Opinion Personal

I Have Never Watched So Much TV

Pandemic Life has turned me into a movie critic!

The slow pace of life and small friend groups brought on by the pandemic have turned me into a bit of a bore (not that I mind); never in my life have I watched so many movies.

Even though there are endless amounts of shows and movies available, most of them are not worth sitting and watching (kind of like the news). To remedy the poor selection, I have resurrected some old classics.

Watching with the Grand-Kids

Saturday nights are the grandchildren’s night at my house. After dinner, we have a summer ritual of putting on our PJ’s, piling up on the couch in the den (now called the “media room”) for a movie, and eating ice cream. We recently watched the 2010 remake of True Grit, about a 14 year old girl from Arkansas. It was so good! Sorry John Wayne and Glen Campbell but I like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon’s acting better. This movie is for the ages that both men and women can enjoy. And being from Arkansas I enjoyed the references to towns and cities I’m familiar with.

Unable to pull from memory any good kids movies, Grady and I did a Google search and got a great list. Our first choice was the movie Grease with the young John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. It is remarkably timeless, and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it.

To my surprise, the grandkids had never seen Forrest Gump or Pirates of the Caribbean. I could watch Forrest Gump every year for the rest of my life and never tire of it. Tom Hanks and his co-stars deliver so many well written one-liners. To name a few: “Life is Like a Box of Chocolate. You never know what you are going to get” and “Stupid is as Stupid does” and Bubba’s soliloquy: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That, that’s about it.”

Great Movies Have Great Writing

One of the things that make all these movies good is that there is no lazy writing. Too often in period movies there is a misuse of the “F” word. Prior to the 1970’s, people didn’t use that word. I saw an interview with Oprah from when she starred in The Butler, a movie based on a true story. In the interview, she said she nearly came to blows with the director, who wanted her to use the “F” word in an argument she was having with her movie-husband. She refused, saying it devalued the authenticity of the scene. She won (of course – she’s Oprah), and the director later agreed.

Currently, I am watching the new Perry Mason series on HBO. It is good, but it is not great, because they use the wrong language all the time. They go to great strides to make the sets, cars, and clothing authentic and then the writers miss the mark with their dialogue.

All this movie watching has made me a bit of a critic (if you can’t tell) and made me want to write my own Netflix mini-series, in which I use my Dad’s 1960’s business, A-1 Ambulance, as fodder. Oh, the stories I heard around the dinner table. This one made the newspaper.

The cities of North Little Rock and Little Rock are separated by the Arkansas River. There is a natural competition between businesses from these two cities. The men (because they were all men back then) of the Little Rock ambulance company and the men of its competitor in North Little Rock, would sit around police and ham radios to listen for wrecks and possible mishaps that might need the service of an ambulance. Its hard to imagine a life that slow, a life without technology, or strict procedures and regulations. The ambulances were no more than converted hearses and station wagons with a gurney. The men trained on the job and no certifications were required.

On one evening a wreck was broadcast and both ambulance companies raced to the scene to get the payload. While the patient lay in the street, the men began a full-on fist fight over who would take the victim to the hospital. I don’t remember who won only that Dad was quoted in the newspaper, which seemed like a really big deal to me then.

As I lay on the couch remote in hand, cat at my feet, and feeling slightly guilty for neglecting housework, I ponder the possibility of a career in script writing and movie making?