Saturday, September 30, 2006

Four impressions after babysitting

I was called upon today to baby-sit my mentor's children. Here are some impressions from that adventure.
  1. A five-year-old child can be excused for once, or even several times, addressing one of his father's boring friends by the name of another, rather than by his own name. However, when I am so addressed on every occasion -- indeed, several times (despite my gentle reminders to the contrary) in succession -- it is unavoidable to conclude, much to my regret, that I simply have the kind of personality, or at least name, which does not make much impact on a kindergartener. When the same five-year-old, happening upon me using the phone, asks "Are you leaving a message" and, upon being assured that I am, asks "How do you know about messages?", I am forced to the conclusion that it is not only my personality which does not impress.
  2. Had I not seen Robots myself, I would never have believed that a children's movie could include Tom Waits music. (Although, to be fair, I also would never have expected David Lynch to make a sweet movie centred around the reunion of two brothers.) The fact that the song in question (Underground) is from the CD Swordfishtrombones only adds to my bemusement, for it means that, in the course of searching for music for the soundtrack, Blue Sky Studios must have considered, if only briefly, the song Frank's Wild Years, in which the protagonist is said to have "hung his wild years on a nail he drove through his wife's forehead", among other such delightful antics. (Also, watching such a movie as this makes one savour the realisation that Robin Williams must one day die, and imagine the punishments in store for him. My contribution to the genre, conceived with great delight, was his reincarnation as a mute paralytic.)
  3. It seems strange that one can no longer, or at least no longer easily, buy a plain old Monopoly board. The closest I ever encountered was a $60 "commemorative edition", which I need about as urgently as I need George Lucas's fresh vision of the original Star Wars trilogy.
  4. The Departed looks like it could be really, really good. Of course Jack Nicholson is always a plus in a movie, and Matt Damon is fast becoming one of my favourite actors (I found The Bourne Identity absolutely incredible 1). Although I shudder at the thought of Leonardo diCaprio, I rather liked Catch Me If You Can, so I feel it's only fair to give him a chance.

1 I first watched this movie in the theatre at 700 S Wabash Ave in Chicago, which, though I have fond memories of it, is pretty terrible. (A showing of Spiderman which I attended there was interrupted when the projector caught fire, because the air conditioning in the projector room wasn't functioning.) There is a moment in the movie in which Matt Damon, while still suffering from amnesia, is wandering about his character's old Paris apartment, searching for clues to his identity. We, the viewer, know, both from the musical cues (or absence -- I don't quite remember) and from the exigencies of the plot, that something nasty is about to happen, but Doug Liman does not want to reveal it immediately, so we are left to wait breathlessly for the unveiling. What happened eventually was that the ceiling fell in. This seemed to me to be a reasonably satisfying resolution to the moment of suspense, and also an exceptionally marvellous piece of special effects, until I realised that the real ceiling was actually falling. It was just some panels, actually, not the whole ceiling, and (fortunately!) no one was sitting in the affected area; but it certainly got my adrenaline pumping. What I found amazing was the casualness with which everyone, both managerial staff and attendees, seemed to take this occurrence. (One or two people left the theatre, and the janitors came in eventually and cleaned up the biggest chunks -- but that was it.)


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