July 26, 2021

My Salinger Year:  Joanna is a young woman who writes in this 2020 movie.  She is an aspiring writer anyway.  She was attending Berkeley but then on a whim mid-semester decides to move to New York City.  She wants to actually write and do what other famous writers do; sit in cafes and write while staying in dumpy apartments.   If she is going to stay in New York she must find a job.  She lands a job in a literary agents office.   Sigourney Weaver plays her old school boss reminiscent of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.  Not quite as ruthless.  Joanna takes on a secretary’s role and putting her writing aside.  She is kept busy with busy work, but nothing substantial.  One of her jobs is to dismiss with form letter all the letters to them for JD Salinger.

She juggles her job, her career aspirations, her relationship.  One of the clients in this agency, incidentally is the aforementioned JD Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame.  Truth be told I read the book and didn’t like it.   I likely didn’t get it.   But that’s okay.  Art is personal and what some think is excellent, others disagree.   Joanna has her own struggles and these are personal and real.  The actress, Margaret Qualley, who plays her is likeable and engaging in the way that Darren Starr would likely have hoped that Lily Collins was in Emily in Paris. Joanna has a good rapport with her coworkers, she is bright, astute, and has a good rapport with the clients of the business. In the end she has choices to make and these are interesting. Some may really like Emily in Paris, but for me it seems superficial and unrealistic. Maybe that is the point but we aren’t really telling stories that feel like stories about real people. I enjoyed this and was worth the time. Certainly it was more interesting than Emily. I would rather share a drink with Joanna than Emily on a day in her life.

I watched The Command (aka Kursk) again this weekend and I am reminded just how difficult it is to watch young men sacrifice their lives for no reason. It has a good cast and there are compelling performances. Like Chernobyl it shows how individuals are treated like disposable assets, even those who dedicate their lives to protecting the people of the State with the Navy.