Love & Mercy

In the last few days I have watched two movies about musical creative geniuses struggling with mental illness. They both were creating music and struggling with bipolar disorder or something similar in the 1960s and 70s. It is intense to watch someone struggling with an undiagnosed illness, self medicating and being manipulated by other people. 

The first is the feature film Love & Mercy about Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. The second was a Netflix original documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about Nina Simone. 

Thankfully we have advanced in the treatments available and our understanding of mental illness in the last 40 years. We still have a long way to go, especially to remove the stigma. For example, it is frustrating that when someone is having a breakdown and you call 9-1-1, dispatch send a policeman to take the person to jail not an ambulance to take the person to the hospital.

Not every creative genius is mentally ill and not every mentally ill person is a creative genius, yet there is some connection--some gateway that is left open. 

It helped me appreciate the Beach Boys' music in a new way. And after a week of tumultuous lows and highs of shootings and Supreme Court decisions and funerals, it was healing to listen to Love and Mercy by Brian Wilson:

  1. I was sittin' in a crummy movie with my hands on my chin
    Oh the violence that occurs seems like we never win

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    I was lyin' in my room and the news came on T.V.
    A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    I was standin' in a bar and watchin' all the people there
    Oh the lonliness in this world well it's just not fair


    Hey love and mercy that's what you need tonight
    So, love and mercy to you and your friends tonight

    Love and mercy that's what you need tonight

Tracks Movie Adaptation: 30 years in the making

"It seems to me the Universe gave us three things to make life bearable: hope, jokes, and dogs. But the greatest of these gifts is dogs." Robyn Davidson in Tracks (the movie)

I first read Robyn Davidson's book Tracks as a paperback around 1984. I found it unfathomable in parts. I yearned for adventure but her adventure was extreme. The environment, and the solitude were all beyond my imagination. I saw a preview for the movie and wondered why it had never been made a movie before now. Maybe it needed the actress Mia Wasikowska to come along.

The obvious comparisons are to Cheryl Strayed's book and movie adaptation Wild. Just comparing the two movies, I prefer Tracks. It is much more respectful of the wilderness as another character in the adventure. Maybe too it was camels and dog that make it more accessible.

It is now available to view on Netflix and I am so glad I did!

Robyn Davidson and movie poster for Tracks

Revisiting Remington Steele

Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan

Good 'ol Netflix. You can find a lot of movies and television shows that you remember enjoying. Sometimes they continue to entertain and sometimes they do not measure up to your fond memories. In the early 1980s when I was studying at University of Southern California, I regularly watched Remington Steele on television.

As a long time mystery fan, I liked the witty banter and the weekly whodunits, and of course Pierce Brosnan. This was his breakout roll. (A couple of years later Bruce Willis became popular in a similar detective series, Moonlighting.)

They sometimes filmed on campus and on several occasions I "studied" near the set. One of my friends brazenly knocked on Pierce's trailer door to say "hi". I also discovered how very tedious the process of making a television show or movie can be.

I recently rewatched a couple of episodes from the first season. Maybe it is all the Sue Grafton novels, but in 2014 it is hard to swallow the female detective who cannot land a job in a "man's" field.  It did not seem far-fetched at the time, so YEAH! for social progress. Storytelling has sped up and become more complicated in the last 30 years. We expect more to happen in 45 minutes and it makes Remington Steele feel a bit ploddy.

I only watched 2 of the 4 episodes on the disk. I would rather be reading Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings.