Before I begin with the actual topic of this post, I want to thank the lovely FSG for having my back about the Yumm! bowls (well, delicious bowls in general). If you know her, you know that she only talks when she feels something needs saying, which means that we should all listen to her when she speaks (or types, or whatever). Because she is usually reasonable and right. And it makes me feel like I have spoken something important and true when she agrees with me. Because, as we all know, I do not choose my moments to speak as carefully as she.
By the way, F, I am going to be in town when you are here. YAAAAAY. Perhaps we should get a crew together and have some Dots? Mmmmm. Grilled cheesy goodness.
Alright, and now on to more important things, like how I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie last night at the Redmond theater with my sister-in-law. I have been sort of curious about it, but I don't know if I would have made myself see it if it were not for Joy wanting to see it. It has brought up many questions for me. Maybe someone out there can shed light on some, or all, of these mysteries.
1) Why is it that people in Hollywood don't understand that George Lucas can't write? Because if they did understand this simple fact, they wouldn't let him write screenplays anymore. Or, more to the point, they would put him in a home somewhere and let him write to his heart's content, but they wouldn't bother to actually produce anything that he wrote. He stinks on all fronts--dialogue, story and pace. But especially dialogue. There were several moments when Joy and I actually laughed out loud (like the moment, and I'm not ruining anything here for those of you who have not yet seen the film, when "Dr." Jones makes the profound statement that the word for "gold" in Mayan or whatever is also the word for "knowledge". This occurs in the last 30 seconds of the film. Thank you for that. I would have never understood the theme of the film otherwise.). I should note, sadly, that we were often alone in our laughter, which may explain why George Lucas's screenplays do keep getting produced. Of course, we were also in Redmond.
2) Could this movie have been more conservative? (Ok, this is actually a rhetorical question. I am actually telling you that this film could not have been more conservative.) And here is why--first, even though the film ostensibly has a knowledge-is-power message, it actually delivers a strongly Promethean warning. There are several moments toward the end of the film in which the Jones character advocates stepping back from knowledge while the evil Commie Dr. Spalko (poor Cate Blanchett, by the way--she's a great actress, really, but she can't do a Ukrainian accent to save her life) is destroyed in her quest for knowledge. (Oh wait. Haven't I read that story somewhere before? In Genesis?!?) Second, does the film have to end with a wedding? Really? Does the Indiana Jones franchise scream heteronormative closure to everyone but me? Does anyone want Indy married off? NO. It's ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that Lucas is just lamely alluding to the Odyssey at the end of the film. Let me spell it out for you--Karen Allen is his Penelope, Shia LeBeouf his Telemachus, and the fact that he puts his hat on as he is leaving the church is our indication that he has not returned to Ithaca to stay, but rather that he will live to roam the Mediterranean another day. Listen, trying to marry (literally) wanderlust and the nuclear family didn't work for Homer, and it doesn't work for Spielberg/Lucas.
3) Why pay royalties to Elvis's family? I mean, seriously. It can't be cheap to get the rights to play the entirety of "Hound Dog". But if you are going to go to the effort and expense of using it in the opening scene of the film, along with a drag race in the desert, why insult our intelligence by scrawling "Nevada, 1957" across the screen three minutes in? We can't figure it out from the elaborate and expensive context you have just provided? Shame on you, Steven Spielberg, you should know better.
4) What is with the geriatric sequel? This is a trend that I just don't understand. I didn't see the last Rambo (I figured, "why start now?" I've never seen one of those films all the way through.), but I did see Rocky Balboa--in the theater no less--and this Indiana Jones film (and I guess that we should probably also sort of consider Star Wars Episodes I-III). Who is the audience for these films? Is it us? And by us, I mean those of us who are old enough to have grown up with the original films in the franchise. And if so, do we really want to see our favorite characters aged and subjected to lame plots (protecting a legacy and proving your worth to your estranged child)? Is this an attempt to bring new viewers--a younger audience--to the franchise? This seems sort of unlikely. Is Harrison Ford that cool to a 10-year-old?
No, my guess is this: these films are really about Baby Boomers trying to convince all the rest of us that 1) they are ok with aging because 2) they can still kick ass and take names even if 3) they have to take steroids and naps (or finance films themselves) in order to do it. Oh yeah, and they don't mind taking a few on the chin if in the end they still look good. So bring on the "grandpa" jokes, because they'll have the last laugh.
What happened to aging gracefully? I guess I should have expected Sly and Bruce Willis to fight it, but I expected more of Han Solo.