Monday, February 26, 2001

Squatting Squirt, Freezing Kitty

She had a sunny disposition but she loved to moon people. After we parted ways I spent a number of years in a funk, with clouds swirling all around my head.

I finally decided to give in and listen to them, those of the professional opinion. The attitude adjustment manifested itself definitively with an effort to watch a Disney film. All is right in Walt's Wonderful World. But I wasn't going to watch any of that caroling mermaid or jolly genie crap, nope I wanted a story with some teeth to it. So I rented Mulan figuring a story about a female warrior proving her mettle might actually be inspiring. Or perhaps it's just because I like to watch women kick the stuffing out of others.

I loathed the movie. I wondered if there was any point to the story whatsoever other than the twist that the young hero turned out to be a heroine. If it had just been about a scrappy young male placed under the same circumstances the movie would have been devoid of any interest whatsoever. It bored me to tears.

A couple of weeks ago after a long Tuesday legislative work day I got home around 9 p.m. all anxious to watch a brand new episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I thought I had taped earlier in the evening but I hadn't set my VCR right. When I realized my mistake I was all but ready to drive a stake through my heart. This was a key episode to the season (ironically it was a further explanation of the mystery of this year's plot- the Key).

I meandered through the next few days knowing I had missed something key, wanting to ask the scattered Buffy fans I kinda know to fill me in on what I missed but still somehow holding out hope I could somehow track down the lost episode. I had given up hope so I asked our LeAnn at our annual gala what had happened. She gave me a wonderful blow by blow description of the plot developments. Then, almost like a miracle the man from New Ulm was up in the Cities and he indeed had the episode back at his apartment. He promised me he would mail it up when he returned.

The Key of course is Buffy's heretofore unknown sister Dawn who has been placed in the gang's lives (and memories) by some monk like sect bent on keeping her out of the hands of Glory (the evil devil woman). When the teenage Dawn finds out she isn't really human she takes a pair of scissors to herself providing the second event of this season to hit a little too close to home. She merely wanted to show everyone (and herself) that she was indeed one of them.

Think this show isn't absolutely the most cleverly insightful hour of television on the air today? What other show can possibly boast that it has set up a situation where by season's end we will see a battle between God and the devil (on the WB!); has asked the question if someone can truly love who doesn't have a soul; that had a assuredly wonderful scene last week in which Spike, that poor poet (in every connotation that conjures up) is placed in the unfortunate position of having to decide (even though he has no choice) between the woman representing salvation- who gave him eternal life, and the woman who is his tormentor who he absolutely is in love with in a frightening way, and his current "girlfriend" who complains about the walls he has erected around his heart.

After the episode I was absolutely convinced I wouldn't see a greater work of art this year. But by the weekend I was proven completely wrong. It's either a sign I'm no connoisseur of panache, or that there is hope in the rare ability of universal expression. About 15 minutes into Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon after we are introduced to the major characters and themes of the film the first martial art scene crackles to a start. Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) steals the sacramental sword of Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-Fat), a warrior who wants to retire. Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) who throughout the movie contemplates her life as a combatant that has meant sacrificing her love for Li chases the younger Jen up and down, across and over the darkened roof tops defying all gravity in the process. As the percussive background crests the exhilarating technological yet soulful mastery of the filmmaking steps back and allows viewers to catch their breath for a moment.

The fight scenes are stunning, like the old time choreography of the classic 50's musicals yet the story has a message that resonates deep within the heart. The movie ultimately isn't about whom can kick the crap out of whom, but rather it's about loyalty and friendship and one who attains a position without any appreciation to honoring one's word or realizing the merit of paying the dues to those that have sacrificed their own dreams for the sake of others. It's a stunningly beautiful movie full of unforgettable moments and the sheer joy of filmmaking. It's one of the rare movies that truly made me miss the young Siskel to my Ebert, the world's greatest soccer player who could have understood my unabashed enthusiasm to what I had just seen. This movie is all about heart, all about the appreciation of accepting a vision of the world we would normally do our best to ignore.

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