Friday, May 31, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (a 2nd viewing)


Chris Pine & Zachary Quinto in Star Trek into Darkness (2013)
Sometimes it helps to go with a friend to these things! I'm a bit stingy sometimes when original concepts are rehashed into a new franchise. Not always, mind you, but I'm the type of girl who loves the original series Wild, Wild West and loathe, hate, despise the movie reboot from several years ago. It was a travesty!! I feel the same about the original series of 21 Jumpstreet, and that idiotic, pointless new movie with Channing Tatum. He's not winning any brownie points with me by being in a mock-worthy film about one of my favorite shows!

So, it's hard sometimes for me to adapt to new franchises based on someone else's series. Still, I went back for a 2nd viewing of Star Trek Into Darkness, this time with my BFF. We met halfway between her home and mine, settled down into the theater, and proceeded to drool for 2 hours over Benedict Cumberbatch. I felt more this time around. More compassion, more empathy, more grief for the lives lost, including a character I've loved since the 1st movie, and I connected a little better with Spock and Kirk. The toe-tapping impatience I experienced the first time I watched the climactic scene with Spock and Kirk wasn't there this time. Instead, I actually teared up a little watching them, and that's a huge step in the right direction for me.

During lunch, she and I discovered that we both are attracted to power. We're not talking flabby politicians, but the undeniable power exuded by Khan over everyone else. He doesn't pause or hesitate, but goes directly for the jugular, manipulating people until they stand exactly where he wants them. A man who is masculine and intimidating is sexy. It's attractive and desirable, and makes me like Benedict even more than I did before because he made the role his. Enough with these namby-pamby Justin Biebers of the world who could almost be a girl! I want a masculine man who is not so in touch with his feminine side! When did that become the thing? I'd much rather have a man like Khan, minus the psycho nature possibly, than a guy who cries over chick-flicks any day.

So, my 2nd viewing was something of a success. Charity found the plot hole and unraveled the entire thing in a matter of seconds, but that only made me laugh because it proves that J. J. Abrams is not quite the mastermind everyone makes him out to be. What is that plot hole? Well, if you have seen the movie, comment and I'll share it with you. If not, then go see the movie and then read my comments. ;-)

Thoughts on Dirty Dancing (1987)




Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing (1987)
Movies out of time always present a problem because they incorporate modern ideals into past eras. The heroine’s family attends a dance camp for the summer, and that’s where the entire story occurs. On the surface Dirty Dancing seems like a fun coming-of-age story of a young girl who is about to head off to college anyway, so it’s about time she came out of her shell and started developing. After a little excavation, however, the movie displays some ideals that are strictly 1980s, and would never have been either A) thought of in 1963 or, at the very least, B) never voiced.

The entire underlining thread of this film is an “Out with the old, in with the new” mentality. The fox trot and the tango are for the old-timers, people from a bygone era like mom and dad. The young people are stifled by the establishment’s resistance to new ideas, especially the hero, Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). When Baby (Jennifer Grey), the heroine, finds her way to the staff quarters of the camp, she’s shocked at the way the employees dance in their free time. I’m assuming this must be the beginning of “grinding,” a method of dancing where personal space is totally ignored and hips are ground against hips. She’s embarrassed at first, then Johnny takes her in hand and teaches her to loosen up, and she finds that she likes it. Of course she does! Because that type of dancing is something exciting and liberating and meant to be shared only with a spouse because it awakens sexual yearnings.

Baby’s dad is played by Jerry Orbach, and because I’ve loved him since I first heard Lumiere in Beauty & the Beast, I was predisposed to liking him. And I do like him because his ideals are deemed “old-fashioned” by the younger set. When one of the female employees has a botched abortion, a completely illegal abortion since this is 1963, Baby runs to him for help and he does help, utilizing his healing hands as a physician to keep Penny from dying. And he is compassionate and gentle with her, not judging at all, but he is hurt because of Baby, because she asked him for the $250 needed for the abortion without telling him what it was for, and if he had known, he would have never given it to her. She violated her father’s trust. But because of this “Out with the old, in with the new” plot thread, Baby lectures her father for disappointing her too, all while offering him an apology. So, instead of Baby returning to the value system she’s been raised on, her father must elevate himself to a new era of thinking and join her value system. Sexual immorality is born!

In that same vein, the very idea of an abortion in 1963 is an abomination. I’m sure women had them, but they would have never been filmed during the era. It would have been a very hush, hush and shameful act. Dirty Dancing nudges viewers into the Roe vs. Wade mentality. Because Penny thought the man she slept with loved her, then she wasn’t doing anything wrong, and when she gets pregnant, there’s only one way out. She’s scared, and pitiful, and alone, and the audience grieves with her, and so the viewers are trained to believe that Penny does the right thing by having an abortion. This movie was trying to condition me to believe that, in some circumstances, abortion is appropriate, even necessary, for a woman to live a full and happy life. I’m sorry? I didn’t quite hear that? She can still have babies and she’s relieved? How wonderful for her. How exciting. She can still experience the fullness of motherhood, but just when it’s convenient for her.

This film is a complete rehash of 1980s values masquerading as a movie set in the 1960s. I sort of expected that it would be, but half hoped it would try to be more than that. In the end, though, it’s just a movie about poor moral choices and dirty dancing. Not even Jerry Orbach could save it for me.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)


Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie or franchise remakes can be fun. There are some, like the 1940 film The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart, that have been remade multiple times. And then there's the new Star Trek franchise. Not so much a remake as a rewriting of the Trek history that Gene Roddenberry so cleverly invented.

And I'm good with it. The originality of Abrams' first Star Trek movie was epic because it literally went where no one had ever gone before. The fans were given a story that hadn't been rehashed, sprinkled throughout with the characters that most Trekkies have loved far longer than I have been alive. Which is why I had such high hopes for Star Trek Into Darkness. You're sensing a "but" following that statement, and there is one, although not quite as serious of a "but" as you're picturing.

So, if you want to read about that "but," and don't mind spoilers if you haven't seen the movie, then continue reading.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Being an ISFJ - Part One



Most of you, my readers, found me through my writings on Femista, the webzine of my best friend. This undoubtedly means that you also follow her blog and have occasionally heard Charity speak of us sharing the relationship of Holmes and Watson on Sherlock. She's an INTJ and I'm an ISFJ. You know how she reacts in multiple scenario possibilities because she posts about being an INTJ. Well, she asked me if I would consider writing a couple of posts on being an ISFJ in my summer months off from school. So, now that you've had my long-winded explanation of why I'm doing this, on to trying to explain how and why I function as I do.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Road Trip



One of the best things about driving in the country is, well, driving in the country. You just get in the car and within half an hour of leaving the city you're surrounded by rolling hills and, in my case, lots and lots of prairie. I love it! Don't get me wrong. I don't live under any false pretenses that I'm a country girl. I was born in a California city and have living in either smallish towns or cities ever since. The country has never been my thing, as much as I wish it were. But I love the breath of fresh air it brings to my soul.

The blacktop just clicks along under my tires, the ever-present Wal-mart vanishes, leaving in its wake small-town grocery stores and those Mom and Pop cafes that tend to die out on a monthly basis in the big city. It's beautiful and refreshing and when I leave the city behind a part of me wishes I didn't have to go back. Do you ever get that sensation? Where you just wish you could keep driving forever?

You see, my folks traveled a lot when I was a kid. Being homeschooled, there wasn't much tying us down, and so, we traveled throughout most of the western states, adventuring in our motor home. It never occurred to me that most families didn't live that way. I loved it. Which is why it feels so strange staying in one place for so long. I've lived in Colorado for almost fifteen years. The bug to travel doesn't bite me as deeply as it once did, but it's still there, waiting to resurface every time I turn my tires down a country highway. I just want to keep going and see what's out there.

Luckily for me, and my family, when I drive on the country roads I always have a destination in mind. My best friend lives in the country, on a solid square mile of property owned by her family, so that's the direction I point my car. It gives me a solid couple of hours driving time, but at least I know that I have a place to stop at the end, with someone who knows me, not surrounded by strangers.

Do you ever wonder what the politicians of our great nation think of America? I suspect they believe it is compiled of mainly cities and towns, with no country left to speak of, and why not, since they travel in airplanes, leaving one city of 700,000 people to land in another of an equally large or larger population. I wish they would all just take a road-trip. Pile their loves ones and bodyguards into the limousine, or better yet, rent a more surreptitious car, and just drive. Visit the monuments and state parks of America, stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, admire the Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado, trudge through the ancient ruins of Mesa Verde, and stare up, up, up at the glorious faces of four of America's greatest presidents gracing a mountain in South Dakota.

Would it change their perspective? Just stepping outside themselves for a little while, breathing an unaccustomed air, tickling their senses with unfamiliar sights, traveling down a country highway that leads them through endless landscapes dotted only by cattle, horses, and the occasional herd of Alpacas. The horizon is so much bigger, so much grander, so much more expansive, than they can imagine. How I wish all of America would take a step back from their confined lives and just drive, maybe for only an afternoon, stopping for a picnic by the side of the road, but at least they have the fresh air in their lungs, the sun on their face, and a warming of their heart that America is greater than they ever imagined.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Orson Who? But you know Brad Pitt.


Many modern Americans live in a societal vacuum. If a movie or a book or a historic event was filmed, written, or occurred before their birth then it just doesn't enter their sphere of existence.

My heart thundered, panicking as Mr. Rochester stepped up behind Jane Eyre and enfolded her in his arms. That huge, expansive chest of his completely engulfed her, and I halfway expected poor little Jane to pop like a bug right in front of my eyes. But it was fine. He clung to her for a moment before sharing some dialogue, and then released her just as I exhaled a huge breath of relief. Such was my introduction to Orson Welles when I was twelve-years-old.

Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine in Jane Eyre
When Elizabeth Bennett brutally refused Mr. Darcy, her eyes flashing as she reprimanded him with every ounce of dignity she could muster, I wished I could step into her place. Her curls, the sway of her skirt, her prim lips as they pouted in defiance, every elegant line of her form planted my desire to be every inch a comparable lady. A desire strengthened because she won Mr. Darcy's heart so effortlessly and he bestowed on her the most radiant smile, embracing her on a stone bench in the garden while "The End" flashed in gigantic letters upon the screen and the movie faded. Thus was I introduced to Sir Laurence Olivier when I turned thirteen.

Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson in Pride & Prejudice
And Terry Malloy, the prize-fighter employed by corrupt union bosses, who developed a conscience through the influence of the radiant Edie Doyle. My hands clenched in my lap, mouth dry as Terry and Edie fled down a dark alley before the lights of an onrushing truck, praying they would survive. My hormones unexpectedly awakening as they embraced in her room, Edie's innocence suddenly torn by the rush of desire for the simplistic Terry who had never before tried to do the right thing because it simply never occurred to him. This was Marlon Brando, in one of his first and best roles, when I first watched On the Waterfront in my late teens.

Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront
All of these moments are pivotal to me, memories locked up tight until I see that actor's smile or hear their voice or catch a flash of them on the screen, and then my first encounter with them surges back. Which is why a little part of me dies every time a peer my own age does not recognize their names. I remember the whirl of activity surrounding Brad Pitt during his glory days of Troy. The glitz and glamor shining from the eyes of multiple generations of women, hands clasped in glee at the romanticism of it all. Yet, they do not know the genius of Orson Welles (yes, I overcame that initial panic over the immensity of his chest) or the sensuality of Marlon Brando. How is that even possible?

For me, I could as soon turn off my love of old movies as live without air. It's not going to happen. I may go for months, possibly even years, without plugging in a Marlon Brando DVD. Then the bug bites me, and I spend a month reliving my attraction to his sensual masculinity. I'm the same way with Jeremy Northam or Elijah Wood or Richard Armitage or a host of other big names in Hollywood today. Just because I watch old movies doesn't mean that I don't watch new ones.

So, why is it that many young people never research earlier than their own birth year if they can help it? My parents would never have forced me to watch classic film; I was curious about the movies and the eras that were unfamiliar to me, and so I researched them. I picked up The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. I laughed myself silly with Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace.

And I learned that this whole "Now is all that matters" mentality is total BS. I like to know where I've been so, hopefully, I can see where I'm going. There will come a time when Brad Pitt's name is forgotten, just as Orson Welles has been forgotten. But at least with Orson Welles, he left a few substantial roles behind that impacted society like The Third Man. Can Brad Pitt say the same?

My dream isn't for wealth or power, but for American society as a whole to start appreciating the generations that have gone before them. Not that they have to love old movies the way I do, but it would be fantastic if I could mention Bob Hope, and not have my conversation partner's eyes glaze over. It would be nice for a change.
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