Wednesday, November 2, 2005
A 30-Year-Old Movie Review
So our Brazilian exchange student and I have been watching Star Wars. This began a couple nights ago when we watched my coveted bought-on-the-streets-of-Chinatown-before-the-theatrical-release DVD of Revenge of the Sith, after which (as I expounded on how the OLD movie now picks up the story after this NEWEST AND LAST movie) she said,
"I've never seen the original Star Wars."
Me (as though an electric current was suddenly fed into my earlobe): "Ssshh!! You gotta be careful who's around when you say something like that!"
Me: "That's like saying loudly, 'I don't poop.' If you don't want to eat your lunch alone for the rest of your life you just don't wanna go there."
So last night we watched the original, followed by The Empire Strikes Back. I still remember as a kid seeing the newspaper advertisement for the original movie--this is how I learned of its existence--and can recall still the giddy thrill I felt at the thought of a realistic space movie. I loved the movie and everything about it, like a brizillion other kids my age.
But now, 30 frickin' years later, it is harder for this all to bury its head in the sands of adolescent nostalgia and escape an unbridled adult assessment (well, to whatever limited extent I'm embracing adulthood). Joseph Campbell called George Lucas "my greatest student" and I think there can be no other explanation for the strength of the hold of this franchise on the collective American psyche than that Lucas has tapped into a kind of bone marrow societal mythology and given it an attractive, futuristic look (Sparky's feathers melting away because he got too close to the sun or a big, bearded dude carrying stone tablets down a mountain--these images are destined to bomb with a 21st Century film audience. Think Gigli).
The acting is wooden and cheesy, the creatures are stupid-looking, a surprising amount of it looks--I'm shocked to say it--low-budget now, and the dialog... God, the dialog is like listening to close-miked high fidelity recording of someone farting. It's absolutely, excruciatingly, distractingly, grab-the-sick-sack BAD.
But it's saved from an afterlife on the list of movies as punch lines (snuggled right in there between Santa Clause Conquers the Martians and The Giant Spider Invasion) by this grand, arcing story line that is the dream fulfillment of at least every pre-pubescent boy. Well, that and light sabers. OK, OK. And Natalie Portman (who, it must be said, did a great job of jettisoning any remaining shards of acting talent for this role), especially when her top goes from respectful SenatorWear to strategically-ripped barely-there Replicant StripperWear in the blink of a camera's eye. Ah, the magic of cinema.
And... More Fun With Nicknames!
Our 200 year-old dog is officially named "Ladybird." Susan decided that didn't sound quite right ("She's just not that dignified!") and so named her "Pupster" instead. But after a few weeks we realized that without her weekly bath, the dog wandering into a room--any room--has a similar effect on one's cognitive functioning as laughing gas at the dentist. And so she has been called "Stinky" ever since, often by people even on first acquaintance.
But lately (especially since her recent haircut) she looks just like a little lamb.
And so I've taken to calling her "Sweet Lamb of Dog" (which sounds like a cross between a Hmong delicacy and routine sacrilege). And I think it's working. Today on her walk she actually used her Stalin leg a bit (the right rear, which doesn't work any more, evidently due to an injury earlier in life), leading me to wonder if I'll soon be singing "Stinky got back!"