Childhood Cinema Redux

3460Over our recent winter break, my husband and I introduced our two older kids to some comedies from our youth. The criteria were simple: streamable through Netflix, not too much bloodshed or T&A, and shorter than, say, 100 minutes.

Revisiting a childhood movie as an adult can be a disarming experience. I never understood all the fuss about A Christmas Story, for example, until I watched it as a parent. I screamed with laughter when the mom shut little Randy in the cabinet with his milk—not because it shocked me but because it could very well happen in our house.

We began this mini-festival with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). (Hey, it was sitting there most bodaciously for the taking.) It made me laugh as a teen and made me laugh now, especially Ted’s observation that “strange things are afoot at the Circle K.”

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The Infinite Sincerity of Bill Murray

Bill Murray  Resimleri 4In Bill Murray’s long movie career, I don’t think he’s ever played a flat out bad guy. Neither to my knowledge has he ever been a geek. He’s been crazy from time to time, and he’s been on the wrong side of the law, but without fail he’s supremely likeable. Most importantly, he’s never been uncool (I am on record as saying he’s the coolest man on earth).

Fine directors have used him to great effect, Sophia Coppola, Lost in Translation; Jim Jarmusch, Broken Flowers; Harold Ramis, Groundhog Day; though none have capitalized on his talents as much as Wes Anderson.

Anderson, one of the most original, imaginative, and delightful of today’s directors has showcased Murray in Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, and offered him plum vignettes in The Darjeeling Limited and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

He’s always had his own way of going, lived within his own enigmatic code, and never ever disappointed. It’s difficult to isolate exactly what’s made him so distinctive, but I’m of the opinion that it has to do with sincerity.

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Madonna and Child

8225469451_2d84cc2eb2_zThe entrance makes all the difference.

I recently watched the opening of a Madonna concert, mostly for the same reason that I struggle not to crane my neck when driving past an accident. It was her MDNA tour, which is a clever title when you think about it, because MDMA is an acronym for the drug known as ecstasy, while MDNA evokes the sacred genetic strands that constitute the entertainer known as Madonna.

Her clever set designers put those letters to further use by stationing them around the intersection of a large cross, where once might have gone the letters INRI, signifying the Latin for “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

Madonna of Bay City is herself a kind of royalty, perhaps not equal in circumstance to the deity with whose trappings she adorns herself, but certainly surpassing him in pomp.

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Breaking the Fall in Alice McDermott’s Someone

SomeoneAt the beginning of Alice McDermott’s latest novel, Someone, an unattractive but good-natured girl divulges her deepest desire. One day, coming home on the subway, she fell against a man—someone who managed to catch her—an event that was memorable because he was kind in the way that he did it. It’s clear that in that short moment she comes to love him, as we are fully capable of doing with strangers—even those who will always remain strangers.

She does not see the man again, but that does not stop her from looking. Laughing at her own foolishness, she says that she finds herself watching for him—subway ride after ride—in hopes of another such encounter. If it ever happened again, this time she would fall against him on purpose, to be caught by design. Because the best thing she has known in life so far has been the very fact that she was caught, and that someone was kind to her in the act of doing so.

This character, richly drawn, makes her appearance early in the novel, and like the man she hopes to encounter but never will, evanesces from the story within a few short pages. But the impression that she makes upon the narrator, Mary—a child when she first hears the story—lasts throughout the balance of the work. The rest of Mary’s life is marked by the relation of this yearning—that there be someone there when she, and those she loves, invariably, ineluctably, inescapably, fall.

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Fury: The Beautification of Violence?

FuryGuest post by Christine A. Scheller

I loathe violent movies. When my husband watches them at home, I escape to another room or ask him to change the channel. This has been especially true since our son died a violent suicide death. I don’t want to see blood and guts. Death is too real and broken bodies are too precious for me to want to consume them as entertainment, or be confronted with them in art.

So it was with considerable trepidation that I attended a screening of the new World War II flick, Fury. I had heard that the film is brutal. It is.

But it’s also that rare breed in which the violence is necessary. This may seem obvious given that it’s about war, but other war movies revel in lingering scenes of carnage. Aside from one grotesque sequence, this film never does.

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