February 15th, 2021
It’s 11:56am currently and 22.3 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Given that I grew up in Virginia, cold isn’t ordinarily a big deal. Now that I live in what’s described as a humid subtropical climate 22.3 degrees is rather dangerous. Ignoring the very real concerns of freezing problems with all of the dangerous infrastructure I live near, I also have fun new concerns about my own freezing pipes. My home concerns are compounded by the possibility of power outages and water shortages, which, as you might imagine, are all interconnected to everything I just mentioned in this paragraph.
It can be hard to sleep when you’re worried about whether you did enough to prepare your house. Should I have shut all of the water to the house as my neighbor suggested? Should I have filled a bathtub up for a water source if my main water is disconnected? How about letting the exterior faucets leak so they don’t freeze? While I did prepare my house, I didn’t do the previous suggestions. Fun things to wake up and ruminate about during the night, in addition to the 3am thunderstorm while it was sleeting.
Movies are a fun distraction, and I’d been wanting to see “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” since 2019. Pair good anecdotal testimonials with the fact that Marielle Heller is the director and I was sold. Heller’s “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” from 2015 is one of the best movies I’d seen in years. While I’d like to suggest I’m bright enough to have seen such a movie by my own good taste, I’d been on travel in Lawrence Kansas and it was the best option at Lawrence’s arty Liberty Hall theater. I was the only person in the theater. Regardless, “Diary” is outstanding and it’s a shame nobody knows about it. While Greta Gerwig’s “Ladybird” (2017) has some similarities and well-deserved accolades, “Diary” is far better.
“Neighborhood” is the rare gem that lives up to its hype. I crave the lack of condescension that Heller’s direction provides. Both “Diary” and “Neighborhood” deal with some heavy issues, but they’re portrayed without cheap tear-jerking or what I call visual hyperbole. I’ll only reveal that the plot involves an outsider coming into the orbit of Fred Rogers, the mythical children’s television host. Tom Hanks is believable as Mr. Rogers, and Heller’s film manages to make Rogers both human and mythical. Like many amazing movies, the subject is illustrated more by his reflection on other characters. It’s a magnificent movie.
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