Monday, June 08, 2009

I laughed. I cried.

I once heard a story which I strongly suspect isn't true, about Hector Berlioz and Georges Bizet leaving a performance of, I believe, Beethoven's Fifth. Berlioz said that he had liked the symphony, but thought that music of its kind should not often be made. "Don't worry," the younger composer assured him, "it won't be."

Lindsey and I, together with a few friends and a large contingent of my in-laws, went to see Pixar's Up over the weekend, and if you don't want to sit through this post, presumably because my entire readership is contained within the group I mentioned above (no, not the 19th Century French composers), I'll cut right to the chase: If you like movies, you should watch Up. Phew! I hope you enjoyed that run-on sentence as much as I did. I knew very little about the movie when I went to see it, except that it was made by Pixar, and therefore was very likely to be enjoyable. I also noticed in the preview I'd seen that the central character of the film appeared to be a grumpy septuagenarian, and that intrigued me. You just don't see many kids' movies about old men; they're harder to merchandise. So, I was expecting the movie to, at worst, be not bad. If it turned out to be something along the lines of A Bug's Life, I would still enjoy myself, and if I won out, it could be as good as The Incredibles. Yes, I'm a grown man, and I like cartoons. Sue me.

So I was optimistic, but not overhwelmed with excitement, when I put on my 3-D glasses (yes, it was in mind-blowing three-dee!) that made me look somewhat like this guy (though my companions said I looked more like this guy), and took my seat. My memories of what came next contain a nearly formless succession of images popping off the screen and tormenting me, and I am at a loss to better describe what occured. Later, my wife informed me that what I had seen was this trailer (if you click that link, you do so at your peril), evidence that the Dark Forces that brought down Beverly Hills Chihuahua upon the earth are at it again. I recall remarking to myself that for someone who was intentionally going to see a childrens' movie, I sure tend to hate childrens' movies. I heaved an audible sigh of relief when the requisite animated short signalled the beginning of the film. The short was a delightful, whimsical affair, a story of a long-suffering stork and the living cloud that loved him (seriously). Lindsey said "Aaaawwwww" roughly every ten seconds of the five-minute short, which I suppose means that she considered it to be cute. Then the movie started.

On hour and thirty-six minutes later, as the credits rolled up the screen, I turned to my companions, bewildered, and demanded: "That was a kids' movie?" Indeed, the lone child in our group (my eight-year-old brother-in-law) said he had loved it, and probably for the reasons you'd expect: a man flies his house with baloons, and there are goofy talking animals. I also nearly cried twice. I'm only willing to admit as much because I'm fairly sure I was not alone, and indeed some of my companions actually did cry, more than twice. In short, the movie is really, really good. It was also hilarious, don't get me wrong, but it manages to tug every freaking one of your heart strings on its way to your funny bone. Yes, I just used two made-up body parts in one sentence.

Up is better than it has any business being. I hear that it's been doing fairly well at the box office, and that's great, but I'm actually surprised it was released at all. I don't know the movie business, but it looks to me like movie-making suicide. Kids' movies aren't supposed to make people cry. I'm sure that the folks at Disney have already figured it out, but I have no idea how to merchandise this movie. What, are they going to make Carl Fredirickson action figures? Probably, but all the same. I can't even conceive of making sequels out of the thing. It's impossible.

Anyways, go watch the movie! I wouldn't recommend the 3-D experience, though. It's alright, but it's just sort of a gimmick. My favorite part of it was the ridiculous glasses I got to keep. Oh, and never, ever mention that ginuea pig movie to me again.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Impostor

It's a few moments before nine o'clock on a Saturday morning, and not only am I not in bed, I'm an hour's drive from it. And I'm stretching. It's a cloudy morning, cold for this time of year. A light drizzle is falling, and I've just pinned a number onto the front of my t-shirt. And I'm stretching. What am I doing? This is not the sort of thing I do. A few members of the crowd I've joined at the starting line are exchanging friendly taunts. Some are telling each other the time they'd like to finish in, or swapping a few workout tips. Everyone's smiling, chatty, and fidgeting a bit. A few of the guys standing near me allow me to join in their conversation. They're talking about running, which I suppose is a natural starting point for a conversation at a starting line. But they think I'm one of them. The drizzle has let up. I'm cold. I'm tired. I awoke too late to make coffee. Lindsey's still at home, in bed. Probably still asleep, even. Maybe she's sat up by now, and is reading a book, but she's almost certainly still under the covers. I yawn, and rub my eyes one last time. "ON YOUR MARKS! GET SET..." A bullhorn goes off. I'm running. In a race. This is not the sort of thing I do.

Let's Try This Again...

Ok. I'm ready. Decemberists. Columbus. Tonight. Let's do this thing.

Go Blue!