Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cut the Grass on You Effing Snakes

Someone made a movie of this, and the movie they made is good

I used to watch PBS when I was a kid, and I was allowed watch little else. My parents didn't have cable, and they were less than keen on letting us chiddlers view anything on the nefarious networks. In retrospect, I'm sorta glad ma and pa took this approach, but at the time, I felt deeply slighted. When my parents left the house for any period of time, no matter how brief (read: ma walking to the mailbox), the TV was turned on, and for a glorious moment I basked in the glow of televisual vittles that weren't "Homework Hotline" or about gardening or news or whatever. Sesame Street was an amazing show, and I managed to grow up just before Barney could suck me into the hivemind, but all in all, PBS is pretty lame when you're eight.

There was one important, incredible exception to the above rule, and it was Mystery. Each Saturday night, SP and his littermates would gather around the ol' picturemaker and devour the latest crime thriller, mostly imported from across the big pond. For one uninterrupted hour a week, abominable acts were committed by the slimiest of villains and the cases were blown wide open by the best of minds. I was never much good at figuring out who'd done what, but I respected the heroes -- the detectives -- of these shows because they all had their own distinct crime-solving style. This is less than shocking, because Mystery wasn't some drama series that has the same people writing and producing it each week; instead, the best of mystery shows from the U.S. and the U.K. would rotate in and out every couple of months to keep things fresh and interesting. I used to observe the forensic ingenuity of the likes of Agatha Christie's Poirot (played by David Suchet, longtime friend of FMT), Inspector Morse, Cadfael, Maigret, and P.D. James's Dalgliesh. This was truly great television.

When I was really young, I was most impressed by Suchet's Poirot, in the way he would get everyone in a room at the end of each show and break it all down with impossible discretion, and Cadfael, because it was set in the Middle Ages and there were lepers and damsels etc. As I grew a bit older, however, it was Ms. James's Dalgliesh, played by Roy Marsden on Mystery, that really earned my respect. He's a really private guy, preferring to write poetry and not talk to people when he's not busy solving murders, and he's something of a tragic figure, a widower whose wife passed on during childbirth. He's a lonesome type of cat, and not the type of bozo that you're likely to catch on the next episode of CSI: Arctic Adventures, but that's what makes him awesome, not to mention somewhat beievable.

P.D. James also wrote The Children of Men, which I haven't read because I'm still bogged down by this tome (no Thomas Pynchon), but I did catch the fil-um adaptation of it, and it's the best movie of the year thus far (then again, I haven't yet seen Primeval). It's bleak and earnest and thought-provoking and scary and intensely sad and thoroughly entertaining. The application of James's vision to contemporary political climes is frighteningly real, but one doesn't get the feeling that the filmmakers were out to push any particular agenda. In fact, the story feels like an indictment of the narrow-mindedness of those that pursue only their own ends and lose sight of the fundamental ethos of right and wrong, of solidarity between humans. I feel as though the reigious, ethical and/or political types are probably having a field day over the issues raised by this film, and I'm sure myriad interpretations have been and will be drawn up.

In the meantime, SP says that P.D. James and the folks that turned her novel The Children of Men into a film called Children of Men probably thought and think that the vindictiveness that prevails in our world these days is guiding us down a path towards permanent division between and misery among the people of planet Earth. Respect your fellow man and woman, and admire them for their differences instead using incongruities as a rationale for hate. It's also a good effing story, and a damn good film.


Furman P. Slothra said...

saw C of M last night, hafta say i was expecting more.

Sordid Puppy said...

well i didnt have any expectations...

Furman P. Slothra said...

man i had big expectations, from all the word of mouth shit to the "hey this movie is the great ignored movie of the year" type reviews. It was good, esp. the unexpected action turns, and michael caine. but i think i was expecting some kind of life-changing experience of something. that never works out too well.

Sordid Puppy said...

well i thought it was pretty sweet. michael caine is a legend.