 2010

A few months ago, I went with my brother to see the movie Where the Wild Things Are. We thought it would be serious and sweet, nostalgic but relevant, exciting and possibly a tiny bit sad. We’d avoided most reviews and all trailers, preferring to be surprised, but had heard the story was rather intense, poked a stick at tender spots as it exposed the imagination of a tough yet delicate child.

Together in the theatre, we fought back tears the whole time. My brother sat up extra-straight, like if he stretched his body taller, he could get away from his tight chest, meanwhile I sat perfectly still and caught a bite of cheek between my teeth. The next morning, he emailed me from his office:

Where the Wild Things Are: a movie review by S. Miller. Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of really sad monsters. The end.”

Watching that movie was like watching a dream, complete with plot holes, geographic leaps and crazy shifts in terrain. Forest gave way to sand dunes during a hike so short the walkers didn’t have time to grow thirsty, and massive forts were erected in just a few days. Characters appeared and receded without explanation, and we simply accepted what happened as a matter of course. The sudden arrival of a raccoon called Richard? Ok. Smashing things and replacing arms with sticks? Not only plausible but done. The only thing that reminded me I was awake was the crushing feeling behind my chest, like I was holding my breath. Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of really sad monsters.

The last time my chest ached like this was in that movie theatre, caught up in a childish plot that reminded me how it felt to feel powerless and small, how it felt to invent places where monsters kept company and blanket forts came with secret rules. The sound it made when my brother and I tapped out morse code on our walkie-talkies, room to room after lights-out, and couldn’t believe our parents caught us every time. As if they were deaf to the little beeps spelling “nerd”, “silly you face” and “get drink water”.

For seven nights, I’ve been dreaming in a similar style. I feel like I have been punched in my heart; even when I sit up straight I can’t get away from the crush. The ache bleeds from waking life into the modest hours of sleep I wring from each night. I’ve dreamt of mean babies swimming in a lake partitioned by a fence; last night, it was french fries and skis and a belly ache.  This morning, while I drifted before sunrise, it was the first rest I’d had in two days but lost consciousness so shallowly I could hear my cat prowling the book shelves. Then, I dreamed a library where browsing patrons pulled out books and whispered dust-jacket notes to me through the gaps, a game where I was supposed to guess which titles they’d selected from the shelf.

I feel like the past week has been a fucked up little film, a chapter someone else wrote and shoved into my life. I skipped the trailers and reviews and sat in the dark, waiting to be surprised.

October through February: a movie review by A. Miller. Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of really sad misunderstandings. The end.”

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Gus permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:08 pm

    All those sad monsters really got to me too. I received Dave Eggers’s The Wild Things for my birthday and plan to crack the spine tonight. Book review to follow…

    • welltailored permalink*
      February 16, 2010 6:10 pm

      That scene at the end where they’re all on the beach just about gave me a heartattack…and the smashed-up cave…gahhhh

  2. Gus permalink
    February 16, 2010 9:42 pm


  3. veena permalink
    February 17, 2010 11:20 am

    I don’t know what to say. Thanks for this post is what I mean, it resonates.

  4. lilboyblue permalink
    February 17, 2010 12:30 pm

    At no point was I comfortable with relating with anything on screen after the snowball fight and losing my rep as a toughie.

    “Nobody really listens to you, do they.”

    One thing I’ve really come to appreciate recently is noting the first time I dream of someone new. It’s comforting to know the regular cast of nightmare characters have one more face they have to go through to ruin my night.

    • welltailored permalink*
      February 17, 2010 12:31 pm

      “One more face to go through to ruin my night”! Gah! So great.

  5. February 17, 2010 3:01 pm

    I loved this.
    Sweet dreams recipe on its way…

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