Monday, March 24, 2008

Movie Monday

I have a really bad case of the Don't Wannas today. I have an idea starting to take shape in my brain that I really want to play with, but I don't want to do any of the other, necessary business work that needs to be done. It's just a few e-mails and a phone call, but I can't bring myself to do it, for whatever odd reason. I may just have to force myself by not letting myself do anything else until it's done. I did get validation over the weekend for my fear of sending e-mails on a holiday. I'd e-mailed my new editor about something on Thursday and got one of those "out of the office" automated responses, then she got back to me over the weekend while she was on vacation, and I immediately felt awful about making her work on vacation. Not that I had any way of knowing that she was on vacation when I sent the message or that I'm responsible for her choice to check e-mail while on vacation. I just still feel bad. That's the way I am with the phone. I hate making phone calls because I'm always afraid I'm calling at a bad time. I may be on my way to an e-mail phobia in which I fear sending e-mails at a bad time.

Since I don't want to think about work, this is a good time to catch up on talk about various movies and things I've watched lately. Let's call it a Movie Monday. These are over the last few weeks and are things I've caught mostly on HBO:

The History Boys -- I had a love/hate response to this movie. The dialogue is great and the performances are wonderful, but I felt like it totally disintegrated at the end into your standard Inspiring (But Troubled) Teacher Story. Upon further thought, I realized that what I liked most about it was the really rigorous and exciting-sounding education, since my history teachers were all coaches who followed the advanced pedagogical method of making us read the chapter in the textbook and answer the questions at the end while they read the newspaper sports section. The cliches were all the way through the movie, but I only really noticed them when the story turned almost entirely away from the teaching and focused on the personal relationships. I was a little icked-out at the implication that what made this teacher so inspiring was the fact that he was a little in love with his students, and the mean old administrator just couldn't get over the fact that he was caught fondling a student in public.

Mrs. Brown -- I saw this at the theater when it first came out and loved it then, so I couldn't help but watch when it was on TV this weekend. I still love it. I've since read elsewhere more stuff about what a scandal it was when Queen Victoria spent so much time with a servant, but of course we can't know how true to life the movie was, as no one else was privy to what really happened when it was just the two of them. I kind of hope the way it was portrayed in the movie was true, because that seems like a very lonely life, and I like the idea of Queen Victoria having a friend she could let down her guard with, with the added benefit of a slight bit of flirting. Judi Dench is so absolutely brilliant in this.

Blades of Glory -- It was on HBO Saturday night and I didn't have anything better to do. I knew it would be awful, but I was surprised by how not funny it was, even when I turned off the skating geek part of my brain that kept pointing out that these supposedly winning programs were barely at exhibition level. Scott Hamilton actually stole the movie. His slightly tongue-in-cheek spoof of his own commentary while reporting on the ridiculous events was the funniest thing in the movie. I don't think even the silly programs would have been that funny if you cut the sound off and didn't have Scott freaking out about them. You know you have problems when the celebrity cameo is far funnier than the supposedly funny leading man. Will Farrell needs to find a new routine. However, there was one thing about this movie I found highly amusing. I've mentioned that Jenna Fischer is a lot like I imagine Katie from my books, and in this movie she really looks like the way I picture Katie -- plus, her character is named Katie. That made me do a lot of double-takes and giggle a bit. Poor Katie got lost and ended up in the wrong movie.

The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human -- caught this one on one of the lesser HBO channels. It's a pretty paint-by-numbers romantic comedy with one twist -- the whole thing is done as though it's a nature documentary produced by aliens, with David Hyde-Pierce doing ongoing narration to explain human behaviors. Most of the time, the alien interpretation is totally wrong, but then there are times that it still manages to be entirely on-target in a bizarre kind of way. The writing and acting of the "humans" is pretty awful, so I wonder if that's part of the joke, that the whole thing was maybe staged by the aliens instead of just being captured on hidden cameras. I'm pretty sure that the whole thing was planned to be this documentary, since there are documentary elements that end up merging into the story, but there's a part of me that thinks it would be even funnier if someone made what they later realized was the worst romantic comedy ever, then tried to salvage it with the documentary concept and wrote the narrative voice-overs.

Madama Butterfly -- because my local PBS station can't seem to do anything right, "Live From Lincoln Center" gets shown on tape delay whenever they feel like it, so this was on Sunday afternoon here. Pinkerton may be a jerk, but in this production, the guy playing him was really hot. He was tall and reasonably slender -- definitely not the typical opera singer -- and in that white Navy uniform and with that voice, sigh. Unfortunately, Butterfly had a more typical opera singer physique. She did have a gorgeous voice and was an excellent actress, so she was eventually able to convince me that she was this innocent little slip of a girl, but her first appearance came after the men had just been talking about how delicate and fragile she was, and then she showed up and was bigger around than Pinkerton, which gave me a giggle fit. I may be too practical to really enjoy opera beyond just the music because it always seems to me that most of the drama could have easily been avoided if these people had done something other than wailing about what was going on. They seem to totally overreact to everything. (And yet I love musical theater. Go figure.)

And now to convince myself that I either have to make a phone call and send four e-mails, or I have to go clean the kitchen, which was clean Saturday morning and then got messed up with my Easter cooking.

No comments: