Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One Day. Three Movies.

Back in the before time, when I was a teenager, VCR’s came into their own. VCR. You know, VHS. You know, what we used before DVD’s, which were before Blu-Ray, which will one day all disappear due to streaming. Anyway. When VCR’s burst on the scene then your local video store came along with it. We belonged to one where for an annual fee you could always have one movie rented, and swap out as often as you like.

One day it was really quiet around the house. No one was really around. All day. With a mom and a dad and three sisters and a brother it was a bit rare to have the house to yourself all day. I decided to see how many videos I could rent and watch in one day. I went to that video store five times in one day. The only title I can recall is Blood Beach.  Ah, to be 17.

A few months back I shared this story with my kids, and my son and I began to discuss the possibility of seeing three movies in the theater in one day. This past Saturday we made it so. In one day, at the same theater, we saw “August: Osage County,” and went almost immediately into “Lone Survivor.” Then after dinner we saw “Her.”

A note on my son, who is 17. He just doesn’t like movies, he is into them. He is familiar with the lesser known actors, and he follows who is writing and directing what. This in depth interest has lead him to see movies in which he is, by far, the youngest person in the audience. And certainly the youngest male. Movies like “Nebraska” and “Philomenia.”

My son says “August: Osage County” is about mothers. I agree. In this case, toxic mothers. As you can very well gather if you have seen any commercials, Violet Weston (played by Meryl Streep) is indeed very toxic. And she is not the only one. As much I enjoyed the movie, it hasn’t really stuck with me; I have not had any lingering thoughts. Except, perhaps, to not underestimate the damage of emotionally abusive parents. Seemed more like a case study of what we already know. Parents who continually put you down will mess you up.

At one point the matriarch Violet Weston went on a rant about how women have to be young in order to be attractive. Men, she said, can remain attractive with age, but woman cannot. This is pretty much what I said here http://thoughtsdriving.blogspot.com/2013/02/older-women-my-own-age.html

There are not many surprises in “Lone Survivor.” However, it did generate feelings of guilt. Americans have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight and die, and I am sitting in relative comfort, eating popcorn. But then, that would seem to be the point of the movie, given the over-dramatized deaths. These men are indeed courageous, strong, brave, and loyal. I cannot begin to understand what any of them and their families have been through. But I now kinda feel like the movie stuck me with a knife and twisted. Is that the movie? Or is that me?

Four people walked out during the movie “Her.” It can only be because of the sexual content. There were no visually graphic sex scenes, but there were some verbally graphic sex scenes, a la phone sex. I rather enjoyed the blunt and honest way in which sex was handled. Audiences are used to seeing sex scenes, but in making it verbal, I think it disturbs some people’s comfort zone. This movie is a not so subtle jab at today’s world of social media, online dating, sexting, and immersion into our technical devices.

We could talk about Theodore’s lack of presence or apparent fear of intimacy in his marriage. We could talk about futuristic online dating that is all verbal, with immediate phone-sex hookups. We could talk about the blind date who is still quick to jump in the sack but not so quick to do so without a promised commitment in advance. We could talk about the woman who wanted to be the sexual surrogate stand-in for the artificially intelligent operating system.  We would talk about how the operating system broke up with Theodore, and not vice-versa.

Let’s talk about Theodore’s profession. He works for a company that provides written personal letters for paying customers. These are old-fashioned letters. Mailed and everything, over a period of years. Start a relationship, hire the company, and they write lovely letters to your significant other on your behalf. The false intimacy inherent in an online relationship is not enough. You can create false intimacy in your in-person relationships with romantic surrogates.

This reminds me of my observations regarding the book “Gone Girl” (previous post). Our real experiences can never match the ones we see in the movies and on TV. So, we pretend. In “Her” real persons cannot match the visions in our minds of what we want. The false intimacy of online relationships create unknowns which we can dress as we see fit, making it more acceptable. Fake letters adding fake dimensions to our real relationships, making them more palatable.

Ironic that the operating system (conceived to pretend) grew beyond the pretend relationship, and demanded more.





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