For some inexplicable reason, March has brought with it a very scattered energy. Busy times, very few pockets of quiet, which when they came were so welcome, but didn’t allow a complete sinkage, so to speak. I’ve flitted from this thing to that, and haven’t felt very anchored to much at all for the larger part of this month.
Maybe it started with the death in the family, that had us stopping work, putting everything else on hold and spending entire days at VC’s home. Then we rushed straight into some work travel, which dovetailed right into a very hectic week of shooting (which invariably means very, very early mornings, long days, blurring one into the other) and going directly from there into my course last week, with no time to breathe or regroup in between.
It’s been busy and I’m thankful for that, but the energy has been somewhat unsettling. It’s always the chaotic times that makes me realise how quickly I am to push reading onto a lower priority. For one, being on the move and being busy means I literally don’t have the luxury of as much time to sit down with a book. But on the other hand, it also means that when the quiet few moments come, I find myself wanting to tune my brain out, rather than engage it in something that requires focus. And for me, books and reading require focus, even the books I choose to pass the time. So, reading has suffered this month with me choosing movies and TV more often than not.
I watched and cribbed about This Is Us, not too long ago. I was right in some part; I think the last few weeks have been a serious exercise in time-wasting just so we could get to the season finale. But I also must take back some of my harsh feelings about the nosedive, and attribute it to the inevitable need to drag plot-lines out, because OMG the finale hit the spot for me all over again. The best thing about the show is how it seamlessly dances across timelines, it’s got the movement down pat, making it so effortless, meaningful and just so apt for the stories lying within. The finale also raised the bar once again, bringing so much promise for what is to come in Season 3. But only in freaking September.
I dragged myself to Koramangala to catch what seemed like the only show of Thre Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. Why is it that the best movies are always reduced to a measly single show or two, in some far corner of the city? Why are more people not watching these films!
It was worth the trek though, because this tragicomedy lingered in my mind, far longer than I thought it would. Frances McDormand’s Oscar is so very well deserved, for her nuanced and raw portrayal of a mother pushed to the brink, because she has just had enough of the injustice and will no longer sit back and watch. On the surface, it feels like another movie with a strong woman character at it’s centre, with Mildred Hayes (Mc Dorman’s character) taking on the corrupt and racist police department, with a powerful demand for action, that almost puts her life in danger.
The entire movie is a succinct, direct look at the absurdities of our world — an unshakeable patriarchy, the injustice, the blatant double-standards and the atrocities it brings with it. But in it’s dark and dismal showing, also gives you moments of satire-like laughter. It carries the theme of absurdities right through to the end, with an inconclusive, and absurd ending that leaves you wondering which way it might go.
But, there was one detail that left me a bit uncomfortable. The movement towards (the inconclusive) resolution for Mildred Hayes, almost comes on the back of the redemption of one of the very white, very racist, very homophobic cops in the story. And I can’t help but feel like that little segue unnecessarily shifted the spotlight away from what should have been a film about the rage of a woman pushed to the brink, through and through. I felt just a tad cheated at not knowing what she eventually does to assuage that silent, festering rage that she nurtures all through the movie. This wasn’t a need to see the film have a happy ending with justice served, or all loose ends tied up, but at least some conclusive indication of how she finally deals. With far less focus on a white, racist man coming around, being used as a crutch for her own story arc.
All my confusion about the mild mixed messages of Three Billboards were assuaged a week later when I watched Black Panther, though, which just downright slayed, to use a term the young’uns do. I’m not even a comic-book, super-hero fan, but I marvelled at the beautiful way in which the super-hero theme was used as a vehicle to weave together a story about race, generations of atrocity and subjugation, the victory of good over evil, and how it did all of this deftly working across three different thematic eras — a super-futuristic one, a middle-zone in Zulu-like Africa, and the realm of the comic hero. Sheer poetry in some of the writing, gorgeous, gorgeous men, and the beautiful discomfort with the very apparent lack of white actors.
This is a film I see myself watching again and again and again.
Post three days of the module of the course I’ve started, which basically is three days of therapy, I have been mentally exhausted, as is known to happen after therapy. I have had difficulty focusing on anything for very long, so this week so far I’ve barely managed to get any work done, and haven’t really engaged in anything wholeheartedly, spending long hours in bed. So I decided to begin watching Good Girls Revolt, on Amazon. It’s been on my must-watch list for a while, ever since I read about it’s premise (and very quick discontinuation after just one season) and someone who called it “Mad Men from women’s perspective. I’m just three episodes in and it’s been hugely enjoyable.
Good Girls Revolt is a period drama, set in the 1960s, in the midst of a busy newsroom. With the backdrop of the cultural revolution brewing at the time, the series tracks four women who work as “researchers” with the newspaper, filing stories for the “actual writers” — all men — who then put the details together into full-fledged articles for publication. Over a series of events that happen in quick-succession, the women are suddenly suing the newspaper for gender discrimination, for being explicitly kept away from actual writing. It’s a poignant at times, at times insightful, and very eye-opening portrayal of what it was like in the 60s and 70s when women had to jump through all kinds of hoops just to known and own their worth, outside of the realm of marriage, home-making, and baby-rearing. It made me very, very grateful for how far we’ve come, and very conscious of some of the subtle kinds of gendered roles that still remain the same.
The very premise makes Amazon’s move to pull the show after a single, successful season, rather suspect. There was some news of the show being shopped around to other networks, and I hope it sees the light of day. Soon!
And now I’ll shut my laptop and go read because I want to finish this book I’ve unnecessarily dragged on for so long now (for no fault of its own!)
Two years ago: Day 80: On unlearning and re-learning order