Mike Kueber's Blog

June 22, 2012

Further comments on Movie #34 and Book #78

Filed under: Book reviews,Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 12:41 am
Tags: ,

I recently reviewed the movie A Walk on the Moon and gave it a high score because it was thought-provoking.    That is my number one criterion in evaluating a movie or a book.  In fact, I often keep thinking about a good movie or book long after I have reviewed it. 

While in North Dakota this past week, I reviewed the movie A Walk on the Moon and the book Coming Apart and haven’t quit thinking about them yet.  Just today, I realized that I had neglected to include something significant in each review:

  • A Walk on the Moon.  In the review, I noted the following:
    • “The most serious flaw in the movie is its failure to explain why Diane Lane would cuckold her fine husband and risk their marriage just to have a fling with Viggo Mortensen.  Her conduct is incredibly irresponsible for an otherwise prototypical American housewife.”

It would have been more accurate to say that the movie did not provide a plausible explanation.  At the end of the movie, Lane attempted to justify her dalliance by whining that her dreams and ambitions had been thwarted when Schreiber impregnated her following a dance one summer night.  This explanation was implausible because until then, Lane never revealed any significant torment or desperation about her life.  Rather she seemed happily ensconced in her middle-class life. 

Lane’s rationalization, however, provided Schreiber with the opportunity to respond with one of the movie’s most insightful moments.  After calmly listening to Lane play the stymied victim of thwarted dreams, Schreiber simply asked Lane who had stopped her from achieving her dreams.  Lane was dumbfounded while it slowly sunk into her head that no one but herself was responsible for her lack of achievement. 

Schreiber’s question and the following silence reminded me of a quote recently circulating on Facebook saying that you are responsible for your own happiness.  People are finally realizing that it is a cop-out to blame others for your failure to be happy or achieve. 

Your happiness or achievement depends on you, not others.

  • Coming Apart.  My reviewof the book Coming Apart included the author’s biting description of the European welfare state: 
    • Europe has proved that countries with enfeebled family, vocation, community and faith can still be pleasant places to live.  I am delighted when I get the chance to go to Stockholm or Paris.  When I get there, the people don’t seem to be groaning under the yoke of an oppressive system.  On the contrary, there’s a lot to like about day-to-day life in the advanced welfare states of Europe.  They are great places to visit.  But the view of life that has taken root in those same countries is problematic.  It seems to go something like this: The purpose of life is to while away the time between birth and death as pleasantly as possible, and the purpose of government is to make it as easy as possible to while away the time as pleasantly as possible – the Europe Syndrome.”

As I have reflected on that passage, the words that trouble me are, “while away the time.”  That seems to be a perfect description of how I have felt since making a New Year’s resolution for 2012 to become more productive.  The author Murray suggests that it is in man’s DNA to be productive and that “welfare and dependency are inconsistent with human nature and that freedom and self-reliance are essential for a human to flourish.” 

Although Murray’s thinking is directed toward welfare states, I suspect it has as much application to someone like me who takes early retirement. 

Man shouldn’t fool with Mother Nature.

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