When Tony committed suicide I remember a lot of people were shocked. They were shocked because he was “living the dream.” He got to travel the world and eat food. But the truth is, he wasn’t living a dream. Tony had a rough childhood. He became a delinquent. Somehow food saved him. Tony was an incredibly smart and passionate man. He got a foot in the door with Travel Channel and was able to begin doing what he cared about. Traveling the world and bringing awareness to the struggles most people don’t want to acknowledge. But through all his different shows, you can see him struggle. With Travel Channel he wasn’t given enough freedom to do what he wanted. He had a lot of different shows on their network, perhaps trying over and over to get it right. But I don’t think they probably wanted to see world struggle. They wanted to see bright colours, and food. When he finally moved on to CNN, you could actually feel a change in him. Finally, this was where he could really breathe. He was able to travel the world and show and talk about what really mattered to him. The politics and the struggles of the world. And if you really think about it, why wouldn’t he begin suffering depression. Probably simmering since childhood. Now there ten fold. How can one man power travel the world, seeing the struggle and despair and not feel powerless. And then come home to a nation actively destroying itself under the leadership of a narcissistic moron. He engulfed himself in tragedy. So, on June 8th 2018, when I woke up to a text telling me he had committed suicide, after the shock, and the pain, the soul crushing pain, I understood. He wasn’t “living the dream.” He was single handedly trying to save the world.
(This, of course, is just my speculation.)
Heres a trailer for the upcoming documentary about him.
Ah wis sittin wi Sick Boy in his flat. Ah fix a nice yin in the sights ay Sick Boy’s old .22 air rifle oot in the park. VPLs. Visible Pany Lines in sight. Oh yes. Ah wis looking fir the VLPs. Sick Boy wis lookin fir the dugs. He hated dugs fir some reason. Ah’m no exactly sure what it is that Sick Boy hates so much about dugs cept their shitein all over the park.
– Ye have entered the scopes, ma little pretty. Ah mutter, – Visible Panty Lines in view. Oh yes. Brilliant. Ah wis enjoyin masel when Sick Boy snatched the rifle from ma hands nearly takin ma nose wi it.
– Get tae fuck! Ye cunt! Ah rubbed ma nose as ah jumped up from the windae sill.
– Quick! Get doon! He pulled me back doon. – Ah see yin. It’s a bloody brilliant yin. Ah kin just see it all now. He allowed a moment of silence while he invisioned the kill. – Oh man. Ah think ah bucked that chicky he’s wi. Oh yes. Very nice…
– What?! Ah snatched the rifle from his hands. Ah scoped oot the chicky he’s talkin aboot. Her back is tae us. Ah’m sure Sick Boy has bucked her though. He’s bucked half the continent. Then she turns tae us n ah see her face. It’s wee Janet. Sick Boy dinnae buck her. Ah did!
Ah remember it too. She wis a good yin. She wis the only yin to walk oot on me. It wis probably because ay ma red hair. Ah eywis ken that red heid ay mine wis a curse.
– What do ye think ay black hair fer us? Ah asked Sick Boy whae wis tryin tae see her n the dug withoot his rifle scope.
– Ah think ye’ll look like a fuckin buftie. Have ye gone radge? He says, takin the rifle back.
– Get tae fuck. Ah dinnae care what ye think anyway. Ah says, goin tae find a beer.
I waited a long time to finally watch this. I wont say it was bad. Definitely not an easy watch. Everything is so, almost accidentally connected, that im not quite sure what the resolution was. It was a film directed by a guy you’ve probably never heard of, based on a book, by a guy you’ve probably never heard of, starring a lot of familiar faces, and produced by my guy Jake Gyllenhaal. That being said, it wasn’t box office, smash hit. It probably appealed more to the indie gothic thriller crowd. I’m still trying to sort it out. It’s based off a book of the same name, by Donald Ray Pollock, and the movie is narrated by the same man. Something about his slow, soft voice sort of fits the time frame. Matched with radio tunes from the 60’s. Along the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The whole thing felt very Stand by Me, but bigger, more adult. A weird, gritty sort of coming-of-age for Tom Holland’s character. But don’t mistake this for some Lollypop, Cherry Cola 60’s story. This is anything but that. It is also very strange. And disappointingly incredible. The acting was superb, the atmosphere was gritty, and in truth, the director did an exceptional job. On the surface, it all sort of feels pointless. If only he hadn’t sat at that particular bench at the diner counter, maybe none of this would have happened. But it’s not a story about what happened, so much as a story about who it happened to.
I had been hoping this film would be more psychology. But it turned out to be more medical. Medical mystery. It was basically a feature film length episode of House. Without all the great House doctors… In truth though, it was pretty serious. And scary. A rare form of encephelitis. The symptoms of her disease were presenting as psychosis, and as her medical tests were all showing healthy young girl, she was pretty much set to be transferred to a psych unit. At the end of the film she asks how many people with this disease have been misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, or bipolar. As a writer and a journalist, her boss asked her to share her story, to bring more awareness. And so she did.
I’m still trying to figure out my feelings on this story. What do you do? What do you do when you and your twin have had a horrible, tramatic childhood, and then one day your twin wakes up with no memory. All he knows is you. And he needs you to tell him who he is. This is your chance, your one grace, to give him the gift of a wonderful childhood. But at what cost? Twins have always been weird to me. Movies about twins are kind of weird. But in the world of psychology, twins are mecca. This movie, admittedly, felt less psychology than I was hoping for, and more moral dilemma and personal journey. But the story is still intriguing, and uncomfortable, and touching.
Going through a box of my old childrens books. Yes, I have kept some of my favorite childrens books. For why, I’m not sure. I am sentimental about books. And I honestly haven’t laid eyes on them for quite some time. It’s weird, seeing them with 30 year old eyes. They nibble at my heart and I smile, handle them carefully, despite grubby, child fingerprints and worn pages. And then I come to one I know I have seen, but have no memory of. A vague cover. Just a painting of a young girl, staring into the fire. A simple title across the top. The book feels strange. It, in fact, isn’t even mine. There is an inscription on the front cover for my brother. And as I flip through the sparse pages, there are various paintings, next to words. A brief scan of the text tells me this isn’t a childrens book. I flip back to the front cover, as there is nothing on the back, to find the story behind this book. The text is the last will and testament of a man who died a pauper. It was found in his coat pocket. In it he bequeaths humanity all the beauty and wonder of the world. And for a few moments after I had finished reading it, I couldn’t hear my heartbeat, because it had stopped. It was absolutely, poetically beautiful. In a way, my eyes might not have understood had they been younger. I have not experienced something so soul shakingly beautiful in a long time…
I’m not really sure where to start.
A quartet of washed up, middle aged school teachers decide to conduct an experiment.
The film starts with what I can only assume is a common Denmark drinking game. Two people grab a crate of beer and begin running around a lake. At each bench, they are to down a bottle of beer and keep going. Penalties if you vomit. But, if I understood correctly, the penalty is waived if you and your partner both vomit.
On a whim, the four men discuss the theory posited by Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud, that a blood alcohol level of 0.05% will make one more creative and relaxed. After an emergency meeting held for Martin, played by Mads Mikkelsen, in which his students and their parents express concerns that they are not learning anything in his class, and thus at risk of not passing their graduation exams.
Thus begins the illconceived psych experiment by four middle aged men to see if drinking alcohol increases their performance.
One can see where this might go. And obviously there is so much wrong with this idea. But in the name of Churchill, and Hemmingway, is there something to alcohol and brilliance? And as ridiculous as it sounds, it really was a well done film. The director, Thomas Vinterberg, known for films you probably haven’t heard of, has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Director.
While the film seems like it is going to be jokes and drunken ridiculousness, and indeed there were some wonderful drunken scenes, it is also a serious film. It isn’t shy about showing how alcohol and alcoholism can be destructive when not under control.
But honestly, the greatest thing I think I took away from this film was: I wish I had graduated high school in Denmark.
I really have to say that, I think this was an absolute near perfect film. The story, while somewhat extraordinary, is one we don’t hear enough of.
A young girl is raped while in college, and nobody believes her.
This story happens far too often. One summer I did some extensive reading on rape injustice. From universities, to the army. All covered up so someone can save face. Football players who got off easy so they could keep playing. Army soldiers handed down light justice to keep the platoon together. And always, the woman was treated as a liar or the cause of the problem.
This film is just uncomfortable enough to make you sit up and watch. You want to like these characters, to almost root for them, but then you remember that they are not good people. You want to be shocked by the main character, Cassie, this avenging angel, but you can’t. The prime characteristic of a psychopath, the thing about them that makes your skin crawl, is their absolute lack of remorse or feeling. Cassie feels almost too much. And it is that well of emotion that keeps you on her side. Her heartbreak, and her hatred, and her loneliness.
This is a film for women who hate men. This is a film for women who fight for equality. This is a film that will make you hug your daughters. This is a film for anybody who believes in justice. In an odd way, this is a sort of vigilante superhero film.
Another Black America struggle film, veiled in the jug band notes of blues music. Based on a play by August Wilson, about the real blues singer, Ma Rainey. This film plays like a stage play, with it’s various small room settings and deep monologues. The style of acting feels more suited to the stage, than the big screen.
Truth be told, the story is simple, if a little boring. I felt it hard to find myself backing any character, because they neither seemed wholly good, nor wholly evil. While they are all slightly broken from one White America experience or another, none of them seem really to be fighting for the cause. Levee, the young horn player is driven by his desire to make exciting music. With both his parents torn away at a young age, he struggles with being a proud, strong black man, and the understanding that to go anywhere in life, he needs the white man to open the door for him. And Ma, the strong woman whose unique voice has given her some recognition. Her voice is her leverage. As opposed to Levee who needs the white man to pay his ticket, the white man needs Ma to make their money. And Ma knows this.
It sounds more dramatic than it ends up being. Or maybe I lost focus somewhere. But what people will watch this film for are the two leads. Viola Davis as Ma, the large, demanding, woman with sweat between her breasts, and dark makeup smudged around her eyes. A woman who’s going to be told what to do by no one. And Chadwick Bozeman, known for being the sexy prince of Wakanda in Black Panther. This was his last film. Critics commend him for both throwing himself into his work right up until the end, and particularly this role, for literally giving it his all, because he knew he had nothing left to lose.
People will watch this film for him. He is shockingly skinny compared to his buff super hero role. But his acting is lacking for nothing. I always believe that when an actor no longer becomes recognizable to me as their real life identity (not necessarily just visually), that they have maximized their acting potential for that role. In essence, done a stellar job. And not once did I see Chadwick Bozeman acting the part of Levee, the horn player. From the very first moment he enters the screen, he simply is Levee.
He was posthumously nominated for the Oscar for Best Lead Actor. While he is up against some stiff competition, I have a fear that the Academy will feel pressured to award him. There will also be pressure to award Steven Yuen, the first Asian American to be nominated for Best Actor, now due to the growing publicity of the increased Asian Hate Crimes since last March.
Pressures aside, his role was phenomenal. A testiment to what the world was robbed of on August 28th last year. If you watch this film for nothing else, watch it for him.