January 22, 2008

An Otherwise Great Movie Ruined by Old People


On Friday afternoon I went to watch Atonement, which I have been burning to watch since the movie's release. I read the book last year and I was just hankering to see how they transformed the novel into a movie.

The first thing I noticed when I took a seat in the theater was that there were a lot of older people in the audience. Had I intruded upon a special screening for those 65 and older? If so, was my grandma here? Grandma? Grandma? Oh yeah, she doesn't speak English...


Anyway, the previews start playing and the white-haired couple sitting behind me start making comments to one another. After each preview, the wife announces her opinion of that movie:

"Oh, we should see that one."
"That one looks bad."
"What did he just say?"

That sort of thing. I rolled my eyes but I figured I'd give these old-timers the benefit of the doubt. Lots of people talk through the previews but they pipe down when the movie starts.

BOY, I was wrong. Queue up the movie and the old people keep talking. Frequently, the wife turns to her husband and asks what has just happened in the film. And here's the clincher: every time someone dies in the movie, the husband has to make a proclamation to the entire audience.

"Well, he died."
"Oh, he died too."
"See there? He just died."

ARGH! I couldn't take it anymore. But I couldn't turn around and chide these annoying people because they were old and probably hard of hearing and the old man would probably point to his amputated leg and say, "Well, see here missy! I lost this leg in the war. You know, the Civil War. I think I earned the right to say whatever I want to in these moving picture things. Now, why don't you turn your little Chinamen head around and leave me and Agnes in peace." Then he would shake his fists at me.

Or something along those lines.

So I couldn't say anything to this old couple and thus I did the only thing I could do: I moved. I left my comfy chair in a comfy part of the theater and I moved to the fourth row of the room. I sighed. Now for some peace and quiet. Now I could enjoy the movie without being jarred away from it from Mr. Confederacy and his wife.

But then I heard the voices. Noooo! They were talking again! And I could hear them as clear as day! The volume of their voices along with the acoustics of the theater had conspired against me.

"Well, he's dead," the old man announced.

I sighed again. Oh, James McAvoy and Keira Knightly! Come save me!

(By the way, the movie was great albeit a little slow in the middle. I think I may be one of a handful of people who preferred the film to the book. Not that the book isn't good. I just had a hard time reading it because I was SO MAD at Briony.)

January 14, 2008

Behold! My brain did not explode

Last Thursday I ventured timidly to my book club, hoping and praying that my mouth wouldn't burst forth with profanities towards this month's book. Because the book was really bad. Really, really bad. So bad that I knew I would scream "This book is shittier than a clogged toilet that no one has fixed in three weeks!"

But then an amazing thing happened: we didn't even talk about the book. Well, maybe we did for five minutes but then we all moved on to more interesting topics like the writer's strike and how much we really miss The Office.

I was saved.

And here is the good news: next month we voted to read Life of Pi, which I read back in college and which is a pretty decent book.


And here is the great news: I am hosting book club next month so I get to choose three or four books that the club will vote from! Now my brain is buzzing with what books I should choose. I want them to be really good books, of course, but I also want them to appeal to a wide audience. Thus I need to stay away from such literary figures as Marquez or Vonnegut because their prose may be too "out there" for my little book club.

Here is a list of what I have in mind:

1.) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
2.) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
3.) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
4.) China Road by Rob Gifford (A non-fiction book by a reporter who hitchhikes his way across the Chinese version of Route 66.)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some great books...

January 8, 2008

Behold! The Worst Book Ever Written

When I was in college, my friend Mike held a Bad Movie Club at his house every week. On Wednesday or Thursday evenings a group of BYU students and Provo-ites gathered to watch horrendously awful movies. Like "From Justin to Kelly," which really is awful.

If I was to start a Bad Book Club, then "The Wednesday Letters" by Jason F. Wright would be at the top of the list. I mean, this book isn't just bad. It's baaaaaaad. Not only is the prose cliche and the characters completely one-dimensional, the entire storyline is cheesy and melodramatic. The icing on the cake? An overt---and kind of laughable---anti-abortion message. Ugh.

Now I'm having an internal debate if I should attend my real-life book club this upcoming Thursday. Yep. Our book of the month is "The Wednesday Letters" and I think I might ruin everyone else's evening once I open my big mouth. I usually try my best to refrain from making too many comments and I usually try to give each book the benefit of the doubt. But I know I can't stop myself from yelling "THIS IS THE WORST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ!" and thus spoil everyone's dinner. (We're meeting at a restaurant.)

To prove my point, here are some passages from the story:

1.) Some background information on this passage: main character Malcolm returns to his hometown after spending two years in South America. He still is fiercely in love with his high school sweetheart Rain who is now engaged to a man named Nathan. Rain originally broke up with Malcolm because she wanted to stay a virgin until she was married and he wanted to rip her clothes off.

"Malcolm eventually learned to appreciate, even admire, [Rain's] faithful chastity. Now it crushed Malcolm to know Nathan was poised to be the beneficiary of her purity."

Ummmm...excuse me? The phrase "beneficiary of her purity" caused huge red flags to wave in my face. I mean, are we still living back in the middle ages when chastity belts were still in vogue? MISOGYNY ALERT!

2.) Some background information on this passage: Malcolm and Rain finally see each other after two years and they talk on the porch swing at Malcolm's parent's house.

"What about your dreams?" Malcolm asked.
"Give me a house full of children who call me Mommy, a man who loves me and who writes me a poem or two now and again, and maybe who can make me a swing like this one, and my dreams will find their way to true," said Rain.

Ummmm...do any real women talk like this? Sure, a lot of women want to be a mom and they want a good man to marry. But this dialogue just gagged me. Blech, blech, blech. I demand to know who edited this book!

Anyway, the only good thing about this entire ordeal is that my friend Liz lent the book to me. Whew. I'm so glad I didn't spend any of my money on this piece of stinky elephant poop. I truly believe more of my brain cells would have survived if I had spent the time smoking pot.

January 4, 2008

I want to move to Iowa

I am a nerd.

Last night I sat enraptured while watching the Des Moisnes Precinct 53 caucus for the Democratic primary. I gazed as the residents of this district organized themselves into groups for the candidate of their choice. I watched as the precinct leaders hopped from one group to another to canvas for more support. I bit my nails as the votes were counted once, twice, and once more.

It was enthralling---and it was on C-SPAN. I am now officially 85 years old.

I never really understood what a caucas was until yesterday. I always thought it was just another word for "primary" or "election." But no, no. A caucus is no ordinary go-to-the-local-elementary-school-and-cast-your-vote thing. It is an event. Residents of a precinct gather into a nearby school or library or someone's home and they split off into groups to show their alliegance to a certain candidate. Bodies are subsequently tallied up and the number sent to the precinct leader at the front of the room.

The Democratic caucus in Iowa is even more complicated in that it has two rounds. Candidates must garner at least 15% of the vote to be considered viable. If they fail to meet that 15% threshhold, then the supporters of that candidate must choose someone else. That's why a person's second-choice is so important amongst Iowa democrats. And that's why Dennis Kucinich urged his supporters to turn to Barack Obama in case he didn't meet viability. (I was confused about that.)

The whole process made me a bit misty-eyed about the whole democratic process and I wished that come February, I could participate in a caucus down here in North Carolina. The whole thing seemed so inspiring---as if the entire community came alive for one night to choose the next presidential nominee. But alas. I will just have to settle for that ordinary ballot machine.

(Yay Obama and Edwards!)