Big Screen Adventures

Christmas morning: first morning cup of ginger tea—the teabag tab features a printed “fortune” which reads:

“May this day bring you peace, tranquility and harmony.”

^^^   ^^^   ^^^

Image result for han solo

A few nights ago, a sweet friend took me out on a date to the local first opening night showing of the new Star Wars movie. Because I enjoy spending time with my charming friend and find it rather flattering that she wished to take me to such a widely-coveted (and pricey) viewing, I had a really great movie date night.

As for the film itself, I certainly enjoyed aspects of it, but I must confess I wasn’t deeply moved. I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars series well enough, yet have never been a really big follower. Yet, despite the blackhole-loads of violence portrayed in each installment, including this one, I have always found that they also carried enough fun silliness and genuine idealism to make for a good time. This was no exception. A real good time, just not, for me, a deeply moving film.  But I get why everyone loved seeing it, even just having it available to see. I enjoyed that aspect of it as well, in my somewhat modest way.

There is certainly more I could say about the new episode, but it might get into “spoilers” and we wouldn’t want that! Let me just say again that I’m very honoured to have been invited to such an event as this opening night viewing. My date-hostess for the occasion confesses to being “a fairly-thorough fan-girl nerd.” But she’s a very thoughtful one;—I’d call her a philosophical nerd-fan/scholar. Very cool.

Observing the other folks who turned out, many in costume, and being immersed within such an audience, was a pretty cool experience in itself. I liked how friendly and intimate everyone in the audience seemed to feel toward one another as well as toward the characters and the plot, etc. It was not just like being in a close-knit club, but like being part of a band of comrades. Which, in a way, I guess it was—at least for the time just before, during, and after the showing….

Also, I must say, just seeing Harrison Ford up and moving around was pretty impressive. You know, he shattered his pelvis and once again busted his ankle just recently in that emergency landing he did in his tiny vintage plane, dropping into a park in LA. He’d earlier busted an ankle in a previous crash. He’s also flipped his copter in a crash landing and walked away. To get back into a pilot’s seat after all that, especially for a series of trans-galactic dimension-warping flights, is pretty courageous. Of course for the fictional flights-and-fights he’s being paid gazillions.

When I first went to see the first Star Wars film in its opening run (at a drive-in theatre!) in 1977, I had just returned to the States from the snow-clad Swiss Alps, where I had been immersed in a six-month deep meditation retreat of advanced teacher training with my spiritual guide & teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We, the retreatants, were all experienced teachers of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) Program, and this advanced retreat was the first course in which he trained certified teachers of his program to also be practitioners and instructors of the newly-restored ancient Yoga procedures known as sidhis or special specific “accomplishments.” These systematic traditional procedures for stabilizing and applying specific features of higher consciousness were first codified by the historic Maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, a primary text of the original Vedic teachings of Yoga. This program of learning, practicing, and teaching these ancient and now fully-restored advanced Yoga methods, Maharishi chose to name the TM-Sidhi Program. To have my first pop cultural experience upon re-entering America from such an intensive six-months mountain retreat turn out to be attending the drive-in opening night of the first Star Wars movie was rather interesting…

Back to the present…
So Carrie Fisher, I am reflecting (with the help of wiki), is now 59 (born 1956). So she must have been about 19, 20 or 21 (?) when the original episode was filmed—(in 1976?) and released in ’77.  Mark Hamill is now 64. Born in 1951, he was about 25 or 26 (?) then.
Harrison Ford is now 73. Born in 1942, that means he was about 34 or 35 back in 1976-77.

In “real life,” of course, Harrison is married to Calista. (She’s his third wife; his divorce settlement of $59 million to his second wife was then the highest on record for any settlement–how’s that for salacious gratuitous gossip).

Calista was born in 1964 and is therefore now about 51;—that’s a 22 year diff in her age and that of husband Harrison…. (Knowing things like this last bit is goofily always encouraging for me, seeing as I’m so effing ancient now, myself.  …I don’t care how much difference or closeness in age there may be for myself and my own potential partner, but still, it’s encouraging….)

Since seeing the new Star Wars, I’ve read snippets of a couple of articles about Ford I’d not seen before. From which I learn that, in recent years he & Calista & kids have returned to living pretty much full time in LA again. Until then, Ford had spent most of his time for decades living on a ranch outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That is, ever since earning his first millions. He was paid only $10,000 for his role in the first Star Wars, so he had to wait awhile to buy anything. He used that $10,000 to pay off debts. (Which, he jokes wryly, women should have found impressive.) When he settled out there in Jackson Hole, he was basically the first celebrity to do so. These days, there are many others, such as Sandra Bullock,  ……and, of all people, Dick Cheney!!!—the Sith lord Vader himself!

Apparently Ford has kept his 700 or 800 acre ranch and he & family still spend vacations at the spread, but live in LA again these days.

“He’s always played by his own rules, living on a 700-acre ranch in Wyoming for much of his adult life—as far removed from Hollywood as you can get.

Question: You spent some time living in Wyoming. Were you trying to re-create a simpler existence?

Ford: No, I was just trying to get out of what we referred to as the Silly State—that being California. …Everyone walks around with the idea of an idyllic, natural world that they maybe experienced on a vacation or saw pictures of. Wyoming was mine.”

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Speaking of movies seen recently: I also went out to view the latest James Bond episode. I think I must have seen most, if not perhaps all, of this series as well, sooner or later. I was never a really big fan of these films either. Nor am I a big Sean Connery fan (and those terrible things he said about being justified in hitting his wife &/or other women made me sick! Of course).
Despite the caravan-loads of violence in each of these films also, I always thought that, like the Star Wars episodes, they also contained enough fun silliness for what they are, though Bond’s idealism, if one can call it that, was less “humor-intending” or -resulting than the casual “enemy-killings” by rogue cowboy gunslinger Han Solo. Bond’s killings are equally murderous, perhaps, and off-handed, yet Solo (and Indiana Jones, for that matter!) seemed less sadistically-titillated by offing “bad guys” (or others in their path) than does Bond. One gets the truly creepy feeling Bond is intended to convey his own sexual arousal in murdering his foes.

However, because of an article I read about the newest Bond thing, I went to check it out. The article suggested that the way the character & plot have been shaped in the latest escapade is (sorta) reflective of and supportive of Edward Snowden & his whistle-blowing real-life heroism. And it’s sorta true, I guess. (Again, I don’t wish to give any spoilers.)

But I still don’t much care for the Bond stuff, though in this case, the “Snowden factor” (what there is of it here), is certainly a huge improvement! Now I’d like to see where a creative vision would take the Bond character and plots from there. That’s where the real adventures could begin.

http://http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/in_spectre_james_bond_becomes_edward_snowden_video_20151108#below

Daniel Craig’s screen presence has never moved me, but I find the fact that “in real life” Craig is married to the quite compelling Rachel Weisz, really says something. Not sure what or why, exactly. But Weisz always strikes me as having something significantly positive about her. Seems like some deep passion to make a difference for good in the world.

I’m not saying the others (Connery? Craig? and certainly Ford, don’t also possess such passion in real life—Ford, as is well-known, is a deeply-engaged activist on several crucial fronts, including working toward greater justice and peace for Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and for the planet. He also directly saves people’s lives in his wilderness search-and-rescue volunteer pilot activities! In this regard he’s a  real-life hero of a non-gun-slinging sort!)

I just wish the Bond character could have been even more like Han Solo (and/or Ed Snowden!) than he was in this latest film. I wish that Han Solo and James Bond throughout could have been been way more like Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood…combined with the real Ed Snowden, …combined with the real Julian Assange, and others of that ilk. Or even, in the case of Bond, more, much more, like the character Johnny Worricker played by Bill Nighy in Page Eight, the first of the Worricker series. In which the female lead was played (sadly only in the first film) by Rachel Weisz! You know, something like that….

I’d also really like to see some really good filmic versions of the real-life heroism also of folks like yes, Ed Snowden and Julian Assange, but also Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Jesselyn Radack and Tom Drake, Jen Robinson and Sarah Harrison, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, Jeremy Scahill and Matt Taibbi, John Pilger, and others. Plenty of others, although still far too precious few, in the face of things. Overwhelming things. Tremendous courage and willingness to self-sacrifice if needed to help others. To save us all from great horrific evil. Mostly perpetrated upon us and our planet by our own evil and/or morally indifferent government leaders acting at the bankrolled bidding of horrifically genocidal corporate terrorists. Oh well.

One non-Bond-related Sean Connery film from long ago that I did particularly like was the (little known?) 1992 flick, Medicine Man. Connery plays a modern-day fiercely dedicated, perhaps half-crazed rogue doctor and enthno-botanist, living-deep among a band of surviving Native peoples of the Amazon rainforest. He has “discovered” their traditional use of a natural plant-based radical cure for cancer and has to fight like hell to try to save the Indigenous people, the forest, and the rare medicine plant, before all are destroyed by the on-rushing slash-&-burn of global corporate greed-&-genocide that has now reached his jungle research-hospital’s campsite.

Medicine Man was panned by critics, though it was supported by enough paying theatre-viewers at its release to recoup its production costs. Unfortunately, it used a film-script that seems to have been stolen and sold to the producers by some low-level, lowlife Hollywood suits. The script seems very closely based on an autobiographical manuscript submitted to studio readers by the real-life medical scientist whose life story was then slightly fictionalized and portrayed through the character played by Connery. Passed off as original fiction creation, with no credit to the seeming actual autobiographical author. The doctor sued the film-makers. I don’t know if he got awarded anything out of the suit or not.

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-08-18/business/fi-5787_1_medicine-man

Otherwise, though, I liked the film. I thought it was such a wonderful, though of course horrifying, apt story. But I only saw it once, when it was briefly in theatres, and it may or may not have been weak in certain movie-making terms. But production-values aren’t the only things that make movies good or bad.

Saving our own planet and ourselves in our own real time from evil murderous genocide by real life corporate-nazis and their minions has more to do with the basis for good movie-making than most of the things folks seem to care about with regard to ga-zillion dollar cash cows like the Star Wars and Bond “franchises.” I couldn’t care less about the production and nerd obsession minutia of vehicles and costumes and hairstyles and weapons depicted in movie series like Bond and Star Wars. I have always found it utterly bizarre. Really? That’s what you obsess over?–what about the values being portrayed and promoted??!!

Our own world is being attacked by home-grown evil empires far more powerful and already-hugely victorious and threatening than anything cartoonified in these ridiculously silly movies!—don’t you see that’s what the films’ authors are trying to get us to think about and talk about and do something about???!!!

Rachel Weisz had plans to make a docu-drama movie about Julia Butterfly Hill and her tree-sitting activism to save the redwoods and the planet. It was to feature Weisz herself in the lead role. Now that I would like to have seen come to fruition! Sadly, much time has passed, and it seems to have been swallowed up or tossed aside by whatever factors. I have a bit of an artist-celebrity crush on Rachel Weisz; I’m deeply in love with Julia Hill.

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