What I Learned This Week: #139

Monday, January 27  – Sunday, February 2

The Week in What the Week Was: This week was a terrific mixture of ups and downs. I met up with friends, ate good food, ended Dry January, saw a couple movies and ended up learning about the unexpected death of the father of a close friend. A lot of emotions coursed through my system, perfectly summed up on Sunday night at the end of the movie JoJo Rabbit –

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

The Week in World War I: 1917 is one of two best film Oscar nominees I saw this week. It’s a well-acted if somewhat cartoony story filmed with great technical skill. The main characters are charged with getting a message to the front line to tell a general to call off an attack. The story has them running into an ever expanding set of dangerous situations from explosions, to an aircraft crash, to a trip through river rapids and more. The camera makes sure the audience sees a lot of dead bodies. It’s all designed to pull emotional strings and it works, right down to cameos from Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch to lend gravitas. The movie is kind of exhausting to watch, made more so by the film editing making the entire film look like a single shot. I cried at the end so it did what it was supposed to do.

The Week in World War II:  In my second film of the week, Jo Jo Rabbit, directed by and starring Taika Waititi, the approach is less about physical heroics and more about standing up for what’s right. JoJo is a 10-year German at the end of WWII he’s very taken with becoming a Nazi, something he talks about with his imaginary friend, Hitler. There is some comic relief in this satiric film, but the strength of the characters is quite touching. I cried at the end of this film, too, but more in hope.

The Week in Bad News: I broke Dry January a day early to hoist a nice glass of Bourbon to my friend’s Dad John who passed away on Thursday. He and I shared a love of non-fiction books about obscure topics. I recommended he read the book The Yard about the Bath Iron works, a naval facility in Maine where destroyers are built. He enjoyed the book as much as I did. When he went to Maine a few years after reading it, he made a point to visit the facility and to email me pictures because he knew I would love it. I did! It was a sweet and touching gesture. Cheers, my friend!

The Week Processing Bad News:  After learning about John’s passing and calling friends who knew him, I turned inward. While I allowed myself to be sad, I made sure to connect with other friends and to be joyful in appreciation of how life works in its many mysterious ways.

I may have stared at the old fish at the Newport Aquarium too long and had a brief existential crisis. But I also got my friend to smile by sending her a picture of me at Gameworks that seems Vegas-y.

I got to eat lunch with my Mom today, something I do not take for granted. My family traditionally shows love but does not say the words out loud. (I’m so expressive emotionally I may be adopted.) However, Cookie is a little hard of hearing. I whispered “l love you Mom” but she’ll never know. For the rest of you, I’m shouting I love you-s from the rooftops! All the emotions this weekend.



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