WELCOME TO COSTCO

We finally saw Moonfall the other weekend, not expecting much. Which is always a good thing with Roland Emmerich, today’s Irwin Allen “Master of Disaster” type director. But the sighing and eye rolls and general contempt began almost immediately with hubby.

Even though Star Wars isn’t sci-fi but sci-fi fantasy, whenever Padme (Natalie Portman) hopped into a ship and appeared somewhere across space an hour or two later, I thought hubby would lose his religion. Similarly, in Moonfall, the astronauts’ two-hour trip to the moon was met with unmitigated disgust.

“It would take at least two weeks to get to the moon,” he informed me.

The shuttle flying through space, the vehicle’s rear lighting up with a warm glow from the engines, received a caustic, “The shuttle doesn’t have engines.” (They do at first, but later, evidently at this point, not anymore).

When a gigantic space rock smashed into the outside and the vehicle continued on with no apparent damage, I worried about epilepsy: that’s how far his eyes rolled into the back of his head. “Those things are basically made of tissue paper,” he told me, and released an embittered, bone-weary sigh.

Movies are for entertainment, right? And while our subconscious may know better, our frontal lobe will simply immediately decide, “It’s the future. Must be future stuff.” Most people just wanna have fun at the movies. Unlike my husband, most people didn’t write a letter to NASA as a kid. So, yeah…nerd alert!

When we re-watched Idiocracy the other day, though, the levels of stupidity there, along with some accurate crystal balling of our future (an idiotic president, for one, surrounding himself with a moronic, clueless administration) was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

There’s even a word for it, coined as far back as the 17th century: kakistocracy. A government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. I’ve never heard that word before. Which makes me feel like I’m on the way to my own idiocracy!

And it’s not getting any better. Take a gander at today’s headlines. Sarah “What’s the difference between North and South Korea?” Palin is now running for Congress.

Here’s IMDB’s blurb for Mike Judge’s 2006 dystopian movie Idiocracy: Private Joe Bauers, a decisively average American, is selected as a guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program but is forgotten, awakening to a future so incredibly moronic he’s easily the most intelligent person alive.

In my personal opinion, being dumb, unambitious and/or overly greedy, and lacking any sense of propriety began, insidiously, with Married with Children in the ‘80s.

Although All in the Family preceded Married with Children by well over a decade, its MO included outrage against much of Archie Bunker’s behavior, along with discussions of morality conundrums and other various points of view.

By the time we’d reached Married with Children, laughter replaced ideals and high ratings eliminated any hope for principles or integrity. Just chug the Cola and guffaw. Still, we were kind of laughing at Al Bundy and his gang, not with them. Which made them sort of harmless, in a way, but still deceptively dangerous. Why?

Because they paved the way for reality TV. The real villain, in my opinion,  behind the adolescentization of America. And probably many other countries, but I haven’t researched those.

What’s included in adolescentization? (And yes, I made that word up) Chronological immaturity and emotional instability.  An inability to speak coherently (what Idiocracy calls “the low registers of English”) for example, without saying “like” every other word. Cursing as a substitution for thought or reason. Gossip as an art form viewed as a necessary lifestyle component. An inability to laugh at oneself due to an inability to perceive “the bigger picture,” resulting in “hurt” feelings and a distorted sense of righteousness leading to revenge boycotts and cancel culture.

But more than anything, adolescentization’s most disturbing outcome may be that we’re all laughing with reality TV stars, not at them. We’re identifying and commiserating with them. Man, was Andy Warhol right! But 15 minutes of fame was only the tip of the iceberg. Just ask The Real World (on for 29 years), Survivor (21 years) and Cops, on for a surprising 32 years—cancelled after George Floyd’s death, but slowly reinstated back to business as usual (surprise, surprise!) as of 2021.

Meanwhile, in the real world, one headline on nationalreview.com says: Why Johnny Still Can’t Read. And goes on to claim: Public schools are passing students who can’t read at any level — all to avoid blaming teachers, lawmakers, and bureaucrats.

The website calmatter.org says: Results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress show that only 32% of fourth graders are reading proficiently.

Even more disturbing: “Reading tests have shown that 10 percent of Minnesota`s public high school juniors and seniors are functionally illiterate….”

This was a headline in the Chicago Tribune…from 1987! Right about when…hmm…Married With Children unleashed its brand of slovenly, cackling humor into the world.

In the end, $$ says it all. $$ is the root of all evil. You can’t take it with you (off Earth), but you can’t live without $$ while you’re on Earth. If the US military budget is $782 billion while spending for education in total for all of the country is “upwards to” (their words, not mine, meaning, I assume, it probably often does not reach up quite that far) $79 billion….. well, need I say more?

Actually, there is one thing we could say. What the greeter at the entrance of a popular warehouse store says in Idiocracy.

A paradoxical confluence of fact combined with an abrupt left turn away from said fact, compounding the hypnagogic state we’re all slowly succumbing to, undermining reality by diverting our attention elsewhere with something that has nothing to do with the original thing, but hopefully muddying up the waters enough that, in the process, we forget what we were thinking, especially if it was contrary in any way to what the puppet masters desired. See? Any idea how I started out that sentence? Of course not!

“Welcome to CostCo. I love you.”

What the HELL did I just see?!

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At the premiere of 2001: A Space Odyssey, according to many sources, including The Guardian– https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/oct/21/space-odyssey-kubrick-science-fiction  — there were hundreds of walkouts, including Rock Hudson, who asked, “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?”

The title of this blog is an ode to Rock Hudson’s 1960s frustration and confusion. But not for 2001. Just replace Kubrick’s masterful space odyssey with Mother!, The Book of Henry, and The Lighthouse.

Mother! from 2017, starring Jennifer Lawrence. A large rambling house. A poet with a mysterious crystal object. A woman who is his muse.

Strangers with no listening skills or manners who keep appearing, invited in by the poet while his muse remains wary and struggles to keep order as chaos unfurls, slowly at first, then gaining momentum toward incredible havoc and ultimate violent destruction.

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If Rock Hudson had been at this movie, I guarantee he would have walked out at least one half-hour earlier than he did at 2001.

Not that I hated it. In fact, I admired the undertaking immensely, considering how difficult it would be to represent symbolically in film “God” and the Earth and the birth of mankind and the fall from Eden and all that ensues after our “innocence” is lost—namely our descent into petty narcissism, world wars, and the wholesale rape and destruction of the environment and Mother Earth.

But the repetiveness of certain phrases, scenes, and actions meant to build and layer tension just irked my senses and my brain. I know a lot of people who can’t stand Groundhog Day with Bill Murray from the ‘90s–probably for the same reason–although I thought Groundhog Day handled the issue of repetition well. Same with the more recent Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise.

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Though the over-stimulation of Mother! was unpleasant and unwelcome for me–kind of like jerking open a door and having thousands of bats unexpectedly fly at your face–the film was courageous and innovative in its daunting mission to cover eons of (Christian) Earth history in just two hours. Probably without the religious slant it might have felt more inclusive, but I think the general story still works with anyone’s personal beliefs exchanged for the Christian lore.

The Book of Henry from 2017, however, was a bizarre cobbled-together Frankenstein’s monster of tones and plot which I can’t find within myself to compliment in any way.

Picture genius-level Henry, who’s sort of “running” everything in the family himself, a family consisting of his younger brother and single parent mother. Listen to Henry say to his mother at one point, “Stop playing video games and go to bed.”

Is that your jaw dropping open? Yeah. ‘Cause mine did. How laid-back do you have to be to not jump to your feet and say, “What did you say? WHAT DID YOU SAY?” But she doesn’t. She just does what he says.

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And then it’s devastating tear-jerker time and then a weird plan hatched by Henry is carried out by his mother to deal with the bad things going on next door with the neighbor girl and her father.

The director was slated next for Star Wars, Ep. IX, but right after The Book of Henry came out, he was no longer slated for Star Wars, Ep. IX. Although insiders say it was due to “creative differences” over the story, we know what it was REALLY about…..don’t we? Sources say the director just got “too close” to The Book of Henry and lost his perspective.

You might want to watch it just for curiosity’s sake to witness firsthand, with your own eyeballs, the crazily uneven tone and completely unbelievable plot that would never, in a million, gazillion years, ever actually happen.

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I had been looking forward to Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse because I had enjoyed The Witch from 2015. The Witch was a weird, eerie, tense, atmospheric period piece and The Lighthouse turned out to be all of those things, too.

But for some reason, The Witch felt like a mild marijuana trip compared to the salvia divinorum-infused freak ride that was The Lighthouse. I looked up hallucinogens and found salvia divinorum, an opioid-like plant with psychoactive properties, because mushrooms and mescaline–and certainly weed–just didn’t seem strong enough as words. The multiple syllables and dramatic spelling of salvia divinorum got a little closer.

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I love that Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame broke free of typecasting and has turned out to be a pretty damn good actor, and nobody can fault Willem DeFoe in that arena. They were really great in this movie. A coworker was pointing out that director Eggers focuses on isolation and what happens to ordinary people when unhealthily separated from the rest of society.

I get that. But what the hell part of it was actually happening and what was just going on in their minds? That bothered me. The same could be said of The Witch, but for some reason I didn’t come away unsatisfied. Possibly I’m just closed off to some avant-garde stuff—which Mother! definitely was—and it’s just me. I’m willing to accept that.

Or maybe I should blame my husband for slipping salvia divinorum into my tea when I wasn’t looking. Maybe not for Mother! ‘cause we saw that together. But during The Lighthouse, he made me some tea and then was suspiciously missing from the room most of the evening…

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What movies in your lifetime made you say “What the HELL did I just see?”