Best Cinematography

Posted: April 20, 2015 in poker
Tags: , , ,

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Four Stars.” Write a movie review of your life

Zoom in on the Arizona desert, a very large sun setting between the cactus covered mountains.  Phoenix is a dusty city in the early 1960’s, and the suburbs have been built in old grapefruit groves.  Three brothers play baseball in the front yard of a yellow tract home, and a girl toddles to the front porch and watches from the screen door.  She runs out and asks if she can play too, and they hand her the baseball bat.  She hits a ground ball toward the tree that marks 2nd base and starts to run. Her brothers cheer her on.

The title flashes on the screen written in a barbed-wire type face:  Arizona Slim.

The early part of the movie is set in a fantastic landscape and the cinematography is incredible, alternating between the lushness of the orange trees, the beauty of the Ocotillos & Saguaro’s, and  the summers in the pine-covered Northern Rockies near the New Mexico border.  Arizona Slim has a tissue in her hand and is sneezing through most of the childhood dramas.  Her mom wears red-lipstick and has a beautiful smile.  Her mom is often reading or taking her to the library, and her dad takes her fishing.  Arizona Slim goes to ASU at the height of the Cold War and studies Russian, only to find Gorbachev in power and perestroika when she graduates.  She works as a secretary for a few years and meets a very handsome boy, a poet.  Together they apply to study creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ workshop.  They aren’t married, and she gambles that things will work out.  Shortly after they arrive there, she ends it with him, he is killing himself with alcohol.  There isn’t a dry eye in the theater.

About a year later she marries a fellow grad student and they briefly live in Wisconsin before moving to Colorado.  Cut to scene of five feet snow drifts. After three children they encounter job loss and medical problems and their marriage falls apart.  She travels on a writing seminar to St. Petersburg, the most beautiful (cinematically) city in the world. She shares custody with her ex fifty-fifty, which means she sees her children alternating weeks.  She must somehow make this work, but she has a lot of trouble adjusting to it.  She feels she is a single woman half the time and mama the other half.  She thinks to herself that you wouldn’t treat an animal this way.  Colorado river rafting by herself with the kids changes her mind.  Again, the beautiful canyons, the big horn sheep.  Her hard working mom passes away, and the brothers that cheered her on as a child go their own way.  She never hears from them again.

As the years go on she again becomes serious about writing.  She begins to write about the people she plays poker with. She dates a few, but finds that at her age many men do not want to get involved with a family.  Either they’ve raised their own children  or they never wanted them to begin with.  She starts to keep a blog about her poker playing and eventually publishes a novel.  The young man she went to Iowa with dies young.  She begins to get better and better at poker, and eventually is the first woman to win the WSOP in Vegas.  Lights, poker, The strip, the casinos.  She takes the money and buys a B&B in the mountains.  Big table, pokerplayers, fireplace.  What a great show. Tearjerker, heartwarming, with a fantastic ending.


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