Saturday, May 7, 2022

Wilmette Notes: From Chaos to Peace

    I haven't been inside a movie theater in over two years. I was just musing that, after two vaccines and two boosters, I'd maybe possibly go sometime in the indeterminate future, if the right film came along. Wilmette Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey has once again beaten me to the punch. Her Saturday report:

By Caren Jeskey

     "Everything Everywhere All at Once" at the Davis Theater had me stifling sobs, just as the play "Spring Awakening" at Porchlight did last week. The first hour of the film was chaotic and jarring, absurd, bizarre and sometimes violent. It brought to light the disjointed, incomplete existence many of us are feeling.
     I was tempted to walk out. I had reserved seats in the middle of the theater away from everyone else in a row all its own, and was double masked for my third movie of COVID. I was with a friend who did not seem to want to run out of the theater screaming, like I did. So I stuck it out.
     My favorite bodies of work often start slow or uncomfortable. They take a commitment to get through, and the rewards are worth it. "Schitt’s Creek" is one of them. It started off with annoying and unrelatable characters. I just didn’t care about them, and I wanted to stop after the first few episodes. The comedic brilliance of Catherine Anne O'Hara kept me around, and I was also intrigued that three of the characters three of the characters are related in real life. "Schitt’s Creek" became an all time favorite.
     The show turned out to be a gift to all who made it through the beginning to be rewarded with convulsing belly laughs. It was also poignant, and showed how family ties can be the strongest bond of all, despite the difficulties of maintaining a sense of oneself amongst those who know you best.
     The first hour of chaos in "Everything Everywhere..." sets the stage for one of the sweetest emotional releases I’ve been led to via cinema. It gave light to the fractured parts of ourselves; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The movie is a vessel for connection. It had me feeling less alone when the characters erred and then found their ways back to themselves. It provided a visceral experience of battling with oneself and one’s family of origin with all of the ambivalence and cognitive dissonance that entails. It ultimately reminded us that we are all in this human existence together at this precarious time. The movie shows that vulnerability with those we love can provide a window into salvation.
     When I say salvation, I mean the dictionary definition: “Preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.” Being human intrinsically comes with the inevitably of being affected by each of these three things. We are harmed multiple times in our lifetimes, either physically, psychologically, or emotionally. Perhaps all three, just the perils of being human.
     When the roller coaster experience ended, we stumbled out of the movie, with me wiping tears into my sleeve. We decided to have dinner at a local establishment. A young woman who was sitting at the bar paid me a compliment. “You’re so skinny.” Well, that got my attention, seeing as I concur with a 20 year old client who said to me this week, "I feel old and decrepit."I quickly realized why she approached me. She was suffering. Her two year old child had just been removed by DCFS. She told me her story, and there was nothing I could say. I hugged her, and she cried.
     The next day I reached out and found three references for attorneys who specialize in such cases, and sent them to her.
     In a Zoom staff meeting a few days later everything went wrong. The internet was intermittently failing for part of the time, someone was recovering from an uncomfortable medical procedure, and a colleague didn’t realize that she was making quite the ruckus into our speakers with her movings about.
     It was a mess. It reminded me of the first hour of the movie. Things were falling apart, but the ultimate goal was achieved. After things settled down, in the last ten minutes we looked into each others’ faces with warm, reassuring smiles. These days the best we can do is find those moments where we can pretend everything is OK.


  1. Wow, covered a lot of ground again this week. So I'll just walk it like you talked it, in the order in which it appeared:

    * The Davis Theater is still around? Wow! That's cool..
    * I'm with Mr. S...haven't been in a movie theater since the terrible "Tesla"--on 8/24/20. Maybe if the right film ever comes along, but I'm beginning to think it never will. Chaotic and jarring? Roller-coaster experience? No thanks...don't need it. Already get too much of that frrom TV...and especially the news. No thanks. Pass.

    * Catherine O'Hara? The same Canadian actress who got her start decades ago, at SCTV? Didn't know she was still in the bizz. She has always been of my favorites.

    * "Schitt's Creek" the name, but have never seen so much as a second of what makes it as good as its title?

    * Zoom...ugh. Whole concept turns me off. I have had all the equipment since the incredibly stressful 2020 election, but have yet to install it, and probably never will. Had to buy it, in order to upgrade from phone converstions with a much-needed tele-shrink, all of which were highly unsatisfactory. Liked the guy (he witnessed Kent State), hated the absence of face time, so I quit the whole megillah.

    * I don't do virtual. I hate virtual, and the whole idea of virtual. I'd rather forego something than do it remotely...and I have...many times. I'm retired, so I don't have to do it for work. I have eschewed virtual concerts and virtual conversations, and tele-townhalls, and all the long-distance events that the Plague has forced upon us, mostly unwillingly.brought us. This stubborn attitude has made both me and my wife into even more reclusive hermits than we were before Covid.

    * No kids, no grandkids, few friends left, relatives more distant and dying off, so no Zoom, no Skype, just the very rare phone call, incoming or outgoing. Of course, being in one's mid-seventies may also have something to do with it. Probably a lot to do with it..

    * Nobody plans to become isolated, alienated, and reclusive. It just happens, and it is what it is. Our volunteer jobs still keep us tenuously tied to the rest of the world.

    * And yes, Caren...those same volunteer activities are the moments in our lives when we can leave our bunker and pretend that everything is still okay, and that the pre-pandemic world we knew in 2019...or even the non-orange world of 2014...has never gone away....and is never coming back.

    1. The Zoom world is finally growing old for me, but it will be a while before I go back to in-person meetings.

  2. ""Schitt's Creek" the name, but have never seen so much as a second of what makes it as good as its title?"

    Well, honestly, if you LOVE the name, you may have the opposite experience of me (and Caren). The show starts out playing to the crude/silly humor that creator/star Eugene Levy (Catherine O'Hara's long time Second City acting partner) relished and was very successful at. The characters in the beginning aren't really nice or relatable. It's not my type of humor. But then something happened. The behind the scenes story is that Eugene Levy handed off most of the creative leadership to his son Dan whose sense of humor is substantially kinder, gentler, less silly, more observational and much less slapsticky. Dan was a co-creator and also a character on the show. He is, in my view, a creative genius. Under his direction, the show became one about family, friendship and love while being very very very funny. Dan was also the one who got Eugene Levy to play against type. Instead of the nerdy awkward often unsuccessful character he became famous for, Dan had him play the person Dan saw at home: A handsome, successful, dapperly dressed, kind man. It works beautifully. The show also has one of the best love stories, not just between Eugene and Catherine's characters who still are madly in love in late middle age, but also between Dan's and the new guy who come to town and changes his life (Dan's character is bisexual) and also in the friendships that develop between all of the characters.

  3. I haven't been to a movie theater in at least 25 years. I watch them all at home.
    As for Schitt's Creek, I found it unwatchable, due to the revolting presence of the utterly untalented Chris Elliot, who plays the exact same annoying character in everything he's been in & ruined!

    1. Curious. I find Chris Elliot to be hilarious and, beneath the man child bluster, capable of expressing the melancholy and lack of assurance that vexes us all. That's why they make chocolate and vanilla I guess. Great column.

    2. Since you seem to find this blog inadequate to address your pet subjects, perhaps you could create your own and opine there.

    3. Well, that's rather uncharacteristically harsh, Coey -- not that it's any of my business. Of course, Clark St. is opinionated, as is almost anybody who bothers to comment here. While I disagree with some of his takes, other times I find his contributions quite worthwhile, as he's obviously been paying attention to what's going on in Chicago for a long time. There are few enough commenters on the ole EGD, I can't see dissuading a regular, especially for that comment! : )

      As a movie buff, I disagree with him about going to movies, which we enjoy a lot. Though we haven't been to a movie theater since Feb. 2020, I believe. Streaming has been an amazing, while much less than compensatory, alternative.

      And I'm a Chris Elliott fan, so I disagree about that, too. I think Annie's descriptions of Schitt's Creek are quite informative and accurate, though I actually regretted that the Elliott character got much less time as the seasons progressed. And Mr. Fisher captures the nature of his performance well. Personally, I thought the show started kinda weird, hit a wonderful stride in about the middle where it was funny and sweet, but then edged more toward sweet and less funny in the last seasons.

      As for the charge that he "plays the exact same annoying character in everything he's been in", that could be said for a lot of actors, and the question is whether one finds the portrayal funny, or not.

    4. Oh, my! Hopefully Clark St. realizes my response was directed not at him but at a now-deleted comment by an Unknown poster. Who declined my suggestion, BTW.

    5. D'oh! Not that I'm unaccustomed to looking foolish, but I guess I've done it again. Apologies for my misinterpretation. Neil does seem to have picked up a new troll of late.

    6. Nah, that's the same old troll. He writes from 20 to 40 comments a day, and has for years. Most never make it through the spam filter, but a few do, through sheer volume I suppose. No need to read them; I never do.

    7. No worries,Jakash! In the context you saw it in, it must have seemed rather jarring. I don’t understand why someone would so closely follow a writer they so clearly despise, but it takes all kinds.

    8. You forget the role of obsessiveness and mental illness in the forming the opinion of too many people. It's sad, but there's nothing I can do about it.

    9. Trolls at least give us something to bond about! :)

  4. Clark St., I felt the same but pushed through to later episodes due to the urging of a friend. As I noted, as Dan Levy took creative control some of the revoltingness of Chris Eliott was (at least somewhat) pushed to the background. All of the other characters are much funnier and more interesting the less he is around. He and Eugene are very good friends and he remains in the show, but Dan at least helped mute him a bit. I loathe him as an actor but its still my favorite show. It's too bad Dan couldn't get him to play the kind of person Chris is apparently at home. I saw an interview once with him and his daughter Abby (who was supposed to originally play a part on the show but had conflicts). He came across as a sweet family man (he's been married for more than 35 years).

  5. I spent many very pleasant evenings in and around the day. This theater when my children were young and their mom worked next door at la Boca. Your mentions of the Lincoln square area. Bring back a lot of fond memories of when life was simpler and more satisfying. Thank you, Caren

  6. I always found Chris Elliott a tad obnoxious, but that may be by his own design.
    Schitt’s Creek was a hoot, but I stopped watching when COVID hit.
    I too am planning a visit to the movie theater; it seems like forever since I’ve been.

    1. It felt odd, but I am glad I did it, each time.

  7. I hadn't been to a movie in two years either. We were in Arizona in April and we saw Cyrano. I thought it was good Peter Dinklage was great. There was just one other couple in our theater. The movie had been playing a while by that time so maybe that is why there was just one other couple


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