Sunday, January 20, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies

I have always been a movie lover. Before Sam came along, I probably went to the movies at least once a week and I will never be one of those moms who says, "I can't remember the last time I saw a movie." Because I can. Two weeks ago my sister and I went out on Friday night to see Juno. It was fantastic and I highly recommend it. Still, the days of double features and movies every weekend with popcorn for dinner are probably over, at least for a while. And this is why I love me some Netflix. Netflix has made it possible for R and I to curl up 3 times a week and watch new releases. This past week, we have seen two that I found particularly moving and worth seeing.

1.) Waitress: the movie has a simple premise: small town waitress and "pie genius" (Keri Russell) gets pregnant by her loser, controlling husband. She is miserable about it and terrified, but has the baby anyway and starts an affair with her doctor. All of this is interspersed with her recipes for pie, pies like "The I hate my husband Special," made with sour berries and a graham cust (or something like that).

Either way, it is clever and unique and an extremely accurate portrait of the mixed feelings that can accompany pregnancy. Adrienne Shelley (who was murdered shortly after completing the film) wrote and directed the film as "a love song to my daughter." And that truth is threaded throughout the story.

Not every mom is daisies and balloons about pregnancy. It is hard and scary and a giant unknown. But nobody ever really talks about that truth. Instead expectant mothers are expected to smile all the time and express nothing but joy over their impending motherhood. So, it was such a relief to see such an accurate portrayal of pregnancy. Because most women, when they are honest with themselves and others, would have to cop to some misgivings, even if that just means fear of delivery. And if they had none, then I would have to question their humanity or at least their ability to think ahead. After all, it is the biggest change in any woman's life. Fear and trepidation does not mean a mother loves her baby any less.

2.) Sicko: I know that this movie got some flak--and rightly so about some aspects--but I was incredibly moved while we watched it last night. 50 million people in the US do not have health insurance and claims are being denied routinely for those who do. I saw this firsthand with my mother during her cancer treatment. Everyday it seemed a new bill was denied and each night, my father, an attorney, would battle it out on the phone with Blue Cross. Had he not had legal training, I doubt those bills would have been paid.

The fact is, this country is abysmal in terms of what we offer families. The state of our public schools is disgrace, our fire and police departments are being cut to the bare miniumum and (at least in Boston) our roads are a mess. So, where are my tax dollars going? Oh yeah. They are going to fund this billion dollar war that will leave Sam's children in debt. There were many times when Bush came on the screen during the movie touting his "family values" and his respect for "real Americans" where I wanted to attack the TV. We kept having to pause the movie so I could scream and yell. And while he signs bills denying health coverage to children ("something a cartoon villian would do," according to Jon Stewart), the CEOs of the HMOs and insurance companies are making billions of dollars.

As R said after viewing this film, "my takeaway message is that we need to make at least seven figures a year." Exactly. The gap between rich and poor in this country widens everyday and about the only thing we--as parents and young(ish) people-- can do is make sure we are on the right side of the gulf. This is not to say that my heart does not break for this country. And films like "Sicko" really bring it to the forefront.

I am truly flabbergasted, amazed and astounded by the skill with which the Republican party has convinced middle class and working class Americans that they are the party for them when the truth is so glaringly obvious. They are in the pockets of the CEOs, the rich guys. And I am not talking about the people who make 250k a year. I am talking about the actual rich guys. The ones who make seven figures, who have yachts and at least two houses, for whom the concept of choosing which finger to reattach because you do not have the money to do both is as foreign as Oz. I understand why these men are republicans. I really do. I officially grant permission to all those making more than seven figures to be Republicans (and for the ones I know who are in this tax bracket who have not sold out, my hat is off to you). But for the rest of us: where is our sense of outrage? Our sense of entitlement? Yes, our taxes would go up, but not a whole lot more than we are probably already paying for our private health insurance. We should riot in the streets and demand that our tax dollars go back to us and not to funding this illegal, cruel, unjustifiable war.


Stephanie said...

Totaly agree with your comments about Sicko. My brother and I watched it together and probably had enough outrage for the entire middle class. Maybe you have to live through something as devastating as having a family member with cancer to have a real appreciation for the extent to which our health system can screw a person/family.

Another outrage inspiring move: Who killed the electric car? I watched it yesterday and recommend it to those 'free market republican' types that still believe that the U.S. is a free market economy.

Kristi said...

Both of these movies are on my list to see. In fact, I'm somewhat ashamed of the fact that I haven't seen Sicko yet, since I've always seen MM's movies as soon as they've come out.

I had it out with my very Republican aunt last night at our weekly Sunday dinner. She said that the Democrats were trying to allow untested and contaminated with who-knows-what prescription drugs from third world countries into our country. I tried to tell her that Canada is not a third world country, that their standards for safety are just as strict as ours are, and that in Canada, the country takes care of the people who can't afford health care and the outrageous cost of prescription drugs. She would hear none of it. Republicans terrify me as well.