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August 13, 2014

The Movie Diary: Darkness on the edge of town

By Dom Cioffi

This past Saturday was a bad day.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know “bad” is relative.

Right now there are middle-aged men in Iraq who are reluctant to let their children go outside for fear that a suicide bomber may annihilate the street corner that they live on; right now there are middle-aged men with Hepatitis C sitting on death row in a maximum security prison waiting for their impending execution; right now there are middle-aged men who are unemployed with four mouths to feed, no prospects for work and a mortgage that’s under water.

I clearly understand that my bad day can easily pale when placed in comparison to others. But nevertheless, my day this past Saturday was bad for me and since I have a soapbox and since it concluded with a lesson, I feel compelled to share.

It started with a poor night’s sleep – and that’s never a  precursor to good day.

It’s rare for me to toss and turn throughout the night (unless the martinis flowed heavily the evening prior), but for some reason I couldn’t fall into that deep desirable sleep that allows for total rejuvenation.

Subsequently, I awoke feeling groggy and irritable.

My son was at a sleepover and my wife was spending the weekend at her mother’s so the house was quiet. Normally one would aspire to those peaceful moments, but the lack of a blaring Sponge Bob cartoon and an empty coffee pot combined with the impending silence made for an uninviting household.

Nevertheless, I brewed a pot of coffee and headed out to the back porch with my laptop to read the news.

The day was just dawning and the air was crisp, making for a comfortable environment to relax in. The morning doves were cooing, the crickets chirping, and a lone frog was bellowing from a nearby stream.

What I should have done was put down the laptop and simply taken in the beauty of the moment, rife with all of its lively activity. But I did not.

Instead I logged on and opened my news page and began to peruse the headlines: “Five Gazans killed as Israeli airstrikes destroy three mosques,” “Abducted soldiers killed in Yemen,” “Teen shoots grandmother with stolen gun,” “Mother drowns infant children in pool.”

I’ve had this experience before – complete mortification of what constitutes news – but this time the sheer amount and violent nature of the stories overwhelmed me.

After a short time mulling over our degrading humanity, I decided to head out for a bagel.

I hopped in my truck and was no more than a half mile down the road when a guy pulls out in front of me with nowhere near enough time. I slammed on my brakes, lurched forward in my seat, and winced at the sound of my tires locking up on dry pavement.

When I looked up at the car in front of me (which I barely missed running into), the guy’s hand was outside his window flipping me the bird. HE was flipping ME the bird!

I drove on to the bagel shop, only to be waited on by a painfully hungover 20-something, and then sat outside the cafe while two senior citizens bitched at one another through my entire meal.

By the time I got back in my truck to head home, I was in a foul mood and completely at odds with the normally positive side of my personality.

And then IT happened.

As I drove down a side street, I happened to glance across the road at a father riding a bike with his infant son in a companion seat and his 6-year-old daughter peddling furiously on a small bike in front of him.

It was a lovely scene, but not nearly enough to shake me from my mood. And then, just as I was about to look away, the little girl hit the curb and went face first into the pavement. I gasped at the ferocity of the moment.

I stopped at the intersection ahead of me and looked back. The scene was as bad as I thought; the father looked horrified and the daughter was screaming in immense pain.

I quickly swung my truck around, pulled up beside them and said, “Let me help.” The father glanced at me with both fear and trust in his eyes. He scooped up his children and put them in my vehicle while I threw both bikes into the back.

We didn’t speak much on the ride to their house as he was trying to calm both children, but at one point, as he was offering his children words of comfort, he glanced at me and stated, “It’s amazing how the right people always seem to be nearby when you need them.”

After I dropped them off, I drove home and suddenly realized that my bad day was necessary in order for me to be nearby at the very moment when they needed me… and then the day didn’t seem so bad after all.

This week’s feature, “Boyhood,” encompasses a lot of bad days occurring over the 12-year span of one family’s life. And while the subject matter could be deemed “heavy,” the overall effect of the story was immensely positive.

Definitely check this one out, not only for the poignant content, but also because it is a very unique movie, having been filmed over the course of 12 years, which allows the viewer to actually see the characters age. It really is an astonishing effect and a groundbreaking production.

An evolutionary “A-” for “Boyhood.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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