ROMA

“…He said, “I know a cure for everything. Salt water.” “Salt water?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said, “in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.” ~ Isak Dinesen

 

In the first few moments of the film “Roma”, while the opening credits are playing, there is an exquisite, relaxing scene of soapy water gently ebbing and flowing across a tile floor.  Rolling in… and rolling out, rolling in… and rolling out.  It was so hypnotic that I began to wonder whether I could find a way to play this footage on a loop, as a tool for meditation and relaxation.  It was just that lovely.  And then, reflected in the pool of water, the teeny tiny image of an airplane flying in the sky overhead…whoa!

The director now had my full attention.

And this was no small task, this stirring of my interest, because I’ve gotten a little lazy.  Dull, sluggish, apathetic, indifferent, and complacent.  I used to be the person to walk through a dreadful snowstorm to sit in a dank, old theater just to see a movie I was excited about.  I would stretch myself intellectually and emotionally, and I would seek out things to help me grow.  But I lived in New York City then, and that kind of effort is quite commonplace and pretty much required if you want to keep up.  Now I live on Hilton Head Island, which is nice and has its advantages, but I think you catch my drift.

So I almost missed out on seeing this wonderful movie that is currently streaming on Netflix, and here’s the main reason why:  Because I knew it had…SUBTITLES.  Eegads!!  Picture this:

Lying on my comfy couch with my Netflix Special Remote in my hand, I just didn’t know if I wanted to exert the energy to deal with subtitles.  (!)  However in my prone position, propped up by pillows, I kind of reluctantly selected the movie.  This was in part because Netflix was continually hounding me to do so (RECOMMENDED FOR YOU!), and also because I know this film has received major Oscar buzz.  (The Oscars are my Super Bowl…I tolerate all the hype and ridiculousness and petty controversies because, no matter what, I just love movies.)  And that’s when I realized:

It would have been a mistake to overlook this film.

“Roma”, written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, is filmed in black-and-white, and that is fine with me because if it is done with care there can be so many tones of silver, gray, and pearl as well.  It’s just stunning to look at.  But here’s the real deal:  the story itself, and the lead character.  It takes place in Mexico City in the early 1970s and is apparently autobiographical.  It definitely has the feeling of a memoir… really a full exploration of the director’s memory…of a specific time and place, and a series of events, as well as a person who made a lasting impression on him.

I won’t try to give a plot summary here, because that is just plain old insufficient.  I will merely say that there are a lot of different themes and ideas, and I was particularly struck by the theme of water.  Over and over again the director uses water very effectively to help tell his story:  It’s a tool, it’s an obstacle, and it’s a savior.

Since the Academy Awards are actually intended to honor “artistic achievement in film” I do hope this movie wins Best Picture this year.  But listen up my friends:  if the thought of sitting through a 2 hour black-and-white movie with subtitles by a Mexican filmmaker you’ve probably never heard of immediately sounds like torture to you, then don’t bother.  No worries!  Watch “Black Panther” instead, or better yet, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.  They are both awesome and much more popular and accessible.  However, if you do have a taste for high quality movies that are more personal and thoughtful, I encourage you to watch this one.  You can’t do better right now than “Roma”.

 

 

 

 

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The HELLO FRESH Fiasco

Mom Hello Fresh 2

“Thank you for calling Hello Fresh, my name is Danny, how can I help you today?”

 

Hi Danny. I recently set up a Hello Fresh account for my parents.  Let me tell you, it took some convincing, but my brothers and I just felt that a food delivery service like yours would be helpful for them.  They are getting older and while they still manage things okay, my Mom has mentioned more than once that food shopping and preparation is sometimes a bit of a challenge.  But I’m afraid Hello Fresh is just not working for them, so I will have to cancel their account.

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I see here that they have only received a couple of boxes.  Was there something wrong with their order?”

Oh no, not at all.  My mom acknowledged that the recipes were good, and the quality of the ingredients was excellent, but it just seems to be… well… I guess it’s just not a good idea for them.

“Hmm, is there something we can do to make it more appealing for them?  What kinds of issues were they having?”

Well Danny, it’s kind of a lot. First of all I had to solve the mystery of why they didn’t get their delivery in the 2nd week, and I discovered that my Dad had misplaced his credit card and consequently he put a freeze on that account, forgetting that he had an automatic payment to you guys coming out of that account.  So I cleared that up and got the deliveries scheduled again.

“Oh that’s good.”

Well, not really.  When they finally began getting their boxes delivered again, my Mom complained that it was too stressful.

“Stressful?”

Yes.  She said “it feels like a school assignment when that box arrives!”  She acknowledged that it made her very uptight, that she felt a lot of pressure to just cook everything.

“Uh…”

Yeah, and then I happened to be visiting and of course I was curious about this STRESSFUL food delivery issue, so we decided that we would make 1 of the meals together so I could see what it was like, but when I pulled out the bag of ingredients I could not find the main ingredient, which happened to be Italian sausage.  And she said “Yes, I know!  They forgot to put that in!”  I was thinking that was really odd, and of course was unacceptable.  To leave out the main ingredient!

“I’m sorry, I have never heard of that happening!”

Oh it didn’t.  Since I thought that seemed odd, I went over to the Hello Fresh box that was sitting by the garbage to see if there was any explanation, and there, under a piece of cardboard that clearly said “HEY!  DON’T FORGET TO LOOK UNDER HERE!” was the sausage.  Also the salmon, which was for the other meal in the delivery.  They had both been sitting there, not refrigerated, for several days.

“Oh no!”

Oh yes.  So that was a complete waste.  And even though my Mom immediately declared that she would go to the store and get some MORE sausage and salmon so she could prepare the recipes, that kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

“Yes.”

She laughed at herself, because she really does have a cute sense of humor, and she promised to pay more attention to the next delivery.

“What happened then??”

Well, the next delivery contained shrimp… and well…

“Oh no!!”

Oh yes.  And again she went to the store to replace the ruined shrimp.  At this point I was feeling a bit discouraged about the whole thing, so I asked her if she actually did LIKE getting the Hello Fresh deliveries.  “No” she said.  “I just don’t think the recipes are that good, they are kind of boring, and I would like to try something else instead.”

“Like what?”

Danny, I had already done some research about all the types of food delivery services out there.  I explained all the different options, and price points, and varieties.  I covered all the bases.  And I learned that what she REALLY wants is to just THINK about what she feels like eating on any given night, wiggle her nose like Tabitha on Bewitched, and it just appears in front of her already prepared, hot and ready to eat.  Oh and there is a butler or something there to serve it to her and clean it up afterwards.

“Um, we don’t have anything like that.”

Yes.  I know.  She finally just laughed, again that CUTE sense of humor of hers, and said “We are just too old and difficult I guess.”  Ya think??  Then my Dad came into the room and put in his 2 cents “I don’t like this Hello Food thing!  It’s too expensive!  I want to cancel it!”  So I guess you understand now why I think it is for the best that we just cancel their delivery account.

“Yes.  I get it.  I’ll take care of that for you.  They have 1 more delivery already scheduled, but I will cancel everything after that.”

Thanks Danny.  You’ve been very patient and helpful.

 

TWO WEEKS LATER:

 

“Thank you for calling Hello Fresh, this is Susan, how can I help you?”

Hi Susan, I’m calling to reactivate my parent’s Hello Fresh account.

“Okay.  Actually, I see here in the notes that you canceled the account because your parents didn’t enjoy our food delivery service.  And I see a notation here that we should NOT expect to hear from you ever again.”

Actually Susan, and this is funny, but the whole thing has turned around!  I spoke to my Mom last night and when the final delivery of their former account arrived, she was delighted.  She made all the food, ENJOYED the recipes, and absolutely fell in LOVE with the Israeli couscous that was included.  I mean she is REALLY into the Israeli couscous.  They want to resume their deliveries, but just going down to every other week for the moment.  That will be more doable for them, both emotionally and financially.  Is that possible?

“Yes of course.  Let’s set that up for them.”

Thanks Susan.  You guys are great.  I’ll call you if we have any more problems.

CLICK

Hello?  Susan??

Mom Hello Fresh 1

Cute Sense of Humor

 

Phantom Thread

**This is a slightly dated post that I never published, but I think it still holds up so I went ahead and did it now…let me know if you ever saw this movie!

Well, it sure ain’t Star Wars!

 

When I started to type the title of the movie, Phantom Thread, into my search bar to check for showtimes, many many Star Wars things popped up first.  So just a head’s up:

Star Wars is an entertaining movie franchise that broke new ground when it started, continues to do well due to likable characters, entertaining adventures, clearly defined heroes and villains, and satisfying conclusions.  Pretty much everybody likes it.

Phantom Thread, on the other hand, is a weird movie about unlikable characters, where actually not much happens, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and the conclusion is just kinda like:  Huh.  Hmm.  Okay..?  And I don’t think that many people are gonna like it.  I’m talking about regular movie-going people, not professional film critics.

Oh listen, the critics are positively SWOONING!  They are falling all over themselves to praise the “attention to detail” and the “finely woven narrative” and “another committed performance by Daniel Day-Lewis”.  Phooey!!

Here’s the deal:  this director, Paul Thomas Anderson, positively takes the cake on narcissistic finicky-ness.  *bleah*  And all that attention to detail?  For what?

I r-e-e-a-l-l-y don’t like it when you feel like you need to go to Film School to understand a movie.  There’s a condescension inherent in that.  I love a sophisticated, educated director who has something to say.  But this guy!  You can positively feel the obsession of the filmmaker and it is stifling.  He spends what must have been countless hours poring over the details of place, period, and presentation.  But somehow he doesn’t deliver a movie with enough there to match.  This is truly style over substance.

What saves this movie, and gives it some weight, is of course Daniel Day-Lewis.  In this instance the director is one lucky duck.  As an actor Day-Lewis is wily, and subtle, and deep.  His performance as Mr. Woodcock doesn’t leap from the screen, it oozes and emanates and gradually permeates the entire theater.  He’s very skilled and deserves a full, rich script to work on, not this lame doodleybop.

The actresses are good too.  Vicky Krieps is perfectly cast as Alma, Woodcock’s muse, lover, nemesis, and lion tamer.  I have never seen her before, but I can’t imagine anyone else in that part.  She has a radiant quality that glows on screen.  She portrays Alma as entirely underestimated, and it was curiously heartening for me to see a female character who can give as good she gets.  In fact, that element of the movie is really the only satisfying thing!

Lesley Manville is so crisp and intelligent as Mr. Woodcock’s tough, clear-eyed sister/business manager that I could watch her all day.  For me, she is the true power center of this movie.

So I don’t know…if you admire Daniel Day-Lewis this movie is definitely worthwhile, especially since he says he is done with acting.  But otherwise be warned:  to paraphrase Darth Vader “the Force is not strong with this one”.

Normcore

I really wish I hadn’t read that article.

It really effed me up, and now I can’t stop worrying about my clothes.  Am I too normal?  Do I have style?  And what about my husband??  He is either so on the cutting-edge of fashion trends that it is not apparent to the naked eye, or he is hopelessly out of step.

“Normcore” is a term that emerged from the deepest recesses of Hippest hip hip super-hip Brooklyn.  (There is no way we can keep up with these people!)  It is a trend amongst these uber-hipsters wherein they have taken to wearing Super-Normal Clothes.  (Egads!)  Like jeans, Coors Light t-shirts, and real, non-ironic baseball caps.  Also, Gap cargo shorts and white sneakers.  Basically dressing like an uncool dad or 80s suburban soccer mom, with Jerry Seinfeld being the ultimate aspirational look.  Got it?

This is considered a fashion statement.  Well, actually, it is an ANTI-fashion fashion trend…supposedly these tiresome creatures are “dropping the pretense” of their intensely alternative lifestyles and throwing themselves into the mainstream.  (Please remember, this is a population that previously was all about pretty extreme eyewear and facial hair, i.e. “Martin Van Buren mutton chops”).  The next thing you know they’ll be joining country clubs, eating Cobb Salads, and taking up GOLF!

Now I’m having an existential crisis just looking in my closet.  What is a girl to wear??  I find myself kind of OBSERVING my wardrobe, and really overthinking what used to be “normal” clothing choices.  Like:  “Are these Gap jeans a super-mega-hip item?  Or just Gap jeans?”

They’ve sent me right down the Fashion Rabbit Hole….

So I guess I am turning in my Vogue Magazine subscription, and tearing up my Fashion Week membership card, because I can now do all my shopping for the latest looks at Walmart!  Or Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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