May. 2nd, 2017

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I saw lots of movies in April! Among them, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I know, I know. How have I made it twenty-eight years on the earth without seeing it?), which was quite fun, although I think my favorite part of the movie was the bit at the beginning where young Indiana Jones steals an artifact from a bunch of artifact stealers (“It should be in a museum,” he says indignantly) who then chase him onto a circus train to try to get it back.

Why a circus train? And what circus needs an entire train car full of snakes? Who knows! Who cares! It’s awesome, that’s what it is!

(Seriously though. Where are all the circus performers? There’ve got to be some Night Circus type shenanigans going on here.)

We also celebrated Earth Day with a double feature: Ferngully and Once Upon a Forest. I had of course seen Ferngully before - I think it was more or less required viewing in the nineties - and I must say the animation no longer seems as impressively lovely as it did to me then. I think I also kind of mixed it up in my mind with the scenes where Pocahontas shows John Smith around the forest and it’s all so breathtaking and then there’s a song, because I kept expecting that to happen and it didn’t.

Once Upon a Forest, meanwhile, is about a trio of forest creatures who go on a quest to find special herbs to save their friend who has been poisoned by humans, and learn important lessons about friendship & discovery. They make a weird flying machine! It’s cute.

I liked having themed movies, and have been trying to think of thematically appropriate movies for Mother’s Day and/or Memorial Day - well, I suppose any appropriately sad war movie would work for the latter? Will have to think about this.

Other April movies include:

Only Yesterday, which I believe is the final Studio Ghibli movie that I hadn’t seen. It’s sort of two movies in one: Taeko is heading out to the countryside for a summer farming vacation, and as she goes, she’s also reminiscing about her fifth-grade self, which - taking into account cultural differences, of course (and this film must be a real nostalgia trip for people who grew up in Japan in the sixties) - nonetheless reminded me of my own experiences in fifth grade. Taeko’s conflicted anxiety about menstruation (the director and producer are both men. How did they know that?), her confusing relationships with the girls in her class (are they her friends? Her enemies? Friends who don’t know how to be good friends yet?), the way she seesaws between trying to be grown up and being very bratty indeed.

It’s an odd, meandering, thoughtful film, not very concerned with having any kind of plot, not in terms of action and not even, perhaps, in terms of character growth - although on second thought, perhaps yes? Certainly there’s character exploration, character unfolding. Good food for thinking with.

(And upon reflection, there is one Ghibli film I still haven’t seen: Grave of the Fireflies. But everyone always says “Grave of the Fireflies will make you cry LITERAL BUCKETS of tears!” and, you know, that’s just not something I want generally. I’ll wait until the opportunity to see it foists itself upon me and then I’ll bow to my fate.)

9 to 5: Three women (Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin) all work in the same office under a domineering and incompetent male boss; they get their revenge on him, and it is at once delicious and hilarious. Why hadn’t I heard of this movie before? Why do I always seem to end up hearing about movies with multiple female stars through the grapevine and only the grapevine because no one ever mentions them anywhere else?

This is a rhetorical question. I’m just feeling salty about it.

On Golden Pond, which stars Katherine Hepburn! Sixty-something and as lovely and feisty as ever. This is a movie about an older couple, Norman and Ethel Thayer, who are joined at their holiday cottage on Golden Pond by their semi-estranged daughter Chelsea - played by Jane Fonda, the real life daughter of Henry Fonda, who plays the dad. This makes me super curious about the Fondas actual relationship. Were they drawing on life?

I hope they weren’t drawing on life too much because that would make Henry Fonda a pretty rotten dad. Norman is an emotionally unavailable, crotchety old man who never quite knew how to connect with his daughter, but probably should have realized that teasing her about her pudginess was never going to bridge that gap.

Norman and Ethel are very well-matched, though; it struck me as an illustration of the fact that “Is this the man I want to spend the rest of my life with?” and “Is this a man I would want to be a father to my children?” might well have opposing answers.


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