Sunday, April 29, 2007

We Go to the Movies

We hardly ever go to the movies. Reasons include:

1) My dislike of grading, a dislike so strong that I deal with it by spreading it out over the entire week, thus consuming weekend hours that could be shared with one's spouse;

2) Having as one's spouse a tireless and conscientious government employee who works too many 60 hour weeks, some of those 60 hours bleeding over into weekends;

3) OS is so empathetic and susceptible. Movie violence makes her scream. Cheesy, essentially comic, movie violence makes her scream. I don't mean a happy scream. I mean expressions of actual dismay.

This cuts down on our movie-going. But yesterday -- stories having been graded; grant proposals having been polished -- off we went. Our choices were limited. Too much pain, too much violence, too much stupidity. At least in the East Bay we were left with Blades of Glory, Pan's Labyrinth and Namesake. It was my impression that Blades of Glory was probably funny but certainly stupid, Pan's Labyrinth perhaps a little dark and Namesake exotic and probably uplifting.

Namesake it was. It was exotic and uplifting enough. Comes the immigrant, struggles the immigrant (not with making a living because our immigrant earns his Ph.D. in fiber optics), agonizes the immigrants -- man and wife -- as the kids Americanize and reject and neglect their parents.

And everyone learns something but only after the immigrant dies of a heart attack in terrifyingly early middle age. (We all have our terrors, you see.)

The immigrants are Indian. The son chooses the monied blonde and then, after his dad's death, his chooses the deracinated Bengali beauty. Neither path leads to contentment and so he is left at a very satisfactory place (satisfactory to a viewer who likes movies that end with beginnings), finally on the verge of making sense of things.

Ah, but his mother will now split her time between the U.S. and India. And the last scene is of her on a rooftop in sight of what may be the Ganges playing a long stringed instrument the name of which a blogger need not know in his pell-mell rush of typing, singing what the blogger thinks is classical Indian music, both strange and beautiful, at least when heard for 45 seconds.

A formula movie but a tested formula, a formula that produces predictable and very satisfactory results.

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