Friday, August 7, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 08/06/15: Drug Talk, Old Greenbelt Theater, *Mr. Holmes* and the Power of Fiction

1.  I take a medication that was, in the beginning, overseen by Dr. Whitely in Eugene, but, after a few years, my primary care physician took it over.  My physician in Laurel, Dr. Cullen, preferred not to be in charge of it, so I met today with Nurse Practioner, Carolyn Clark, and, after about 40 minutes of discussion, we decided to cut my dosage in half. Depending on the results of this change, we might decide in three months to eliminate the medication altogether. We'll see.  It was a very good appointment. 

2. When we moved to Greenbelt, I soon learned that the town movie theater, built in 1938, was being remodeled and restored. The theater reopened a few months ago. Tonight, I saw a movie at the Old Greenbelt Theater for the first time. The remodel astonished me. The concessions area is bright and airy. The theater itself is spacious and the screen is mammoth and curved at the two ends.  I don't know much about the effect of the curving, but seeing tonight's movie on such a huge screen absorbed me into the world of post-World War II England and Japan, the art of keeping bees, and the realities of a man moving more deeply into old age, desperately working to hang on to his mental sharpness and his ability to remember while suffering the deterioration of his mind.

3. The movie I saw? Mr. Holmes. This slow, deliberately plotted and superbly acted movie moved me. It will stay with me. Ian McKellen's brilliant portrayal of Sherlock Holmes nearing the end of his life explores the deterioration of Holmes' mind and memory and the painful limitations of his body as Holmes tries to remember back to over thirty years ago and piece together the last case he worked on and why this case caused him to never work as a detective again. Holmes writes the story of the case as fragments of its details come back to him. I left the movie thinking about how the movie explored the power of fiction. After all, Holmes himself is a fictional character, here presented outside the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as if he lived beyond Doyle's stories into old age.  In the movie, Sherlock Holmes works to get the facts straight about his last case, to correct the way his chronicler, John Watson, embellished the story, fictionalized it. In working to get at the facts, Holmes, unexpectedly, comes to learn, in a painful and moving way, the redemptive power of fiction.  Made up stories, he learns, can not only nurture the soul, but can be life saving in ways that can be contrary to sticking to logic and the facts. 

How to say this? The movie is a fiction about a fictional character whose detective career has been embellished and fictionalized in stories told by his good friend and as this fictional detective embarks on a project to remember the facts, to cut through the fictional embellishments, to set the record straight, and set down the story right, he has a liberating epiphany about a power in fiction he'd been blind to all his life.  

In addition to what I've already written here, much of the movie was grounded in the struggle throughout the movie between Holmes and his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, played powerfully by Laura Linney -- and, central to the movie, is Holmes' friendship with Mrs. Munro's son, Roger.  

It all fits together. 

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