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Tag: politics

Movie Review – Wendy & Lucy

Kelly Reichardt’s follow-up to Old Joy, like that film co-written with novelist Jonathan Raymond and based on a short story he penned called “Train Choir.” What’s this movie about?

How hard it is in America. Being adrift and alone. The fragility of our social safety net. I read in an interview its impetus came from Katrina, and both the bungled aftermath and the desperate poverty of those who were failed during that seven-day trial — those who when told to leave realized they had no place to go and no way to get there.

We don’t know why Wendy is heading to Ketchikan, AK — I mean we do, to work, and her Indiana license plates on her 1988 Honda Accord imply a story of the rust belt, maybe — Ketchikan, AK, remember was the terminus of the bridge to nowhere — and so in an American that’s rusting away, a single girl, feminity abandoned, perhaps artfully so to protect her from the predators of the road (one of whom we meet in a chilling scene that must happen more than we realize, every day, in the real world), sets out, her solace her dog.

It is a sketch. Artful. Graceful. Sad and lonely. People try, but who knows what they do all day long — and Wendys realizes that even a dog is too much responsibility —

We sit there with Wendy, as she sleeps in a car, washes up in a gas station bathroom, gets caught shoplifting and arrested, loses her dog. Life is hard, the movie says. We know this, but we don’t know this — and while we are far from Wendy, the differences between her life and ours are minimal — maybe especially for me — but for a lot of us — drifting — one check away —

Six dollars, maybe seven, trade hands at one point in the movie. It is a telling moment.

The crust-punk neohobos of the Rusty 21st Century (America’s Autumn, they will call it) gathered round the fire, doing drugs, semi-dangerous.

The security guard outside Walgreens. The kid who turns Wendy in, with a little crucifix around her neck. Freight trains rolling by. The mighty trees of the Pacific Northwest. The little houses. The small town bus. America.


Tired old man we elected king

Who is John McCain? Can a pugnacious penguin, a tortured bravo, really rule this increasingly complex behemosity known as Amerika? Merrik, you Young Empire, do you want an Old Man to lead you, the Fortunate Son of admirals, the hero locked in bamboo cages? Shall we let the Son of the Jungle loose on the Men of the Deserts? What does he know of warfare and empire? How can he mistake Shia from Sunni? How can he minimize the true complexity of these issues?

 ZR says bomb Iran, and misses the complexity of the issue. He does not see the other side. He does not sit in their shoes. To defeat your enemy, you must become your enemy, and the greatest defeat is to make him your friend — shall Persia stand up to the Colossus? We tremble at their shoutings, but oh how they must tremble at ours — we have them encircled — increasingly incircled — and we wonder that they are jumpy?

And what of My People, the Children of Abraham, People of the Sword, nervous in Masada?

I love them, my love for them is eternal, my heart rests in Jerusalem, but, but, but — we must follow Jacob and dwell in the house of Laban, not Esau who dies by the sword.

And so then, the King I Choose, the Secret Wanderer who has been chosen by Destiny, the Contingent One, Who Exists Because America Exists. He is our Favorite Son, the Voice of the New Tomorrow, the Bringer of Hope.

 Tomorrow comes, and with it death and dust and destruction but also life, and love, and beauty. We must turn towards the beauty and away from the dust — we must sit in the tents of our fathers, and let them wash the dust from our feet – and we must make merry, and eat good food, and rejoice — and we must love each other, and see beyond the bone-fences that hem us in and see and take our place among the starborn beings who, through the shocking surprise of their contingency, delight the silent watchers who sit beyond. That these things matter to us, and will one day matter to others. That the sun shines on us, and will one day shine on others.

The universe is cold, but there is warmth in it, and in that warmth, the warmth of future days, the promise of the continuation, we must take comfort.