Many a Sunday afternoon, I find myself trapped in a maudlin hell of about five hours long. I am like the ram that gets his horns stuck in a bramble, I tell myself. When the poor guy realizes he’s stuck, he panics and desperately tries to pull his horns out, only to further enmesh himself. This is what I have come to expect from Sundays. ‘Tis a bramble one cannot escape quietly. That’s just the way it is. I can’t crawl out of my skin so why try? Roll with it. Recently a well-meaning friend reminded a girlfriend and I that Bay to Breakers was coming up on Sunday as he searched our faces for instantaneous traces of glee. None cometh. I think there may have been a little eye rollage though if he was looking closely enough. When he breathlessly announced that he fully intended to go to the locus of the shitstorm for purposes of not-so-innocent voyeurism we began to feel sorry for him.
Would it help my Sunday if I joined the masses? Do I really need yet another example and reminder of the arrested development that permeates our fair maiden of a city? Hmm, let me think about that. Negatory. This Sunday, will however, call for the double pre-empt. One, it is Sunday, two I am expected to click my heels together at the notion of fully grown adults prancing around half-nude to nude and letting out their inner sluts whilst boozefied. Bay to Breakers is an additional Halloween (read: an excuse for women to dress sluttier than they usually do and an excuse for men to profiteer from that fleeting window in time when they don’t have to put in as much effort to spread their seed.) I suppose it works out for everybody? Kind of?
I don’t mind or judge the revelry, unless I step back for a minute and observe from a bird’s eye perspective what’s really going on, at which point it all seems a bit ridiculous and embarrassing. I decide this is not something to which any stable, grown adult should aspire, so in order to avoid the pathos of the day, I’m projecting myself straight into the safe confines of the cinema house where Mardi Gras beads, opportunists of all stripes and public urination cannot touch me. Jane Eyre and Hanna will protect and soothe me for four whole hours. Le Sigh. Bring on the picture show.
It just so happens that this double feature of two female badasses was the perfect antidote to the day. While the majority of the “runners” spent today showing their pieces parts and costumes en masse, I spent it with two fiercely independent strong-willed characters, Jane Eyre & Hanna the 16 year old CIA-trained assassin.
Charlotte Bronte has endeared herself to many with the story of Jane Eyre and I was riveted by the impenetrable mettle of an abused orphan transformed into steely yet kind governess, into experientially naïve yet maternal lover, into scorned victim of deception, into teacher, into missionary heartbreaker to whom she reports:“I love you like a brother.” Ouch! Into……. I shan’t spoil the entire ending. Mia Wasikowska had great pacing and a couple of moving scenes in which she rendered herself Thief of All Tears. Stop making me look like a driveling sap in public dammit! Worth a look if not only for the supporting role of Dame Judi Dench. Or even the witty retorts Jane Eyre delivers to ball bust her boss-turned-lover which, although well-deserved, likely started the home fires burning if you catch my drift. Must see the movie to catch the pun. All’s well that ends well per usual. Kind of.
After revving up my cinematic palate with a Jane Ap-Eyre-Tif, I gorged myself on every minute detail of Hanna – intently. Hanna (with Eric Bana) was a refreshing surprise and my kind of movie. It had everything a girl could want: Stealth, Danger, Suspense, Cinematography El Primo, a blood-pumping Soundtrack by The Chemical Brothers, the CIA, Flamenco dancing & singers for Christ’s Sake (I needed a ciggy after that one and I don’t even smoke), Cate Blanchett in an almost there American accent (although much better than that Katharine Hepburn mess of an accent she tried to pull off in Aviator), the formidable Saoirse Ronan speaking in Arabic, Spanish, Italian & German, a few good chases and a bit of a twist. The screenplay writer Seth Lochhead conceived the story when he was a student at Vancouver Film School. Well done, lad.
Although I was still fully clothed when I left the theater and didn’t reek of booze or piss, the path of civilization never did let me down. I think I prefer the sandbox where all the grown-ups and artists hang out. Avoiding the coarse crowds where everyone revels in how “free” they are for a day made me happy to be chained to my sanity and dignity…and reminded me of a line from that sweet Bob Dylan song, “Ballad in Plain D”:
“My friends from the prison they ask unto me. How good, how good does it feel to be free? And I answer them most mysteriously: Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?”