Movie Review: The Door in the Floor

After a long arduous, and often tedious, as well as thankless day of work, I usually try to get my sweat on by strapping on my always eager-beaver, running shoes, or I try and plan to attend a hybrid Spin class of some sort. If excercise isn’t possible, because some nights I just get home too late, or the weather is bad, and as as awful as that fact is, there are some nights when a good, healthy-sweaty just isn’t possible. If excercise isn’t possible, I don’t surrender to my couch, channel changer at my finger tips; television blaring – noooo, that actually winds me up, not down. Instead, I spend some time with all the felines in my life, while somthing delicious simmers to perfection in the kitchen.

Dishes done, and the evening seems to get quieter. You’ll find me slipping into the pages of a book, or writing something; anything just so I’m stoking the creative mind juices. On nights when my eyes are simply too tired, and my brain is fried, then I hear the seductive song of  film speaking a hair louder than the radio in the kitchen that is constantly in an NPR mood. Film’s song beckons me to watch something that hasn’t already been viewed, critiqued and analyzed.

This week, the film siren lured me to watch, The Door in the Floor, which stars Jeff Bridges, Kim Bassinger, and Jon Foster. Jeff Bridges performance is nothing less than outstanding.  This film is based on the novel, A Widow for a Year, which was written by John Irving.


 
The Irving book, which I’ve ordered, and plan to sink into once it gets here, was quite a terrific movie. So, not only had I never read the book (tsk-tsk), but  somehow I’d missed the film too. There aren’t too many films, or books for that matter, that get by me.  I did a little google searching of this film when I awoke the next morning, still dusting off the remants of its powerful emotional residue. And that for me is a good indicator of a very good film. I have to give Netflix credit here too, because it was their recommendation, based on my film watching habits that provided me with this must see film. The Door in the Floor was a gem.

Compelled as to why this film snuck under my film watching radar, I did a little google search, and learned that the highest probably reason I never saw this flick before now, is because it was up-staged by one of my all-time favorite films, Sideways.  Both Paul Giamatti and Jeff Bridges were nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best male lead, and Paul won. So, this is why this film fell through my radar. I was simpl in love with the film Sideways - this may not make any sense to anyone else, but it makes perfect sense to me. I somehow feel justified.

I digress.

The Door in the Floor portrays how one couple deals with, or probably more accurately, doesn’t deal with a tragedy, and the continued pain that ensues their lives, and the lives of those that get close to them.  I don’t want to give too much away here about the film, but I do want to mention that it reminded me of a book I read some 15+ years ago called, Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler.

I was in a book club, and Ladder of Years was the read of the month. To quickly summarize, this book is about a woman that one day packs a suitcase and walks away from her husband and their two teen-age children.  This wasn’t a story about abuse; more like neglect. The woman in the story does say that she’s grown tired of feeling unappreciated. And I remember having difficulty empathizing with the main character when reading this story - “she’s leaving because of that?” 

I also remember the response from most of the women in the book club when it came to discussing the book. And at that time, they were older than me, and settled into marriages that provided them with a great deal of financial security, even if their marriages weren’t hearts and flowers. They all empathized with the character and said, “sometimes you just want to walk away for awhile, but come back.” I scratched my head, and still couldn’t quite comprehend why someone that had a family, and a beautiful home would just walk out of it. And can you really just walk away, and expect to saunter back…later? I worred about what this woman’s life would be like if she did return to the life she walked out on.  Maybe my lack of empathy came from the fact that I was recently divorce; coming out of a really bad marriage,  and working so hard everyday – maybe I was a bit envious of this woman’s life, and thought..hell, what’s a little neglect…she doesn’t have to struggle financially. I suppose at that time, I felt that I had the weight of the world on my 3o-something, year-old shoulders.

It wasn’t until some years later that I had an epiphany, of sorts, and finally understood why the woman in this story packed up and left her life. You see, I kept inserting my circumstances into her life, instead of really empathizing with who she was; her plight; her troubles. Part of the reason this story sticks with me after all these years is because I marinated in my reaction to it, and the response of the others readers in our book club. I think this is when I learned the fine art of telling your mind to shut-up, and stop questioning, or finding fault with something, or someone else because it rubs your fur a different way. It’s okay to just be, so you can be more open to other experiences.

The reason I mention Ladder of Years to you, is because the film, The Door in the Floor is that kinda movie: you simply must have an open mind, so your heart can fully appreciate the film’s value. Be open; go rent it, and let me know your reaction.

 

Happy Viewing
Neve Black

The Punishment Should Fit The Crime

An Open Letter To The City Of Cleveland Police Department

Dear Moral Claims Department,

I find it impossible to launch into my earnest complaint before explaining the situation surrounding the debacle in detail: 

First and foremost, I am an honest, hard-working, tax payer who has made living in the city of Cleveland her home for the past 11 years now. I’m a owner of two properties. Work in the city of Cleveland, and I pay more than my fair share of taxes. My moral compass points True North, and I try and do what’s right; offer a lending hand, an extra dollar or two to those less fortunate than myself. I’ve had one moving violation and maybe two parking tickets in those 11 years. Suffice to say, I’m not a law breaker by any stretch of the imagination, and I feel that I’m an honest, good person. I’m far too busy in both my work and personal life to veer off into the path of crime. I’m also not inclined to pay the fees, or do the time associated with law breaking. And more importantly, as already pointed out, it’s not in my moral nature.

This letter is about my annual car registration, and the debacle that so ensues surrounding it. My grief-stricken sadness regarding this incident has forced me to write this letter. With that being said, I’d like to mention now that the punishment should fit the crime – and the current policy, which appears to be a one blanket punishment is extreme and rarely, if ever the right way to enforce a law. I’ve learned no lesson from the extreme punishment that I received, other than the fact that the police department uses force instead of using good, rational judgment and common sense discretion when issuing fines. I’ve only been hugely inconvienced, and lost faith in the police department, who is supposed to protect me. And have my best interest in mind.  After all, I’m not a criminal. I am a law-abiding, tax-paying, property owner, city-worker, Cleveland citizen.

Life is, well, life is busy. Sometimes things fall through the cracks, even for the most law abiding citizens. And it appears this is what happened to me in 2011 in regards to my annual car registration.  I receive a notice in the mail about a month or so before my birthday, which happens to be in November.  No offense to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, but the only time I ever step foot into one of their locations is when I’m have to have my picture taken for my driver’s license. This year, I changed my address, because I’d moved, and I realized I didn’t receive some of my important mail. A few bills were lost, and it appears the annual car registration was lost as well. I didn’t know that, or I would have acted on it immediately.  Let me explain in more detail – as previously mentioned, my life keeps me very busy. If you were to ask me if I had received my car registration renewal notice in the mail; sent the check and put the new tags on the car, I would have said, ”Yes, of course – I do that every year.” So when I learned that my registration wasn’t paid, after also being notified that my car was towed because of it, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I thought there was a mix up in the mail. I really thought I’d mailed the check and somehow the shiny, bright sticker that read 2012 simply never got to me.

That isn’t the case though.

I travel quite a bit for work and for pleasure. I’m usually out-of-town about once a month. For 10 days during the month of December, 2011, I was visiting family in San Diego for the holidays.  On Wednesday, December 28, 2011, I received a call from my friend in Cleveland telling me my car was towed. Flabbergasted and shocked, and having no way to immediately rectify the situation, I was left knowing I was incurring daily impound fees until  my return to Cleveland on January 3, 2012.

When I did get home on the third, I had to take a sick day off from work, and beg a friend to help me run around town to take care of a. getting a copy of my title and registration (which was in the car). b. make a trip downtown to the Justice Center to pay for the fees, and then c. drive across town again to the impound lot and retrieve my car.

The total time it took for me to finally retrieve my car was four hours.

Four hours of my time is gone because I never received the registration in the mail, thus I never wrote out a check; made the every-other-year visit to an emissions center, and waved good-bye to the previous year’s sticker by sticking the new one over the old. Four hours of my time is gone because a police officer received a random call from someone in my neighborhood about my car with its expired tags. Fours hours of my time is gone because the police department is so busy, they couldn’t have taken an extra minute to run a check on my vehicle and learn that I had no infractions in the past regarding expired registrations, and INSTEAD of making a blanket and extreme decision to have the car towed, could have excercised another option.  Four hours of my time is gone because the police officer didn’t follow up on who the caller was, and learn the caller is a random, off-kilter, mentally challenged man that has nothing better to do with his time than walk around the neighborhood and call the police department about expired registration tags. Four hours of my time is gone because my car wasn’t blocking this caller’s drive, or parked anywhere near this man lives. Four hours of my time is gone because the police officer decided to exercise his good will during the holiday season, and issue an expensive ticket, instead of issuing a warning, and then had my car towed, which as you can imagine only offered further inconvenience to me – me, the law-abiding citizen, not the criminal.

Yes, the registration was expired, and yes, this is my error, however if you check my records, I’ve never done anything like this before, so obviously, this was a case of something that had fallen through the cracks of a person with a busy life. It happens. And it happens to everyone.

The cost to register my car each is year is less than $70.00. The cost I paid to retrieve my car was $386.00.  I mentioned lessons in an earlier paragraph above. The only lesson I’ve learned from this debacle is how horrifying the system is. I’m less inclined to trust the city police department now. Why would I? No one gave me the benefit of the doubt. No one took the time to follow-up with the caller. No one took the time to check into my records. I was labeled a criminal, and received the worst punishment – remember, I’m the law-abiding citizen.  Furthermore, I feel nothin less than victimized and battered over this ordeal.  And obviously I’m distraught, because I’m taking the time to write the letter.

What to me is a fair retribution, besides an apology from the officer that exercised such extreme punishment? Based on my past record, the inconvenience this has caused me, and my lack of faith in the those that are supposed to protect me. I’d like the city of Cleveland Police Department to learn from my experience - to please keep in mind that not everyone is automatically a criminal, nor should they be treated like one. I’d like a full refund of the fees I had to pay to the city, plus the towing charges as well.  I can’t get the time I had to take off from work back, and yet I feel that you owe that to me as well.

Sincerely,

Law-Abiding, city dweller
Neve Black

Here we go again…

chinese-dragon

Another year goes by, while another year stands in front of me – beckoning me with all its grandiose temptation of being the best year ever.  And I find that I’m not so unlike Eve, biting into the  new year like forbiden fruit, but also swinging from the branches, shaking the whole tree and hollering at the top of my lungs into the promising skies above, “yes, yes, yes..this will be the best year ever!”

But…my tree swinging ways are stymied for minute. Who am I to think that this year, like all the other new years that I’ve faced in the past, will be the it year, aka, the best year evah?  This year’s predecessor, 2011 was pretty damn good to me - filled with lots of good and delicious, travel, prosperity and love.  Is it greedy to want to top last year’s greatness?

I drum my fingers against the keyboard waiting for this year’s Chinese Dragon to answer the question above. 

Not a roar; not a puff; not snort. 

As I wait for the answer,  I realize 2012′s, shiny, new year certainly does a fine job of marketing itself to me with cheerful, Happy New Year wishes from nearly everyone I meet.  And there was generous kisses as the clock struck 12:01…and oh, all the resolution lists I keep hearing about, filled with promises to be better, stronger, faster, skinnier, smarter and healthier this year far outweigh last year’s hopes to resolve too.

Maybe the Dragon has spoken.

Maybe this is the best year ever afterall - so with that being settled, let me bid you a Best Year Ever Wish.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I fully intend to get back to tree swinging from the branches of love, prosperity, generosity, encouragement, and peace.

 

Neve Black
Happy New Year

 

p.s. image above is my version of a Chinese Dragon. Roar! Chomp, chomp, chomp.