Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm a political faker and again, thank god THE MAGIC FLUTE (71) is over.

I was watching Obama pick brackets on television over the last couple of days and let me tell you I was excited. President of the United States of America picking his fucking brackets just like an everyday Joe. I didn't actually see Obama on Jay Leno but again, President Obama not just sitting on his high shelf, ensconced in the Oval Office, no, here's our President talking to Jay Leno like a regular old celebrity. Excitement, coursing through me, I suddenly realized as excited I am about all this big-TV hoopla, I'm pretty much a dullard in terms of what Obama is actually doing as the President of the United States, and if he's doing it well at all.

And I'm not shitting on Obama at all, I'm shitting on myself. I told myself during the election that I was going to get myself political. I was going to follow the news about what Obama was doing in terms of the country, the world, the economy, the environment - I was pumped to be a part of the change and new world we as Americans were entering.

Of course, inauguration came and went and it's almost two months in to Obama's Presidency and as always I know almost nothing about what he's doing or how well he's doing it. Nope, I'm just sitting at home, a little boozed, cheering about the fact that he filled out a bracket. And I don't think I'm alone in this. I'm sure if you polled the people who voted for Obama, you'd quickly find that the pre-inauguration clamor has faded off in to the the type of political inertness we've come to accept as normal in America. I browse the New York Times in the morning to see what President Obama is doing, but if somebody asked me his stance on say, well, anything I'd probably fumble and give a sort of "shit if I know" type expression.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, uh, well, shit, I don't really know. I'm half asleep after eleven hours of work and this was the idea that popped in to mind. Obama makes me smile because he's always on television fulfilling my need to see a President engage with pop-culture on a more consistent basis, but when it comes down to it, I'm a huge political faker. And this is, er, something I'd like to change.

You know what else I'd like to see change? How bored I am with the last, er, five films in The Criterion Collection. I'm obviously not as huge a film scholar as I thought, because from Cocteau to Scorsese to Ingmar Berman, I've been nearly asleep at the wheel for the last five films. The Magic Flute (71) is no exception either.

Oh no, this is a Dutch operatic adaptation of a Mozart composition, a Dutch operatic adaptation of a Mozart composition filmed to seem like its actually being portrayed on a theatrical stage. It's also two hours long. I tried, extremely hard to like this film, I did, I mean it. But at the end of the day I'm very obviously two things: one, an uncultured boor who can't abide the la-la-las of intelligent music like opera and two, excessively bored by melodrama. I found myself drifting in and out of this film more than any other in the collection. I wasn't outraged at it's pretensiousness, I wasn't baffled by it's strange plot, and I wasn't turned away by it's atrocious images - nope, I was just completely uninvolved.

The only character/subplot that I enjoyed, but didn't so much understand, was the romantic lusting of Papageno, the bird-catcher who gets drawn in to Pamino/Pamina's quest to, well, find each other. He's obviously the groundling fare, the broad, sexual, laugh-out-loud comedy intended to please those who can't stand sitting and watching two hours of opera about fucked up love. That being an exact description of myself, I really like his storyline. He was jovial and entertaining, quite good at singing, and was a welcome break from the plodding doom and gloom of the rest of the film. Also, Papagena, his lady love, was a startlingly attractive woman and it certainly helped me get through several moments in the moving.

One final thought and then I can bury this film for good, somewhere dark and deep in my churning brain: Scandanavians have some sort of strange fascination with suicide as it seems like every character, Papageno included, tries to off themselves in the name of love. It's strange, and I wonder if the blandly friendly facades of my Scandanavian friends hide deep, dark, suicidal thoughts.

At the end of the day, I'm just glad we can all move past this one.

Monday: What Comes Next pt. 3

1 comment:

griffdog said...

I thought I would try this opera as my first since it seemed much more accessible. Got expensive tickets to the Met and me and the lovely and talented Mrs S. went to see it. I almost immediately fell asleep, only remember a strange scene with a dragon or something and we left at intermission. I have decided opera is not for me, although your Uncle Pete loves it, but he is, of course, Italian.