The Old Man & The Gun

I love this album cover so much!

Did you ever see the movie “All Is Lost” starring Robert Redford and a boat? That movie hurt everything inside me, and I dreamed about it for a long time afterward. It was a gut wrencher with approximately two words of dialogue (and I’m rounding up). Thoroughly terrifying and highly recommended if you never plan to go out on open water again.

This movie, though, is easy. I like movies where people sit on porches in the afternoon sunshine and talk to each other about nothing special, where they just enjoy each other’s company for a while. Movies where the stakes are low and nobody’s in a hurry. There’s a scene about a third of a way through where Robert Redford, playing a charming ol’ bank robber, drops Sissy Spacek at the door of her farmhouse after the two have enjoyed a series of platonic dates, and she walks inside the dark house and closes the door behind her and then turns like she’s going to lock it but she opens it back up instead, and Robert Redford is already on her porch, walking towards her, and he removes his hat (the old man & the hat) at exactly the right time—at that Robert Redford tempo, with that Robert Redford rhythm—and he kisses her quickly and gives her a smile and then he just turns around and leaves. And that’s it! Neither of them says a word. And it’s perfect. And it made me smile, these two beautiful faces, these two crafty pros, the gentleness and the grace and the bright, simple joy of it.

That’s the kind of movie this is.

Likely to confuse the elderly

My father watches three things on the big TV on his sun porch: Wisconsin sports teams, YouTube shorts about Hitler, and anything on Netflix. Also Fargo, I guess. He has a thing for Fargo in any format. At Thanksgiving my brother Kyle introduced him to The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and he’s been watching it on a loop ever since, except for the last episode, which he doesn’t like. Too chatty, maybe. Too “woo-woo.” But the rest he knows practically by heart.

Anyway, when I went back for our second Christmas on the 29th, we all crammed into the sunroom to watch Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on the big TV (our only true annual tradition), and we followed that up with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs because somehow the dudes always get to choose what we watch, which I object to vocally and repeatedly and usually storm out on. I was mad about having to sit through a boring bloody macho Western but I was wedged into the sofa in the corner so I just sighed out loud for a while, like a grownup, and then finally, begrudgingly, paid attention because there was nothing else to do.

I’m sorry to say this, because I hate admitting I’m wrong about these dudes’ suggested viewing, but I really loved it. I dreamed about it all night long and then I drove home on Sunday and watched the whole thing again voluntarily, after True Grit, which I also love. Damn Coen Bros! The Zoe Kazan episode broke my heart in 95 different places and the last one, the Tyne Daly one, the one my father doesn’t watch, it reminded me immediately of Lincoln in the Bardo even before I knew what was going on, and I loved it even more for that. (I suppose that could be considered a spoiler but this is no safe space.) The whole thing was weird and rewarding, is what I’m saying, and it caught me by surprise, which all things considered was not a bad way to end a year or even a weekend.

Also: I watched my first episode of Bob’s Burgers tonight (“Topsy”) because it was on before The Big Bang Theory and I was toooo lazy to change the channel, and long story shrt I now have a new favorite TV show.

In summary: congratulations! We are all winners!