I Can’t Put a Number On It

I’m not a fan of those best-of and greatest lists. They are quite common at the end of each year. The best films, books, TV shows, records, actors etc. They are particularly annoying when the author puts a number on the list or Oscars-style you have to decide on only one winner.

The “ten-best” of anything is always going to be wrong for a lot of people who will disagree with the ranking or with those who didn’t make the list. Rolling Stone magazine recently posted a list of The 200 Greatest Singers of All Time.” I knew when I saw the title they were in for some trouble. Even with 200 names, people were going to complain about someone being left off, and about the ranking of some who made the cut. Not that I am anything of an authority, but there were plenty of names I never heard of on that list. I see a lot of comments online saying “Where is Celine Dion?” That kind of list is bound to court controversy – and that’s probably one reason media sources and critics create them.

A friend asked me to send my list of the best films of 2022. I can’t do the best list. Even with all the films I did see last year, when I look at other best film lists I see contenders that I never saw. Plus, what I liked is just what I liked. I liked The Fabelmans and it made some lists, but I suggested it to friends and a few thought it was just okay. A film that my wife and I saw at the Montclair Film Festival last October and really liked was Linoleum.

The title didn’t help this very unusual independent film starring Jim Gaffigan and Rhea Seehorn, but we loved it. Then again, we met the director and producer and got to talk with them after the screening. And I like Gaffigan both as a comedian and as an actor in all the little films he has done. Rhea was one of the best things in a favorite show of the past few years, Better Call Saul.

I hope you see the film somewhere, somehow. It’s currently not available to rent, buy or stream but its U.S. release date is February 24, 2023. I’m also sure that a lot of people will not fall in love with it as we did. That’s why I don’t do best-of lists or rank anything.

I can’t really give you a good summary of the film without ruining it. Online it says “When the host of a failing children’s science show tries to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage, a series of bizarre events occur that cause him to question his own reality,” but that really doesn’t do it. It’s complicated in a good way. It’s the kind of film that I want to watch again just to see what I missed on the first viewing.

I just realized why I might have liked those two films. As a kid, I wanted to make movies. Like Steven Spielberg, I made films with a Super 8 movie camera. I didn’t take it as far as Spielberg and I didn’t become a director, but I get it.

In February of 1962, I wrote a letter to NASA astronaut John Glenn who had just returned from his historic flight in the tiny capsule named Friendship 7. This Mercury spacecraft circled Earth three times and then splashed down. He was an early hero of mine. I still have the letter and packet of materials I got in the mail from Glenn and NASA. I was not alone in wanting to be an astronaut. I was 8 years old. I did not become an astronaut. I did not become an astronomer, though I have spent a lot of time looking up at the sky, reading about it, and writing about it sometimes. I get it.

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Ken

A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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