The Founder

I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend.  The Top 10 songs on January 24, 1976 were “Sing a Song,” “Walk Away From Love,” “Times of Your Life,” “Convoy,” “You Sexy Thing,” “I Love Music,” “Love to Love You Baby,” “Love Rollercoaster,” “I Write the Songs,” and “Theme from ‘Mahogany.’”  After putting in six hours of work, I took the bus downtown to see “The Founder,” a movie about Ray Kroc, starring Michael Keaton.  We see him in 1954 trying to sell milkshake mixing machines.  It’s still a world with car hops with slow service and mistakes with orders.  The first McDonald’s in San Bernardino catches his attention, and he makes an agreement with the McDonald brothers to spread franchises into the Midwest.  The movie shows aspects of capitalism and business success.  While the brothers are concerned with what they call quality control, Kroc is looking at costs and profits.  He finds a way to get power and influence.  It made me about what is happening with the franchise in the NFL, with the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders.  It also made me think of “All About Eve,” in which a monster is created.  The unending and ruthless quest of Kroc to get what he wants spills over into his personal life when a woman attracts his attention, even though he is already married.  Laura Dern plays his wife.  Seeing her face up on the screen reminded me of how many years have passed since “Jurassic Park.”  The women aren’t full characters in this story.  This is Michael Keaton’s show, and he gave a good performance, continuing his winning streak from “Birdman” and “Spotlight.”  It’s funny to hear about the early days of McDonald’s, when they concentrated on only a few menu items, rather like In-N-Out.  If you own your own small business, this movie will be a warning about what might happen with big time success.  I thought about people like Steve Wozniak in the end.  It’s been many years since the death of Ray Kroc, and I shuddered to think about what his reaction to this movie might have been.  I don’t remember when a McDonald’s first came to my neighborhood.  Perhaps it was the late 60’s.  I ate at a McDonald’s perhaps twice during the past ten years.  “The Founder” was a fascinating movie, though somewhat depressing and with a terrible title.  It had one humorous moment that made somebody in the audience laugh out loud.  I don’t see this movie attracting too many people eager to see this material during the first weekend of the Trump era, but I think some people might come around to it eventually.  Most movies make me feel sleepy because there’s not much going on in them.  This movie held my attention all the way through.  I’m not going to visit a McDonald’s for a while, though.  Some of the people who died on January 22 include Lyndon B. Johnson (1973), Kobo Abe (1993), Telly Savalas (1994), Ann Miller (2004), Heath Ledger (2008), and Jean Simmons (2010).  Today is a birthday for Diane Lane (52), Linda Blair (58), Steve Perry (68), John Hurt (77), and Piper Laurie (85).

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