My guest this week is Mark Finley. Again. I spoke to Mark last week about his career as an actor and talent coordinator, fleeing his small town and meeting his heroes. Mark shared so many incredible memories that I invited him back to talk more about his time in New York, traveling around the country, and how he survived after doctors told him six months to live.
As you'll hear, the audio of our conversation is a little echoey -- it's quite not as clear as a normal episode. But the memories Mark shared are just so incredible I had to share them with you, echo and all.
For my recommendation this week, I'm going to give you a choice: if you're feeling up to it, watch Longtime Companion. But be ready for a devastating experience. This is not a film that tells its story from a distant vantage point. It is embedded deep in the most painful suffering and heartbreak of the epidemic, down to its final scene. The last few moments of Longtime Companion are a reunion, of sorts, but a reunion that reminds you that sometimes you can never go home, because home has become unrecognizable. And so have you.
If that's too much for you to bear right now, take a deep breath and watch The Gang's All Here, one of the movies Mark gave me to watch. It's an all-star musical romantic comedy from 1943, and it is about as upbeat and trouble free as a movie can get. It's a perfect escape from any worry you could possibly have, and it's probably no coincidence that it was made at a time when the whole country really needed some cheering up.
It is also, of course, wildly unrealistic, as musicals usually are. So take your pick: a devastating story that's unflinchingly honest, or a cheerful romp that's unachievably cheerful. I recommend balancing both.