Sunday, February 19, 2006

Big Monkey!

It's been a little more than a week since Sarah returned from Denver, and we are finally starting to settle back in. I picked her up at San Francisco Airport last Tuesday night, and whisked her off to Wilbur Hot Springs for a few R&R days. The waters were a little too stinky for our tastes (and very very salty--even the filtered water for showering and drinking left our pores filled with sulfur-y odors for days afterward, which was gross) and a little too hot for protracted bathing, but the lodgings were gorgeous--we stayed in the Loft Room, which you ascend spiral staircase to get to--and the communal kitchen was a great common space. The other highlight was tromping around the 1800 acres of private land around the springs. The whole area supported a pretty intense mining industry around the turn of the last century, and the land is dotted with collapsed mines and smeltery ruins, and zigzagged with old mining roads. Next time I bring a camera.

The transition from such free personal time to sharing a house with four other people, with me getting back into classes and Sarah feeling like she had no context, was a little rough. I felt like last week was the first week of school, which is bad because SKSM's semester was two weeks old already, and UCBerkeley's was a month in. I hope I haven't dug myself too deep a hole, but nothing to do now but plug my nose and dive in.

We watched King Kong yesterday afternoon at The Parkway--$3 Saturday Matinee is unbeatable in the Bay Area--and feeling a little aimless and not wanting to waste money, we watched Gosford Park last night at home (with a lot of pauses to dissect motivations and character). So lots of movie time, with two very different films.

I agree with what seems to be the CW on King Kong, that it was a ninety-minute movie over-padded with a lot of indulgent twaddle. Especially the scene with all the giant bugs and toothed-foreskin worms at the bottom of the canyon. Yuck. I liked Kong (great facial expressions--nice work again, Andy Serkis[aka Gollum]), in particular the way his jaw was lopsided, and all the scars of battles past he bore. The sense of him being old and nearing the end of his road was the only thing that made his inevitable end bearable. When I was a kid, I had such a hard time at movies--I had to cover my eyes during the climactic Lightning-Striking-the-Clock-Tower moment of Back to the Future--and I feel like after a brief respite, I am again emotionally investing myself in movies to a degree that I no longer enjoy them. I mean, I was almost sobbing during the end of King Kong, even with all my efforts at detachment and my understanding of the flaws in the acting and plot, just because the giant ape was doomed from the start, had no chance, was infected by America and sacrificed to it just as surely as all the girls presented to him had been. Tragedy, as Mel Brooks said, is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole and die. That said, I couldn't stop think about Homer and Bart watching Gorilla the Conqueror (as part of Million Dollar Movies' Big Gorilla Week) and Homer sobbing at the end, "It's so unfair! Just because he's different..." That said, the big gorilla floating off to sea in a cage at least leaves hope alive, versus the journalists clambering over Kong's corpse sprawled out in front of the Empire State Building angling for a face shot. Just because he's different indeed.


Sheriff said...

There's a shot at the end of King Kong where Kong is falling off the building and the camera pulls up and away in slow motion, spinning to capture the girl in the dress on the roof and a flight of biplanes soaring I did feel like the film had a little bit too much tripe (i.e. the sensitive ice spinning scene), but I think that, in the end, they got it right. It wasn't necessarily "because he was different" that he was done in; I mean c'mon, all Kong wanted was a nice white girl on a deserted island....doesn't everyone?

Andy said...

True. The "just because he's different" was referring more to Homer than Kong, but it wasn't really clear either way. What a let down!

Jack Black didn't set out looking for Kong, but once he saw him, that was it. I guess it wasn't so much that he was different as that he was phenomenal. Different usually gets you shunned; stupendous means you get exploited, and pancaked.

My favorite part of the movie was that they made Kong fight THREE T-Rexes. That was cool. The ice spinning was crap, and one of the points in the film where my rudimentary grasp of physics kicked in and I said to myself,"how thick does that ice have to be to support that much weight focussed on such a small surface area?" Also, when Kong was running through the jungle and giving Naomi Watts the ragdoll treatment--people die all the time from shaken babe syndrome.

So yeah, I stand by my analysis--long and flawed, but hit all the right notes.