Movies I Watched in Florida: Part 1

I’m writing this from a hotel room in Orlando, whilst drinking pink wine. I spent most of today either at a pool or eating at a themed restaurant. The hotel we’re staying in has scented air, the kind I’ve only smelled once before, in a Las Vegas casino. It hits you immediately, a noticeable but non-offensive perfume that makes you feel calm, secure, cared for. Or at least that’s how it makes me feel — even as I am mildly creeped out by the idea of scented air. My husband says my feelings of calm and relaxation aren’t accidental. The scents are manufactured to do this.

I’ve been looking for the perfect book to read on this vacation and I think I finally found it, today: Made For Love by Alissa Nutting. It’s about the creepiness of technology, among many other things. It’s set, delightfully, in the very near future, with the first chapter titled: August 2019.  I’m only about three chapters in but all I want to do is read it. The only reason I’m writing this blog post is so that I won’t forget what I watched.

I haven’t been watching a lot of movies lately because I’ve been reading a lot and working on a novel. I also haven’t been as stringent about watching female directors. Netflix offered up two old movies that I’d never seen but always meant to: Chinatown and The Conversation. Both are directed by men. Then I watched a very mediocre Netflix rom-com called The Perfect Date. The two stars in that were very charming, but it wasn’t very well written. I think if they’d had a woman working on the script, it would have been better.

My one big discovery this spring is Claire Denis. I’ve been meaning to check her out for years and wish I hadn’t waited so long. She is mesmerizing. More on her next week after I see her latest movie.

So what did I see on vacation? It started on the plane . . .

on-the-basis-of-sex-focus-features-e1531840033720

I love a good plane watch. Who doesn’t? You have your ginger ale, your salted almonds, maybe a snack box if you’re feeling flush. I had my 18-month old baby with me and so I had to wait for her to fall asleep on my lap before I could watch anything. In the meantime, I strategized. One thing about choosing movies with female directors and writers is that it really narrows your choices down. After checking IMBD for writing credits on a couple of nineties movies, I decided to watch On The Basis of Sex, the Ruth Bader Ginsberg biopic that came out last winter, directed by Mimi Leder. It was okay. I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t seen the documentary RBG, which covered a lot of the same biographical territory and was naturally more dramatic for including its subject.

On The Basis of Sex focused on Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s early years, and one thing that it was able to convey more successfully than RBG was just how young Ginsberg was when she started law school, had a child, and nursed her twenty-something husband through cancer. Felicity Jones does a good job of showing Ginsberg’s mix of tenacity and vulnerability, but in the documentary you see her obsessiveness, her dedication to her chosen profession, and her intellectual gifts. I was more moved by RBG, but I found myself tearing up at the end of On the Basis of Sex, especially as Ginsberg realizes she’s found her life’s work.

I’m getting tired so I’ll finish this entry up tomorrow, in Brooklyn. Stayed tuned, my three readers!

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