Friday Jim and I had one of those days that kids think they’ll have all the time when they grow up and get to do whatever they want. You know, how we think we’ll live on ice cream and pizza and buy every coloring book we want and stay up all night watching TV? Well, in this case we went to two different movie theaters and saw two different comic-book-based movies, watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica in between, ate pancakes for breakfast, and pizza and beer for dinner. I joked that all we needed to make the day completely decadent was to smuggle a roll of cookie dough into the theater with us. We didn’t. The day was decadent enough as it was. If only the movies had been better.
X-Men 3. I know I’m a nerd for saying this but I was REALLY looking forward to this movie. I loved the first two. I wish Professor Xavier’s school was a real place. I would love to go there and interview the kids and write an article. Hell, I would love to BE one of the kids, though I would hope for a good and useful mutant power, not Rogue’s sad, isolating power, or a gross one like a big long toad tongue or something. As a writer I'm on the lookout for those things that make you want to live in the story, and cool schools really get me, like Hogwarts, or Professor Xavier's. But this movie, while still entertaining, was flat. BIG things happen to major characters and the director fumbles each one, making you care far less than you should. There's another thing to examine as a writer: how does a good director invest you solidly in characters' fates, while a mediocre director can use all the dynamite in the world and not coax out a single tear?
V for Vendetta. Saw this at the second-run movie theater Laurelhurst. I’ve mentioned before that Portland is a paradise of second-run movie theaters, most of which serve pizza and beer. Movies are $2 or $3 and you bring your pitcher and slice right inside with you. Awesome. The movie was a big ball of cheese, though. It has good, important themes and it draws uneasy parallels between how the Nazis managed to do what they did with the mute consent of the German people, and how our own government is wielding fear as a weapon against us, terrifying us into giving up our outrage as well as our rights. But the cheese prevailed.
Now, on the other hand: Battlestar Galactica. You might not even know it’s been remade by the Sci-Fi channel and recently wrapped up its second brilliant season, and if you don’t, if you haven’t seen it yet, I kind of envy you because you get to experience it from scratch. It’s that good. We’ve been Netflixing it and to our dismay, realized only half of the second season is available so far on DVD, and to our even greater dismay, that half ended on a royal cliffhanger! BUT... schwwwwwING!... Jim figured out i-tunes has it to download for $1.99 an episode so we actually ate dinner in front of the computer last night to watch it! (I heart technology.)
Honestly, television rocks these days. There are just so many good shows, and even a lot of the mediocre shows are better than the schlocky hundred-million-dollar blockbuster movies! The chance to develop characters and plots over time makes TV a very friendly medium for storytellers, and a treasure trove for novel readers who like that sort of thing, which we do, and which is why our Netflix queue is stuffed with shows like The 4400, MI-5, and The Shield. Now, if you haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica yet, do. It starts with a four-hour miniseries that is a much better investment of time than any summer blockbuster, and if you’re not a sci-fi fan, don’t let that deter you. This isn’t really a sci-fi show. It’s a smart, kick-ass drama about genocide, survival, terrorism, loyalty, ethics, democracy, and religious extremism, that just happens to take place on space ships.
P.S. After that day of leisure, I spent the whole weekend in a writing fever, working on an extended version of The Hatchling and I am delirious with the fun of it, amazed by the way ideas can materialize out of the air, the way a story can take over and assert its own identity, like a teenager. Wow. I love writing.