Tag Archives: film

The Lighthouse Analysis: I. Timeline

10 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The plot/story/interaction begins before the audience gains access and events take place prior to the beginning of this film.

I think the audience is viewing the movie after the story has already started. In the very first scene of the film, Younger goes to his room. But he digs at the bed. There is a hole. And he has to remove a piece of stuffing. He has hidden a mermaid figure in the mattress. And he didn’t stumble upon it, he retrieves it in a knowing way. The movie is telling the audience that we came to view later then the very beginning of the action. This is not the first time Younger has been in the room–it’s the audience’s first time seeing the room. The timeline of events starts PRIOR to the start of the film.

One of the first big hints that the story has begun before we started viewing is the first dinner (that we see). Older is really trying to push liquor on Younger, and Younger is very resistant to drinking. To the point that Younger pours the liquor down the sink and gets some water. The water is a big clue. It is already fucked up.

It’s at that point, the first dinner, the audience sees that something dead is in the water tank. And it’s still unclear which of the men is responsible.

Later, we see Younger look into the water tank and see a dead bird. Not a man, a bird. It’s the evidence the audience needed for why the water is fucked up. Older, told us earlier birds represent the souls of dead sailors. And Younger didn’t see a man, he saw a bird. That let’s us know that Younger is not in reality. He has separated murdering a man in his mind. Which is why, when confronted with reality, Younger’s first instinct is to grab the nearest bird and kill it–horribly. He is “killing” the knowledge of what he’s done. Younger has killed the man (in his alternate reality seen as a bird) in the tank.

This is enforced in an earlier scene. Younger is going about his chores and a bird blocks his way, and squawks accusatorily. That scene is telling the audience, “Remember the fucked up water, which we learned was caused by a dead body in the water tank? Well, the spirit of the dead sailor (the birds) is saying which man in the lighthouse did it–Younger.”

The Lighthouse [2019 film] (and my guesses as to what’s happening)

9 Oct

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The plot/story/interaction begins before the audience gains access and events take place prior to the beginning of this film.

I think the audience is viewing the movie after the story has already started. In the very first scene of the film, Younger goes to his room. But he digs at the bed. There is a hole. And he has to remove a piece of stuffing. He has hidden a mermaid figure in the mattress. And he didn’t stumble upon it, he retrieves it in a knowing way. The movie is telling the audience that we came to view later then the very beginning of the action. This is not the first time Younger has been in the room–it’s the audience’s first time seeing the room. The timeline of events starts PRIOR to the start of the film.

One of the first big hints that the story has begun before we started viewing is the first dinner (that we see). Older is really trying to push liquor on Younger, and Younger is very resistant to drinking. To the point that Younger pours the liquor down the sink and gets some water. The water is a big clue. It is already fucked up.

It’s at that point, the first dinner, the audience sees that something dead is in the water tank. And it’s still unclear which of the men is responsible.

Later, we see Younger look into the water tank and see a dead bird. Not a man, a bird. It’s the evidence the audience needed for why the water is fucked up. Older, told us earlier birds represent the souls of dead sailors. And Younger didn’t see a man, he saw a bird. That let’s us know that Younger is not in reality. He has separated murdering a man in his mind. Which is why, when confronted with reality, Younger’s first instinct is to grab the nearest bird and kill it–horribly. He is “killing” the knowledge of what he’s done. Younger has killed the man (in his alternate reality seen as a bird) in the tank.

This is enforced in an earlier scene. Younger is going about his chores and a bird blocks his way, and squawks accusatorily. That scene is telling the audience, “Remember the fucked up water, which we learned was caused by a dead body in the water tank? Well, the spirit of the dead sailor (the birds) is saying which man in the lighthouse did it–Younger.”

The Audience is seeing things from Younger’s (altered) perspective

Hints of the timeline are also given away by flashes of Older’s dialogue. He tells events that we as the audience just saw for ourselves, differently. The very first time that the viewer understands the food got wet and supplies are short (when Younger “found out”), Older says, “I told you to ration 3 weeks ago, but you wouldn’t.” At the time, the audience thinks Older is gaslighting, but it’s actually the true timeline. The movie is reminding us that we are only seeing things as Younger is seeing them, and also we were dropped in to watch after events had already started.

The work is also this way. We see Younger toiling, doing hard physical labor every second of every day. Yet, Older sees the floor is dirty and tells Younger to clean it. Yet again, the audience is led to believe that Older is picking on Younger, taking pleasure in making him do menial tasks. And Younger says, “I already swept and mopped it twice!” But Older sees the floor is dirty, and says (this is important), “You never take accountability.” This tells the viewer why we’re seeing this alternate reality.

And this split from reality is shown again when Younger “finds” the head in the crab (lobster) trap/pot [whatever it was, I don’t remember exactly]. Same as when he opened the water tank to find a dead bird, Younger acts shocked. He has divorced his actions from his thoughts/perspective because he does not take accountability for his actions. But we know already that Younger has killed someone (the birds told us) and put their body in the water tank.

The Drinking Shows the battle between id and ego

Other analysts felt the film was Jungien, with Ego being Older and Id being Younger. The Ego/Older drinks and farts. The Id/Younger is a teetotaler and toils. And it really becomes clear this was an inspiration to the author with the drinking. Remember how Younger was very resistant to it at first, and Older was pushing it on him? Younger acted very repressed in his abstinence. It shows that Younger fabricated Older in his mind as a scape goat for some bad base desires.

Once there’s the calm before the storm, Older finally convinces Younger to drink. It seems once this demon is released, Younger really embraces getting enumbriated. Then they get drunk again and again throughout the rest of the film. And instead of food cached in the dirt, it’s more liquor. And they are so hedonistic that they drink Karosene for the ethanol.

Older is a figment of Younger’s split from reality

Probably the most enlightening scene in the movie is the one where both Older and Younger are drunk. Younger says his name is actually also Tom. Older has previously said his actual name is Thomas Wake (he goes by Wake). The two men have the same name.

We know a primary characteristic of Older is his messed up leg. And he tells several variations of how the leg came to be that way. Then, we are also shown when Younger falls off the scaffold while white-washing the light house and hurts his leg. And a bird pecks at the leg.

When Younger is drunk, both he and Older have this weird exchange where they say, “What?” “What” They say it over and over, sort of mirroring thoughts. I think it’s supposed to be a clue that Older and Younger are the same.

Older’s dialog sounds like poetry. It’s another clue for the audience. Younger has constructed this figment who talks like a book character, Moby Dick? And he has all the power in their relationship, and at the lighthouse. And a big part of Moby Dick is the symbolic struggle for power. Same here.

Impossible desire to overcome nature, gain enlightenment

Aside from telling the viewer that these are not two separate people, this Ahab-like character, of Older, shows the struggle between man and nature, power, and knowledge.

The light is a symbol of forbidden knowledge, enlightenment and pleasure. Older has sole access to it, which peeves Younger. Younger is not a fan of authority. Younger wants his turn, sneaks in to see masturbatory light/sea creature action, considers killing Older to gain entry, and eventually begs for access.

The mermaid figurine and the human-like mermaid show Younger’s desire to “conquer” nature and achieve the pleasure of that knowledge and power. He uses the figure to masturbate, but toward the end of the movie it doesn’t work–he’s left frustrated. He has sexual fantasies of the woman-like mermaid also. But again, he is unable to copulate because her anatomy is fishy. He’s trying to dominate nature, and his failure symbolizes that man can never truly conquer nature.

The waves and the weather of course symbolize the struggle of man vs. nature and a power dynamic man must submit to. Notice just as soon as Younger kills the bird, the weather vain points North. Everything goes awry after this (to the audience).

Escape or rescue from the isolated lighthouse island is also thwarted by nature. The waves are unruly.

The action before the movie started

So who’s in the water tank? Late in the movie, a notebook washes up in the disheveled, water-logged lighthouse living quarters. It has notes about Younger’s poor work performance and indicates the boss does not want to pay him. The audience assumes this boss is Older. And Older is gaslighting and manipulating in order to get Younger to do all the work, then steal his money. But remember, we are seeing everything through Younger’s (altered) perspective.

This book is, I think, the key to the action that happened before the movie started and the audience got to observe. Conversations detail that Younger came to the lighthouse to get away from the logging industry. And Younger tells Older that he has had many jobs, going from one to the next, all his life.

And on another drunken night, Younger “spills his beans” and admits that he left timber because the foreman was killed in an accident. This shows a pattern. WE can assume Younger did not take accountability for his part in this death. And he stole the foreman’s identity (shows deceit). We can understand Younger may hate authority and resent power over him. In his mind, he’s doing excellent work and these authority figures are picking on him. So he kills them, but his mind constructs an alternate reality so he never feels responsible for the murders.

This key unlocks the entire movie. Younger killed his boss at the logging industry, came to the lighthouse and in his mind worked hard, only to be picked on again and his pay withheld. It made him angry and he killed the lighthouse boss.

The severed head, the body in the water tank–is the REAL lighthouse boss. The audience came in after his death so we never met him (alive).

To sum up, MASCULINITY/POWER is the whole theme of the film.

The lighthouse itself is phalic. Younger feels like he’s a housewife submitting to Older’s demands. The pair argue about the cooking (traditionally a female chore). Younger’s masculinity is threatened.

The sexual tension/revulsion between Younger and Older are ever-present when they’re drinking. They dance like lovers, reveal intimate information, and Older lies his head on Younger’s lap. Also, there might be some shadow sex, but maybe I was seeing things… That dynamic, speaks to Younger’s wanting to become one with Older (because deep inside his brain he knows already Older is a part of him). Joining together is therefore attractive because it would rectify such an unnatural mental divergence. But also, Younger can’t take accountability and being one with Older would force him to evaluate his deeds realistically.

The scene where Younger sneaks up to check out what Older is doing in the lighthouse is sexual. Older had already referred to the lighthouse in feminine terms, calling it a woman, and now some weird sexy action is going on. And fish fins are observed, tying the encounter back to the mermaids and the impossible desire to dominate them.

The mermaid masturbation and sex are also about the desire to dominate and the inability to do so. Man cannot dominate over nature. Ahab couldn’t, and trying made him crazy. Same with Younger. He tries to attain this power and sees himself doing masculine tasks, masturbates… But he is still subservient to Older.

Which is why, at the end of the movie, Younger forces Older to bark like a dog and crawl on all fours. Older has emasculated Younger and now must feel the same humiliation, he must pay the price. Then Younger buries Older alive. In burying Older, Younger is burying the truth of his deeds. He is burying the reality of what he’s actually done. This mental split will never be united, Younger is burying the truth forever.

The end references Greek Mythology. I do not have very much knowledge of mythology so this comparison is bare-bones from me, but check out other analysis of this film, because other s thought this was a primary theme of the movie (I don’t). Proteus represents Older, an older prophetic ocean God, or man of the sea as Homer described him. And Prometheus’ (Younger’s) death is foreshadowed. I don’t think the movie fleshes out this theme overall, and it’s not entirely based on mythology, but definitely an inspiration for the author of this screenplay/book/writing.

When Younger does finally get to the light. It’s too much. It overwhelms him and he falls down the stairs where the birds (souls of dead sailors) peck at his body while he’s alive.

Conclusion

I didn’t understand any of this while watching the movie. And the movie was entertaining and spooky and I liked it very much even without knowing quite what happened. So watch it, for sure!

But while I was trying to sleep, my mind was connecting the dots I have laid out here. And this reading makes a lot of sense to me. I think this is the type of movie you don’t understand until the second viewing. I feel like if I watch it now, things would “click” a lot better. I’m going to buy it bc you’d probably notice something new on every viewing.

Little Fires Everywhere Review (Spoilers)

8 Jun

*Karen = Reece Witherspoon’s character

 

Mia’s attitude sucks.  She is rude the entire time.  The hostility boils barely beneath the surface–I wouldn’t have anything to do with her based on that demeanor alone.  The character is totally unlikable, snarling and growling her way through pretty much the entire series.

I think one of Karen’s biggest mistakes is not listening to her own gut feelings.  She shouldn’t have rented to Mia.  If I (as a white person) was looking for housing and it was a year lease, but I wanted month to month–they would tell me no.  Karen should not have felt white guilt and stuck to policy.  Also, hiring your tenant as house-help is a terrible idea–for both women.  It puts Karen in an awkward position if the renting doesn’t go well, or if the house-manager job doesn’t go well.  And it is a horrible idea for Mia to allow one person to be in charge of her housing and income.

I knew Mia would have a back-story.  I thought maybe she was raped, maybe Pearl’s dad was stalking them so they were running, or she had some sort of criminal charge she was on the lamb about.  But by the time the series finally revealed Mia’s background, it was already too late, I couldn’t overcome my dislike for the character.  The order of the episodes matters!  Maybe if her past was revealed sooner, I could have had empathy.  But as it was, the background wasn’t compelling enough to justify all her poor decisions and surly attitude.

When Mia says, “You know how to advocate for yourself.”  As if it’s not her responsibility as a parent to step in and make sure Pearl gets in the appropriate math class.

Mia wants

Mia’s professor is way out of line!  Taking coke in front of a student–offering it to the student.  Sleeping with a student.  That lack of boundaries and the power dynamic is predatory, and I didn’t care for it.

The author/screen writer didn’t make Mia’s dreams clear enough.  I thought she was having PTSD and that Pearl was a child of rape until I found out Mia was just afraid of being discovered.

Karen comes off as hyper-controlling, but it’s actually Mia who is the controlling one.  Mia controls when her and Pearl move and where they go.  She continuously says Pearl belongs to her, which never sat well with me.  She controls the length of the lease.  She takes a nonsense job she doesn’t want to control Pearl at Karen’s house.  Mia takes control of her coworker’s life, and baby search even though it’s none of her business, and they only knew each other for 3 months.  Mia controls what kind of life, and what luxuries Pearl gets–to the point she doesn’t sell art for Pearl’s life, but will sell it to pay her coworker’s lawyer fees.  Mia controls when Izzy can come by to do art.  Mia talks suggestively about fire and new beginnings to impressionable and angry Izzy–then sends her right home.  Mia is the one pulling the strings the entire series-yet she gets the better treatment of the 2 main characters.  I think Mia is a sociopath.

I didn’t understand why Pearl choose Trip over Moody.  She had a lot of fun and quality time with Moody.  He was intellectually on her level.  He treated her nice.  She tells her mom Trip is easy and dumb, so I don’t get why she threw away her relationship with Moody for his brother.  Though I did like Izzy’s point to Moody that just because he likes Pearl, and just because he’s nice to her, doesn’t mean Pearl owes him anything, and it doesn’t mean he owns her.  I liked the message, but I think the author went against Pearl’s character to set up the situation to have Izzy say that quote and to bring Moody down a  couple of notches.  It’s not really consistent writing.

Mia made the decision to steal the baby she was carrying as a surrogate.  And she didn’t even have the courage to tell the parents that she was backing out of their deal (or to give back a portion of the money).  It’s ethically, and contractually wrong, but the author never punishes her, Mia is treated like a hero.

The author actually punishes most of the mothers, which I did not like.  Karen was punished for giving up her fiance’ because he decided he wanted a travel career instead of kids.  She was punished for putting her family first and having a part-time job at a small publication, and for living her life for her kids.  The adoptive couple were treated as pretentious, insensitive and less-than, even though they wanted kids so badly, and loved the baby for the 1st year.  The surrogate family was treated as an inconvenience to Mia and Pearl’s story.  Bebe had a more sympathetic story line, but also was questioned for being poor, illegal, and single.  The author has peculiar and stringent ideals about motherhood, instead of accepting all types of mothers and situations as legitimate.

I didn’t think any character was likable, and I don’t think any one of them took accountability.  But not all of them were punished for that.

Mia and Lexie were my 2 least favorite characters.

Karen got a bad deal.  Yeah, I said it, and I stand by it.

All the Fake People: Miss Americana Primary Observation

13 Apr

I had cancelled Netflix before.  Because it was getting more and more expensive, while the content was stagnant.  But then 2-3 months after I did, of course Miss Americana was only released on Netflix.  I stuck to my guns to save money, read the Kaylor-verse to keep up somewhat, but was disappointed.  Then, once coronavirus locked me down for a month, I got out the credit card (no matter the email, Netflix tracks the cards) and got a free trial.  So I’m burning through all the content I ever want to see before my month runs out.

images (1)

Miss Americana top of the list.  Obviously.

It struck me that Taylor Swift’s Interactions (at least most of the ones portrayed on Miss Americana, which I understand is not everything in her life) left a lot to be desired.  And not because of anything she did or didn’t do.  I thought Taylor seemed honest, thoughtful, sweet, more open than I expected, and funny.  She was talking to others.  She told ideas, plans, and jokes.  But almost all of the people that she was talking to on the film were:  Distant, distracted, disengaged, disinterested (that may be too strong of a word), awkward, hysterical, over-emotional.  images (6)

From the start, when Taylor gets bad news in a phone call, and you can see she just wants to cry (like any person would) but she has to put on professionalism and hide her disappointment.  Yes, it’s a job and it’s important to be a professional, but it made me sad she has to build a wall around her feelings even with her own people.  In the studio, the producers seemed busy and like they were working just kind of half paying attention to what she was saying.  Brendon Urie seemed like he was half-listening and ready to dart out the door when she was excitedly describing her inspiration.  Todrick always seems self-absorbed and superficial, though I don’t really care for him, because he’s always stirring up drama so that just may be my perception.  Abigail seemed like they had grown distant and no longer know each other–but that vibe might have just been her feeling awkward to be on film (maybe?  hopefully?).  At any rate, I thought they seemed uncomfortable with each other.  Taylor’s Dad always seemed distant and authoritative, interrupting her and just being all-business from what I saw in the film.

images (7)I thought Taylor was especially gracious with her fans.  But it’s such a one-way street.  Meaning, many of them were screaming or sobbing when they saw/met her.  And I kept wondering what I would do in that situation if I was as famous as Taylor.  It’s such a weird way to interact.  And Taylor handled it really well, being sweet and funny, and really putting up with shenanigans.  Like, people, what are you expecting from Taylor when you come in so hot with that energy?  Really, how is a person supposed to react to that?  I think take it down a couple levels and treat her like she’s human.  Because if I were in her shoes I honestly wouldn’t know how to be if someone came up to me screaming, shaking, sobbing, proposing in front of me.  So major props to Taylor for being ultra cool in just strange interactions…  I think that stuff would make me feel alien and lonely.  But she was really nice, and I respect that a lot.  images (2)

I hope what the film didn’t show was real (two-way) conversations with people engaging with Taylor.  I want for her to have someone who really is on her same level, and listens to her, and cares about her (not just what she can do, or do for them).  I’m sure Miss Americana didn’t show every single thing.  So I hope what it didn’t show was so many rich, authentic relationships.  Will there be a sequel with Karlie, her friends, and her family relating to her on a more personal level?  I hope, for the entertainment value for me, and for Taylor’s sake that there’s more to see…

Directors, editors, if you’re reading this, the first film seemed like Taylor was isolated, so if that wasn’t your point, please put in more personal connections and show that she can have a conversation.  And Kaylor, always show more Kaylor 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤

rs_560x415-141203094301-1024.taylor-swift-karlie-kloss-vs-120314

2016: The High Points-Ranked

3 Jan

There was more bad times then good this year.  Or more accurately, a lot of the bad points overshadowed the good.  Or their were the normal good times, but the daily grind had a lot of negative.  But here, I have happily remembered many of the good.  From awesome to major thrill, here is my Top Moments Countdown:

Honorable mention:  The Trampled by Turtles concert with Lorn Huron as opener.  They put on a wonderful show (see review blog) but the venue totally ruined the whole thing.

trampled-by-turtles

11-Kelly Coffey circuit workouts/running on the trail in the summer

Cool has gained so much ground on this front, and it makes it fun, quality time instead of a chore.  It’s really nice to do it together.  And even though it was very hot (sometimes 104F) we both ran well AND had great attitudes about it.  I hope to continue our fitness stuff for a very long time.

10-Balloon Races/kayak

This went from the top spot last year to 10th!  But not because it was bad or anything.  I packed the car to the brim, but forgot one bag.  The one with all the cute outfits I had lovingly put together over the prior weeks and weeks.  It was a fun trip, as always, but even though there were technically more days IN the visit, we were way more rushed.  We didn’t even get to play yard games!  We have to plan better next time.  And some lady chastised my family when we sat down at Dawn Patrol.  Even though there’s no tickets and no seating arrangement.  She got ugly about it, saying “we’ve been here since 3AM.”  False.  They don’t open the gates until 4 AM, and shove it up your ass, lady.  I had fun, and I always love the balloon races, but we were kinda running around.  Plus, my mom was still recovering from her radiation/surgery.  And my dad was having trouble walking around so much.  We will do it better next visit!

lauurel-remax

9-Cool’s birthday in Park City

I bought Cool (and me) a massage package in Park City.  So we could try out being fancy (that’s not our life).  It was fun, but I just don’t think I’m a massage person.  Example:  They have a sign-in sheet and it asks what you don’t want in the massage.  I wrote “awkwardness.”  My gal was like, what do you mean you don’t want awkwardness?  Long pause.  What is awkwardness to you?”  Umm, THIS conversation.  And there was a hair treatment in the massage.  But that meant either you have to walk around with straight up oil in your wet hair–or shower.  So I had a weird semi-private shower, which I’m never a fan of.  So the massage was good, but I just am not going to submit myself to any more of that.  We did get to window shop in Park City and eat at High West, so that was nice.

boss-moose

8-getting the impossible raise

My worth ethic is unparalleled.  And my department under-pays so there is high turnover.  I ended up doing way more then my share (as I have always done) on a consistant basis.  The difference was, they keep track of checklists, so I saved them and wrote everything down.  Everyone in the company, everyone, everyone gets a standard 40 cent raise at their yearly review.  Everyone.  No exception.  But I worked more so I deserved more.  And I asked for it.  My supervisor said no no straight away.  I persisted that I worked very hard.  And they couldn’t deny that.  So the head of the department said he could try to ask for more, but it had only ever happened on very few rare occasions.  I said we could at least try, and he said he’d talk to his boss, but don’t get my hopes up.  I didn’t.  But the next week, he said I got it!  I got more than the standard 40 cent raise!!!  One of very few–nobody in recent memory.  But then, because he’s a douche and he doesn’t like me (because I caught him red-handed talking shit about me to another random employee AND went to HR about it)  he ruined the moment by saying, “You got lucky.”  No, you mother-fucker, I did not get lucky, I worked hard and earned it.  And Cool further ruined the occasion by picking one of our biggest fights ever.  So this should be higher on this list, but *sigh* other people. . .  I DID buy myself a really nice fitness tracker as a gift to me.  And it is hands free/cord free/phone free music.  Right on my wrist–with no other device necessary.

7-Zoo Brew

Best idea ever!  With or without alcohol.  The zoo put on a 21 and over event, which is genius.  I don’t always want to have kids pushing me, deal with screaming, and have little people running around scaring the animals and tapping on glass.  As long as you look at the zoo before the adults get out of the alcohol lines, you can see the animals before the adults start to exhibit (pun intended) this behavior.  It’s the first time we ever saw the palace cat out, because it was actually quiet.  Love!  And we went to the very first event, so nobody knew if it yet, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  Subsequent events were fun too, but word had spread and it was more crowded.  That May event–perfect!

giraffes-are-tall

6-my birthday:

I went extravegent for my bithday.  Not because it was a milestone year (33) but more because I had a job where I can take (paid) time off.  So I used it to my advantage and did bunches of things all week.  I got my hair dyed special. mussel-shooters-with-quail-egg She took the color out, then did a rinse so it was subtle, purple highlights.  I loved it!  And as soon as I catch up on money, I’ll get that again.  On your birthday you get to eat whatever you want, even if the other person doesn’t like that kind of food.  Cool is a very picky eater, so I always have to go without a lot of foods.  So I chose sushi.  The restaurant was cute, and had a mural and live music too.  I got a whole platter, which I never do, but it was my birthday, and I had to load up from the prior year of no sushi and the next year of no sushi.  And I got mussel shooters, which are fun to eat!  My actual birthday we paid for Red Butte gardens ($13/person and a total rip-off) which is MUCH smaller than Spokane’s free Manito Garden.  I won’t go back lizlard-wave-up-frontunless there’s a free day.  We went to Red Robin’s for lunch, which I wouldn’t choose, but my blood sugar got low and we had no other recourse and Cool panicked and got irritable.  Then we went to an independent theater and saw one of the films that had been at Sundance Film Festival.  It was “Swiss Army Man” see my review.  I liked it, and figured it out, so felt cool.  Then we had a Grapefruit Ballist Point beer on a patio and it was wonderful.  We had planned to go to our library’s coffee and chocolate class but some obnoxious lady sat immediately next to me, wouldn’t stop engaging me, and when she belched in my face I called it quits and walked out early.  Then sent a long complain letter to the event’s organizer–who turned out to be really, really sweet.  Signed us up for the next month’s (super competitive) class, gave me coupons for free coffee at the library shop, and gave me a birthday gift of 4 artisan chocolate bars!  Like, really sweet and very apologetic (that’s not usually my life).  Anyway, so we went to an oyster restaurant instead.  I like oysters, but found the restaurant very over-priced.  The day after my birthday, Cool had paid for an experience at the aviary.  I got to go in a private room with a parrot and a bird trainer.  The bird painted me a picture.  Well,  actually she went dab-dab dab with the sponge then looked for her food treat.  Then saw she had to dab more to get more food, so quickly dab-dab-dabbed in order to get more treats.  I got to take pictures right up next to her and took my painting by her home.  It was really neat to get up close and personal and she was a cute stuff.

painting-with-picaso-birthday

5-Halloween Costumes

We loved the year we were trick-or-treating, and I’ve always loved Halloween.  But usually, one of us is stuck at work.  This year–neither of us were, so we wanted to do something really big.  A couple’s costume!  So on Sundays we brainstormed and brainstormed, and researched, and planned.  The best, easiest thing for us to do was “Lions Tigers and Bears–Oh my!”  We bought more then we wanted, and made some cool accessories.  Then, I face-paintedgracies-contest-004 gracies-contest-026my little heart out!  It took forever, but we looked good.  We had signed up for a fun-theme-run, so we dressed up for that.  And the zombies chased us.  Cool body-slammed a zombie, and outran the children.  At the end, they had voting for best costume.  Except, they forgot to call us up (they said if you think you’ll win just get up there anyway) so we had to push through the crowd–which Cool is never good at.  There was no raised stage or anything, we were just in a parking-lot, and as short people, we were probably obscured to anyone not in the front row.  And the dope-DJ who was running the thing didn’t say our name properly he called us “a lion and a tiger.”  The voting was by audience cheer.  We got second place, but after all the afore-mentioned factors, I think we were robbed!  And I think the first place winners had stacked the crowd.  So we felt we could do better.  When a local restaurant announced they were having a costume contest for cash prizes ($500 Sunday night, $500 Monday night–when it had been one night the year before for $1000) we had to try!  Even though it meant taking time off work.  So I requested a partial day off Sunday (working corporate and having not only paid vacation, but as-needed employees to cover shifts is so nice!) to gracies-contest-025get ready and go.  I did my very best face-painting work and we hung out at Gracie’s waiting for the voting.  And some ten foot tall tree man took our prize!  With some king and queen getting 2nd, and that Tim Burton wig head dude and his gal-friend taking 3rd.  Disagree and disagree.  We should have at least gotten 2nd!  So we tried one more time and dressed up for work on Monday.  Because their was a contest and a secret prize, and our boss encouraged everyone to dress up.  He didn’t encourage us for work-spirit or anything.  That douche is a nerd and his big hobby is making and dressing up in costumes–even though he’s like, 50.  He has a batman, that could legit-be used for one of the movies.  That’s how much time and money and effort he put into it.  That is an old costume of his.  This year, he was working on a Captain Sparrow costume.  Which I thought was only so-so.  How hard is it to get a mscl-halloween-contest-copydred-wig, a sash, and buy tall boots?!  So we thought we’d at least win the work contest and beat him–cause who doesn’t love a group costume?  But alas, our boss won the whole contest.  And some gal painted herself silver and wore deer antlers (big deal) and beat us for 2nd place.  We didn’t even place at all 😦  So we had fun, and looked good, but this didn’t rank higher because nobody knows how to properly judge a contest, and we should have won, but didn’t.

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4-my thousand day in a row mile

I ran so many days-in-a-row that I made it to #1000 this summer!  To commemorate the occasion, I made flyers at work, inviting people.  Even though I knew those duds and douches wouldn’t show, I was excited and there was an off-chance someone might share in that excitement–plus, I could get acknowledgement of my huge accomplishment, and tie it to my resume that way.  As part of the work in-a-row-2event, I made it a coin drive fund-raiser so we could adopt a bird at the aviary.  The money goes towards feeding and care and they give you free aviary passes, a plush of your bird, and a certificate.  Only my supervisor came to my mile, but I really hadn’t expected anyone at all, so that was OK. I wore my running skirt and felt awesome.  And I used our concert window chalk and painted my accomplishment all over Rusty.  On the way from the fundraiser to work, I was stuck in traffic.  I don’t use my air conditioner–ever–in order to save money, so my windows were both down.  I heard a, “I promise I’m not hitting on you.”  Firstly, I didn’t expect it.  Secondly, I thought–that can’t be for ME.  Thirdly, I was like–do I really want to engage with this?  So after a long time, I turned my head, and some guy stuck in the traffic jam beside me, asked, “Did you really run so many days in a row???  That’s cool!”  So that was nice.  While I was at work that night, our Hispanic cleaning gal brought her whole family inside our lab.  They all looked really happy, and they asked if any of us spoke Spanish–none of us do, all of us randomly speak German, if any second language at all.  Her husband had his phone and somehow conveyed that they wanted to buy a car.  I heard “Isuzu” and realized what happened.  They saw all my window paint, but couldn’t read English.  So they assumed I was selling my beautiful Rusty for $1000, and they were ready to take it that night!  I was like, “No, no,no, not for sale.”  And they looked very disappointed.  And everyone in my lab teased me that I broke their hearts for the rest of that week.  Only like 3 people at work donated to the coin drive (I TOLD you I work with duds) but 2 of them donated $20s.  So we got to adopt a bird for $50.  I chose a black vulture 1) because vultures are important to our world and Andy N. Condor has enlightened me to their cuteness and cause. 2) Little Chewy and Vader of Tracy Aviary didn’t have any sponsors for 2016, and that made me sad for them.  3)  Our lab is SO vulture!   We are the clean-up crew of the medical industry as we have to sniff out mistakes and correct them.  We deal with icky samples.  And–we’re all anti-social and sort of put-down upon by the hoity-toity management and the super-social client services and phlebotomists.   I hung the flyer, the certificate/facts, and the vulture plush in the lab.  Everybody likes it and we named out vulture plush, Culture, which is appropriate for us.

1000th-mile-in-a-row-003

3-Brandi’s concert

Brandi always makes our list.  She always puts on an exciting show that you come away from amped up.  But the venue was awesome!  We were right in the middle of the Deer Valley bunny area, with mountains and trees all around.  And Park City is always fun–we of course snuck into their mini Arts-Fest (only for 2 min) and ate beer cheese pretzels and drank cocktails at our fave- High West.  It also made it the best time because we packed our own tailgate and pic-nic.  We had greek pitas, watermelon-rum slushees, salads and s’mores in (separate) mason jars.  It was delicious, and topped off the day nicely.  Oh, and we got the very best parking spot where we could exit the concert first, and easily, because one of the Deer Valley maintenance workers gave us a good tip.

brandi-date

2-Utah Arts Festival

It was bigger and better then I ever expected!  There were booths where we got to see SLC’s creative side.  The live music was cool, and we got to see Beats Antique–a legit band that made my countdown–at the end, right in the park.  The highlight of the day was getting a sampling of foods from there different food trucks.  And we came home with Rogue Bear and a beautiful pinned moth.

power-lunch

1.rodeo

We wanted to do something on our holiday weekend, but didn’t know what exactly.  At that time, we lived right pioneer-days-rodeowithin walking of downtown, but lots of things were closed, and nothing pioneer-days-rodeo-2016spectacular was going on.  But they do convert the whole arena each year for “Pioneer Days Rodeo.”  We thought we’d go check it out and kill some time.  We both wore our best cowgirl outfits and walked down.  Out front we stumbled on to a signing!  It was my dream at pretty much every event I’ve ever attended to have a meet and greet with the main person, but that’s not my life.  And here, we were standing in the middle of a meet & greet, but we didn’t know who any of the rodeo people were. . .  Still, the main guy invited us to get autographs, gave us a magazine to get signed, we had hats for them to sign.  They talked, and took pictures.  Everyone was really nice!  And inside the rodeo we had a lot of fun and excitement watching all the events.  We had no idea we would like the rodeo so much!  We had SO much fun that while we were sitting in the stands, we used my phone to buy tickets for the next evening as well.

 

So that’s the best of 2016, and I look forward to an very very much better 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bears Don’t Live on Deserted Islands: My Analysis of “Swiss Army Man” [Spoiler Warning]

8 Jul

For my birthday, we went to an Independent theater and saw the Sundance Film, “Swiss Army Man.”  Let’s just get all talking/jokes about farting out of the way now–that’s not really the central theme of the movie–or this blog.  When you’re watching this movie, you have to “buy in” very early or you’ll hate it.  The film is like one of the whimsical paintings I like, but in a film format.  The reality is altered/fanciful, the shots are jerky, the characters (one is a literally dead guy) in their own little world where physics and time aren’t invited.  You could watch the entire film, and just feel like it was a random string of crazy events.  BUT after much thought, I found a linear plot and meaning.

The supporting evidence:

-When Hank first sees the body, and rides him out in the ocean, then the film cuts back to him with his face on the sandy beach.  Is it a new beach?  Is he somehow back at the same beach?

-random garbage appears in the place–all the time.  Everywhere they are.  I know the ocean has trash, but THIS MUCH???

-Hank looks scruffy as if he’s been in this deserted place for a long time.  His beard is long and he’s dirty.  Yet, he has no survival skills.  He doesn’t know how to make tools to hunt or fish with and he eats bad berries so he doesn’t have a good grip of foraging.  How has he survived this long without having any skills?

-toward the middle of the film, a (grizzly?) bear attacks.  Where is this place where a tropical white sand beach is attached to the woods?

-they travel, travel, travel and end up in the love interest’s back yard

-there are space/time descrepencies regarding the island, such as at the end when Hank is back in society, they are both in the yard with other people, then everyone runs through the forest, but finally everyone is back at the beach.  and Manny goes back to the ocean.

-After Hank is discovered, he rides the body down one hill behind her back yard–and there are his crafts and trash-projects!  He has been right behind her house the whole time-creeper.

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Given these factors, I decided there is no physical island in the movie at all.  And that fact changes the whole movie doesn’t it?  We’re not just in suspended disbelief–this is a perspective story.  Hank’s POV.  The island is a metaphor for how Hank feels/Hank’s thoughts.  He is on a self-imposed deserted island because he feels weird/lonely/stigmatized by society.  This is a movie like the 6th Sense or Memento–we are watching through the lense of whatever mental illness (anxiety/depression, love-obsessed stalker, anti-social personality, skitzophrenia???) Hank has.

Let’s re-examine the above factors:

-When Hank first sees the body, and rides him out in the ocean, then the film cuts back to him with his face on the sandy beach.  Is it a new beach?  Is he somehow back at the same beach?

*Hank was in the middle of committing suicide when the film opens, and he sees a dead body.  A lot of people with mental illness are at risk for suicide.  Seeing the dead body, somehow gives Hank something else to think about other then how he feels.  The body makes him interested in something so he changes his mind about suicide.  Then, as Hank’s mind settles a little, and he doesn’t feel so alone, we see Hank “leaving the deserted island” via the body.  But there is no real personal connection between Hank and this body (yet) so the exit off the island is brief and Hank wakes up back on his deserted island, isolated the way it all started.

-random garbage appears where Hank is

*I won’t go into the more obvious symbolism of trash in the movie, but I’ll talk about how the trash proves location.  At the end, Sarah recognizes her own diary in Hank’s belongings/crafts.  It’s the same diary she happened to be writing in when Hank took the pic of her on the bus.  It shows that Hank has been behind her house, squirreling away her trash the whole time.  All the crafts and stuff are made from her trash!  And that has a more creepy/sinister vibe.

-toward the middle of the film, a (grizzly?) bear attacks

*I don’t know everything about bears, but I’m pretty sure they never live on tropical deserted islands.  This was the primary reason I “got” the film.  The terrain in this deserted changes from beginning to end of the film.  We start out at white sand beaches, go through the forest, over bodies of water, hear a road, then we’re in a back yard.  If all Hank had to do was walk, then why was he so desperate to commit suicide at the beginning?  Also, I wouldn’t think you’d make the effort to kill yourself in a deserted island situation–nature would do it for you.  You’d soon starve, or dehydrate.  If you were desperate on an island, and no longer cared if you lived or died, wouldn’t you just make some sort of last ditch heroic effort to get back to people?

-Hank looks scruffy as if he’s been in this deserted place for a long time.  His beard is long and he’s dirty.  Yet, he has no survival skills.  He doesn’t know how to make tools to hunt or fish with and he eats bad berries so he doesn’t have a good grip of foraging.  How has he survived this long without having any skills?

*Really, Hank didn’t have to know survival skills because the desertion was in his head.  He was physically camping near Sarah’s house and scrounging in her garbage.  Which is why Cheetos and alcohol make it to the deserted place, when in reality it would be implausible for one of those items, and probably impossible to get enough trash to literally survive upon.  Also, the beard.  In the beginning, on the island, Hank’s beard is long and scruffy.  As he and Manny open up and gain a camaraderie–Hank is clean-shaven.  Yet we are never shown how.  I think the hair is part of feeling like an outcast hermit so when he has someone else, Hank no longer feels like that and the symbol of being outcast hermit also just disappears.

-they travel, travel, travel and end up in the love interest’s back yard

and

-there are space/time dependencies regarding the island, such as at the end when Hank is back in society, they are both in the yard with other people, then everyone runs through the forest, but finally everyone is back at the beach.  and Manny goes back to the ocean.

*You start to notice that the more intimacy that is gained between the dead body and Hank, the less deserted the island becomes (we go from isolated white sand beach, to forest, to water, see bears, hear cars, and finally see a little girl in a back yard).  The entire film is about these two buddies traveling back to society.  It takes the whole time!  Yet, at the end, Hank rides Manny’s body out of Sarah’s yard, down one hill, through some water and he’s back on the white sand beach.  It shows how Hank started out in self-imposed isolation in his mind (but physically camping behind Sarah’s house), then as he found an ally, left that isolated place his mind had created.  The more they talk, the more secrets come into the open, and the more comfortable Hank gets with being “other/weird.”  His mind is now a forest.  Not quite the isolation or loneliness of a deserted island, but still removed from society.  Then, Hank and Manny are best friends and understand each other.  Hank’s mind has reintegrated with society and he will take a chance and talk to Sarah.  But then, he sees his father, who is ashamed.  He sees Sarah is alarmed, and the world is a scary place again where Hank is the weird one.  All the progress he made with Manny recedes and his mind takes him back out of the yard, through the forest, on the isolated white beach.  And with the exit of Manny into the ocean–to an altered reality.  It’s (the physical location is actually inside Hank’s own mind) cemented when we see the change in Hank’s father demeanor.  When Hank’s mind is back in reality (he is physically and mentally in a yard) his father leans against the truck–ashamed at what has happened and who his son is.  But when Manny goes back into the ocean, and hank is arrested the father smiles.  It’s because Hank’s mind has gone back to his safe place, and in it Hank can fantasize his father is happy and proud of him–because it’s not reality anymore.  Hank is free of societal restrictions on the island/in the ocean fantasy.

-After Hank is discovered, he rides the body down one hill behind her back yard–and there are his crafts and trash-projects!  He has been right behind her house the whole time-creeper.

*This is the biggest clue the audience is given to Hank’s mind/physical body being different.  When we watch the movie, yes everything is strange, but the shows, and crafts, books, and reenactments are normalized.  We aren’t repulsed by any of it, because we bought in.  When we are out of Hank’s head at the end, and see the same items through the lens of Sarah’s perspective, the crafts and trinkets suddenly look garish and creepy.  She realizes he’s back there doing weird stuff with her garbage.  She knows some random stranger saw her on the bus, took a cell phone pic, found out where she lives, and is now camping there are doing strange projects with her garbage.  She looks horrified.

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So even though I, also, sat in that theater and said, “What the fuck?”  as the lights came back on–I liked the movie.  The more I thought about it, and discussed the plot after the movie, the more it made sense.  And when it made sense, it suddenly had a linear plot that was more likable than that string of random happenings.  I like a movie you have to think about.  And Swiss Army Man has no shortage of metaphor’s, symbols, and discrepancies to make the audience do just that.  I recommend you give it a chance and watch the film–just do me a favor and stop with all the fart jokes.

Rich Hill: Sundance Was Wrong

2 Oct

I don’t think the documentary deserves the film festival’s grand prize.

I found the film to be overwrought and overly dramatic. A one-sided portrayal that preferred a melancholy look even during happy times.

I watch documentaries ALL the time–it’s my favorite genre, actually.  So it’s not like I just don’t get it.  But I almost turned this one off before the halfway point.  Nothing was happening.  We looked into lives, but there was no further analysis or explanation.  I figured the reviews and forums would note the same thing–but to my great surprise–people seem to love it.  And the one review (A) that wasn’t glowing, got a bunch of hostile comments (B).  Saying that the author of that piece was pretentious, and didn’t understand small towns.

I feel like the bleak story is garnering praise, not because the film is accurate, but because the middle and upper class urban audiences watching it feel guilty.  The viewer feels guilty about living amongst more people, having more, and thus getting a greater advantage in life.  What viewers don’t understand, is money doesn’t mean happiness.  And yes, there might be more opportunity for people with means, but it doesn’t mean having to aquiense to a dreamless, disenfranchised exsistance you can’t crawl out of.  Some people are happy, even in poverty, because they have family and nature and traditions.  There aspirations may not be the same as the affluent, but people in poverty aren’t as dire day-to-day as this film presents–there IS some real happiness.  Kids don’t remember presents or not having the latest brand name jacket–they remember LOVE.  It’s no accident the “good” kid in the film has both a mother and father.  Audiences are mistakingly saying the movie is a good one, not because it is, but because they feel the need to acknowledge small-town, poverty-stricken America.  Which IS important.  But that doesn’t make this a good film.

And don’t get me wrong–the story of poverty (and the stories about and by marginalized groups) are important to tell.  But the ACCURATE stories.  It’s not doing anybody any good to skew the facts in either direction.  We need to hear about, and understand these concepts, but in a manner which leaves the subjects dignity.  This film may aim to provide empathy, but you actually leave the film judging.  Why can’t Independence Day fireworks BE authentically happy?

I am from a small town, and there was joy.  Sure, I didn’t have access to AP classes, cultural events, or big corporate jobs, but my community is not suicidal because of it.  I think a real weakness in this movie is  how it took away their subjects decency–under the auspices of being candid, empathetic, and non-judgmental.  Instead of taking about what Apache’s mom does for work, how many hours, what struggles she may have to face–the camera scanned the filthy walls, and trash on the floor.  Also, this film may have shown what were supposed to be happy moments, but did so in a way as to make the happiness less-than.  The melancholy feel was pervasive throughout the hour and a half.  This one-sided film neglected to mention the teachers, the sports, the churches that are certainly predominant in rural America.  There ARE people trying to make a difference in these kids’ lives, and it’s a shame that the film-makers were so busy trying to show the misery they neglected the heroes.

I currently live under the poverty line, am on food stamps, and go without many things.  I live the mango scene almost daily–EBT does not buy over-priced produce that has a short shelf-life.  You have to buy Grocery Outlet sodium-infused cheap foods to make the money last.  But this doesn’t make life unlivable and depressing as this film would have you believe.  It does not mean you’re starving and hurting on a daily basis.  Poverty alone, does not equal total hopelessness, as “Rich Hill” purports.

I also can criticize the film because I lived in Missouri for 6 years (C).  So it’s not like I don’t know–as commentors were saying on the other critical review of the film.  I loved Missouri, actually.  And I’ve lived in Dayton, Nevada, Reno, Seattle, Spokane, and Salt Lake City, so I have places to compare it to.  Missouri is often made out to be this horrid Bible-Belt place where renecks spend every moment they’re not in church hunting or doing meth.  And this film helps play into those stereotypes.  Choosing Missouri as the location for a poverty film is cliche.  There are rednecks and losers in every state and city.  Missouri is not inherently poverty-stricken, or uneducated.  Like any place else, there are poor, trashy people, criminals, and hooligans, churchy people, and hunters.  But there are also scholars, progressives, and winners there.  This film would have you believe Missouri is squirrel-eatin’ country folk who caint do right.  It’s an unbalanced assessment.

The hugest weakness of the film, is the fact it gives no overarching commentary.  I don’t mean, they should tell us their opinions or make the movie biased, but information and context would make the film better (D).  I want to see a map of where Rill Hill is located in Missouri.  It should be stated or inferred that there is no way to make money because of location, it’s in the hotbed of meth, or it used to be a gold mine, but is now a ghost town.  Location would give the viewer an idea of WHY.  I want some context as to HOW the town has no jobs and adults have seemingly given up (or had no hope in the first place).  I want to know the population size, employment statistics, at the very least, an explanation about how the town named “Rich” Hill became so desperate.  I also wanted to know if the profiled families are the worst of it, or if this is the common way for people to live in this town.  The film offers none of that.  Only bleak long shots of toys strewn in yards, dirty walls, and foul-mouthed youth.

In the end, I accuse this of being an exploitation film, little better than The Kardashians.  Though the subjects of the film are at the opposite end of the spectrum, they are still being portrayed in a one-sided overly dramatic and frivolous light.  And that’s not fair.

(A)

Rich Hill

In his essay from the late 1940s entitled “Manners, Morals, and the Novel,” literary theorist Lionel Trilling stated that “pleasure in cruelty is licensed by moral indignation,” and would go on to claim the middle class as the group of people where such a strange aesthetic relationship often takes hold, designating moral indignation as their “favorite emotion.” Rich Hill exists in this space. Detailing the lives of three separate, impoverished teen boys living in Rich Hill, Missouri, directors Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos allow their camera to probe and linger in spaces of disorder and grime, but without any discernible purpose other than gaining access to lower-class spaces—another popular pleasure created through middle-class distance. Rich Hill is poverty porn, examining lower-class spaces with pity as its operative mode and engendering little more than a means for viewers to leave the film acknowledging its sadness.

The film, which won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, unsuccessfully attempts to transform its subjects’ circumstances into lyrical lament a la David Gordon Green or Terrence Malick. However, Palermo and Tragos don’t have an eye for it; beneath aimless tracking shots of dilapidated buildings and an indistinct, almost temp-track melancholic score, the boyhood struggles of Andrew, Appachey, and Harley remain at arms length, primarily because the filmmakers confuse access with insight. That access amounts to “boys-will-be-boys” moments of cursing out the TV while playing video games, applying far too much cologne, and sleeping in Playboy Bunny bed sheets, juxtaposed with more aggressive behavior, such as when Harley bluntly explains his thoughts on sexual violence: “I got strong feelings about rape; I’m against it,” and concludes by stating that he would like to murder rapists. It becomes clear that Palermo and Tragos include his views to set up a later revelation: that Harley was raped by his stepfather as a child.

Child rape is a questionable “payoff” in any film, but remains consistent with Palermo and Tragos’s undiscerning insistence of revealing the depths of sorrow afflicting these lives—or it reveals their banal manipulation tactics and cognizance of what will outrage the middle-class viewers bound to see their film. They also feature lines from their subjects like “It feels good to have the bills paid for once” or “Me and my mom used to listen to this song before she got locked up” with little more in mind than piling on the pitiful sorrow. Of course, an entire socioeconomic stratosphere exists outside these communities, but Rich Hill makes no mention of it; it’s too busy wandering in and out of its simplistic aesthetic register, juxtaposing fireworks with arm wrestling and any other number of forced metaphors (wilted leaves barely hanging to trees in the wind is perhaps the most risible). Missing is the joyful peculiarity found in Louis Malle’s God’s Country and the devastating ethnographic urgency of Martin Bell’s Streetwise. Near the beginning of the film, a train chugs through the small town. The far-reaching grasp of industrialized expansion may have arrived in Rich Hill, but purpose or insight into this dynamic have eluded Palermo and Tragos’s grasp.

http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rich-hill

(B) comments:

  • You are far too pretentious to critique this documentary.

    Speaking as someone who grew up poor in the foster care system, it was refreshing to see a story that wasn’t sugar coated and didn’t have a happy ending. Your critique exposes just how narrow minded, callous and pompous you are. What a whimsical little fairy tale world you must have grown up in, where magical pumpkins were a plenty and any hardship or strife was manufactured purely for the sake of drama. If only we were all as privileged as you.

    Wow….have you ever lived or been to rural America? That seems to be the issue with your review. Maybe, they didn’t convey the message enough for those of life of privilege? The documentary was right on for REAL America…be happy your life took a different path..It is ugly and unfortunately..REAL

    http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/rich-hill

    (C)  Comments that prove my points:

    • I’m looking forward to seeing this film, but not because I believe it will be a good film. I’m curious to see exactly how inaccurately this town, one that I have lived near for over 20 years and have family live there, is portrayed.

      The film makers told the community that this would be a celebration of small town life. Instead, they chose to take the three saddest stories they could find and sensationalize their plight. Two of the youths in the film no longer live in Rich Hill and continue their transient ways as many families in their situation do. They are not a product of the town, but instead found their way there, stayed for only a short time, then left.

      The community has been following the press releases related to this film for many months. All of them are very similar: comparing Rich Hill to a third-world country and making outlandish claims such as the people are disconnected from the world and that the local school has the best jobs in the area. Nothing could be further from the truth, even though I will admit that the town resembles nothing like New York, Los Angeles, or Sundance (and I am thankful for that!)

      As I said, I do plan to see this film for as cheaply as I possibly can. I refuse to line the dishonest film makers’ pockets any more than they already are. I truly hope that this “documentary” dies a quick death as many festival films do.

      I will not see this “film”, nor will I give it another thought after I am through typing this. I grew up in Rich Hill and I am thankful I did, some of my best memories take me back there, and I will cherish those memories until the day I die. I do not live there now, but another small town in fly over country and I go back and visit Rich Hill when I can. At one time in my life I had the privilege to be an active duty U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and I was able to witness for myself just how “glamorous” certain parts of “The City of Angels” are. After reading the review, It seems to me that maybe these Hollywood “elites” should focus their lens on the third world, dirt-water areas of The Greater LA Metropolitan Area (especially Hollywood). You see, while I may have grown up in small town America, I have visited and sometimes lived in the big cities of America and around the world and you can find these stories any and every where you go.

    •  

      Snobbish filmmakers from California go to rural Missouri to make a reality film about poor people.

      This makes me sick.

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/rich-hill-sundance-review-673217

      (D)

‘Rich Hill’ review: Successes can’t hide film’s shortfalls

Updated 7:19 pm, Thursday, August 21, 2014

Documentary. Directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo. (Not rated. 91 minutes.)

“Rich Hill,” a melancholic, impressionistic portrait of three impoverished youths in small-town Missouri, is both ambitious and unambitious.

What makes this elegy worth watching is the unfettered access to Andrew, Appachey and Harley, teenagers who are dealing with a hardscrabble existence in which role models are nowhere in sight. Throughout the film, we marvel at how directors Tracy Droz Tragos and cousin Andrew Droz Palermo capture the kids and their interactions with their families – it’s all very natural.

The cinematography is so beautiful, and the score so hypnotic, that the project threatens to come off as an exercise in trailer park porn (for the record, there are no trailer parks in sight, but you get the point).

Even though these talented directors for the most part walk a fine line between glorifying poverty and making a statement about small-town life, they fall short in providing context for the boys’ problems and in explaining why it’s so tough for them to find help. This is a big-picture topic, and we have big-picture questions.

Do the boys or their families reach out for assistance? Is there any aid available? Any mentor programs? Do people around them care? Are there a lot of poor kids like this in town? We don’t know – and we don’t see the boys or their families in many meaningful interactions with the outside world.

After the first five minutes or so, we figure out that these kids’ prospects are grim, and most of the subsequent scenes say the same thing, even though they are exquisitely filmed and edited.

As it stands, “Rich Hill” is a poetic statement about the sadness of rural poverty. It could have been a lot more.

So Much So Fast–An ALS Film

11 Nov

I might make some comments on these movie notes after I’ve taken my big Language Development exam on Tuesday.

1993:

-destroys nerves then muscles

-most ppl die in 2-5 years.

-no txmt, no sx, no drug back then

-the Haywoods were well-off, beautiful, and never knew trouble

-called orphan dz

-a few thousand ppl have it, but it isn’t enough for drug co to research a txmt/cure

-Steven diagnosed with ALS @29 y.o.

-Jamie, his bro quit his job to start ALS research foundation.

-Jaime’s head is up in the clouds

-1st attempt was gene therapy–didn’t work.

-ppl with ALS have very little time.

-power wheelchair $26,000 and delivery in 5 months.

-R hand weakness was the start of dz

-Jaime and Melinda’s daughter Zoe.

-drugs, gene therapy, antibody therapy.

-mouse lab heart of program–>test drugs approved for other diseases to get them to P faster.

-interactions a real possibility.

-balance hope and reality.

-foundation is outside the norm.  Jaime claims he will find a solution faster then established sci.

-Jaime can SELL the science, but understands little about it–no bio background.

-30,000 scientists at neuroscience conference.

-P want neuroscientists to try things on ppl, not just mice/rats.

-after 9 month, Steven couldn’t lift Alex

-Motor neuron dz

-10% ALS P have genetic form that can be inherited.

-in 90 days, rodents can’t walk, in 4-5 months they die.

-P going to foreign countries/black market to obtain drugs faster.

-Jaime wants to be the center of the foundation.

-speech slurred as tongue muscles weaken.

-experiment on terminal P.

-drug of the month problem.

-some drugs have promise, bur then help little, and may hurt.

-mice expensive, hard to get, and take 6 months to try something out on.

-Dapsone–delay of onset symptoms in rats.

-sex is awkward b/c Steven needs a person helping him.

-Discovery kept secret to protect patents, profits, publishing rights.

-Putting info online makes it widely and quickly available to anyone–but isn’t peer reviewed.

-go directly for drug, skipping theoretical parts.

-1995 1st ALS drug approved, Rilutec–extends life about 3 months.

-$400,000 for 1st year, 4x that 2nd year, 4 mil.

-t588 has some promise for ALS.

-depression is a key factor

-Jaime didn’t listen–2 big donors gave 1/2 mil and he lost it.

-relatives feel they can’t be grumpy.  Ever.

-ALS P seem to love talking/driving.

-is there a correlation between attitude and dz progression?

-sphincter control of wheel chair.

-naive to start a foundation to save the forgotten.

-Melinda left Jaime after 10 years of marriage.

-As abilities reduce, expectations decrease too.

-Dr. Kavorkian helped ALS P.

-Kids, family, technology make ppl want to live.

-$45,000 every other week for foundation’s payroll.

-can only pay minimum wage ($270/wk).

-push ppl til they break for foundation work.

-the film is over 4 years.

-foundation convinced drug co to dev. things for ALS.

-eventual decision is respirator.

-July 2004 Ben gets married

-Nov 2006, Steven’s respirator accidently detached in the night and he died.

-Braingate is a technology he helped pioneer that controls computer w/thoughts.

-100,000 electrodes implanted in brain.

-P thinks about moving and it moves the computer.

-foundation is now ALS Therapy Dev Institute and is expanding its research.

Batman is Cursed

27 Jul

I debated posting this one–I don’t have a lot to say about it, haven’t really kept up with the news about it (especially the victims), and it may be a little too cheeky for good taste.  And yet I think this is a tragic event that deserves mention.  So in order to acknowledge this as close to the event as possible, I’ll jot something down before spending an overabundance of time researching it.  [Most of my time is spent frantically trying to finish reading and outlining my anatomy text before school starts.  And I have just one more (long, long, long) chapter to go!!!!!!!]

There are a lot of reasons I think the Batman franchise is cursed, but I am going to discuss my take on James Holmes’ shooting rampage at the midnight showing.

-Don’t get down on Colorado too much.  I just know there will be many comparisons to the Columbine shootings, but violence can occur anywhere.  And this guy came from California.

-Also, we need to remember that it does no good to be fearful of public places.  Avoiding theaters is not going to accomplish anything.

-The point is–damaged people can be anybody anywhere.  This guy had a degree and looked to have a future.  And yet, something went terribly wrong.

-As an aside from my thoughts on the murderer:  A lot of the news sources are specifying that one of the victims was 6 years old.  As if the older murdered people are any less tragic.  Life is life, people.  PS–who takes their elementary-aged kid to a midnight movie showing???

-It is difficult NOT to blame the parents.  And if his mother was so certain something like this could happen, well, she should have done something to prevent it.

-I also think the parents should have been paying more attention, monitoring activities (and bedrooms), regulating behavior, and generally communicating more with the Columbine Shooters.    Parental involvement (and school activities) does a lot to curtail this stuff.

-I hate what Holmes did.  I think it sucks and it was preventable and it never, ever should have happened.  And I am not making any excuses for him–he should suffer for what he did.

BUT

-Don’t be too quick to condemn this 24 year old neuroscience graduate.  Any one of us could snap and do something extreme.  When people get desperate enough-they are capable of anything.  And undiagnosed mental illness, untreated depression, or just overwhelm could have contributed.

-I think we need to have periodic screenings for mental health.  There MUST have been some sign that James was about to lose it.  His mother didn’t seem surprised at all.  And healthcare and prescriptions need to be affordable so people having trouble can turn to those resources.  It is partially society’s fault for ignoring this stuff when it’s treatable.

-That said, once a person does snap, they need to face appropriate consequences.  I hope James Holmes does.  And I’m glad he didn’t take the coward’s way out like most and commit suicide.

Patriarchy Loves a Diet

21 Jul

These are stats from a documentary I watched about the obesity epidemic–that I can no longer remember the title of–sue me.

As a nation, we spend 137 billion on fast food and 60 billion on weight loss products.

Health care costs 147 billion in America.

39 million missed work days.

Whoa.

As I’ve said before–it’s all about calories consumed vs. calories expended.  There is nothing complicated about that.  Half the battle is just knowing where your calorie count is throughout the day, so you can make informed choices.  The other half of the battle–is finding the will-power to execute the CORRECT choices.

As a disclaimer, I have to tell you I have never dieted.  Not a true– trying to lose weight, limit food or only eat certain things, and ramp up the exercise to lose X amount of pounds–diet at any rate.  I think that is just a big money-maker.  Women, especially, are made to feel bad about their body (through media and culture), then presented with some pseudo-science so they can “fix” themselves.  The diets are complicated, rigorous (to keep women busy focusing inward instead of on important world matters), and impractical for long term.  Meaning, women will be forced to try diet trend after diet trend in an attempt to “fix” their body.

Showing people losing or maintaining weight is a simple process is not in the best interests of business or patriarchy.  That’s why it is usually presented as such a huge, work (and money)-intensive undertaking.  If women knew they just had to balance calories in/calories out–which is a cheap, lifelong, simple process, a whole lot of companies lose money.  Besides, I think it’s unhealthy to cut out entire food groups.  Not to mention high maintenance.  Which gets us back to what women spend their time doing.  Patriarchy would rather women are jumping on the latest diet bandwagon, spending loads of cash in order to get thin, and preoccupied with their bodies–it dis-empowers them.

No–no way.  I couldn’t last one day on a typical diet.  I love food.  It may be my favorite thing in the world, even.  And I do not believe in such things as dieting for feminist reasons, and because I think women are too focused on weight.  BUT just as good body image is important, so is good health–and the above stats show this country has a deficit in that.  Here are some tips (as tried by me, a naturally thin, and newly RE-fit person) that will save you calories (and as a bonus, money):

-Always have a healthy snack (wheat thins, dried fruit, a granola bar) in the car.  If you get hungry on the road or tempted by greasy fast food–pop some of your healthy option to take away the hunger pangs and re-direct your mind.  This is especially true for road trips.  Pack a cooler at home, or go to the grocery store before leaving.  You’ll reach the destination faster too, b/c you can just grab a smarter choice snack from the back seat instead of stopping at limited choices with bad food.

-Try never to eat fast food.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten at Mickey D’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, or Carl’s Jr.  Not because I TRY not to go there, or am ethically opposed (I am, but since when does that stop me?) but because I genuinely do not care for the food OR I like just other places better.  There is nothing good about FAST food.  If you MUST eat out–upgrade to bar & grill fare or better.  It’s still not great, but higher quality.

-At restaurants–stick with the appetizers (only!)and share them with your dining companion.  Salads are expensive (sometimes MORE calorie-laden then other choices) and leave me hungry so I make poor choices later.

-I never, never, never have the will-power to control my portions.  At home, use small plates, or load up the plate with produce before squeezing the entree on.  At restaurants ask that they box half of your (giant, over-sized) portion up before even bringing the food to the table.  This ensures you will eat ONLY half–and that you have left-overs that are a full meal.

-Instead of eating ice cream, cake, pies, cookies, and other high-cal foods for dessert–stick fruit in the freezer.  It’s a really yummy treat, plus since it’s frozen it will force you to eat slower and your stomach is more likely to register when it is full.  I’m a dessert person from way back, but frozen grapes, mangos, or bananas are adequate to super-yummy in the evening.

-Watch out for those empty calories!  Attempt to eat foods that will make you full over time instead of drinking your calories, eating salty stuff that leaves you hungry in an hour, or gobbling down a bag of junk.

-Water is boring, but obviously necessary.  To help you WANT to drink it, freeze juice, lemon juice, or those Popsicles that come in the liquid tubes in the ice cube tray.  Plunk a flavor cube in the water for more taste.

-On days you know you will eat too much, go on a run, hike, or exercise vigorously to counter that.  And eat less the next day.

Those are really the only tricks I sometimes remember to use.  I’m blessed with the metabolism of a hummingbird, luckily.  Which I fully realize is a fleeting gift, so I need to try to establish healthy habits for when it expires.  For those that have less stellar metabolisms, and for everyone who wants to improve their health, give my tips a try.