April 9, 2012

Good Mon. Nice day shaping up up here here. Sunny, +28 and likely to rise to the high 40s like yesterday. We walked at Creamer’s Field refuge yesterday and sank knee-deep into the snow pack now and again. The geese and cranes have not arrived, though I hear they have reached Delta. So the redpolls and chickadees and ravens pretty much had the place to themselves. We heard a woodpecker hammering and saw him/her briefly flitting between the trees.

On the movie watch list was Bark, a 2002 flick about Peter and Lucy and their friends. Lucy has reacted to the stress in her life by becoming doglike. She barks like one of those yappy little dogs, turns around a couple of times before sitting down, looks intently into space at nothing humans would notice. Peter is worried, so naturally he consults his veterinarian. The vet is understanding and prescribes a sedative so the barking doesn’t keep Peter and the neighbors awake at night. But Peter believes zoned out is a depressing way for Lucy to live, so he takes her off the meds and tries to induce her to bark again and show some life. When nothing seems to work, he and his friend Sam approach the apartment from the fire escape and pretend to be burglars to get Lucy to bark. This doesn’t exactly work, but gradually Lucy becomes barkative again. Meanwhile, Peter consults a psychiatric ward “resident,” who he assumes is a doctor. The resident and Peter engage in lengthy, droll, ambiguous conversations about Lucy’s condition and mental health generally.

The movie is generally reviewed with the opening words, “This is not a comedy.” That is untrue, however. The film is frequently funny, with a zany deadpan quality that persons who like knee-slappers may not fully appreciate. Some people are distressed that a story predicated on mental illness would make comic material. (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, anyone?) In this case that’s too literal a take, ISTM. The film’s premise is made clear by a couple of extended references to Kafka’s short novel, The Metamorphosis, in which the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, awakes to find he has turned into a human-sized beetle (usually thought of as a cockroach) overnight. His family is at first alarmed, then disgusted, then hostile toward him. Eventually he starves himself to death. Lucy’s transformation is obviously intended to be analogous, but she seemingly has a happier fate than Gregor. At least, the film suggests that. This one is not for everyone, but I thought it was very funny. The actors are very good. Most viewers find Heather Morgan’s dogginess impressive, giving new meaning to the term “dog person.” The supporting case is excellent, particularly Lisa Kudrow as Darla the veterinarian and Hank Azaria as Sam. Oh, and the cover photo on the DVD has almost nothing to do with the film. From Netflix.


DVD tease.

Movie poster.

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