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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Writer's Life 4/22 - Mature Subject Matter

Manchester by the Sea (2016) won the Oscar for Best Picture. I caught up to it last night courtesy of Netflix. It is the story of a divorced, fortyish man unable to defeat the guilt and anger evoked by a tragedy for which he feels responsible. Working as the custodian of an apartment complex in Quincy, Massachusetts, he returns to the place of the tragedy when his older brother succumbs to a faulty ticker, leaving his 16-year-old nephew without a guardian, as the mother has disappeared into the dark world of alcoholism. The narrative moves seamlessly back and forth from present to past, slowly revealing the source of the grief. The cast is outstanding. Casey Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges were nominated in the supporting categories. The scene where the characters of Affleck and Williams meet by chance on the street is the film's best. Neither is able to find the right words but the emotions of each speak volumes. A work like this is geared to those who long for mature subject matter, and to those patient enough to stick with it. The action adheres to real life, especially its most painful aspects. The characters often speak and behave abominably. Fortunately, there are slight, occasional touches of humor to leaven the grimness. Made on a budget of "only" $8.5 million, it returned almost $75 million in the USA alone. Kenneth Lonergan wrote the screenplay and directed, only his third stint at the helm since his debut in 2000. I was surprised to learn the screenplay was not based on a novel. The critical and box office success should guarantee Lonergan his choice of material for several years. The film is a product of Amazon Studios, another feather in the cap of CEO Jeff Bezos. Kudos to everyone involved for bringing serious work to the screen. 124,000+ users at IMDb have rated Manchester by the Sea, forging to a consensus of 7.9 of ten. I would not go nearly that high. It is a film to be respected, appreciated, rather than liked, enjoyed. I was glad when it finished. It is a tough journey of more than two hours. Refreshingly, it doesn't present a tidy, feel-good resolution. I prefer Hell or High Water, the only other 2017 Oscar nominee I've seen so far.

The great luck the floating book shop had all week dodging the rain ended today, the session terminated after only an hour. There were no sales. Looking on the bright side, my bank statement reflects royalty payment for four Kindle sales of Five Cents, and someone else downloaded a copy this week. After today's disappointment, I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's episode.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
Vic's Short Works:

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