Sunday, March 24, 2013

Zombie Love and Cupids Crooked Arrow

Recently, I went to the movies with friends.  It was part of a very special birthday celebration.  I love birthday celebrations, even when they aren’t mine.  I don’t get to the movies much these days.  It’s one of those things I don’t like to do alone.  I am alone more these days than ever before,   which isn’t all bad, it surprisingly turns out.  I just don’t see many newly released movies in the theater.   When I’m out, which also seems to be happening more these days than ever before, I prefer to enjoy the company of friends, well-chosen, talking, laughing, eating, drinking, and otherwise engaging fully in our shared moments.

I get to see movies in the comfort of my home via streaming technology, or cable when I have the time and the patience, or my son suggests, or requests a movie on a Sunday night. The Sunday night movie request is from a little ritual I started a few years ago when we relocated to our safe haven 3 miles southeast and a lifetime away.  We were shell-shocked and stumbling and in need of some level of routine and normalcy.  Rituals and routines are important for children, especially in times of distress.  He was, it seems, much younger, and more innocent, and about ½ a foot shorter at the time.  His innocence quickly and abruptly ended as we attempted to begin a new life.   We were both in need of suspended reality from what had become a severed reality.  Horror movies seemed to offer therapeutic comfort.  I know it seems a bit strange, over the top, and maybe not quite in keeping with maternal nurturing, but it had a very protective quality to it. 

Movies offer an escape and an outlet.  Horror films gave us a chance to be afraid in a safe and predictable manner with a predetermined time-frame.  It even gave our nightmares a break and offered respite to our over stimulated subconscious minds. We were able to gain control of distress, a practice that became necessary in light of the fear and terror we were both coping with that we had little, to no control over. I named Sunday nights, “Bubbles, Squeaks and Squeals”.  Loosely based on Bubble and Squeak, which was fun to say,  at the time there was not a whole lot of other fun happening around us.  The ritual included soda or seltzer (bubbles), dinner in the living room and a horror movie that I could manage.  When it comes to scary movies, I scare easily, and jumpily, and squeamishly, hence the squeaks and squeals.  Needless to say we both outgrew our fear of the boogieman, real and imagined.  We grew stronger, one of us much taller.  We eventually stopped looking over our shoulders.  We watched movies together less frequently and fell into a normal and predictable routine.  We continued to function as a family, if much smaller.

It’s ironic that the movie I recently enjoyed with friends was about zombies.  Warm Bodies, a romantic love story, left me crying, and my friends over joyedI've revisited this film again and again, it was smart and funny. The movie is a clever retelling of Romeo and Juliet with modern day references.  Leading up to the movie, each friend was convinced I would not go, I would be bored, I would painfully endure the experience and I would be a bit of a buzz-kill, but a necessary attendant in the birthday festivities, just the same.   I’m not exactly sure why, but it is believed that I am more of an art house film aficionado.  Really? I don't even like to use the word aficionado, it is rife with pomposity, which is a pretty far cry from anything closely related to me.   Most art house films try so hard to be deeply intelligent they seem to underscore a need for cannabis legalization.  Not so the films can be understood, but simply because they can’t otherwise be enjoyed, unless one's mind completely distorts the experience.  IMHO.

The last art house film I did not enjoy?  The Tree of Life.  I had imagined it would help comfort my son and explain some great mysteries of his life at the time. Family structure, gender roles, dysfunction.  It went a lot further to help confirm that he already knew more than I, about how to choose movies.  It made us both laugh.  Me, as though I was smoking a great deal of cannabis.  Him in that "told you so" snort.  That close up of the swimming vagina fish made me giggle like a 12 year old boy, uncontrollably, and immaturely, with attempts at mouth covering to muffle the sounds.  And I’m not sure a twelve year old boy would use the word muffle, unless it made him think of sex, and then he would just start laughing again, uncontrollably.  I was also laughing because my son had made a few comments before going to this movie.  He was rolling his eyes, and mumbling about how movies at this particular art-house theater were almost always annoying, stupid, and gave him headaches.  I encouraged him to give it a chance, in my nurturing maternal way.  I also promised dinner out, in my bribing, go along with this, maternal way.  He happens to work at the theater and gets to see any movie for free, a perk that is not used often.  He went along to appease me, and to use his otherwise wasted perk, but mostly to get a good meal out that would more than likely include duck fat in the preparation, or some such high-end local and maybe, pompous, food making.  What he lacks in movie interest, he makes up for in culinary desires.  As the movie went on, it became clearer and clearer that it was trying way too hard for placement on some iconic cerebral hierarchy.  It became outrageously funny instead.  Maybe, on second thought, I did enjoy this film, but not for any typical reasons.

I like movies that offer escape without causing jet-lag or messing with my time zone.  I don’t want to have to go back in time every third frame, so I can pretend to be solving a great puzzle.  I don’t want to work at watching a movie.  That’s the one escape I want from the experience.  I don’t want to have to participate in someone else’s distorted mind labyrinth to determine the outcome.   

I have a few easy rules.  A love story is almost always a definite good thing.  Romantic comedy even better.  And, well, I love nationalistic, cold war adventure spy films as a rule.  Hunt for Red October.  I don't know that I can explain that, it might be my inner twelve year old boy.  John Candy movies, bingo!  It’s not so much the escape, as something familiar, sweet, schmaltzy, and nearly lame that I want. Winners. Good guys. I like movies with happy endings that also remind us that goodness is all around, and if you can throw in some flag waving pride, butter up the popcorn and sit down beside me.  So if a zombie is able to make me cry and give me hope in love and romance, bring it on. 

Tonight, I decided to watch Crooked Arrows.  My young, fierce warrior has decided to join lacrosse for his senior year athletic send-off.  Much the family tradition, or ritual of his siblings before him.  Senior year, shake it up, try a totally new sport, kinda thing.  My oldest son, started Cross Country his senior year, and went on to run in college.  My daughter, jumped into rowing and made it to the semi-finals at state championships after an impressive season in both the Varsity 4 and Novice 4.  Lacrosse?  Why not?  I picked this movie to help introduce me to the sport.  I will say, Crooked Arrows did not win any academy awards.  It is fairly formulaic.  Super schmaltzy. And so, of course, it made me cry, and rally for the underdog, and believe in goodness.  It helped me recognize, my family rituals may be a bit off center, and my arrows may not always fly straight, but I’ll take zombies and hope over pretentious, cerebral, swimming female anatomy any day. 

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