(At the end of this column I review a movie we saw about a Month ago. Check it out. But if in doubt, do something.)
We recently lost another good friend. Violet could sing and play the piano in such an uninhibited way she belonged in a honky-tonk but she never touched a drop. When she moved to the nursing home she gave Dawn all her music and me a wooden handled scraper made out of a flattened garden hoe. We treasure and use our gifts almost every day.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, with the violets blooming all over where the ground needed cover and color. They seemed to be taking Violet’s place as we attended her funeral. Like many of our old friends who have left us in body, she will live on in how we view and treat the world around us.
I could have been spraying that day and the tiresome evangelizing at Violet’s funeral made me nervous as her memory was treated like an afterthought. But the music and memories and camaraderie of family and friends lifted our spirits as we were grateful for the end of Violet’s suffering.
With time very short and funerals on my mind, I’ll revisit some funeral movies I reviewed in the past and one we watched more recently, with “Bernie” being the more recent. These movies seem odd as entertainment but are uplifting in the way they treat a bad situation as a positive.
“Bernie” (2012) stars Jack Black as a funeral director in the South. He is so compassionate in his treatment of those left behind that it makes me realize the invaluable role these people play in helping us move on, after what feels like unbearable loss. The movie is done in a semi-documentary style. Jack Black is a genius and Shirley McClain helps along the way. I sat at the end and let Jack’s rendition of “Love Lifted Me” play over and over. Jack and the band nailed this song. If it ever gets too hot outside, sit in the air and go along for the ride.
Another death movie to see is “The Loved One” (1965). “Something to offend everyone,” is the claim in the trailer. I think this is one of the greatest movies of all time. Starring Jonathan Winters, Rod Steiger and Liberace, among other recognizable stars, these people had fun making this movie. It’s about the funeral business, as is the next movie I’ll recommend. It is not rated but the date indicates it’s harmless, just offensive.
“Departures” (2008) is Japanese with subtitles. Don’t be afraid, these people talk slowly and it should be a good place to start reading subtitles. If you venture forth, you enter a whole new world of great movies. This is one of them, winning the best foreign film Oscar. The director is skilled at manipulating the viewer’s emotions and making his story yours. This movie, on the surface, is about the culture of dealing with the deceased in Japan. But it is really about the world of the living and doing what you love to do. It was late, we were tired, yet we couldn’t shut this one off. By the way, it was recently discovered that hundreds of thousands of people in Japan have been dead for years; a result of an unmanageable social security bureaucracy. With grandma buried in the backyard the checks keep coming.
Violet was no movie fan. She came from a generation where people did things, rather than sit and watch. She didn’t have a television. Her memory will always inspire me to get up and do something as well. But I’ll still take time to be a movie fan, for diversity’s sake.
We just watched “Life Is Beautiful.” It was written, directed and starred in by Roberto Benigni. It is about a young father helping shield his 5 year old son from the reality of the Nazi concentration camp they occupied, and more. I still haven’t bothered to look up what won the best picture Oscar that year. But it had to be fraud because this thing didn’t win it. Don’t miss it.