Friday, May 8, 2009

away we go

Last night, Hannah and Michael and I drove into LA to see a pre-release screening of Sam Mendes' new film, Away We Go, as a benefit for 826LA, the wonderful community writing center inspired by Dave Eggers' 826 Valencia in San Francisco. There are now 826 offshoots around the country, offering free writing workshops and after school tutoring for kids, often fronted by cool, quirky shops--a pirate supply store in SF, a time travel shop in Echo Park, etc. I taught a Writing from the Senses workshop at the original 826LA in Venice a few years ago, and Hannah has taken a couple of classes there, so we've experienced the power of 826 first hand, and were happy to be able to support it through this event.

The movie was written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, and stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. All of the aforementioned people (plus Catherine O'Hara, who plays John Krasinski's mom) were present for a panel discussion after the film. Michael got to the theater--a great vintage Egyptian-themed movie house--early (we took separate cars so Hannah and I could stop in some vintage stores in LA before Michael had to leave work) and was able to grab a spot near the front of the line, so we ended up with first row seats. Not the most comfortable for movie viewing--we had to slouch with our heads tipped back to be able to see the screen--but amazing for the panel discussion afterward. We were so close to everyone, we could have played footsy with them (and in fact, at some point, much to our amusement, Catherine O'Hara dove off her chair and lunged between Michael's legs! We weren't sure what was going on at first, but then she picked up his 826LA flyer, which had fallen to the ground, and used it as a fan for the remainder of the panel. When the discussion was over, she very sweetly thanked him and returned the flyer. Plus I caught John Krasinski--who seems like a real sweetheart--checking out my daughter, which I admit was a very strange feeling!)

The reason I'm writing about the film on this blog instead of my other more general one is because of the film itself. Away We Go is about a couple expecting their first baby; they travel around the country during their 6th month of pregnancy, trying to find a place to land and raise their child. It is a charming, moving film, full of humor and heart and some of the sweetest, most honest depictions of relationship that I've seen on screen in a long time. The movie explores (and pokes gentle fun at) the parenting spectrum--everything from holier-than-thou continuum parenting to not-so-benign neglect--and beautifully captures the confusion and hope and fear and joy of a couple on a life-changing journey toward parenthood. It felt like the perfect movie to see both as a pregnant mama and mama of a 15 year old girl (Hannah loved it. Plus, she has been reading Dave Eggers' book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, this week, and was excited to be able to get it signed. And the fact that John Krasinski checked her out--well, that's something she said she'll tell her grandchildren about!) Michael loved it, too--it's definitely not just a chick flick. And it delves with open eyes into some painful issues (especially losses such as miscarriage and the death of parents and abandonment) along with the cute stuff.

Away We Go will be released (in just a few cities, I think) on June 5. I highly, highly recommend it. You can watch the trailer here:

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