Have I really been away from the ol' blog for almost two years? What is wrong with me? Have I forsaken my delusion that blogging somehow makes me a Published Writer? (No.) Have I tired of the sound of my own typing? (No.) Have I gone out and acquired a social life too full to accommodate my cyberblather? (No.)
I love it when I forget what's in my Netflix queue and get a surprise in the mail. When I opened the most recent arrival I had a vague recollection from a couple months back: emotionally exhausted by the depressing documentaries I'd been watching through the winter, I'd dropped into my queue a little independent film--a romance--that the Netflix Taste Gods prophesied I would like. It's called Sweet Land. Sweet, as advertised--not great cinema, but charming, well-acted, and gorgeously filmed. I'm guessing it was recommended based on my deep and abiding love for the movie Lars and the Real Girl, for it is a sort of Lars set in 1920. In both of these movies (caution: spoilers!):
1) a conservative, churchgoing, steady, SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor, living sparely but self-sufficiently in the harshly beautiful north, orders woman through the mail
2) a VibrantFemaleOutsider intrudes
3) desiring to do the right thing, SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor proposes chaste housing arrangements that involve him sleeping in the garage/barn while MailOrderWoman sleeps in quaint and cozy room inside the old family home
4) the TightKnitNorseLutheranCommunity struggles to accept MailOrderWoman, especially as they assume that SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor is living in sin with her
5) ultimately the TightKnitNorseLutheranCommunity proves to be the good sort of religious community* and warmly welcomes MailOrderWoman after some difficult what-would-Jesus-do-ing
6) SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor also struggles, at first wary of VibrantFemaleOutsider's effect on his safe and predictable life
7) at key dramatic moment SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor startles audience by taking his frustrations out on the wood pile with an axe
8) SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor slowly opens up to the exotic ways of VibrantFemaleOutsider and embraces life
9) a beloved character dies
10) kindly Lutheran women bring casseroles and concern
11) warm-faced Lutheran minister gives sincere eulogy that makes it all okay
12) wedding and babies implied, but not seen
13) happy happy, the end.
So I've been hearing all this recent local chatter about the need for Mormon Cinema to step up and offer something cleaner than Hollywood fare for the religious/conservative population of the U.S........but my now-extensive knowledge about Minnesota culture makes me confident that Utah and Minnesota are natural allies in these dark cinematic times. Regrettably I was once heard to say that Minnesota and North and South Dakota were essentially useless and should be donated to Canada. I hereby retract 1/3 of that unkind declaration** and proclaim that Minnesota is the new Utah.*** I think we should pool our state arts funding and hire Ryan Gosling and Amy Adams to play a SilentSolitaryLutheranNorwegianMinnesotanBachelor and a BubblySweetMormonUtahnCoed thrown together by fate at a non-denominational charity raffle. After chaste pratfalls and compromises they meet each other halfway....in Nebraska.
Hot casseroles o' love ensue.
* Meaning not the sort of religious community that is ever featured in a Hollywood film--but I'll leave the rest of that rant for another day.....as long as you don't make me watch that hideous Chocolat movie again. Gag, blech, retch.
** If the Dakotas wish to be spared Canadianization, they should apply for my affections in similar fashion.
*** That is the highest compliment I can offer Minnesota, so you can just put those Utah jokes right back in your pocket, wiseguy.