SERENDIPITY, GET THE GRINGO

Movie Review, SERENDIPITY, John Cusack, Kate Beckindale. I like both actors. And this movie. I watched 90 seconds before turning the movie off.

Black pair of gloves. John and Kate each reach for the last pair. Idle chit-chat amounting to dull, flimsy dialogue getting worse. After a minute of it, an old man (actor I don’t like who should always be the bad-evil pervert) intervenes and claims the gloves. On his second line I turned it off.

PROBLEM: Kate and John are supposed to fall in love, at-first-sight. There’s no chemistry, no electricity, no other atoms or molecules and no bison measurements flowing between them. John has to move his mouth, and he has to sound intelligent and interesting. He sounds lame. Kate waits.

Dialogue should not be the gracious, meaningless offer from each, “You take them.” Share, share, we learned how to be kind to one another. Let’s be three years old again (when nobody was buying gloves). Remedy: In a busy world Kate says, “All right,” and takes the gloves. John has to convince her while making her interested in him, to let give him the gloves.

That didn’t happen.

Movie Review, GET THE GRINGO, Mel Gibson. A decent action movie about an American stuck in a Mexican prison. In America he has stolen $4,000,000, some of which the Mexican police have. Nobody can identify the Gringo; he doesn’t tell what he did, until the information is useful to save his life and help him leave the prison. Hence, the audience as do the characters in the movie learn about the entire sum late.

Mel Gibson is the thief. How he navigates in the Mexican prison (“Worst mall in the world…”), how he gets out and how he survives provide action in realistic settings.

PASS ON IT

THE MAKING OF A LADY – PBS/BBC

This is a weak BBC production. Marquis from the India service, previously married, childless, returns home. He’s urged to marry to keep all the family loot within his lineage.

His familial competition for the English estate is a ner-do-well cousin who was also in India and has married an Indian woman. That couple is joined by the wife’s mother. Marquis disapproves of his competition.

Marquis marries protagonist, a capable woman from a good family who has no fortune. [Her parents died when she was young; aunts and uncles have too many off-spring of their own.] Her capacities as a secretary are excellent; she can organize and keep matters straight. Theirs is a peculiar marriage – little communication about anything – lives, aspirations, living arrangements, what’s going on in the world. Late – two weeks, a month, however long after marriage they have sex and settle into a natural routine, which seems the only communication between them. He also teaches her to swim.

I didn’t understand why a previously married man did not start sex earlier, especially when he is trying to sire an heir. The shyness and introvertishness is added on as an explanation, but if she were shy she would not have married. It is not part of the story. The husband is very direct and assertive with his intentions before marriage, but those behaviors seem to fade.

Thus the protagonist dissolves to a stupid little girl. As mistress she wants to learn the workings of the house. Longtime butler and housekeeper (husband and wife) are cold and unaccepting of her. Protagonist: “I’d like you to show me the house today.” Housekeeper: “I’m doing the laundry today.” Protagonist: “Maybe I can help.” That’s very odd dialogue coming from the mistress of the house. The lines of the Protagonist should be: “I want to learn about that by watching or overseeing.” OR “No, you’re showing me the house today.”

Marquis gets called back to India. Protagonist realizes Marquis is leaving the morning when she comes downstairs and sees trunks being carried out the front door. There seems to be a failure to communicate, here.

It is no wonder why the protagonist is easily deceived by a forged writing suggesting the “second-in-line” cousins visit the estate and stay along with the mother. NOTE, the Marquis has told her he disapproves of his cousin, but there are no suspicions. Weird behaviors (reminded me of British movies of the 1960s, so there is a shift in time 1890 to 1965), and stuff happens: The butler dies (is murdered); protagonist gets sick; housekeeper refuses to stick around.

Protagonist never learns that 2 + 2 = 4 until she is cured: Marquis returns to estate, just in time to save his wife and unborn child. Like Sleeping Beauty protagonist wakes, and everyone lives happily ever after.

THE SLEEPWALKERS

This spectacular diplomatic history by Christopher Clark is about European foreign relations and history before World War One. It is an essential source to understand the years before the War.

It tells how Serbian goofballs and nuts, backed blindly by the Russians and supported by the indifferent French, were able to start the War. The British, flat on their asses, joined the French.

Oddly, the Germans were late to the party. Germany began mobilizing on August 1, 1914 two weeks after the Russians with French encouragement began mobilizing and putting a million soldiers on their Western borders. Historian Clark mentions that the Germans have been blamed for heightening tensions and starting the War. Blame is much better placed on the Russians and French. Clark refers to an excellent history by Fritz Fischer, but Clark does not discuss policy during the War, whereas Fischer does.

The Sleepwalkers is an appropriate title. The diplomats and rulers read, discussed, pushed papers and harrumphed. In Britain the Foreign Minister, Edward Grey (of Earl Grey tea fame), was aloof, spoke only English, disliked foreigners, preferred long country jaunts and liked fly fishing. And in 1914 Grey had the on-coming disability of going blind. Everyone in the government knew it but left him in place.

The Sleepwalkers is well presented and well-written. It raises a question: If the men who decided to go to war in 1914 had read this book before deciding, would they chose War? Clark gives the impression that the men were so impossibly devious and utterly stupid, that despite knowing all the facts the would chose War.