Inventive Back Stories: An odd comparison of Joy and Melancholia

Ok, maybe the most oddly contrasted movies in history, like comparing apples and oranges, but because I watched the films on the same day, I claim emotional license to do so.

“Ask Dr. Ruth”, currently showing at Burns Court was absolute rapturous joy. To paraphrase my movie friend Gus Mollasis, who hosted an enlivened talk back after Tuesday’s showing, this movie kicks all the contenders for last year’s Oscar to the curb and is therefore, an obvious contender (if I can speak for both of us) for this year’s Oscar.

If you think you know anything about Dr. Ruth, be humbled by watching her life story, beautifully directed by Ryan White (also of The Case Against 8 and Good Ol’ Freda). Ryan knows how to unreel a story. The animated back story adds a poignant human element to the Holocaust driven trauma which could have driven her to a jaded adulthood, as Dr. Ruth went at the age of 10 to being unwanted and underappreciated for the remainder of her formative years. The quality of the animation is key here as anything but truly human looking depictions would have totally ruined the emotion.

In contrast, RBG, while I loved her as a subject, was told with mainly just a repetition of stock photos which didn’t evoke any moments of solitary fear and agony.

My favorite scenes in Ask Dr. Ruth were watching her intense listening to callers’ questions (from heart wrenching to naive) and her lovely empathetic answers.

Now my weirdo comparison…I also watched “Godfather 2” yesterday after my son (and others) claimed it was better than the original. And while I realize I’m way late to this partito, the back story of Vito diluted the power of the ‘contemporary’ Michael story which was truly powerful on its own. My defense is that I think 99% of us get that mafia wars (or any gang wars) begin in the long distance past, as decade after decade racks up new grudges and retaliation.

The scenes I loved from GF2 were the following (using the actors’names to give them props): the moment Pacino realize Cazales was in on his house attack, when Keaton tells Pacino it was an abortion, when Cazales is fishing with Pacino’s son. Tremendous acting and the grandeur of GF2 is certainly larger than the original, but as Sade sings, “Its never as good as the first time…”.

Fortunately Ryan White did such a thorough and moving job of Ruth’s life, we’ll never need a sequel, nor could there ever be a replica as beautiful as Dr. Ruth.