Sunday, November 30, 2008

a night at the home movies

Even though I had reading to do and lessons to prepare, I took an evening off over the Thanksgiving holiday for a movie night.

I popped up some popcorn in my favorite kettle and broke out the 2 litre bottle of Diet Coke. This was going to be a siege of movies, and I needed adequate provisions.

I started with Ben-Hur. How on earth did this movie get stuck in my memory as a good time at the cinema? I remember seeing it as a boy -- and I was enthralled. So enthralled that I talked my parents, who owned a motorcycle shop at the time, to build a county fair parade entrant around the concept of a chariot race. Our neighbor helped build a chariot pulled by a motorcycle. Another group of us pushed a litter containing a motorcycle behind diaphanous curtains. The most difficult part was getting the neighborhood boys to dress in tunics. But they did. I can tell you that memory has worn the corrosive effects of time far better than has the movie. (Yes, Wayne. I have photographs. No, I am not going to post them. The speedo photograph was enough past revelation for now.)

Having survived the hours of Roman chicanery, I decided to watch The Manchurian Candidate -- the good one with Frank Sinatra. Angela Lansbury really should have played more villain roles. But even this film does not bear up well over time. David Amram's score is very good, but it anachronistically sticks the film in the early 60s. And listening to John Frankenheimer talk about how brave he was to make an anti-McCarthy film during the Kennedy Administration is simply amusing. But it was good to watch Angela chew the scenery and everyone around her.

Once you start a habit, it is tough to break. So, out came one of my favorites: Silence of the Lambs. I readily admit that I am no John Hinckley, Jr. However, I have long appreciated Jodie Foster's acting. What I truly enjoy about her acting in this film is that she did not pick another female Johnny Depp role. You can imagine her Clarice Starling living in reality as a tough, but vulnerable, professional taking on a very scary world. And, of course, we get Dr. Hannibal Lecter as pure evil, before Thomas Harris turned him into merely another bag of jingle bell neuroses -- just like the rest of us.

Looking over my evening's entertainment, I suspect I was simply lucky to get the great rest I had that night. I witnessed more mayhem than a Kennedy St. Patrick's party.

Perhaps old Fred Nietzsche had it half right -- That which does not kill us makes us sleep a lot better.


1st Mate said...

"Ben Hur?" I was in church camp in New Mexico when that was shown in Albuquerque and a bunch of us drove all the way down from Santa Fe to see it. What a testosterone-fest that was!

I've been thinking about doing a Mexico film festival, with a collection of the three best Mexico-themed flicks I can think of. "Under the Volcano?" "Night of the Iguana?" "The Mariachi?" So hard to choose... But the best part is when you rent them in Mexico you get subtitles so you can learn some Spanish while you're at it.

Steve Cotton said...

Bliss -- I have always been a bit bemused by the moral message in Ben-Hur. Ben-Hur finds Christian redemption, but only after Lew Wallace allows him to indulge in bloody revenge. Perhaps he is simply another model of muscular Protestanism, like Teddy Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you can stand movies. It is stuff somebody made up. Waste of time.


American Mommy in Mexico said...

Interesting list of choices.

I got time to watch recent version of "In Cold Blood", the Truman Capote story, on MX satellite last night. It was in English with Spanish subtitles. Disturbing. Very disturbing. Husband says original with Robert Blake was even more so ...

Steve Cotton said...

Horst -- I am a big history fan. But I suspect much of it is also made up. Give me a good story any day.

AMM -- I have not seen either version, and I am not certain why. Too midwestern gothic?

Anonymous said...

Horst must not be into novels, tv, or the Bible. I think he is just messing with you amigo.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- I have a friend who refuses to read fiction for exactly the same reason espoused by Horst: it is made up. But he has no trouble with television or movies -- even though he delights in telling his wife when she sobs over a sentimental film: "You know they are just pretending." She merely hits him.