Friday, June 13, 2008

Stuck in the boonies

I've lived in cities all my life. Not all of them have been world-class conurbations, but I've always lived in a place where I could, if I wanted, go to a respectably sized public or university library when I wanted to do research or sit in a cafe and read my book whilst sipping tea or cruise the second hand book shops or buy ethnic food or, and more to today's point, go to the pictures when I wanted.

And I normally wanted to quite a lot. I've been living in this cottage, taking walks and looking at the birds, cooking and reading books (and writing to you guys) for six and a half months now and I've noticed a distinct want of something important in my life. Something I used to take for granted.

Pop culture.

I don't have enough cheeze in my life. Not enough explosions, car chases, improbable plot lines, five-minute romances or space aliens.

Definitely not enough space aliens.

I'll admit it:


I'm obviously not a hermit by nature.

In Vancouver there was a repertory cinema on Granville st. I particularly enjoyed. They would play second-run films in triple features for $2.99. The theatre was kitty corner from Mickey-D's and, once you had committed yourself to an entire day of film watching, starting about eleven in the morning (don't want to make people get up too early), you bought the ticket and at the brief interregnum between one feature and the next, popped over to the golden arches for some obnoxious fast food. A glorious summer afternoon, when the flowers were blooming, the breeze ruffling the waters of English Bay, the homosexuals snuggling on their Gucci beach blankets, Vancouver could be a great place to avoid by blowing an afternoon in a dank cavern.

Now, I've waxed rhapsodic here and elsewhere about the joys of secluded country living, and I've not changed my mind. It is a wondrous thing to wake in the morning to the sound of bird song rather than streetcars and gunshots. But truth to tell, and perhaps to no one's surprise, I'm starting to chafe a bit at all this peace and clean living.

In short: I want to go to the movies. I am told there is a movie cinema in Chester, but it is not on an easy bus route and if it were, I would not know where to find it.

I see the Summer's round of comic book films is out. I had no idea there was a new Batman going. Christian Bale (an actor whom I find slightly frightening to tell the truth) has been the best Batman thus far, as a Bruce Wayne who seems to be keeping the personal demons at bay during daylight hours with only the utmost difficulty. I see that they have called it Dark Knight, and we can presumably expect that it will be at least a vague nod to the excellent Dark Knight series of comics drawn by Frank Miller, lo these twenty years ago. Heath Ledger is the Joker and looks a fair approximation of a psychotic pushed into a murderous frenzy by too much fondness of mind altering substances...a fitting tribute perhaps. (I found Nicholson annoying in the role.)

I shall pass over the choice of Edward Norton to play Bruce Banner. Norton is a fine actor but I can't help remembering my beloved Bill Bixby as the Hulk's alter ego (yes, I'm really that old.) And honestly, I dread the CGI. I'll give it a pass. Never read the Hulk anyway, being more of an X-Men addict in the 80's.

Speaking of Christian Bale, I see he has been cast as the adult John Connor, which role I am sure he will pervade with his usual air of cunning and menace. But I also had no idea there was another Terminator film coming. It opened on June 5 here in Blighted and the news passed me by entirely. We don't get a lot of street advertising in the village and not having a telly, I miss out on a lot of media hoopla. I have been a screeching fan of the Terminators since I was a teenager.

I saw the last one in Halifax, and I recall as I was coming home from a matinee, I ran into a friend whom I knew was also a movie-goer (oddly, who also happened to be the Archbishop of's a small town). He asked me how it was, and I cheerfully summed up my entire movie-going philosophy: "It ended with the world getting blown up. I like that in a film."

Of course, everyone is talking about Prince Caspian. I loved the first one and, of course, was raised believing that Narnia could indeed be found just by looking into the back of the right closet. Everyone knows that I quite loathe planet earth and I long to be transported. As painful as it was to come back afterwards, I was happy to have a brief trip away when I went to see L.W.W and am longing to visit again.

Being a long-time Jackie Chan fan, and a recent convert to Chow Yun Fatism, I watched the trailer for Forbidden Kingdom with mesmerised delight. I remember going to the Chinese movie theatres in Vancouver to watch the Hong Kong cop flicks in Chinese and thinking there was simply no need to understand what little dialogue there was. Chow Yun Fat was good enough just to sit and watch. And Jackie, though he is clearly getting past the stage of running up walls by himself, is always worth a ticket.

Chow Yun Fat, I suppose since the success of Grouchy Giraffe, Noisy Kangaroo, seems to be doing well in the American film business. Good. He's very handsome and has the sort of trustworthy air that is rare among the American glitterati of movie stars. The other one is The CHildren of Huang Shi. I'm morally certain that the movie's makers will have utterly shredded any historical accuracy, but I've always thought that was a bad argument against a film. If it hadn't been for Errol Flynn movies about pirates, I would never have bothered to pick up a book of 17th century English history. Anyone who goes to a movie to learn history is a chump and deserves to live in ignorance. It also seems to feature the extraordinary Michelle Yeoh, whose intelligence and screen presence deserves more attention than the frequently quoted admission by Jackie Chan that that she is the only woman able to kick his butt in a fight.

And of course, of all movies that need to be seen by people my age, Indiana Jones Last Ride is not optional. How many times did I watch the first one? As many times as I went to see Star Wars in my eleventh summer? Possibly. It is one of those films that I can recite from memory the way a Southern Conference Baptist can recite scripture. Oh, I know. Harrison Ford, who left his wife, got a Gladiator, Russel Crowe haircut and an earring, is not the man we thought he was. But do you have to be a Jimmy Stewart Paragon of American Protestant virtues to throw a swagger and swing a whip? I've heard it is great and they have finally brought back Karen Allen (who should have been in all the other ones) and I'm longing to see her put Indy in his place again. Old times.

Look at the birds? Dig in the garden? Take a walk you say?



DP said...

Iron Man is quite worth your time. From my nodding acquaintance with the series (like you, I was a fan of the muties), it is faithful to the tone and spirit of the series. Plus, as an American, it's nice to see a big studio film that dispenses with tropes about bad soldiers and corrupt governments.

Agreed about Bale--he understands the role perfectly. Sad that they had to run through three other guys to get to him (though Keaton wasn't bad).

Oh, and nice to see another fan of Miller's Dark Knight in the Cathosphere. It remains a favorite, though the X-Men "God Loves, Man Kills" graphic novel is still *the* favorite. Always liked Magneto as a villain.

J D Carriere said...

If you aren't getting enough of space aliens it's probably because you're in England. The space aliens, you see, come to Canada where, recently, Justin Trudeau has decreed they have human rights under our ridiculous Charter.

Anonymous said...

You need wheels! Car, motorcycle, bike. Horse & carriage, perhaps?

M. Alexander said...

I love Karen Allen too. And she should have been in every movie.