Tags: movies

Would Mr. Smith go to the current Washington?

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was just on TV. A great movie, every time I see it (and every time, it ends like five minutes before I thought it did). But now I'm wondering how Jefferson Smith would view the current crop in Congress.

Specifically, the ongoing nonsense over the upcoming sequestration. Each side saying the fault lies with the other. "We have rational proposals, but they're being childish about it." I've been watching it, and watching the "news" programs try to explain it. Each time, they introduce it before a commercial break, with a "stay tuned to see who's at fault." But they never place the blame where I think it ought to go: directly on the backs of the voters.

Think about it. None of this nonsense is any different than what's been going on for the last year. And we've had an intervening election. The approval ratings of Congress and the government as a whole are consistently the lowest in history. Individual people complain constantly about the dysfunctional Congress. Yet 75% of our Congresscritters were re-elected, and that number is in line with what it's been for decades.

If we're unhappy with our government, we have a few choices: we can change the people we send to represent us, or we can use the Second Amendment for the purpose for which it was written (to overthrow a potentially tyrannical government). I'm not yet ready for the bloodshed. But then again, I can't recall the last time I voted to re-elect an incumbent at the federal level. Do you keep sending your non-functional representatives back to Washington?

(no subject)

Finally got around to seeing Men In Black 3. It held my interest, and I enjoyed it. But I absolutely loved the character Griffin! Seeing all the possible futures, and narrating them as they happen or don't: he definitely struck a chord with me.

Movie synergy

I was just doing a little work on Shh! It's a Secret, Daniel M. Kimmel's novel that I'm publishing. The story is about making a movie in Hollywood, a comic science fiction novel (trust me: you'll love it). Anyway, while I was working, the tv was on in the background, and Singin' in the Rain came on. That's a wonderful movie about... making movies in Hollywood. Nice synergy!

Why live in the present? Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris
Written and Directed by Woody Allen
Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard

Warning: this post is spoilerific. If you haven't yet seen the movie Midnight in Paris, but intend to, you'd probably best skip this post. Second warning: this is not a full, regular review, but rather a discussion/question of one key point. Third note: this is a repost from SFScope.

Late last year, a friend suggested I'd enjoy the movie. I don't even remember it being in the theatres (so obviously, I missed it) [it was released in June 2011, and made more than $50 million in the US and $100 million worldwide]. I wrote down the title, but when the copy arrived in the library, I couldn't recall exactly why she thought I'd like it. So I watched it knowing nothing about it except that it had been recommended to me.

I was surprised it was a Woody Allen film, because I don't usually connect with his work. But it was about a writer in Paris, so that was a good hook for me. It had Rachel McAdams, who I really like (so it was difficult watching her playing such an unlikable character, but heck, she is an actress). And it was a fantasy, which I usually cotton to. In this case, the fantasy was that the main character was a financially successful writer, and that he was engaged to Rachel McAdams (okay, enough snark).

In the movie, Gil (Owen Wilson), the writer, is a successful Hollywood script writer, but he's yearning for something more fulfilling. He's writing his first novel while on a trip to Paris with his fiancee, Inez (McAdams) and her parents. They're snooty, wealthy, ugly Americans, while Gil is, at heart, a loveable Bohemian writer who just happens to be financially well off. One night, he stumbles into a rift in time (well, it's a 1920 Peugeot Landaulet [gorgeous old car] that picks him up at midnight) and winds up in Paris in the 1920s, where he meets the Fitzgeralds, Cole Porter, and Ernest Hemingway (the literary crowd he's always idolized), has his novel reviewed by Gertrude Stein, interacts with Dali, Man Ray, and Bunuel, and so on and on. It's every would-be writer's wish fulfillment. He also meets an aspiring costume designer, Adriana, who is a hanger-on with the literarati, the artists' muse and lover. Gil falls in love with her (and she with him), and they have something of a relationship. Then, one night, while they're out walking, they stumble into another time rift (this time, it's a horse-drawn carriage) that takes them to 1890s Paris (the era Adriana idolizes), where they meet Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, and Degas.

After watching it on DVD a few weeks ago, the film is now on cable, so I've rewatched pieces of it several times recently (it's on in the background as I'm writing this). The thing that has me thinking about the film right now is the end. Specifically, Adriana decides to stay in her golden age, to design costumes for the ballet. Gil, however, can't bring himself to stay with her, nor for that matter to stay in the 1920s. He returns to his (our) present, and decides to leave his fiancee and stay in Paris to write. So in the most overt interpretation, he's breaking his bonds to the materialistic world with which he doesn't connect, and making the decision to live where and how he ought to. But I've been wondering if his decision is actually showing that Adriana has the courage of her convictions—dropping everything and the world she knows for the world of her dreams—while he is unable to. He's showing courage, but very little (is this an echo of his conversation with Hemingway, who was able to risk his life fighting in war in order to write real life?).

I guess it's a good movie, since I'm still thinking about it. But is Gil weak for staying in Paris in 2010, rather than in 1920?

Short Circuiting the Big Bang

Short Circuit is on in the background. It's been a long time since I've seen this movie, and I'm stunned by the parallels to The Big Bang Theory. From the Indian character who has trouble fitting in to American society, to the genius who has no understanding of girls, to the cute average girl who drags the geniuses to reality... Wow! And I was thinking BBT was so original. Sad.

Coming soon?

I'm working with the television on in the background: Back to the Future II. Do you realize that, in five years, hover conversions to make flying cars will be commonplace, the average home will have fax machines in every room, home hydrators will reduce the size of a take-home pizza to about four inches, and little kids will be zooming around on hoverboards? Yeah, wonderful predictions in that movie.

On the other hand, Marty started traveling in time twenty-five years ago.

It's a great series of movies, but once again, science fiction proves we're much better at telling stories than at predicting the future.

the state of surrealism: New Jersey

I'm listening to Zach Braff's Garden State while I'm editing today, I'm reminded of the nifty bits of surrealism he's thrown into the movie, not to rub our faces in the surreal, but just as little bits of background for an otherwise very realistic (but well told) story: Silent velcro, an unfurnished mansion, a randomly shaped swimming pool, an infinite abyss in Newark, New Jersey, watched over by a man living in a boat that can't float resting on blocks at the bottom of a quarry. I like this movie.

Almost a science fiction reference

Listening to President Obama's news conference right now. He teased me, a moment ago, with what was almost a science fiction reference.

The topic is health care reform, and he started the point by saying "If we have a red pill and a blue pill," and I was waiting for a reference to The Matrix's "show you the truth or let you continue living the lie", but he just dropped it, saying "and they do the same thing, but the red pill costs half as much as the blue one, why she wouldn't we have the red pill." (And no, I didn't notice if the cheaper pill was the movie's truth-giver or not.)

Updating on the run

Back from the funeral (which, other than the reason for being there, was very nice: Kit's got some interesting and fun relatives), and I'm in-town for less than two days.

SFScope is back! We've got it migrated to the new host and working again (though we're still trying to figure out the problem with the banner ads, but all our advertisers will get all the impressions they've paid for), so I'm frantically trying to catch up on the news.

It's going to be a short day for me (contrary to the "I've got a week's worth of news to catch up on" problem), because I've been invited to the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this evening (hoping it's a lot of fun, and that the movie's good). And then, bright and early tomorrow, I'm back on the road, this time to Readercon (see previous post).

Rush rush rush!