Tuesday, December 3, 2019

"Missed It"

My Concise Oxford Dictionary (defined as “brief but comprehensive”, yet still hard to pick up) lists ten variations of meaning for the word “miss.”  The one I apply here is “Meaning Number 8” of the word “miss”: ”to avoid.”

Pondering “Meaning Number 8” came to mind with the recent release of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which I missed despite encouragement not to, due to my anticipation of its (to me, excessive) violence.

How many highly praised movies, I wonder, had I missed because of their (to me, excessive) violence?  Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, and another Scorsese classic Goodfellas are three that come easily to mind.

Although first and foremost is The Godfather, which – this will sound strange till I explain it to you – I saw and missed at the same time.

Here’s the clarificational story.

There was this movie review show on our local CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) affiliate, CBLT, in Toronto, scheduled to be cancelled after its final six airings.  When one of its three designated “reviewers” prematurely jumped (the sinking) ship, someone apparently thought of me, to play “amateur critic” for the remaining episodes.  “What have we got to lose?” was imaginably their thinking.

The way I behaved, I cannot say for sure that I would have been fired from the program because it had already been cancelled.  But I have the feeling if it had stayed on, it would have done so without me.

And here’s why.

Related to violence, 

And, specifically, The Godfather.

I had read the book on which the movie was based, and had thoroughly enjoyed it, having learned of what appeared to be the inner workings of the Mafia with no personal jeopardy to myself.  (Like by asking a “Mob” guy, “Do you really kill people?” and hearing, “Do you really want to find out?”)

The thing is, being familiar with the book, I knew when all the “bad parts” were coming in the movie.  And I was ready to react.  At least my “Fight or Flight” reflexes were.  Programmed permanently to “Flight.”

When the time came for the guy to wake up and find the severed head of a horse lying in his bed, as the camera slowly pulled in on the house, angling in an upward (bedroomly) direction, I immediately bolted from my seat, propelled my way up the aisle, and raced straight into the lobby.

That wasn’t the only time that happened.  (Just the time I ran out the fastest.)

Someone has his hand pinned to a bar with a before being garroted…

Michael enters the restaurant bathroom to get the gun to shoot the policemen…

Sonny’s cornered on a bridge…

Gone, gone, and – among other times of equal emotional disturbance –


Then it was “Show Time” on CBLT.

I was a bit nervous.  What could I possibly “critique”?  I mean, I had seen the movie. 

Just not all of it.

When my turn came to evaluate the Coppola masterpiece, I spoke authoritatively about what I had seen:

An elaborate, backyard Italian wedding… 

A guy explaining in detail how to prepare tomato sauce… 

Marlon Brando sticking slices of orange in his mouth and clowning around for his grandchildren…

In my version – no mayhem, no blood.

It was The Godfather, put out by Disney.

Though my fellow reviewers recalled the great film in considerably more detail, no one could touch me when it came to describing the lobby’s carpeting, the range of concession stand candy, and the rotating hot dogs nobody bought.

You know, it doesn’t have to be that way.  By exemplary contrast, last weekend, I saw a 50’s “noir” picture on Turner Classic Movies.  Very “gritty” in story and dialogue.  But, in the climactic moment, when the bad guy was shot a few inches from his chest and keeled over, I had no doubt he was dead, though there was no gunshot wound, and nothing spurted out of his torso. 

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works anymore.  Audiences with apparently weaker imaginations require literal proof of “That guy’s a goner.” 

Today, it’s “No entrails – no death.”

Great although violent movies generally do well at the box office, so I don’t think they miss me.  (Meaning of the word Number 7b: “notice the loss or absence of an object or person.”)

It’s just a shame I miss them.  (Meaning of the word Number 3: “fail to experience, see or attend (an occurrence or event.”)

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