A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

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Big Ben
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#51 Post by Big Ben » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:44 pm

Part of me wonders if the trailer is the way it is because well, that's how people want to see Fred Rogers. It's sugary (Particularly that last scene on the subway.) for a reason. I agree with the criticisms here I just don't see any other way to market it on a mass level.

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domino harvey
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#52 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:23 pm

How else do you portray a man with no known flaws who is arguably a modern-day saint? There is no reason to expect anything but hagiography, but it’s worth remembering that some (previous few) people do merit that

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swo17
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#53 Post by swo17 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:34 pm

You've gotta do that like Young Mr. Lincoln though, tell the unknown story

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#54 Post by knives » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:04 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:23 pm
How else do you portray a man with no known flaws who is arguably a modern-day saint? There is no reason to expect anything but hagiography, but it’s worth remembering that some (previous few) people do merit that
I agree and I believe I laid out two reasonable scenarios one of which may be this film to do that by which remain compelling.

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solaris72
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#55 Post by solaris72 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:59 am

Finch wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:16 pm
Between this and the first (dreadful) Ad Astra trailer, it makes me wonder again how much if any say directors have in the putting together of a trailer for their films (to the extent that the films are truly theirs).
My understanding is that very few directors have any say.

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dustybooks
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#56 Post by dustybooks » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:49 pm

Finch wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:16 pm
I haven't seen her first film
Diary of a Teenage Girl is excellent, one of the best and toughest of this decade's overflow of coming-of-age films, but I recently read the graphic novel -- which is actually taken from the author Phoebe Gloeckner's real diaries -- and it's even stronger and darker, so much so that I now wonder how I'll feel about the adaptation on revisiting it. That said, I've been really impressed with both Heller's films so far and I'm hoping there's more to this one than meets the eye.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#57 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:52 pm

solaris72 wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 11:59 am
Finch wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:16 pm
Between this and the first (dreadful) Ad Astra trailer, it makes me wonder again how much if any say directors have in the putting together of a trailer for their films (to the extent that the films are truly theirs).
My understanding is that very few directors have any say.
That's always been my impression, that it's really what the studio wants you to see more than anyone else. I can be more sold on a basic premise nowadays, but I at least like looking at them to get a sense of how it looks and maybe a cute or clever line here and there too.

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captveg
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#58 Post by captveg » Tue Jul 23, 2019 2:38 pm

Looks bland and uncompelling. There's just no story there, dramatically speaking. Good man is good is just not a strong driving force. As said above, if a story gets to the roots of those convictions when that person is making the decisions to embody those good standards as Ford did with Lincoln it can work.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#59 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:21 pm

Morgan Neville's celebrated documentary on Fred Rogers, Won't You Be My Neighbor, had no trouble being enthralling as it showed how Rogers dealt with difficult subjects such as death, divorce, and racism on his show. It also contained great drama by showing how Rogers convinced a Senate subcommittee to approve PBS funding. All of this should be covered in Heller's biopic version, but the trailer doesn't give that impression.

For comparison, here's the trailer for Neville's documentary from last year.

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#60 Post by knives » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:35 pm

I thought that documentary was quite awful honestly and only saved by the natural interest the Rogers story has. Heller's film is much more self contained then what you are talking about and probably will be all the better for it.

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furbicide
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#61 Post by furbicide » Wed Jul 24, 2019 12:10 am

The problem is that it's a steep uphill climb when a film has to defy its own premise to be any good. This one honestly looks precisely as schmaltz-ridden as you'd expect it to be. Perhaps rather than framing the narrative around a latter-life interview piece (a well-trodden idea which has been done to death and whose appeal I've never quite understood), it would have been better to dramatise some of the funding conflicts over PBS and Rogers' role in them? I honestly have no idea. This whole project just seems really incongruent with Heller's earlier work.


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Fiery Angel
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#63 Post by Fiery Angel » Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:28 pm

looks like a wax figure

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#64 Post by knives » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:23 am

I'm completely unable to be objective about this film, which automatically makes it better then that terrible documentary, but I do want to say that what Hanks does here, essentially playing two Mr. Rogers, is supernatural in it's quality and makes me want to love this movie. Heller does a lot of things here that I don't know if I like it, but really highlights how she's a step above the rest.
Last edited by knives on Mon Aug 31, 2020 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hearthesilence
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#65 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:45 pm

Shortly after Mr. Rogers died, PBS aired a good tribute that was virtually regurgitated in that documentary years later - the big difference was that the producers managed to do it all in less time and with a much lighter hand. If memory serves, it was mostly archival (including some rare, unseen footage, particularly the lighthearted pranks his crew liked to pull on him) with occasional segments hosted by Michael Keaton. Anyway, the one story that really stuck with me came from an interview with Rogers, where he talked about hosting a television show in relation to being a minister - he brought up a letter from a fan who had to grow up under horrendous abuse, and according to her, his show was essentially the only lifeline she had until she got out of there. It was a lot to process when it makes you consider what the show actually does for a young viewer in very small detail and the context needed to make that show a lifeline to someone emotionally and psychologically. It's the type of thing that could be made into a pretty terrible movie, but in the right hands, I always thought it had a lot of potential.

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#66 Post by knives » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:23 pm

As I'm thinking more on it, I think at least Heller's contributions are really great. The script leaves me unsure, but Heller really leans into parts to make it seem like an Alexander and Karaszewski film.
SpoilerShow
To spoil something that came as a pleasant surprise the film isn't a biopic at all, but rather a fictional story that uses Rogers as a character. It's more like The Prestige then The End of the Tour. The script has as a framing device Mr. Roger's show and Heller converts that into the movie being an episode of the show. The inserts and transitions for example are all done in the show's style. The Lloyd character, basically entirely fictional, as our lead is basically the episode's Daniel Tiger whose encounters with Rogers spurns the use of techniques of self reflection and acceptance to overcome trauma. The film is a bit vague on this, but he has a terribly toxic relationship with his father because of how the father divorced Lloyd's mother when she became ill with some deadly disease. This is where I think the disconnect between the script and the film is hardest and is perhaps an example of Sezuki's idea that the best movies are made from the worst scripts. This storyline itself is simple and potentially gross since it could be seen as an enforcement for a type of Christian forgiveness I have a great distaste for. Heller jumbles this simplicity around though in a way I am thinking is a virtue as it mirrors the message of Rogers himself and functions as a useful primer on how to use Rogers' techniques as an adult. Professionally his mentor, Margaret McFarland, has been a huge influence on me and I think Heller presents her ideas quite beautifully while also having some fun. The conclusion is something of an ideal, but that's what primers are: ideals.
I suppose this week has been lucky for my viewing as Heller's method is actually very complementary to von Trier's in The House That Jack Built since both movies essentially deal with the same question of what to do with the parts of yourself that you hate. There's a great conversation here about rejecting elements you disliked about your parents only to be horrified when those actions are the ones you naturally have as a parent which could have easily come from either film. von Trier really digs into defining those unlikable traits and what one feels like holding onto them while Heller takes the next step from after identification into how to accept those emotions and use them to make a you that you love, because in the end loving your imperfections is what allows you to use them in a positive direction.

There's a great book that I often use for my teaching call Just Give Him the Whale. The basic idea behind it is instead of fighting a child to teach them use what they love as a pedagogical tool. The movie does that by talking about feelings of hate and discomfort and anger that you do feel and saying that's okay, but also asks how do you want to use those feelings. It's a very deep message that's deceptively shallow.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#67 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:00 pm

knives, your reading on this really makes me interested in a film that I was going to completely ignore, so I look forward to seeing it with your conscientious thoughts in mind. I didn't even realize that Heller helmed this, who is two-for-two in my book (her debut Diary of a Teenage Girl was far better than it needed to be, and was a beautiful counter to the same year's manipulative and generally godawful coming-of-age Me Earl and the Dying Girl; and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, like this, I shrugged off until the raves forced me into it, and I was pleasantly surprised by its authentic method of achieving empathy).

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#68 Post by knives » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:08 pm

I have the debut on hold for the library because her two big pictures have impressed me tremendously. She's an incredibly empathetic filmmaker who seems willing to adapt her style to her subject so incredibly. In a lot of ways this film is the Mr. Rogers ethos in the same way that Can You Ever Forgive Me held onto the complicated emotions of Lee Israel. With these two movies Heller definitely has a lifetime pass for me because it shows her instincts as a filmmaker to be so compatible with mine as an audience member. I think its telling of the whole film that the only famous moment we really sit with is a song from the skunk episode where Daniel sings about his anger.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#69 Post by barryconvex » Mon Aug 31, 2020 7:51 pm

I didn't realize how desperately in need I was of this movie. When it was over I felt like my soul had been cleansed and I've never felt like that after any movie ever. This is a masterpiece and its makers should be given carte blanche for the rest of their lives.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#70 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 01, 2020 6:11 pm

I'll add to the praise here. knives' thoughts are really terrific and reflect a lot of my own, especially how one's own process of self-reflection and self-acceptance is a continual peeling back of onion layers to reveal parts we suppress because they are triggering and unacceptable to us. This isn't only because of links to traumatic figures, but the chick-or-egg conundrum of why we resent others for familiar characteristics. Is it that the person reminds us of what we most hate about ourselves and it's painful to recognize their organic nature within us, or that we blame the other for bringing these out in us and potentially informing their growth? Where I disagree is in the proclamations of Christian forgiveness as "gross" because, boiled down, I don't see this as any different than the positive avenue of techniques connected with Rogers' instructions. I don't know if this resistance is sourced in a specific issue with Christianity, but while I was never raised in a church, I've come to define these broad techniques of forgiveness to be all under the same spiritual umbrella of self-betterment and resignation of self-imposed burdens; and getting hung up on specifics and/or judgments feels counterintuitive to the entire point of this welcoming film.

I wouldn't say that the point is to "overcome" trauma, especially since that's just not how trauma works, but rather how to cope with ongoing trauma (in part through reframing it as contributions to our current selves) that cannot be escaped to a fixed state of serenity. The ideas of Rogers' teachings and the Christian power of forgiveness, as well as the 12-step programs' advice to pray for, or actively meditate on empathizing with and forgiving, those who we feel have wronged us, is to work the muscles of what we can control in getting out of our own way and keeping our side of the street clean. Rhys cannot change his father but he can change the degree to which he ruins his own life and poisons those around him due to that growing resentment, starting with acknowledging the emotions he is feeling and authorizing their existence. This is a great film about how recovery principles align with Rogers and spiritual lessons to empower a person to change their attitude and liberate themselves momentarily in practicing this skill, which will need to be applied continuously on a daily basis across a variety of spectrums of their life. Where the film is successful is in using a very intense resentment that makes a life unmanageable to prompt surrender and development of this skill, but it's only the beginning of the story of the rest of his life.

The other excellent aspect to the film is that the wish-fulfillment of fantastical validation of our worth through unconditional support serves as a very humble reminder that this is probable without the theatrics. The way Hanks uses the simplest interventions of active listening, silence, and modestly-conceived open-ended questions to provide caring gestures makes this kind of selfless compassion seem so easy because it is a lot easier than we think. If we can just get outside of ourselves, we can realise the potential of our will power, which is the whole point of Rhys' growth- to emerge from our own debilitating rabbit-holes to be there for ourselves and others. If Hanks had big speeches or a special impossible-to-be-replicated style, the film wouldn't work, but since he's just another man who has practiced the principles of making peace with the self, he models the ease and the rewards for us all. The honesty Rhys exudes in his confrontation with his wife is one of the most beautiful, optimistic scenes I've seen in cinema, and it's delivered without impressive linguistic strategies or external hurdles- it's a page taken from a completely accessible, self-driven potential, that leaves no space to detach the audience from their ability to have a similar experience.

The shifts in perspective that come with active, fluid engagement and intimacy with ourselves and others, can be a source of pleasure where it was once a threat to our self-definition. Hanks' gratitude for Rhys pointing out the difficulties his kids must have gone through, adding a layer of self-awareness by presenting a challenging perspective, is so genuinely affirming for the beauty of continual knowledge that is welcomed by a secure sense of self. I thought about Gerwig's own response of gratitude to a character-assassination in Damsels in Distress though while that film made a joke about how we boost ourselves up to be The Strongest in all facets of life (including being able to take a negative note!) this one is full of honest humility born from the consistent application of a transcendental way of life. And there's the real kicker here, that fleshes out the opposite perspective for us: Rhys, even when fueling his interactions by selfish emotion, provides invaluable information and care towards Rogers because of how Hanks takes the information. The mirror for his own paternal relationship is striking and provokes the grey truth that Rhys is capable of providing more than black or white action in his current state (and receiving, since how he reacts is going to give him important information either way), but is only capable of perceiving a certain hardened utility without training his outlook to be more flexible.

It is far easier to default to define ourselves as "broken" than change the narrative of our lives, though once we start expanding our peripheries the promises are endless. If perception defines experience, this makes responsibility shared and emphasizes all the unions we've been involved in that felt so clearcut in binary terms in our lives, but never were. This is pure empowerment, and an absolutely terrific, restrained script is vital to what Heller is executing as director. She helps facilitate that Rogers/Christian (and plenty of other religions)/Recovery/Etc. inclusive, rather than exclusive, teaching for us that everyone is complex and capable of deserving our empathy. And if we aren't ready for that or are judging a person or an institution or type of spiritual teaching, we can examine our own part in those barriers, if we so choose. Either way, life is a lot fuller than we can ever imagine, and the assurance that we can continue to discover new truths and get pleasure from self-development endlessly forever, instead of reaching a finite point of catharsis, is the best gift of all. This movie could be called The Meaning of Life, become mandatory viewing for young adults, and dissemble the entire self-help industry. Not really, but this film reminds me that artists really can teach humility in a way that's both inspirational and attainable.

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knives
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#71 Post by knives » Tue Sep 01, 2020 7:57 pm

What a very beautiful and moving look at the film. To clarify what I meant by Christian grossness as regards the film I'm saying that ultimately the film takes a different approach then that of most Christian theologies one sees in America of the passive continual forgiveness which is suggesting a moral imperative for forgiveness regardless of the circumstances, you see this in people saying I forgive you after the Mother Emmanuel to Roof, rather then the active forgiveness after reconciliation which I see the film working on. If Cooper's father character was unrepentant just forgiving him wouldn't make sense as a way to be healthy about that relationship. It would be the same as burying your stressor until it gives you an ulcer. Rather Rhys is able to activate reconciliation because Cooper desires that as well and so cautiously they can work together. There's a lot to say about all of the little things the film does to make this relationship specific even as the techniques can be universally applied. That understanding of the complexity of man is what makes this different from christian forgiveness.

A good resource on the distinction between forgivenesses is J Angelo Corlett's Responsibility and Punishment which spends a lot of time talking about the need for apology/ reconciliation for active forgiveness.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#72 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:49 pm

What an absolutely beautiful review, therewillbeblus. S-tier.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#73 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Sep 01, 2020 11:05 pm

knives, I agree with the first part of the distinction, but I guess I respectfully disagree that Cooper's repentance is necessary for forgiveness to be meaningful to Rhys. Cooper doesn't show any self-awareness until Rhys cleans his part of the street and decides to make the first move, at which point we can see Cooper's true colors ease up. It often (always?) takes one person to initiate the step towards another without evidence of the other's willingness, and the whole idea of Rogers' ethos seems to be for us to take that first step divorced from any expectations for the other party. Part of the point of the film is that our perspectives are limited (so it makes sense that our view of Cooper, seen through Rhys' eyes, didn't yield a sympathetic figure until he took action and opened his eyes) but that even the people we resent and place into rigid categories actually end up affecting our lives in positive as well as negative ways, and all along that spectrum that is anything but binary.

I think often times when we amend relationships the other party reciprocally lowers some of their own defenses, but being responsible for your own attitudes regardless of that other person's engagement doesn't necessitate forcing a relationship that would give one an ulcer, since that kind of attitude carries with it expectations which will cyclically lead to resentment, and continue that unhealthy process. It's a nice bonus that the relationship was able to be mended as the two were engaged in a chinese finger trap of polarized toxicity, but the film would have been equally as effective for me if Cooper remained completely unapologetic and Rhys continued to practice this attitude with his wife and family, and still was able to accept his father's role in his life for helping to shape his identity. That's the way this application of forgiveness of the self and others usually works to restore one's own peace of mind, in my experience. Making it contingent on another party is dangerous business and goes against what I think the film is trying to say.

Having said that, there is a specific nature to this situation of family dynamics and the critical first-move made by Rhys, completely exclusive from Cooper's response, allows for the complexities to emerge. This ultimately proves Rogers' thesis on multiple perspectives being the best medicine to color our worlds, juxtaposed against blended emotions like uniform rage that suppresses the layered intricacies only giving us a black-and-white viewpoint. There is an optimism that supposes that an act of forgiveness begets unpredictable rewards in affinity, which I wholeheartedly believe, but the key word there is "unpredictable" in that we cannot go into absolute forgiveness with expectations, which is a sneaky way of wishing to control the other person and thus contradicts any stance of unconditional compassion. I just don't think that forgiveness needs to be earned, and if we truly approach another with pure humility, we will notice plenty of opportunities for reciprocal gifts even if they don't match our level of repentance.

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barryconvex
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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#74 Post by barryconvex » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:34 pm

The other excellent aspect to the film is that the wish-fulfillment of fantastical validation of our worth through unconditional support serves as a very humble reminder that this is probable without the theatrics. The way Hanks uses the simplest interventions of active listening, silence, and modestly-conceived open-ended questions to provide caring gestures makes this kind of selfless compassion seem so easy because it is a lot easier than we think.
I highlighted the "without the theatrics" line from blu's classic review because (as he also pointed out) it's a big part of why Hanks' portrayal of Rogers is so brilliant and also why the overall timbre of the film works so well. My initial post may have sounded hyperbolic but Heller has crafted something that truly moved me, had me in tears more than once. Forgiveness, acceptance and empathy aren't topics many movies examine, let alone examine as beautifully as this one has.

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Re: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

#75 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:46 pm

I don't think it's unfairly hyperbolic though, and I've been recommending this left and right to people I know in basically every diverse community focused on spiritual growth that I know. The film speaks the universal language of self-help and personal growth (that, in opposition to what some people believe, need to include helping and connecting with others to fuel that process) in the most digestible strategy imaginable, which is the most authentic way it can be communicated because like a lot of this stuff, it's as simple or complicated as we want to make it. Rogers made it simple, and it really does work. The film shows us that with concrete direct examples that could be documentary footage like the one with Rhys and his wife, which was the scene that made me cry even though it's totally ordinary next to the scenes we're used to from typical movies (like what this easily could have been in another filmmaker's hands), and is also why it's so perfect.

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