Friday, February 24, 2012

What's More Romantic Than Hitchcock?

We celebrated Valentine's Day early this year.  Last month, while at the movies with my son, I noticed an advertisement at my favorite local discount theater that they were going to show "Psycho" on February 12th and 13th.  Oh yeah, baby.  There was no way I was going to miss Hitchcock on the big screen.

"Really?!  We're going to see "Psycho" for Valentine's Day?  Should I be scared?" was the response from my beloved when I let him know of the plans.  He was pretty stoked on the idea, as long as we didn't act it out later. 

I've seen "Psycho" numerous times, but there's just something about seeing a favorite movie on the big screen that is a whole different experience.  With none of the distractions of watching a movie at home, I was really able to get into it.  There was no surround sound.  It was grainy and the film was a bit scratched in places.  I can't remember the last black and white movie I've seen in a theater.  Knowing what was going to happen next just added to the suspense.  Seeing Leigh's wide, dead eye, upside down, filling the screen, as her body lies sprawled out of the shower after being stabbed by "mother" is just fabulous.  The camera turns right-side-up (and I swear I saw her eye flicker) and pans out to see her lifeless body.  The chocolate syrup blood running down the shower drain . . . perfect. 

I'm not a horror movie fan.  Previews for the flicks my middle-schoolers are dying to see leave me cold and seriously creeped out.  I spent too many years getting over being a fearful person to immerse myself in 1 1/2 hours of psychotic killing or demonic possession of mothers. 

I make exceptions for Hitchcock, however.  The way he used personal space (or lack of) and strange camera angles keep it great.  He uses the power of our imaginations to terrify us.  He doesn't need to show us every little gory detail.  We can fill in the blanks perfectly fine ourselves. 

My hubby started dozing off about 3/4 of the way into the movie.  When he ordered Sake during dinner, I knew it was inevitable.  Something about the dark and comfy chairs tends to lead him into dreamland for a bit during almost all movies.  (I am guilty of this from time to time as well.)  But there was no way he was going to be allowed to sleep when Mother's corpse was about to be discovered in the basement!  "Wake up!," I hissed.  "How can you protect me when you're sleeping!!!???".  He smiled and held me close.  "I wasn't really sleeping."  Yeah, right.

I really hope the theatre starts showing more classic Hitchcock.  Seeing "Rear Window" or "Rope" on the big screen would be fabulous.  Maybe I should send in a request.  Or maybe I should start playing the lottery and build us a movie room at home.  Nah.  Not the same thing.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Many Times can a Book Break Your Heart?

When I first saw the preview's for the movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", my first instinct was to avoid this movie.  Although I enjoy Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, who co-star in it, the theme was 9/11, a topic, like the Holocaust, which is very hard for me to digest without a horrible stomachache and a lot of tears.

My husband, E, upon seeing the preview, said, "You might want to see this movie."  "No way," I said.  Can't handle the 9/11 theme, but my subconscious started chewing on what I had seen and I realized that I had already read the book, years ago, and had really been touched by it.

I ordered a copy for my school library, barcoded it, then set down to "review" it for my students.  (I love how my homework is to read books.  My job rules.)

Very quickly, the plot came back to me.  Nine-year-old Oskar Schell's father died in 9/11.  Oskar and his father had a pretty amazing relationship.  Being an only child, his father spent in inordinate amount of time with him, creating quests that took the boy all over NYC.  His father's death, however, and a mysterious key found in a cryptic envelope in his father's closet, sends Oskar on the wildest and most emotional journey yet.

Determined to discover what the key is for, Oskar meets people of every possible type.  Oskar himself is quite an unusual child, constantly creating in his mind new inventions, like parachutes for skyscrapers and water from your shower that was chemically treated to turn your skin the color of your mood, which would be helpful to signal to others when to be gentle with you, as well as to help you figure out how, exactly, you are feeling.

Interspersed with the story are photos representing what the character is experiencing at the time, as well as a story written by Oskar's grandfather for his unborn son, whom he abandoned before his birth.
"You look upset. Is anything wrong?"  I wanted to say, "Of course,"  I wanted to ask, "Is anything right?"
This book is a bit on on the adult side, so I may limit its check-outs to 8th graders only, and let them know there is some content they might not yet be ready for (sex) but I have found that the students here who can actually finish a book, are probably ready to read what I have in here.

As far as seeing the movie?  Yeah, I'll do it.  I might sit in the back row, by myself, with a box of tissues, but I feel I owe it to Oskar to relive his journey one more time.

Thanks for listening.