THE LOST SOUNDS

Yesterday after church I was lounging on the couch–something I excel at–and the movie Argo was on television.  I was kind of mindlessly watching, because I’ve seen the movie before.  But in one of the scenes the main character, played Ben Affleck, slams down a phone in anger and frustration.  For some reason that sound of the phone’s plastic clashing with the base triggered a forgotten memory, a forgotten sound.  That sound, and the emotion that goes with it, has become extinct.  It is impossible to slam a smart phone down in anger with the same effect, and even if you could, it would only be expensive to replace it.

Our 'party-line' phone looked just like this
Our ‘party-line’ phone looked just like this

As we grow older we find that not only does landscape, vocabulary and fashion change, but so to do the things we hear.  I made a little list of the sounds that have disappeared during my lifetime.  When I think about them, they sound like childhood.

  • slamming the phone down
  • the ringing of the bell at a full-service gas station when you drive over the hose
  • film running through the projector at the movies
  • manual typewriters, especially the return
  • the annoying dial-up modem (which came and went during my lifetime)
  • a flashbulb pop on a camera
  • the national anthem playing when the television station ‘signs off’ at the end of the broadcast day.
  • the cash register bell

I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones that came to mind.

Let me be clear, it is not that I miss these sounds, because I don’t really miss them at all.  I’ll take my smart phone over the party-line any day.  The point is, perhaps, when I think about a phone, my mental image is still the plastic rotary phone and the way we handled them, carried them around while talking, and then ‘hung them up’ when we were finished.

I wonder, when my sprouts are my age, what sounds that are a part of my everyday life will no longer exist?

image from web.eecs.umich.edu

2013 BEST PICTURE–THEMES AND A PREDICTION

UPDATED:  I just finished watching the Oscars.  See, I told you about Ang Lee and Argo!  Jennifer Lawrence was a real shocker but I do think she was worthy of it.  The “James Bond” material was weak, very weak.  I could have put together a much better tribute.  Seth McFarlane was terrible and very narcissistic.  When they had Mrs. Obama announce the winner, I knew it was either Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, or Lincoln that would win.  The microphone that Norah Jones and Adele used was bad and it kind of ruined two of the best voices a person could hear.

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As promised, four days from the Oscars, here are some ideas, themes, and quirks I notice about this years 9 best picture nominees (Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty)   You can read the brief reviews for each film at previous blogs (Part One, Part Two).

AND THE OSCAR GOES TO . . .
AND THE OSCAR GOES TO . . .

First, there is a definite anti-bureaucrat theme.  We find that theme most powerfully in Zero Dark Thirty were the operatives on the ground keep getting sidetracked by mid-level management.  By the way, did anyone else notice that the dad from the t.v. show Friday Night Lights played pretty much the same character in both Zero Dark Thirty and Argo?  Coincidence?  Hum.  Nevertheless, the theme is also in Les Mis, Argo, Lincoln and even Silver Linings Playbook.  In Silver, the people who should know how best to help the poor guy really do more harm than good (with the exception of his football loving therapist.)

Second, history is a theme.  Last year’s theme was primarily about movie making, but this year the theme is historical.  Six of the movies are essentially historical narratives.  Even Pi is historical in that it is political unrest in India that causes Pi’s family to take the fateful voyage with Richard Parker.  Beast’s is definitely made to remind us of Hurricane Katrina, even if it is not specifically alluded to.

Third, oppression is a theme.  Amour faces the oppression of illness and death, Argo faces the oppression of extremist, Django and Lincoln are against the back drop of slavery, Silver is the oppression of mental disorders and Zero is the oppression caused by terrorists.  I can’t determine whether the makers of Beasts are intentionally trying to play the theme of oppression against poverty and ignorance, but there is a good chance that they are.

Before I move onto predictions, let me sermonize on one more “theme” I see, and that is profanity.  Only Life of Pi is the kind of movie I would let a 10 year old see.  Les Mis is not profane, but it does have very adult themes.  Every other film, even Lincoln, relishes profanity and vile speech.  For Argo and Zero, it makes sense in historical context but the “F” word in Lincoln, Amour, and the unbelievably harsh speech in Django make me cringe because they were plot necessary.  The trend is toward increasing potty mouth and, while I’m on it, a film that has the “F” word should not be PG-13.

Now that the moralizing is over, predictions.  Lincoln is the favorite and Zero Dark Thirty is close on its heels.  However, Argo has an outside shot, and here is how.  Last year I correctly predicted that The Artist would win because Hollywood loves movies about itself.  Argo casts Hollywood as a hero in its film.  That fact alone could tip the hand toward Argo.

As far as I am concerned, anyone of those three could win and I would be happy.  If Amour, Beasts, or Django win I will be writing a strongly worded letter to someone.

2013 BEST PICTURE PART ONE: AMOUR-LES MIS

Every year Mrs. Greenbean and I watch all of the Academy Awards best picture nominees.  It is a fun little thing we do.  Once upon a time there were only five nominees, but of late there have been nine.  NINE!  that is a lot of popcorn and Skittles.  These are just my takes on the movies.  I will post my thoughts on the other four later.  Later in the week I will try to post some of my collected thoughts regarding over all themes and my predictions for winner (possible winners).

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Amour–Gritty realism underlies this intimate and emotional portrayal of love.  I think I liked this film more than my wife, because it connected with the pastor in me.  Many times I have visited in homes and situations like the one depicted in Amour.  What was missing from the film, though, is hope.  Maybe that is where my faith differs from the French nihilism of the film.  For me death, dying and disease are not the last paragraph of our lives.  The film gives nothing of spirituality or of faith in the midst of George and Anne’s tribulation.  I recommend the film  but be warned–it is not a happy tale.

LOOK AT THAT BEARD!
LOOK AT THAT BEARD!

Argo–I loved the movie Argo.  Ben Affleck captured the feel and mood of the 1970’s perfectly in the film.  I am aware that the movie takes great liberty with the actual events of the rescue from Iran, particularly the downplaying of the Canadian and British role, nevertheless, the movie is a triumph of storytelling.  Alan Arkin was spectacular and Affleck should win an Oscar for best beard.

Beasts of the Southern Wild–For me personally, this was the most trying movie of the lot.  I don’t know if it is because I grew up so close to Louisiana and so the novelty misses me, but I did not enjoy this film and its portrayal of nearly feral human beings.  Yes, the acting was strong.   Quvenzhane Wallis as Hushpuppy was beyond mesmerizing and Dwight Henry as her father Wink was absolutely believable.  Nevertheless, I just couldn’t get to the place where the film connected with me.

Django Unchained-I almost did not go  see this one because of my aversion to Quentin Tarantino.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  The movie is good and it does a spectacular job of portraying the awful and disgusting inhumanity of slavery in the antebellum American South.  Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are great together and Samuel L. Jackson is chilling in an almost Hannibal Lecter kind of way.  However, Kerry Washington is wasted and the story is cartoonized (think I just invented that word–cartoonized) in Tarantino’s hands.  This is a good movie, but in the hands of a better director it could have been a great movie.  I am still at a loss as to how it was nominated for best picture, though.

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PLUG YOUR EARS

Les Misérables–The surprising thing is that Les Mis and Django have very similar themes of oppression, freedom, release, and destiny.  The key difference of course is music!  I loved this movie and Anne Hathaway should win an Oscar.  Russell Crowe, however, cannot sing.  He almost torpedoed the whole movie all by himself.  The problem this movie will have in winning the Best Picture award is that it is not really that new of a story.  Even though it is done so very well it will lose votes due to lack of originality.

Of these five movies, the one I liked most was Argo.