Oceans, wolves and cults – life in California

So, all-in-all, the transition back to California has been great. I like my job, my family’s pretty great, and the weather!  The weather is awesome. I will always be happiest when it is between 65 and 75 degrees, wearing a light sweater, with an ocean five minutes away.

Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands (a little farther than 5 minutes, but way worth it)

One of the constants in the last (almost) three months, has been TV and movie consumption with Syche and Drew.

Though…we’ve tended to pick semi (or very) depressing or disturbing material…

This started with the addicting Game of Thrones, which we plowed through in about 2 weeks. (S&D had both seen it before, and wanted me to. I’m going to return the favor and introduce them to the amazing BBC Sherlock very soon).

I liked Game of Thrones a lot, way more than I expected, despite insane amounts of violence and unnecessary amount of breasts – I guess the adorable Dryer Wolves* made up for the latter. But the violence was what stuck with me.

On Thanksgiving we saw The Descendents with George Clooney- which I cried through 2/3 of. (But it did make me excited for my January trip to Hawaii!)

So violence and tears were the standard operating procedure when we gathered last night.

But boy, did it take the cake.  We watched the excellent Martha Marcy May Marlene** directed by Sean Dirken and starring Elizabeth Olson. I liked it a lot, but will probably never watch it again.  Olson plays Martha who has recently returned to her sister Laura’s life after a two-year abscene. During that time, she joined a cult group somewhere in upstate New York, where she was renamed Marcy May.  Dirken tells the two stories simultaneously as Martha aka Marcy May tries to create a life in both worlds.

God, I started this whole blog post to talk about this movie and I don’t even know how to say what I want to say…. I liked the acting – everyone did a great, understated job of portraying their generally fucked-up characters. I thought it was beautifully shot, if a bit dark at times. I was compelled…

But… fundamentally, the movie was terrifying. That’s what I took away from watching it.

Scenes themselves were creepy, I spent the whole thing being worried of who was lurking in windows and down long corridors. (I like this type of scary much more than gross-out torture porn of recent horror flicks).  The film’s ominous feeling was amplified by the very smooth transitions from present day to flashbacks – as a viewer I never knew where I would be taken next. But even more terrifying was the emotional turmoil Martha underwent as a cult member – her insecurities were masterly manipulated, and as an audience member we went along that journey with her to a stressful degree.

I think the New Yorker review described the tone best, when talking about Patrick (John Hawks), the cult’s leader:

The source of Patrick’s power, in short, is not just violation but the rite of violation—the same pain being inflicted again and again, until it acquires the patina of the mock sacred. (Full Review)

Friend Alex, a film devotee, talks better than I can about this movie and a few other recent flicks that deal with madness here.
I would recommend seeing the movie, but as we continue to venture into Award season, my next few picks may have to be on the happier side of life. Who can recommend a good comedy?
*Actually called Direwolves, but I mistakenly called them this in the beginning and it stuck.
** In the lead up to seeing this movie, I think I substituted every M name out there – yes, Melinda Mary Michelle Matilda, was very good, wasn’t it!

2 thoughts on “Oceans, wolves and cults – life in California

  1. Oh, you’re not such a bad talker, Ms. Badillo. :)

    But thanks for the plug!

    In, say, 5 years, I say you and me and someone else or two start our own culture podcast! I will be the Dana Stevens. I see you as a Julia.

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