“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”

 

 

Lordy, lordy. Sometimes I see a movie that just rocks my world. That happened the other night when I attended a screening of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.”

 

Wow! This documentary about the female trail-blazers of the feminist movement during the late 1960s to early 1970s is enchanting. It educates and entertains, which ain’t easy to do. The filmmakers pull it off, though, and this movie is pretty fabulous.

 

For me, I found myself astounded by how little I know about women’s history. But apparently this is all too common, as pointed out during the film. And what little I did know was not only expanded upon but also turned upside down a few times. I felt heartache, to be sure while watching this movie. But more than anything, I felt utter joy. I was smiling like crazy throughout the screening and happy, projectile tears were a constant. By the time the film was over, I was so thrilled! Honestly – I’d like to see this again!

 

 

If you find yourself near a screening, do yourself a favor and check out “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” And then let me know what you think! For reals!

“The Salt of the Earth”

 

 

The other night Mister and I watched an amazing documentary made by Wim Wenders. And when I say amazing, I mean amazing, y’all.

 

The film is called “The Salt of the Earth” and photographer Sebastião Salgado is the focus. His work spans some 40-odd years and is phenomenal in and of itself. But the film goes beyond his photography and covers his family’s conservation work as well. To hear his stories and see his work is a gift. And I won’t lie – some of it is uncomfortable. For while Mr. Salgado has documented earth’s beauty, he has also covered human tragedies and devastation. More than once, I found myself tearing up.

 

Without giving anything away, I do want to tell you that one tear-filled moment was just lovely. A part of the film caught me by surprise and wowed me in the best way. So not only is this documentary stirring for its darkness, but also for its light.

 

I highly recommend seeing “The Salt of the Earth” and I really hope you do. Salgado’s work is reason enough. His life puts it over the top.

“F*@#ing Perfect”

 

 

While some of us are obsessing over the upcoming Oscars, movies continue to get made and are released. I came across a trailer for a documentary that is slated to hit theaters next month and I’m already looking forward to it. It’s called “Fucking Perfect” and it’s about chef Sergio Herman and his decision to close his 3-Michelin-Starred restaurant, Oud Sluis, in the Netherlands. As a food dork, I’m naturally drawn to this sort of film. When I watched Chef Herman’s preparation of a small dish near the end of the trailer, I was a goner. Anyone who fails to see Food as Art must be challenged by that dish. And I don’t even know what the heck it is!

 

But I want it. Yes, I do. And I can’t hardly wait to see this film!

“Spanish Lake”

 

 

Recently Mister and I watched a documentary called “Spanish Lake” and it was, well, personal.

 

Spanish Lake is a north county suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. As a teenager, I lived smack-dab in the middle of it. Mister lived just outside its (technical) border. We both had friends living in Spanish Lake, and the high school we attended was located there. Spanish Lake is where we met. Years later, it was where we married.

 

So Mister had read about the documentary and we dialed it up. We settled in and watched. Neither of us had any idea what we were in for. We do that sometimes with movies and it usually turns out okay. On this occasion, it was eerie.

 

Not only did we see familiar places and hear familiar street names, we also saw things that used to be, things that no longer exist. We learned more about the area than we ever did while living there and not all of it was good. And while we didn’t actually know any of the folks who appear in the film, we definitely recognized them as mid-westerners.

 

White-Flight is a big topic of this documentary. So are Economics, Government Representation, Section 8 Housing, Race, Community and Preservation. And let’s not forget the People. Without them, director Phillip Andrew Morton would have no film. I won’t lie – you see all types of folks in “Spanish Lake” and that’s probably fair. Decent folks. Folks with no opinion. Racist folks. Movers. Shakers. Idlers. I suppose that little hamlet’s demographics have always been about the same. And maybe always will be.

 

I liked the documentary, I did. I’ve read it’s been banned in St. Louis theaters, and that’s too bad. Because sometimes we’re just too close to a thing to understand it. While living there, I certainly never knew any of what I learned from watching “Spanish Lake.” I’d be willing to bet a whole lot of people in the area don’t know any of it either. Seeing the film might educate some folks. Maybe they’d see themselves and their town with a broader vision. Maybe, like me, after watching the documentary they’d wonder how representative it is of about a jillion other towns in the US. I mean, the reasons may differ, but aren’t there other dying towns out there? Aren’t other communities losing businesses and residents? And no matter the reasons, aren’t we sad to see our histories disappear?

 

A few years ago, Mister and I were in the St. Louis area and on one warm, sunny afternoon we decided to drive around the old stomping grounds. Spanish Lake, while vaguely familiar, wasn’t the same. The stately old restaurant where our wedding’s rehearsal dinner was held was shuttered. So were a pizza joint and a Taco Bell. A lot of the houses, once lovingly maintained and cared for, didn’t look so great. Yards were ignored and trash was blowing around the lanes. Some homes were simply abandoned. We saw a large police presence (in the middle of the day, mind you) and as we cruised past our buddy Jack Daniels’ childhood home, we witnessed what seemed to be an arrest. The local supermarket, Schnucks, had been leveled. Only rubble remained. When we drove by the Catholic church Mister had attended as a child, it too was shuttered. We were feeling pretty low about the old neighborhood, but thought we’d drive down Mister’s old street before heading out of town. As we drew closer, a lot of what we saw was the same as in my old neighborhood. And then we turned down the actual street where Mister’s family had lived most of his life. The lawns were trimmed and free of debris. A few places could have used a paint job, but they were otherwise cared for. When we reached the end of the cul de sac, we parked the car and decided to walk to the small pond Mister had known as a child. It was terribly overrun with algae, but also teeming with life. Just over a small hill, Mister spotted the crab apple tree at the edge of his old yard. He told me stories about crab apple fights with his siblings and neighborhood kids. Just then, a gentleman appeared from around the corner of the house and walked toward us. Mister told him how he’d grown up in the house and that we were just visiting. Before we knew it, we had taken a tour of Mister’s old home and were sitting on the deck with the new owners, sharing stories. It kind of made the rest of the day’s depression disappear.

 

Yes, Spanish Lake has changed. Maybe forever. But those mid-westerners who live their lives there remain. The same sweet souls, the same hard-working folks who mow their lawns and wash their own cars are keeping the home fires burning. The very people who care about their roots, care about their neighbors – they are the soul of Spanish Lake. Even now – that suburb’s got a little soul left.

Jiro

 

 

I love documentaries. The best ones move me, make me laugh, touch my heart and leave a well-appreciated impression on my movie psyche.

 

Mister and I recently watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and I couldn’t be happier. This master sushi chef, born in 1925, is a true artist with an astounding life philosophy. Watching him speak about his job (which he began training for at the age of 10) causes one to stop breathing for a moment, just to take in the weight of his words. And then there’s the food. The food! Beautifully photographed and shot, the food images were frame-worthy. And they made me hungry. That’s why Mister and I headed out for a sushi dinner immediately after watching the film. And that, friends, was an excellent idea.

 

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a wonderful documentary. It has depth and humor. So much life is shown in this film, I am certain it will stay with me for a long, long time. And if I ever make it back to Japan, I will definitely be making a reservation at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the 3-Michelin starred, 10-seat restaurant owned and operated by Jiro Ono. For this gal now dreams of sushi, thanks to Jiro.