Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I don’t really watch movies anymore. And the only writing I do is quippety quips on Facebook. Hell, I even gave up on Twitter. When I say I don’t really watch movies anymore, I should clarify that, yes, okay, I watch a hell of a lot more movies than most middle-aged mother-types. But the person I see myself as, the person who spent all day at the multiplex sneaking from theater to theater, who spent most of her young adult birthdays alone in movie theaters, who only went “shopping” if there was a movie theater in the mall, who pre-ordered the first Roku box and dove headlong into the joy of Netflix streaming… I dunno. I dunno where she went.

Okay, I kind of know. My movie-watching and movie-making got tangled up in my head with a marriage that ended. A series of crappy things in the early twenty-teens estranged me from the filmmaking and filmwriting communities. It all became fraught. And being a full-time working nearly full-time parenting human is kind of exhausting. But I have time. Man, I have plenty of time. And every freaking time I go inside an actual movie theater, I slip down in my seat, Coca-Cola fizzing next to me, the house lights go down and the screen flutters and I’m ecstatic. And I think, “Why am I not always in a movie theater?”

I can’t watch movies at home anymore. I mean, I can, but it’s an effort. I have to stop myself from jumping up to start a load of laundry or check my damned phone or let the neighbor’s cat in or let the neighbor’s cat out or play Simpsons Tapped Out on the iPad or maybe do a jigsaw puzzle or chat with five people on Facebook or take a bath which turns into a nap. I can watch TV shows. Episode after episode after episode. 22-44 minutes at a shot. Endless loop. But movies, man. That’s a commitment.
Shoot, I just realized what it is. It’s the same thing that happens if I drive more than 30 minutes. I start thinking. And feeling. And that’s just not acceptable. In the movie theater, where it’s a wholly absorbing experience, I can fall into it completely. At home… it’s dangerous. Feeling and thinking are the enemies of sanity for me these days.

See? This is why I can’t write either. I start thinking and feeling. Goddamn it. Excuse me while I do a jigsaw puzzle while listening to an audio book for the next 48 hours.

To this I’ll add that there are certain movies I can’t watch. I started Beats of No Nation, having heard very good things, and stopped it after 16 minutes. I have to protect my fragile psyche. I can’t see Room. Can I? You can tell me. Be honest. I can’t, can I? I didn’t think so. Then there’s horror! I sneaked into The Visit a few months back. From what I saw, old M. Night was in fine form. But then that grandmother popped up in front of the hidden camera, and I screamed a blood-curdling scream, causing neighboring patrons to cover their ears, and I fled. Crimson Peak was a no, unless I could persuade someone over the age of eight to come with me and hold my hand. I seem to get increasingly sensitive with age. And I was way too damned sensitive to begin with.

Okay, okay, okay. You humans like lists.

Some movies I dug in 2015 (in no particular order):

1. Love and Mercy
2. Inside Out
3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4. Spotlight
5. Creed
6. The Big Short
7. The Martian
8. Ex Machina
9. The Mend
10. Brooklyn

Some movies I really or kind of or sort of want to see:

1. Anomalisa
2. Concussion
3. The Revenant
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Chi-Raq
6. Joy
7. Bridge of Spies
8. Trumbo
9. Youth
10. Straight Outta Compton
11. Mr. Holmes
12. Ricki and the Flash
13. Mistress America
14. The Stanford Prison Experiment
15. Experimenter
(TWO social psych movies this year for this social psych major! HEADY TIMES)
16. 45 Years
17. The End of the Tour
18. Woman in Gold
19. Shaun the Sheep Movie

Others I may comment upon:

1. Welcome to Happiness – frothy and charming and shamelessly upbeat
2. Carol – goooorgeous. But I felt… nothing.
3. Mad Max: I Heart Furiosa (or whatever) – a wild ride, super fun, but a feminist statement? Dudes, seriously? We’re going to applaud the revolutionary idea that women are not things? I did love the old lady shootout. And I’ll totally watch a Furiosa movie.
4. Trainwreck – Amy Schumer is magic. I laughed very, very hard at parts of this, but I was also surprisingly moved
5. Cinderella – that young lady was born to be Cinderella. Oooh, the loveliest and most goodest.
6. Aloha – I can’t even. Just stop it.

I know too much about movies to be able to talk to civilians about them. But I don’t see enough current releases, let alone festival fare, to be able to talk to the real film people either. Plus I’m a reactor. I don’t watch a movie and have a thousand thoughts. I only have feelings. I don’t remember the plot particularly well, just how it made me feel. But if you start talking about a movie to me, that’ll get me going. So I suspect most of my contributions to this House o’ Tree will be reactions to y’all fine folks.

Love and Mercy: I was delighted to see this show up on a couple of lists, as I might have forgotten it otherwise. Paul Dano was exquisite. This is why I love movies. Watching people too sensitive to exist portrayed by people too sensitive to exist. (Reminder: Marya, being too sensitive to exist without making any art is really a waste of all that over-sensitivity. Patch up that broken little heart and create something. And clean your room.)

Inside Out: I asked my kids on the way home tonight if they had a favorite movie of 2015. The child hive mind did not hesitate. “Well, we really liked Star Wars...” “But Inside Out.” “Yeah, no question.” I think I agree. Pixar done outdone itself. I wept like a weeper.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Rey is indeed a drop of golden sun. A young feminine hero who is genuinely bad-ass, but also pure and sweet and lovely. The best I got in my youth were Dorothy types, unintentionally powerful, winning by winsomeness. Otherwise the Disney princesses, OMG, this post is getting tedious. I quit. Let me try something else.
Here are some impressions. Not like Rich Little. Mind you.

Brooklyn: My grandmother came to Boston from Ireland at 19, in maybe 1923? She was one of the quickest and funniest people I ever met. Could, in her nineties, quote poetry and songs from her childhood. Never resisted saying a mean thing about anyone, so long as it was funny. She was the favorite of 13 children (I might have made the number up), sent away to America to be a maid. She met a young man named Jack Murphy at a cèilidh dance and mocked him for having a dirty face. And so began a dynasty of Murphy babies and grandbabies and great grandbabies. Saoirse Ronan is a staggering talent. So fierce. I fell for her in Atonement and again in Hanna. And here, she’s, what? Twenty? So fierce and so tender. Such strength and intensity.

The Martian:: You know that part (always my favorite part) in the sci fi movie where all the really smart people get together and figure stuff out? That's the whole damned movie! Perfect. One of the rare examples of a film that’s much better than the source novel.

Spotlight: Marvelously acted and ridiculously fun considering the dark story being spotlighted. Solid movie. I’m a sucker for investigative reporting plots. Today the article/listicle would read, “Ten Shocking Things Only Priests Can Get Away With.” Yeah, they’d end that headline with a preposition. I was riveted, delighted and appalled.

The Mend: Positively Danish, this movie. I expected a Mads Mikkelsen cameo.

Ex Machina: Brendan Gleeson’s kid has certainly found a niche, hasn’t he? Sci Fi dystopian weirdness. I’m embarrassed to be discovering Oscar Isaac so late. I’m more than a little in love with Alicia Vikander. Impressive directorial debut, Mr. Garland. I can’t put words around how this film affected me. I live in the Silicon Valley. To understand the Silicon Valley you need only watch HBO’s documentary series, Silicon Valley. The hubris of Ex Machina’s tech genius is similarly all too real to me. This guy exists. And no one is going to punch him in the face. Why will no one punch him in the face?

The Big Short: I’m boring myself again. I promised I’d write something. I wrote something. I’ll write more things, but not tonight. No coherence for the wicked. That’s a lovely hat you’re wearing.


Marya Murphy has been called "a less-effeminate Oscar Wilde," and "a Twitter personality," neither of which has yet to lead to a lucrative job offering, though she has scored a free computer and opera tickets. She has produced several critically-acclaimed films (CanaryAround the BayBabnik and Amity) and continues to act, write, edit and generally film-make when her selfish eight- and 10-year-old aren’t demanding to be fed, clothed and educated. Marya hails from Redwood City, CA.



#1: GREETINGS FROM ON HIGH! (Dennis Cozzalio)


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