As we all settle in with our friends, family and loved ones this holiday season (Note: Yes, the latter includes Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime and any other platform of choice), The Chair and Holly would like to wish you and yours a healthy, happy and entertaining celebration of your choice for the remainder of the year.
There is so much to say about 2021 and we will be back one last time before the masked ball drops in Times Square (Note: It will be masked, won’t it?) to say it. But not this time.
Instead, now is the time to eat another piece of cake, watch another movie and take an additional helping of ____________________ if it’ll make you feel better.
No judgments here.
Well, on this post, anyway,
But we will be back soon with a laundry basket full of them.
I’m a college professor and a writer so no matter how hard of a professional day I have, let’s face it, I’m not working in the mines.
Please don’t share that with my college’s senior leadership team or any producer, director or editor I might work with in the future.
Even though deep down they know the same applies to them.
Nevertheless, it’s hell out there these days, isn’t it? Or some human replica of what we imagine it to be.
In a few weeks we’ll be going into our third calendar year of the COVID pandemic. Though three doses of either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (Note: The third being your all important booster shot) can pretty much ensure you of not dying, becoming hospitalized or even seriously ill with this potential demon only 30% of the country have so far been boosted.
Don’t ask me why, that’s way above my pay grade. Though if you press me I’ll say stupidity, stubbornness and willful ignorance, not necessarily in that order.
To give you an idea of how infectious the new Omicron variant is, New York State set a record of 21,027 new cases on Thursday, the single HIGHEST number since this all began almost three calendar years ago. (Note: Didn’t I just bring up those THREE calendar years? Well, I’m doing it again).
There are all kinds of other statistics but perhaps none as sobering as almost 5.4 million deaths worldwide, including 805,000 in the U.S. The numbers continue to go up and if you continue to be unvaccinated know hell is no longer just waiting for you outside your door but finding better and more clever ways to vaporize itself beneath it and into your system even as I write.
This is why everyone needs to do TWO things this Christmas season.
#1 – GET YOUR F’N VACCINE.
#2 – Watch BEING THE RICARDOS either at the movie theatre wearing a mask, or at home on Amazon beginning Tuesday, Dec. 21st.
You didn’t think we were going down that road, did you?
But we are taking that turn because you and I and everyone we know is tired of talking about COVID and all of the things we can’t, shouldn’t or should do. In fact, we’re going out of our f’n minds doing so.
Broadway is closing down left and right, local theatre the same. Sporting events are getting cancelled or postponed and if you’re going to be attending a music concert in these winter months inside, good luck to you.
No, seriously, good luck. You’ll need it.
However, the one thing we can do is sit at home and partake in that age-old American tradition of watching a movie.
The entertainment industry is trying to get us all to go out but, with infection numbers spiking so much in just two weeks PRIOR to Christmas, it’s getting more and more unlikely there is going to be a rush to anything at your local theatres.
EXCEPT for the new Spiderman: No Way Home, which broke box office records this weekend because we live in a sick world where the idea of watching a superhero is far more appealing to the American public than actually being one in real life by getting a f’n vaccine.
But if you are actually an adult tired of all that, or a kid or adult like me who was never into superheroes (Note: Except the campy 1960s TV series Batman, which really doesn’t count because Tallulah Bankhead, Eartha Kitt, Victor Buono and Caesar Romero as super villains is too good to turn down), Being The Ricardos will momentary take your mind off of it all.
Not that writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s smart, fast-talking and clever take on the private and professional lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz – or as we still know them, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy fame- isn’t both super and heroic in its own way.
In fact, it is at times both serious and affecting. But it is also always entertaining, thoroughly watchable and a marvel. The latter is because somehow Mr. Sorkin has managed to throw us back into the 1950s via what is probably the most famous television series in history and yet somehow not get swallowed up by the legend of it all.
He’s is helped greatly by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, who so manage to evoke the spirits of Lucy and Desi onscreen that it’s as if you’re eavesdropping on the better, mover clever version of every conversation, seduction and argument they’d tried to ever have but likely never literally ever had.
This is what writing teachers and critics and writers like myself preach when we say that the work should evoke real life without ever literally being real life.
This is because real life doesn’t happen in three-act structure and can often have endless deadly dull moments in the space of two hours.
Films, on the other hand, can use those two hours to tell the story of a year, a month, or – in the case of Being the Ricardos – a key week in your life. And they can do this by showcasing the spirit of your truth in a much more entertaining way than a bunch of cinema verite home movies that you personally shot or even lived could ever hope to do.
Movies, at their best, can capture the magic we know sometimes happens in life, with all the good and bad our humanity offers. And with the right combination of artists and technicians they can also harness all that passion and verve we humans get to experience in a way that reminds us of who we are in those times, at times like these, where it’s easy to forget.
It helps that I Love Lucy still cracks me up and was one of my favorite shows as a kid. But that’s not truly why I’m on the Ricardo/Sorkin soapbox at the moment.
It’s because for two hours the creative team behind this film made me forget how absolutely screwed up everything is at the moment by telling me a story about a fictional week in the lives of a couple of Americans where absolutely everything was also screwed up for them.
Yeah, it was literally quite different. But screwed up is screwed up.
AND it made me laugh, forget and finally feel something other than COVID-stark raving madness while doing it.
If that’s not the best holiday present you can give yourself in the next two weeks, I got nothin’ else.
But know you certainly won’t get it from The Power of the Dog, despite what every major film critics association want you to believe and labor with.