Shhhhh!!! | A Chick Called Mick

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Shhhhh!!!

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2008 at 9:23 PM

I promised my former drama teacher and current friend, Kim, that I would start watching more old movies. What I meant was: I’ll watch a half-dozen or so, and if I just can’t get into them, I’ll watch, like, two a year. Kim has good taste, though, and out of the list she gave me, I liked all but one. I hated Bringing Up Baby, and as I watched Cary Grant fall for Katherine Hepburn, I yelled: “Get away from her! She’s totally crazy!” He ignored me, of course, and at the end of the film, after she wrecked a dinosaur skeleton he spent years assembling, the couple end up in an embrace. He couldn’t help but love her; personally, I would have stayed single.   I decided to continue with what I started calling The Celluloid Project, and then, Kim said I should check out some silent films. Oh. Really? Silents? Really? I’ve taken a few film classes, so I’ve seen my fair share of silent movies. I’m sure some people genuinely like them. But even when I watched something entertaining, like Charlie Chaplin, I invariably found myself thinking, “You know what would make this better? Talking.”  
I figured it was best to get it out of the way, so I sat down to watch the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis. The theme of the film is that “without the heart there can be no understanding between the hand and the mind,” and the plot pretty slavishly adheres to that idea. There were privileged people who lived in the city (mind) and the people who built the city, yet lived far below it (hands). Along came a girl named Maria and a guy named Freder (heart), who eased the tensions that existed between the two groups. Pretty basic stuff and vaguely familiar if you’ve ever seen Madonna’s Express Yourself video, which was inspired by the film. Admittedly, Lang’s version involves fewer beefy dudes without shirts. 
 
Perhaps anticipating my reluctance to the whole idea, Kim pointed me in the direction of the controversial 1984 version done by Giorgio Moroder, which used original footage but added some hot 80s colors and a soundtrack that included heavy use of synthesizers and a dash of Freddie Mercury. I mean, ideally there would be dialogue, but if that’s not going to happen, at least there’s Pat Benatar and a little Adam Ant. That helps. The whole thing was like a really weird music video, and it got even more awesomely weird when a mad scientist made an evil robot that looked like Maria. (You could tell she’s bad news because she wore a lot of dark eye makeup and did burlesque.) She wreaked havoc while making evil faces and when paired with a great Bonnie Tyler song easily became my favorite thing about the movie. The mix of old and new-ish and Madonna was so surreal it joined the ranks of a handful of films that have made me wonder: Am I on drugs right now? But, you know, in a good way.
 
A lot of the original footage got lost, so there were some plots that never really went anywhere and a few things that didn’t quite make sense. After two viewings, I was still asking some decidedly odd questions. Are those people marching into the bowels of a giant machine? Are they going to their deaths or just doing a little repair work? And is that guy’s job just randomly moving the hands on a giant clock? That doesn’t seem as hard as they make it look. Then again, what’s the point of doing it all? These are the times when words would come in really handy, no? Yeah….I really can’t seem to get past that last one.
 
I have a great deal of respect for Kim and also for my old film professor, Dr. Cooper, who made some really great arguments in favor of silent cinema. I wanted to love the film, and I certainly wouldn’t say that I disliked it. It was fascinating in a lot of ways, but I still found myself getting restless at times. The story was a little basic for my taste, which makes sense because plots have to be simple enough to be understood through pantomime, but it still makes for a story that doesn’t leave a lot of room for surprises. I know myself pretty well, and if evil, burlesquing robots and Freddie Mercury don’t convince me to reconsider my feelings about the genre, I’m not sure what will.

Favorite

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Ashley McKelvy

  • Can I have a Definition please?

    I meant to write this post days ago, but it's been one of those weeks where I just couldn't convince myself to do the things I should.  But I wanted to talk for just a minute about the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee that was on TV this week.  The first thing I want to say is that I am an abysmal speller (and don't think I didn't get a little help on the spelling of 'abysmal.')*  When I lived in Austin, I applied for some jobs with UT, and they required a spelling test.  I took the test twice and never scored high enough to apply for a secretarial position with the school.  So, I was never a viable spelling bee candidate.  But there's a documentary about students participating in the National Spelling Bee called Spellbound that I am in love with.  I'm actually watching it as I type this.
    • May 31, 2009
  • Grillin' time

    My parents called this morning and wanted to come up for a few hours to spend Memorial Day with me.  It was a nice surprise--although if I'd had a little more notice I would have vacuumed, but dirty carpet is what they get for giving me little advanced warning--because my parents are kind of awesome.Mom mentioned that they'd thought we might cook out, but since it was rainy and I don't own a grill, I didn't give much credence to that idea.  I was surprised, then, when my parents came up to my place carrying bags of groceries and a grill in a box.  A tiny grill.  One might even go so far as to call it cute, but the punishment for undermining the grill might mean one doesn't get to partake in the delicious charbroiled food cooked upon it.  So, I didn't call it cute.I let them in, and since it was close to lunchtime, Dad started prepping the food while Mom and I sat on the couch and got caught up on the latest news.  It took me a while to realize we weren't having hamburgers.  Or hot dogs.  We were having kabobs.Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with kabobs, it's just that it wasn't what I was expecting.  He got this idea and wanted to try it out, and that's the sometimes weird but often wonderful thing about my dad.  He and my mother live in the small town where I grew up, and I sometimes used to joke that it was a town that almost forcibly resists culture.  But sometimes major trends and fads make it all the way to our little corner of the state, and people like my dad find out about them.  Five years after I tried my first mojito, he heard about the drink and decided he'd like to try one.  He grew his own mint for the mojitos, and the thing you should know is that my father is a much better gardener than he is a bartender.  We had an abundance of mint, and the result was that he became very generous with it in order to prevent waste.  The first time he handed me a glass, I stared at the veritable forest floating amidst the liquid ingredients."Next, time, I don't want a salad at the bottom of my drink," I teased him.When the mint started to overrun the place, he put it in the iced tea as well, and insisted on calling it "mohi-tea."  Because while he is often a really, truly funny man, my father sometimes cannot resist the siren call of a cheesy joke.I like the fact that my father is curious and willing to try new things.  Sure, I wasn't thrilled when he commandeered a bottle of my wine to try his hand at French cooking, and we have actually had an argument about what truly makes a sandwich a panini, but generally I think it's an admirable quality.  It's one that I think I've inherited in small ways--I prefer to sample pop culture more than food, but I can be persuaded to try a new drink now and again.  The kabobs were good, even the slices of grilled pineapple that I pooh-poohed early on turned out to be delicious, and I was glad Dad decided to try something different.  I did have hot dogs for dinner, though.  You know, just to be patriotic and all.
    • May 25, 2009
  • Out With The Old? Not So Fast

    I am off today, and I am sitting at home in what, sadly, might be my favorite pair of jeans.  I say "sadly" because after close to five years of denim-y good times, they need to be retired.  They were a gift from someone who couldn't wear them for some reason, but they fit me perfectly.
    • May 22, 2009
  • More »
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation