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 #15 3/28/2020

The Long-Awaited Groceries (The hymn “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” is in my brain right now) came last night at 9PM – when it was raining. A woman named Sarah, late 30’s, brown ponytail, not-posh sweatpants and hoodie – carried ALL our groceries across the street from her car to our porch. This included 8-packs of Gatorade plus boxes of seltzer water, plus lots of other heavy stuff. Did I mention it was raining?

Quarantine #14 3/27/2020

Last night we did another wild and crazy thing. We got in our car and went for a drive! The first thing we remarked to each other was that we had not been in the car together in weeks.  It felt a little odd to be in there, next to each other, about to GO SOMEPLACE! Maybe this is the way it feels to be the family dog when they let you sit in the front seat and EVERYTHING IS SO AMAZING!

We drove west into the rosy sunset, filled with excitement to, um, see the sky.  Quarantines are easiest on people who have a low bar for excitement.

Quarantine Diary #13 3/26/2020

What do you miss?  What, in our new pandemical world do you miss most from our pre-pandemical world?You know, the one we lived in till two weeks ago?

I don’t mean the heartbreaking realities such as safe medical care providers and enough places to go should one become ill and the loved ones that we are losing.

I just mean, what are we getting used to? Or trying to get used to. What might we never go back to?

Quarantine Diary #12 3/25/2020

Right now it is 11:00AM.  Got up this morning at the regular time. Did regular things. Came to the office to write. Worked (hardly at all) on a project, wrapped an item for eBay. Announced to Len at 10:30 that I was sleepy and going to take a nap.

You know what he said?  He said, “Me, too.”

The following half hour he took the sofa and I took our bed and both of us slept like toddlers on cots.

Quarantine Diary #11 3/24/2020

Most mornings we wake up, get coffee, then sit in bed to read news websites and Twitter on our phones. This isn’t the most spiritually centering way to begin a day but IMHO any morning one can actually rouse oneself at all is good enough.

Except this. Remember when Len and I went to Kearny, Nebraska last spring to see the migrating Sandhill Cranes? (Right here.) 

When I have freaked out enough about the news, I go to this crane cam. 

Quarantine Diary #10 3/23/2020

This was a really good part of today. When my daughter was putting the baby down for his nap, Len and I read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter before her nap. Literally, she was sitting on her little bed in Chicagoland while holding mommy’s phone.  I read; Len moved the phone around carefully to show the illustrations. 

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