Rising Star, Falling Down

Last night was my first time brave enough to get on stage at Rising Star and karaoke with a live band. I loved everything about it! High marks for the lights hitting you on stage so you’re not so focused on whether or not the audience looks bored.

I used to carpool. I had just finished a biography on Billy Wilder, and I was describing to my fellow riders the ever increasing cynicism in his directing career, in which by the time he made Kiss Me, Stupid, there seemed to be nothing left of the person who could direct The Major and the Minor. Someone asked, well, what happened to him to cause it? “Nothing!” I said, thinking at first of how well his career turned out, how respected he was, and how he’s escaped Germany before WWII when a lot of other people didn’t. “Oh!” I remembered. “Except that he lost his mother and grandmother in the concentration camps.”

I felt stupid as soon as I said it, because of course, that’s enough. Taking a look full in the face at the worst human beings are capable of is enough to convince someone that there really is nothing good at our center. Now I’m wondering what happened to the Cohen brothers. Last night I saw Burn After Reading on the strength of the trailers and the advanced word that it’s a reminder of the Raising Arizona days. I laughed often enough at the clumsy relationships, the pretense, and those faces John Malkovich kept making, but what was I left with? The point of the movie seems to be that there is no point, and that’s a long way from the lessons about the strength of family and love in Raising Arizona. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou is one of my favorite movies, with messages about racism, bonds of friendship, faith and family; it feels as if life has a purpose and a direction, and that’s in strong contrast to the emptiness of the last several they’ve done. I saw the spiraling apathy and hopelessness in The Man Who Wasn’t There reflected again in Burn After Reading, and now I’m wondering, what happened?

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