Mary Beth Writes

Last night we watched last year’s “Happytime Murders” with Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and a bunch of puppets who look like Muppets. Yes, the director is Brian Henson.

The plot? A former kids’ puppet show is making a comeback, and someone is machine-gunning down alumni puppets in order to get a bigger cut of potential franchise income. Phil Philips, puppet detective, partners with Melissa McCarthy to find the culprit. Along the way we see various episodes of puppet porn.

I laughed a lot and then the movie was over.

Went to bed. Woke up this morning irritated.

“Happytime Murders” cost 40 million dollars to make. Brian Henson!  Imagine the resources that son-of-Jim must have at his fingertips. Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph are fabulously talented women.

Yet the movie asks no questions, presents no original whimsy, entertains the front of our brains while doing nothing to move the core of our hearts. 

Have you heard of the Bechdel test? “It is a measure of the representation of women in fiction and asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_test

This movie fails even that low bar. McCarthy and Rudolph talk to each other ONLY about Phil Phillips – who is a PUPPET man. 

Hollywood plays its violin while Rome burns?

Global warming and climate disasters, policing that is lynching, toxic sexism, Citizens United, oligarchies swamping global politics like a tsunami, NRA’s choking hold on Congress, massive media dumped on humans with minimal defenses, antibiotic-resistant super bugs, anti-vaxxers, unfettered weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, anomie, alienation, suicide, unprecedented addiction, election tampering from sources we can’t even imagine, epidemics, noxious solipsism (nobody has the right opinion on things except me).  And more.

...

It is nerve-wracking to be human. Where are movies with oomph and anger and wisdom?

I am done with movies that divert, cover up, and obfuscate. I want to watch truthful movies that are perceptive and smart.

These are some that Len and I came up with – movies that moved our hearts and made us think.

Eighth Grade

Moonlight

A Boy’s Life

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

First Reformed 

 ...

What movies gave you vision and courage, oomph and joy?

 …

The note of hope is the only note
That can keep us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution
Because, largely, about all a human being is anyway
Is just, a hoping machine.

     Woody Guthrie

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Comments

I agree there are so many useless movies and so much terrible TV, and I stopped watching any real violent or frightening things years ago. My own thoughts and imagination, not to mention, the real news of the day, are more than enough for me. However, I do feel the need for beautiful, sweet and laugh out loud funny. Sometimes, it has to be about the joy.
Mary Beth's picture

Any good movies that come to mind, that fill your spirit and make you laugh?

Not a comedy, but a thoughtful one: Cider House Rules
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. I should watch it again, its been so many years. You are right, it is a complicated story lived by complicated people. Like life itself.

Minding the Gap... a documentary we saw on PBS: POV show. An Incredibly insightful and touching story about three skateboarding friends dealing with harsh realities as they grow up in a town in the Rust Belt. I’m very excited about this young director:Bing Liu (It was also nominated for an academy award)
Mary Beth's picture

Bing Liu. Will look for his films. Thank you.

Green Book

"Call me by your name" made me think,laugh and cry, I like movies like that. The movie Good night and good night" which Michael and I saw when it first came out in2005 I believe is beautiful to look at ( Black and white ) with the most wonderful jazz soundtrack... About the battle between Sen Joseph McCarthy and Edward R. Murrow... Definitely a must see.

I've been watching lots of documentaries, including one about the business of art (can't remember the name at the moment) and the Robert Maplethorpe one (warning: X Rated if you're uncomfortable with men's body parts!). I feel like someone needs to keep watching these and remember that not everyone is the same. I also want to see the Big Little Farm movie. Finally, I recommend the Temple Grandin movie. I bawled my eyes out and laughed just as much. It's beautiful! I want more movies like that...movies about real people who did amazing things and lived authentically.
Mary Beth's picture

We watched this last night and it was astounding: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368264/ Shakespeare behind Bars.

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Quarantine Diary #141 August 5, 2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain. It is a quietly stupendous memoir.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s, grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mom would simmer stones for dinner - not because they were going to eat that - but so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not know how poor they were. A whole different take on the children’s tale "Stone Soup".

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

Quarantine Diary #130 7/22/2020 What's in your glass?

In the last few weeks one of my knees has decided it is the current star of the MB show. I overused it one day, I know when that was, ever since it’s been wonky. I have to baby it otherwise it hurts more than a little. Aging isn’t for wusses. 

I am walking less because walking a lot makes it worse.  I CAN ride a bike as much as I want since that doesn’t exacerbate the situation. I’m trying to weigh less, which is its own comedy.

Quarantine Diary #124 7/17/2020 As if it makes sense …

Our family lost a friend this week. I won’t go into too many details other than Tom died of a bike accident on a sunny day while riding in the country with friends. His wheel somehow got stuck in gravel, he fell, the fall twisted, and he died.

This is not his obituary or eulogy. This is a just a reflection on losing friends and how do we make sense of this?

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