Quiet Times and Ci-ne-ma

Whew, did it rain a lot for the past few days. There’s not much a person with no car can do in a downpour, so I did the thing I’d say I’d do and found myself a plan B. I had Wi-Fi, and the condo place had a DVD rental station, so I’ve taken a few days to be introspective and do something I rarely do: watch a lot of movies.

That puddle had dried up, but not any more!

Why, you ask, don’t I watch a lot of movies very often? Well, this goes back a long way, maybe 50 years or so, when I fell hard for my high-school crush (also my college and most of grad school crush). He was laser-focused on cinema studies, even in high school. He was going to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, who majored in filmmaking at USC. But he wanted to write.

Have some warm beverage while I ramble.

I, too, wanted to write, though I really didn’t care about what. Combine that with friends like Anita, who was also a writer type, and you can imagine how creative and eloquent the notes we passed around in school were. They were also very funny, since we also had cartooning skills in the mix.

Anyway, I figured the way into that guy’s heart was to love what he loved, so I watched lots and lots of movies. When we started dating, pretty much all we did was go to movies. No, not to do a lot of smooching, but to watch and analyze those films. We were fans of ci-ne-ma. You didn’t just go to a movie and enjoy it. Au contraire, you had to analyze the themes, dissect the camera angles, and make sure to note any editing flaws or continuity issues. This was serious business.

For those of you who are bored by my reminiscing, look at this cloud beauty.

It didn’t get any less serious throughout college. He majored in English, with a concentration in cinema studies, and I majored in linguistics with concentrations in cinema and Japanese. Japanese cinema, that was my ticket to academic glory, apparently.

Well, by the time I got partway through my dissertation, which happened to use Japanese movies as its data source, and that relationship ended when I realized I was trying way too hard to mold my life after whatever that other person wanted, leading to regrettable rebellions…let’s just say I was done with the ci-ne-ma. I was over the dolly shots and the search for Marxist themes in every film (to this day, I could not tell you one thing about Marxism, even though I had a child who followed the same philosophical path).

It did finally get more sunny later today.

Sadly, I also could not watch a movie without analyzing it. I’d see one thing that triggered my urge to analyze and I could no longer just be moved by immersing myself into the world of the film. That was not fun. So, I really don’t enjoy movies much anymore, especially old ones where I feel compelled to compare each film to its director’s “ouvre.” Poor Anita. She just wanted to watch Turner Classic Movies and I couldn’t look. High School Boyfriend had not ruined her ability to do ci-ne-ma.


Back to today, I guess all that introspection and shedding of old traumas has gotten me past some of my issues. I do better now, and try to watch movies with Lee. I’m just not good with horror and overly realistic violence, which cuts out a lot of the current movies out there.

Here, alone in my little space, I went out and rented every single rom-com, comedy, and wimpy family movie I could, and I watched them. I let myself get immersed in the story, the music, and the visuals and just had fun. What a gift to myself! I do have a couple of comments on some of the films I watched, though, in case you’re considering any of my wimpy choices:

Jerry and Marge Go Large: I’m not sure if I mentioned this one before, but it’s a lot of fun and based on a true story about people who figured out a lottery loophole. Any story featuring real-life mathematical geniuses and genuinely likable secondary characters is okay with me. ****

Addams Family 2: The animation was great, and the attention to detail in the scenery was wonderful. But that was one predictable plot. **

Jungle Cruise: I had low hopes for a movie based on a theme park ride, but I ended up enjoying all the references to the ride and the cheerfully campy plot. The stunts were fun, too, and it was nice to see the female lead portrayed as competent at jungle skills. The gay brother character was fun, too, as he reminded me of many people I know AND was a badass. This one’s worth watching if you want to just relax and watch something. ***

Elvis: GEEZ the guy who played Elvis nailed it. I love how this movie was made and edited (sorry, getting ci-ne-ma on you), and the soundtrack that mixed music from all eras was inspired. You literally see and hear the history of music since the 1950s in this one. Tom Hanks was creepy, though, as Col. Parker. But the rest of the cast, including the portrayals of influential black musicians, was inspired. The Little Richard guy was riveting. ****

The Lost City: This was way better than I thought it would be from the previews. It’s pretty similar to Jungle Cruise, so don’t watch them together. But this one’s one-liners were way more clever, and I found myself chuckling aloud at some of the asides. Sandra Bullock sure can do comedy. I had a blast watching this. *****

Marry Me: I watched this one with Lee, but I just wanted to say this was charming, sweet, and a perfect rom-com. *****

The Good House: Here’s when I ran out of big hits to watch. This one has nice actors and beautiful scenery, but the plot is a heavy-handed tale of a woman who’s an alcoholic and keeps reciting all the typical thing alcoholics tell themselves. It came out well-intentioned but a bit preachy. Kudos for showing realistic sex between older people. ** 1/2

Walking with Herb: This was literally the last film I could get that wasn’t a cartoon or part of a series I wasn’t interested in. Highlights of this one are the great scenery of Las Cruces and Palm Springs and the golf humor. I like golf humor, which is good, because it balances out the Christianity theme (as a non-Christian, I had to suspend my beliefs). Well, it was a sweetly Christian theme, and it was nice to see the Latino lead characters in a mainstream film. I did tear up at some points, so hey, it was okay. ***

I talked about King Richard, the film about Serena and Venus Williams’s dad in an earlier blog. But, I liked it a lot. ****

My solo time is coming to an end, though, because I’ve got my owl necklace (it’s a Superb Owl) on and plan to go watch the Superbowl with other folks at the little cabana bar downstairs. Then, if I can find transportation, I will head home tomorrow. All cabs are booked. Great. Uber is NOT cheap in advance, so I’m hoping tomorrow morning it will be better.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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