Wednesday, June 22, 2011


June 22, 2011

What an excellent movie we just watched. The hairstyles were superb; Wifey commented on that; she particularly liked the ginger bouffant. And no wonder, because they were done by Giorgio’s of Baltimore, no less. She can’t wait for the next Giorgio’s film.
My own choice would be another flick that features J&R Caskets for the interment scenes and, of course, Sunkist pistachios. I enjoyed watching those coffins and the nuts. Without them, you know any picture just, well, falls short.
Sure, I’m being facetious. And I’m not at all ashamed of it. Who, watching that film in, say, Abu Dhabi, Wagga Wagga or even here in Walton County cares which company did the catering for cast and crew and provided the coffins to the Leber Funeral Home. They’ll never go to Giorgio’s for a shampoo and perm. They’ll never drop dead in Baltimore.
But I could drop dead watching those movie credits rolling on for what seems an eternity.
Do we really need five-to-ten minutes of just names. Furs by Zamir. So what? Furs by foxes and rabbits and minks, more like it, with greedy old Zamir just taking your money. Do we care who the best boy was? The assistant to Mr McGurglethorpe? No.
And yet they serve us up all this stuff anyway. It’s like an antidote to a good thriller. You get all hyped up as the story climaxes and then at the end you get this other, yawn-inducing monochrome monotothon to prepare you for bed.
Ah yes - bed, the place from which to watch movies these days, or from the living room couch if you’ve incurred the wife’s displeasure. Better than sleeping pills. Because there aren’t too many non-boring flicks any more. And because going to the theater means you have to listen to audience members giving one another a loud running commentary to explain the plot. If there is one.
My jollies would come by asking these irritating theatergoers to explain the MCMLXVIII and MMXI stuff that appears at the very end together with that squashed down, egg-shaped drawing of the world. Because I bet they can’t. M is a thousand, C a hundred and I’ll get back to you on the Ls and Vs once I remember which is five and which is fifty.
This way of counting became the betamax of numerology once the Arabian system was introduced, the one used by everyone in the world except the Chinese and the showoffs. Nowadays it’s surely just these smartypants who use Roman numerals, designed to demonstrate their superiority. “My IQ? It’s way, way up there at CCCXII above Stephen Hawking’s. What’s y’all’s? LV?”
Big deal. Clever you. So Hollywood is a town of geniuses?
No. Notice how many films these days seem to make sense until suddenly the main character - a person of great strength, determination, intelligence and foresight - does something totally and utterly dumb. I mean stoo-pid. This has to happen, for otherwise there’s no drama. If the hero handles every situation with ease... ho hum.
We are consequently subjected to an improbable situation in order to make the movie “work”. Which, because of that aberration, it doesn’t for me. Maybe yes for those who came for the car chases, explosions and foul language.
There are all manner of little annoyances in just about every picture. For one, they never actually drink when they drink. You never see them swallow. And when they drive they look at the front seat passenger for what seems like centuries. When I drive it’s never for more than a split second. I’m looking at the road, glancing in the mirrors, watching side to side... But it’s different in the movies. Apparently Hollywood uses special “thinking” cars that allow the driver to hold an entire conversation face-to-face with his passenger without running off the road. Often it’s at high speed. There’s the pretend steering to go with it, the most bizarre I ever saw being in the horror film “The Devil Rides Out” although Satan wasn’t in the car at the time.
What about those “historical” pictures that make no sense. Biblical characters with Bronx accents. Robin Hood versus the French invaders? Umm, really? But Robin’s wearing a wifebeater and the Frogs come ashore in drop-front vessels that look suspiciously like the D-Day Normandy landing craft from World War Two. A big “huh?” on that one. Again, 250 years before Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, there’s a published poster. Same major faux pas as in a Kevin Costner version ten years earlier.
He also did Dances With Wolves, which I call a major swizz because there was only one dance and it was a foxtrot.
Man, could I ever go on complaining! The subtitles in white on a white background? Well, these films are usually French and that’s the color of their flag, so...
The End. Oh yeah? Not really. After the credit-o-rama they sometimes add a little extra actual footage, as though we’ve endured that interminable rollcall in order to see it. Well I might, because IX times out of X I’m still propped up in bed trying to figure out the film’s date from its Roman numerals.
Final whine: Does anyone else hate it when the movie has no title at the beginning and goes straight into the story. So you’re watching for 20 minutes before you find out it’s something you don’t want to watch. That’s like thinking you’re reading the Wall Street Journal and then, when you get to the Church News page, discovering that it’s really the Walton Tribune!


© 2011 Fred Wehner is a journalist formerly with the Daily Mail in London, who then founded and ran the New York News Agency before settling in Monroe 21 years ago.