A Beautiful Experience at the “Beautiful Day…” Movie

Tom Hanks as Mr.Rogers, and Mr. Rogers

Surprising how things can turn out.  I was greatly moved by this movie.  Funny how The Powers of Reflection can so swirl, and so shine back on things.   “Things” can and do truly improve in this world of frailty.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a slow moving, emotional, drama centered about that most slow-moving character of all, public television’s Mr. Rogers.  It’s based on the true story of the deliberate effect Rogers had on the life of a talented and successful, but deeply cynical, young man; a journalist who comes to interview Rogers for Esquire magazine.

I must admit I have always been a sucker for “Billy Budd” characters and that is Fred Rogers.  He is Lenny from Of Mice and Men; he is the slow, deeply religious and epileptic brother from The Brothers Karamazov.  They are seemingly too good to be true, or at least too good for this world.  Simple, honest, kind, and profoundly right; it’s Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump all over again.

Maybe this movie does take this man and raises him beyond what he was.  Who cares?  The movie skillfully suggests that Fred had his faults and failings too, but Fred keeps working at them and this in literal ways.  He practiced self-reflective techniques, one of which quieted the theater and brought me into reflections on my own less-than-ideal life and personality.  Fred prayed; he read the Bible and was very religious.  It is the kind of religion — it would seem to have to be — that only brought out the humility and love in this man.  He was not judgmental at all, no matter what his opinions might have been.  It’s a kind of religion that we don’t often enough find.  Fred, also, played and believed in puppets.

I’m not saying that you might not fall asleep.  This movie not for everyone.  It’s not about escaping life through a series of exhilarating and fake car-chase scenes.  It is about embracing the kindest side of life and holding on to it.  It’s about emotions and healing and men.

Director, Marielle Heller, does a masterful job.  She has put together a movie with an ingenious approach to presenting a man that spent his life talking in the simplest fashion to four-year-olds.  She took Fred Rogers’ “Land of Make Believe” and made it more important than I ever realized it was.  She shows us a hero of a truly unique sort.  And Tom Hanks is masterful as Fred; a portrayal of the man that is maybe more memorable than the real man, himself.

‘God’ bless you, Mr. Rogers.





Chilly, a Review

(I’ve seen a couple of good movies lately and want pass on some recommendations.  These movies are in keeping with our theme here at NatieRel.  So, here is the first.)

Who is Chilly Gonzales?

Chilly Gonzales, funny to think that the Universe spewed forth this gentleman!  But, I will not give the U all the credit.  “Gonzo” is a man who invented himself.   The documentary,  “Shut Up and Play The Piano”, wonderfully captures that process of self-invention.  The movie and its main character are both very interesting.

For me, it was utterly significant that I knew of Chilly’s recorded music before I saw this film.  Wow, did I have the wrong impression.  Such quiet and contemplative music is his early releases Solo Piano (2006), Solo Piano II (2012) and Chambers (2015),  and this from such a volcanic personality!  This music is a fusion of jazz and classical and its creator is all talent, experimentation, sweat, sexuality and personality.  And I thought the music was from some politely trained but slightly rogue classical musician.  Wrong.

“Shut Up” explains that Chilly was not even born “Chilly Gonzales”, but he was born to a family of great talents and wealth.  He took that privilege and went to obscure places to find “who he was” and “what he wanted.”  New Music was that answer.  Starting with classical piano training from an uncle, to leader of a rock band in his youth in Toronto, to  the Berlin performance art and Techno Punk-Rap scene in the late 90’s, his search was on the extreme edge.

Chilly as Techno-Punk Rapper in Berlin.

That process was intensely self-reflective.  “Who is Chilly Gonzales?” he asks repeatedly.  And it is “ALL about him”.  How would a “megalomaniac” begin a piece of music? he asks and then convincingly shows us.  “He has so much to give” explains a friend and fellow musician.  In deed, Chilly does have a massive genius.  He is a presence in which ‘the world’ is enveloped and then spit back out to behold itself.

So, who is Chilly Gonzo?  Stay tuned.  He and his alter egos are still working at it, but this movie is a good place to start.

Another Amazing Thing in This                          World!                          Drawing by Marty