24 May 2007

Inflight movies-o-rama!

There's nothing like a long cross-continent flight to help one catch up on the movies. And those lovely newfangled (can we tell I don't travel enough?) seatback screens are very helpful in allowing everyone to select what they want, and even to try to squeeze in more than one selection. I do, however, find the heat they give off to be somewhat alarming: I can just picture sparks flying out and igniting everything around them in the event of an emergency. Then again, as my sister pointed out on our trip to B.C., if there is any kind of emergency, all this stuff about flotation devices and all would only distract us momentarily from our inevitable fate of returning to the earth in tiny pieces. (Life in a plane crash is not like Lost.)

Back to the matter at hand. Going westward, I managed to see two movies, or at least all of one and most of the second. First up was The Painted Veil.

I found this one interesting, especially in light of the fact that I have a friend living and working in China right now (teaching English, not curing diseases). I enjoyed the scenes of pre-revolutionary China, with distrust and conflict with the European colonizers, but the wayward wife seeing the error of her ways and rediscovering her love of her tirelessly valiant husband was a bit tired.

Next up on the westward flight was Partition. This is an intercultural love story set against the backdrop of the senseless post-colonial violence of the Indian subcontinent at the partition of India and Pakistan. I came away more convinced than ever that religion is a force of evil (I think that there are many good religious people, but they would probably be good people anyway) and that religious and cultural violence will do us all in if we can't get past it and be more secular and accepting. I only wish that I had been able to see the end of the film, as I don't really know who died and who lived, or if the fated couple lived happily ever after! (Help me out if you have seen it — the system shut down for landing when all the main characters were in the train station in Pakistan!)

On my eastward flight, I was much more restrained and only attempted one movie. My selection was Children of Men.

I have always been attracted to this sort of not-too-distant future post-apocalyptic theme. There is nothing like a bleak future to draw me into a film. Again with the hatred of 'others' in the film, I am not sure that this isn't our actual future, and I never really understood what actually led to the infertility problem. I also don't understand why our hero didn't just carry his shoes with him when escaping from the kooky revolutionaries with his pregnant charge. I can't imagine navigating a conflict-torn refugee camp in flip-flops!

As profound and in-depth as usual, no? Who needs thumbs up or down when you can just gloss over the plot lines, comment on the outfits and the underlying social problems and be flippant? Roeper and whoever his guest host is this week can just stand aside.

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