A Baker’s Half Dozen (Seven) The Wolfpack

I wanted more resolution from “The Wolfpack” (directed by Crystal Moselle) instilled from the former school counselor in me. If anything, the film shows how inept our social services programs are, and on the sick flip side, probably gives hope to abusive parents. The Angulo father seems unphased and unscathed after an intervention landed all seven of the children in therapy even though one of the boys definitely hints at abuse he can not ever forgive.

And what about the only daughter? I would assume her issues might be larger than her 6 older brothers just by the nature and lack of interaction allowed with the camera.

The film just left me wanting way too much. How has this family existed financially for all these years, how a woman allows her seven children to be controlled by megalomaniac? How does one get so out of touch with her own needs or those of her children?

Most stunning is a successful familial prison existing for 15 years in a major metropolitan area. And at the risk of sounding like Rod Serling here, as shocked as I was about this family, there are probably even more horrific stories happening in the same apartment complex….in the Twilight Zone.

President Obama addressed my pet cause eloquently in his recent talk with Marc Maron, that your primary goal as a parent is to make your children’s world less crazy than the one you grew up in. Evolution is everyone’s responsibility, but ESPECIALLY for those who have children. If you raise your children in dysfunction either consciously or not, you need to be held accountable for the future ills of our society. How I wish we could actually enforce such a law.

I’m not sure The Wolfpack is as good as it could have been, yet the film at least sheds light on child abuse that that can easily be hidden, and ongoing, even in a city that never sleeps. I guess wild insomniacs do not equate to observant humanitarians.

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Under My Skin, an original

My last night of vacation could not have been spent better than at Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer.  Positive vibes flowed even before the opening sequence began since I loved the feel of Sexy Beast way back in 2000.  For me to watch a violent film twice tells just how alluring the gorgeous setting of Agua Amerida, Spain was to me.

The setting of Under the Skin, on the other hand, is Scotland, and while I’d listen to the natives speak their lilting sing songy accents all day, I’ll pass on the what appears to be constant rain, wind and cold.  But obviously, that’s the world Glazer, (his screenwriter Walter Campbell-his first according to IMDB and the largest genuflection to the book’s author Michel Faber) wanted to portray.

Characters are unnamed and dialogue is slim with a Malick-ness eye aimed at capturing moments both in nature (as in the mesmerizing snow shot looking up from ground level) and human.  A disfigured man dealt life’s rawest deal so rejected by mankind that he does his grocery shopping in the middle of the night, is lovingly befriended, at least momentarily, by Scarlett’s alien character.  Deprived of tactile affirmation due to his abnormality made their touching of hands and his hand to her neck especially poignant.

Lessons Learned:

1.  The world (and Scotland) can be a cold, cruel place.  Much like Rod Serling intimated in “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, the aliens may not be the only antagonists.  Ill will lives in many of ‘us’ (as in humans).   Less cynical than Serling, however, Glazer, (Campbell and Faber), believe there are also just as many humans with good hearts.

Hunch:  Scarlett Johansson may be good friends with Lena Dunham or at least share in the notion that a rubenesque physique is just as valuable as a muscular one.  Most men will agree with her pouty plump lips and hour glass figure that this film could have easily been titled “Sexy Beast Two”.

While much of the story was unexplained, the meditative effect of Scarlett’s journey, both literal (she walks A LOT in this film and proof she’s an alien is that she does all this trekking in high heeled boots) and figurative made this film satisfying and I left feeling I had been transformed to another world.  And that escape from the Earth is exactly the purpose of movie making.