1917 (I MEANT 2017 OF COURSE but 1917 witnessed two Russian Revolutions, U.S. entered WWI and J.Edgar Hoover went to work in the Justice Department so maybe it’s a model) is already a completely crazy year and only a month has passed. Much of this of course is due to the-shyster-at-the-top, maybe all of it, even the things that don’t seem directly attributable. Yesterday the post office lost my package (the all-important blog-book of my 2015 travels), then found it. I lost my phone, made trips back to the office and finally, in desperation, bought a clock and took a pill to sleep. Back at work this morning, I found the rascal tucked into a big fat file in another office. I blame the shyster for already destabilizing the post office and for adding a massive layer of stress to my life that makes bad things happen—never mind the actual death and destruction he’s determined to bring forth. There that’s all out of my system for a few hours.
About films and books. There are already a million reviews out there of everything…why am I writing about them on an obscure blog read by 12. Silly (just realized I can’t use these one word sentences anymore because guess who’s the master of one word sentences and I do not want to resemble that slimy-creature-from-the-black-lagoon in any way).
I think adding a few more posts about my 2017 movie marathon is okay but then it’s time to…once again…put this blog on a long, possibly forever, hiatus. A few words about The Eagle Huntress, Jackie, and Manchester by the Sea. The Eagle Huntress was one of the docs mentioned for Oscar consideration and, according to me, should have made the final cut. A Mongolian girl wants to be an eagle hunter, a vocation usually reserved for males. Her family supports her completely, especially her father who teaches her everything he knows. She makes it. This is a documentary put together with more than the usual amount of love given the struggle it must have taken to film; it is an authentically heart-warming tale in a grand and glorious landscape. I loved it for all the filmic and scenic reasons, and I loved it because I was in Mongolia in 2015 for a few days—out on the steppes in a yurt. That made the story a little bit mine didn’t it?
Couldn’t every one of us around 70 years old, or a little less or a little more, write a book about that day in 1963 when Camelot came to its bloody end? On November 22nd, 1963, I was at my friend Betty Jo’s apartment in North Branch, Minnesota with three-year-old son Scott. I was staying with mom and dad up north while waiting for orders to join my husband in the Philippines. Baby Steven was home with mom so I was on a holiday of sorts. Betty Jo and I had probably put our boys down for naps so we could watch As the World Turns… and turn it did. Some time into everybody’s favorite soap, Walter Cronkite appeared with news that the President had been injured and then “President Kennedy died at 1pm Central Standard Time.” Camelot was over. But in Camelot, Camelot/Those are the legal laws./The snow may never slush upon the hillside./By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear./In short, there’s simply not/A more congenial spot/For happily-ever-aftering than here/In Camelot. Not true it seems.
Jackie is a remarkable piece of filmmaking. Somehow Pablo Larrain, director, and Natalie Portman “Jackie” have made a film that has brought back every emotion I’ve ever felt about that day in the form of a dark drama both revealing and so seemingly true in its mix of sorrow and anger, weakness and strength. I was transported, partly because of course I was there—an adult, alive, watching, disbelieving, horror-stricken that it could be happening in America, and so very sad because I loved JFK. I also believe this film could make that day real for the first time to generations since who have grown up with shooting as the all-American sport and aren’t even shocked that this could happen. So far Jackie’s my favorite but then I haven’t seen so many of the Hollywood nominees yet. I’m sure it also has something to do with how intimately that day still plays out for me.
Manchester by the Sea is atmospheric…the best visual depiction of small snowy towns in the north of the country I’ve seen. It looked like January Minnesota and I felt every cold nose, cold toes, and painful ear lobes. Let me also say that Casey Affleck is the best brooder I’m ever seen on screen (although Natalie Portman does that well too). I almost loved this movie—it’s powerful in story, acting and cinematography. Maybe the reason I say “almost” is because I’m not so very partial to brooding, sensitive, fucked-up loser stories. These (usually) guys are so grungy and rude and reliant on “fuck” to get their point across—I understand this is a type appealing to many but honestly, I find sensitive troubled guys with clean jeans, a PhD, and extensive vocabulary more appealing.