I love how movies are so complicated to make. There are so many people involved and there’s a million things that are done. It’s like people working on a cruise ship. The captain is like the director. IF the movie tanks, like the ship, the director goes down with it. Most of the people are behind the scenes.
A movie really stays with me when I get the purpose behind it, what the message really is, when you look at the whole thing. It’s a splendid dressed up narrative; you can get lost in all kinds of things, the setting, the dialogue, the acting, the stunts, the genre.
Ultimately for me, there are things that stay with me even after I’ve forgotten the plot or main thing of the movie.
The other day I was reminded of a movie that really got to me a long time ago. I looked up the name. IT’s called The Sweet Hereafter. It was one of those punch you in the stomach and rip your heart open and scratch out your eyes. To me, it was just another version of the Catcher in the Rye, served up differently, from different perspectives. A yellow school bus is meant to be carried along by special angels or invisible catchers, like pall bearers carefully carrying a coffin, but the opposite. The bus has to get wherever and pick up kids and never get crashed or crash. In the movie it has crashed. There’s a girl who survived barely and a man coming there who has a problematic relationship with his drug addict daughter.
Once you’ve forgotten a lot of the movie, it’s the little pieces that remain, the pieces like little stained glass colored mosaics, that still shine and sparkle. The movie came to mind a few days ago, when I was thinking about how hard it is to cross the street without getting hit by a car because I easily space out. I’ve been working on this very consciously for the past couple of years. Now I stop on the sidewalk and wait for the light. I have a patient who is doing it too. We’ve talked about how important it is to stay on the sidewalk. A lot of people in NYC do that head start thing where they are already not on the sidewalk, with the pent up energy of horses wanting to get out of the gates at a race.
I have a bigger challenge when with a few kids dealing with crossing the street. I learned a long time ago with my daughter who is now 9, to “cross at the green, not in between” as my dad used to say. It’ goes through my mind a lot.
I like the new countdown lights we didn’t have back in the 70s and 80s. The light run into numbers so if it’s at 9 I wait but if it’s at 15 I cross and count the numbers down in my head. Numbers and counting can help me get out of daydreaming.
Herding four girls from school to gymnastics, about 10 blocks or less, can be very anxiety provoking. when you’re with another adult, you can’t just do things your way. The other adult doesn’t always wait about the light, she looks around and crosses if the light just turned red. Sometimes I am standing behind girls physically pushing them, holding them, standing in a place where I’m like a gate wall. I’ve tried to get them to stop talking and messing around while crossing the street. It sort of works. I scared the baby sitter the other day but saying that I wanted to lecture the kids because it is bothering me and I can’t stop thinking about the girl in her first grade class who got hit by a car and died. She highly said we shouldn’t scare them and just do what we’ve been doing. She already was annoyed that I put the story in her head.
I shouldn’t have. I keep it to myself most of the time. I can’t forget it. I used to go into the yard at pickup during 2nd and 3rd grade, I’d see all these kids and know that Tess wasn’t there and sometimes I’d imagine every kid had an expiration date on them, and hope that no other kids were going to die too young. People are annoyed by the book Cathcer in the Rye, but I feel like him a lot. I hear terrible stories from adult survivors of the car crashes of their childhood, which involve dead parents, live parents who didn’t take care of them, getting raped by someone when only 5 or 6 r 7 or even 12 or 13. I forget some of the details but not the stories and often think of these stories when not at work. I remember a 7 year old girl who wrote a poem that she put on her dad’s coffin; she was sexually abused without him being there for her. HE was a gambler and the whole family was a terrible monster she lived through and she had no childhood, it gotten stolen and beaten out of her. Being a therapist for adults who had terrible childhoods no child should ever have is like being the catcher in the rye but the one who gets there and finds the kids that fell off the mountain and helps them get up and then the therapy is about them getting some piece of childhood, learning to play again, and some consistent support to restore their faith and trust in other humans.
The movie just really says, there should be no school bus accidents. The dad should keep helping his daughter and keep being there through her drug addiction; she should know he wants her to survive it and that is it. The movie gets into the complicated wrinkles of the traumatized town and the movie is a tapestry of different threads.
Keep the children safe, the movie screams. Get many catchers even if they can’t cath every one of them.
I just saw another movie that got me and really hit things open and clear. The Fundamentals of Caring. A similar movie about a man who has lost his son, his child son, and trying to get up from the fall by working as a caretaker of a woman’s son who is in ahweelchari and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It’s just another manual for surviving the same kind of emotional killer, losing a child and then helping a mother keep her child alive despite his very disabling illness.
IT’s all about the balance between protecting and letting go, a constant job for a parent. You can’t hold on too tight and try to safeguard too much or you’re getting int he way of a child feeling free and able to get up from a fall. They can get up on their own, you can be there in some way so they can do it. You can’t get up by yourself unless someone has picked you up many times and been there and watched you learn to get up on your own. There is no catcher in the Rye as much as there should be one to make sure kids get through the first 20 years of their life alive and intact and their childhood has not been messed with or taken from them.
Not all movies need to be so serious. Actually Fundamentals of Caring is very funny and plays on the whole idea of being too careful. there are many pranks about faking scary things, the movie ends on that kind of note.
I should think of some funny movies that had some kind of stuff like the crust of a pie, it’s not just mushy inside sweet stuff. La la land really got to me in terms of it feeling like an unfinished desert that you eat it and it’s not satisfying and your stomach hurts. We’ve all seen a million love story romantic comedy movies. What makes any one particular one any good? I’m not sure the last one that was really great. If I take a really old one like Bringing up Baby, with Katherine Hebburn and cary Grant and a tame leopard and a wild leopard, that is just a fun caper and something I can watch many times. Is it seeing Cary Grant in a woman’s bathrobe looking for the dinosaur bone and it’s not on the bed so he and Hebpurn have to follow a dog around digging holes and trying to find where he put it. She wants him, he wants to get away from her and all the mishaps and accidents he causes, he’s trying to get to his fiancé. You know he’s having a crazy time and you want to watch it and see him learn that he would rather spend a day of tame and wild animals and rushing around trying to get a dinosaur bone somewhere.