June 1st, 2020 – Interesting times

These are interesting times.  Historic times of change.   The COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout the world.   Dissipating in Europe somewhat where stores and people are beginning to have their lives of quarantine rolled back  bit.  Canada has provinces like BC opening back up while Quebec and Ontario (the epicentres of the virus) are taking it more slowly.   Meanwhile in the US, they have over 1.7M people who have the virus and over 100,000 dead.   They have more dead than any other nation.   But in the US, they are opening up despite the lack of control with the virus.   It has become a political issue (Republicans don’t wear masks while Democrats do).

Last Monday, shortly after my posting on May 25th, in Minneapolis MN (the midwest) a police officer murdered ordinary black citizen George Floyd after an allegation of Floyd passing a phony $20 bill at a store.   The one white officer arrives and puts unarmed and in handcuffs Floyd on the ground and puts his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.  All of this was captured on numerous videos.   Three other police are watching their colleague do this without reacting even as Floyd repeatedly says “I can’t breathe!”  He died tragically.   No charges laid for all four.   Since those events, for each night there have been midspread riots in cities throughout the US.   Minneapolis/St Paul to start, then Atlanta, Washington DC, LA, Seattle, and even Des Moines.    The reporting of the various cities is scary and heart-breaking all at the same time.  Fires, protests, looting, police, National Guard, State troopers are perilously taunting to each other.   Such scenes I haven’t seen unless I watch footage from back in the Rodney King riot days in LA, or from the Civil Rights movement with JFK, MLK, Bobby Kennedy etc.   It’s a new day with the outcome very much uncertain.   On Saturday the primary officer was arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.   The other three officers, although terminated, have not been arrested or charged to date.   Apparently that first officer was divorced by his Wife.   It’s not often that you get to see the fabric of a society melt away.

Finally on Saturday, we had the other historic event with the Space-X manned space flight to the International Space Station (ISS) from the US.  The first time in nine years the US had a manned rocket launch.   It was exciting amongst all the bad news throughout the US.    Sunday the Dragon vehicle docked with ISS.   Remarkable pictures.   One comes here to read about movies, but these are unprecedented times.

One film I watched was forgettable, which was the Angelina Jolie sequel to Maleficent.   In Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, this continues the story of Maleficent, the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty, who in the first story you came to realize had reasons for doing what she did.  Much in the same way that the backstory for the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz, tells you in Wicked.   So in truth Maleficent was a sequel to the Disney story.   This sequel is a mess, almost from the beginning.  Aurora (Elle Fanning) gets engaged to the prince of the human castle.  The prince with his King and Queen (Michelle Pfeiffer) parents want to have Aurora and Maleficent over for dinner.    The Queen has other plans for them.   Through it all, we find out that Maleficent is part of whole race of horned flyers like her.    There is a dust up between the human, fantasy/natural/magical worlds, and the flying horned people.   There are aspects borrowed from other better movies like The Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones.  It doesn’t work.   It’s all a little too contrived.   So I would suggest passing on this fairy tale.

I haven’t seen a lot of Wes Anderson films.  You may not know of him by nae as much as his work.   His works include The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Royal Tenenbaums etc.  Collectively I can say that I haven’t sought out his movies because I found them weird.   In truth I didn’t watch them to completion.   I couldn’t get over the “weirdness”.   The 2012 film Moonrise Kingdom has a really good cast including Edward Norton (who I do seek out), Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Bruce Willis (who I don’t seek out).   The story is set in the mid 1960s in a secluded island.   There is a young scout troop, lead by Edward Norton.   The young boys have one misfit who decides to resign from the troop and mount a dramatic escape.    He leaves to meet up with a young misfit girl.   The story revolves around with this, with parents on one side, a police office (Willis) and other older scouts.   It’s funny.  It’s quirky.   It’s a somewhat strange and that’s what works.   The various characters tie in well with the story and the young kids end up teaching the adults.  I think that was the whole point.   I think Tilda Swinton in a relatively minor role is very funny.   It’s probably better to not know more than the rough skeleton of the plot outline and just experience it.   Worth a viewing if you don’t know Anderson’s work.   Maybe this is a perfect place to start.   Unknown at this point for me,  but I might just explore another film of his…