28 July 2012

Pieces of My Mind Related to Everything From Gun Control, to Jarmusch to Bill W. to Movie Lists

Dear Christian Right: Please Shut Up: If you don't want to marry a gay person, don't. If you don't think gay people shouldn't marry, that's your right, you're entitled to any bigoted notion you've a mind to. But don't try to impose your Dark Ages values on the rest of us. I'm speaking to you Chick-fil-a president Dan Cathy. Please keep in mind that this is not a Christian nation anymore than it is a Muslim one, Jewish one or Hindu one or Pagan one. It is however a nation in which people are free to practice whatever religion they choose. They should remember that their religious views are their own to have and to hold and do not belong in political discourse. Hey, Cathy! Instead of pumping money into anti gay marriage initiatives, why not put it towards the kind of charitable efforts that your supposed lord and savior would applaud. Maybe something like helping poor people. Just a thought.

Anytime is the Right Time to Discuss Gun Control: In the wake of the shooting last week in Colorado, right wing commentators crawled out from under their rocks to holler about this not being the appropriate time to talk about gun control. I suppose in their minds the "right time" would be when gun deaths in the U.S. average zero a day. Given that the current average is 87, that day may be a ways off. I'd like to propose that every day is a good day to talk about how to keep guns out of the hands of the insane and automatic assault weapons out of the hands of, oh...let's say -- everybody. It used to be when their was a gun related tragedy in this country the NRA would go on the defensive. Not anymore. Now they go on the offensive. And a more paranoid group of people you never encountered. They are dead sure that President Obama is going to try to pry their guns away from their warm living hands although he hasn't showed the balls yet to even mention gun control. They're also convinced that Americans need their guns to protect themselves from the government. Seriously. This kind of dystopian fantasy is baffling. One final note: you notice that the people against gay marriage are usually the same folks who are against gun control. In other words they feel more threatened by two people of the same gender making a life commitment to one another then they are of AK-47s. These are some seriously messed up people.

My Name is Richard and I'm....: Thursday night I had the privilege of seeing a screening of a new documentary called Bill W. about Bill Wilson the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are a  number of famous people who have been in 12 step programs, but Bill W. is the only person I know of whose entire claim to fame was based on his getting sober. In any case he richly deserves any accolades and fame that posthumously come his way. His anonymity is shot, so what the hell. Time magazine named him one of the most influential Americans of the 20th century. As one speaker in the film said, "if Bill hadn't come along someone else would have started it, but he's the one who did it." Amen brother. AA has a simple perfection to it: finding sobriety and living a life of recovery by  sharing your story and surrounding yourself with fellow alcoholics in recovery. The secret is that getting clean is simply part one, a means to living a life without the influence of drugs or alcohol is the real heart of the program. There is no cure, this is about the journey, not a destination. It's a wonderful structure because you can take from it what you want. "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." And if after attending meetings for a week, a month, a year or ten years, if you go out and get drunk you can walk right back into a meeting and everyone will say "welcome!" Bill W. is an excellent documentary because it is, like the man it profiles, honest and humorous. It does not make Bill Wilson out to be a saint. He is presented as he was: a remarkable man but one with flaws just like the rest of us. While the film will have special meaning to the recovery community, it should appeal to a wide audience and I hope it comes to a theater near you soon. I attend the screening with Kevin L. a friend and model of how it works. This is a shout out to my long time pal.

To Jarmusch or not to Jarmusch: Decades ago I saw the Jim Jarmusch film, Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and frankly I can't tell you what I thought of it. But more recently I saw and loved Broken Flowers (2005) which starred Bill Murray. I finally decided to dive headlong into his work. My first stop was Dead Man (1995) starring Johnny Depp which I thought was an interesting and excellent film and so could not wait to see more. Next up was The Limits of Control (2009) which was one step above watching grass grow only because when you watch grass grow Tilda Swinton doesn't happen by. Yesterday I tried Coffee & Cigarettes (2003) and it was not so much boring as it was irritating, annoying and obnoxious. So it looks like, for me, Jarmusch is hit or miss and I'm leery of investing anymore time on him when I can always just watch a Bergman film or plays Words with Friends. I think I'll give Night on Earth (1991) a shot, but it'll be on a short lease. Usually a director, even the best of them, has an occasional clunker mixed in with their masterpieces (see Hitchcock's (The Paradine Case (1947) but two out and out bombs is unusual.

Just What We Don't Need - A List of Bad Films: Earlier this week the San Francisco Chronicle ran a list of the 100 worst film of the century so far and no I'm not going to link it. A better title, one that actually would have been accurate, would have been, One Guy Lists the Movies he's Hated so Far in this Century. The very embodiment of being pretentious is labeling art you don't like as the worst and art you do like as the best. You're always just talking about your favorites. Your own personal opinion which is never any better or worse than mine or that raving lunatic who hangs out downtown. I stupidly looked at the list only because a co-worker was and she was loudly exclaiming her disagreement with some of his choices. Most movies were ones that had been universally panned by critics, but there were some that were well thought of including one of my favorite films of all time. So this is the kind of thing that is just going to piss people off. Maybe that's the point. The critic says: let me rile up the hoi polloi and see what kind of nasty emails I get. But the worst thing about such an exercise is that its done by a nationally known critic and film historian. This is what he wants to invest his time in?  How about using your talents to celebrate some lesser known films that the masses are unaware of?  In other words, instead of ticking people off needlessly, how about enlightening them? Too hard, perhaps.

Final Thought: There's so much in the world to get blindly depressed about (see global warming, droughts, heat waves, corporate greed, haters having to hate) that its important to spend some time with flowers, grass, trees, good music, good food, family and friends and movies that you love. Remind yourself to give time to the good stuff. We all deserve it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should give Night on Earth a chance. I was laughing so hard during the segment with Roberto Benigni as the Roman cab driver I almost hyperventilated.

Theresa said...

I don't get it why people are so against gay marriage. It's just basic in any partnership. Gay couples have rights too that should be protected.

dri said...

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