Attention Please! Movie Review! Movie Review

Looking for a movie to watch while staying at home. Here’s a gem of a film. It’s the absolutely brilliant The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘Course you can guess what Uncle Bardie will have to say about it. You know he’s about to give an A+. five-star, thumbs-up to the 2005 film, based on the equally brilliant book of the same name.

There’s few films that should be seen over and over again. Not many but a few. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the leader of that pack. It’s Doctor Who with a good budget, only better. Actually it is three movies in one. First you see it forward. Then you see it backward on a backward movie-playing machine. You can purchase the special player to play it backwards from a little old lady on Fifty-fourth Street. She gets them wholesale from a warehouse in the two-hundred-and-third dimension. Finally you play it sideways. But that’s a whole different fish of another sea.

Speaking of fish, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy begins with dolphins singing their farewell to the planet, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Then there’s a man waking up and yawning. Can’t you feel the excitement building up? Before you know it, he’s brushing his teeth. His name is Arthur Dent.

Outside some guys are about to break Arthur’s house. They’re tearing it down to make room for a new highway. They have bulldozers to do the job too. Unfortunately that isn’t the bad news. The bad news, the Vogons are coming. What’s the big deal about that? you ask.

That is where Ford Prefect, Arthur’s friend, comes in. He knows things because he’s from somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. This is a really good part of the movie where the two have a drink in the local pub and the drinking is done to the sound of Perry Como singing “Magic Moments” in the background.

Any movie that can get Perry Como singing in it is bound to get at least one star just for the effort. Ford tells Arthur that the earth is going to be destroyed in about twelve minutes, just enough time for Arthur and Ford to consume three beers. What’s an end of the world without a beer or two?

The Vogons are going to blow up earth to make room for a new thoroughfare through this corner of space. Just as Arthur and Ford are finishing up their last beer, a spaceship arrives and its driven by those Vogons. A very ugly race indeed. So ugly they put the ug in ugly.

Before they can make the earth go kablooey, Ford throws out his towel and grabs Arthur and they are transported inside the Vogon vessel. Arthur has done his first bit of hitchhiking, thanks to Ford’s towel. And don’t panic. The dolphins got the heck off the third-planet-from-the-sun safely.

To understand the outer space creatures, Arthur needs to stick a fish in his ear. The fish do the translating from Vogon to Arthur Dent-ish. Arthur and Ford are escorted to an arena where the Vogons are reciting poetry. The Vogons are possibly, no make that definitely, the worst reciters of poetry in the galaxy, and possibly in the universe. Oh, you think not. I’m here to tell you men have gone insane listening to Vogon poetry. Somehow, and that is a big somehow, Arthur manages a smile and says some nice things about the poem recited.

Suddenly he and Ford are dropped back into space. (And they didn’t even receive an invitation from Space either.) They manage to hold their breaths for thirty seconds before they fall into another spaceship. They find themselves turned into sofas and in a white room. (I mean, if you’re going to land in an alien spacecraft, what better disguise  than a sofa. I’ve had dreams of being a sofa, but all I do in those dreams is sit there and wait for something to happen.)

They shake off their sofa disguises and the door opens. In comes a very depressed robot named Marvin, voiced by Alan Rickman. He was built with GPP. That stands for Genuine People Personality. Marvin, not Alan Rickman.

How do we know that Marvin is depressed? He talks. If Alan Rickman was a depressed robot, this is the depressed robot he’d be. Some of the things Marvin says: “I’d make a suggestion but you wouldn’t listen. No one ever does.” “I’ve been talking to the ship’s computer. It hates me.” And “I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.”

On the spaceship, Arthur and Ford meet the heroine, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It takes a lot of courage to be on the same ship with the worst dressed sentient being in the universe. But Trillian is up to the job.

Zaphod Beeblebrox, better known as a narcissistic moron, has two heads, one inside the other. He’s the president of the galaxy. And he is a narcissistic moron. But you can take some comfort in the fact that he does smarten up when he puts on the Thinking Cap. He is in search of the ultimate question. He already has the ultimate answer. That answer is 42.

In pursuit of this ultimate question, Arthur, Ford, Zooey, Marvin and Zaphod go to the legendary planet Margrathea. Unfortunately, when they arrive, not one but two, yes two, nuclear missiles are fired at them. What happens next? You will have to see the movie to find out. Let’s just say it has to do with a whale. Marvin sums the experience up in his own inimitable way with: “I told you this would all end in tears.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the few movies that can out-Fifth Element The Fifth Element. If any studio is thinking of remaking this movie, don’t. This is a movie that should only be remade once every two hundred years. Go ahead and do 27.5 remakes of Batman Begins. I really don’t care. Just leave Hitchhiker’s Guide alone. If you do make the attempt, don’t be surprised if a Vogon shows up at your door with that darn nasty attitude of theirs.

Oh, one final thing. Make sure you’ve got your towel when you see this one. You might need it. And Marvin will appreciate it.

George

An average American George
in an average American town
census bureau-wise
slips through the kitchen door
out into a sixty-degree morning air
and the day ahead.
George swipes the night from his eyes
and settles into a back porch chair
for a prayer or two.
At driveway’s end a garbage truck
scoops up the trash bin,
dumping its ingredients into a hungry mouth
with an empty stomach, ingredients
from the previous week:
arguments with Grace
over this-that-and-the-other,
disappointment over hopes
to escape a stuck-in-a-rut job,
anger at a son who never calls
and a daughter who fails,
distrust of a brother
who takes and keeps taking,
fear of an accumulating debt
that continues accumulating,
loss of a god
who is always somewhere else,
and more junk
from an average American life.
George crosses himself
in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost
after a quick Hail Mary
just in case.
Inside Grace pours water for morning coffee.
George pulls himself from his chair.
Down the long walk to the street, George
passes a squirrel picking his teeth
and just about catches a shoe
in a sidewalk crack, then reaches
the empty bin.

Mother of the World

Today being Mother’s Day and I’d like to celebrate it with this story.

It was over. The long night of his mother’s illness. The days upon days upon days of her suffering. She was gone. Only what was left of her empty shell of a body lay under the covers on the bed. All her life she kept her faith. Her last moments were no different. She whispered the word “Jesus”, then she gave up her ghost. Finally she was free of the weight of worry and pain and hard work she carried for her fifty-five years.

Soon his three younger brothers and one younger sister would be there to relieve him of his watch, and they would say their goodbyes. Soon the doctor would come to pronounce her dead and sign the death certificate. Soon the coffin maker would come. He would make her body up best he could and box it up and ready it for the cold, hard ground. Soon that tiny body of hers would be covered with the same earth that was to be found under her fingernails.

For the next little while, he was alone with the woman he called Mother for his thirty-eight years. He sat down on the side of the bed and lifted her very small hand. It was not quite cold yet. He started to make an effort to warm it up with his hands, then stopped. It was no use to try.

Nothing could bring back the warmth of those hands she used to cook and knead dough and mend and chop cotton with. Those hands that ran her fingers through his hair ever so gently. Those hands that folded into prayer thousands of times. Those hands that threw holy water onto her teenage boys to get them out of bed and ready for school, calling on the Name of Jesus to cast out any demons that they might have taken up with.

He felt the callouses embedded in that hand thin and gnarly. He laid the hand gently down by her side, then his hand slowly cupped her hairless skull, bald from the chemo that failed to check the cancer surging through her body. He pushed back what he could imagine was once her hair. The hair she’d taken pride in, hair once black and beautiful, its long tresses folded and pinned into a bun with a set of combs, an heirloom passed on to her from her Cherokee mother. The cancer stole that pride of her hair and left her bald.

His gaze lingered over her face, a face that always carried a smile when she saw one of her kids. The mouth never speaking an unkind word for anyone. And now would never speak comfort to him again with her mellifluous voice. He looked at the veins sticking out from her neck, then the body covered with the sheet and the quilt she’d made in the last two years of her life, that tiny body containing a great heart for all she met along her way through life.

Memories of her flooded through his mind, and they were memories of this woman who called none a stranger. They were memories of the times she sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, a cigarette and a listening ear for a neighbor and the burdens the neighbor  carried. Of the times she bartered with her children and negotiated their arguments, so they didn’t end up in knock-down-drag-outs. The nights she sang him to sleep with a lullaby when all he wanted to do was chatter and romp and take on the world with his five-year old bravado. The times she poured castor oil down his throat and rubbed his chest with vapor rub, telling him that there was no sickness they could not heal.

It was hard work to make a good man out of a boy, much less four boys and a girl, doing the raising all by her lonesome the way she did. It was a work that never let up but went on from sunrise to sunset day in and day out and all night too, and she did it with nary a complaint. Rather she applied her love liberally but she never hesitated with the discipline. It was amazing what some holy water and a switch could do to get a kid to tow the line. When all was said and done, there was a hug for her kids and her grandkids, when they were in need of a hug. And they knew that those hugs came from a love that reached deep down all the way to her toes and back again.

Then his mind turned to the men in her life. The tenant-farmer Pa, that Joseph of a man who took care of his two young’uns just like that long-ago man took care of the infant Jesus and his Mama. This man, whom she adored, was a blacksmith and a good provider and everything a Pa should be. But her three husbands, they were no darn good. They weren’t worth the dirt she walked on. Hank, the laziest man in the state; Jock, twenty years her senior who had thrown his anger at her in dozens of ways; Tor, the man who had stolen her savings and left her in such poverty she was forced to beg her children for help.

Tears welled up into his eyes and he buried his face in her body. He cried his grief, all his grief into this dead woman’s body, the body of the woman he called Mother.

He swiped away the tears and stood up and walked over to the window. Outside the sun dropped out of the sky and over the edge of the horizon. Streaks of purple, blue, orange, yellow and red colored the sky. Soon the sky turned blue and it was night. A breeze touched his cheek and it felt like a kiss. Then the woman’s soul slipped through the window to join what once was and what is, the then and the now and the forever. She was now a part of everything and everything was a part of her. He looked up at the stars and thought that he had never seen anything so beautiful before. And maybe he never would again.

Nuptials

Inspire by Psalm 19.

Each dusk Moon appears,
a bride dressed in light.
Stars carry her train.

She walks in radiance
the aisle from evening
toward the dawn

and the altar of morning
to meet Sun, her groom.
Along her journey she smiles

upon Earth and her children.
And Earth returns her smile.
Flowers bend her way.

Trees raise their limbs,
toasting her generosity.
A rabbit gazes

awestruck by her beauty.
And a couple
strolls along the Seine,

bathed in her blessing.

Relationships

As a writer, I think about how characters talk. One of the things that determine how characters talk is their job. So here is how a character would speak about their relationship with a significant other if they were:

  1. A meteorologist, “Cloudy with a chance of rain.”
  2. Lawyer, “Am I under oath?”
  3. .Doctor, “We’ll need to run some tests.”
  4. Cop, “I’ll have to take the Fifth.”
  5. Economist, “You can’t buy your way out of a recession.”
  6. Soldier, “It’s a no man’s land out there.”
  7. Politician, “Frankly…next question.”
  8. Mystery writer, “I’m not sure where we put the dead body.”
  9. Librarian, “Shhhh.”
  10. Minister, “I’ll have to pray on that one.”
  11. Psychiatrist, “It has a Freudian slip with a twist of Jungian synchronicity.”
  12. Explorer, “It’s been Terra Incognito all the way.”
  13. Superman, “Lois, will you please be careful with that kryptonite.”

What profession would you say your relationship with your significant other reflects?