Funny is in the eye of the beholder — October 26, 2022

Funny is in the eye of the beholder

Last week during the call of an NFL game, legendary announcer Al Michaels shared that he doesn’t like horror movies. In case you’re wondering, Al prefers musicals.

I felt a kinship with Al because, as I’ve mentioned here and there, I also am not a fan of the horror genre. It’s not that I think I’m too good for horror movies or that they’re bad films. It’s just that I find real life horrifying enough. Besides, most of the so-called scary movies I’ve seen have had the opposite effect on me.

Take the vampire genre, for example.

If I’m not mistaken, my introduction to the genre occurred in high school when a teacher showed us the classic 1931 version of Dracula. I love old movies, but I was not impressed in part because of those squeaking expletive bats.

Unlike so many others in my generation – and my circle – I haven’t read one word written by Anne Rice. When friends urged me to read her books, I’m fairly certain I politely explained that I didn’t want to spend my time reading about the undead. I’m fairly certain I politely explained.

Nonetheless, it was with great enthusiasm that, back in the day, I rented the 1994 film adaptation of her novel, Interview with the Vampire. Why? Because it starred Brad Pitt as one of the sulking vampires.

Surprisingly, the film entertained me. I thought it was funny. When I shared that last thought with folks, they told me the film wasn’t supposed to be funny.

Oh.

Nonetheless, they encouraged me to watch the 1992 film adaptation, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m open-minded and the film starred a few of my favorite performers, so I rented the movie from the video store.

It was so over-the-top and the way Gary Oldman, as the title character, enunciated his dialogue had me in stitches. When I shared this with folks, they told me the film wasn’t supposed to be funny.

Oh.

For the most part, I called it quits with vampires. At some point, I found the old, campy vampire-themed soap opera, Dark Shadows, on the TV. I watched a few seasons and, much later, the film adaptation. Both made me laugh, but I’m fairly certain they were supposed to be funny. I’m fairly certain of this.

Nonetheless, a few years ago there was a show on one of the premium channels called True Blood. It featured sultry vampires. That’s another thing. Unlike oodles of others, I do not find vampires sultry. (Nope. Not even an undead Brad Pitt.) Anyway, I ran across a scene of these True Blood vampires online. I laughed and laughed.

I was told it wasn’t supposed to be funny. It was supposed to be sultry.

Oh.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

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Know your limits — September 28, 2022

Know your limits

As I’ve noted before in this-here space, I’ve become aware that my tastes have changed.

Indeed, I’ve realized in the past few years that, for the most part, I have trouble getting into a new TV series unless it features stories or characters with whom I’m already familiar. The Crown sheds a light on the British Royal Family, whom I’ve followed since the Diana years. The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi continue the Star Wars saga, which I’ve followed for decades.

Occasionally I find myself enjoying a new show (see last week’s review of Abbott Elementary). Other recent exceptions are Hacks and Only Murders in the Building. But those last two feature actors I grew accustomed to dozens of years ago. Hacks revolves around Jean Smart, aka Designing Women’s Charlene Frazier Stillfield, whilst veteran actors Steven Martin and Martin Short lead the cast of Only Murders.

Anyway, I’ve also noticed that I avoid shows and movies with dark or disturbing themes. I’m not talking about the horror genre. I’ve never been a fan of that.

Here’s an example of a recent show I vetoed watching. Steve Carell, aka The Office’s Michael Scott, can currently be seen in Hulu’s The Patient. When a friend asked if I planned to watch the psychological thriller, in which a therapist is held captive by a patient who wants him to help cure his homicidal urges, I said no.

I’ve seen the ads for the show and it looks amazing. But I can’t watch things like that anymore.

I considered watching Yellowstone, but when I remembered that someone told me there were a lot of killings on the show, I decided to turn to my comfort zone — sports — instead.

Knowing that I watch Dateline and 48 Hours, folks recommend true life documentaries. I also pass on those because there’s only so much murder I can take.

But here’s what stumped me: I can still read books with dark or disturbing themes.

I recently shared the discovery of my aversion to watching shows and movies with dark or disturbing themes with a friend. When I told her that I can still read those kinds of books, she said, “Hmm.” Then, she studied on it and said it probably has something to do with seeing the action presented visually.

I studied on that and came up with a perfect case in point. I previously recommended to you, dear readers, Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. The book delves into the damage wrought by OxyContin. It’s a great book. But you already know that if you followed my recommendation and read the book.

There’s a series on Hulu called Dopesick. Based on another book about the opioid industry, Dopesick fictionalizes the damage wrought by OxyContin. Michael Keaton, aka a Batman and the Beetlejuice, stars in the ensemble cast.

I will not even try to watch the show because I know my limitations.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Heard it in a movie — June 29, 2022

Heard it in a movie

I’m not into supernatural and/or paranormal stuff, so I don’t watch Stranger Things, a Netflix series set in the 1980s that features supernatural and paranormal stuff. Yeah, I’ve been told I would dig all the ’80s pop culture references and homages as well as Winona Ryder, who appears in the show. But this is a case of risk – supernatural/paranormal – versus reward – the ’80s and Winona. Reward doesn’t stand a chance.

Apparently in this season, its fourth, Stranger Things uses Kate Bush’s 1985 song, Running Up That Hill. After being featured in the show, the song became a hit again, nearly 40 years after its original release. Although I’m happy for Kate Bush, I harbor an irrational hatred of that song, which only solidified my stance against watching Stranger Things.

The renewed attention to Running Up That Hill reminded me of songs I had never paid attention to until hearing them in movies, proving that the combination of song in scene can be just as important as words or costumes or actors or etc. in scene. With that in mind, here is an incomplete list of songs I discovered in movies. (The movies are in parathesis.)

  • Maybe I’m Amazed (An Unmarried Woman): I have a confession. Whilst I’m a fan of The Beatles, I’m not a fan of Paul McCartney’s band, Wings. Thus, Wings’ Maybe I’m Amazed was just another song for me until I watched 1978’s An Unmarried Woman and saw Jill Clayburgh and her movie daughter sit at a piano and belt out the song. Now when I hear Maybe I’m Amazed, I think of that scene, which shows the close relationship between mother and daughter in a flick about Clayburgh, a married woman (at the beginning of the movie) who learns her husband has been unfaithful.
  • Misunderstanding (Mona Lisa): This song, by the group Genesis, was so off my radar that I thought it was called Understanding. I can’t remember exactly when Misunderstanding is played in Mona Lisa, a 1986 British crime drama, but it undoubtedly left its mark because I sought out the song afterward. I still do.
  • I Got a Name (Django Unchained): Jim Croce’s 1973 tune, which had never before made an impression on me, was a perfect choice for this 2012 movie. I loved the scene where it’s played: Django and the dentist ride horses over snowy landscapes as mountains loom in the distance. But I hated the rest of the movie so much that I swore off the director’s subsequent work. I did not develop an irrational hatred for the Croce song, though. On the contrary, I developed a fondness for it.
  • Levon (The Ice Storm): When I was fact checking myself, I saw that Croce’s I Got a Name was also on The Ice Storm’s 1997 soundtrack. (I told you it didn’t make an impression before Django.) Until The Ice Storm, to the best of my knowledge, I had never heard Sir Elton John’s 1971 song, Levon. I became consumed with it afterward. Written by Sir Elton’s longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin, the song’s lyrics have been the subject of much speculation. Taupin told Rolling Stone he didn’t know what he intended as the meaning and that the lyrics were just lines that were interesting. The lyrics, including “Jesus blows up balloons all day, Sits on the porch swing watching them fly” certainly caught my interest.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A good read and watch — April 20, 2022

A good read and watch

As a teen reader, I discovered the mysteries of Agatha Christie. And although I eventually read oodles of Christie’s books, I don’t think I ever figured out whodunit. (By the way, Christie’s And Then There Were None is one of only a handful of books I’ve read in one day. Indeed, I might have read it in one sitting. Yes, it’s that good.)

Anyway, even though I tried – and failed – to solve the mysteries, for me it was more about the characters and the settings. I enjoyed being transported from the holler to grand manors or English villages.

I thought of those books again recently after watching the most recent adaptations of two of Christie’s mysteries, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

Parts of both movies are boring, but overall they entertained me. I preferred Orient Express because I’ve always favored that story – it’s one of Christie’s most memorable – and because of the stunning shots of snowy mountains and landscapes.

Nile, as the title suggests, is set in Egypt and also features stunning shots. But most of them look like they were created by CGI (computer generated imagery) … because they were. Here’s the thing: CGI is kinda like wigs, hair extensions, and cosmetic surgery. If I notice them, then they must be really obvious.

My only other major complaint of both movies is with the character Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the movies. In the books and earlier adaptations, the Belgian detective – the world’s greatest detective (he proclaims this statement frequently) – is conceited, egotistical, and mannered. In fact, David Suchet played him to perfection in the aptly-titled BBC series, Poirot.

Branagh’s Poirot, whilst conceited, egotistical, and mannered, is also so morose and devoid of any spark that, if not for his signature moustache and accent (and for the fact that everyone calls him Det. Poirot), I wouldn’t know who he was supposed to be.

These movies center around murder and death. Not exactly fun-filled times. And in the case of Orient Express, it’s a sad, sad story. I legit became emotional at one point whilst watching that flick. But most of Christie’s mysteries are so over-the-top and filled with such hyperbolic characters that I can’t take them seriously. This includes Nile. More than once whilst watching that flick, I legit rolled my eyes at the characters’ hysterics.

So I’d really like Poirot to be outrageous as well and not constantly moping around with a bad case of the sads. (I’ve read that another adaptation of another book with another actor features an even sadder Poirot. I implore filmmakers and actors to please stop this nonsense.)

Nevertheless, I recommend the Branagh movies. And, of course, Christie’s books. I’m happy to report that after I watched the films, I advised a younger person in my life to read Orient Express. She took my advice.

As should you.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Hare pollution — April 13, 2022

Hare pollution

As Clairee says in Steel Magnolias, “It’s almost time for the East-er Bunny.”

If you are familiar with my thoughts and feelings on mimes and clowns, then you probably will not be surprised to learn that the Easter Bunny also creeps me the expletive out.

When I say – or, rather, write this – obviously I don’t mean the real Easter Bunny creeps me out. I’m sure he or she is a wonderful rabbit. Indeed, the Easter Bunny devotes so much time and attention collecting and delivering toys and candies to the good – and no doubt bad – little girls and boys worldwide that he or she has to subcontract much of the pre-holiday work to others.

In fact, one of my nieces played the role of a generic Easter Bunny many years ago at a local organization. She donned a white costume, complete with oversized bunny ears, and posed in photos with children. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, even though I knew my lovely and in no way creepy niece wore that costume, I was nonetheless creeped out.

Think about it. That gosh-darn bunny never blinks. That’s weird.

Something I cannot wrap my mind around is visits to these generic (and creepy) Easter Bunnies so parents can snap photos of them with children. Children who are in some cases screaming their little lungs out because they’re horrified by the giant pastel-frocked rabbit in their presence.

My aforementioned and in no way creepy niece recently took her younglings – my great-niece and great nephew (emphasis on great) – to have their picture taken with a generic Easter Bunny. The children looked traumatized in the resulting photo.

I could relate. Just looking at the photo traumatized me.

Let’s discuss this rationally. The Easter Bunny who visits with children is human-sized and stands on two feet. Perhaps real bunnies do occasionally stand on two feet. I have, however, never seen this occur in the wild. And by wild, I mean my back yard, the side of the road, or the Goff Estate. So, if I, a woman of advancing age, have never seen it, chances are children haven’t experienced this phenomenon. (I have also never seen a human-sized rabbit in the wild and I hope I never see one. That would be more traumatizing than spying a generic Easter Bunny in a store.)

Anyway, if a standing, human-sized rabbit isn’t enough to make kids think their world has turned upside down, it gets worse. The bunny has an enormous head and – I repeat – never blinks those lifeless eyes.

Happy Easter!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

The West Side Story continues — March 9, 2022

The West Side Story continues

As you grow older, your tastes change. For example, I don’t eat as much candy as I did in the past. Of course, my recent purchases at the dollar store might dispute this claim. But all those bags of candy were not for me! Besides, Easter comes only once a year!

Anyway, when I was much younger, I decreed that I didn’t enjoy movie musicals. Oh, the folly of youth.

This silly, sweeping pronouncement included the 1961 classic, West Side Story. Indeed, I remember disappointing a friend when I announced, with smugness dripping from my voice, that I didn’t care for the movie and all those annoying song and dance routines.

A few years later, I viewed the movie again and, that time, I recognized the film’s brilliance, especially those song and dance routines. To this day, I might start singing “America,” “Jet Song,” “Maria,” or “A Boy Like That” at random moments. I might even add a little dance to the routine if I’m in a good mood.

For those of you unfamiliar with the film, it’s an adaptation of the Broadway musical, which was inspired by Romeo and Juliet. It tells the tale of two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, against the backdrop of the interracial love story of Tony and Maria.

West Side Story is one of my oldest sister’s favorite films, so when Steven Spielberg’s remake was released last year, she said she wanted to see it. Alas, she didn’t make it to the theatre.

The film did make it to my streaming service last week and I invited my sister to a private viewing at my home. We watched the movie this weekend.

When it comes to classic cinema, I’m a traditionalist who generally avoids remakes. After all, why mess with near or absolute perfection? If not for my sister, I’m not sure I would have watched the 2021 version of West Side Story. But I did so with an open mind.

And you know what? It was great.

In some ways, I enjoyed it more than I did the original.

I was happy to see Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 version, as Valentina. (Moreno also serves as an executive producer.) Spielberg’s version is faithful to the original stage version and it’s just so vibrant and colorful – even when the colors are drab.

Musicals are usually uplifting. (At least most of my favorite musicals – Grease, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Singin’ in the Rain – have uplifting endings. A fourth film on that list – All That Jazz – is not exactly a laugh fest.)

Although West Side Story contains dark overtones, the aforementioned song and dance routines and vibrant colors can fool you. During one song and dance number, I told my sister that real life would be better if folks broke out into song and started dancing and everyone joined in. Wouldn’t that be grand!

She gave me side eye. After all, she knew what was coming. Like I mentioned earlier, the story is based on Romeo and Juliet. Ergo, almost everyone dies.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A character story — December 15, 2021

A character story

Of all the great holiday movies, A Christmas Story is my favorite. The saga of Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder B.B. gun never fails to entertain me, to make me laugh, and to touch my he

And of all the great characters in the movie – Ralphie, his old man, his mom, the Bumpus dogs – it’s a relatively overlooked character – Ralphie’s brother, Randy – who serves as my favorite.

Most of the time, when I hear people refer to Randy, they call him Ralphie’s brother. It’s as if he doesn’t have a name. And most of the time, when they’re referring to him, they’re comparing something in their lives to the scene in which Randy and Ralphie’s mom dresses Randy in so many layers that he can’t put his arms down.

That is a fantastic scene, but there’s so much more to Randy. Take my favorite scene in the movie. In the voiceover, the narrator (Jean Shepherd, who wrote the stories on which the movie was based) explains that Randy has not eaten a meal voluntarily in three years. Displaying her ingenuity, the mom asks Randy to show her how the piggies eat. Randy, pretending to be a pig, puts his face into a plate of mashed potatoes and does just that. Whilst eating like a pig, he oinks and oinks and laughs and laughs.

The laughter is contagious. Just like Randy, I always laugh and laugh during that scene. (I do not oink and oink, though.)

In my everyday life, I also frequently quote Randy’s rant in this scene: “Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf. I hate meatloaf.” People respond by looking at me as if I have lobsters crawling out of my ears.

Anyway, when Ralphie finally breaks bad and beats up bully Scut Farkus, it’s Randy who runs home and fetches his and Ralphie’s mom. What a hero! Later, Randy hides under the kitchen sink and cries because he’s afraid their dad will kill Ralphie for fighting. What a sweetie!

By the way, once again, their mom handles Randy like a pro. She doesn’t drag him out from under the sink. She gives him a glass a milk and lets him process his feelings in his own time. She should have written a book on parenting.

Later in the movie, the family goes to a Christmas parade and to Higbee’s Department Store. While there, the boys get an audience with the Big Man aka the Head Honcho aka Santa. Some might say Randy should have comported himself better when he finally got to see Santa, but I retort that Randy was but a child and he had been standing in line for dozens of minutes. Besides, Santa and those elves were scary. I would have screamed, too.

Near the end of the movie, after Randy has exhausted himself opening presents on Christmas morning, he falls asleep with his arm clutching a toy zeppelin. He’s so adorable and so unaware of the B.B. gun- and Bumpus dog-induced drama about to unfold.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Talking horror and humor with the Halloween fan base — October 27, 2021

Talking horror and humor with the Halloween fan base

Talking horror and humor with the Halloween fan base

Halloween Kills, the latest installment in the film franchise that started in 1978, was released last weekend. Even in years when there’s no new Halloween movie, it seems like people start watching the flicks around Labor Day.

In recent years, they’ve been posting photos and videos of themselves and/or others engaging in frivolity with people dressed like Michael Myers, the masked murderer made famous by the movies.

These postings made me ask myself, “Self, when did Michael Myers become a wacky sidekick? Isn’t he supposed to be scary?”

Although I’ve seen the original Halloween, I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Michael. I’m not a fan of horror movies. Real life is horrific enough for me. Besides, I can’t suspend belief when it comes to horror films. For example, I wonder what Michael does the rest of the year. Where does he live? How does he support himself? Does he terrorize a different town on every major holiday? Or is he a good, law-abiding citizen who’s triggered by Oct. 31? Trust me, dude, I can relate.

Anyway, my ignorance led me to seek out a couple fans of the Halloween movies and/or of horror films in general. That number doubled. Simmer down. It could have been more. Fans of the Halloween movies are everywhere.

But that doesn’t mean they – or horror fans in general – agree on all things Halloween.

Take the original movie, which features Michael escaping from a mental institution, where he had been held since age 6 for stabbing his sister to death, and returning to Haddonfield to terrorize Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis).

“For its time, it was considered to be absolutely terrifying,” explained Halloween superfan Bradley Damron. “There is an actual argument to be made that it was more of a suspense film than straight up horror. It is not a film that hits you over the head with buckets of blood. In fact, it is a fairly bloodless film. When you think of slasher movies, this one popularized so many of the tropes that seem so stale to audiences today. In fact, they were pretty stale by the mid-‘80s, but they were fresh and new in 1978. Add in John Carpenter’s incredible score, and you could feel the suspense and tension all throughout the film. The impact of that score can’t be overstated. People know the Halloween theme. It’s a part of pop culture at this point.

“There are audio recordings of audience reactions in 1978, and I don’t hear many screams like that when I go see modern horror movies. Halloween was not the first slasher movie like many claim, but it was the most influential one by a mile. It spawned so many clones, including Friday the 13th, which was blatantly made to rip off the first Halloween. Without Michael Myers, there is no Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or Ghostface. And it all goes back to how that audience reacted in 1978.”

Horror movie fan Jennifer VanHoose has a different take. “Having lived through that era, (I) saw the movie when it first came out. It was mildly scary.”

VanHoose, however, doesn’t describe herself as a slasher movie fan.

Halloween superfan Trina Wakeland and her brother grew up watching slasher movies. Whereas her brother gravitated toward Friday the 13th, she stuck with Halloween. Wakeland is such a fan of the franchise that she has a tattoo of Michael on her leg. Hence her status as a superfan.

“I’ve been a Halloween fan my whole life so I guess you could say it’s kind of sentimental to me. (The tattoo is) like a reminder of where horror actually started from.”

Halloween fan Trina Yeary has two Michael Myers dolls.

“I love the setting of the movies – the small town, the era. It’s classic,” Yeary said.

Her comment about the setting pleased me. I don’t remember much about the original movie, but I remember appreciating the atmosphere set by director John Carpenter and the way the movie felt and looked.

Yeary continued, “(Michael) is so creepy without trying. With Michael, slow and steady wins the race. Michael both creeps me out and evokes empathy, though I cannot for the life of me rationalize why.”

VanHoose explained that the Halloween movies written, directed, and produced by Rob Zombie introduced a backstory of Michael as a bullied, abused child. (She also said she felt there was no need for these remakes to have been made.) Perhaps that helps explain some viewers’ empathy for Michael? Or maybe the empathy was created by the creepy mask that nonetheless makes him appear sad?

Regardless, Wakeland and Damron are not here for any of these explanations.

“I feel as you shouldn’t be able to relate and have sympathy for his character,” Wakeland said. “The 2009 Rob Zombie (movie) gave you too much backstory and gave Michael Myers every scenario as a kid to grow up and become a psychopath – killing animals, broken families, and bullied at school. I just feel like the John Carpenter film gave you more chills because he has a blank face, doesn’t talk, and you have no clue why he is doing what he does.

“What’s so scary is this is a real guy. (He’s) not immortal and is impossible to kill.”

“Michael Myers was always meant to be a force of nature,” Damron said. “He’s evil because he’s evil. He kills because that’s what he does. In fact, the original film was going to be called The Babysitter Murders until producer Irwin Yablans suggested that it take place on Halloween night. This was about evil lurking on a night that many consider evil. Rob Zombie tried to stray away from that with his reboot. He tried to explain too much, and I feel that chipped away at what made Michael Myers special originally.”

I asked Damron about people who consider Michael to be funny. While he acknowledged that some people find slasher villains funny, he added, “Michael Myers is savage and cruel. He does not feel mercy or remorse. There is no hesitation when he has the chance to kill. There is no overall message with him. He is evil in its purest form.”

A factor that led me to write this post and to talk to fans of the movies was my interaction with folks who do find the movies and Michael Myers humorous. I also checked in with them for this piece and they again identified as Halloween fans who watch the movies for comedic effect.

They, as a whole, described the movies as over-the-top and wondered how viewers could take them seriously, what with Michael showing up out of thin air and being shot and stabbed and falling off buildings only to pop back up, they said.

VanHoose alluded to this as well, describing Michael as having become campy, and each installment as being “more and more ridiculous.” However, she also said she did not find the movies funny at all. And Damron said Michael is “never funny.”

Assuming the folks I know had never seen the first movie, which is considered a classic and has a more serious tone, I interrogated them about which movies they had seen. All of them but the newest one, they said. Surely, they don’t consider the first movie – the classic – to be a laugh fest? Yes, they do.

Of course, they have their favorites. They don’t care for anything related to Halloween that doesn’t feature the Michael Myers character. They are also not fans of the Rob Zombie flicks. (Does anyone like those movies?) They also made it clear – repeatedly — that even though they view the movies as comedies, they are fans who really like and really enjoy the flicks.

Oh, and even though they don’t find the Halloween movies scary, they do find other media scary.

Okay. Give me an example.

Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack, one offered.

Happy Halloween!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

The ones that got away — September 15, 2021

The ones that got away

So, apparently there’s going to a fourth movie in the Matrix franchise. This one is scheduled to be released in December. The first movie was released in 1999 to worldwide acclaim and a bountiful box office.

I’ve never gotten around to seeing it.

Oodles of Matrix fans throughout the years have insisted that I just had to watch it and the subsequent sequels. They obviously haven’t been convincing.  

Part of the reason why I’ve avoided all things Matrix is its star – Keanu Reeves. I’m sure everyone is right and he’s the nicest guy in Hollywood, but I don’t watch his movies. I haven’t seen once since circa 1993, and I stand by that decision.

Also, the gist of the film doesn’t draw me in. Here’s how the Wikipedia frames it: “The series features a cyberpunk story of the technological fall of mankind, in which the creation of artificial intelligence led the way to a race of self-aware machines that imprisoned mankind in a virtual reality system — the Matrix — to be farmed as a power source. Occasionally, some of the prisoners manage to break free from the system and, considered a threat, become pursued by the artificial intelligence both inside and outside of it.”

If you knew how much trouble I had following the first two Terminator movies, what with their self-aware machines, you’d understand why I believe I’ll have even more trouble following The Matrix.

Although I’m known for being something of a movie fan, The Matrix isn’t the only movie from way back that I’ve never seen. I haven’t watched a second of Gremlins or The Goonies.

People from my generation freak the expletive out when they hear this.

But you can’t watch every movie. What’s more, you can’t care about every movie, either.

As they wipe away tears, folks my age encourage me to watch The Goonies, a flick about a group of kids who follow a treasure map to save their homes from foreclosure. These teary-eyed folks are coming from a place of nostalgia. Maybe if I had seen the movie during its original mid-‘80s run, I would feel the same. But I’m a woman of advanced age who has no connection to that movie or those characters. I’m not going to feel the way an ‘80s era tween or teen would feel.

When I was a wee lass on the Goff Estate, we subscribed to a premium network channel that seemingly played Gremlins around the clock. I never once had the inclination to spend time with those ugly bug-eyed creatures. What’s more, I heard so much about those dern critters – don’t feed them after midnight, don’t expose them to sunlight, don’t let them come into contact with water – that I felt like I had actually seen the movie.

Basically, I missed my chance.

Just like I missed my chance with The Karate Kid and Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours and…

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

May the fourth be with you — May 4, 2021

May the fourth be with you

Unlike other Star Wars galaxy fans of my generation, I didn’t grow up watching the movies. Indeed, I didn’t view my first Star Wars flick until a few years after the original trilogy had made history in movie theaters. What’s more, until that fateful Labor Day weekend when I happened across the first Star Wars movie on the TV, I had never had a scintilla of interest in the franchise.

But after that first viewing, I was hooked.

All these years later, on this Star Wars Day – May the Fourth – I’m still hooked. I have watched the prequel trilogy and the sequel trilogy and both standalone films, Solo and Rogue One. I enjoyed the former and loved the latter. Depending on my mood, I might make the bold statement that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie ever. If you disagree, we can duel with lightsabers.

Although my feelings for Star Wars lore have not led me to sample any of the cartoons, oops, I mean animated series, I have read three books detailing the rise of Darth Vader as well as one focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi, aka my favorite Star Wars character. Thus, I’m beyond pumped about the upcoming Obi-Wan series and, of course, I am a faithful viewer of The Mandalorian.

Other than the fact that today is May the Fourth – a play on the Star Wars phrase “May the force be with you” – why am I reminiscing about Star Wars?

Because I’ve reflected on the fact that, for the most part, I’m not a blockbuster kind of gal. I’ve consulted the abacus and, unless the math is wrong, I have seen exactly one Marvel movie and maybe one Justice League movie. That’s a maybe because I’m not sure if the Superman flick I saw falls under the Justice League umbrella. I’m not even sure I know what the Justice League is.

Furthermore, I tried to watch the X-Men movies back in the day, and I made it through two or three before giving up after I realized it’s the exact same movie with different dialogue.

Before any of my friends and family members remind me, yes, I remain a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and yes, I recognize those movies were blockbusters.

Otherwise, I’m sort of a film snob, so why am I a Star Wars fangirl? It’s not due to nostalgia because, as aforementioned, I didn’t watch the movies until I had exited childhood.

I used to think my interest stemmed from the Darth Vader character and his frenemyship with Obi-Wan, but neither of those characters are in The Mandalorian. And while Darth Vader’s – and Leia’s – appearance at the end of Rogue One elevates that movie from good to great, the film was already giving me chills before Vader and his red lightsaber showed up.

The best answer I can give myself is that the original trilogy featured a group of scrappy guys and one awesome gal who not only took on the evil empire, but defeated it in the face of overwhelming odds. Those other blockbusters feature superheroes or mutants with special powers. Sure, you can make an argument about Luke Skywalker’s DNA and The Force being super powers, but I can also make an argument that he was just a whiny kid.

So, maybe I’m just a sucker for underdogs who defeat fascists.

Happy Star Wars Day!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.