Monday, February 13, 2012

'Threshold' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. I had been thinking of this movie lately and am glad to have an opportunity to look at it again. No one has heard of it, but it was really very good, and the main character is a good encouragement. Donald Sutherland just had it, all the way down to the way he dictated an op note.

  2. I loved this show. I still find it remarkable how well Donald Sutherland created the character of Dr. Thomas Vrains. The quiet confidence, the dry wit. He had a great presence. What I loved the most was the ending. Aldo Gehring was caught up in his celebrity, but Dr. Vrains' primary focus through it all continued to be his patient. Taking off his face mask and going in to sit with Susan was a perfect representation of what I think a good doctor should be trying to do - which is to care for our patients. And the very end, where he tells her she looks wonderful, stands by her as she goes out into the public, gives her a word of encouragement and then just slips away, leaving her to go on and live her life - that was just perfect.

    Yes, that story was a big encouragement to me. It was some twenty-five years ago when I first saw it, and it has always stayed with me.

  3. I hadn't intended to watch the movie right away, but I put the tape in to make sure it was OK, and I've never gotten so drawn in, to such a quiet movie, so quickly. Donald Sutherland is so -- controlled isn't the right word... still? He seems at first as though he has no energy for anything, but we watch him glide from surgery to hallway greetings to formal presentation, so calm, so sure.  I am hooked!


    (I'm back.)

    I liked this very much. It's so interesting, the things they didn't do, in a movie about such an intense subject, with characters that could have been made so much more complicated -- yet there is no hint of soap opera, no suggestion of deep dark secrets or desperately conflicted psyches.

    There are certainly some issues with Aldo's psyche, but he doesn't seem at all conflicted. :) His remark about the flight of airplanes over that of birds, his "That's what Nature would have designed, if she'd known how," was so sad -- he was so right about his device, but so wrong in his world-view. (And later, at the radio station, about "perfecting the miracle." Officially crossing over into Scary.)

    But Vrain knew he was right about his device. And I loved Sutherland; even in this quiet, subdued performance, he gives Vrain such a tremendous sense of competence, realistic confidence, real sensitivity toward his patients and their families. (I loved the moment when Carol's dad tracks Vrain down at the school -- and there isn't even a split second of annoyance at having his private life intruded upon, just immediate concern for whatever problem Carol could be having to send her father in search of him.)

    I thought they did a nice job with the scene about the young journalist talking at dinner about Los Angeles being poised for break-throughs, setting the stage for this story of attempting the unknown.

    And I really like the sensitivity shown to the that issue of how much we identify the heart with who and what we are as humans. It was an element of the hospital board's decision to refuse the procedure, but in fairness, they were discussing something radical. But Carol's profound depression while trying to adjust to the new realities of her body was shown to be very human, and very real.

    But she does recover, both from the surgery and from the despair of feeling that she is no longer herself. The scene when Vrain tells Carol she must leave the hospital, she must return to real life, to her family, to the outside world, and we see her belief in that vision grow, was absolutely beautiful.

    And then, having taken part in a miracle, he continues with his real life, no more fanfare, just moving, quietly, to the new patient counting on his care. Perfect ending.

    I'm glad you suggested this -- I would never have heard of it otherwise!

  4. Oh! I loved that quick comic moment during the surgery when Vrain turns to Aldo and says something like "Where is that thing?" and Aldo has this perfect "You mean me?!" look on his face before disappearing out the door.

  5. Yes, it was good fun, wasn't it? And I have to say, I really loved Pride and Prejudice. We're on a little roll here!

    Alright then, I'm up for anything. What would you like for us to watch for next week?

  6. What did you think of Dr. Vrains telling Henry de Vici "Come on Henry, I don't let people that are well smoke." And his interaction with Henry is calm and measured, and then as he walks down the hall he tells his resident "He's really in bad shape. Two weeks at the most."

    Then later when the transplant patient went sideways, Vrains is upset and searching, going over the operation and the various factors, and he pulls out a cigarette and starts to smoke? The stress is very real, just he didn't let it show. Not to the patients, anyway. That all struck me as true to life.

  7. What would you like for us to watch for next week?

    You mentioned really liking the gal that played Jane in P&P -- I really shouldn't be so lazy...
    Susannah Harker -- in Adam Bede. Would you be interested in seeing that again?

  8. That would be great! Lovely scenery, well acted, well written, beautiful score. A hard story, but a good one. I'll put it in my queue.

    Mid week next.