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Sunday, January 17, 2010

God Save the Queen

I felt like a real baby yesterday.

Not in the burbling up mashed peas all over my onesie kind of baby, but in the not getting my way and not being particularly diplomatic about it kind of baby.

I had my heart set on seeing "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," Terry Gilliam's latest romp. Those of you who've been around for a while remember the blog post I wrote about the film, relating to the imagination of children several weeks ago, and will understand why I wanted so badly to see the film.

Because I work all day and teach and rehearse at night, my opportunities for seeing films are very limited, but Saturday night appeared to be all-systems-go, and so I asked my wife if she'd go with me.

"Sure," she said, "but, what the fuck is 'The Conundrum of Mrs. Parabolas?'"

"Don't worry about it," I said, dialing the number for my forty-two-year-old sister, our perennial third-wheel. She was, of course, being fed and babied at my parent's house, a mere 0.04 miles away.

"Pick us up now," I said into the phone, "we're going to the movies."

"Okay!" she said. I never have to worry about her having plans, because she never has plans.

The time was 6:51. The film started at 7:00. The movie theatre was probably ten minutes away for most drivers, seven if you drive like you really mean it.

Now, I would have driven, but my sister is allergic to dogs, and feels that, because our dog has traveled in our car many times that she cannot do likewise. Therefore, whenever the three of us go anywhere, she has to drive. In her pristine, 2009, gold ("Not trashy gold," according to my father), blonde-wood enrobed BMW where dust mites fear to tread.

As my wife and I stood outside on our street corner, waiting for a glimpse of my sister's xenon headlamps cutting through the evening air, I shook my head in despair after consulting my watch.

"We'll never make it."

I don't exactly know what happened to my sister but, somewhere along the line, she went straight from infant to senior citizen. In her apartment, there are heating pads and huge containers of vitamins and tubes of theraputic gels everywhere. Her condominium looks exactly like my great grandmother's apartment used to look like, only without the chifferobe-sized console television, the avacado-colored rotary telephones and blackened liverwurst hamburgers.

My sister has even started driving like an elderly person. Fortunately, only as concerns speed. She doesn't weave into the opposite lane of traffic, nor does she drive through people's lawns and hedges, the way my step-grandmother has, but she adheres to the posted speed limit signs with an almost religious fervor. This is a woman who used to rack up speeding tickets with all the enthusiasm of a chubby 7-year-old kid vying for skiball prizes. I rolled my eyes as she slowed to a cringeworthy 15mph and rode her brakes down what can be a very fun, winding road on the way to the movie theatre and I resigned myself to the fact that "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" would fly the coop before I got to see it in the theatre.

I wondered briefly if my sister preferred Polident or Sea Bond.

When we got out of the car at the movie theatre, it was 7:12 and there were approximately 30 people in line for tickets.

"Oh, Jesus Christ," I moaned, "fuck this, let's just forget it."

"Buddy," my wife said in her best impersonation of an optimist, "don't forget about previews-- they're usually at least fifteen minutes long."

We stood in line behind the yacking and irritating wealthy people of this neighborhood and, as we got closer to the ticket window I saw a sign that read something like,

"Dear Movie Patrons:

Due to a malfunction in our heating system, there is NO HEAT in movie theatre #2, which is currently showing "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." Please be aware that the temperature inside this movie theatre is approximately 55 degrees. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

I walked up to the ticket window when it was my turn and said, undaunted,

"Three for 'Imaginarium,' please," sticking my debit card in her face.

"Sir, you do realize that it is approximately 55 degrees in there, right?"

"Buddy," my wife said behind me, "I think I'll be cold in there." And she would have been. And if my young, sprightly, pixie-like wife would be cold in there, my woefully underweight, brittle-boned, geriatric sister would probably become an ice-pop before the first plot-twist.

I sighed and turned my gaze up to the other offerings or, in the case of this small theatre, offering. One other film, beginning at 7:15.

"Three for 'The Young Victoria,' please."

It wasn't terrible, but it was no Terry Gilliam film. If it were, a gigantic, slimey, cyclops dragon would have devoured Queen Victoria within the first ten minutes and its head would have popped open and a dozen tuxedo-wearing goldfish would have swam out singing German oom-pah songs.

But that didn't happen, and I was okay with that. I wasn't okay, though, with the filmmakers completely fabricating Victoria's husband, Albert, getting shot while shielding her from an assassination attempt.

There was an assassination attempt on Victoria, many, many assassination attempts, actually-- but in none of them were Albert shot. In the movie, he acts like a Secret Service agent, pushing Victoria back in her carriage while simultaneously leaping in front of her to gracefully accept the bullet into his powerful, manly shoulder.

But it was nothing but pure, Hollywood horseshit, and it made me furious.

What is the purpose of historical films if they are going to radically manipulate and outright lie about what happened? I know why they did it-- because, in the scene before, Albert & Victoria had just had a huge blowout and then they needed to have them make up. Well, couldn't they have done that without making shit up? It was ridiculous and unnecessary and all it does is make people who are too lazy to research things or are too trusting to think they don't have to believe things that aren't true.

I just think it's funny how films like these obsess over the historical correctness of period dresses and hairstyles and mutton chops, and uniform colors and the accuracy of medals and table linens, and casting just the right actress who looks just enough like the Baroness Lehzen, and then they just go and fantasize about rather significant happenings, or non-happenings and are content to rewrite history, because what really happened just isn't interesting enough. Am I a fuddy-duddy who only wants the history represented as it truly was-- or is that even possible?

Or maybe I'm still just in a funk because my sister drives like an octogenarian and I didn't get to see my movie.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds to me like if a gigantic, slimey, cyclops dragon had devoured Queen Victoria, nobody would have noticed if this was accurate. It makes you wonder what else was made up or messed up that you didn't notice.

    And it sort of makes you wonder about history books, and the people that wrote them, and how far we can trust what we have been told...


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