Monday, June 19, 2017


Year 9, Day 170 - 6/19/17 - Movie #2,665

BEFORE: Time for a TV update, since the last two films featured actors noted for being on "Twin Peaks" - Heather Graham and Grace Zabriskie in "Drugstore Cowboy", and Kenneth Welsh in "The Art of the Steal".  We're still tuning in to "Twin Peaks: The Return", the 7th episode just aired, and not only is it a confusing mess, I'm predicting that even though it FEELS like it's building up to some large payoff, it's going to confound everyone when it doesn't.  Damn you, David Lynch, do you have any concept of how to introduce plot threads and then, I don't know, FOLLOW UP with them at some point?  Nope, last week's threads were left hanging, in fact they weren't even mentioned, and instead we were treated to a solid three minutes of a man sweeping a barroom floor, which didn't advance the story one iota.  Trust me, people, there will be NO answers, NO resolution to the situations put before you.

But I finished the current season of "Gotham", "The Amazing Race", "Angie Tribeca" and the finales of "Genius" and "Fargo" will air this week.  I've got all summer to catch up on shows like "Little People, Big World", "Law & Order: SVU", "Family Guy", "The Simpsons" and "Bob's Burgers".  And I haven't even finished the recent season of "Face-Off" on Syfy, and the new season is starting up already - geez, guys, give me a break!  Let me catch my breath!  And then I've got to start watching "American Gods" and "Ginormous Food", which are threatening to clog up my DVR.

The tie-in between "The Art of the Steal" is not very obvious, an actor named Joe Pingue carries over, he played the barely noticed "Carmen" last night, and tonight plays a police officer.  That's because "The Art of the Steal" was essentially a dead-end, so I have to rely on a character actor.  Now, since I made the plan, Kurt Russell popped up again in "Deepwater Horizon", so I could have linked to that film, but it's serving another linking purpose next week, and if I skip ahead to it, I'll miss all the films in between and have to re-link to them.  Nope, it's Joe Pingue's turn in the spotlight tonight.

THE PLOT: A young boy is raised within the confines of a small shed.

AFTER: This is another one of those claustrophobic one-room movies that seem to be popping up frequently this year - it's not really a follow-up because the two films are so different, but I bought "Room" off of PPV in order to go on a DVD with "10 Cloverfield Lane", since both feature a woman being held captive in a closed space.

"Room" is sort of tricky at first, because you see a woman taking care of her son, doing normal mom-like activities like measuring his height against a mark on the wall, eating together and having play-time, it's only after a little while goes by that you realize that they haven't left this small room, and then you get the dreadful feeling that they may not be able to.  But why?  Who put them there?  Who brings them food and other things that they need?  What the heck is going on here?

The answer comes in time, of course, and it ends up being the sort of situation that you'd like to think doesn't happen in our modern, loving society, but probably does happen more often than you think, or would care to admit.  My question really isn't "who would do such a thing?" because there are plenty of psychos and nut jobs out there, but my question was more along the lines of "who would allow this situation to continue, once a kid has become part of the equation?"  Because I'm guessing that if someone abducted her to make her some kind of sex slave, he probably got much more than he bargained for.  (Oh, yeah, Happy Father's Day, everyone!).

What's more interesting here than the situation, how it came to be or whether they have any chance of getting out of it, is the psychology of a child raised under such conditions, where all he knows of the world is within that small room.  The room is real to him, everything outside is not real, because he's never seen it.  Oh, they have a TV, and his mother can tell him things about the world, but the TV depicts both reality and fantasy, so you might imagine that he has trouble telling the difference.  He can't even imagine that there IS anything on the other side of the wall, or even that the wall HAS another side.  Everything that isn't in the room might as well be in outer space, to him.

And if that boy and woman were to get out of the room somehow, and I'm not saying that they do, but if they did, how would he be able to comprehend the vastness of the world, and navigate the complications of society?  Well, this sort of hearkens back to my point about "Wonder Woman", where she was confused unnecessarily about Steve Trevor's wristwatch, but in her society they probably had a sundial, so she should be able to make that mental leap without much difficulty.  The boy might never have seen a car, but he's played with a toy car, for example, so there should be a way for him to get there.

But I don't really want to talk about that, because spoilers, so instead I'm going to wonder if this film is a big metaphor for something - after all, most people end up spending the majority of their time in rooms in their home that aren't much bigger, or cubicles in their office that are in fact smaller, so is this really such a bad life?  I mean, of course it is, because Joy and Jack CAN'T leave the room, and regular people can leave their home or office at will.  (But can they really?  CAN THEY?)  Or is this situation meant to function as a metaphor for any bad or abusive relationship, where someone knows that they SHOULD leave the relationship for their own sake, but similarly feel that they can't?

I mean, you can leave your office, but you're going to have to come back the next day.  You can leave your house for a while, but eventually you're going to need to come back and sleep there.  You can go on vacation or walkabout, but sooner or later you've got to come home.  So we're all prisoners in our own little ways, even if we have the illusion of free will, home is where you hang your hat, and you can eventually get tired of living or working anywhere.  The only real way to be happy is to be content in your situation, realize it as such and try to be as comfortable as you can there.

As a thought experiment, would you rather be homeless, or confined to a single room where you had everything you needed or wanted?  In the room someone would bring you food, supplies and entertainment, but you could never leave the room - is that better or worse than sleeping outside and carrying around your possessions with you?  What about living in an galactic zoo, if you got the offer to live in the human exhibit, with all your needs and wants taken care of, except for freedom, would you take that deal?

Now, I don't have children, so I related more to this story by thinking about the stray cats we've taken in and turned into house cats, which is itself a form of captivity.  We give the cats food, medical care, love and attention, and all we ask in return is that they never leave the house.  I heard a comedian do a routine recently where he referred to cats and dogs as "friend-slaves", and I don't think he's that far off.  We took in our latest stray around Memorial Day 2016, and it took 9 months in our basement to train and re-program her before we could integrate her with our upstairs cat (also a former stray).  In a sense, we had to catch her, break her and then build her back up - and it's only the fact that I've been through this process several times before that I think of myself as a responsible cat owner and not a kidnapper (kit-napper?).

I don't mean to muddy the waters here, or to insinuate that this woman and child weren't in a terrible situation that they should, of course, try to escape from.  And by no means would I stick up for the abductor in such a situation, even considering the "Stockholm Syndrome" where people identify with and excuse their captors.  And of course no one should abuse women or children or hold them captive or threaten them in any way.  But when I think about pets, the situation becomes quite a bit muddier.  "Room" has just given me a lot to think about, that's all.

Also starring Brie Larson (last seen in "Don Jon"), Jacob Tremblay (last seen in "The Smurfs 2"), Sean Bridgers (last seen in "Midnight Special"), William H. Macy (last seen in "Shadows and Fog"), Joan Allen (last seen in "The Bourne Legacy"), Wendy Crewson, Tom McManus (last seen in "The Vow"), Cas Anvar, Amanda Brugel. 

RATING: 6 out of 10 cracked eggshells

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