Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The John Cusak Movie Experience

I put off watching the movie 2012 because the video ads evoked images that truly frightened me. End of the world stuff. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. So, when I finally drummed up the courage to view it, it was with some trepidation. I knew what to expect. I had read the reviews and watched the trailers. 2012 is an epic disaster story. After I watched it, it occurred to me maybe it was THE epic disaster story. The movie delivered the thrills I expected, bored me where I expected, and wrapped it up with a happy ending. Now, how does one go about making a film that portrays the end of civilization and the deaths of everyone on the planet save a few thousand, and then end the monstrosity by making you feel good? That’s Hollywood for you.

Like many movies of this genre, 2012 has multiple sub-plots, but the main plot concerns a typical, post-modern splintered family, primarily John Cusak's character, the ex-husband, a nice enough guy, a sensitive, caring sort who is an unsuccessful writer supporting himself by driving a limo. At this point, any movie afficionado would recognize we have entered the realm of the John Cusak movie experience. We are going to be sensitive about what happens at the end of the world. We are not going to drop our humanity as everybody else folds into full panic.

I got a little lost in scenes where Cusak's character was reconnecting with his children and ex-wife. We've seen Cusak go through the pantomime before and, although it's become a bit maudlin, he's good at it. All that heartfelt talk in such simple terms even a caveman could understand, the eye contact, it's like watching the same scene over and over again. So I didn't feel bad about going to the kitchen for a snack.

The thing that made me a little uncomfortable was that the new husband was along for the ride throughout the greater part of the film and he was always watching as Cusak mended fences with his estranged family, at least until the surrogate husband is conveniently written out of the script by being crushed to death by oversized mechanical gears within a gigantic ark. Yes, I said ark, as in Noah and the flood. Days later, we see Cusak with his arms around ex-wife, who looks at him and asks, "Where have you been all my life?" Whoa there you two, you didn't make it the first time around, remember? Maybe the subliminal message is that the girl always gets the survivor.

So, the family angle was a little weak. Who cares? The special effects were great and, even though I knew Cusack and his little family would somehow endure, I was on the edge of my seat. Like I said, that end of the world stuff really frightens me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Global Warming

After suffering through the coldest Texas winter I can recall, I feel prompted to comment about global warming or at least, my perceived lack of global warming. For the record, this winter season is setting records for low temperatures and snowfall not just in Texas but across the North American continent. My apartment is cold, my heating bill is high, and I've been sick with winter-type illnesses for the past month. The climate change pundits haven't issued any statements lately except to say maybe they were wrong. Maybe? I don't need a PhD in meteorology to tell which way the wind is blowing.

Now, why have we been told otherwise? Are there plans afoot to create yet another worldwide emergency and to subsequently re-structure our lives for the good of the planet?

Mmm-maybe.

Well, the powers that be must be a little embarrassed about all the cold. It was supposed to be hot. The oceans were supposed to rise. Glaciers were supposed to melt. We were told these things were already happening. But they can't happen and I'll tell you why: because it's too cold, that's why.

Could it be we've been lied to? I don't know. Let me check the temperature one more time...