Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh Boo Hoo

My long weekend was nice, thanks for asking. Just unremarkably... nice. And pretty relaxing. Great for life-living reasons, but not the stuff of which compelling blog posts are made. Fear not, I did foray into cultural relevance territory by watching one movie that was released in the past year and finishing a really excellent new book.

The movie in question: Hunger Games. I'm ever more sorry that I missed it--despite my best efforts--when it was in theaters. Though movies can rarely do books justice in any case, I thought this struck a nice balance of presenting violence without sensationalizing it and getting to the dark heart of Suzanne Collins's masterful book. Of course the complexities of the Panem universe couldn't be given sufficient airtime, and I wonder what someone who hadn't read the books took from what was presented. Jennifer Lawrence was great, though she really was too old to be cast as Katniss. And Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci: can we all agree to make sure they're in all the movies from here on out? I cried a bit too, and the tears felt earned. And that's my review. Looking forward to the adaptation of Catching Fire.

The book I finished was Monica Wood's memoir, When We Were The Kennedys. Full disclosure: even though I have read several of Wood's fiction titles, it's unlikely this book would have caught my attention had it not been set in the area where I grew up. Most of the action in the book occurred a decade and then some before my birth, but it was still essentially the same place (though the industrial decline and already begun), the same feel. And I loved it for that, the nostalgia, the names I recognized, places I had been. The author's oldest sister, one of the central figures in the narrative, was my beloved French teacher through all four years of high school. I admit I felt a bit of a voyeur to read about her on such intimate terms. But there was so much more to it. Simply put, this book broke my heart. I sobbed so hard at the end, at the epilogue.... When I tell you this, I mean it as an absolute endorsement. It was such an uncommonly beautiful human story, and of course I'm thrilled that someone with such talent came from where I came from. Anyway, I thought it was quite an accomplishment, and I think it would be really interesting to talk about it with someone who went into it with no prior connection to the setting.

Apparently my internal ratings system is based on whether or not something made me cry. But know that I don't count just any tears: for example, I uphold I Am Sam as the most wretched movie that made me cry and even as I was crying I was pissed off because I felt so manipulated. It wasn't art to me, just a preposterous situation designed to get people at their heart-gut. Condescending. Genuine, earned tears are a different story, they take a really deft hand to bring forward, and crying as reaction probably shouldn't be the artist's primary intention. I'd say that out of four hankies, The Kennedys was  a three-hankie read. Yes it dealt with some very sad subject matter, but it wasn't really the obviously sad things that hit me the hardest.

In an attempt to keep up with a theme, this is probably the best song ever recorded with the word "cry" in the title. OK, maybe second after "When Doves Cry."  But more people should know about Solomon Burke, so here you go.


  1. I loved the Hunger Games too. I watched it again last night with someone who had never read the book and had to explain a bit. I really want to read Monica's book, not only for Madame, but my aunt Denise. I'm excited to buy it now that you endorsed it! :)

  2. I didn't know she was your aunt, that's awesome. She's definitely huge in the book and acknowledgments. I highly recommend.