Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Wait is Over

This weekend I saw two great movies.

For me, watching one movie a month is a bit excessive, and being a horrible judge of what movies are actually good, it's even rarer that I feel afterward that the 2 to 3 hours spent was well worth it. While some people are content with movie watching as mindless recreation, as a temporary escape from the reality of life, I expect much more out of my movies. I want them to deliver on their namesake: I want to be moved by them. I expect to be not only thoroughly and wholeheartedly entertained, a good movie will get me to explore my beliefs, convictions, values, and will take me on a roller coaster ride through all the essential emotions. If at no time during the movie I find myself fighting back cathartic tears, I get angry, 'cause I'm not getting my time or money back.

Now I'm not a smart man, but I know what a great movie is . . . ."Forrest Gump," what I think is one of the greatest movies of all time, has all the essential elements, and is really like 5 movies in one--a great bargain. The original "Rocky," does it for me too, not so much the sequals (although I cried when Apollo Creed died). "The Godfather" is in the same class, even though there is no Lieutenant Dan character in it. "The Dark Knight," has moved into my top five simply because of Ledger's performance, the way he made that pencil disappear . . . OUCH!

Most recently I've been disappointed by movies like"Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Michael Clayton,"(It was actually "GREAT!?") and "Get Smart" (get real!) These movies were more like bad bubble gum that not only loses it's flavor as soon as you get it out of the wrapper, but that has such horrible consistency you can't even blow a bubble with it. Taking advice from friends is no good either. The same guy that might have your back in a bar room fight is the same guy that will recommend a movie that leaves you wishing you had rather been beaten to a pulp.

On Saturday night, I finally took in the award-winning "Slumdog Millionaire." With sooo many friends saying how wonderful it was and rarely liking the "Best Picture" winner ("Howard's End" for one--I couldn't even finish it), I put it off as long as I could. Finally succumbing to the pressure, I was immediately taken by the soundtrack and cinematography, not to mention the fact that I could play a trivia game (my favorite) throughout the show. And what a show it was, possessing a little bit of everything from action, to drama, a love story, comedy, multiculturalism, cricket, good vs. evil, justice v. injustice, Dicken's modern-day Fagen, great acting, perfectly placed sound effects and background music, trivia (of course), and even dancing at the end during the credits. Although I rarely ever watch a movie twice, this is one I might have to take in again. Even right now as I write this, I'm listening to the soundtrack trying to make out what the Hindi lyrics are saying, but since I don't know Hindi, I just bob my head and groove along with it.

Earlier that Saturday, my family dragged me to the new Hannah Montana movie. With major resistance to another installment of "Teen Disney" shows which permeate, saturate, and dominate our TV viewing at home, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a theater and watch some synthetic storyline by which "Hannah Montana" grows up and becomes just "Miley." Her transmogrification was going to happen whether I forked out money for tickets, popcorn, bon-bons, pickles and a jumbo soda to see it happen. I'd know the transformation was by watching my daughter's wardrobe change from Hannah to Miley in much the same was it changed from Dora the Explorer to Hannah. But when the kids are begging you to go, what are you going to do?

What I wasn't suspecting was that I would actualy LIKE the show. Granted, viewing it in a theater full of little girls on Hannah fieldtrips and full of reluctant fathers like me provided the atmosphere in which I could enjoy the show without questioning my motives. With a very simple, even trite, storyline and only capable acting at best, the message of the importance of family values and being true to yourself never get old. The soundtrack, too, was surprisingly well-written. Perhaps the musically side of me appreciated the real talents of the singer-songwriter side of Ms. Cyrus more than her histrionic acting. For instance, there is a tender moment in the movie with her father where she sings to him her "Caterpillar/Butterfly" song. I get sappy and emotional over things like that, especially sitting next to my own 6-year-old daughter, even though at the time, she was bouncing up and down in her chair paying no attention to the movie.

That soundtrack, too, I now have at home, and my son and daughter are trying to teach me the "Hoedown Throwdown" lyrics and dance. It's AMAZING how quickly little kids can memorize stuff when they want to, but they have a hard time remembering the sequence of getting ready for school in the morning. If I have to remind them one more time that clothes go on AFTER their shower, I'm going to have a real, live hoedown throwdown with them.

Although I'll likely never watch that Hannah movie ever again (until it comes on TV on the Disney channel and my kids hide the remote . . . ) the entire experience with the family made it very pleasureable and enjoyable, except for the fact that my daughter ate my entire pickle, even though I asked her a hundred times at the concession counter if she wanted one, and she repeatedly said, "No (thank you sweet, wonderful) Daddy."

So while I wear out the Slumdog sountrack while fondly reflecting on the movie itself and foolishly attempt to line dance with Hannah all over again like I did almost 20 years ago with her father's "Achy Breaky Heart," I'll be waiting for the next movie gem to stumble upon.

I hear there's a MacGyver movie in the works. Forrest Gump, move over, "step to the side, jump to the left, stick it, glide, zigzag across the floor, shuffle in diagonal, when the drum hits, hands on your hips, one-footed 180 twist, then zigzag, step, slide, lean in left, clap three times, shake it out head to toe, throw it all together, that's how we roll . . . do the hoedown throwdown.


bob s said...

Wow,among your many talents you are a movie reviewer as well. I haven't been to a movie theater in so long I barely remember what one looks like. What's a movie cost these days? I guess the days of $20getting you and your date tickets, popcorn, drinks and something to eat afterwards are gone (ah, the good old days). It looks like they are building a new theater at the 306 and IH-35 shopping center, maybe I'll take one in when it opens. Not sure I'm ready though for the screaming kids, cell phones ringing and passing conversations I'm sure to encounter.

Brenda said...

okay, i'll admit i didn't read this whole post, but slumdog millionaire is good and the dancing part at the end is so weird it's entertaining. As for Hannah Montana...I'm just glad I'm in the generation of Boy Meets World and those other, better shows.

LC said...

We watched Slumdog last weekend. We, too, thought it was a terrific movie.

Bob, I don't go to the movies -- we rent or buy. If I can't pause or rewind, then I'm not happy.

With Slumdog, I opted for the English subtitles to help me past the accents.

Freckles said...

Thanks for giving me an excuse to see Hannah Montana... now I can say "See Brad! ...even Mr. Korpi liked it!"

PS - if you ever need to know what movies to see, you should check out Brad's blog ( http://cinematiccourier.blogspot.com ) He's become quite the movie critic!

SK said...

Yesterday, in my Entertainment Weekly magazine (a kid's fundraiser I couldn't say no to), I read an article by Stephen King about "BrainWorms". That's the term he used for the songs that get stuck in your head - songs that you really hate, but can't stop singing. Maybe it's because it's set on repeat on the laptop, but Hoedown Throwdown has definately become a BrainWorm this week.
Glad you enjoyed the show, but maybe we can listen to something else.