I had the best of intentions for my three day weekend. While I had a few things on the calendar – enough to keep me from going stir crazy – I also had a lot of free time built in, primarily on Memorial Day. This was the time that I fully expected to use to catch up on some movies – I still haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road – get ahead on my blog posts and generally get the errands and preparation done so that I was starting the week out on the right foot. Maybe I’d even finally have the chance to check out the web series/books/television shows/web pages/podcasts that I’ve been meaning to get around to but simply haven’t had the time for. This was going to be a fun and productive day.
Instead, I spent a lot of my Memorial Day laying on the couch and watching truly regrettable reality shows like Kendra On Top, a show that I don’t even normally watch and barely knew existed. So much for my best laid plans.
Part of the issue was that I didn’t get home until after 2 in the morning from Sunday night’s Yankee game. In the old days, getting home at 2 am would be an early night, but now I don’t bounce back anything like what I used to. I was a strange combination of wired and exhausted when I finally made it back, so I didn’t even go to sleep right away. I wound up wandering around my apartment without any clear focus or purpose – I was too tired to watch TV and not tired enough to go to bed. I almost felt a little drunk, which was impossible since I hadn’t had anything to drink all night. But there I was, making ramen noodles in the middle of the night. That should have been my first sign that Monday was not going to be the whirlwind of activity that I was hoping it would be.
Since I have a cat, I didn’t really get to sleep in on Memorial Day – around 7 am the swift paw of justice was smacking me in the face to tell me that it was time to get up. He didn’t even need food; he had just tired of hanging out in the bedroom and wanted to change locations, which apparently required me to move as well. I put him off for a while, but it was only delaying the inevitable. Pumpkin is very determined when he has to be and so I found myself up after only 4 hours of sleep and with very little interest in doing anything that required me leaving my apartment or getting out of my pajamas. The handwriting was on the wall – it was going to be a lazy day where very little was accomplished. I didn’t even get around to loading the dishwasher or doing laundry. This was strictly a laying on the couch and occasionally napping kind of day.
The day wasn’t a complete wash, however; after I was able to break whatever hypnotic hold that Kendra On Top had on me (I watched six episodes), I did finally get around to watching some things that had been sitting on my DVR for a while. I managed to get my DVR storage down to 28%, which is kind of a minor miracle; it would be lower if I’d been ambitious enough to tackle the entire season of The Americans that I still need to consume. Ironically most of what I watched was on the dark or serious side, but after 3 hours of a reality show about a former Playboy playmate it was necessary to prevent my mind from completely turning to mush. First up was Montage of Heck, the documentary about Kurt Cobain. I kind of thought that I already knew a lot about Cobain, since he was a huge part of my high school experience, but I found the documentary pretty informative and generally interesting. The film felt strangely intimate; it relies on home movie footage and interviews with family and friends as well as montages of stock footage and original songs. I never worshiped Kurt Cobain like some people my age did – I really enjoyed their music, but I was kind of ambivalent about him as a person – and while the documentary gave an interesting glimpse into who he was as a man, it didn’t do much to change my overall opinion of him. Kurt Cobain and I had very different world views and while I’d like to think I was an angst ridden teenager that needed someone to give voice to my disaffected youth, I think I just liked Nirvana’s music and Cobain’s voice. Push came to shove, I was more of a Pearl Jam girl, which probably greatly diminishes my street cred. Still Montage of Heck was interesting.
My next selection was even darker – a documentary about the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s lost documentary on the end of Nazi Germany, Night Will Fall. It felt like something that I should see, hence why I DVRed it, but you’re never really in the mood for graphic depictions of what the Allied forces found when they liberated concentration camps. Memorial Day seemed as appropriate day as any to sit down and watch it and while the visual imagery was sometimes difficult to see, it was the most unflinching look at this period of time as I have ever seen. Obviously most of the depictions that we’ve seen of the Holocaust are fictionalized, so this is an extremely important film to see because it is mostly comprised of film footage that the British troops took when they arrived at the various camps. Because it is it is so raw, the footage is extremely powerful and gives a viewer a real and honest look at what was done to people simply because of how they chose to worship. This especially resonated with me since I have been to Auschwitz, which was one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever experienced. The war footage is inter-spliced with interviews that also give a context to the making of the original documentary and explains how this film was almost lost to history. Not the most enjoyable way to spend the day off and I had to take a break once or twice, but it is an important film to see and be reminded that there is more to this piece of history than the fictionalized versions that we typically see on the big screen.
Since I was in the documentary state of mind, I finished things off with Evolution of a Criminal, which aired on PBS and explores how a 16 year old honors student becomes a bank robber. The director is the former teen in question and the documentary involves interviews with his family and friends as they explore what lead to the tragic decision that sent him to jail. Darius Monroe wasn’t a bad kid who got into trouble, but concerns about the financial survival of his family after they were victims of a crime made him think that his own criminal activity was the only solution. The documentary also features interviews with some of the people that were in the bank they day that he robbed it, as Darius visits his victims to apologize for what he did. It was an interesting examination of the factors that lead to a derailment of a promising kid’s future and how when people are living to pay check to pay check the disastrous impact that one missed check can have on their survival. The most interesting interview is with the prosecutor who handled Darius’ case; she’s happy to participate in the documentary, but she’s the least convinced that he has truly turned his life around. She’s easily the most cynical of the bunch, but life experience makes her suspicion understandable. Not has heavy as Night Will Fall or as intense as Montage of Heck, but a good way to wrap up what turned into a documentary binge-watch.
So how did you spend you Memorial Day? Did you travel? Have a family BBQ? Binge-watch Netflix? Hit the cinema? Let us know in the comments below. Hopefully my 4th of July will be more productive.