In for Josh, whose back is making it difficult for him to sit up and type (feel better soon!).
I will spare you the epic tale of selling my mom's house this week because I respect my readership and wouldn't subject you to such tedium, pain and raw human emotion (everybody's done being pissed off now). But instead, let me tell you about a trip to the movies on Sunday.
The beautiful Loew's Jersey City, a once-magnificent movie palace that's been in a state of restoration for the past 28 years, shows classic films one weekend a month except during the summer (air conditioning has not been among the upgrades). Over the years we've seen a lot of my favorites on the big screen, from Horse Feathers (1932) to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) with stops at Jaws and North By Northwest, among others.
But this past Sunday, on short notice because the non-profit that runs the place was busy in court trying to keep the right to do so, the Loew's ran a special, guilty pleasure favorite. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Now, I have been a fan of the original (and to many, only) version of Star Trek since I was roughly nine years old. The positive vision of the future, the relationships of the core characters, the multiracial, sexually integrated crew, the idea that anything was possible--these all fed the fire. As a teenager I would watch the syndicated reruns daily. As a young adult, I wasn't so much obsessed as sincerely interested. I wanted to know how it was done, as I want to know how Beatles music or Marx Brothers comedy was made. If I find special value in a work, I am interested in its origins and its creation.
So when the huge (in every way) disappointment of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was followed with Wrath of Khan in 1982, there was jubilation in the streets. At last, the movie people had gotten it right.
I saw that movie more times than I care to divulge (and I honestly don't know). But seeing it in what wasn't the best print but with an audience again after at least 30 years, it was something of a revelation.
Yes, there is silliness. But director (and uncredited screenwriter) Nicholas Meyer, who also contributed to the other "good" even-numbered Star Trek movies, knew exactly what he was doing and he made the emotions real.
There were laughs among the audience when some of the more ludicrous lines of dialogue ("Jim! This is incredible! Have you ever seen the like?") were uttered. When Ricardo Montalban took off his shirt, there was applause.
When William Shatner, at the height of his scenery chewing, held his communicator like he wanted to squeeze the semiconductors out of it and bellowed, "Khaaaaaaan!" I worried about the structure of the theater standing up to the cheers.
There are certainly better films in history than The Wrath of Khan (but the awful mistake semi-remake Star Trek Into Darkness is unquestionably not one of them). There are better scripts (although this one holds up pretty well), better actors (hit or miss), and perhaps even better science fiction. But is there another movie that can kill off (at least for a couple of years) a beloved iconic character and still send you out of the theater with a smile on your face? Not sure there is.
It's a movie that has action, it has comedy, it has sadness, and it's actually even about the acceptance of aging and dying, and yet it pleases its intended audience and might even have created a few new believers. The audience in Jersey City included a good number of people younger than that movie. Is that a bad thing?
And there's nothing like seeing a real crowdpleaser when you're in a real crowd. At one critical juncture the Loew's somewhat slapdash projection equipment lost the sound on the film for a few moments, right before the screen went black. A few awkward moments passed in the dark, and then a shout came out of a section a few rows behind us: