Mark R and the Kids

The kids didn’t grate, they honestly didn’t grate. The lovely Leigh and I discussed this fact as we drove homewards after seeing the movie ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’. Why didn’t they grate? Was I getting more tolerant in my dotage – or perhaps it was that American and film-makers world-wide are now looking for more from their junior-thesps than cutesypieness, as Leigh suggested. The two kids in this production – Imogene Wolodarsky as Amelia Stuart and Ashley Aufderheide as her sister Faith – expertly played just being kids. They weren’t perfect goody two-shoes. They had spats and they had tantrums. They were believable and increased my enjoyment of the offering – rather than, as in the past, detracting. Turns out young Imogene is the daughter of its writer/director, Maya Forbes.

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I was certainly charmed by the pair of lasses, but what really caught my attention and impressed was a performance I felt up there with the Oscar nominated boys this year. I now realise that Mark Ruffalo has passed under my radar for years, not seeing his turns in the recent ‘Foxcatcher’ or the ‘Avengers’ franchise. His face was familiar, so checking out the forty-seven year old actor’s filmography, I discovered I had seen him up on the screen in that marvellous ensemble piece ‘The Kids are All Right’ from 2010, as well as, further back, in ‘My Life Without Me’ and the Jane Campion offering, ‘In the Cut’. I have the latter on DVD somewhere so must watch it again.

As written, I thought Mark Ruffalo was sensational in ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’ – see the movie and if you’re attentive you’ll pick up the origins of the title. This Wisconsin born is of mixed Italian/French Canadian heritage and was a wrestling champ at school – thus his casting in ‘Foxcatcher’? He worked in minor movies through the nineties, hitting the big-time alongside Laura Linney in 2000’s ‘You Can Count on Me’. He has been in demand ever since. He also takes to the stage on occasion and has tried his hand at directing. He now resides in NYC, has a couple of daughters – so he’s no stranger to that species – and a son, being married to French actress Sunrise Coigney for thirteen years. Politically active, he is a strong campaigner for pro-choice and anti-fracking – good on him.

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In ‘IPB’ he plays Cam and he’s a bit of a plonker. But it’s not his fault – you see he’s afflicted with the curse of bi-polar. He is unable to hold down a job, boozes and constantly has a fag dangling from his lips – not a great role model for his girls, but they love him – for good reason. In contrast, long suffering missus, Maggie (Zoe Saldana), is struggling to cope with him. When she is forced to leave Boston, for better employment opportunities in New York, she has no choice but to make Cam responsible for the two girls. Mayhem ensues. But it’s Cam’s ability to stick his head above his usual hopelessness that charms the audience, if not so much his wife. Whatever his failings, we’re left in no doubt of his love for her and devotion to the kids. With a manic father, this family is battling against the odds. Will it all fall apart or can they finally make it work? Well, this is Hollywood, after all, so what would you think? But even so, this is a journey well worth taking and for my money Ruffalo surely proves he has real star power. So take it from me, I’ll be off to see him whenever his name appears up there in lights – although I’ll draw a line at ‘Avengers Age of Ultron’. I am not that enthusiastic about him!

Infinitely Polar Bear’ – official trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvjS7rN8HT0

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