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*MOVIES - not Reviews - Responses!
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Mon, May 19 2008 - 2:15 pm

The Commercial Life of Bees

Two book clubs I have participated in have read The Secret Life of Bees.  One group discussion was blown apart by a woman surprised and upset that the book wasn't science about bees, the other I don't remember.  Did I miss it?  Evidently even if I was there in body, I missed it!

The movie is something else.  In spite of its mediocre ratings, I liked it a lot.  (Truthfully, before I heard about the ratings.)

This is not a movie the book would have inspired me to see, honestly, but a friend wanted to see it.  Since I was curious about it (having read but not remembered much about it) I went too.

The only reason I can figure for the bad ratings is they are by men.  I noticed years ago that movies I would rate B were rated C by the male reviewers and vice versa.  I think we need a movie rating team of two females!  Don't tell me we don't have any women photogenic and qualified enough!

But down to the movie.  Actually I think it had more about the honey-gathering from bees than the book did.  No secret life, though.  There are popular books like The Queen Must Die that will give you more science.  (Or is that one out of date now?)

But of course the secret life of Bees (B as in Boatwright?) is the ability of these women to make life sweet for themselves and others.  Some of them.  Kinda.

The actresses were good, I thought.  It was absorbing.  I did not once want to look at my watch.

Sure the males were pretty two-dimensional and, some of them, incapable, evidently, of growth.  So what?  How many and what kind of women (if any!) are in your typical war film?  At least films that include women are more representative of more peoples' daily lives than stupid war films!

This movie is about discarding what is toxic for what is sweet.


Accidental Sighting

I saw The Women kinda by accident, having purchased a ticket for Burn After Reading.

When Burn after Reading burned before viewing we hopped over to The Women.

I didn't get bored.  I didn't learn anything new (I don't think!) although some of what I have learned in my six decades was maybe spoken more succinctly.

I don't like to see movies taken from books before I have read the book, I guess because I would rather see the "original" first.  (Where did the inspiration come from?  How faithful is (in this case) the movie to (in this case) the book?)

Two many of these women led high-heeled lives for me to really relate well to them.

Like I said.  I didn't miss the men.  (Much.) I didn't get bored. (Really.)  It was funny.  (Kinda.)

I think it may have involved some of what I would call child abuse (see it to find out if you have the same question I did - guess what it is!)

The Women believes that all is fair in love.

I don't.

The price of admission is easily worth it to women who live high-heeled-shoes lives. (Maybe.  How would I know?)

But which is more precious - your money or your time?

Maybe this movie isn't worth either.

Still, I'm not sorry I saw it.  (Exactly...)


Why Didn't I Walk Out?

Swing Vote:  Four minutes into the movie I am thinking, "Why is that little girl acting like the mommy?  I didn't even do that stuff for my husband!"  (Where is she supposed to have learned those parenting skills?  Why is the media determined to show children as more responsible than adults?)

Halfway through the movie I am sitting there thinking, "Why are these people making me pay to waste my time?"

What a dumb-ass movie!  Bill Maher, as always, called the shot right!  (Okay, okay he was on-screen in the movie, talking about the main character.  I'm just substituting the name of the movie in his comment.)

What was the purpose of this movie?  Not that entertaining.  Too stupid.  (Why would the candidates spend millions on ads shown on tv when they only need one vote?  Answer:  they wouldn't.  Of course, why even go so far as to quibble with this silliness when there is nothing but in this movie.)

Trying to get idiots to vote?  Too many of those turned out in the last Presidential election, didn't they?

Already spent too many words on this response.

Next morning:  Terrible thought!  Did that movie think it was educating us?

Or worse!  What was the point of that movie, anyway!  Is it saying that everybody who loses a job to someone from another country loses it from incompetence?  Is it saying that if you are not a complete drunken bum you will be all right here in the USA?

Or is it telling us in big bold letters that the movie industry has completely gone over to the Oligarchy?

Oh, yeah, I know.  It's just entertainment!

Who would even think of taking it seriously at all?

Why would entertainment give you anything to really think about?  (This isn't thinking - this is tangled up in bedclothes, kicking and screaming!  Aargh!)

Get me a beer!  Or better yet, a margharita!

Wine! (Wo)Men! Song!

Mamma Mia!:  Charming!

I wasn't aware that this was a musical, so I was kind of surprised when the lovely young lead (oh, yeah, I forgot to look up the names of all the actors I don't know) opened her mouth and began to sing.

Here I must confess to a problem.  Ever since all the furor over dubbing and ever since I heard that Henry Mancini wrote "Moon River" with a range that Audrey Hepburn could sing (thus awakening me to the realization that not all those who appear to sing are singing) I have to compulsively check to see if the actors are really the ones vocalizing.

I used to watch their breathing.  (Did they really take a deep enough breath to sustain that phrase?)  Then I thought, no, that is too easily faked.  Now I actually watch their throats to see if there is any motion in there.  As well as their breathing, of course.

It's so irrational to do this!  The makers could have the actors actually sing, no matter how bad it sounded, and just dub over it.  But how do they time it so exactly right?

You can see why I might not just love musicals.  No suspension of disbelief!  Why?  Why am I so untrusting?  Why do I care?

Well, for one thing, it is nice to know how multi-talented people really are.  Colin Firth, for example.  Like many American women I first swooned over Firth when he was in BBC's Pride and Prejudice.   I knew he was good at intensity and emotional fire.  But I had no idea he was so good at comedy!  And he really has a good voice (maybe!)  I'm swooning all over again!

Meryl Streep was the big star of this show, of course.  Deservedly.  But her two friends were also brilliant - simply brilliant! - as well.  The comic actress who was also in Bird Cage (I blame my age for my seeming inability to remember names - even of authors of books - the worst sacrilege!) - she was wonderful and loveable.  I never remember even liking her before.  In this movie I loved her!

That scrumptious young man who has a crush on her would be another Brad Pitt as in Thelma and Louise except the camera couldn't take its eye off him.  I don't think it matters.  We still didn't see enough to get bored!

The anti-social writer was anything but - must have been that island magic!  I don't even remember seeing her before.  Is she a newcomer or am I just a movie illiterate?  or both?  Don't answer that - please! - it was a rhetorical question.

The younger actors (bridesmaids) didn't get nearly as much screen time as the older ones.  Do our movies now have an official generation gap?  Are they either for the "old" or the "young"?  (However it is defined by the one you are, ha.)  My thirtyish daughter liked this movie.  And don't get me wrong - there is very young love here.  The parents don't get to have all the fun!

Which is a good thing, because we don't know who they are.  (What do I mean by that?  I'm mum (ha, ha!) - you'll have to see the movie!)

Oh, there is more, much more to say about Mama Mia, but I'll let the professionals do it.  A continual surprise and delight most of the time.  (Not in the major plot, necessarily, but in lots of the dancing and stage business.)

I wonder.  Is the guy who owns the boat the real-life - no, I don't want to ruin it for you!)

The fact that the songs began to pall, that I began to get bored a little toward the end, I am sure was because by the time all the ads and previews were over (which unfortunately I was in time to see) I was already tired of sitting in the theater seat - its comfort notwithstanding.  (Ha, ha, not withtoomuchsitting, either!)

I loved this movie.  I would go again - soon.

Hmmm... but I haven't seen Wall-E yet, and ....  (No, no!  Not that dot dot dot!)

Don't get the in-joke?  See the movie!


Popcorn Movie

I never saw the TV series "Get Smart."  Those were my no TV days.

So I didn't know what to expect from Get Smart the movie.  I went because a friend invited me.  When I tried to watch Steve Correll in "The Forty-Year Old Virgin" on TV I couldn't go the distance.

I have been to this theatre (Cinemark in Valparaiso) a few times and find it comfy and roomy with so many showings (and so many empty seats!) that you do not feel that you have to compete for air and space.

So when people sat down right in front of us, (two of the ten or so people in the audience) I was frustrated.  (Why here?)  But as they sank down in front of us and just kept on sinking until their heads were below the level of the screen I realized how luxurious this theatre really is.

Get Smart is a funny movie, but too often painful and trading on social embarrassment to be on my A-list.  Full of lots of slapstick.  And why do people think that throwing-up ("hurling," maybe, to you!) is so funny?  And of course I got hung up on the fact that the "vomit" didn't look like it.  (Gee, so sorry if I ruined something for you!)

The sparse early matinee audience did not help.  Often when I laughed I laughed alone.  This was not just true of me.  Instead of waves of laughter it was more like popcorn (like what the Quakers call "popcorn meetings.") 

And others in the meager audience obviously thought it was a lot funnier than I did.

I really only like a movie to last an hour and thirty minutes.  (I got really restless during "Dances With Wolves" even though I thought it was good!)  This one was two hours long, I guess (a minus) but I only tried to check the time twice (a plus).  I never reached the "Let Me Out of Here!" point.

But if I had been at home?  Dunno.  I think I would have left to play a game of "Bookworm" on my computer and forgotten to go back! 

What, Is This One for the Older Crowd?

I mean, I don't mind, but how come the young'un doesn't get any (oops! I better not say any more - I don't want to ruin this for you!)

To tell the truth, I saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull because my Mom wanted to.  According to our regional paper there is a quartz crystal skull in the area (right here in Northern Indiana!) that was supposedly collected by a visitor to South America. (Blush - minor details like the name of the country escape me at the moment!)  So it is nice to know that at least there is a real crystal skull tradition (or is it?  Awful macabre!  The movie one will have a twist, though, I promise you!)

Thirty (?) years ago I went to the first Indiana Jones movie and found it a memorable-but-not-in-detail roller coaster ride.  I failed to get to any of the sequels until now.  (Too many kids?  Not that adventure-movie oriented?  Married to a serious-minded man?)

Largely because I was charmed to learn that the most memorable happening in the first Indiana Jones movie was an ad lib idea of Harrison Ford's, I agreed to go to this one.

As irrepressible and irresponsible as I remember the first one being, this one is a winner too!  I enjoyed it more than the first and laughed a lot.  Maybe I've just loosened up.  (Definitely I've loosened up!)  One of the romantically smartest lines I thought of before Ford said it (which I suppose makes it too predictable), but hey, I never claimed to be a movie (or book) critic!  Just a responder!  I created this column mostly so I can scold a character if I want, but this movie scolds them for me.  (I won't tell you how!)

But I'll tell you one thing - I wouldn't be surprised if there is yet another Indiana Jones sequel!  That bad so-and-so (no - can't tell you!  Might ruin it for you!)

(Bet you love the ants!  Heh!)

(Oh, and one musical moment was some of the most impressive sound I have ever heard in a movie.  Is that surround-sound?  Makes you see how going to the opera there might be a really worth-while experience!)


You Can't Have it All But You Won't Care

Iron Man.  Awesome.

Just awesome.  I loved it!

Of course, I have always admired Robert Downey Jr. ever since seeing him in Soapdish, even though he did play a  (well, never mind, I don't want to ruin it for you - he reminded me a little of young photos of my Dad!)

Iron Man impressed me WAY more than 2001 did in 1967 or whenever.

However.  Depictions of females (Gwyneth Paltrow notwithstanding) have gone backwards in this movie.  At least in Bond movies (in the era when I went to them - sean connery - sorry if I'm out of date!) women, if evil, were at least powerful.  Equal adversaries! 

In this movie, well.  See for yourself.  I sat through the credits and an overwhelming number of the overwhelming number of people who worked on this fabulous film are males.

Well.  It's a guy flick.  What can I expect?  But an awesome one that I absolutely loved!  (But don't get your hopes up, Robert (ha!ha!)  You're too young for me!  (I never felt this way about James Bond, baby!)

I think we just got a glimpse of some of the technology of the future (or does it already exist?  Are there already three-dimensional holographic interactive - no, I don't want to ruin it for you!  And I'm not talking about a man flying jet-propelled solo (someone is doing it but not quite like that - yet!)

Iron Man is rated PG-13 but I wouldn't take a younger child to it!  (But don't mind me - I'm one of those old-fogey love children who think exposure to violence is worse than exposure to sex!)

Gross Kid Flick

I did not see the first Harold and Kumar movie.  I almost walked out of Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantamo Bay during the first minute (I think that is what it's designed to do, make all adults over thirty run for cover from all the spraying vomit spume and come!)  Unfortunately, it was the movie of the two I had been weighing that was scheduled later than the other, so I couldn't escape it and run into the alternative screening.  I'll remember that in the future.  (Always go to the first scheduled flick, so you can dodge into the second one if there are any seats left!  Is that against the rules?  If so, sorry!  (Not really!)

H &K made me laugh.  It bored me.  I almost walked out again in the middle, but damn it, I'd paid $6.50 for that movie!

It wasn't worth $6.50.  $2.00, maybe, minus a $2 fine for gratuitous grossity.  Pass.  I mean, fail.  I won't see another, even if I did laugh at this one.

In Which I Verbally Castigate a Fictional Character

A month or two ago I saw Juno, wonderful movie of sparkly dialogue whose female lead fits her character perfectly.  It's a movie about a very young mom-to-be who has great familial support.  Great modeling, folks!  Great movie!

I was tempted to write about this movie, though, not only because it is so lively and wonderful, but also because the step-mom gives a horrible self-righteous tirade against a poor hospital technician.  Bad modelling, step-mom!  Give a self-righteous person a little bit of a dig, if you want, but that display of over-kill was not just being human, it was being inhuman.  How dare you insult anyone's occupation, especially in front of an impressionable child (and I'm not talking about the pregnant one!)

It gripes me especially because your character is supposed to be so cool!  Young people are seeing it!  They will be taught by it that only certain occupations are worthy of respect!  This notion, that only the upper classes (plus the rich, evidently) do anything worthwhile is getting more and more prevalent, and it is very unfortunate.

Shape up, members of the Oligarchy!  If you want respect, try dishing it out!

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