Off To The Cinema

Over the Christmas holidays Mrs Widders and I took ourselves to our local cinema to see two must-see-on-the-big-screen movies.

The town cinema used to be in one of those magnificent Art Deco buildings right in the middle of the ‘original’ part of town. That’s the part of town that dies when strip malls chew away at the abandoned lots in the twilight zone between Urban and Sub-Urban. The part of town that sees a revival (if it’s lucky) when someone fires up the Chamber of Commerce and a boutique renaissance revolution turns it into either a tourist trap or a community hub.

Either way, the old cinema building is re-purposed and a new one is built into one of those giant malls (although, occasionally magic happens and the old cinema building becomes a cinema again)

Our cinema (in the giant strip mall – have you ever noticed that malls in the country propagate sideways rather than vertically as they do in more built-up areas?) looks just like every other ‘plex’ I’ve been in both here in Canada and Australia (if it works, don’t change it) A bit like 99% of the interiors of fast food franchises the world over.

The up side of that is we knew what to expect, and the familiar was comforting on an icy winter afternoon.

So, on to the movies we saw … ‘Skyfall’ and The Hobbit’  – SPOILER ALERT – mostly for ‘Skyfall’. Everyone knows how ‘The Hobbit’ ends!

Much has been made of the dearth of female characters in both these movies.

The Hobbit had to shoehorn Galadriel in to the screenplay just to have a ‘canon’ female character who had anything to say at all … and invent an entirely new one – Tauriel.

Skyfall kills off Dame Judi Dench, in a classic stereotypical ‘Son kills the Mother in order to fulfill his Quest’, leaving the Father (Ralph Fiennes) to rule yet again. But hey, our Moneypenny returns as the secretary/assistant, via a failed career in the field, to satisfy the need for a recurring female character.

And don’t get me started on the nasty woman MP who grilled our Judi about the validity of the ‘00’ program. Thus allowing the lads on the review committee the opportunity to kick back and indulge themselves, with impunity, in the cat fight.

These things would bother me more, except for this. I never expected anything more from them. Both movies are franchises based on well established canon. The Hobbit is grounded in The Lord of the Rings universe that Tolkien created years ago when he wrote the books. Skyfall is just another Bond movie that’s all about, “Bond, James Bond”, exotic locations, fast cars, and big explosions.

Personally I’d love to see a woman cast as Bond one day – that’s why I write fantasy. But, so long as the current manifestations of these stories are with us, we continue to live within a global patriarchy, and the franchises continue to drag in gazillions of dollars at the box office, we will not see any permanent significant changes to the gender ratio.

Its all a matter of choosing our battles. Where do we spend our energy for the greatest effect both out in the world and within our hearts?

However, and this is the crux of the matter, I wouldn’t be as forgiving of a movie that sprang forth from someone’s forehead that was misogynist and/or gender phobic simply for the shock value/titillation, or because it was easier. This is the 21st century, and there are other options. (these tactics are useful if they want to make a statement, like, for example, the commentary surrounding what Lisa Cholodenko did and didn’t do with ‘The Kids Are All Right’# … but that’s a whole ‘nuther kettle of kittens …)

So … knowing all that, we chose to suspend our disbelief and enjoy these movies for the escapism, brilliantly filmed action sequences, beautiful scenery, CGI effects, and lots of explosions .. and it was wonderful to listen to Adele belt out the theme song from Skyfall. Dame Shirley Bassey couldn’t’ve done it better!

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“If there’s a specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies” Kathryn Bigalow, director, producer, screenwriter

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# – I referenced ‘The Kids Are All Right’ rather than a SF movie because I saw it for the first time the other night and it’s fresh in my memory. (It was released theatrically in 2010) I’m not fond of seeing movies when they’re surrounded by a whole lot of kerfuffle. (for whatever reasons) It tends to influence how I respond to what I’m watching. I’d rather be engaged with the movie itself, not what others are saying about it.

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“The Kids Are All Right’ trailer

Uber Awesomeness

 

Oh, please, someone create more of these!!!

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“In our increasing secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocolyptic nightmares can be projected and played out”Tom Hiddleston Loki  in ‘Thor’ and The Avengers’

So, now I’m Back, from Outer Space …

… Betcha you thought that song was out of your head didn’t you?

 Back from the Interior actually, where I attended a lovely heterosexual wedding, accompanied by my wonderful wife. (Some straight friends of mine proudly announced a while ago that they were going to a gay wedding, rather than just simply a wedding of folk they knew, so I thought I’d return the favour)

Events occurred there that were post-worthy, but as quite a few of the rellies* read this blog, I’ve decided to wait until the guilty partys are safely deceased (or have moved to an alternate reality) in order to protect the innocent.

A bit like that bloke who wrote, or produced/directed (can’t remember which) The King’s Speech, and waited until the Queen Mum had turned up her toes before going ahead with the project. Quite respectful I thought (if it’s a true tale of course)

*rellies is Aussie slang for relations.

So, yes, I’m back in time to visit my dentist this afternoon. I had a very unfortunate series of dentists and appointments when I was a child that left me with a rather horrific terror of them.

That slightest anesthetic-y smell is enough to send a frisson of adrenaline into my bloodstream even today. Which is ironic since I’ve been in and out of hospitals (which are veritable dens of anesthetic-y smells) over the years putting my knee back together after that motorbike accident a couple of decades ago.

However I eventually faced my fears and had gazillions of dollars worth of work done, (teeth, not knee) and can honestly say, that now I don’t dread my six-monthly checkups.

However that’s not the point of this story.

I was walking to the train station on my way to the dentist and crossed a street that had recently been dug up in order to replace our aged sewer pipes.

The street used to be paved in cobblestones that dated back to the beginnings of this city’s existence. (maybe not quite that old, but close enough) I had wondered whether the old stones would be replaced or the public works dept would just smack down a layer of asphalt and be done with it. The asphalt won. Not long after I noticed two hand-painted parallel lines running the length of the new sparkly black surface.

“Oh dear.” I said to myself. “They wouldn’t.”

But they did. Today I saw what looked like a bench saw on GMO steroids (is that a tautology or just redundant?) cut very precisely into the new surface right along the yellow guidelines. They dug up the cobblestones and replaced them with asphalt only to dig up the asphalt a week later to lay some more pipes!

I want my taxes back!

After my dentist appointment, with teeth all smooth and polished, I headed off to my local library which is housed in the same building as our community center. It’s a hub of activity, a well used and appreciated resource in our very mixed income community.

I was standing on the opposite side of the street waiting for the light to turn when I witnessed a rather extraordinary sight.

Right in front of the generously sized glass doors and floor to ceiling windows of the neighbourhood center/library, stood a young man who thanks to genetics and a lot of time in a gym possessed a very impressive set of upper body muscles.

How could I tell this? Because he quite casually took his t-shirt off, completely unaware of a gaggle of young women who stood nearby being just as completely unaware of him, of course. His dilemma came when he had to decide where to store his t-shirt about his person. He tried first the left rear pocket of his board shorts, having flexed all his muscles whilst doing so. But that wasn’t working for him so he tried tucking it into the other side, also flexing muscles. I didn’t know these things took so much flexing. I was receiving an education.

Finally he gave up and walked right past the gaggled young women and placed the shirt on a bench, perhaps for some homeless person to make good use of. How generous, I thought.

Then walking by the young women one last time he sauntered up the street as a true hero should. I was certain neither the young man or the young women noticed each other. Really.

I’m sure I could turn these observations into a writing metaphor but I think I’ll just leave them as observations … of life.

P.S. Mabel – Blogger won’t let me comment on your blog. It appears that it doesn’t approve of the fact that I blog over here at WordPress. But rest assured I do read it every day.

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“That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another”Adali Stevenson

 

Dialogue

What would you think if I told you that a science fiction movie that had one set, was mostly dialogue, had no special effects, was one of the best sci-fi movies I’ve ever seen?

And believe me I’ve seen a whole lot of SF movies; from the really, really bad (Battlefield Earth) to the sublime (Blade Runner, everything Star Trek-y, Alien-y, and Harry Potter-y), from the earliest (Metropolis – 1927, and Things to Come – 1936) to the offerings of the last few years (2012, Inception, District 9, Avatar)

*I’ve only named a few in each category. If I put in all my favourites, we’d all be here for at least another 24 hours*

I’m also a special effects junkie, it’s my drug of choice, after tea that is. I’ll watch almost anything if the effects are good enough. It’s the science that fascinates me. “Just how did they do that?” is a question that I have to know the answer to, and I’ve sat through some absolute junk as research.

But this movie was different. I’m not going to tell you anything more than what I already have in case you want to watch it for yourself.

My point is this. The man who wrote it, Jerome Bixby, crafted something wondrous and challenging using dialogue and not much else. (of course dialogue alone lacks a certain something without a superb cast deliver it)

Words created the atmosphere, words created the special effects, words created the central conundrum, the tension, and the final unanswered question.

If we have the courage to name what we do, we call ourselves writers. We require courage to send our work out into the world to be published, then courage demands that we sit down at our computers, (of whatever manifestation) our typewriters, or our notebooks (the paper kind) and write some more.

When we run out of courage there are occasions when a shaft of light penetrates our slough of despond and something occurs that pulls our hands back in concert with our minds. It could be anything, even a movie we never expected.

The movie is The ‘Man from Earth’

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“I love vampire stories. That’s why I did the movie. Women especially were taken with that movie-even more so when it came out on video” Catherine Deneuve

(Wanna bet she’s talking about ‘The Hunger’?)