Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

July 24, 2023

Does the Barbenheimer weekend tell us anything about our country?"

By Hal Brown

Please bear with me as I explain why watching the wonderful Danish TV series "Seaside Hotel" relates to this topic. The series starts in the early 1930's and follows the characters of guests and staff and their intertwined soap-opera lives. Now we're watching season six and it's 1939 and Hitler has already been elected PM of Germany and anti-Semitic violence has erupted across Germany. Only one character has been following the news from Germany since the series began and is sounding the alarm about the growing threat to German democracy and the danger to Denmark. 

Sometmes mocked by other guests for listening to the radio to keep up with the news Hjalmar Aurland (left) followed events in German since the beginning of the series. He has the newspapers delvered secretly to him by the staff because he knows that his wife gets upset when he reads them.

He tries to explain this to other guests but they don't take it seriously. One is even trying to invest in German industry. Another is a young German woman who worships Hitler.

There is a chilling parallel here. The light themes of the early seasons are getting darker and darker. We know that what is going to happen not only in Denmark, but in the world. Without giving too much away, there are two gay characters, one in the closet and one out, and both have already suffered because of not just prejudice but actual visiting teenaged NAZI youth.

Now we get to what I make of the Barbenheimer weekend. My sense is that there are two kinds of people who decided to venture into the theaters despite some of them having friends or acquaintances who recently came down with Covid. Those who went to see Barbie I would hazard a guess mostly wanted to either escape from worrying about the threat to democracy posed by Trump or someone like DeSantis becoming president or actually want to see us become a fascist state ruled by a racist dictator. Both want to see the fluff of an escapist movie like the hyped up Barbie film which has reviews called it WITTY, IMPECCABLY DESIGNED, OVERBLOWN FUN.

Then there are those who opted to see the can't get much more serious movie Openheimer. I'd bet my pile of chips that the majority of these viewers are those who are very concerned about what having a far-right president would do to democracy in America.

They are like the Hjalmar Aurland character in Seaside Hotel. They are like Thom Hartmann who just published "How Democracy Dies the First Month of the Next Trump or GOP Presidency."

Hartmann concludes his essay as follows:

As Trump told a group of young people last week of his plan to destroy the American government: 

“This will be the most important election with your country, your freedom, and your future on the line. We are in trouble. This country is in trouble. The election will decide if your generation inherits a fascist country or a free country, if you will have the rule of tyrants or the rule of law, if Marxist radicals burn our civilization to the ground, which they are looking to do, or young patriots like you propel America to glorious heights greater than ever before. … When I get back into the oval office, I will obliterate the deep state.”

Gradually, then suddenly.

People like Thom Hartmann and I, and probably almost everyone reading my blog including the 2,280 weekly readers in Germany and 468 in Russia (see below) have been following the news and are anxious over the prospect that what happened in Germany in the 1930's could happen here.



May 11, 2023

In our match between The Peanut Butter Falcon and the Trump Show, we're glad the Falcon won

 By Hal Brown

Click images to enlarge

My partner and I decided that we'd find a good alternative to watching Donald Trump's misnamed town hall on CNN and watch something uplifting on TV. "The Peanut Butter Falcon" turned out to be worthy of being a great escape not unlike the plot of the book and movie by the same name. The story involves a great escape not by a group of POWs but by a young man basically imprisoned in a nursing home.

Here's what some of the reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes write about the movie:

  • A tender and often funny heartwarmer with loads of charm, personality, and humanity.
  • The importance of the family you make, rather than the one you're given, is at the heart of this low-budget independent American feature that just happens to have two enormous Hollywood names on the marquee.
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon makes a strong case for the value of sentimentality.
  • It might be pretty optimistic in its wholesomeness, but whats the point of the movies if they cant be? Especially in a film that is committed to its faithful and hopeful representation for a community that is almost never shown on screen whatsoever.
  • Peanut Butter Falcon excels as a story of simple kindness.
  • Swept up in those bayou waters, we all root for Zack and happily accept whatever good fortune the writers provide for him.
The movie begins with the escape shown below. The character Zak,  has the same name as the actor playing him Zachary Gottsagen,  who has Down's syndrome like the actor does in real life.

Zak is living in a nursing home and due to two thwarted attempts to escape has been labeled a flight risk. His last attempt, enabled by this roommate Carl, played by Bruce Dern, helps him in his third and successful escape (below screen grabs from trailer).

The story involves Zak's quest to go to the wrestling school run by his idol, pro wrestler Salt Water Redneck. The name he adopts for himself is Peanut Butter Falcon for reasons that are made clear in the movie.

Since this is a feel good movie it shouldn't be a spoiler to reveal that he with his partner Tyler, played by Shia LaBeouf, Zak not only overcomes threats to life and limb to actually fight a match as the Peanut Butter Falcon in a local competition where he battles against a villainous cruel opponent twice his size. 
I won't reveal the outcome of the match.

This morning I watched "Morning Joe" and saw the most outrageous clips from Trump's CNN appearance. Seeing them was plenty to endure. It was better than enduring 70 minutes of Trump spewing his lies and venom.

“Morning Joe” co-host Scarborough ripped CNN and Trump for a “virus of lies” as Trump peddled falsehoods on live television about the 2020 election, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, which he called a “beautiful day.”

It was “a disgraceful performance” and “showed the corrosive effects of Trumpism over eight years,” said Scarborough.

The “most shocking part,” Scarborough said, was the audience “who cheered on a president who tried to overturn American democracy, an audience that mocked and ridiculed the woman who, a jury of her peers, Donald Trump’s peers, found had been sexually assaulted.”

Our own breaking point might have come when many in the audience applauded his saying he'd pardon most of the J6 prisoners, below:

The crowd also cheered and clapped when he insulted E. Jean Carroll.

It is also possible that Trump gave prosecutors new evidence for all three ongoing criminal cases (see article). This Salon article also describes how what he said about E. Jean Carroll makes a new case for her to sue him for defamation. If she saw him call her a "whack job" which prompted the audience to laugh I imagine this would have hurt.

I am pretty sure that had we decided to watch CNN instead of "The Peanut Butter Falcon" rather than rooting for the good guys and experiencing inspiration we would have been feeling frustrated and angry. 

CNN deserves all the excoriation they are now receiving for giving Trump the opportunity to spew his hateful lies. For example:

Click above to read article

We are happy we decided to spend our evening enjoying our home cooked delicious filet mignon dinner with the first baked potato we've had since we began a low carb diet the day after New Years, and watching "The Peanut Butter Falcon", rather than enduring the Trump debacle.
Our filet mignon, zucchini and yellow squash, crispy skinned baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives dinner.

Rather than feeling pleasantly sated after diner I think we'd have had cases of dyspepsia.

Addendum: Here's another feel good movie we watched a few days ago: A Man Called Otto.

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