Saturday, June 04, 2011

big top on the beach

I am in The Big City.  The Pride of Banderas Bay.  Home of the Tourist Bull Ring.  The Big V.  Puerto Vallarta.

My friends, Lou and Wynn, were headed to the airport on Friday morning, so, I volunteered to drive them up.  Going to airports is one of my favorite pursuits.  I always feel like I am beginning a new chapter of life when I pull away from the terminal.

When a country boy like me comes to the big city, there are lots of things to accomplish.  Eating.  Movies.  Shopping.

My prime reason for coming up here was to go to Costco.  I wanted to look for some computer gear – and to buy a ham (if such luxuries exist).  In checking my wallet, I notice I left my Costco card in Villa Obregon.  I think I can get a temporary card when I stop by on Saturday morning.

Friday night was movie night.  Cinemex has a great multiplex theater in the Liverpool shopping center.  I never quite feel as if I am in the States when I go there.  But it certainly is more uptown than my little fishing village.

Lou and Wynn stopped by the theater with me before I dropped them off at the airport.  The offerings were about what I would have anticipated.  Pirates of the Caribbean 4.  X-men 15 (or so).  The first I had seen.  The latter will continue to be an enigma to me.

When Lou and Wynn saw one poster, they immediately recognized it:  Water for Elephants.  Both of them had read the novel and highly recommended it.

So, I returned – with a bit of misgivings.  It looked like the ultimate date movie.  Pretty leading lady (Reese Witherspoon).  Wispy leading man (Robert Pattinson of vampire fame).  And the Prince of Twilight himself – Christoph Walz – who seems to get the roles Christopher Walken would play as a younger man.

A lot of my doubts disappeared with the movie’s setup.  Through odd circumstances, a veterinary student, with the world on a string, ends up working in a circus and quickly discovers that poverty is not always the result of character flaws. 

Now, I know the film is not about vets and circuses.  It is merely a dramatic device.  In the same way that The Iliad is not about the Trojan War.

But, those of you who have been reading this blog for anytime will know this movie is my life dream.  I wanted to be a veterinarian so I could earn enough to buy a circus.

The team that put this film together got everything right – as far as emotions are concerned.  The thrill of the big top canopy straining its way to meet Old Glory on the center pole.  The giddiness of the opening parade with its band and unlikely acts.  The wonder of airborne acrobats twisting and turning as if gravity had no control on such elven creatures.

If that sounds a bit schmaltzy, it is.  And the movie serves it up – one heavy dumpling after the next.

But it has no apologies for being a sentimental piece.  The tragedy of the human condition is the underlying drum beat.  Evil and good are presented without any subtle nuances getting in the way of hankies dabbing leaky eyes.

Will you learn anything about yourself after watching the film?  I doubt it. 

But the cinematography is a wonder.  The acting is above average.  And it has an elephant.  For me, an elephant will cover a multitude of cine-messes.

And you may discover that there are a few tears still left in you – no matter how much you rail against rank sentimentality.  And that may as good a reason to go to the movies as any I can think of.

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