great story but not enough for Best Pic Oscar


Finally watched it! It is such a beautiful and tender story about a black man struggling with his race, sexuality, bullying and parents. It chronicled his self-discovery into three stages, kid, teenager and grownup. There wasn't too much violent conflicts in the movie but somehow I still felt disturbed to watch a drug-addict mom roaring at her own kid for money. And it was depressing to see a poor kid grow up to be a drug dealer. Despite all these dark sides, I like the love story. The narrative approach is so soft but powerful.

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This is a great movie and worth watching. But is it good enough to win Best Pic Oscar? I am not sure. It includes all favorable ingredients for prize winner, homosexuality, racism, drugs etc. The subject contributes a big part for its success.

     Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Feb 13, 2016

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I cannot recall when this was taken. (Oh wait aren't we supposed to have tag information for this picture.) So I take a second to check. It was taken Feb 13, 2016 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. It was almost the coldest time of the year in Pennsylvania: ground is covered with snow, sun oddly shines, and with every inhale you could feel the coldness from your toe. It makes me think of another picture when I visited my friend later that year in Boston. It was Thanksgiving and a rainy weather. Light layers of white were there but it was definitely not the winter yet. I drove all the way from central Pennsylvania to New England on the coastal highway of Atlantic Ocean. With the earliest colony style cathedrals and ivy schools, it was the Massachusetts I remembered.

The movie I watched a few days ago: 'Manchester by the Sea' depicts a typical sociopath's life after major incident in life (that he was an alcoholic and was drunk pretty much most of the day, and he burnt his house down accidentally when out for buying some beer, with three kinds buried in the fire. It was not an anecdote type of story, but a tragedy that seems reasonable to happen. Manchester-by-the-Sea is a town at a cape in northeast Massachusetts, featuring scenic ocean view and vista. Just like all the northeast American weather, the place is covered with snow half of the year. Unbearably cold, stormy and the night/winter are long enough to cause some people to have depression issues. The main character in the movie, Lee Chandler, doesn't seem to have the strength to pull himself together all throughout the movie, except for the very scenes where dealing with his teenage nephew's 'girlfriends' issue. But even in a scene where he and his nephew visited one of his nephew's girlfriend's house, when he sort of covered the teenagers upstairs while having friendly 'hookup'-intended conversations with the girl's divorced single mom, he was still so stuck with his silence and made the atmosphere as if it was going be to frozen with dead silence. Lee cannot forgive himself for what he had done, while he cannot fully stand up in this place that he used to live, with his beloved ones. 

That no one would care such a sociopath like Lee Chandler is what makes the movie appealing to me. He doesn't have much to be empathetic for, as he was already an alcoholic in his early thirties, there little kids... The incident was not all that accidental, but sort of precluded. Being drunk, have a poll of jerks shouting and screaming in the basement at 2 o'clock in the morning, and drugs were involved... He was obviously not a sober guy. When the house caught fire, all his drunkenness shall be resolved immediately. But why? Why wouldn't he be sober from the very start but when he should act like a responsible man for three kids and a wife? It is no surprise that he cannot forgive himself. We make a lot of mistakes in our life, most of them could be recovered or forgotten through time. But there were mistakes haunting us for years. There is not a single moment that we can pull ourselves out from it. Rather, we find alternatives to carry on instead of killing ourselves with regrets, guilt and shame.

It is the reunion scene that makes millions cry. Lee's ex-wife Randi, with the stroller carrying her new-born, could not help but to apologize for words and hurt she put on Lee when the incident happened. Why would she say those words? Because she could now feel that Lee did care, too. Lee is the one who hated himself most that any other person could ever hate, including her, the mother of their children. It was a pity that she could not see through her pain when both of them were immersed in the humongous pain losing their kids. That she divorced with him, that she had another baby, that she carried on with her life made her feel guilty and sorry. Lee, however, was the only orphan from the family tragedy. Their kids have been in heaven with bless, his wife left him for a new chapter in life, but he was the only one who's still standing at their burning house years ago. Pauses, hesitations, slow motions, in any way he was so stuck.

His brother's passing away was certainly another incident in life that he needs to cope with. But it seemed like another chance to start something new. Living with his nephew, taking care of him, moving back to Manchester... But those things are too much for him, aren't they? But I believe that... he may recover himself from the past one day, maybe not. But his life story appears to me now, after watching this movie, as he is one of my dearest friends. Yes, we all live like this, coping with the most ordinary feelings and emotions and yet, the most remarkable ones because they have changed our life.