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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Humour (and yes, that is the proper spelling) is subjective. I grew up in a household that appreciated dry British humour. In fact, it was my father who suggested we what the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus after seeing an ad in TV Guide. The first sketch I recall was that of the flying sheep – I was hooked, and so were most of my friends. It was smart, quick, absurd and most of all – silly. There was a regular discussion about the week’s episode and lines of Python dialogue quickly became part of our regular lexicon. When the CBC failed to pick up one of the new series, we dashed off a 500+ name petition – that three of us spent several hours making up the names for.

Not only did we absorb everything Python, the show had some interesting unintended funny moments for us. When the first movie, And Now For Something Completely Different, came out, we went as a group to see it. As most of us had just passed the age where we could legally imbibe, we went for a few (or for some, more than a few) before the movie. We got to the theatre and settled in as the movie started when one of our group loudly announced that he had to go to the bathroom. We told him to go, but then he started to protest saying he would miss part of the movie. In the next instant he had come up with a solution. Movie theatres are sloped so he would just go down the aisle. On reflection, this did not seem to be the most appropriate action and we voiced our disapproval. Nevertheless, he started the process which then required three of us to drag him to the bathroom. All in the name of Python.

The second one I remember is going to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail with another group of friends. For some unknown reason, there was a short film in front of Python about these poor South Sea Islanders who were forced to leave their homes for a good part of the year to find food to feed their families. Absolutely the worst choice for a short before Holy Grail. The audience were laughing at all the serious bits and making snide comments about the plight of these poor people. It would have been a buzzkill of epic proportions if the audience had not been primed for Python. Before the feature started, one of the group offered to go and get snacks for all. We knew he had come back when we heard this loud call of ‘Albatross‘ as he was walking back down the aisle towards us. While he actually didn’t have any albatross, he did manage to sell most of the snacks to other patrons before he reached our seats – which of course necessitated another trip to the concession. Only at a Python flick.

Finally, I was at the university bookstore during my undergraduate years when I spotted a new Monty Python book on the shelves.

The Monty Python Bok

The Monty Python Bok

The first giggle was that book was spelled incorrectly. But the cover had dirty fingerprints on it so I started to go through the stock to find a clean one. Only to find that each book had the same fingerprints printed on the cover. Another funny – this is looking good. I took the book up to the front with several other books and gave them to the cashier. The elderly cashier went through each book and entered the price into the cash register until she got to the Python book. She stopped and said this is a library book – you don’t need to pay for this. I hadn’t noticed that there actually was a library card fixed to the inside front page – a library card that listed Sammy Davis Jr. and Margaret Thatcher as people who had borrowed the book.

The 'library' card

The ‘library’ card

I thought she was joking so I laughed and said that, no I really did want to pay for it. She smiled back and insisted it was a library book and I didn’t have to pay for it. I think I realized at this point she was serious, so I insisted again that it was not a library book. Afterwards I figured out that the price sticker was white on white (this being before the days of bar codes) and she probably never saw it (you can see the sticker scars on the upper left part of the dust jacket). I tried one more time and again she told me I didn’t have to pay. At this point, the line was getting restless behind me and I figured I had given it three tries, so I agreed and put the book into my bag. It seemed a very appropriate way of acquiring a Python book.

And after all these years, Monty Python still makes me laugh – thanks boys!

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In a theatre!

And in 3-D!

A friend and I went to see the Hobbit last week. This was a relatively rare experience for me. The last movie I saw was the Amazing Spider Man when I went back to Ontario last summer (my niece and nephew chose). I had yet to see a film in 3-D as well.

As a big fan of the Tolkien since my high school days, I really wanted to see the Hobbit as it was meant to be seen (i.e. in a theatre). So, did I like it?

It was good – not great. I think Peter Jackson had a bit of a problem with trying to tell this story. As a prequel, you want the story to have the look and feel of the Lord of the Rings, but you also want to have something else to set it apart from the earlier film. I think the Hobbit achieved the look and feel of Jackson’s Middle Earth, but the familiar environment took away some of the wonder I felt when seeing the Lord of the Rings for the first time. Still, I was entertained.

The film was about 45 minutes too long. Having re-read the Hobbit over the Christmas holidays, I had a pretty good sense of the story. The fight scenes at times seemed far too long. The swooping and diving camera shots were familiar from the LOTR and were used a couple of times too many for my liking.

The 3-D was not over the top as I had been warned. I think I only winced once as something flew out of the screen. And the 48 fps issue didn’t seem to be that big a deal as well. I enjoyed the 3-D experience but I could also see how it could be overused to distraction.

I did like Martin Freeman as Bilbo. And the scene where Bilbo meets Gollum was really well done. I think that was the most interesting scene in the entire film. It is quite amazing to see the range of emotions that are conveyed through the digital character as Andy Serkis is able to pull off. And I have a soft spot for the Eagles …

So, I liked the Hobbit. It didn’t have the effect that seeing LOTR had on me, but it was entertaining and I will go to the next ones (even if there isn’t nine hours of story in the book).

And thank you Robyn … that was fun.

A postscript – A couple of years ago, I invested in musician’s earplugs. They weren’t cheap ($160), but they are custom fit and take out 15 db from the ambient noise. When playing with a drummer, they really help. I decided to take them to the film and was glad I did. It was loud. In 20 to 30 years, we are going to have a deaf society!

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