Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, June 01, 2015

Fixer Upper

Well, payday had come, and with it, it was time to take care of one of those little tasks that had been hanging over my head.  One of those little quirks of automobile maintenance that my father drilled in to me was always get your oil changed at 5000km.  And for the past month or so, I'd slowly been watching the odometer creep closer and closer to 5000km since my last oil change.  I know, I know, I should be shopping local and all that, but when it comes to an oil change, I find that sometimes it's easier and quicker to just swing by one of those Quickie-Lube places when I'm in the city.  So, with some funding in the bank thanks to payday, let's get that oil changed.

I was pondering that on the drive.  I've mentioned lately how paranoid I've become when it comes to my car.  City driving strikes fear into my heart.  Being on the road for too long just gets me fretting.  I wonder how much of that has to do with my old car.  My old car was so old that I couldn't go a year or two without some major breakdown leading to a week in the shop and several thousand dollars in repairs.  I finally upgraded to my current car when the mechanic said, "Mark, we've finally reached the point where it's just cheaper for you to get a new one."  I've had my car for coming up on 5 years, and I have yet to have one of those "a week in the shop, several thousand dollars in repairs" breakdowns.  (Well, aside from when I hit that deer two years ago.)  I'm probably starting to think I'm overdue.  

The oil change went off without a hitch.  It always amazes me how the minor problems they point out to me get nary a mention when I return and I hadn't fixed it yet.  Stuff like that always makes me wonder how much of it is a genuine problem or just up-selling.  With that chore taken care of, a twinge of sadness as I indulged one of my quirks.  I've taken to dangling a new air freshener from my rear-view mirror whenever I get my oil changed.  After my last oil change, I swung by Canadian Tire and found a three pack of Star Wars air fresheners.  Each one boasting the poster of a film from the original trilogy.  So, after this oil change, it was good-bye Star Wars, hello Empire Strikes Back.

And now that I'm in the city, why not go see a movie?

Since I fret about my money so much, I know it probably seems strange that I still make time to go see a movie.  I read the statistic the other day that the average person sees 4 movies per year.  Going through the movie reviews on my website, my personal average is 12.  So with an increasing worry about my money, it probably doesn't seem right that I still see three times as many movies as the personal average in a year.  But I can't help it.  It's my passion.

I once had a co-worker who routinely mocked me for my love of the movies.  "How can you justify spending so much money on movies?" he'd say.  "Thanks to the Internet, I can get any movie, TV show, or album I want for free!  Only a FOOL pays for their entertainment in this day and age!"

I'd point out that this seems hypocritical, as he had no problem dropping $8000 per year to fly to the States and watch his beloved San Fransisco 49ers play.  "Sports is different," he'd counter.  "Each game is a one-time only meeting between two titans.  Anything can affect the outcome of a game.  A sporting event is one of the few things where you never know what's going to happen.  But movies...you always know what's going to happen.  The good guy always wins.  The hero always gets the girls.  Movies never surprise you.  Sports always does."

He'd wind up to deliver the crushing blow.  "Yup, thanks to it's unpredictable nature, sporting events are the highest form of entertainment.  It's a communal event as people gather to witness history being made.  And movies..." he'd get this evil grin like he was about to slay my mother and make me watch.  "Movies are just a bunch of idiots staring straight ahead in the dark for two hours." 

I never knew how much of that he actually believed.  This was an asshole who tried to get a rise out of me over the slightest thing, so he was probably just baiting me.  Truth is, I feel sorry for him.  The great filmmaker Ridley Scott once used the "bunch of people staring straight ahead in the dark for two hours" argument to describe movies as being a magical, shared experience.  Instead of staring at the dark, stare at the light on the screen.  Up there, heroes are larger than life.  They takes us with them on their journeys.  If done properly, a film can educate and illuminate us to things that we didn't even know about ourselves.  My co-worker never understood.  I don't go to movies for the dark.  I go for the light.

Director Andrew Stanton once sent out a tweet that resonated with me.  It was along the lines of, "Whenever I see a movie, my request is always the same:  make me feel something."  And if the only way you can feel something is to watch a bunch of people fight over a ball, then hey, good on you. 

So what I was hoping would make me feel this time out?  Disney's latest epic Tomorrowland.  I knew I was going to see it because it's the brainchild of one of my favourite directors, Brad Bird.  He gave the world my favourite movie, The Iron Giant.  He then went across the street to Pixar where he made the Incredibles and Ratatouille.  And a few years ago, he broke into live-action with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.  So I was eager to see his next go-around in the live-action realm. 

Casey Newton is a bright young woman with an almost instinctual knowledge of how things work.  She’s also a dreamer, with hope and optimism for the future.  It’s such qualities that soon lead a mysterious girl named Athena to give Casey a special pin.  By touching this pin, Casey is given visions of “Tomorrowland,” a city where all the best and brightest of society can gather and literally shape the future.  But, Tomorrowland is in jeopardy.  With the help of a jaded Tomorrowland exile named Frank Walker, our three are off on a quest to return to Tomorrowland and save it, before the whole world suffers.

If there's one thing we learned from Mission: Impossible, that's that Bird is really good at doing big action sequences, and Tomorrowland has its fair share of good ones.  Michael Giacchino once again puts together a great score, and young actress Raffey Cassidy as Athena has just the right blend of mysterious and matter-of-fact.  That being said, it is your standard "chosen one" plot, and while I did appreciate the film's message ("Let's be positive about the future again!") it did get a tad preachy about it. 

I give it three nibs.  My full review is up over on the website. 

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