The Meddler

I hurried and did my laundry because I was preparing for a storm.  I went to work for six hours and had a conversation in which I confused Fassbender with Fassbinder.  I stopped for a hamburger on the way home, and then I sat in front of the television to watch “The Meddler” with Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, and J.K. Simmons.  Susan Sarandon was Marnie Minervini, a widow who moved out to Los Angeles from New Jersey to be near her daughter.  Rose Byrne is that daughter Lori, unmarried and unhappy with her mother’s smothering attention.  Marnie has a new iPhone and uses technology to contact her daughter quite often.  Marnie lives near The Grove, a shopping mall that opened in 2002, and she listens to Beyoncé whenever she is driving around.  I thought Rose Byrne was very funny in “Neighbors.”  She spoke differently in this film.  I thought that she was from Australia.  The script had her feeling constantly annoyed, with not so many chances to be funny.  Marnie was one of those eternal optimists, somewhat like Shirley MacLaine’s character in “Sweet Charity.”  J.K. Simmons showed that he could be convincing in both comedies and dramas.  He was something very different from what he was in “Whiplash.”  I had a strange feeling that there was a substantial amount of missing footage that would have explained some details that were in the final cut.  I read a bit about Lorene Scafaria, and how her real-life experience with the death of her father led to this movie.  She is friends with Diablo Cody, Liz Meriwether, and Dana Fox.  Her mother is named Gail, and one of her recent favorite movies was “Sicario.”  The Marnie character liked to go out to see action movies.  One of Lorene’s previous writing credits was for “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.”  I felt like “The Meddler” could have made for an interesting double feature with “The Guilt Trip,” or at least a painful double feature.  This is a movie that has etched a spot in my memory, along with movies like “Garbo Talks.”  It reminds me of my own mother, of course, and it showed me a glimpse of how Los Angeles has changed since I lived there decades ago.  “And Justice for All” was on the television, and I slept through half of it.  I heard the storm outside and lay in bed watching an episode of “The Quest,” the television series that ran for only a few months at the end of 1976.  This episode was called “The Captive,” and it had Susan Dey, Christopher Connelly, and Russ Tamblyn in it.  The story touched on racism and the difficulties women had with their lives.  I was slightly surprised at the content of what the NBC network was showing opposite “Charlie’s Angels” on Wednesday nights.  I wouldn’t see that the acting was anything brilliant.  However, I liked what I saw of the series.  It had a bit of the feeling of Kung Fu, although the principals were more willing to use violence.  Did they kill someone in every episode?  These television programs from the 1970s remind me of a time when I would get excited about what I saw on the tube.  I was still impressionable.  If I find more of these episode, I’d like to get around to watching them.  Some of the people who died on February 17 include Geronimo (1909), Bruno Walter (1962), Alfred Newman (1970), Thelonious Monk (1982), Lee Strasberg (1982), Randy Shilts (1994), Mindy McCready (2013), and Tony Phillips (2016).  Today is a birthday for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (36), Michael Jordan (54), Rene Russo (63), and Jim Brown (81).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for February 17, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash recorded “Girl From the North Country” for the “Nashville Skyline” album in 1969.  In 1973, the first album from AC/DC, “High Voltage,” was released.  In 1976, the Eagles album “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975” was released.

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