In a theological context, the grace which a sinner receives at the moment of their death. It is bestowed upon them by whatever higher power you perfer, an angel, Jesus, maybe God himself. This kind of grace, however, doesn't beeline you straight to Paradise. If you listen to Dante, you'll probably end up in Purgatory where you have to climb a very large hill in order to be cleansed of your sins before you are ready for the kingdom of heaven.

But rejoice not, last minute shoppers! This isn't a free ride final hour if-I'm-wrong-I'll-repent-on-my-deathbed ticket into the afterlife. You have to earn your grace through spontaneous conversion or profound belief in God at the last moment of your life. This theme was stated rather well by the recent movie Way of the Gun, which I paraphrase:

"What if, in those last moments of your life, you found God. What would you say in your defense?"

Well, if you have enough final conviction, then you don't need a defense, just some good walking boots for the ascent up that hill.
2000 British film directed by Nigel Cole. It's an interesting mix between typical British situational comedies - something goes wrong, everyone makes silly plans that lead up to some spiralling calamity which turns out just fine - and stoner humor. That said, it's funny for tokers and non-tokers alike - although the experienced will have to wipe the drool off the lips at the copious amounts of ganja displayed, especially since it's real - on the DVD, interviews reveal that the pop derpartment was unable to properly model marijuana, so the filmmakers recieved a crown dispensation for the crop, which was stored at the local police station between shots.

Set in a small southern British fishing town, the movie's protagonist is Grace Trevethyn (Brenda Blethyn). Of course, there's the obligatory group of wacky townspeople, with the druggie doctor and salmon poaching policeman perhaps the most memorable. Beset with debt after the suicide of her philandering husband, she agrees to babysit her gardener's ailing marijuana plants. When her house is threatened, she convinces him to use her greenhouse and gardening skills to grow a bumber crop for sale. The shots of the gigantic flowering buds, coated with crystals, had the stoner of the group I watched it practically licking their lips. The town's not ignorant, but shows a blind eye because of her problems - and personal habit in some cases. When her partner's girlfriend convinces her to keep him out of it, she travels to London in an attempt to find a buyer. There's some hilarious scenes of Grace randomly asking people on the street, dressed in what she imagines to be proper drug dealer attire. She meets with a French businessman (Tchéky Karyo), and the chemistry between them is a nice look at actual relationships among someone other than young adults. Of course, back home things are getting interesting, and when she returns with several characters in tow there's a wacky climax and improbable conclusion. While the humor's slightly formulaic, it's still amusing, even if you're not stoned.

What if after years of stalking someone
(albeit only in your head)
They started to respond in a most unusual way?

Well, no stalking ever actually happened. I like to pretend that I stalk people for the sake of entertainment. The word "stalking," despite the negative connotations, is simply easier to say than "feeling a strong connection to someone's life or work that causes me to follow their career or their life closely because something about them fascinates me somehow." Know what I mean, Earl?

That said, I have been stalking Holly Hunter for some time. It more or less began during the period of the mid to late 1990s when I was in an information seeking mode, looking for books and films that in some way addressed the whole "what happens to dead people" question. There was something about her role in the movie Always that sucked me in. After all, her character in that movie remains romantically and emotionally attached to a dead guy beyond the limits of all reason, and that has a certain appeal to me.

Since then I've kind of seen Holly Hunter as a person who could understand the convoluted and confusing story that is my life since my suicide in 1994. That story involves reaching the point of total self-destruction, coming back from it, talking to an angel, getting bizarre messages in dreams that seem more like a second waking world than what are normally considered dreams, all while remaining right on the edge of sanity and ruin.

So, given that, how come Holly Hunter is now starring in a show that has these same elements of my life story as the show's plot? When they brought her the script and she fell for it hardcore, did I have something to do with that?

Probably not, but if you're reading this, Holly, I'm going to take it as a compliment anyway.

Saving Grace, airing on TNT Monday nights at 10:00 pm (check local listings) is the story of a woman dancing on the edge of ongoing self-destruction, talking to an angel, getting bizarre messages in dreams that come to her as if she is quite awake... and well, she's a woman, she's a cop and she hit bottom as a result of hitting a pedestrian while driving drunk, but otherwise this seems like a companion piece to...

Do I like this show?

I haven't really decided. After watching two episodes and missing the pilot and the second episode I enjoy certain elements while finding other elements hokey and annoying to some degree. Her angel, Earl, comes across too over the top and obnoxious for me, and while this may be geared towards being a reflection of Grace Hanadarko, Holly Hunter's character, he's constantly talking about other people he's dealing with as a kind of running gag he's trapped in. My personal experience with angels kind of puts me off the Earl character, as even though my angel sometimes tends towards an edgy and obnoxious sense of humor, she finds this fellow's behavior to be pretentious and annoying.

And from what I've seen this seem to be another cop show where the supporting roles are filled with cop stereotypes, with the exception of Laura San Giacomo, who sort of seems like she's drifting in and out of the show from a non-existent program called CSI: Oklahoma City, being as that is the city where the show takes place. If you watch the show you'll get what I mean, but it rather works.

Aside from my issues with Earl the Angel, I find it interesting that he is also "assigned" to a certain death row inmate, Leon Cooley, who he's pushing Grace to work together with for some undefined reason, which, in my personal experience, is definitely angel behavior. This element is interesting for the tension it creates, Grace the cop who barely obeys the law herself, has a deep hatred for criminals of all kinds and is being asked to work with a murderer on death row. As Earl is regarded as a "last chance angel," the way this equates the two of them makes an interesting point. "Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners..."

I do like that it takes an unconventional look at issues of spirituality and religion and doesn't seem to try to cater to any specific point of view. The idea of a "lost soul" finding herself and deciphering faith on a deeply personal level without submitting to an already packaged deal has a great deal of appeal to me.

So, my jury is still out on all of this, but I'll have to check in again next Monday night as the preview seems to be alluding to Grace being... ehem, dead.

My lawyers are chomping at the bit...

Seriously though, Holly, call me...
The whole coffee thing is still open.

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