Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Just before my wife and I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor? at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, I read Ken Levine’s review.

It begins: “Full disclosure: I was not a fan of MR. ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD when it aired. My kids watched it, but I found it oddly creepy.” Next paragraph: “I am now one of those people recommending WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?”

That’s the point: you don’t have to be a fan of Fred Rogers’ long-running children’s program on PBS to appreciate the wonderful individual he was who did appeal to very many kids. Adults didn’t get him because he generally wasn’t talking to them.

Although he pretty much single-handedly secured funding for Public Broadcasting in 1970 through his direct plea to a Congressional committee chair.

The thing about his show was not designed to entertain the parents but to create that one-on-one relationship between the host and every child. It was because he understood child psychology and remembered some of the more painful aspects of his own childhood. Someone suggested that what Fred did was to take the formula of every other idea in children’s programming and do the opposite.

Fred was trained as a Presbyterian minister and was a lifelong Republican, back in the day when there were moderate Republicans such as Governor William Scranton in his native Pennsylvania. But he addressed big issues, such as race relations and violence, while not being preachy, just genuinely good and kind.

I really related to Mr. Rogers’ use of his puppets. I know that the use of inanimate objects can sometimes express ideas and feelings more easily than one can do directly.

The movie touched on some reportage that suggested that suggested that millennials are whiny because Fred Rogers told them they were special. I thought it was nonsense at the time, and the film only reinforced my view.

The Mr. Rogers message was/is that we ALL are special, worthy of being loved. In doing so, he taught them/us we need to be thoughtful and considerate to others. That seems to be an effective representation of what ministry should be.

My wife and I thought the same thing, separately: when African American performer Francois Clemons shared a wading pool with Fred Rogers for the second time in the film, it felt like the narrative of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. I can’t explain why.

Whether or nor you liked MR. ROGERS NEIGHBORHOOD, or even heard of it, you should watch Won’t You Be My Neighbor, directed by Morgan Neville, who also also directed that great documentary about backup singers, 20 Feet from Stardom.

Though Kathy Bates had been working regularly on film since at least 1977, and I undoubtedly had seen her in some of those shows and movies, the first place I really recognized her was in the 1990 movie Misery.

“I’m your biggest fan” undoubtedly affected readers of the Stephen King novel, but to see her Annie Wilkes interact with Paul Sheldon (James Caan)… let’s put it this way; I haven’t seen that movie since I viewed in the cinema, and it STILL makes me shudder. She captured the Best Actress Oscar and a Golden Globe.

My favorite scene of hers, though, was in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), the bit in a parking lot here or here, when Evelyn Couch got tired of being treated like an old davenport. The vicarious pleasure I felt was surprisingly strong.

From IMBD: “Kathleen Doyle Bates was… raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the youngest of three girls… One of her ancestors, an Irish emigrant to New Orleans, once served as President Andrew Jackson’s doctor.

“By the mid-to-late 1970s, Kathy was treading the boards frequently as a rising young actress of the New York and regional theater scene… She took her first Broadway curtain call in 1980’s ‘Goodbye Fidel,’ which lasted only six performances. She then went directly into replacement mode when she joined the cast of the already-established and highly successful ‘Fifth of July’ in 1981.

I have enjoyed her work in several other TV shows and films, including:

* a prostitute in Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog (1991)
* the unsinkable Molly Brown in Titanic (1997)
* the villainous Miss Hannigan in a Disney version of Annie (1999)
* quirky, liberal mom Roberta Hertzel in About Schmidt (2002), for which she received a Best
Supporting Actress nomination
* well-to-do Jo Bennett in the latter stages of the US version of The Office (2010-2011)
* Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

Kathy Bates turns 70 on June 28, 2018, and by the look of her upcoming credits does not appear to be retiring any time soon, despite living with lymphedema. She has been the national spokesperson for the Lymphatic Education & Research Network.

Watching RBG, a documentary about the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the parallels among her being an aspiring law student at Harvard and Columbia, the cases she took on as attorney, and her role on SCOTUS are quite striking.

She tended to be dismissed out of hand at Harvard, with her and the handful of other students being asked directly why they were taking spots that could have gone to a man. Decades later, Virginia Military Institute was essentially making the same case, but the argument was met with withering criticism by RBG.

This is a wonderful film, helped by some amazing archival video showing the development of the great love story between Ruth and Marty Ginsberg, who were married from 1954 until his death in 2010. He was gregarious, while he was quiet, goofy when she was serious. Ruth is a notoriously awful cook, while Marty had kitchen talent.

Moreover, he recognized her great legal skills. Arthur Miller, their great friend, said that Marty was the greatest tax attorney in New York City, yet he left his job to follow his wife when she was appointed to the federal bench by Jimmy Carter.

During her confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court in 1993, she felt that many of the men on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t “get” it, didn’t understand the effect of being dismissed out of hand. Yet she was confirmed 96-3 after Bill Clinton recommended her, recognizing her stellar mind.

As she became more the liberal voice of dissent, social media dubbed her The Notorious RBG with a Tumblr page, pictures on Pinterest, T-shirts and a book describing the an unlikely recent obsession in our culture: an octogenarian Supreme Court justice.

Ruth has learned to embrace the phenomenon. She laughs at Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of her on Saturday Night Live while acknowledging that it is nothing like her.

Meanwhile, she is passing down wisdom to her grandchildren, including one granddaughter who was in a class of lawyers that’s about 50% female.

The film, which my wife and I saw at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany, is touching, and educational, and, based on my laughter at the latter sections, occasionally quite funny.

Uluru or Ayers Rock is a national park in a central part of Australia, located in the Northern Territory. What does this have to do with this cartoon, which I saw on Facebook?

The graphic is called Trouble Brewing from The Far Side by Gary Larson. Someone theorized that it was inspired by an episode of the US TV show Seinfeld called The Stranded from season 3 (November 27, 1991), in which Jerry and Elaine are bored at a Long Island party that George invited them to. “Elaine confronts a woman because of her fur coat,” and in a mock Australian accent exclaims “Maybe the dingo ate your baby?”

In fact, Elaine was parodying Meryl Streep in the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark, in which she played a woman who claimed a dingo took her baby. You didn’t need to have seen the movie – though I did – just the trailer, to have heard the iconic dialogue.

Was Larson inspired by the movie clip, the TV show, or both? I don’t know when the cartoon was first published, though it had to be before January 1, 1995, when he retired. The cartoon then shows up in the 2005 desk calendar.

I’m fascinated how the phrase became a pop-culture joke, but more that people are unaware that it was based on a true story.

“August 17, 1980 was like any other hot and sticky Summer night in Australia. Lindy and Michael Chamberlain took their family camping in Uluru… Hours after setting up camp, [they] were having a barbecue with other campers when they heard cries coming from their tent. It was their 2-month old daughter, Azaria. When Lindy approached the tent, she saw a wild animal shaking its head violently and growling. The animal fled, and Lindy was shocked to learn Azaria was missing from the tent…

“Immediately, police were suspicious of Lindy. When the mother appeared on local news, she described her daughter’s apparent death in horrifying detail. Even more concerning, the public couldn’t believe how casually the mother described the scenario… So, they assumed she was guilty…

“It was another person’s disappearance that would lead to the truth behind Azaria’s death… The Chamberlains were released from prison, but the state didn’t confirm their version of events until 32 years later. The couple was rewarded $1.3 million for their wrongful imprisonment…

“It’s not far off from the influence media has had on cases in the U.S. From the Menendez Brothers to OJ Simpson, and even Casey Anthony, we’ve fed off real-life crimes like they were written for us to consume…”

Finally, an interesting take on The Far Side: “Much of what Larson endeavors to satirize is the communal understanding of one another by pitting two individuals against each other psychologically…”

Re: “Trouble Brewing”: “The reader can appreciate each perspective in the panel: the hunger and wily aspect of the dingo, and the benign unawareness of the toddlers. Each perspective lets us ponder what it must be like to be the Other in a given circumstance, especially the numerous strips featuring an anthropomorphic Judeo-Christian god creating the world, and other assorted creatures.”

For ABC Wednesday

While I was watching the Academy Awards on my birthday – only three days late – I saw on Facebook this meme. “Suppose, to help a potential partner or mate to understand who you are, you had to name five films that reflect parts of your personality.”

Without giving it much thought, I came up with Annie Hall, West Side Story, Hidden Figures, Howard the Duck, and Being There.

Annie Hall, which I’ve seen at least four times, was easy. At least three of these things are true:
I hate going to the movie theater after the film has started
I don’t like to drive
I wish I could pull out an expert, such as Marshall McLuhan, to end idiotic conversations
Sometimes, relationships ARE like sharks
Cocaine makes me sneeze

West Side Story, which is, upon further review, not a great movie, taking too long to get started, among other things. But it has great music.
It was the first “grown up” movie I saw
It’s amazing what you can do with counterpoint
Racial and ethnic strife suck

I had a conversation with an African-American woman about Hidden Figures during my church’s Black History Month celebration, which, BTW, was amazing. We agreed that, of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture for 2016, Moonlight was the best. But we noted that we weren’t likely to see it again any time soon. Whereas Hidden Figures, another nominee, was a joyful celebration of recent history.

Howard the Duck was previewed in Albany in a movie theater, sponsored by FantaCo, the comic book store where I worked from May 1980 to November 1988. The “trapped in a world that he never made” description in the comic book reminds me of me, sometimes. And also The Pretenders.

Being There reminds me that sometimes we manage to bumble through life, with people fooled into believing you have an idea what you’re saying. Maybe we’re just fakin’ it.

Incidentally, when The Shape of Water won the Best Picture Oscar, it meant that I have seen exactly half of the 90 victors. It occurred to me that I should write about the ones I’ve seen (the earliest: Casablanca) and the significant ones I have not (Gone with the Wind, e.g.).

Contact me
  • E-mail Contact E-mail; Blog content c 2005-2018, Roger Green, unless otherwise stated. Quotes used per fair use. Some content, including many graphics, in the public domain.
  • Privacy policy Privacy policy of this blog
I Actually Know These Folks
I contribute to these blogs
Other people's blogs
Politics
Popular culture
Useful stuff
July 2018
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Archives
Counter
wordpress analytics
Please follow & like us :)
Facebook
Google+
https://www.rogerogreen.com/tag/movies
Twitter
^
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial