Column, Movie Diary

Batten down the hatches

By Dom Cioffi

It’s Monday night as I’m writing this – the eve before one of the most contentious presidential elections in recent history.

I voted two weeks ago by mail-in ballot and have spent most of the past 14 days avoiding media. I haven’t watched or read the news and I certainly haven’t engaged with any social platforms.

When the final tally is announced (and hopefully that doesn’t take too long), I’ll get onboard and support what the majority of our country has decided. I would hope others would do the same, but given the conversations I’ve had over the last couple days, that may not be the case.

Over the weekend, I talked to a college friend who told me that he was seriously considering packing up his family and moving to Canada or Mexico if things didn’t go the way he wanted. I initially laughed, thinking he was joking, but then it became apparent that he was all too serious.

I didn’t really know what to say. I questioned whether such a decision was right for his kids, which prompted him to launch into a tirade about the kind of world he wanted them to grow up in. Admittedly, I was impressed with his conviction, but it still seemed odd given that I’d never known him to be so impassioned about politics. I immediately wondered if confirmation bias was at work.

The next conversation was with a coworker who seemed genuinely afraid. Unlike me, this person had been immersed in social media and was getting reports from several spots across the country that highlighted the amount of preparations underway in anticipation of rioting after the election.

She told me there was a plan to shut down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, for two weeks. (Out of curiosity I checked, and Rodeo Drive will be closed to cars and pedestrian traffic for two days – typical social media exaggeration.)

However, she was most concerned about potential rioting working its way into her neighborhood in a middle-class suburb. I assured her nothing like that would happen, but she readily rebuked me with online posts that pointed to these exact scenarios occurring in other comparable localities.

My third conversation occurred just a few hours ago when I was filling my car up with gas. The guy on the other side of the pump from me was rummaging around in his trunk while I was waiting for my car to fill up. Our eyes met for a moment, so I smiled and nodded my head.

Apparently, my head nod was enough for him to start telling me about the coming apocalypse after the election. I laughed like you do when someone seems a little off but you still want to seem agreeable in case the person is genuinely unhinged.

In a two-minute tirade he told me that everything that was happening was written in the Bible and it was only a matter of time before “He” retuned to set things straight. Out of self-preservation, I immediately acquiesced to his authoritative speech and agreed with every word he said, acting fully impressed and even convinced.

As he was carrying on and citing biblical passages, my mind drifted to this column and I knew I now had my topic for the week.

When the pump finished, I thanked the man for his time and wished him well (the truth was he was making me nervous, so I wanted to exit as quickly as possible). He gave me a stern look and then performed some sort of awkward, spur-of-the-moment blessing from 15 feet away.

As I drove off, I allowed myself to fantasize about the apocalypse actually happening in a few days and me surviving because of a gas station blessing by a messenger of God. Now that’s a storyline for a great film!

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my choice for a film review this week was on a much more mundane topic.

“On the Rocks,” starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, is a meditative romp about a woman coming to believe that her husband is falling out of love. Desperate to find answers, she confides in her father who then decides to take matters into his own hands.

Directed by Sofia Coppola (who teamed up with Murray on the equally reflective “Lost in Translation”), “On the Rocks” is one of those crafty little films that rolls along without much spice but still seems to taste pretty good in the end.

Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a light-ish comedy that plays to the strengths of Murray’s unique charm and charisma.

A wistful “B” for “On the Rocks.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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