Wednesday, May 18, 2005

“Fly or die.”

The Movie: Commando, 1985 (Steven E. De Souza, screenwriter, from a story by De Souza, Jeph Loeb, and Matthew Weisman; Mark L. Lester, dir.)
Who says it: Arnold Schwarzenegger as ex-special operative John Matrix
The context: Matrix is trying to escape in a plane that won’t start; he says this line to the plane’s control panel, and then it starts.
How to use it: To make malfunctioning machinery behave. Use the accent, or people won’t get it. Actually, people won’t get it anyway, unless they’ve seen this movie.

A theme seems to be emerging this week, so I'll just roll with it for a few days. I always get this movie mixed up with Predator, which came out a year or two later, and also features Arnold Schwarzenegger kicking ass in South America. Commando is the one with Rae Dawn Chong, Predator's the one with Jesse Ventura. (I had to look that up.) Is it any wonder Californians wanted this man to be their leader? What are budget issues to someone who can make a plane start through sheer force of will?

The front page of this morning's Kennebec Journal reminded me of another reason to be glad I left Los Angeles for Maine: it gave me back my movie stars. One of today's top stories is the premiere of Empire Falls, the HBO miniseries based on Richard Russo's novel, tonight at the Waterville Opera House.

I have dinner plans in Belfast tonight, in the opposite direction. If I didn't, I'd seriously think about driving up to Waterville just to get a glimpse of Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Aidan Quinn and whoever else might be showing up. (Actually, I think the biggest star in Waterville tonight will be William Fichtner, but this is Waterville -- what do you want?) In fact, my first thought this morning, looking at the paper, was, "Rats, I can't go."

This astonishes me, because it's completely opposite from my attitude in Los Angeles. I used to live across the street from CBS Television City, on the edge of West Hollywood. I saw actors every day, everywhere -- at the supermarket, on the hiking trail, in yoga class, at the DMV. Weekly movie premieres in Westwood used to make me snarl, because they messed up traffic getting to and from the bookstore.

I wasn't even nice about it to out-of-town visitors. My sister Susan and my brother James visited me once, and I took them downtown to the old pueblo. Christine Lahti was shooting a scene from her movie, My First Mister, and Susan and James wanted to watch for a while. "It's so boring," I said. "Come on, let's go." I'm sorry about that, guys.

It's familiarity breeding contempt, but it's more than that. I didn't want to know that movie stars go to the supermarket. It's not fair to them, I know, but I don't want Michelle Pfeiffer or Paul Newman or Laurence Fishburne to be real people; I want them to be movie stars. I want to keep the illusion that they are who they pretend to be on the screen, and that's hard when I've seen Laurence Fishburne cleaning up after his dog on the hiking trail. (Which, by the way, he does. Good man. His dog is an English pointer who looks like Dizzy, but fancier.)

So anyway, it's exciting that Hollywood is coming to Waterville, just for a night. I'm glad to have my movie stars back, and if anyone happens to see Paul Newman at Dunkin Donuts, for God's sake, don't tell me. And I hope everyone will watch Empire Falls, even though I saw a review that called it "disappointing."

I'm assuming, of course, that you've already read the book.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Remind me to tell you the funny story about the prop guy from a Kevin Costner movie who came in while I was working at the map store in Yarmouth. That was the last time Hollywood came to Maine in a big way. The movie stinks (Message in a Bottle) but the scenery is beautiful!