Archive for February, 2012

Film classifications should be expanded.  In addition to, say, “Suitable for audiences aged 15 and over” or “Contains strong language and nudity,” there should be other warnings.  Films could be preceded by notices such as “Less Enjoyable than a Root Canal” (my suggestion for The Ice Storm) or “Insidious mind-rotting consumerism dressed up as female liberation” (Pretty Woman) or “Watch with the sound turned down” (Titanic).  Other suggestions of mine would be “Have you seen Tootsie and Kramer v Kramer?  Then you’ve seen this already” (Mrs Doubtfire) or “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” (any James Bond film).

Of course you can see how the movie studios might not appreciate this level of helpfulness.

And many films should have a warning that says “You are ruining a cinema classic by watching this first.”  The absence of this warning is the reason I watched Apocalypse Now and Citizen Kane in the wrong order.   Ditto The Truman Show and Citizen KaneNow I find I’ve watched Rear Window and any number of films the wrong way around.  If only I had a time machine.  I would return to my younger self as I was about to enter a cinema to see Manhattan Murder Mystery and scream Don’t do it! Eighteen years from now you won’t appreciate fully the remarkable cinematic achievement of Rear Window.”   It wouldn’t be solely altruism, though.  I’d also use the opportunity to tell my younger self to buy shares in Apple.

So, as you’ve doubtless spotted, I’ve yet again addressed a gap in my cultural life, this time by watching Alfred Hitchcock.  Rear Window is another example of a very prescient film.  It foretold our modern atomised urban landscape where many people don’t know another soul.  It laid bare the modern dilemma of the dual career couple trying to reconcile their conflicting lives.  And yet, in other ways, Rear Window is so out of touch with modern life that it becomes a window, if you’ll forgive the pun, on a quaint and distant past.  A guy plays piano all night and nobody complains?  I don’t think so.  With the standard of sound-proofing in some modern apartments, he’d annoy his neighbours just by rustling his sheet music.  A crime is committed and the police are there in seconds?  Eh, no.  In Rear Window 2012, Lisa would have been murdered twelve times over in Thorwald’s apartment while the police were still stuck in traffic.  A photographer and a policeman are best buddies?   That would be part of the Levenson Enquiry today.   A dog is murdered and everyone goes quietly about their business?  No, today there would be a mawkish shrine with flowers and balloons.  Probably a book of condolences and a Facebook tribute page.   A married couple sleeping outdoors?  They’d have their own Youtube channel.  And then lying on a balcony would become an internet meme like planking or owling.  Ditto “Miss Torso” – she would be a viral sensation.  Don’t even get me started on what would happen if a single, childless guy sat at his window all day looking out at his neighbours through an array of cameras.  Sex. Offenders. Register.   And, my personal favourite, an insurance company paying for a nurse to come to your home every day?  Purr-lease!  The only insurance staff to visit your home these days are wearing suits and stern expressions and telling you that your water tank bursting was an act of God and isn’t covered by your policy.  In a modern re-telling, Stella, the home-care nurse, would have to be replaced by a pizza delivery guy with poor interpersonal boundaries.

Nonetheless, Rear Window is a very pleasant way to spend an evening.  My only addition would be a film classification  warning that said “May contain scenes inconceivable and preposterous to anyone under fifty.”


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I’m starting to weep for my college education.  Really, what was it for?  Yes, I seem to have spent a lot of time listening to drunks singing the collected works of Leonard Cohen while playing out-of-tune guitars.  I recall a lot of tiny flats lit by old candles wedged into Chianti bottles.  And I met my Present Husband.  All life-changing experiences.  But other than that, what did I accomplish?  It may well have been a cultureless wasteland.  As I have already mentioned, I never saw Citizen Kane, I never saw an Alfred Hitchcock film, and now I have to reveal that I never drank tequila.    Oh, for shame.  Lets hope nobody tells the taxpayers of Ireland how I misspent their money.

I remedied the tequila part last night.  I’ll admit to being not entirely sure what the fuss was about.   I had what is termed “tequila cruda,” which for the uninitiated – or those who similarly wasted four years in college – consists of a lick of  salt from your wrist, followed by a shot of tequila followed by biting on a lime.  It’s possible I missed the point of the exercise because my first impression was of imbibing furniture polish with condiments.  I was reassured that the first one was bound to be dreadful but I’d acquire a taste for it.  So I tried again.  This tequila business does require a lot of coordination and, as I’ve recently demonstrated, that’s not me.  So I thought a second attempt with more deft execution of the three phases would do the trick.  No success.  Then I decided to consider the science.  I tried more salt.  No joy.  I tried less salt.  No success.  I tried more lime.  The same.  I tried less lime.  Again, no improvement, but I did grasp the role of the lime in inhibiting the resemblance of the tequila to drain unblocker.  As my various attempts unfolded, I was starting to be less bothered by my lack of dexterity in the execution.   So I suppose they did produce a bit of personal growth.   I tried again with different permutations in the quantities but the attraction of tequila did not reveal itself to me.  On the plus side, by the time I’d realised that this tequila lark was not worth getting excited about, I was starting to think my Present Husband was hilarious, wonderful and an all-round great catch.  I suppose that did reassure me that my time in college was not entirely a wasted enterprise.

So, in conclusion, I think we can agree that tequila is not for me.  It was a novel experiment.  However, the contents of my detergent cupboard would have been cheaper and more effective.  But I know it’s nice to be nice, so I’d like to accentuate the positive of the experience.  First, I’ve remedied another little omission in my cultural life.   Second, I’ve suffered for some time with low blood pressure, which I’m fairly sure the massive salt intake has now fixed.  Take that, bloated fat cats of the pharmaceutical industry!  And, finally, as a result of all the limes, I think we can agree that I have warded off the perils of scurvy.  It’s possible I have no tooth enamel left, but a long journey on an 18th century pirate ship is now an option for me.  And that’s also something I’ve never done.

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