Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Keepers | Lefsetz Letter

You’ll never look at the Catholic church the same way again. When you hear the word “Archdiocese,” you’ll shudder.

Netflix is CBS Records. A monolith that’s making money that’s spending money that needs something to hit, but not everything to hit. That’s what’s wrong with the HBO model, they’re so busy developing exceptional product that it takes years, and what results can often be lame, can you say “John from Cincinnati”? Whereas on Netflix you just ignore the detritus and go for the gold.

And “The Keepers” is gold.

You’ve got to start with the viewer reviews. Which are nearly five star. Before this we watched an episode of “The Crown,” which had three stars, even though I’d heard personally, albeit from a Brit, that it was a winner. Great acting, great production, but it was like watching paint dry, I’m not sure we can endure another episode.

But then I saw “The Keepers,” which I knew nothing about, but noted the rating and decided to give it a try.

Who killed Cathy Cesnik?

When’s the last time you even saw a nun. We used to laugh that we saw them driving around in their station wagons back in the sixties, but now all the nuns in this program have left the church and I read they’re having a hard time recruiting but the sixties were different.

Boy were they different.

They were the bridge to where we are now, the future, but they were also a bridge to the past, the fifties and forties and…

Can you abuse teenagers and not have the word get out?

You’ll be watching “The Keepers” yelling back at the TV, you truly can’t believe it, how could Father Maskell have perpetrated such crimes without anybody talking, without the word leaking out?

That’s the power of the Catholic Church, that’s the power of intimidation, that’s the power of fear.

So you’ve got two old ladies who decide to research the death of their teacher, the aforementioned nun, Cathy Cesnik, back in ’69.

And then you realize, you were in high school at the same time. And do you look as bad as they do?

We stop looking in the mirror at some point, we stop seeing ourselves the way others do, but the truth is age takes a toll, or maybe it’s got to to do with income, maybe I’ve been living in L.A. too long, with the focus on the physical, but you see these people, all good-hearted and earnest, and you ask yourself, am I too over and done, one step from the grave, already thrown upon the scrapheap?

But then you realize the power of these people, the persistence, to bring to life a fifty year old crime!

And at times “The Keepers” is slow too. And at times it’s a bit manipulative. You’re going down one path, but then they suddenly go down another, which explains it all or opens a whole new door, but you can’t stop watching, because you’re so intrigued, you want to know what happens, how it turns out, in a city that’s not New York or L.A., where everybody’s just living their life, where everybody didn’t go to college, where somebody graduates from Catholic school and marries a carpenter and they buy a house and raise two children, that was the American Dream.

But it doesn’t work anymore, the numbers don’t add up, did you see the WSJ article how “Rural America Is The New Inner City,” disadvantaged economically? You can’t make it there and you can’t make it here, because in the metropolis you can’t afford real property on your salary, so much has changed.

I don’t know families with ten kids anymore. Oh sure, they’re on reality TV, but it used to be you went to school with kids who were number five out of seven, or… And frequently their dads weren’t rich, in this case the father of ten was a cop, but they believed in the church.

I’m not sure anybody believes to that extent anymore. Oh, you’ve got a vocal minority talking about God, but they’re not so true blue, every televangelist seems to have been busted for faux pas. But in Baltimore in the sixties, the church ran the community, everybody was Catholic, and the Archdiocese circled the wagons, and that always scares me when they do that, the groupthink, protecting the institution, my dad was an outsider, an outlier, and I guess I inherited his genes, and when you go against the grain, speak the truth, you’d be shocked at the abuse you endure, it takes a lot of strength to be the “other,” which is why none of these women came forward.

And when they eventually do, eons later, they’re dragged through the mud. Ain’t that America, where it’s the victim’s fault. And if you don’t think it’s our philosophy, you haven’t been paying attention to Ben Carson, to Trump’s budget, the problem with the poor is they’re lazy, if they’d just pull themselves up by their bootstraps, fly straight and get jobs… Whew, and these are the people who keep testifying how compassionate they are! It’s like America has lost its soul, especially when you see the corporate compensation just published in the “New York Times,” these wankers make more in a year than most people will make in a lifetime, more than your whole apartment building will make in a lifetime, your whole NEIGHBORHOOD! Does anybody need that much money? Does anybody DESERVE that much money?

And believe me, the Catholic Church has money. To paper over problems.

And now all the religiosos are pissed at the Pope, who wants them to worry about climate change, take care of the less fortunate, that’s the ruling class, they embrace something as long as it’s expedient, then they abandon it.

And you WILL think about all of the above when you watch “The Keepers.”

And I won’t say the conclusion is so satisfying, but like life the journey is worth it.

And what we’re talking about here are lives, of reasonable people, whose journeys on this planet were ruined, by one man, who the Archdiocese covered for. Justice doesn’t always reign.

But ultimately “The Keepers” makes you feel part of a community, you’re not a scumbag, you wouldn’t put up with this, you’d report it…

But would you? What if the police didn’t take action? What if everybody dismissed you, said you were telling lies?

Life is much more complicated than it looks on the surface.

But it’s rarely complicated on screen, producers believe the public can’t handle it, they need everything wrapped up tight, so they can go to sleep at night. But there are enough loose ends in “The Keepers” to keep you up for a week.


P.S. It’s seven hours long. Conventional wisdom keeps telling us we’ve got short attention spans, we love to multitask, but the truth is we’re dying to turn off our phones and dig deep into something meaty, at length. We want to go along for the ride. Sure, we can hop from crap to crap. But when we find something solid, WE’RE IN!


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