Monday, May 16, 2005

It's Just a Movie

Undoubtedly, I will enjoy the final episode of Star Wars because I like science fiction as space opera, that is, I like muddy plots, silly dialogue and the happy idea that one teenaged kid can save the universe if he is willing to accept the fact that he is just as special as he always thought he was, beat the crap out of dad and then drop the stick and walk away.

Feeling compelled as I do to be able to talk about popular culture with my friends as part of process of being diverting enough to have friends, I wouldn't miss SWIII no matter how bad the reviews. But as allows me to know, most of the reviews are good.

The movie would not have to be very good for me to like it. I liked the final Matrix movie well enough to be unhappy that I did not get either the ending or large chunks of the exposition that prepared me for the ending. I wanted it to make sense and spent time retrospectively imagining my way through my memory of the movie, trying to devise enough possible explanation so that it would make enough sense for me to think about it without fretting. (Not that fretting is bad per se. Kafka's multiplicity leaves me happily confused. I do not startle you, I'm sure, to tell you that the Wachowski brothers are not about to scramble up the canon and plop themselves down beside him.)

I was willing to serve an unpaid co-creator, which is good, but when it's that much work for so little reward, it's not good. I don't want to see the final Matrix movie again.

I like the Flash Gordon movie with Max von Sydow as Ming the Merciless well enough to sample it whenever it wanders by on cable. It's no Barbarella, but it'll do. Topol plays Dr. Zarkov. Just knowing that makes me smile. No, I can promise you that I find coarse-grained bombastic juvenile perhaps even infantile mythmaking better than no mythmaking at all. Once the first rush of the young and the frantic -- probably two distinct categories, by the way -- is over, I will plunk down my money for a half-priced SWIII matinee.

Having said all that, I relished Anthony Lane's dismantling of the movie in the New Yorker. I think Lane is a lot smarter about the popular novel than he is about movies, but his gift for comic invective is superb. I don't much care what he thinks, but I enjoy the way he thinks it. Being English and therefore possessed of a tradition of style most American writers don't find natural, sometimes he's elegant, sometimes not. That's his magic mix. Witness his dis of Yoda:

Also, while we’re here, what’s with the screwy syntax? Deepest mind in the galaxy, apparently, and you still express yourself like a day-tripper with a dog-eared phrase book. “I hope right you are.” Break me a fucking give.

This is coarse-grained and bombastic wit, juvenile and very nearly infantile. I bless him for it.

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