Saturday, February 15, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 02/14/20: *A Separation* and Middle East Movies, Hebard's Huge Night vrs UCLA, Maureen Dawson Helps Jack Frost

1. If Iranian movies accurately portray day to day life in Iran, and I don't have any good reason to believe they don't, then many Iranians' day to day existence looks very familiar: marriages fall apart, adult children move parents into their own homes and care for them, sometimes these parents suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a piano gets sold, movers get hired to move it, cell phone users in rural areas struggle to find a signal, mothers drive their children places, traffic gets congested in Tehran, and so on.

I didn't get much sleep Thursday night and on into Friday morning, so when I started watching Asghar Farhadi's movie, A Separation, this afternoon, I suspected I might not have the mental energy to stick with it.

I was right. I'll try again on Saturday.

But, in the ten minutes or so I watched, the pressures the family in the movie were experiencing were familiar: in home care for the husband's elderly father, the adult son's commitment to care for his aged dad, a mother concerned about the welfare of her elementary school-aged daughter, the confusion and grief on the child's face as her mother packs up to move, to live apart from her husband, and the mother beginning to face the uncertainty of living as a single parent.

So far, the movie is shot in what I would call the style of cinema verite. It looks almost like a documentary. The other movie I watched by Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman, was made in a similar style, so it is as if we, as viewers, are right there, experiencing the pace and crowdedness of life in Tehran.

I haven't read anything about A Separation. I don't know where this movie is headed, but I'm looking forward to watching it when I've slept better and can give this movie the attention of my rested mind.

I am grateful that thanks to Netflix and and possibly other sources, I can watch movies made in Israel, Palestine, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East. They've enriched my life significantly over the years.

2. I napped off and on during the day -- Charly is calm and rests peacefully during the day. It's at night when she whimpers for food and water, when she finds it difficult to settle down and requires my attention.

So, by this evening, thanks to a boost from a fresh batch of rice salad and a pre-game mug of hot chocolate, I was raring to go when the telecast of the women's basketball game between the Ducks and UCLA came on at 8:00.

Linda S. and I got on our text machines so we could tell each other what we were seeing in this game. I will admit, though, and maybe Linda did the same thing, that out of a superstitious fear of jinxing the Ducks, I didn't mention to Linda last year's Duck/UCLA game on February 22, 2019 when UCLA rallied from twenty-two points behind in Matthew Knight Arena and defeated Oregon, 74-69. Now, I realize, it's important to note that Ruthy Hebard was out with an injury on that stunning night, but, still, as this game got underway, I had a mild case of the weebie-jeebies, fearing that no Ducks' lead would be safe thanks to the history between these two teams.

Well, tonight, believe me, Ruthy Hebard was present -- and how! From the get go, it became clear that Coach Graves was certain that UCLA didn't have the personnel necessary to defend Hebard in the paint and, every chance they got, as the game progressed, the Ducks fed Ruthy the ball inside, sometimes as she flashed across the key, other times as she positioned herself inside, and, most beautifully, when she and Sabrina Ionescu ran some wicked pick and rolls. By game's end, Ruthy Hebard scored 30 points. She took 19 shots and made 14 of them and added a couple of free throws to her total. And, for good measure, Hebard collected 17 rebounds.

When UCLA tried to collapse and swarm Hebard inside, the Ducks' answered with some dead-eye shooting from mid-range and from beyond the three point arc.  The Ducks were very democratic from the outside as Ionescu, Jaz Shelley, Taylor Chavez, and, to my delight, Minyon Moore all popped in jumpers. Erin Boley and Satou Sabally had quiet nights scoring, but both hit key rally busting shots in the fourth quarter when UCLA valiantly tried to repeat their miraculous comeback of a year ago. (As UCLA cut into Oregon's lead tonight, I was getting nervous, but I kept it to myself out of fear that just mentioning last year's game might make a miracle comeback happen again! Ha!) The Bruins cut Oregon's one-time 26 point lead to 12, but, in the end, the Ducks weathered the Bruins' rally and won this game, 80-66.

3. Hoping that a past midnight snack and trip outdoors might help Charly settle down during her restless early morning hours, I watched a very interesting and, at times, creepy episode of A Touch of Frost. It was fun seeing Amanda Root pop up in this episode as a very demanding and competitive ballroom dancing contestant after just seeing her as Christopher Foyle's brokenhearted former lover on Monday night.

Inspector Jack Frost had a full plate in the episode I watched tonight as one victim, a bigamist, was murdered near a canal and a second victim was found dismembered in a discarded refrigerator at a fridge dump site and Frost struggled the entire episode with the pain of a tooth he broke while eating a lollipop -- a comic homage, no doubt, to Kojak!

In this episode, DS Maureen Lawson was on loan to the Denton office and she and Jack Frost worked beautifully together. In many ways, the pairing of these two detectives was my favorite feature of this episode and I'm going to go back and watch again episodes from earlier seasons when DS Maureen Lawson worked as Jack's partner. 

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