Movie review: Another Round

tragicomedy

Another RoundThe premise of the film Another Round involves the lives of four male teachers in Denmark. They have all become rather prosaic in their teaching, and for at least some of them, in their lives.

Perhaps they need to engage in an experiment. Someone noted that Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud claimed that human beings are actually experiencing a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) shortfall of 0.05%. (The legal limit before being intoxicated in NYS is 0.08%.)

Sure enough, small doses of booze make them more creative educators. Martin (Mads Mikkelsen) riffs with imaginative dialogues with his history students about Churchill, FDR, and Hitler, making them think. Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen) becomes an inspired tactician of the elementary school soccer team so that even the least likely player shines.

As social scientists, would it not require them to engage in more analysis to discover the optimum BAC for productivity? Naturally. And eventually, things go awry. It isn’t just the work that had become routine. Early on, Martin asked his wife Trine (Maria Bonnevie), “Have I become boring?”

Best International Feature Film nomination

Another Round is described in Rotten Tomatoes as a comedy/drama or a tragicomedy, and that’s about right. The educators made a pact as though they were teenagers in a buddy movie. And their early success is appealing. Generally speaking, these are engaging characters.

They have been hiding depression and/or a mid-life crisis. I don’t think the movie makes light of the drinking. They do delude themselves, though. “We’re not alcoholics,” says Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) “We decide when we want to drink. An alcoholic can’t help himself.”

Thomas Vinterberg, who also co-wrote the screenplay, was the only Oscar-nominated director this year whose film was NOT nominated for Best Picture. Another Round WAS nominated for Best International Feature Film, formerly Best Foreign Film. The film is in Danish with subtitles. The working title was Drunk, which would have been misleading.

I saw this on Hulu in my desperate dash to see as many films during the free trial as possible. I enjoyed this film, probably more than I expected to.

Album name appears as a lyric #2

Ian Anderson, Anthrax, Beck, Blur, the Breeders appear twice

The-Band-Cahoots-Album-Photo
Cahoots – The Band

Here is my second venture trying to find situations where the album name appears as a lyric, but it’s not the title song. There is no actual title song, but these can be ersatz title songs.

Even before my first venture, I had posted questions on various message boards. I ended up with a LOT of responses. So many, in fact, that this will be a minimum of a dozen more posts. The ones I own – and therefore should have remembered, I will note.

A

Hey Citizen – ABC. Album: Beauty Stab. Lyrics: “Beauty stab, When the good things in life Have all grown bad”

Waiting for You – Derrick Anderson. Album: A World of My Own. Lyrics: “Wide awake from silent slumber Still recalling a world of my own”. The Smithereens serve as the backing group.

Homo Erraticus – Ian Anderson. Album: Per Errationes Ad Astra. Lyric: “Let’s not worry about the wandering Man. He’ll wander hither if he can” Homo Erraticus is Latin for “wandering man”. (Is this a cheat, or very clever? Yes.)

What-ifs, Maybes and Might-have-beens – Ian Anderson. Album: Thick as a Brick II. Lyrics: “And your wise men don’t know how it feels To be thick as a brick… two.”

Time – Anthrax. Album: Persistence Of Time. Lyrics: “One day I’ll get what’s mine Through the persistence of time.”

Be All, End All – Anthrax. Album: State of Euphoria. Lyric: Life can be a real ball. State of mind: Euphoria

The Boy Wonders – Aztec Camera. Album: High Land, Hard Rain. Lyrics: “I came from high land where the hopefuls have to hesitate” and “When he’ll feel the fall of honest rain” (close enough)

B

Smoke Signals -The Band. Album: Cahoots Lyrics: “When they’re torn out by the roots / Young brothers join in cahoots”. I own this on vinyl, and it was one of the albums I played often in college.

Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Confidence  – Courtney Barnett. Album: Tell Me How You Really Feel. Chorus lyrics: “(Tell me how you really feel) I don’t know, I don’t know anything.”

Octopus – Syd Barrett. Album: The Madcap Laughs. Lyrics: “The mad cat laughed at the man on the border” Apparently, David Gilmour misheard the lyrics and thought it was “mad cap” instead of “mad cat” so it became the name of the album.

Exquisite Corpse – Bauhaus. Album: The Sky’s Gone Out. Lyrics: “THE SKY’S GONE OUT – THE SKY, THE SKY…”

Good Vibrations – the Beach Boys. Album: SMiLE Lyrics: “Softly smile, I know she must be kind.” Of course, I have this album. But I’d had the song for so long, on Smiley Smile, it didn’t occur to me. Of course, Brian Wilson ALSO has a version.

All You Need Is Love – The Beatles. Album: Love. Lyrics: “Love is all you need.” Well, OK, the entire chorus. Are there other songs on the Love album that qualify?

Lord Only Knows – Beck. Album: Odelay. Lyrics: “Just passing through. Odelay, odelay, odelay, odealy.”

Little One – Beck. Album: Sea Change. Lyrics: “Drown, drown. Sailors run aground. In a sea change nothing is safe”

Prisoner of Love – Pat Benatar. Album: Crimes of Passion. Lyrics: “Cold hard labor, it’s a labor of love. Convicted of crimes, the crimes of passion.”

Communicate – The B-52’s. Album: Bouncing Off The Satellites. Lyrics: “Baby, baby bounce it off your satellite”

BL

What On Earth – Blossom Toes. Album: We Are Ever So Clean (1967). Lyrics: “You’ll feel much better the wetter you get We are ever so clean.” Described as an English psychedelic pop a la Pink Floyd or Kaleidoscope.

You’re No Fun Anymore – The Bluetones. Album: Luxembourg. Lyrics: “I can’t say the word, Luxembourg.”

For Tomorrow – Blur. Album: Modern Life is Rubbish Lyrics: “Then he puts the TV on Turns it off and makes some tea Says, ‘Modern life, well, it’s rubbish’ I’m holding on for tomorrow (-row-row)” I’ll buy that.

Ice Cream Man – Blur. Album: The Magic Whip. Lyrics: “with a swish of his magic whip”

Rock and Roll Band – Boston. Album: Boston. Lyrics: “We were just another band out of Boston.” Ah, do I keep this eponymous reference? Of course, I have this album.

Cannonball– The Breeders. Album: Last Splash. Lyrics: “I’m the last splash”. Yes, I have this on CD.

Little Fury – The Breeders. Album: Title TK. Lyrics: Round up, holler girl. Ah, I will sing Title TK If I don’t black out”

Synapse – Bush. Album: Razorblade Suitcase. Lyrics: “Razorblade suitcase, All the tricks of the trade”

My Back Pages – The Byrds. Album: Younger Than Yesterday. Bob Dylan Lyrics: “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” OK, it’s in the kinda-sorta category. I have the song, but on a greatest hits CD.

Chuck Connors would have been 100

Celtics, Cubs

Chuck Connors.baseballIt could have been in TV Guide or another magazine, or a newspaper article. All I know is that, during the run of the TV show The Rifleman (1958-1963), I knew that Chuck Connors had been a professional athlete before he became an actor.

He played basketball with the Boston Celtics. In 1946, Kevin Joseph Aloysius Connors was the first NBA player to shatter a backboard, doing so during a pre-game warm-up in the Boston Garden.

The future actor also played baseball. Before the 1940 season, he was signed by his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent. Though somewhat successful in the minor leagues, he got into only one game with that major league team, in 1949.

On October 10, 1950, he was traded, with Dee Fondy, to the Chicago Cubs for Hank Edwards and cash. He spent part of the 1951 season with the Cubs, appearing in 66 games, 57 of them as a first baseman, batting .239.

“In a 1997 biography titled ‘The Man Behind the Rifle’, author David Fury says that ‘Chuck”‘Connors acquired his nickname while an athlete playing first base. He had a habit of calling to the pitcher: “Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me!”

North Fork

His IMDB record begins in 1952. But he’s best known for playing Lucas McCain in 168 episodes of The Rifleman. The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows, by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, have a great description of the show.

“The setting was the town of North Fork, NM, whose marshall seemed incapable of handling any of the numerous desperadoes who infested the series without Lucas.” I’m sure I watched it a lot in the day, and it’s still available on MeTV.

Lucas McCain was ranked #32 in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in the 20 June 2004 issue. He raised Mark (Johnny Crawford) by himself.

Chuck spent a season on Arrest and Trial, a cop show with Ben Gazzara, which I don’t remember.

Bitter Creek

Connors was on another western, Branded (1965-1966). “Jason McCord, the only survivor of the Battle of Bitter Creek, is court-martialed and kicked out of the Army because of his alleged cowardice. Rather than demean the good name of the Army commander who was actually to blame for the massacre, McCord travels the Old West trying to restore his good name and reputation.

And my sisters and I would reenact the  opening theme, which I can hear in my mind’s ear to this day:

“All but one man died, There at Bitter Creek. And they say he ran away. Branded! Marked with a coward’s shame. What do you do when you’re branded, will you fight for your name?

“He was innocent. Not a charge was true. But the world would never know. Branded! Scorned as the one who ran. What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?

“Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you must prove… You’re a man.”

And in the intro, the officer would break McCord’s sword over his knee. We would take a thin tree branch and break it in the same way. Or more often, take this paper covering that came with the dry cleaning and tear it.

Oddly, I don’t remember the show itself very much.

Redux

Here’s some trivia. “He suffered almost the same fate in each of his two television western series. In The Rifleman: The Vaqueros (1961), he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree, and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Mexican bandits. And in Branded: Fill No Glass for Me: Part 2 (1965), he was stripped to the waist, tied to a tree, and left to die under a scorching sun by a group of Indian warriors. (In both cases he survived.)”

I didn’t see him much after that, except in an occasional guest appearance, and two episodes of Roots. No, I did NOT see Werewolf.

Chuck Connors was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1991.

Born: April 10, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York City, NY
Died: November 10, 1992 (age 71) in Los Angeles, CA

Time: movie documentary review

60 years

Time amazon-documentaryTime is a black and white documentary film put together by the New York Times’ Op Doc folks, which I saw on Amazon Prime. It starts out as a series of snippets of home videos by Fox Rich, about her and her husband Rob, pursuing their American dream to start a clothing store.

Then things went south, financially. We discover Rob and a cousin decide to rob a bank, with Fox as the getaway driver. They are caught and both are given jail time. Fox, who was pregnant with twin boys, received a few years. But Rob got 60 years, without a chance of parole.

So the bulk of the film is about Fox trying to make sure her six sons remember their father while working unceasingly over two decades to get her husband out of prison. As the tag suggests, “this bears witness to the power of one woman to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds with the aid of her faith and family.”

Time was one of fifteen films that were considered in the “Documentary Feature category for the 93rd Academy Awards. Two hundred thirty-eight films were eligible in the category. Members of the Documentary Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.”

I’ll admit that it took me a while to see where the film was going. Once I picked up on the narrative direction, I found it fascinating and inspiring.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it received 98% positive reviews from the critics. But only 46% of the general audience felt the same. And I understand why, I believe.

This is NOT a story about persons falsely accused. These people clearly did the crime. Ought not they do the time? Perhaps. But 60 years?

Why is life so complicated?

Here’s a paragraph from an IMDB review from ferguson 6, 7 out of 10 stars. “There are some mixed messages delivered here, which is understandable given how complicated life can get. Perhaps the most vivid message is the impact incarceration has on a family.

“Fox is an extraordinary woman devoted to raising her sons as strong and smart young men. But she also decries that her boys have never had a father and don’t even know the role one plays. While Fox displays the ultimate in polite phone decorum despite her frustrations with an uncaring, inefficient system, we do see her sincerity as she stands in front of her church congregation asking for forgiveness of her poor choices.”

If you watch Time, please be patient. It probably won’t grab you at the outset. It’s only over the course of the film that you get to see the effect that  lengthy incarceration has on a family.

Pandemic brain fog: a real thing

Limbic system

brain fogPreparing the agenda for one of the endless ZOOM meetings I have, someone (no, not me) accidentally inserted an intro from some months earlier, then sent it out in a mass email. I wrote back, “I am confounded.” They said, “pandemic brain.”

Is that a thing? I’m not talking about the fog that people who’ve had COVID sometimes experience. I am thinking of the rest of us. Apparently, it is. From UC Health: Struggling with brain fog? You’re not alone.

“Months of an upside-down routine – or in some cases, lack of a routine altogether – have left our brains in the lurch. ‘People may start forgetting things, wondering, ‘What was I going to do today? I don’t even know.’”

Being Patient notes: “Dr. Majid Fotuhi, a Harvard and John Hopkins trained neurologist and neuroscientist, describes brain fog as an all-inclusive term that encompasses the inability to concentrate, increased absent-mindedness, difficulty recalling or retaining information, fatigue, insomnia, and changes in mood. There is no test or measurement to access brain fog, nor is it considered an official medical diagnosis.”

My mind is already full

As early as June 2020, Penn Medicine reported: “Part of the brain called the limbic system is hyperactive during times of negative emotions and stress, explained Lily Brown, PhD… director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety.

“The limbic system acts as a control center for feelings and reactions. For example, the well-known fight or flight response begins in the limbic system, triggering feelings of anxiety and fear.

“Having trouble thinking, planning, and getting things done recently?… In many cases, when emotions become overblown, parts of the brain in charge of executive function tend to not communicate as well with the emotional parts of the brain — the limbic system is overriding the executive functioning circuit. Brown shared that this can cause people to have trouble focusing or controlling impulses.” Yup.

She recommends some “mindfulness” activities, which you may find useful. What’s helpful to me is the fact that I’m not crazy. Or probably not. I talk to myself a LOT. I don’t go out every day, only to the pharmacy, grocery store or to pick up takeout food. So I say, “My wallet is downstairs,” sometimes aloud, so I don’t forget it. “My keys are in the mail drawer, or maybe in the pants I wore yesterday.”

Checklist

Still, the things I used to do easily are trickier. The last time I went to the grocery, I remembered the bags (doesn’t always happen), the masks (ditto), the wallet, and the keys. And I picked up all of the items on the list.

I remembered to give the cashier the discount card, then I packed up my cart. But I forgot to pick up my credit card. The customer behind me ran to give it to me, which I, in equal measure, appreciated and was mortified.

It’s always stuff like that. I’m PROBABLY not suffering from dementia. Fog brain. I mean brain fog. Yeah, that.