Joy

I awoke to the sound of the phone ringing. My father called to tell me that my mother’s condition had improved, although when I spoke to her she was not mentally sharp. I didn’t go out to Trader Joe’s. I stayed inside and took a shower before heading over to the bus stop. I headed out to Jack London Square. The farmers’ market was going on, but with fewer booths than usual. A lot of people were out still going to see the Star Wars movie. I had decided on “Joy,” however. I took a seat and fell asleep for a while before the trailers came on. I’m not sure how it came to be that David O. Russell has this regular cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper. Russell makes pretty good movies, although they don’t really excite me all that much. Jennifer Lawrence does a lot of the same things we’ve seen her do before. This time she’s a divorced woman who invents the Miracle Mop but struggles to make money from it due to the debts she has to take on, plus the lack of support from her family and the backstabbing actions of others she does business with. It’s an examination of how difficult it is to become a success in this country. The cast is excellent, with Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rosselini, Susan Lucci, and Melissa Rivers in various roles. Joy’s family is a real cast of characters, and it’s a wonder that anyone in the group had enough motivation to go anywhere. I thought briefly of “The Iceman Cometh” as I watched some scenes. One of the scenes I liked was Joy’s visit to the television studio, where she gets a glimpse of how things are done, and she’s close to grasping that success she’s working towards. One thought that I had was that the Miracle Mop should have been easy enough to work with that a fool could use it, or Joy should have supervised that first commercial with so much at stake. Isabella Rosselini, as usual, reminded me of Ingrid Bergman, although I thought she was more interesting than usual in this role. This movie makes the case that you shouldn’t go into business with relatives or friends. Your family can be falsely supportive if you have a good-natured family, or they can be brutal with envy and undermining actions. If my family was in the same position, they would be in the latter category. The script went into more detail about the business dealings than I cared for, and one scene where Joy did a bit of business spying was somewhat hard to believe. I wanted to see something besides what was on Joy’s mind. The focus was on Jennifer Lawrence so much that I forgot for a time that there was anyone else. Joy had a likable daughter. She reminded me a bit of the girl from “The Goodbye Girl.” One scene I didn’t want to see was Joy cutting her hair. I didn’t see why that should make a difference in her determination. I will say one thing about the money dealings. This movie made me feel that I couldn’t trust anyone to handle any financial dealings. I have to do everything myself. The movie was engrossing if not perfect. It didn’t have the rich and beautiful qualities of “Brooklyn.” I guess if you liked “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” you should watch “Joy,” too. I think I liked “Joy” more than “American Hustle.” I would say that it was a relief that Christian Bale wasn’t in this movie, because he would have been tiring to watch. It seems that some critics hated “Joy.” It’s definitely not a masterpiece, but I don’t see why they should be so hostile towards it. It’s a bit too much Jennifer Lawrence and the pursuit of cash, but it’s still better than most recent movie releases. I think I’d rather watch “Joy” than that last Hunger Games movie. I liked the use of The Ronettes’ “Sleigh Ride” and the Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues” on the soundtrack. I took the 72R and the 18 buses. I went on home to watch the fourth quarter of the Raiders game in Kansas City. I also watched the end of the 49ers game against the Rams. Antenna TV changed the Sunday morning schedule so that I missed the Partridge Family episodes “A Tale of Two Hamsters” and “The Forty-Year Itch.” I heard about the death of Vilmos Zsigmond, who was the cinematographer for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” He also shot “The Deer Hunter.” He was 85 years old. I listened to Robert Hilburn’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Times program on KCSN. He played songs from people whose birthday was in January, like David Bowie. I enjoyed listening to “Heroes,” “Changes,” and “Modern Love.” It was also good to hear Joan Baez on the radio for once, with songs like “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and “Love is Just a Four-Letter Word.” Steve Earle’s birthday is on January 17, so we heard some songs from him, like “Somewhere Out There.” Neil Diamond was born on January 24, and “Solitary Man” was a very good song. The program ended with Lucinda Williams and “Righteously.” I was somewhat surprised that I didn’t hear anything from Elvis Presley during the hour, but maybe that was too obvious a choice. A Johnny Carson program on Antenna had Bob Hope. I thought he was the funniest person alive when I was a kid. He was annoyingly fidgeting with a pencil on Johnny’s desk. Other guests on the program were Don Rickles, Michael Landon, Freddie Prinze, and Carol Wayne. Michael Landon had to sit on the seat where Rickles had been sitting, so he felt the warmth from Rickles’ ass. The air date was May 21, 1974. The Columbo episode on Me TV was “Playback” with Oskar Werner and Gena Rowlands. “Lady Sings the Blues” was on a movie channel. Richard Pryor didn’t look like he was really playing the piano. I found it rather hard to believe that Diana Ross was ever that young. I wonder what happened between “Lady Sings the Blues” and “The Wiz.” I thought about whether I should watch “Galavant” or “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” With rain in the forecast, I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work. Some of the people who died on January 4 include Albert Camus (1960), T.S. Eliot (1965), Phil Lynott (1986), and Iron Eyes Cody (1999). Today is a birthday for Michael Stipe (56), Vanity (57), and Dyan Cannon (79).

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