Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Forget the Sign -- Here's Your Spoon

As a writer, reader, moviegoer, and so on, I find that nothing bugs me more than a story that spells everything out for me. I do not need to be spoon-fed the moral of any story. Instead, I want the person creating the work to challenge my mental faculties, to take my pulse so to speak, to make sure I'm awake out here.

There must be a balance between spoon-feeding and obfuscation, though. For example, I never made it all the way through Margot at the Wedding, though it had a few good moments. Pretty much it was just a brooding flick about a very dysfunctional family. There was a whiny-ness to the dialogue that made me want to throw the remote at the TV. Some of the other indie films strike me that way, too, but there is usually a payoff somewhere in the movie. For example, in Lost in Translation (one of my personal favorite movies), we don't know what Bill Murray (Mr. Bob Harris) whispers to vulnerable, pretty Scarlett Johansson (Charlotte) as he gets ready to leave the country. We just know her reaction and his. We are left walking out of the theater, unsure as to whether we should be excited (maybe he said he was coming back for her) or depressed (they went their separate ways despite their obvious love). No spoon-feeding but a very large payoff for the hungry moviegoer!

Unfortunately, most of what serves as entertainment (on TV or in the theater) these days doesn't allow the reader/viewer to think. Every.Little.Thing...spelled out. Spoon-fed. I really don't need for the screenwriter to fold in some worthless dialogue that tells me what they want me to think of character A or villain B or the movie as a whole. Let me decide!

One of the great things about the new Batman movie is that, for the most part, it delivers on the action, the drama, and the tension. There were a few places in which I would have probably changed up the dialogue so that it didn't seem quite as much like a classic soliloquy or like we were being sold the Harvey Dent package. But you know? That's all I can come up with in the way of criticism for the movie. Pretty much I was like Chris Farley on the Chris Farley Show skit on SNL. I was just slack-jawed, dumbfounded, and saying "AWESOME!!!" a lot.

Besides. A good movie gets me away from reality TV. That can be good or bad, depending on whether or not my lack of TV communion causes me to lose in my current lobby for a new flat panel television. It would be way too easy for hubby to say, "But you don't watch TV? Why do you need a 46" 1080p wide-screen Sharp Aquos for the living room?" Guess I'd better get caught up on The Greatest American Dog. Is the bulldog still in the running?

Most television shows make me think of the young Bulgarian man who is in training where I go for physical therapy. He loves American film and books, but he really likes comic books. Somehow he got the idea that I like comic books, too, probably because we got into a conversation early on about my hubby's love of all things Serenity, Star Wars, and Star Trek. We also talked about my hubby's comic book collection (he's got a great one). Each time I went in for a session, we would get into a conversation about some new movie he saw or about the latest comic book series he'd discovered. He got to practice his English, and I had his undivided attention lest the heat pack become too hot.

On one of the last sessions I went for, he was setting me up with cushions and my heat packs when he started telling me about this series he was reading called The Walking Dead. He's standing there next to my therapy table chatting away about the back story for the series, when he just shakes his head.

"The guy wakes up from coma in hospital," he said, still shaking his head. "His family is gone, no doctors, nothing!"

I was on the edge of my seat. :-)

"Then he gets up and walks outside," he threw his arms up in the air. "Zombies!"

If you can imagine that with a Bulgarian accent and a hint of the inevitability of it all. "Zombies!"

That's what I feel like if I spend too much time in front of the television - Zombie! I'm not sure if the storyline in the comic series is spoon-fed, but since this guy is pretty sharp, I'd say no. I could just see the zombies coming, though. We seem to like zombies in our movies and comic books these days. Do we like the zombies because they represent the seemingly inescapable nature of life and death? Or do we like them because they remind us of ourselves - going through the motions with only our next meal on our minds?

Hard to say, but if you wake up from a coma in the hospital, you might want to carry a big weapon with you, just in case.

Peace - D


tysdaddy said...

I absolutely love Lost in Translation. I think I took up smoking just because Scarlett looked so cool doing it.

If you do some digging on YouTube, someone cleaned up the audio during the famous whisper and now you too can know what Bill Murray said. Seriously. Unless you don't really want to know . . .

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Awesome post, hon! I loved "Lost in Translation" not just for the story, but because I'm also fascinated with Japanese culture. Seeing Bill Murray as a fish-out-of-water in such a strange culture captured me.

And zombies? Well, I think they fascinate us because they commit the ultimate taboo just to survive; consumption of human flesh. :)

quilly said...

Weeks go by without my even turning the TV set on. Too much that passes for entertainment is just hypnotism, and the reality shows remind me of the ennui that claimed the Roman people before the fall of the empire. A lot of comic books, on the other hand, still require thought and moral contemplation. Who'd have predicted that?

CrazyCath said...

A great post and you are so right. I too do not wish to be spoon fed. I like to think and to be able to draw some conclusions myself.

Well written as usual and this time, I'm by way of David.
Thanks for your comment at mine. Appreciate it.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

Watch the movie Saving Grace and tell me what you think. It has nothing to do with the new TV show by the same name. I think you will enjoy this one.