Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “films”

Movie Musings: The Birder’s Guide to Everything


I learned to appreciate birds from my parents, mainly my father. I have his set of adequate binoculars, purchased from J.C. Penney, which obviously indicates their vintage status.

I learned to appreciate quirky indie films from my days of attending the University of Washington in Seattle and frequenting the variety of theaters in the fair city of the Space Needle.

As for Sir Ben Kingsley, ever since his performance of Ghandi I have been a fan.

So–an indie movie about watching birds with Ben Kingsley? That was a quick grab off the shelf for movie night.

The trailer pretty much sums up the whole movie: boy loves birds, because his mom shared her love of birds with him, mother dies, father moves on, boy is passively resentful, boy goes on a Bildungsroman road trip.

There is more than that formula plot, of course. There is the humor of watching the provided stereotypes, knowing they know they are set up as stereotypes. There is the quirky enjoyment of watching people watching birds. And there is the brief appearance of Sir Ben, adding in the perfect blend of pathos. There is also a swear word about every two minutes.

We watched most of the movie muted due owning a DVD player installed with Angel Guard, a device that catches profanity before it’s uttered and mutes it. This is a leftover from our days of raising children with a conscious effort of protecting them from harmful influences in the world. Right. Somewhere there must be a study out there correlating whether this measure of parental watchfulness truly has any significant impact on protecting children.

The children are long flown from the nest–oh, an unintended birder metaphor, but the Angel Guard lives on and the Hubs and I haven’t a clue how to reprogram it. Then again, we’re not fans of profanity and muted potty mouth works. With no subtitles, in this PG-13 film, we filled in the blanks. There were a lot of blanks. What was available, though, was a thoughtful, sensitive, often humorous coming-of-age movie of living with loss and discovering that the pain of losing someone cherished doesn’t ever truly go away, but one can learn to cope with the pain.

One of the best features of the film, beyond the commendable performance of Kodi Smit-McPhee, witty script, and Sir Ben, was the bonus feature of a Cornell bird identification insert. A winsome plug for their site: All About Birds  . 

This film helped me to better understand the culture of birdwatching, although I haven’t decided where I am in categories. I am beyond the casual bird feeder crowd, not quite the dedicated birder, and definitely not a lister, checking off spottings of avian treasures. An appreciative fan? I know just enough about birds to sound like I know something about birds.

This film falls in the category of adapted John Green novels showcasing awkward adolescence pain mixed with humor populated by quirky people and moments:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Romeo and Juliet Stories


Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper for Toy Theatre; Romeo and Juliet (background and surroundings removed) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon I will be introducing my students to Shakespeare through Romeo and Juliet.  It’s a timeless story repeated throughout literature and film.  Two lovers not meant to be together yet drawn to love one another regardless of their circumstances.  I didn’t realize how strong that story line ran until I watched Lorna Doone the other night.  And there it was right before me–John Ridd and his pure love for Lorna Doone.  Such a gorgeous love story.  I then began to think about all about the other Romeo and Juliet stories I’ve come across without realizing it.  Some end happily and others do not.  It’s the telling of the two hearts intertwined that makes the story so memorable. I do believe the world has been made a bit lovelier for the joy that comes from the sorrow that happens when two hearts are kept apart because it is so wonderful when those hearts do find their way to be together after all.

A handful of Romeo and Juliet themes:

Lorna Doone

 

The Summer of My German Soldier

 

Tristan and Isolde

 

Pyramus and Thisbe

 

West Side Story

I am looking forward to the upcoming release of Romeo and Juliet starring the lovely Hailee Steinfeld, nominated for her role in True Grit. There are many  Romeo and Juliet versions, yet I am hopeful this new version will be a standout. The depth Ms. Steinfeld brought to the role as Mattie Ross, she will, I hope, bring as Juliet, for a Romeo does need his inspiration.

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