Thursday, January 17, 2008

Transportation Worthy of a World Capital

It's rush hour and guess what? No trains, no buses. As usual, the platform is jammed enough to spill a couple of poor, unwitting souls onto the tracks -- more room on the train for everyone else -- as the rest of us suckers resort to pure faith that a train will actually arrive. But when it does, after an eternal wait, the carriage swells to bursting with those who have already jostled themselves headfirst into the mass -- in spite of those who insist on blocking the door -- and now protude precariously from the exits, looking helpless and fearful. but hey, they're on the train aren't they? Going somewhere, aren't they? Which is why the conductor decides to just let them all suffer this while the train waits and waits and waits, before the doors close. Such is the joy of the MTA in New York City -- world capital -- where the subways stop when it rains, or it's just too frickin' cold, or the drivers slept in, maybe, and just can't be bothered. Let's not talk about the asbestos falling off the station walls, or the wires protuding, or the dirt and garbage strewn everywhere. Never mind the rats, or the rude clerks, or the lack of signage so that it's a game to discover whether you're going up or downtown, let alone what train you're on. And then, after not getting to your destination, the trains usually stop running completely. My local station has decided that it needs to do track work in the middle of the day, so the train has skipped us between 10 and 3pm, for two weeks. That doesn't mean they post a notice to let you know, BEFORE you run down the stairs, into the pit, which is why a woman who had lugged a heavy suitcase and hand luggage recently was only just discovering at the turnstile, underground, that is, that there were no trains.
The message coming from the MTA is loud and clear. Screw you, miserable buggers of New York City!!! Screw you who don't have the means for a chauffered limo, or the excessive cab fares required to ride in the yellow, sub-standard pieces of junk also known as medallions. And don't even get me started on the buses. What buses? Buses? Did anyone see a frickin' bus lately? Hello?!!! Anyone? Because I'm frozen to the bone and I'm feeling pretty angry. Can you tell?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why Does Everyone Love Juno?!!!

I don't get it. Is the entire country on something or have we simply lost our ability to evaluate the difference between talent and effort? Juno is alright but it's completely derivative and offers characters who live in their own spheres and barely make emotional connections with themselves, let alone each other. For a start, why is Juno so frickin' sassy as the product of that mundane and sterile environment, where there don't appear to be any other kindred spirits in sight? That's not to say that it's impossible but give us a clue here. Writers sometimes call it backstory. Was it the mutant gene from the rebellious mother who abandoned her for a trailer park? Or is it something in the Sunny D? And why oh why was she attracted to Michael Cera, who has as much personality as a plank of wood? And why didn't his folks weigh in on their grandchild-to-be? And how much fake folksy music can one listen to in the space of two hours? Excuse me but a cute expression, a few lines of snarky dialogue, and someone plucking on a guitar do NOT a movie make. Give us motive. Give us first, second, and third act. Give us conflict but at least give us a damn movie where the hand of the writer/director isn't apparent as grafitti, all over the screen, in every shot.
The antidote? Go see the Diving Bell & the Butterfly and decide for yourself which of the two movies endures, and make sure you read the book.