A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Helena Bonham Carter's Bee-Stung Lips
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Today Rosemary, Lauren, Rebecca and I returned from three days at Pacific Shores Resort & Spa. I am to write about this experience for a magazine from Rebecca's point of view. It will be fun. Lauren (5) had to call her mother to tell her that they had a separate room with its own TV and a fridge that had real ice in it. Our rooms had three TVs as that third one was a bigger flat screen (all three were flat screens) in the sitting area. Paradoxically the pleasant and fun weekend was dampened somewhat (in a positive way) in that I saw Marion Bridge, Wiebke von Carolsfeld's film based on Daniel MacIvor's play. Best of all this depressingly wonderful film starred Molly Parker. It was further dampened by the strange 2003 Australian film (Michael Petroni) Till Human Voices Wake Us with Helena Bonham Carter.

The former one depressed me and the latter gave me nightmares last night. Today I thought on how TV and films can affect how we perceive a holiday and a weekend. It made me think of TV and my recollection of it.

I first saw a TV with something happening it in 1952 when Susan Stone (the daughter of the GM CEO in Buenos Aires sent his father's Cadillac to pick me up for a day at her home (a mansion). That initial TV program was a dull documentary on oil exploration. I remember the oil derricks. By 1955 I was addicted to watching Boston Blackie on our brand new Zenith in Mexico City. My addiction to the program coincided with a month-long binge on Delaware Punch. When I married Rosemary in 1968 I remember obsessing over Star Treck. In Mexico City it was called La Odisea del Espacio. It was dubbed into Mexico City Spanish (¡Chihuahua! ¡No están atacando los clingones! ). It was only in 1975 that I saw my first Star Treck in Vancouver in English. I became most confused when I saw my hero, Captain Kirk in Super Valu ads. I had no idea he was Canadian. Over the weekend on Bravo I observed that my captain has become a baffoon flogging fibre bars.

It was an add on dyslexia that I saw on TV sometime in 1977 that clued me in to the fact that I suffered this disorder. When my daughters arrived from school I did not hid my fondness for watching Gilligan's Island with them.

Rosemary always wanted a TV in our bedroom. I relented for a few months a few years ago when she had a foot operation. Her inaugural TV watching (Hitchcock's Vertigo) was marred by the death of her black cat (Mosca) of a heart seizure.
After that we compromised and we brought up the TV from our "TV room" in the cold basement to our den. It has been hard since to steer Rebecca or Lauren into the garden or to accompany us to VanDusen when they are watching their Saturday programs. The TV in the den has helped us choosy about the films we watch so we check the on line website of Turner Classic Movies channel.

This weekend's flat screen TV experience makes me wonder why all the actors had pasty complexions that looked Photoshoped with that special tool fo the wedding photography trade called Diffuse Glow.

I survived Friday night's viewing of Marion Bridge,but after Saturday's nights exposure of Till Human Voices Wake Us I felt a need to read T. S. Elliot's poem, Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and I renewed my admiration for anything with Helena Bonham Carter. In the NY Times review (Stphen Holden hatet the Australian film but loved the Canadian one) he writes of her, "Ms. Bonham Carter, with her bee-stung lips and witchy hair, has never looked more like an Aubrey Beardsley fantasy than she does in the role of the movie's resident sea-girl, Ruby."

How director Petroni interprets the last line of the Elliot's poem:

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

into the perplexing, complicated by ultimately satisfying ending did as much to unsettle me as in the last few minutes of Marion Bridge when Molly Parker looks at her father (ravaged by Alzheimer's) coldly (no actress that I know of can muster such a terryfing coldness and aloofness) and in an instant you know the real tragedy of this film.

And yes the weekend, in spite of laughing little girls and being taught to kayak by Rebecca (we didn't sink or turn over once!) was made sad, but all the better by TV.


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