Endings and next chapters

Have you ever noticed how some movies, series, or books just end without tidying up the conclusion? As my more frequent readers know, I enjoy watching movies, and tend to watch those with a good plot and dialogue.

Yet, I have noticed of late, a non-inconsequential number of more recently made movies about life’s challenges, seem to end without real resolution. Maybe they are emulating life, where we keep on going, often without resolution. We may get back on a better path, but the problems still persist.

The screenwriters and directors are seemingly leaving it up to us to figure out what happens next. It is not uncommon for my wife and I to look at each other and say “is that the end?” when the credits start to run.

To me, a writer can leave it to our imagination and still add needed clarity. In “Casablanca,” the ending had clarity for the two new members of the resistance who walked off to the “beginning of a beautiful friendship,” but we will always speculate what happened to Ilsa, Laslo and Rick in the future. It had closure as well as letting us converse about what’s next?

I was watching a movie where the ending basically was the child of a young mother (who got in her own way) would not leave her even when she tried to bus him to relatives. The woman would still be getting in her own way and had problems she had not remedied, but the movie just ended with them walking down a road in the snow with no money and the clothes on their backs. The only takeaway is they were still together.

Another movie about a husband acting rashly with a young woman (who was staying at his and his wife’s guest house as the two worked together on a film project) just ended without clarity. The movie faded out with the guest riding away in a taxi, leaving us to decipher if the wife would give the husband another chance or kick him out. It afforded my wife and I good what-if conversation, but it would have been interesting to see the writer’s take on it. To me, the question could have been left open-ended, but the wife could have left or said he needed to leave to let her think about next steps.

In one of the more famous movie endings in “Gone with the Wind,” Rhett Butler provided the needed clarity as he walked out the door. But, we are left to discuss what may have happened as Scarlett noted “tomorrow is another day.” If you have not seen the movie, you will need to move past the sugar coated racism and make lots of popcorn due to its length.

Of course, some endings may be too cheesy and cliche. When a movie, series or book ends with a more unexpected or against the grain twist, that can be more intriguing. Too obvious an ending can be less fulfilling, so leaving it somewhat open ended or imperfect can be more entertaining. The famous movie “The way we were” ended in the way it should have, but not in the way a Hallmark movie would have.

What are your thoughts? Do you like endngs that leave a lot to your imagination? Or would you prefer some or a lot of clarity? I would note the answer may depend on whether you are watching the movie with someone. I would love to hear from some of our authors out there.

Friday I got traveling on my mind

Fleetwood Mac fans will know this is the second line of the song whose title are the first two words of its opening sentence, “Monday morning you sure look fine.” It is about a fickle love interest, that by the end of the week has sown enough doubt, her partner is looking to leave. Yet, when he talks of leaving, she heightens her interest in him and he stays.

It reminds me of the old line, we don’t know what we want until it is gone. Think of why Rhett Butler’s line at the end of “Gone with the Wind” is so impactful. Rhett has had enough of Scarlett and her being smitten with Ashley Wilkes. So, as she pleads for him not to go and asks what shall I do? his response of “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn” brought down the house using a curse word not usually heard in popular movies in 1939.

People play too many games with the hearts of others. Most often, it is due to the games player not being as in love with the partner as the partner is in return. So, the partner who is more smitten has to put up with a lot more. The games player wants to cover his, her or their options, so plays both ends against the middle, as Scarlett O’Hara did.

It is funny, my sweet mother was kind to every one, but the one character she did not care for was Ashley Wilkes. She did not like he was emotionally unfaithful to his wife and that he would not tell Scarlett “no.” On the flip side, Melanie Wilkes was a saint and there were many times you wanted her to confront her wishy-washy husband.

It is refreshing when people shoot straight with each other. Yet,it should not be so hard. Who should reveal love interest first? Does the partner love me as much as I do the partner? The hesitancy in these cases may relate to that “commitment” word that scares people, yet it is a variation of the games playing.

One of the scenes which speaks to this topic came in the movie “An American President” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. Paraphrasing, Bening’s character says I am going to fumble this around, so bear with me. I am in love you with, for that I am certain….I love this scene as she tells him I am going to not say this well, but please listen. It reminds me how nervous each of us are when we first utter those words.

So, if we shoot straight with people, fighting our nerves along the way, maybe, just maybe, we can avoid those fickle relationships. And, we should not be scared of the word “no.” Knowing that another does not and will not feel the same about you is both painful and liberating. My educated guess is we all have been on the wrong side of this conversation more than once. And, the sun did come up the next day.

Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind – a few thoughts

With all due respect to “Ruby Tuesday” and “Tuesday Afternoon,” I chose this song title for my random Tuesday thoughts. “Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind” has the right melancholy feel.

Starting with the last part of the title “Gone with the Wind,” it reminds me that the entertainment world has finally figured out the famous movie and book are racist and poor renditions of the events surrounding the Civil War. We actually discussed this misrepresentation by the movie and book in my World Literature class in 1977. But, propaganda about the war has been around since white slaveowners got poor whites to fight for a more righteous cause of states’ rights than the real one to let them keep slaves.

Remember how states’ rights were cited by the president for delegating his responsibility to fight COVID-19. Yet, states’ rights are less important if he must flex his law and order muscles. Both the Kenosha mayor and Wisconsin governor asked the president not to come to Kenosha as he would not help calm the situation. Well, he is coming to get his photo shoot, but he should not be surprised if he is not well-received. Uniting people is not the mission of this president as noted by General James Mattis, his former Secretary of Defense.

The president’s actions and words concern me on so many levels. One is his fanning the flames of racial unrest to win an election. He offers it is not his doing, but he is the one walking around with a gasoline can. All lives and Blue lives, of course, matter, but those mantras denigrate the message of Black Lives Matters. What this white washing misdirection does is ignores that too many Americans do not feel Black lives matter or that Blacks are overstating their strife. And, the president is catering to these groups with his divisive rhetoric and gasoline.

The vast majority of BLM protests are peaceful and civil. They are also well attended by multiple racial groups. But, the smaller few need to cease the violence. It devalues the message. Violence also feeds directly into the hands of the president who looks for wedge issues. In three and half years, many have become weary of this me, me, me focus of the president who cares more about his perception than solving problems. These things are happening on his watch and he is making things worse, not better.

On the Blue side, the police must better police themselves. They need to weed out any bad actors and recognize, address and train-to-minimize bad actions. A former FBI domestic terrorism expert said she shared with the Justice Department that a few police officers are sympathetic with white nationalists. But, the police union and management must stop doing what the Catholic Church did for decades and ignore bad apples. They do spoil the impression of the whole bunch. Just like only a few priests were pedophiles, only a few police are overly racist.

Fixing problems requires leaders to acknowledge them. And, understand them. As I noted earlier, using problems to be a wedge issue to win does not solve the problems. It makes them worse.

A boyhood crush passes away

Many great people have died in the past week, Congressman John Lewis, leading the pack through his advocacy and courage. Yet, someone this old fart had a crush on passed away over the weekend – Olivia de Havilland. Here is a brief snippet (courtesy of Wonderwall) of an article that tells more about her to those with whom her name is not familiar.

“Olivia de Havilland, an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age and the last living star of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ has died at 104. The five-time Oscar nominee, who twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress, passed away “peacefully” in her sleep at her home in Paris, her publicist announced on Sunday, July 26. De Havilland became a household name after starring alongside Errol Flynn in films including 1935’s ‘Captain Blood’ and 1938’s ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ As she took on more serious roles, like that of a patient at a mental institution in ‘Snake Pit’ (1948), awards poured in for the actress. That continued through the end of her career and included a National Medal of Arts honor in 2008. Shortly before her 101st birthday, Queen Elizabeth named the star a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. De Havilland was also known for a long-running feud with her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, and for her historic 1943 court victory over Warner Bros., in which Hollywood’s unfair suspension clause was deemed unlawful.”

While she won her two Oscars for Best Actress in “The Heiress” and “To each his own,” this young boy remembers de Havilland for her work with Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” and as Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” She said in an interview, she was smitten with Flynn, but never acted on it. This is apparent when Flynn’s Robin Hood climbs up to her room and her Maid Marian blushes way too easily. For little boys, we were Errol Flynn, and she was the object of our affection.

While she is best known for playing Melanie in “Gone with the Wind,” she won her awards when she demanded better parts. However, playing Melanie was so well done, I remember my mother saying how she did not like how Melanie’s husband Ashley Wilkes treated her. Melanie deserved better than the wishy-washy Wilkes’ inattentiveness. De Havilland made us pull for Melanie even more. Please note, I am setting aside the disservice this movie did for how it portrayed slaves.

I recognize fully de Havilland is not a John Lewis or a CT Vivian. But, for this grown-up boy, she will forever be the woman blushing in the window with Robin Hood.

Small pieces of big movies

With the forthcoming Academy Awards, it might be fun to select small funny pieces or vignettes from movies that had some level of acclaim.

Annie Hall: Two small scenes that must be paired stand out. In an earlier scene Woody Allen’s character is speaking with Annie Hall’s brother. The brother notes that sometimes when he is driving at night, he briefly considers veering into an oncoming set of headlights to end it all. A few scenes later the expression on Allen’s face is priceless as guess who is driving them to the airport at night?

Forrest Gump: Two priceless scenes stand out. One is when Bubba finishes telling Forrest the many ways to cook shrimp. They are using toothbrushes to clean bathroom tile and Bubba’s says “Well, that’s about it.” Forrest pauses and then goes back to scrubbing. The other is when Lieutenant Dan shows up at the Bayou and Forrest just leaps into the water, while the now pilotless boat is still running.

Casablanca: There are countless scenes in this most quoted movie of all time. One that I love is just after Inspector Renault is forced to close “Rick’s” because he is shocked there is gambling going on, the pit boss hands the Inspector his winnings. The other is when Rick tells the Nazi Major Strasser that he came to Casablanca for the waters. When the Major replies there are no waters here, Rick says “So, I was misinformed,” with a very wry grin.

Jaws: The running gag line echoed by Roy Scheider, the land preferring lawman, is “We gotta get a bigger boat.” The other eerily funny scene is when the grizzled sea captain played by Robert Shaw got the attention of a talkative town council by slowly scraping his finger nails on a chalkboard. Yikes. Another funny scene is on the boat, after much drinking, the guys are comparing scars. At the end, Richard Dreyfus’ character points at his heart and notes the name of the girl who first broke it.

Rocky: A couple of character names for the pets gives me a chuckle. The bulldog was called “Butkus” in homage to the tough linebacker for the Chicago Bears. The two pet turtles of Rocky were humorously named “Cuff” and “Link.” As Rocky heads to the ring to fight Apollo Creed, he is wearing a robe with advertising on the back. When his manager asks him what he gets out of the deal, Rocky said he gets to keep the robe. “Shrewd,” the manager replies.

Gone with the Wind: A humorous set up occurs when Scarlett is about to get a visit from Rhett Butler in Atlanta and does not want to reveal she is on hard times. So, she has a dress made from the draperies. By itself, this is a humorous scene when the audience recognizes what she is wearing. But the funniest parody of this scene is courtesy of comedienne Carol Burnett, when she comes down the stairs with a dress made out of the drapes, including the curtain rod.

Please share with me your memorable scenes from award-winning movies. They can be funny, impactful, romantic, sensual or sensuous. Tell me who you think will take home best picture.