Movie Review: Please Stand By

I saw a trailer for Please Stand By in early spring. My local library system had a copy, so I reserved it. A couple of months passed, but I love having my tax dollars work for me. We recently watched the film.

Premise: a young woman who writes Star Trek fanfic wants to enter her script in a contest. Oh, and the woman is autistic.

What’s not to love?

I really liked the movie. TV Stevie said it “had potential, but turned into a message movie.” He doesn’t like message movies. But all stories have messages. I like movies for story. Mr. “I Was a Cinema Major in College” has other things he looks for in a movie.  And that’s fair. But this movie wasn’t about those other things: texture, camera angles, and who the heck knows what esoteric other stuff. It was a story about a woman who had a goal, and despite all the circumstances against her, succeeds.

When a heroine doesn’t fit male-defined roles, men have trouble understanding them. Take The Florida Project. The women were variations on stereotypes: Madonnas and whores. Well received. Great reviews. But the females in the movie never stepped out of male-defined boxes.

Wendy, the heroine of Please Stand By doesn’t fit in a box.  I think that’s why men don’t “get” the movie.  One (male) reviewer even went so far as to write:  “it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.” Another man wrote: “Touches the viewer with the subtle emotional wallop of a feather brushing against the heart.”

A lot of professional female reviewers panned the movie, too.  It was generally thought too bland. I guess we know which reviewers are ignorant of autism.

Just because a movie isn’t about shedding blood or blowing up things doesn’t make it a bad movie. Exploring “women’s” issues–family, relationships, etc. doesn’t make a movie a bad. Lack of violence shouldn’t be a touchstone, but in today’s world, it seems to have become one.

There were many subtle parallel layers in the film. At least one was “mansplained.”

To me, the important thing was that Wendy had a goal and nothing was going to stop her from submitting that script to that contest. Her determination is what kept her going, despite the world conspiring to prevent her from achieving what she wanted.

That’s an important lesson for anyone to learn.

 

 

Me Movies

One of my goals for 2017 was a list of movies I’ve never seen but felt I needed to watch.

Part 1 of the list consisted of the six original Star Trek motion pictures. I loved the original series. I love the rebooted movies (with Chris Pine). How could I have missed the movies with Shatner, Nimory, etc.?

I finally watched the last one. It was probably my favorite of the six, except maybe the whale one.

Now, on to Harry Potter.

Capitolfest 15: A Snapshot

My husband and I attend a silent/early talky film festival every summer. Each year, Capitolfest focuses on one artist who worked in the silent era and transitioned to early talkies. This year’s featured artist was Fay Wray, primarily known for her role in King Kong.

Her daughter, Victoria Riskin, is writing a book about her parents, tentatively titled Roses in December. She was Googling her mother’s name and came across this film festival in tiny Rome, NY.  She reached out to the organizers and made arrangement to attend the event. Ms. Riskin spoke to the audience on Friday night, shared the memorial DVD tribute one of her nieces made for Ms. Wray’s funeral, held a lunch-break Q&A for festival participants, and spoke to the attendees again on Sunday afternoon. She also graciously posed for photos.  I did not have one taken with her, but I did take one of TV Stevie with her.

She confessed to the crowd that she had not seen many of the features shown at the festival. Life before DVDs. Life before film restoration. Life before sound on film.

Here is a list of Fay Wray motion pictures shown at Capitolfest 15 (silent films are accompanied on the Capitol’s 1928 original installation Moller Theater Organ):

  • The Coastal Patrol  (1925, Silent)
  • The Sea God (1930)
  • Four Feathers (1929, Silent)
  • The Countess of Monte Cristo (1934)
  • Wild Horse Stampede (1926, Silent)
  • White Lies (1934)
  • Stowaway (1932)

 

 

Bowl Me Over

Today is National Bowling League Day. No, I am not a bowler. I haven’t bowled since high school, and I don’t miss it at all.

The reason I chose this topic for today is because of scenes depicting bowling in the media.

My favorite bowling scene in a romance novel is from Kristan Higgins’  Catch of the Day. The heroine goes on a series of blind dates, once of which is at a bowling alley. Her date–recommended by her priest–is sleazy. He doesn’t come off that way at first, but the signs are there. The he does something, seemingly innocent, but the heroine follows her instincts. Let’s just say payback is a bitch.

My favorite bowling related movie is The Big Lebowski (Jeff Bridges, John Goodman). This is a motion picture people either loathe or adore. I am one of the fans. The protagonist is a bowler. Check out this scene for a taste of the action.  Or this one.

(CAUTION: VERY STRONG LANGUAGE IN THESE CLIPS!)

Super Heroes and Why We Need Them

Super hero movies, based on comics, have dominated the motion picture landscape for several years. What is our fascination with these characters? I don’t think it goes back to comic books, where most of the characters originated. I think the movies are more pervasive in than the comics are in this generation.

So why do we flock to movies about super heroes?

Movies (and romance novels) are about escapism. They’re about the fantasy. The “good guy” always wins. Some days it feels as if there aren’t enough good guys out there in our real lives. Super heroes, defeating larger-than-life villains give us hope.

Hope is always a good thing.