A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Oh, what a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Do you see and sense the changes—as though the earth and atmosphere are vibrating—waiting and ready and finally beginning to burst forth?
One after another these sweet, eagerly anticipated, beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood renaissances are happening all over town!
At artCentral on Hyde House Hill, crocuses, long understood as symbols of youthful cheerfulness, are opening in lavender bouquets scattered beneath the old growth trees.
While my husband, David, artCentral’s prepitor (art handler), and I are well into preparations for artCentral’s coming spring exhibition—PAINT in MOTION presented by Philip Ledbetter—we are happily enjoying Mother Nature’s changes in our own beautiful neighborhood on Sycamore Street.
Gleeful birdsong is growing more vibrant with each dawn. Green shoots are rising up in flower beds and on lawns everywhere. Our hearts are full with the gifts of this season freely flowing to us. Indeed a surprise gift came via mail from our local video store. The printed card offered a “free dvd rental” and pictured several movies—one a movie we missed and really wanted to see in a theater while the holidays had us twirling with no time to squeeze in a feature.
David picked up the gift disc on his way home from work. After a quick bowl of soup and mugs of his extra frothy homemade cappuccino, we cuddled up together in our big, cushioned watching chair for our dinner-and-a-movie-night in Paradise. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” began. We sat enchanted as we watched this artful film conveyed with atmospheric cinematography and masterfully crafted sets including a toy town rendered in miniature.
As the promo goes for this lyrical movie, Lloyd Vogel (movingly played by Matthew Rhys) is an investigative journalist who prides himself on tough assignments. He receives and grudgingly takes on an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers (exquisitely portrayed by Tom Hanks). Since Vogel does not believe that anyone can have such a good nature, he approaches the interview carrying adversarial skepticism. With each encounter they share, Roger's empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel's jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.
Cinema critic Anthony Lane writes in a New Yorker magazine review that Hank’s performance leaves us all, “not just consoled by Rogers but curious about what drove him”. Lane tells us that “in addition to being the host, the composer and the puppeteer on his own show, from 1968 to 2001, Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, and, thanks to Hanks, the business of dressing for his TV set [changing into a sweater and indoor shoes] begins to resemble a secular robing, as if we were in a vestry rather than in a television studio.”
Another New Yorker writer, Richard Brody, observes, “Throughout the movie, Rogers offers…words of wisdom and insight, revealing himself to be not merely the host of a children’s show but a sort of freelance activist clergyman whose main pulpit is the show but whose concern is society at large….The melancholy [thread] of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is that of a world out of whack—and of its dramatization of an unabated sense of responsibility to do whatever one can to help put things aright.”
This gem of a film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, could aptly be subtitled, “Mr. Rogers for Adults” as Tom Hanks adeptly plays Fred Rogers offering each of us the sage wisdom of an experienced, unruffled teacher. Perhaps you will want to add this treasure to your watch list or maybe enjoy a second viewing as each new beautiful day in your neighborhood unfolds for your pleasure.