Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the murders at Parkland High School.
In the twelve months since 2/14/18, there have been 1200 young people gunned down in this country.
In a project titled Since Parkland, student reporters have refused to let these needless deaths go unmarked. This project chooses to mark each and every death, putting names and faces and human stories to each and every loss.
“Working with The Trace, The Miami Herald, and McClatchy, student reporters set out to measure the void left in homes and classrooms that have lost young people to the pull of a trigger.”
Here in 2019, when the president chooses to foment fears and rail about a useless wall while ignoring this carnage, these stories underscore the callous inhumanity of the man. Ditto our Congress with its perpetual and cowardly refusal to take meaningful action. They offer thoughts and prayers while accepting handouts from NRA lobbyists and cow-towing to 2nd amendment bullshit.
And the project also calls out the media for its reporting and its focus on ‘mass shootings’ rather than on the true scope and horrifying, everyday impact of gun violence. These are student reporters, taking things into their own hands and refusing to let the deaths of their peers sink into oblivion for the American public.
Their stories tell us to turn our heads back and look, then look again, and again.
The need for action on this front is so clear. And the reasons for inaction are so deplorable. My hope is that people will stop looking away and the American electorate will demand a saner path of those in a position to forge it. Making these stories visible is a step on that path.
…and the real POTUS just whines
Meanwhile, in the real Oval Office, the performance artist known as Ann Coulter has weighed in on the wall. Communicating in the only format he understands, she is likely scaring the orange blob of protoplasm in the White House away from any kind of sane action. Instead, she prods him with her long index finger, moving the sensitive snowflake toward another Government shutdown.
And aside from the wall, Annie has other outrages to report in her Twitter feed. Apparently, something happened to her “Likes” yesterday and it sent her into a tailspin. Paranoia took over, as is its wont with conspiracy theorists.
She and her followers descended into tantrum country, where they intersected with the orange blob and they all commiserated. Having found a common enemy, Twitter libtards, they fell peacefully asleep in one another’s arms.
I apologize for digressing and getting entangled with Annie again. The bad news is that I did go hunting for her on Twitter, knowing I’d be satisfactorily annoyed. The good news is I only stayed long enough to find the above. And the even better news is, I didn’t post a comment.
Sadly, this title is true. It’s how I am about certain things.
I notice a problem and I just can’t let it go until I have figured it out and fixed it. This, unfortunately, isn’t true of all things. For example, if I had a problem with something like, say, getting up early in the morning to exercise, I’d just stop trying to do that silly, unrealistic thing. Or if I have a problem learning to speak German, I’ll let it go in a heartbeat. (And whose idea was that, anyway?)
But a problem like a Fitbit that won’t sync? That eats at me till I’ve got it fixed. So the obvious question is, “What’s the difference?”
The non-syncing Fitbit is a little like the name you can’t think of, even though it’s on the tip of your tongue. Or that song title that you are positive you know…but just not yet. It’s a problem with a solution that feels like it’s right within reach, if only…
So, when I notice myself saying ‘if only’ I know there’s a little bit of a magical element to whatever I’m thinking about. And that, in turn, is a great big hint that whatever-it-is connects back to my mother in some way.
And yes, now that you mention it…
The ‘if only’s’ were our daily fare, growing up. We each worked in our own child-innocent ways to solve the mystery of ‘Mommie’ and what made her happy (or conversely, what sent her off the rails).
It wasn’t something that we had the luxury of letting go of — we were immersed in it.
We entered every day with the hope that this would be the day. And we exited, more often than not, discouraged. Then we tried again.
The solution was just around the corner; we just had to find the right key, and keep trying until we did.
Same with the Fitbit…
So, back to my Fitbit, which stopped syncing on Saturday night. Off and on, through Sunday, I tried to get it reconnected.
I tried with my phone.
I tried with my PC.
Thankfully I’ve learned enough through the years to be able to put these things down temporarily. But I’ve not learned enough to let them go entirely. It settled in there at the back of my mind. Just this small, persistent feeling that something wasn’t right and I should be able to fix it.
So, still unsettled, I started in again this morning. And praise the Lord, I got it going. Persistent Googling helped (even though it hadn’t yesterday). Fresh eyes probably helped, as well. The key (this time) was turning off and then restarting my phone. Next time I’ll remember that — and maybe remember, too, that the Fitbit isn’t my mother and I’m not 5-years-old.
No matter what, for now, I feel much more peaceful, as I walk into my day (and count every damn step along the way).
The first of the two came to my mind unbidden, though not for the first time, after seeing “If Beale Street Could Talk.” It has to do with football, a pastime about which I’m very conflicted.
It’s easy enough to continue along my life’s path of loving the game and rooting for the Eagles. But what am I actually supporting? What it looks like to me is a bunch of old white guys making tons of money on the backs of a bunch of African American men. Add in concussions and CTE and the exorbitant cost of tickets and the banishing of Colin Kaepernick (for peaceful truthtelling) and the bogus, militaristic flavor of the pre-game rituals…and it’s really, really hard for me to justify continuing to watch.
This is, as I said at the outset, something I’m just thinking about. It kills me to consider stepping away when the Eagles are more and more in the mix, so we’ll see where this goes. But when I also consider the time I spend, just on Fantasy Football pursuits, it’s even more sobering to look at this — and consider the potential personal benefits of turning away. There’s so much else to see!
So the other step I’m thinking about springs from an interview with Cal Newport that aired on “Here and Now” yesterday and was shared with me by a fellow blogger (check out The Cozy Burrow). “Digital Minimalism” is the subject. The idea of minimalism has more and more appeal to me these days. And I’ve been noticing how much of my time evaporates as I look at screens, whether it’s my PC, my iPad, or my phone.
In the interview, Mr. Newport advocates letting go, for 30-days, of our obsessive connection with our apps. If something like removing the Twitter or Facebook app from my phone makes me nervous, isn’t that, right there, a great big red flag?
After all, is there, actually anything on Facebook or Twitter that I have a true need to know? And what am I afraid of. Silence? Being with myself? Being in my life?
Again, as with football, I am attracted to the amount of time that would be freed up by removing some of these distractions from my life. At the same time, it does make me nervous to let go of what has often become a block to self-intimacy — to the ‘going deeper’ that the author refers to. What would my life look and feel like with more silence? More thinking? More reading? More face-to-face conversation without a phone or tablet in my hand? I think I want to know.
So, what will I do?
On the digital front, it’s kind of easy. I’ll start by removing apps from my phone, leaving them on my iPad and PC. We’ll see where that goes. The phone part is the easiest, and I just did it. The iPad will be a heavier lift.
The football piece I’ll continue to mull. At least I’ve got a few months to see how it all settles for me. (And I’ll have extra time to think about it, with less time wasted on Facebook and Twitter.)
Sadly, I ended up ‘watching’ about 15-20 minutes of the Trump debacle last night because I didn’t want to miss Stacy Abrams.
Mostly I was on Twitter (rather than actually watching), and I thoroughly enjoyed some of the snarky comments. What I observed, and this isn’t new information but it’s still shocking, is how meaningless the words are that come out of the orange miasma’s mouth.
He is a grotesque caricature of a politician, lying with abandon and shunning any/all values beyond the quest for power. He reflects and amplifies what @GOP has become, representing the worst of America writ large. Only his hands and their corresponding body parts are smaller than normal.
And then the press and pundits have to try to interpret what he said. Their commentary, unfortunately, ascribes more meaning to his words than they actually hold. He’s just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks.
And the white men on one side of the aisle (along with a few odd women) cynically stand and applaud on cue. They don’t actually like him or believe him, but they calculate that it serves them to do this. So they do it, while the nation and the world wait to see whether they will ever, ever, ever be guided by anything more than their own empty desire to hang onto privilege and power. So far, they have shown themselves to be much worse than I’d imagined (and I thought they were pretty awful before).
A gaping maw of need.
There is something horrifyingly mindless about the words that come out of his mouth. His need for attention seems to be the thing that drives him as he lurches from one lie to the next.
He will, literally, say anything. His base, perhaps, provides some parameters for what he spews. But even their festering, fevered perversity won’t keep him tethered if they don’t feed him what he needs.
And, of course, there’s also the fact that he’s exploiting them. Lucky for Donnie, they just haven’t put the pieces together yet. Perhaps they never will.
Meanwhile, I note, this morning, that the sun has risen once again and Bob Mueller continues to quietly do his work. This gives me hope that even as Mr. Trump has empowered the worst instincts of American and made a travesty of everything he has touched, our institutions will withstand this craven assault and eventually prevail.
Is there any need to watch the outrage of complacent, power-hungry GOP legislators applauding the blatant lies of the man who currently occupies the oval office? I feel outraged enough, every waking hour. And really, what purpose does it serve to witness the mocking travesty of his presence? Even though he spends more hours than not on #Executive Time, he’s done incalculable damage while Paul and Mitch and Lindsay have watched.
Having recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s thoughtful and inspiring autobiography, I am even more horrified by the kinds of people this country chose to elevate in 2016. Not just Donnie and Melania, but his kids and their spouses. And then all of his rogue’s gallery of appointees. The only good news is that their elevation has sent, and will likely continue to send, many of them to prison.
So, no, I won’t watch.
Time is precious and a diet of constant outrage isn’t the least bit nourishing. It does fuel some powerful fighting energy, but eventually, it burns you out.
I’d love to hear what Stacy Abrams has to say, though. My plan is to monitor Twitter to see when the orange plague stops spewing. Then I’ll head downstairs to the TV to catch what follows. Somehow, it feels like poetic justice to use Twitter against the tiny-fingered miasma known as @realDonaldTrump.
But now comes Bernie, apparently planning to give his own rebuttal, as is his habit and, I suppose, his right. I can (sort of) appreciate how a man who ‘fought the good fight’ for many years in obscurity would have a hard time letting go of the limelight, once he got it. But the truth is, Bernie, that without the platform that the Dems provided you in 2012, very few people would be listening to what you have to say.
The malaise that brought us Trump is too complicated to lay at your feet entirely. But I found your ultimate support of the Democratic ticket less than full-throated. And with so few votes making the difference, it’s really hard not to feel pissed at you.
And you know what? It poisons your message. You know how you run as a Democrat then go back to being an Independent after the fact? That’s beyond annoying, Bernie. It’s time to stand down and join forces with Party that gave you your visibility. The stakes are too high and your voice, like it or not, is divisive right now. So, in the gentlest possible way, and with all due respect, Bernie, I really wish you would take a deep breath, give it a little more thought, and STFU.
Melania won a settlement this weekend, in which “the British paper the Telegraph apologized and agreed to pay ‘substantial damages’ after retracting a story that claimed, among other unflattering things, the former model’s career had been struggling until she met Donald Trump.”
Our Melania also, according to the story just quoted previously, won a “$2.9 million settlement with the Daily Mail over its false report in 2016 that she had worked as an escort and an unspecified settlement in 2017 with a Maryland blogger who reported similar unfounded rumours and also was forced to retract a post that Trump may have suffered a nervous breakdown after her speech at the Republican National Convention.”
This is all from the Telegraph. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of these stories. So, Melania, I am merely quoting what I have read in the news. Please don’t sue me.
Wherever the truth about all this lies, Melania represents a drastic departure from the paths forged by other First Ladies. Much like her husband, she’s a different bird entirely.
“When they go low we go high” couldn’t be about Melania’s comportment in response to unfair attacks. No, if that were a phrase she uttered or understood, it would be about the damages she’d be able to go after, as soon as she got ahold of her pitbull attorney. (Same one Donald uses too, apparently — but I guess not Michael Cohen…)
So Melania, like Donald, doesn’t like bad press. And like Donald, she’ll sue your pants off if she can. And also like Donald, she has no compunction about going low herself when it serves her. The #deplorable pretty much speaks for itself.
I won’t post any of the hundreds of online images of Melania from her ‘modeling’ days, but if you Google “Melania Trump career” and check out the images, you’ll be treated to quite a collection of pictures that, I guess, appeal to a certain type of guy.
Every once in a while a creepily seductive photo of Ivanka finds its way into the mix. Hard to know what to say about those, except that at some point in the coming years Donald will be answering for a lot (either to the Special Prosecutor or to the Creator that he and his base purport to believe in — most likely both).
But back to Melania and her terrible ‘mistreatment’ at the hands of the press and the public. People who have intimated that she was at one time an ‘escort’ surely have had ulterior motives and haven’t been willing to admit how cultured and classy she actually is.
Love this video – rather long but interesting in that it ends with Trump sharing threats to sue the makers of a documentary if it’s inaccurate. And he speaks for Melania constantly. But as noted above, she made her bed.
Last, here’s Ivana talking about her book. No one actually needs to watch the whole thing, but I share it mostly for Melania to see. Yes, sweetie, this is you in a few years. Seriously. you’ll have some kind of surgery, maybe more than once, and write a book, I’m sure. You’ll make the rounds of marginal talk shows, and maybe Donald will sue you if he isn’t in prison.
At @ 3-minutes in Ivana refers to her “Fabulous kids.” I’m not sure I agree, Ivana, but your delusions are clearly an important part of your life. Those kids of yours may not have had time to get in trouble while you were raising them, but they seem to have had a lot of free time lately. Clearly, Donald’s influence took over at some point. And smart? Not so much…
So anyway, back to Melania and her lawsuits. In the upside-down, inside-out universe inhabited by Trump, his circle, and his base, it appears they truly believe they are being wronged and are just standing up for themselves. Cognitive dissonance really isn’t an issue when you are deluded.
So Melania has no problem with:
Falsely, and with gargantuan insincerity, questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship and then
Complaining piteously about someone ‘falsely’ stating that her career just-possibly-wasn’t-over-the-top-prospering when she met her knight in shining armor.
Indeed, the most bullied woman in the world deserves nothing but our sympathy, in her mind. And if she doesn’t get that sympathy, well, she’ll sue the crap out of you.
So today in the Upper Midwest the projected high temps are going to be in the negative double-digits. Putting that in perspective, it’s warmer in Antarctica right now. And, as further sobering perspective, schools have been closed in a number of cities and mail delivery has been shut down due to the deep freeze. “The USPS announced in a tweet Tuesday that no mail will be delivered Wednesday in Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, eastern Montana, western Wisconsin, and western Illinois.”
And predictably, the avidly-attention-seeking @realDonaldTrump shared a tweet about this, putting his ignorance on display yet again. The science and spelling-challenged Fake POTUS wrote: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”
Meanwhile (and again predictably) this ignorant man pans a ‘low-level staffer’s’ book in a tweet. The end result is that this fool is actually publicizing the book on his big fat Twitter platform. The tweet reads “A low level staffer that I hardly knew named Cliff Sims wrote yet another boring book based on made up stories and fiction. He pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer. He signed a non-disclosure agreement. He is a mess!”
Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House is the title of the book by Cliff Sims. And reviewers seem to differ with Trump, not surprisingly. “‘Sims’s vivid portrait of Trump shrewdly balances admiration with misgivings, and his intricate, engrossing accounts of White House vendettas and power plays have a good mix of immersion and perspective. The result is one of the best of the recent flood of Trump tell-alls.’ —Publishers Weekly”
The “admiration” part makes me question Sims’ judgment, but I suppose if he worked there, he must have imbibed quite a lot of Kool-Aid. And I’m not including a link to his book, because I’ve no need to help a former viper make money off the other vipers. I just enjoy watching them all turn on one another. (And of course there’s Chris Christie’s self-serving ‘tell-all’ that I’ll leave unnamed just because.)
And no matter how cold it gets, Matthew Whitaker is here to remind us all that when you lie, you sweat.
Meanwhile POTUS’ tiny fingers are furiously tweeting away in his sad bedroom at the White House.
How lonely it must be, to know, somewhere in the depths of your reptile brain, that you’ll never win your father’s love, that Nancy Pelosi (aka ‘Nancy’) has humiliated you, that your base is pretty damn base, and that even the likes of Mitch and Lindsay are starting to peel away like paint coming off a rotting board.
The end is near, and those custom-made tiny handcuffs are gong to keep you from slipping out of their grip.
The world is filled with amazing things, starting with this: It’s right in the middle of the trail we walk in the woods near our house.
I intended to get a photo of it yesterday. But then I didn’t.
So, I think it’s coyote poop. What else could it be? It’s pretty huge, and if it isn’t coyote poop, then I’m thinking it may be appropriate to be scared.
And this may actually be more information that you want, but there’s a lot of hair in it. Some poor creature(s) devoured by the ravening beast in our woods. Yikes! The photo here is from the web and is an approximation of our sample, albeit on pine needles rather than snow.
With more snow on the way today, our coyote poop will be buried the next time I pass it by. I’ll probably unknowingly step on it with my snowshoes. Then it will be effectively obliterated by the snowmobiles coming through. Come spring it will have melted back into the earth.
It’ll be gone. But I’ll remember the odd, intriguing, slightly disturbing ‘otherness’ of the coyote poop in the middle of the trail. The Trickster paid us a visit, passing through and gently taunting us.
If Beale Street Could Talk: Quiet, beautiful, heartfelt, devastating. America wears many masks. This movie strips a few of them away. It shines a light on quite a lot of ugliness. As well, it illuminates dignity and resilience in the face of a system built on the abuse of privilege and power. A perfect movie to see on the eve of what is hopefully Donald Trump's second and final SOTU.
Shoplifters: A beautifully honest, quiet movie that is at once uplifting and devastating. Universal questions are raised and left open for pondering. What is a family? How do people survive in our world today? And how do we judge their choices?
Green Book: Very enjoyable movie and yet deeply flawed. The white guy comes across as the hero in ways that are typical for the American movie industry, and comfortably misleading in terms of the realities of our culture. Especially in the current socio/political atmosphere, can't we do better than this?
On the Basis of Sex: We applauded, we cried, we felt so glad that RBG was as prescient as she was. And I felt personally glad that her love of opera clearly predates her connection with Scalia. What an inspiring woman -- and a good movie about her early years as a student, professor, and attorney.
The Favourite: Did I say that being a queen was no fun? This definitely seems to have carried forward to Queen Anne's reign. Strong performances again, and more belly laughs than you'd think. And right along with it, grief, emptiness, ambition, and gouty excess.
Mary Queen of Scots: Being a queen was no fun in the 16th century. Excellent, complex performances in this one. I found Elizabeth especially compelling. Very unclear who actually wins out in this one.
Another Year: Loved this one! It's about a couple, and their friends, and their lives – painful in spots, and wonderfully everyday and enriching, to my mind. Great performances – and who knew there was so much wine being drunk in England!?
Tiny Furniture: A young woman (aka Lena Dunham) comes home after graduating from college and tries to find herself – or not. A character study that I found humorous and touching – and sometimes a little disturbing and/or self-indulgent. It's definitely a privilege to have the leisure to "find oneself." After this..."Girls."
Rabbit Hole: Painful/powerful movie about loss and grieving. Hard to watch but well worth the effort, with a strong cast and an especially on the mark performance by Nicole Kidman. I continue to be glad to see that she is clearly outstripping Tom Cruise as an artist. You go girl!
The Kids Are Alright: Very enjoyable movie with great performances and an excellent cast. Two kids whose moms are lesbians decide they want to find out something about their "father" – and everything moves on from that point.
The King's Speech: Warm, funny, inspiring – and apparently a bit of a rewrite of history, to boot! Colin Firth puts out an amazing performance – and was well rewarded for it. Everyone else is great too, and if you're one of the few people left who hasn't seen it, it's definitely worth a look!
Black Swan: This is a disturbing movie that I really loved – and in case you haven't noticed, I do have a tendency to like disturbing movies. What's real and what isn't? You be the judge. Also, be on the lookout for Winona Ryder – you'll never recognized her!
Blue Valentine: A couple in trouble – how they started and how they got to where they are. A good movie with excellent performances that left me wondering, especially in Michelle Williams' case, whether she was thinking about what's his name (her partner who died suddenly – the guy who starred in Broke Back Mountain – for some reason I can't remember his name – oh yeah, Heath Ledger).
Shutter Island: A dark period piece that has the creepy feel of the 1950s (creepy to me at any rate) and has stayed with me more than I would've thought. A movie with surprises – definitely worth a look.
Cyrus: I don't remember this one so well, but have a vague recollection of walking out of the theater feeling not so enthralled. I believe it's supposed to be funny – but as you can tell it didn't really make an impression.
I Am Love: Really beautiful, sumptuous movie that made me hungry, just watching it. A keeper!
The Girl Who Played with Fire: The second in the three part series involving the girl with the dragon tattoo, this movie was much harder to watch than the first, as Salander's triumph isn't quite so clear at the end. Painful, painful, painful.
Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: I loved this comic book take on young love. Went to the movie on a whim and came away very happy to have seen it! Quite a few laugh out loud moments – and touching, as well.
Going the Distance: A very lightweight romcom that kinda left me feeling like I had just spent an hour and a half reading People magazine. In other words, pretty much a waste of time.
Never Let Me Go: Wow! This was an amazing, stark, and moving movie about kids who are basically raised to become organ donors. Very much worth seeing.
The Town: Ben Affleck's movie about bank robbers. It's okay. Not great, but okay. It does make me curious about Charlestown – will have to go there one day.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger: A Woody Allen movie that I honestly don't remember very well. It's pretty much about adults behaving badly – something that Woody knows a little something about.
The Social Network: The movie about Facebook. I found it very interesting and well done, and was especially fascinated/disturbed by the window on the incredible privilege and elitism still thriving at undergrad Harvard.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest: Number three in the Dragon trilogy. I found this, in many ways, the weakest of the three movies – although that's not to say that it was weak. Perhaps my enjoyment was affected by the fact that I hadn't read the book. Anyway, it's a great trilogy and I was sorry to see it come to an end.
Fair Game: The movie about the Valerie Plame affair. One of the things that I found most interesting was how it uncovered my own biases, as she was clearly a very serious and talented agent, but because of her blonde haired beauty, I pretty much assumed that she was a lightweight in real life. I appreciated, also, the depiction of her husband as a bit of a media hound, which was how he seemed to me at the time. And of course, there are the despicable characters of the Bush administration. Glad they were on display in all their glory!
City Island: This was a fine, if predictable, movie about a family in which everyone has a secret and is telling lies. I mostly loved it because it gave me a glimpse of where my friend CB lives!
Winter's Bone: Wow! Unrelenting, stark, and ultimately uplifting – at least to my mind. This is a painful movie about life when you're the daughter of someone who runs a meth lab. Winter's Bone is a perfect title.
Please Give: Quirky, sweet, slice-of-life movie. I loved the low-key character development and good humor of it all. Enjoyable, with a great cast and few false notes.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Tho' parts of the book were missing, this was an excellent rendition of an excellent book. Not for the faint of heart, tho'! Lisbeth Salander is an Emma Peel for the 21st Century (watch for more from Noomi Rapace - I will be)!
Me and Orson Welles: Or was it Orson Welles and me? (If Orson had anything to do with the title, I'm guessing the latter.) I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, even as it reminded me of why the world of the theatre holds absolutely no appeal for yours truly! Nice to see Claire Danes back ... still have to finish watching Temple Grandin, too!
Crazy Heart: I left this movie thinking ... "Eh?" but it has stayed with me. Jeff Bridges does give a wonderful performance. The amount of smoking and drinking was nauseating - as I guess it was supposed to be - all in an understated, Jeff Bridges sort of a way.
A Single Man: One of the best movies of the year in my book. Haunting, beautifully acted and filmed ... marred only by an unnecessarily heavy-handed ending, IMHO. That was the only flaw in an otherwise brilliant bit of artistry. Colin Firth was perfect, and this was an amazing writing/directing debut for Tom Ford! See it!!!
Young Victoria: I am eternally grateful to have not been born the heir to a throne. Life was confusing enough! This was an enjoyable, tear-jerker of a movie that left me wanting to know more about the details. Perhaps a bio for Bookeaters?
Precious: Wow, wow, wow. Two weeks in a row - another amazing movie at Red River. This is a challenging and important movie ... about life in America ... every single day ... everywhere.
The Messenger: Wow, wow, wow. This is one of the best movies I have seen in quite some time. Its focus is on two men who notifiy NOK (next of kin) when a soldier dies. It is a raw, wrenching, unflinching and uplifting journey - not to be missed. Seriously
Damned United: This was a study in soccer, ambition, and friendship. For soccer buffs who actually know the players (I'm a late-comer to the game) the movie would be that much better. I loved it, though - and recommend it highly.
A Serious Man: The Book of Job envisioned by the Coen brothers evoked the early sixties and suburbia with humor, pathos ... and a slightly nauseating quality that tells me they pretty much hit the nail on the head. As one of the goyim, I am sure there were hundreds of nuances that were lost on me ... but I loved it (nausea aside) nonetheless!
Cold Souls: The premise of this movie is deeply strange, yet it is presented in an entirely believable way. It's by turns very moving and then hilarious (in ways that, in retrospect, are hard to capture/explain). The ending leaves a puzzled feeling - but that's not really bothersome. In many ways, puzzled is the appropriate way to walk out of the theater after "Cold Souls." Check it out!
Adam: Nicely done! Not a movie that will stay with you for a long time, but I liked it. The father (Peter Gallagher) seemed a tad overdone -and unnecessarily so. Unmemorable soundtrack - but since I mention it, does that make it memorable? Now I'm starting to feel like Steven Wright - not necessarily a bad thing!
Taking Woodstock: Even going in with low expectations, this offering from Ang Lee just wasn't good. Vilma was a high point in an otherwise shoddy effort. Harsh, eh? And watch out, world - it's only 6:30 AM!
Julie and Julia: I was not as bothered by Julie as some reviewers were - maybe because I liked seeing a blogger hit the big time. Meryl Streep was amazing as Julia .. and this is definitely not a movie to see on an empty stomach! Never have I enjoyed watching people eat as much as I did watching this flick!
500 Days of Summer: I think I wasn't supposed to, but I loved it. Engaging characters and script, great soundtrack. Not as quirky and lovable as "Away We Go" - but not far behind, either.
Whatever Works: People either like or hate this latest offering from Woody Allen. I must admit that it's a little weird to see this May-December relationship on-screen, feeling so creeped out by Woody's real-life choices. But I'd say he pulls it off. There are some really great lines throughout the movie, and while not entirely believable, I didn't mind being along for the ride. A pleasant diversion for sure.
Goodbye, Solo: Interesting movie that basically contrasts life energy and death energy, IMHO. Solo is the epitome of resilience - love him! Meanwhile William seems bent on being miserable, for reasons that the movie leaves mysterious. I didn't find him very a likable or compelling character - but Solo makes up for it.
Moon: I hesitate to write this one up, as I was tired when I saw it - and missed portions. But form my bleary vantage point, this seemed an intriguing movie set on the moon and exploring themes of identity, isolation, etc. It was not my usual fare - and I wasn't up to snuff - but at least had the wherewithall to be able tell that it was quality work!
Cheri: I liked this a lot better than Easy Virtue - maybe because I went into it having already seen EV and had my expectations lowered. Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates are fun to watch as always - and I liked Rupert Friend in the title role. It all got a little too serious at the end - a tone-shift that didn't quite fit with the bulk of the movie. Still - a pleasant diversion on a rainy July evening!
Away We Go: This was an excellent movie in every regard. Great dialogue and plot line, endearing cast/characters, heartwarming/funny story that avoids tipping over into overly-sweet territory ... and great soundtrack, to boot! See it, if you haven't already.
Easy Virtue: Not my cup of tea - but I suspect it would have helped, going in, to know that this was a movie based on a Noel Coward play. The characters felt stilted and unbelievable to me, as it was - and I couldn't muster much concern for what became of them. All things considered, I'd rather have been in Philadelphia!
Sugar: Sugar is a baseball flick that is sweetly and realistically done - and definitely like no Hollywood film on the subject. The characters are real and the life is hard - and the film depicts it all in a matter-of-fact way that brings the realities home more surely than something more "dramatic" ever could. Two thumbs up on this one!
Sunshine Cleaning: Director Christine Jeffs has a winner in this tale about the hard times and resiliency of the Lorkowski family. Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin shine in this movie about a bio-hazard clean-up company. Yes, that's correct. And the movie had the potential to cross the line into sappiness several times but demurred. For that I am eternally thankful. (Okay, eternally may be a little over the top.) Darn good flick, though - check it out.
Milk: Sean Penn deserves an Oscar for his amazing portrayal of Harvey Milk. It actually didn't even feel like a portrayal - more a channeling. Such a loss - that yet another creative and energetic and good leader, was senselessly murdered all those years ago. Fear, hatred and guns - why don't we remove at least the last ingredient in the tragic mix?
Doubt: Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman are amazing, and Viola Davis is a heartbreaking revelation in this battle royale. I was left with less doubt at the end than some of my compatriots ... but that took nothing away from the experience. Meryl Streep deserves an Oscar, IMHO ... and I definitely want her on my side, always!
Slumdog Millionaire: Just a great movie, start to finish. Magical,epic, and a nail-biter (even though you know what's going to happen ... pretty much. The dancing at the end did my heart good - and having M.I.A. in the soundtrack didn't hurt, either!
The Secret Life of Bees: Or was it The Secret Lives of Bees? Anyway, whatever - I want Queen Latifah to be my mother!!! (What was Bill Clinton thinking, throwing her under the bus all those years ago?) The movie was entertaining but not a home run by any means. Too predictable ... but Alicia Keys was wonderfully cranky-verging-on-scary and the Queen was queenly and the honey looked delicious and it was nice hearing India Arie in the soundtrack!
Happy Go Lucky: I think I was supposed to like this more than I did. Perhaps it suffered by being seen pretty much on the heels of Rachel. I found Poppy to be a sometimes intriguing and sometimes annoying character. The relentless joking and "upbeatness" felt distancing and unnecessary. I didn't hate this movie by any means - but something was missing for me.
Rachel Getting Married: Jonathan Demme and an amazing script and cast just blew me away with this effort. The characters are fascinating and complicated and most every interaction in the film left me engaged and wanting to know more! Debra Winger was stupendous - although it's been so long since I've seen her that I kept trying to find the bull-riding Urban Cowboy persona within the steely, distant mother of this wedding movie. (She's not there.) Margot at the Wedding was very good - but Rachel puts her in her place. I highly recommend this to everyone!
Religulous: Bill Maher skewers the rampant "illogic" of religion in this free-wheeling film. His wit is right on target and as barbed as you'd expect. I found myself squirming every once in awhile. I don't mind you picking on the Pope, Bill ... but same as with Michael Moore ... sometimes when you set up "common folks" to look like fools, I cringe. Still, Religulous is worth a look for sure. The best point Bill makes? That conservatives of a religulous bent are about finding answers - while liberals are about asking questions. I can go with that!
Roman de gare: This was an intriguing, surprising, suspenseful, funny, quirky movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters and plot lines are deftly developed. You should definitely check it out if you get the chance!
Young at Heart: YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE! It's a documentary about a choral group of octogenarians in Northampton, MA. Very inspiring ... definitely something to check out!
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: Enjoyable, light fare with a stellar performance by my favorite police chief, Frances McDormand!
The Visitor: Now this was an excellent movie ... from start to finish. It was similar to Smart People in that it had an academic as the main character. However, all similarities ended pretty much right there. In this warm, funny, and wrenching movie, the characters are well and subtly developed, the plot is (unfortunately) believable ... and there are no false notes. I would urge you to see it - you won't be sorry!
Smart People: Looks like we're getting back on track with our Tuesday night movie schedule ... for the time being. Smart People was enjoyable but left me unenthralled. (It probably didn't help that we ran into a totally enthralled movie-goer on the way in who was seeing it for the second time. High expectations may have killed this one for me.) Overall, I found the characters exaggerated and mildly unlikeable ... the dialogue stilted and self-conscious, perhaps just the way smart people talk. But then the lessons about loosening up and being less self-absorbed weren't exactly ground-breaking. Overall, it wasn't a wasted evening ... but not a movie I'll be putting at the top of my list, either.
4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days): Winner of the Palm D'Or at Cannes, this film by Romania's Cristian Mungiu certainly deserves the accolades it receives. It's a realistic and emotionally unflinching story of a woman who helps her friend obtain an illegal abortion in 1987 Romania. The story is harrowing, the acting wonderful, and the cinematography amazing. This film makes Juno look like Disney pablum!
Taxi to the Dark Side: This was a harrowing and eye-opening look at what our country has become under the leadership of Bush/Cheney after 9/11. The "road taken" has definitely been a trip to the dark side. Disgusting and important to see ... as we make our way back toward the light!
Michael Clayton: What an excellent movie! Engaging, engrossing, well-acted. Tilda Swinton certainly deserved an award for her protrayal of what I have to think must be the secret, inner life of Condi Rice.
Persepolis: This animated memoir is an engaging, heartbreaking, uplifting, realistic look at life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Go see it! It humanizes what our current regime so consistently tries to dehumanize. An important movie, Persepolis is based on the book by Marjane Satrapi.
Margot at the Wedding: Dark, funny, tough to watch and very well acted.
I'm Not There: Bob Dylan's not my favorite, but this was a fascinating movie to watch (albeit long) and since he wasn't there, I couldn't very well feel annoyed by him. Cate Blanchette was just amazing - and I loved the surreal, Fellini-esque feel of the Richard Gere parts.
Atonement: Lush, compelling, painful - I especially loved Vanessa Redgrave's starkly powerful 5 minutes - and the Fellini-esque (can you tell I love Fellini?) flavor of the scenes of the evacuating troops on the beach - complete with ferris wheels - somehow depicting the disorienting horror of war in ways that blood and gore never could. Great movie!
Juno: Well, I went to see it. I totally agree with my friends who found the clinic scene extremely misleading, off-base, and gratuitously negative in its depiction of the women's health movement and its workers. In an otherwise nice movie, this was a thoughtless lapse ... and I was sad to see so many women in Juno's age group in the theater (one of them actually pregnant) ... who'll be coming away with a false impression that could so seriously affect their lives!
The Savages: Wow, what a good movie! Philip Seymour Hoffman has had an amazing run this year between this, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," and that other movie with Tom Hanks ... the name of which is escaping me at the moment ... Charlie Somebody's War. Anyway - he and Laura Linney are just wonderful as siblings dealing with their aging/ailing father. Painful and real ... and set in gritty, wintry Buffalo ... in perfect contrast to Sun City. (The latter looks like a setting that would do David Lynch proud.) Check it out if you haven't seen it!