Last weekend we rented Memoirs of a Geisha and very much enjoyed the film. If you haven't seen it, read no further, because my ruminations are spoilerish in nature.
Off topic here, do you remember Kids in the Hall? It was a sketch comedy series with some extremely funny Canadians (a shout-out to your peeps, Sandy!) that aired from 1989-94. (Had to look that up, btw. The pink pieces in Trivial Pursuit are not any easier than the yellow ones, I find.) Anyway, the KITH had a great regular sketch in which Agent Pleakley (er, Kevin McDonald) played Sir Simon Milligan, the master of the pit of ultimate darkness and evil, and Dave Foley played his manservant, Hecubus.
And here is one of their more brilliant exchanges:
SSM: Hecubus, pick a card, any card.
SSM: Evil! Evil! Impolite and evil! Hecubus, have you seen the movie Presumed Innocent?
Hecubus: Yes I have, Master, and his wife kills her.
SSM: But Hecubus, I haven't seen the movie yet. Evil! Evil!
Segueing from my segue, an interesting piece of personal trivia is that my first ever CKU class, Whatchacallit, borrowed from this exchange. In making the point that a good layout title should intrigue the reader and encourage them to read the journaling, I suggested that Presumed Innocent wouldn't have done nearly as well at the box office if the title had been His Wife Did It. Thank you, KITH!
Back to original segue . . .
That absolutely brilliant line "Evil! Evil! Impolite and evil!" has been a household expression ever since and I even own a rubber stamp of the phrase, although I can't remember who made it. I tried googling it, but just got some references to the President, which is both amusing and disturbing.
And my point with that diversion was merely that I didn't want to go all Manservant Hecubus on you and spoil the movie without several paragraphs of bail time. Consider yourself warned. Go no further if you don't want the Geisha movie spoiled.
So let's travel back to the point where I was on my couch watching Memoirs of a Geisha. . .
Enthralled as I was with the story, I had little concept of how much time had passed, so when Sayuri stands on the cliff and her voiceover starts, and then she dramatically casts the Chairman's hanky over the edge . . . the hanky, mind you, that she had kept for many years and went all "Geishas Gone Wild" with Hatsumomo over, burning down her house in the process . . . I was convinced that the movie was going to end. Right there. Just like that. On that cliff of despair.
And I was ticked.
I looked at John and said "Are you KIDDING ME?! She's not going to get the guy? After all of THAT?!" but was quickly shushed since the movie was, despite my worries, not over in the least. She got the guy in the end, and despite the movie's attempt at Oscar-worthy poignancy in pointing out that a Geisha can only be half a wife, (just a well-provided-for mistress while the arranged wife gets the real digs. boo hoo) it was, nonetheless, a happy ending.
And I, for one, was happy.
Look, I like happy endings. I'll admit it. Especially where romance is involved. And even if it's pretty darn unrealistic. Vivian could have used her week with Edward as a self-esteem boost to pull her out of the dregs of prostitution and catch a bus elsewhere, perhaps getting her GED and taking some community college courses to become a medical transcriptionist. And maybe in the course of that she would have met a nice hard-working tow-truck driver who could overlook her sordid past and love her for who she had become. (If she even told him about her sordid past, that is) They would have bought a nice starter home in the development up north and their kids would have been well-adjusted, tall, fond of baseball and ignorant of polo.
And that would have been realistic.
But not very satisfying.
Far better for Eddie to ride into her slum in a white limo, head poking through the sunroof and dorkily wielding an umbrella so that we could all suspend reality and believe that this couple, Arthur/Linda 2.0, was going to make it after all.
Far better, I say!
And yes, I know that the sad endings are more Oscar-worthy, but they can backfire as well. A movie that really truly touched me and simultaneously tore my heart out was The Remains of the Day with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. An absolutely superb film with arguably the most maddening romantic restraint between two characters meant to be together until, oh I don't know, My Best Friend's Wedding. (Sarcasm . . . so good at the sarcasm) TRotD was nominated for 8 Oscars and won . . . zero.
My personal opinion is that the Academy wanted to send a clear message - Dude, don't DO THAT! Movie formula 101: the guy gets the girl in the end. Or she dies but there's another girl in the wings. (Sleepless in Seattle, The Interpreter) Or she dies but the kids will get him through (Shadowlands, Forrest Gump) Or he doesn't get THAT girl, but he gets some other girl. (Castaway) Or he doesn't get to KEEP the girl, but hey, at least it's good for his art! (Shakespeare in Love) But the idea of not getting the girl at all - not even clearing up that you like her - and then she goes off and marries someone else and all those feelings are just gurgling there under the surface until the credits roll? NOT COOL! No soup for you!
Even the most excruciatingly painful but you can't turn away because the pain is so funny TV show, The Office, didn't send Pam to the altar without Jim getting a shot at her. You just don't DO THAT!
Where romance is not the primary plot line, I can handle sad endings, as long as there's a point to it. I can't stand sad endings just for sad ending's sakes. *cough*Ladder49*cough* Here we follow a guy through his whole dream/life/ascension as a firefighter only to have him die at the end. What was the point? That his wife was right to nag him? That firefighting is dangerous and these guys are heroes? Oh, OK. Got it. Thanks. Feel free to make another movie about how winters in Alaska are cold or how smoking is bad for your health.
Which really explains why The Princess Bride is truly the best movie ever made. He gets the girl, but not without effort. And hilarity. And quoteworthy lines. And noteworthy characters. And blogworthy everything.
This post, just like my favorite movies, has a happy ending. Elliott will be on Live with Regis & Kelly AND Dayside (Fox news) tomorrow, June 1st. Set your VCR/DVR/TiVo's accordingly!
TKITHQOTD (Good evening and welcome to the Pit of Ultimate Darkness. Hello, I am your host, Sir Simon Milligan... Now, for those of you with a brave heart and for those of you who have stayed, look into my face and know, to look into my face is to look into the face..of EVIL! Yes, I am a man possessed by many demons. Polite demons that would open the door for a lady carrying too many parcels, but demons nonetheless! Yes, I have walked along the path of evil many times, it's a twisting curving path, that actually leads to a charming block garden, but beyond that; evil!)