May 10th, 2021

One of the more interesting aspects of having started this blog, and earlier the email exchanges with Alison, is that although it has been done for quite some time, it still doesn’t reflect all the movie viewing that has been done. I review things that I have watched that week, but there are older movies that I enjoyed when I was younger that I haven’t reviewed because they were seen many years ago. Movies from the 70s and certainly the 80s fall into this category. I re-watched one of these movies from many years ago this weekend. I liked it then, and I still like it now. It holds up well.

The World According to Garp: Back in 1982, Robin Williams had just completed Mork & Mindy. Before that the absolutely awful Popeye. John Irving wrote the book, unread by me, and this movie had an impressive cast with Williams, plus Glenn Close portraying his nurse Mom, Jenny Fields, Mary Beth Hurt and John Lithgow. The story details the life of young T.S Garp and his Mom, where in the early 1940s she is a feminist before her time. Early on she believes that lust drives men, and she doesn’t view it positively. As a young nurse she wanted a child, but didn’t want the trappings at that time of other “womanly” duties and expectations. Garp was born, and his father had passed away. Jenny was raising Garp in a prep school in New England. Garp grows and mainly through lust for a young woman (Hurt) who sees herself as a reader and future professor. Garp writes short stories and is quite good, novels come later. Garp and Mom decide to move to New York to experience life and become real writers. Mom decides that her life story is something that she should write about and it becomes a political manifesto for women’s rights and the women’s movement for equality. The movie is a delicate balance of humour and seriousness. There are some genuinely funny moments, and Williams is allowed some leeway it seems to improvise and show his early comic genius. But it has also some touching moments and sadness. Garp gets married, has children, and interacts with people who have flocked to Jenny for support. Things happen, and like life not all of them are expected. Even 40 years later the issues addressed in this movie still linger. Equality, women’s rights, violence, political activism, political correctness all come together in a cohesive story. It isn’t single minded nor is it exactly what you might have expected. Still it remains effective. Williams shows early signs of dramatic abilities as well as comic. Both Close and Lithgow were nominated for Best Supporting Actor Awards for these roles. Well deserved, as I think Close is simply excellent. Worth checking out if and when you can find it.

Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing: This 2016 documentary follows the actions of the Boston Marathon bombing back in 2013, and the aftermath for those who were most directly impacted. Those who lost loved ones (4 were killed, including an 8yo boy) but many others who had amputations (mostly legs) as a result. One of the more touching stories explored was a young couple, Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, both runners who were spectators who lost their left legs in the bombing. Having done some running and attending these races, the Boston Marathon being the pinnacle of the sport, I can attest to the training, hard work, agonizing times to reach that race and then only to have your body destroyed so close to the finish line would be agonizing. It breaks my heart to think about it. You have entered a bucket list race, almost finished and then this senseless act happens. Lives are lost, the manhunt for the brothers ensues, but your life is changed forever. What cannot be anticipated is that your own body is rejecting amputation and preventing you from effectively wearing a prosthetic leg without excruciating pain. There is a scene with Jessica waking up and the bottles of drugs beside her bedside are astonishing. A senseless and barbaric act, which was protesting US violence against Muslims, rips apart lives. It is really very sad, but shows a level of resilience that is equally remarkable.

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Downes and Kensky when they were engaged.

Their stories are all heart wrenching. As you see those not injured in that bombing but those military personnel who have returned from places like Iraq and Afghanistan, you see wasted youth as they try to reassemble their lives for conflicts which resolve nothing. A moment in time for these people becomes a defining moment where their lives changed, and a unique unanticipated struggle for some normalcy begins. Incidentally since the documentary aired, she has written a children’s book about her and her support dog, Rescue. They campaigned for Elizabeth Warren, who assisted in getting them into Walter Reed Hospital for Military personnel. I cannot imagine the dark days that this couple will have endured. But I am thankful for healthy legs, and kids and family that in comparison makes me rich beyond anything imaginable. Stay well and stay safe.

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