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DECEMBER 21, 2009   

A welcome Visitor

Drum circle from movie The VisitorLast night courtesy of Netflix we watched a movie that I don't even remember being at theaters. But I'm glad we invited The Visitor in. Sometime in the middle, when I paused it to go get something to drink I said to myself "I love this movie!" And I did.

The Visitor, written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, is sweet but not sappy, pointed but not ponderous. The stars are attractive, but have enough blemishes to make them real. The main character is a suburban college professor wealthy enough to have an apartment in Manhattan that he doesn't visit for months at a time yet he seems like a regular guy.

In short, not a typical Hollywood movie. This extends to the ending, which like Precious (more here) is hopeful in a darkly realistic way. The way we treat immigrants in post-9/11 America is a major part of the plot. While the view from the Staten Island ferry is still there, it's pretty clear that Lady Liberty is not nearly as welcoming as she used to be.

I'll admit that I could relate in some ways to the older college professor with an attraction for drumming. Unlike him, I actually enjoy my work, but like him, the sound of drums stirs something inside me. You're not going to see me drumming (or teaching) in a suit and tie, though.

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