Cool things I’ve seen lately:
1. Butterflies. This was actually a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot to blog about it and thought it was all over, so I didn’t bother. But the travelling Butterfly Pavilion from the Newfoundland Insectarium is still at Bowring Park in St. John’s, held over by popular demand till May 13. If you’re in the St. John’s area and haven’t seen the butterflies yet, go see them! They are beautiful and soothing. And if you bring a small child, he or she will be enchanted to have a tropical butterfly land on his or her head. Emma is actually enchanted in this photo, although the fact that she has to put on her “camera face” obscures her delight somewhat:
2. Spiderman III. We took the kids to see the latest Spidey movie on Sunday. WOW! I LOVED IT!! I thought it was the best Spiderman movie yet. Now you have to appreciate that I am not that much into action and special effects and really could not care less about any of that stuff. I am interested in characters, story, emotion. By my standards, each Spiderman movie has been better than the last.
As a feminist mom, I would like Mary Jane to spend a little less time screaming and being rescued — MJ and Aunt May are both strong characters emotionally, but not exactly kickass — all the fighting and rescuing (and threatening) is done by the males in these movies, which is a shame. However, I really like the growth of Peter Parker as a character, and the depth and complexity of his relationships with Mary Jane and with Harry — as well as how those relationships get resolved in this movie.
Of course, when I refer to “complexity” and “depth,” I’m obviously not judging this by the standards of some brilliantly-written indie film — I’m judging it as a blockbuster family movie based on a comic book hero. By those standards, I think there’s a lot of thought-provoking stuff in Spidey3. I was glad we took the kids — yes, there is quite a bit of violence, but it wasn’t too scary even for Emma, who has a low scary threshold, and the violence is definitely of the “cartoon” variety, with no blood and gore, and much more damage to property than to people. Most importantly, from a “family movie” perspective, it provides a lot of fodder for discussions about the power of friendship, the dangers of revenge, the corrupting influence of hate and violence, and the power of forgiveness. Great stuff.
3. Other stuff I’ve watched lately. Here at home, I’ve enjoyed (or not) some of the following over the last couple of weeks:
Little Miss Sunshine: Finally saw it. Yes, it’s every bit as good as you’ve heard. Funny, bizarre, moving. This one I am judging by the standard of a brilliantly-written indie film, and by those standards, it’s very, very good.
Nacho Libre: The answer to the question: “It’s got Jack Black in it — how bad can it be?” Very, very bad. This bad. Ridiculous and plotless — and this comes from someone who adored JB in School of Rock.
Casino Royale: I would never choose to watch a Bond movie if left to my own devices, but Jason and Sherry had a majority vote and I went along with it. Not liking James Bond, and not understanding anything about poker, were major obstacles to enjoying this movie. But I managed to sort-of follow the plot and I was intrigued by the idea of a brand-new, raw, untested Bond. On that score, it was sort of interesting, but I do recommend a working knowledge of poker to anyone trying to watch this movie. At one point Jason, trying to be helpful, said, “These are the good cards he has there,” and I said, “Honey, imagine the whole movie is in Hungarian — that’s about where I’m at.”
Doctor Who, the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker): I didn’t get into Doctor Who until the recent reboot of the series with the yummy and amazing Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. I somewhat reluctantly allowed myself to be won over by David Tennat as the Tenth Doctor. But I had no previous experience of Doctors Who, except knowing that the very funny Tom Baker (whom I knew as Puddleglum in the BBC Narnia series) was the Fourth Doctor. So when we decided to watch some classic Who, it was the fourth that I wanted to watch. The episode we saw (The Ark in Space, parts one through four) was hilarious, in that old-sci-fi way that original series Star Trek is hilarious. Anyone who is familiar with Rose as the Doctor’s companion in the new series will find Sarah Jane disappointingly helpless and fragile (see note above on women in the Spiderman movies), but Tom Baker is great in the role. It’s really interesting to me how we can only envision the future in terms of our own present, which is why old sci-fi always looks dated. For example, the control room of the thirtieth-century starship that the Doctor lands on in this episode looks almost exactly like the VOAR studios circa 1982 — reel-to-reel tape decks and all (sure am glad to see those reel-to-reels made a comeback!!)