Thursday, January 5, 2012

Walgreens Movies

I keep up on pop culture, music, movies, TV, the latest best-selling book, but I'm slow to get to them. You won't find me waiting hours and days in line for one movie, nor dressing up and going to various geek conventions (though I have a yen to go to one, if there is one in Las Vegas, to see what it's all about), nor waiting until midnight to be one of the first to get a copy of an ultra best-selling book. Meridith did that once with Dad for one of the Harry Potter books, but for her, like me with conventions, she just wanted to see what it was like, and experience it once. She just went that one time, never again to the ones that followed.

But I am curious about pop culture when it stops being in the zeitgeist. I don't wait purposely until a book or a movie is out of favor, just that when it's popular, I'm usually always busy with other books and movies. For example, I knew nothing of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close when it was published, and I plan to read it soon, not because of the movie, but because I finished Greyhound, about an 11-year-old boy traveling alone cross-country, and I was curious to see what the kid is like in Jonathan Safran Foer's novel. I've also got Unstrung Heroes, Franz Lidz's memoir about being influenced by two eccentric uncles while growing up, and I sought that out because I love the movie that stars John Turturro, Andie MacDowell, and Maury Chaykin, one of my favorite actors. It's in my DVD collection. I especially love, and get a little teary at, the scene in which Uncle Arthur (Chaykin) explains to Steven (Nathan Watt) why he collects balls that children have lost: "You know how seashells hold the sounds of the ocean? I think balls hold the sounds of the children who bounce them." I never thought of it like that, but I do think like that about a lot of things in life.

On Tuesday, Mom and Dad had a late-afternoon doctor's appointment, which meant eventually knowing exactly what shade of white the waiting room walls were, while enduring another crappy movie on the TV, which this time was the remake of The Karate Kid, starring the son of stage mother Will Smith.

Then after the appointment, having finished reading Fool Me Once by Rick Lax (I started reading it that morning), we went for wings at Wing Stop (Their Louisiana Rub flavor is quite possibly the best flavor they've ever had), and then to Walgreens to pick up Mom's prescription.

We really only go to Walgreens if a prescription is needed or if Mom finds something she needs at a lower price there, such as lipstick or something for the bathroom. I like it because they sell DVDs for cheap, from $3.99-$5.99. They remodeled the Walgreens near us, putting the books and magazines against a wall near the register, and moving the DVDs for sale into a smaller plastic square display in the aisle where seasonal and discounted items are sold.

Most of what they offer I either already have, such as Swing Vote, or don't want, which is most of what they have. I don't fall into the hype trap that so thoroughly dominates mainstream entertainment because I like to discover books and movies on my own terms. I'd probably make a crappy book publisher for that reason, which is why it's better that I write.

I found two movies in that collection, one that I immediately snapped up: Talk Radio, starring and co-written by Eric Bogosian, and directed by Oliver Stone. I've always liked Eric Bogosian as a stage performer. I wish his novels had the same impressive power his stage shows do. His novel Mall was populated with characters whose personalities were too thin, and when I heard that a movie was going to be made of it, starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Chelsea Handler, and Bogosian, I immediately hoped that it will be better than the book.

I'd seen Talk Radio many years ago, and loved how deep Bogosian got into this manic talk radio host. This had to go into my DVD collection.

Then I found an unusual-looking DVD case, because of its cast: Henry Winkler, Sally Field, and Harrison Ford. It was called Heroes, from 1977, and according to the back copy, Winkler is a Vietnam vet who travels cross-country to open a worm farm, and Field is a woman he meets on the way, with Ford playing Winkler's army buddy. This used to be the kind of movie I'd look up on the Internet Movie Database to see who else was in it and what the general reception was toward it, but no. I want to find out fully on my own how it is. The screenwriter, James Carabatsos, is a Vietnam vet, and this was his first screenplay. He later wrote Heartbreak Ridge for Clint Eastwood, and Hamburger Hill. Points so far for credibility with Winkler's Vietnam vet character.

Jaws began to rapidly change movie marketing when it was released, and I'm sure it went full tilt when Star Wars was released in the same year as Heroes, so this could very well be one of the last small movies that Hollywood was willing to take a chance on. I guess they were less risky back then, but then, the '70s were a time when Hollywood was willing to be bold.

I haven't watched Heroes yet, but I think what made me buy it just to see it was that Winkler's character goes cross-country. I like those kinds of stories, people searching for something in life, or forced by circumstances to go on the road. It may well be a cliche of sorts in movies, but it endures because humanity wonders what it must be like to be somewhere else. Heck, I've been thinking about that for eight years. It also endures because the world is so incredibly vast, moreso than any movie can show. The road leading out of Baker, straight into the Mojave to Las Vegas, is stunning every single time because there's so much desert. It stretches so far in opposite directions. It's a creative wonderland for me because I think anything can exist in the desert. Riverboats too, like the casino we saw once on the way into Vegas that was designed as a riverboat, that was closed and boarded up, and the next time we drove into Las Vegas, the riverboat was torn down, gone. The reality of the riverboat being gone was obvious, but a riverboat seemingly disappearing into the desert like that is pure poetry to me.

Going back to the beginning of this entry, it's like science fiction for me. I'm becoming more interested in it, but I'm moving slowly, seeing what fits me, what worlds, what writers, what movies. Blade Runner has been one of my favorite movies for many years, long before I became interested in science fiction (It must have set something in my mind). I liked Tron: Legacy when I first saw it, and became a huge fan of it when I saw it again on DVD, to the extent that I own a diecast model of the Recognizer. From this, perhaps I'm interested in dystopian science fiction.

I've seen a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and while it's not likely that I'll become a Trekkie (or Trekker or whatever the hell isn't considered offensive to devoted Star Trek fans), I liked the vast imagination I felt from it, all those universes out there to explore. I'm not sure yet if spaceships beyond the Enterprise would interest me, but I'll eventually find out.

Time moves fast enough, and I like to wander slowly, never rushing for anything I'm told I should see, never rushing because millions of others are. I'll get there. I like to think that when I do, there'll be more room for me to wander.