Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Going to the Movies

Since Hubby has been ill (and thankfully now in recovery mode) we’ve entertained ourselves quietly by once again attending movies on a fairly regular basis. We get out of the house, we spend a couple of hours sitting upright, and we have a bit of popcorn and share a diet soda, and we feel like we’ve had a small adventure.

At one point in our lives we went to movies regularly, at least one a week but usually two or three. We saw all the best sellers and I had almost always seen every one of the academy award nominees for the year. We were so non-discriminate in our movies selections that we made our choices based on the time of the showing, not by content. Consequently, from the 1970’s until 1995 we saw nearly every movie made.

My movie watching delight began to fade as Hollywood made more remakes or movies that got "darker" and more violent. I walked out of "Blade" when Wesley Snipes brutally butchered his 15th corpse. Hubby made it through to the end but I sat in the lobby and watched the crowds buying popcorn. Our movie going really took a dive after I had sat through "Pay It Forward" with Haley Joel Osment and Helen Hunt. With the murder of the kid, I was pretty well done with the current movie trend.

We made some exceptions, of course, but more and more we found ourselves buying tickets for the animated features or movies made for kids. If Pixar made a film we went. Hubby was always a big fan of Segall, Eastwood, Stallone, Denzel, and Willis. Then Segall got fat and faded from view. Eastwood, I suppose bowing to age, began to make either arty type flicks or the horribly violent ones. Denzel’s "Man on Fire" was a real horror for a woman looking for a happy ending.

Though it’s hard to limit yourself to ten favorite movies, my all-time list would include such classics as the "Sound of Music," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Gone with the Wind," and "The Color Purple." Clearly the movies of today are of a different genre.

Also, clearly, I am no longer the target audience for Hollywood. "The Princess Diaries" (which I caught on cable) was silly. All those Lindsey Lohan movies that I’ve seen have been pointless. I saw the original "Poseidon Adventure" and honestly, once was enough. I’ve not been hooked by the Ring trilogies and I’ve missed all but one of the Harry Potter series. I saw the one on cable.

This weekend, based on a People Magazine review which actually gave the movie three out of four stars, we went to see "The Break-up." After sitting through this piece of fluff I now realize I am so far out of the mainstream that I probably stranded on a desert island, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned.

Jennifer Aniston is way too thin. Her face is too long. She does have nice hair but she is certainly not a beautiful woman. The best that can probably be said is that she’s "cute." Vince Vaughn, on the other hand, is healthy enough but he’s also really a plain man. Neither actor or the characters they play are the stuff my fantasy is made from. If I want escapism in my movies, and clearly, Hubby and I do, then we want Carry Grant making eyes at Deborah Kerr. Now there’s some heat.

Even worse than looking way too thin and plain, as a couple they share no sexual tension. Jenn walks naked through their apartment and Vince looks but never reacts. In fact, it’s hard to tell that he even finds her a little attractive. Mostly he appears to wonder just why she would have gotten a "Telly Savalas."
This movie is about two highly selfish people with the maturity levels of ten and twelve year olds trying to maintain an affair. They are both too egocentric and immature to make it together for very long which is obvious from the beginning.

Hubby slept through most of the movie. In two weeks he’ll never remember he even attended. I watched hoping that at some point something redeeming would happen. It never did.
Sunday night cable re-showed the lovely "Notting Hill" on, a movie from 1999. Julia Roberts is lovely in the film and you feel the heat between her and Hugh Grant. Hugh, however, carries the movie, along with a handful of odd British character actors who make up the best band of friends one could hope to have. The plot is funny and sweet. The characters manage to overcome their "childish" moments to eventually create an adult love affair. This film’s fantasy level really is worthy of three out of four stars.

Even better the lovers are surrounded by friends who act like friends should. They support, they offer advice when requested, and they withdraw when they should. In "The Break-up" some of the problems experienced by the couple is caused by their so-called friends. It’s a foregone conclusion that immature people attract friends that offer advice worthy of sixteen year olds.

"Notting Hill" also has a wonderful score, so good that in 1999, I actually bought the CD from it. I loved the scene where Grant walks through his neighborhood, moving from spring to the summer of the next year, all by just adding in a coat and scarf and having the leaves and snow and rain fall around him. I have no recollection of any of the music from "The Break-up."

Movies with important messages are being made and Hubby and I are choosing not to go see them. I read about Spielberg’s "Munich" and I’m sure the message was important but I couldn’t force myself to want to grapple with it. I’m also not going to see any of the 9/11 movies that are either out or in the works. I don’t care how good they are. I saw the second plane hit the Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I saw the repeated video of the planes in New York and D.C. and I read the account of the Pennsylvania crash. I don’t want to relive it, not on any level. Maybe in 20 years I could understand why it would be important for a new generation to see movies about the events, but for me it’s way too soon.

When I was still teaching inner city high school, I would sometimes show videos to my students to enhance their reading adventures. The kids usually got something out of seeing the movies as long as we set hard and fast guidelines that had to be followed during the viewing. We made sure that movie time was not just a "free day" from lessons. After reading Romeo and Juliet one year I showed "West Side Story." Initially the kids were struck dumb by the musical because they had never been introduced to a show where people sang and danced instead of talked. They were really getting into the hang of the show and in fact, I think they loved it, until we got to the big fight scene between the Jets and the Sharks. The moment the Jets came leaping into the scene, the kids began to hoot and holler, a couple even fell out of their chairs laughing. This was after they had clearly been warned to behave. We turned off the video and tried to talk about what was expected of them but it was no go. The whole scene was just too different for them and it was funny to them no matter what I tried to say. We had entered into a generational chasm that I wasn’t going to span. The class agreed to hold the noise level down and we showed the rest of the film, which they enjoyed. But leaping around during a gang fight just wasn’t acceptable to them.

The kids’ reaction to "West Side Story" is pretty much how Hubby and I are feeling about the current spat of Hollywood films. Frankly, if I’ve lived it and it hurt me, I don’t have a desire to relive it again on a screen 30 feet high. I want my movies to be escapist fare with wholesome characters, who after a bit of trauma and a few lessons learned, come out on the far side with a rich, rewarding life. Personally, everyone can just sing and dance through the "fight" scenes and if that isn’t realistic, at least don’t show me the beheadings and body limbs severed so blood flows in the mean streets. Most certainly, don’t kill the kids. And if Hollywood plans on making a romance, take a tip from "Notting Hill" and assemble a cast that makes me want to, for just a few hours, reside in that place up there on screen where I can escape my own life.


snugpug said...

Now that you talk about the immaturity of Aniston's character trying to maintain a relationship with another similar character (the movie hasn't been released where I am, btw), isn't that exactly what "Friends" the TV series where she got famous is all about? For that reason, L couldn't understand why it was so popular for so many years, even here (we even had reruns in the late night when the series finally ended). It had 6 adults (OK, some of them were not unpleasant to look at) who were more like 6 kids playing at relationships.

Bev Sykes said...

It would be difficult to find a current movie on my all-time list of 10 favorites, but the list would include the Judy Garland "A Star Is Born," "Affair to Remember," a wonderful little movie that few saw called "The Frisco Kid," "Roman Holiday," and I'm sure lots more that I can't think of.