Alternate Timelines and Yesterday (Spoilers)

As I mentioned in another post, I loved the Yesterday movie. It left a lot of questions and speculations, if you care to ask or entertain them. I’ll try not to be entirely specific, but the spoiler warning is in case I drift into spoilage or you consider some of the roundabout chatter to spoil things even though it’s more about storytelling mechanics and such.

Alternate timelines are a science fiction staple. It is common to ask “what if thing didn’t happen” or “…happened this other way” and tell a story from there. However, you can find yourself in an alternate  reality and you know – if not instantly – things are different. However, you might not know the full suite of things that are different. You might not know the point of departure that led to those things. Finding out some of that can be part of a story. Leaving things open to conjecture can be fun, too.

In a story idea I started writing and didn’t finish but am still working on and improving in my head, the thing was not only a different timeline, but in the past relative to the timeline of the travelers. The mechanism was a portal of unknown origin. Things being different becomes a big part of the story, even as some things are familiar.

As I came up with things that would be different, in a local area to local people, I came up with a series of how could that be, and eventually I looked at what might be the point of departure. Even though that may never be known to the people involved, I wanted to know. But once I knew, it made me think of all the other things that could be different, which helped give me my theory of timeline inelasticity.

Well, Yesterday is nothing less than a story of crossed timelines as entered unceremoniously by the star of the film, but never explained. It would hardly surprise those who haven’t seen the movie yet to know that no Beatles isn’t the only thing we learn is different. The nature of things that are different sets the expectation of how far back the point of departure goes. In the case of the movie, possibly farther back than the one I came up with for my story fuel. Possibly hundreds of years. At least to the 1800s. It doesn’t explore to any real degree the knock on effects of the Beatles themselves having been eliminated as a cultural and social influence. It’s highly focused on being the story it is, and there might be a lesson in that.

That it’s an alternate timeline begs some questions. How did Jack get there? Presumably the other timeline exists. Did that Jack die and his consciousness and memories went to this Jack? Does that Jack remember no Beatles and find himself surprised to be in a timeline with them? How related to all this was the global power flicker?

If they are playing it as not an alternate timeline, but one that was miraculously altered, it’s not just a memory wipe of sorts. There are physical effects. Jack’s Beatles albums are simply absent from his collection. One would expect anything like memorabilia, toys, posters, anything inspired by them to be gone. That’s easy and even mandatory in an alternate timeline that is physically different. I just can’t see it being the same timeline and same people. Easier the other way, for a given person to transfer over and replace the existing analogue, or for the consciousness of the two to swap between otherwise extremely close timelines.

From there, thinking about a different timeline, you can think about how any given life might have been different. You could go crazy doing that. Fun!

Yesterday Is Wonderful

I went to see Yesterday, well, yesterday (barely) and loved it. I am, of course, a sucker for romantic comedies. That’s what Yesterday is, at heart.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I will only spoil the part you may have wondered about the nature of and therefore aspects of the resolution of the story. The trailer made me think “and then he woke up from his coma and knew to tell Ellie he loved her.” Too trite, I thought, which makes it science fiction. It’s not too trite. This helps add some fascinating, amusing, and even tear-provoking details, and even a bit of suspense. Not that there’s no dream sequences at all, but that’s not what makes the plot possible.

It made me want to listen to the Beatles. More than normal.

Finally, it’s not giving anything away to surmise that the name Ellie was inspired by Eleanor Rigby, and to note that I was surprised it was well after the movie before I realized it.

The Cutting Edge

Watched The Cutting Edge on Amazon Prime last night. It’s the umpteenth time I’ve seen it, but it had been a while. Between me and the wife, Three copies of it came into the marriage. She grew up partially in Minnesota. We, and her family, sometimes quote it as if it were The Princess Bride or something.

Naturally I like it because it’s a romantic comedy, albeit more dramatic than some. However, I have always loved figure skating. My father loved it and I grew up with that. Everyone but me ice skated, to some degree, on the bogs. They used my physical problems and the presumption I’d be unable to do it as a reason not to spend the excessive money skates for me would have cost. It was roller skating that my father competed in, in roller dancing pairs. He also played ice hockey, which did a number on his knee.

Throw figure skating and romance together and it’s all over. Funny thing is, I remember hearing about the film when it was in production and being intrigued but skeptical. I never went to see it, catching it years later on video.

I still love it, but I don’t find Moira Kelly as attractive as I once did. Rachelle Ottley is still pretty awesome, though. I remain surprised that D.B. Sweeney didn’t have a bigger career.

If any girl had behaved toward me the way Kate did to Doug initially, it would have been all over. Sadly, that became my mental image of girls at an early enough age to stick. They also didn’t have to be that way all the time. Once was enough. It’s like reputation. Once destroys it. Building it takes Every Single Time without that Once. I try to be understanding of root causes when I see that now, but it’s not so easy when you’re younger.

Heck, I can think of an example offhand, even though she’s nobody I ever found attractive. She would have helped establish the broader negative impression. My 4th grade crush, in what could have been a Melody-like scenario, had a single friend in town. That friend’s father went on the destroy my woods and build on the land around us. To my crush, that girl was awesome. I saw her as a bitch who hated me, notably around 6th grade. I find it hard ever to think of her any other way, and was shocked when she saw me at an event in another town a couple years later and greeted me with enthusiastic friendliness. When I think of writing a Melody-like story based on my youth, someone analogous to her would probably be a character and I find it hard to picture her as helpful and sympathetic. And yet sleeping over her house was how my crush got some time out of the home environment with her town drunk father.

I digress. I really love The Cutting Edge. I’m liable to watch it a dozen more times before I expire. Granted, I’ve already watched Melody more, and Moonrise Kingdom twice if you don’t count the large portion of it I’d seen via clips. It may have been considered cheesy, but to me it’s a classic.

Nearly Married Bobby Browning

I picked out “Nearly Married” to watch on Prime Video. Turns out it was released in 2016 as Where Are You, Bobby Browning? The new title is certainly appropriate, arguably more so.

It was so funny! It poked fun at the Lord of the Rings, renfair, and to some degree Wiccan crowds along the way. I didn’t check Rotten Tomatoes, but looks like it’s pretty low rated at IMDB.

In some ways, it covered the romantic comedy tropes, and those associated with just past teen years ages, neatly. In some ways, it veered in different directions, especially toward the end where it earned the revised title.

The big takeaway for me: Where has Cassi Thomson been all my life? She is the most adorably beautiful woman I think I’ve seen in a romantic comedy since perhaps Meg Ryan at the height of her powers. She just lights up a room with a look and a smile.

I was super impressed, in a different way, with Olivia Grace Hunter as Victoria, the strange girl who watered plants with antifreeze and dryly asked inappropriate things like the way people preferred to die.

Matt Dallas was good as Bobby Browning, and the chemistry between him and Cassi was great.

I loved Burtie, played by Segun Oduolowu, in a young version of the wise old black man role combined with the observant and sometimes unintentionally funny foreigner role.

I’d like to think that if I’d had a Maddie, I’d have recognized and done something about it, especially if her feelings were that apparent. I’d also like to think she and I would have found ourselves even if we were together early. There’s a planet core of truth to the proposition that being set free can give strength. Then again, I never found strength in never being “encumbered” that way. If anything, it was a distraction from finding myself, thinking I needed to find her and worse, not knowing how or daring to try whether I knew how or not. But I digress.

I’d say I cringed at times, but I always cringe at times. I feel too much as if am the character and am in the embarrassing or traumatic or emotional situation. I feel things too much.

Overall, it was fun and delightful, and I could watch Cassi, at least playing Maddie, all day. Samantha Cope as Blake is a bonus.

I meant to say also that I kept trying to figure out who Maddie reminded me of! It was driving me crazy. I’m not sure if it’s someone I have known, or an actress, or what. She reminded me a little of someone I worked with in 1993, but I don’t think that’s the exact or only match that was tickling at my brain.

Tammy

I knew the song Tammy by Debbie Reynolds existed and was pretty, though I’m not sure I’d ever heard the whole thing. A few years back, I stumbled across the song on YouTube, and the movie it came from, Tammy and the Bachelor.

I watched the movie and thought it was adorable, if a bit cheesy. But hey, it dates to the fifties, from when Tammy was a top song. This certainly explains why my awareness of it was from hearing my mother sing just the “Tammy, Tammy. Tammy’s in love” part of it and little or nothing else.

Now it’s a song I like to hear periodically, and I can’t help but sing along.

Since I always knew Debbie Reynolds as an older woman, at least relative to me, it was insightful to see how appealing Princess Leia’s mom was long before her daughter became the better known of the two to most people. It’s also super strange to see Leslie Nielsen so young, as a handsome romantic lead. Surely that can’t be the same guy…

You Gotta Have Art

On this day in the Melody universe, Friday, June 5, 1970, nothing we saw on screen happened. Or the cafeteria scene happened, and nothing happened the previous day. This isn’t an exact science, unless you are Alan Parker and have a clear memory of the intent, despite almost 50 years having passed.

However, there was a painting scene reportedly filmed but left out. I’d like to think that that happened on the otherwise empty day. They were in art class, and Daniel was noted to be really good at painting. Presumably someone already knew that, with respect to the intro part of the film when he wanted to try painting something new and had a girly magazine a boy at school had given him so he’d no what a nude looked like.  However, we could take that to be from his prior school. Or he could have gotten it at this school but mostly he’d kept a low profile in whatever brief time he’d been there before the school holiday in late May.

Besides what I’ve seen about it, there’s one picture floating around, of Ornshaw with a paintbrush, looking crazed. It’s not high resolution and isn’t easy to tell from the background, but I’ve concluded it’s at school. My initial perception was that he’d visited Daniel’s house and it was in Daniel’s room. Could also be that. I’ll post the picture here.

 
Picture of Ornshaw with paintbrush, presumably in deleted scene in art class from Melody movie.

My Friend Maureen Normally Sits There

If my timeline for the fictional events of Melody is accurate, then on this date in 1970 Daniel asked to sit with Melody in the school cafeteria. Melody didn’t say no, but told him “I don’t know, my friend Maureen normally sits there.” Maureen, right behind him, is amused and sits. The whole places laughs and Ornshaw rescues Daniel and guides him to the table with the gang of boys. Melody looks Daniel’s way, shades of Daniel having looked at her in assembly. Ornshaw sees her and makes a face. She cutely responds in kind.

Nothing happens the next day. Or this is the next day, and nothing happens on this date instead. It’s unclear. I suspect that the missing day involved the art scene I have heard that they filmed and didn’t use. There’s never a reference to Daniel’s painting talent at school or among the other kids, except from Ornshaw at field day, but supposedly it was known due to the unused scene.

He’s Quite a Nice Boy, Really

If my timeline of dates for events in the fictional Melody universe in 1970 is accurate, then on this date there was a school assembly. Whatever else happened, the headmaster led them in singing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy and Daniel stared across the hall at Melody. Ornshaw noticed and started a whisper brigade to let Melody know, so she turned to look once it got to Muriel and she said “Melody, someone’s looking at you” and something else indistinguishable that probably indicates who or where.

Later that day, there are what appear to be music tryouts. Are they for the next year? Maybe. Seems kind of late in the school year. Stacey is on the tuba, providing some subtle humor. Daniel walks into the music room with his cello. Melody and Rhoda are waiting. When Stacey is done, Rhoda gets called in, apparently for vocals. Melody is uncomfortable and uncertain. Daniel is thrilled and uncertain. For something to do, she practices on the recorder. Daniel turns it into a duet, which makes her happy and him happier. Finally Ms. Fairfax comes out and uses the excuse of sending Daniel with a note to Mr. Dicks to shut them up so they don’t drown out Rhoda’s tryout. Fairfax clearly has some idea what’s going on already. I like her. The fact that there’s a subtle indication she’s maybe having a thing with the headmaster makes her even more human.

Daniel suffers the dinner party, which we know was planned for the Wednesday following the day the main characters were introduced, so it has to be Wednesday. Melody eats watching TV with her mother and grandmother. They had fun creating a completely inane fake movie scene to show on the TV. When asked if she’d picked up her pink dress from the cleaners – the one she will wear to the upcoming dance – she shows her humorous, smart ass side to divert them away from her failure to do so and push their panic buttons with a wild tale. As she’s being sent to her room, she tells her granny that the boy in the tale, clearly inspired by Daniel, is “quite a nice boy, really.” At that point we know she’s reciprocating and getting reeled in.

Love at First Sight

I just realized that if my revised schedule for Melody is correct, this is the date on which Daniel sees Melody in ballet class and falls in love. Later he follows her, Muriel, Peggy and Rhoda to the cemetery where Muriel demonstrates kissing on a Mick Jagger poster. I didn’t post the revised schedule, but referenced it at the end of my new timeline post, after I realized my timeline overlapped a school vacation week in 1970 in England.

Mine

It’s not gone. It’s mine.

I had meant to look up the lyrics to First of May for a while, and just remembered. I traditionally heard it as “… kissed your cheek and you were mine.” Since Melody, I have seen or heard it primarily interpreted as “… kissed your cheek and you were gone.”

It’s mine, not gone. Subject to lyrics sites not always being accurate.

Mine makes much more sense. This is a wonderful moment, the moment she is… gone? No! The moment she’s his! Someone may come between them later, but that day, when he kisses her cheek, it cements that their young relationship is love.

Gone would have made excluding a kiss a good decision.

Mine would have made including a kiss a good decision.

They didn’t include the kiss, which I will never understand. They took pictures, both directions, on the set and then for publicity and such later. They got an almost accidental kiss at the seaside.

Of course, what if they hadn’t been interrupted before the wedding finished? (“Man and wife! Say man and wife!”) Would Ornshaw have said kiss the bride and would they have kissed properly? It was written that way, both for the sake of the story and because maybe the team didn’t want to go there. It was fine in 2005 in Little Manhattan, and still innocent and chaste in a way that Moonrise Kingdom wasn’t, but in Melody they were going for almost complete innocence.

Anyway, that was all. It’s “mine.” Gone, gone.

Summer With Monika

I haven’t watched this movie. I have seen it mentioned in connection with either Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, as an influence. I have watched bits of it, skipping through, online with subtitles in English. I am not sure I care whether I see it. I have read the description of the whole thing, but I’d forgotten it enough to be really struck by the ending when I was unwatching it yesterday.

They aren’t kids, as in other films, but are 19 and 17. She’s no kid, at 17, but she’s certainly a free spirited wild child, near as I can tell.

The bits where they camp out along the water are probably the Moonrise Kingdom connection.

What struck me hard about it was her leaving him and the baby girl at the end. She reminds me so much of the wife, though she never physically left. She, in the terminology I like to use when the woman seduces the man incautiously or intentionally to this end, knocks him up. Actually, this happened to my brother, with the ages reversed. He never got a chance to finish growing up normally, which he needed to do. Or I suppose in a way he grew up too fast, just not completely or normally.

When things weren’t peachy – they were life as it really is – she got angry and showed her crazy side. Not that she hadn’t already, in more fun ways, that summer. She felt stuck in the house while he got to leave. To work to try to support and make things better for them! This is all quite familiar. And to be fair, it’s not easy to be stuck at home with the domestic duties. It’s easy to perceive the one going to work as having it made. It might be tempting, against all logic and self-interest, to try to divert or sabotage that.

It’s possible to leave without leaving. In a surprisingly similar scenario, that’s what happened here. Together, not together. Friends raising kids well, while she strives to have something secure that comes after. No matter how shaky that gets and how much she tries to leave the afterward scenario, it’s like an addiction.

Meanwhile, I see a financial crisis looming in 4 years or so, if not sooner, breaking our stable arrangement. I’m quietly trying to make myself a different future to thwart that. I’ve seen it coming for years. As far as I can tell, she just realized it yesterday. Except the guy who represents security in the future has been a factor too long and she’s held on too hard not to have realized it, so I assume she just mentioned but was long aware of it. Conscious or not, I take it to be her main motivation besides more fun and less drudge. He represents more fun and always did.

But I digress. I see Summer With Monika as pretty sad and depressing. Not the proverbial Hollywood ending. Not the ending where anything could happen and it could be happy as it gets. Not the ending that’s half happy in one regard and might still be happy in another. Not the ending that heals a whole community and is happy for the main pair. Not even the ending where maybe in a few years, when they’re not 13 any more, they can be together.

A Little Romance (1979)

I have not seen the whole movie. I have watched trailers, and I watched bits of it on an online site where the sound didn’t work but there were unsynchronized captions. So I basically know the story, have seen the climax and ending and other bits.

Until I read a description and parsed that the kids in it were 13, I thought they were older teens. I took Diane Lane to be about 16, as Lauren. Thelonious Bernard looks like he could be younger, as Daniel, but I still wouldn’t have placed him at 13.

I might have seen this, or part of it, sometime in the past. It seemed a bit familiar.

It follows some of the same kinds of hijinks in a Melody or a Moonrise Kingdom. It’s not that they want to get married Right Now, near as I could discern, but they want and expect to be in love forever. They run off from France to Venice to kiss under the Bridge of Sighs. Legend says this will make your love last forever. She is American, but has been living in France for three years while her mother works on some film production. Suddenly it’s over and there’s a wrap party and a forthcoming move to Houston. The post-film would be a pen pals phase and whether they see each other again is left to your imagination.

Unlike the younger kids in the other films, they look like it’d be perfectly reasonable for them to have a physical relationship that goes beyond lots of kissing. Unless I missed that part, they don’t. There’s a funny part where a friend gets them into the projection booth of a pornographic theater, after they get kicked out of a regular theater for being unable to prove she’s old enough to see the film. She looks, covers her eyes in disgust, looks again, then leaves and he goes after her when he sees she’s missing. He wisely observes that what’s in that film is something fake, not love.

I don’t have a strong enough urge to see the whole thing to sit through the bad online version or buy a physical copy for a lot of money and/or used. I may be thinking of a different movie, but one of the ones I looked into in the past day or so would have been $30.

Anyway, Diane Lane was beautiful in this, her first film, and reminded me of Jodie Foster. She had acted since she was little, so was not new to acting. It was just her first film (or TV) role and as such is the first thing listed in IMDB. That means she was more experienced with acting than Tracy Hyde, who was also not absolutely inexperienced in the sense she’d been a model and stage trained. She had some acting knowledge, knew how to take direction, and how to present herself. Thus she came across seasoned in Melody.

It might be interesting to see it all if I ever get the chance, but I got enough of a taste for comparison.

Little Manhattan (2005)

What a wonderful movie! I discovered this via a forum where Melody was being discussed and other movies came up. It looked like it would be so good that I took a chance and bought it. It doesn’t hurt that Bradley Whitford features as the father of 10 almost 11 year old Gabe, as I am a big fan. Though I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen Whitford play anything other than Josh Lyman, just with different character names and scenarios. Perhaps a bit like William Shatner is always William Shatner, whatever the role.

If you like Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, you will like this. It has kind of a mixed happy ending, pretty much as you expect to get right from the start. If I’d had a Rosemary, I’d have not been 42 when I got married.

The kids were absolutely delightful and well cast. Josh Hutcherson went on to become big. Charlotte Ray Rosenberg, introduced in her first role shades of Tracy Hyde in Melody, was perfect, stunning, and has spent a lot of time doing other things before really continuing an acting career. They were 11 when filming Little Manhattan, and she was his first kiss courtesy of the movie kiss.

The dynamic is different from that of Melody, but wandering free around London and Manhattan aren’t so different. It’s summer, so no classmates for most of the film, unless you count karate class, which is the catalyst. Instead of the ballet class, he falls in love with her when he tags along while she goes dress shopping to be a flower girl at her aunt’s upcoming wedding. In some ways they seem older than the kids in Melody, by being modern. In others, they seem younger, which they are, in screen age. I haven’t tried to figure out when the movie filmed, but these things are typically the preceding year or so before the release year. They were both born in 1992, so turned 13 in the year it released. The fun fact about the first kiss said they were 11 when that happened. By comparison, Tracy and Mark were just 11 and almost 12 during the filming of Melody. The kids in Melody were verging on turning 12. The kids in this one were just 11 and verging on turning 11. Essentially a school year younger than the kids in Melody. Just out of 5th grade for the summer as opposed to being close to getting out of 6th grade for the summer.

There are a lot of differences between this and the other movies. It’s about first love, sort of a coming of age and the realization girls don’t have cooties, whatever those are. It’s also a look at the relationships or would-be relationships of others around them, and at how kids see things, how adults see things, and how adults might just be kids who got older without actually “knowing it all.”

I feel like I shouldn’t say too much because spoilers, and yet it’s been out for 14 years. Just because I never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s new enough for the need of spoiler warnings to apply.

The fantasy elements are funny and sometimes touching.

The film uses the same flash forward thing Moonrise Kingdom does to suck you in with the goldfish right up front. When it gets there in practice and there’s like 20% of the film left, it’s clear that was just a flash forward to a critical point.

It’s nice to see adults take the “love life” of kids that young seriously, and not in an alarmed sort of way. Granted, they neither tried to get married nor ran away together. Her parents effectively taking them on a cool date was awesome. Even more so when, on top of the hand holding opportunity, they actively provided the chance at the first kiss.

I’ve been to New York City – Manhattan – exactly once in my life, for an afternoon. I’ve never been a city person, and in a way I don’t relate to it at all. On the other hand, it’s America’s city, maybe the world’s city, and it was a cool place to visit. This almost makes me want to watch one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, again. It’s been… at least several years. I’m not even sure I ever got that on DVD. It may have been VHS.

Oh! One cool thing I wanted to mention is the song. They used a cover of Love Grows, which is a natural with a romance featuring a girl named Rosemary. Looks like it’s by someone I’ve never heard of named Freedy Johnston. No offense, and it’s actually pretty good, but the original is one of my all time favorite songs and I still prefer Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse. It almost made me wish I’d loved a girl named Rosemary so the song would fit. There was a Rosemary on elementary school. Nice girl and all, but not someone I’d ever picture as more than my buddy. No idea what ever happened to her. I’ve actually asked people who shared her surname if they were related over the years. There’s also a Rosemary I am acquainted with online, dating back to 2003 through blogging.

One more thing. Watching the trailer after seeing the movie… The trailer is the movie, basically. Extreme Reader’s Digest version, but it’s basically there. You won’t see them go all the way across NYC to look at an apartment his father could potentially move to, or come all the way back, 67 blocks, on a scooter, to find the cops had been engaged because his mother realized he was missing. But it’s the high points, near enough. Really you should watch it all if you can and if you like this sort of thing.

 

 

Harmony

Another entry in my sporadic series of favorite song by an artist. This time Elton John came to mind. Not surprising, considering it’s impossible to escape promotion of his fantasy biopic, Rocketman, opening this weekend. I have mixed but mostly positive feelings toward Elton John. He was big in my formative years, and I like many of his songs. I was surprised when my kids got excited when Crocodile Rock played. I always loved that one, naturally. It may have been his first that I was aware of, but I don’t recall.

I can say one thing, though: I utterly loathe Bennie and the Jets. I never liked it. During a certain age range, though, for maybe 3-4 years, I would listen to the the top whatever number of song countdown for the year, done as a New Year’s thing on one of the Boston stations. The year that I waited and waited to see what was number one, only to have it be Bennie and the Jets, I was infuriated. Subsequently hearing him talk about his vision for the song gave me more sympathy, and I find I’ve mellowed toward it when I see it referenced in the Rocketman trailers or clips, but I will never choose to play the song and sit still for it if I don’t have to. In the context of seeing that movie, sure. It’s part of the story. And I’d like to see the movie, though I am lousy at dragging myself to the theater, even if I have the money and time. I never saw Shazam! Wanted to very much, as did my son. It might still be in a theater close enough, but at this point we may as well wait for video. Ditto for Aquaman, except affording it just then was a stretch. Heck, I never actually saw Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater. My brother gifted me the DVD.

Otherwise, I like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and always liked the reference to Wizard of Oz. The wife loathes The Wizard of Oz, so she might not appreciate that the same way. I always loved Your Song. Tiny Dancer, even before it was associated with Kate Hudson. Looking at a list of Elton songs, I realized I had forgotten one that is arguably tied for favorite with Harmony. Oops! This is why I can’t ever do a “my one most favorite song by…” for, say, The Beatles. Philadelphia Freedom. Love it! I will always associate it with the part of my life circa the American bicentennial year of 1976. I may have to embed that, as something of a tie. Levon was good, long before I ever knew who Levon Helm was.  Fascinating lyrics. Levon wears his war wound like a crown… It’s just brilliant. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues evokes a time during my college years, circa 1983 or 1984, and someone I worked with at a convenience store chain who was notable for turning out to be an unlikely thief. She skimmed enough money to buy herself a car. I, on the other hand, was notable for never having a drawer off by a penny in three and a half years there, and being hopelessly shocked that someone would use any of the possible methods to steal from the company or customers there. Rocketman is a great song because it’s a science fiction song, and I always have a soft spot for those.

Melody Timeline Revisited

It’s a stupid time to have started this because I am late getting to bed for a 1:30 AM alarm, but I ended up working it out, subject to uncertainty. I set out to create actual dates in 1970 that would likely correspond to the events in Melody.

And most of the way through the post I realized a critical mistake that changed things either by an entire week, by accepting that “a week” in the dialogue could be approximate (the way “that’s twice as old as I am now” is approximate when related to “in their twenties,” given that it can mean any age from ten to fourteen is being doubled), and/or eliminates the spring bank holiday I had included as a factor. It also returns to ambiguity as to whether the assembly and music room are on the same day. The critical mistake is that the day on which the music room happens is a Wednesday. It just is. We know that because it is the day of the dinner party with Betty and George at the Latimer’s, planned for the Wednesday following the initial day of the film, which I still take to be a Saturday.

So I saved the post as draft and went back to the drawing board.

Originally I noted there are two anchors. One is the requirement that it be exactly a week from the day he falls in love with her to the day of the cemetery scene. That’s in the dialogue, for better or worse. In real life, what we’d have seen would have been highlights over a longer period and he’d have already loved her for, say, a month or two. At least they didn’t mismatch the events in the movie to that detail of the script! It’d be weird if they’d gone through an obvious month of time and the dialogue said a week. As noted above, it may be necessary to take the week as an “about a week” approximation for this to make any sense. On the other hand, that does give the core of the movie a fairly definitive timespan. Ambiguity happens before and after the stretch of time from love at first sight to them being together. The single least ambiguous other timing is the day of reckoning after the seaside taking place the next school day.

From the day of the cemetery scene to the seaside, any number of days might have passed. There is support for this implied by Mr. Perkins speaking as if Daniel has visited them multiple times, not just the one time for tea. That could be sloppy wording, as people do, but it does seem rather sudden, making the relationship official one day and blowing off school for an all day date to the seaside the next day. On the other other hand, having spent a lot of intervening time together might have made their conversation less awkward at the seaside. But that could be a script writing foible.

From the day of reckoning to the wedding day could have been multiple days, though it seems likely it wasn’t. I read between the lines that Ornshaw and Daniel came up with it during school, after the morning fight, and it was what Daniel was talking so vehemently about while comforting her in the rain after school.

The other anchor, which is only approximate, is my tying of the hymn sung at the school assembly to Trinity Sunday. I did this in my old religion post. For other aspects of the timeline, of course, I referred back to my timeline post.

Trinity Sunday was May 24, 1970. Filming was in 1970, so we can take that to be the year it’s set, with us viewing the events almost a year later.

I took as a given that the first day of the film was a Saturday. No school. I take as a given that we see no events on Sundays. I took as a given that the school dance was a Saturday.

I added into the mix the fact that the 1970 spring bank holiday was May 25. However, as noted above, if that was a day off school and was taken into account in the script’s dealing with timing – if it did deal with timing particularly – then the dinner party can’t be on a Wednesday. While there’s no guarantee the choice of hymn or the assembly itself had any connection to Trinity Sunday, I love that theory and I think the story is set that late in the spring. I take “first of May” to be a red herring, something that just happens to be in the song lyrics. For what it’s worth, May 1, was a Friday. If they tied it to that date, it would either have been the day he fell in love, or the cemetery scene day. We never are told that he’s new to the school, and he acts like he’s new but it’s not the first day he’s been there. However, the Saturday in the BB seems to be his first, or one of his first, in that organization. He’s a new recruit. It’s something new his mother “thrust on him.” He’s completely new to the hijinks the boys get up to after school.

I forgot where I left off revising this last night, but I am going to start here with going through the rest and adding or modifying. I’m going to take the approach, to get the Wednesday matched, of ignoring the bank holiday.

For simplicity, I am going to place all the events end to end over 14 days. However, there are spots before and after the mandatory week when there could have been breaks, except that the day after the seaside trip had to be one day later or, if a weekend fell between, three days later. Here’s the most straightforward calendar, start to finish:

Saturday, May 23:
Characters introduced. Family and class elements set up. Kids shown as kids but heading out of childhood.

Sunday, May 24: Nothing shown. Trinity Sunday

Monday, May 25:
Introduction to the school and broader cast of kids. Makes clear Daniel is new kid there. Daniel and Ornshaw have adventure to Trafalgar Square, become close.

Tuesday, May 26:
Due to Ornshaw’s mischief, Daniel sees Melody in dance class and falls in love at first sight. After school follows her and friends, gets caught. From there it’s “a week” to the cemetery scene.

Wednesday, May 27:
School assembly where Ornshaw makes sure Melody knows Daniel is looking at her. Singing Holy, Holy, Holy hymn gives the tie to week of Trinity Sunday. Could have been any time near it. Went with this because it fit. Later that day is the music room scene. Timing of that is implicit. That was the last sentence I wrote before I realized the dinner party was a Wednesday and I didn’t have this on a Wednesday. It was on Thursday the 28th before I changed things. I was also having second thoughts about the music room and assembly being the same day. They appear to be, but there’s also no reason to believe they aren’t different days. This is the day she has clearly decided she likes him, too.

Thursday, May 28:
Lunch scene.

Friday, May 29:
Apparently nothing this day.

Saturday, May 30:
Monthly school dance. I’ve ruled out it being on a school day. They are dressed for the dance, not for school. School gets out at or just before 3:30. Tea is around 5:00. Melody is home from the dance, messing with makeup for a while, then it’s time for tea.

Sunday, May 31:
Nothing shown.

Monday, June 1:
Athletics Day (Field Day where I’m from). I always take this to be the whole day, close enough, and the segue to kids flooding into school being the next morning.

Tuesday, June 2:
Well, this is actually a week exactly if we eliminate the bank holiday as a factor. I’d like to think the assembly was closer to Trinity Sunday than I have it, but oh well. Maybe assembly is a regular thing. Maybe the choice of hymn is a red herring.

June 2 is the big day, the famous cemetery scene. Daniel and Ornshaw didn’t do the homework and face punishment. Odd, if you consider that they had the weekend and the extra day of no academics represented by field day. Maybe it’s a script foible. Maybe it’s something else to take into account when deciding what happens when.

Wednesday, June 3:
Seaside, if they planned it right away rather than after they had been an item for a while. We have minor evidence they were an item for a while before this, in the form of Mr. Perkins sounding as if her bringing Daniel home was a regular thing, not a one time thing.

Thursday, June 4:
Day of being in trouble for skipping school. This is the day after the seaside, no matter how long after June 2 it actually happened.

Friday, June 5:
Day of revolt and wedding. Assuming they planned this on the day of reckoning and executed it the next day, which isn’t mandatory but is also quite possible.

This could be inaccurate in terms of when it falls on the calendar, apart from it being mid to late spring for sure. How long is “a trifle”? By ditching school to go to the seaside, Daniel and Melody “moved the summer holidays up a trifle” per the headmaster. That suggests summer isn’t too far away. In England, that’s apparently not until July, so that makes me think it’s more like June than May when they skip school. Further, the weather is fine for being at the beach. It can’t be too early in the season. It’s possible I have set it early compared to when it really was meant to be. This is like doing math with multiple variables and never being able to get a definite answer. The whole thing could move in either direction a week or two. And again with it not necessarily being consecutive days, except that about if not exactly a week pass from Daniel falling in love to the day he chooses her over Ornshaw. The dinner party has to fall on a Wednesday and with it the music room scene. It’s possible the music room and assembly are on different days. The intro has to be on a weekend day. Saturday is the overwhelming favorite for that. The first day we see the school is probably the next school day following the intro, so likely a Monday, or Tuesday if there were a Monday holiday. Trinity Sunday may be my most tenuous inclusion. Monthly dance seems like it should be the weekend, probably Saturday. Without Peggy and Ornshaw fighting, that might have been the day Daniel and Melody walked and talked and went home for tea. There could be gaps after the cemetery scene day, but the seaside day and reckoning day would be back to back school days. And I’d still love to know what their parents knew of that and when, and how they reacted.

I just wanted to finish this off, finally, before going to bed. I’ll review it and hope it doesn’t fall apart before my eyes.

Update on May 31, 2019:
I’m looking at stuff about school scheduling, holidays/vacations, and such in England in 1970 or thereabouts and it could change everything. For instance, the log from a specific school for the year 1970 puts Easter holiday 3/26/70 – 4/12/70, and then puts half-term holiday from 5/22/70 to blank, but the next date for which anything is listed as happening for school is 6/4/70. I’m finding the entries hard to read because the month and day are reversed from the order most people place them in in the US. Another thing I read says some of the holidays like that are only 4 day weekends, while others are two weeks. Summer holiday was then 7/24 – 9/7. That half term holiday would incorporate the date of the bank holiday that I found vexing. It would be unsurprising if the events of Melody all took place after the final half term holiday of the school year, putting it entirely in June. I need to read about it more and work that into perhaps an updated update.

Update 2:
The holiday would have taken place the last week of May, and June 1 would have been the first day back at school. If what we see on the first day of the film is still Saturday, it falls near the end of a week off and of course the kids would be bored by then. The kids would have been especially wild on arrival back at school. I’ll redo the whole thing with an eye to this, but basically the first date above would become May 30, and the last date above would become June 12. Whether Trinity Sunday was a factor would be mooted by distance, but the school wouldn’t have had a chance to observe it during the week off. It might have been interesting for the story to incorporate the week off, but that would have embellished too much and kept it from getting to the point efficiently. I might have liked more fleshing out, but it didn’t need much more.

Jeremy (1973)

I mentioned I had stumbled across Jeremy and poked at it a little. Now I’ve actually watched it. Not the best quality, on YouTube, but it was still enough to see how breathtakingly beautiful Glynnis O’Connor was back in the day. No wonder I remember her and Robby Benson’s later film, Ode to Billy Joe, so fondly. It was tragic and gave a good answer to why the dude would have killed himself while there was a blooming romance with the girl, but she just blew me away. I saw that on TV, so if it was a theatrical release, I didn’t see it at the time it came out. I always liked the song, so it was a no brainer.

I might have seen Jeremy, or part of it, somewhere along the line, but been too young relative to the characters for it to leave an impression. It seems familiar. That could be as simple as having caught part of it on TV.

Like Billy Joe, Jeremy is tragic. Before it’s tragic, though, it’s incredibly sweet. I’d say he comes across as way too special needs in some spots, but I’ve been the shy, awkward guy in love and not realizing I could be straightforward, or knowing what to say and how to act. He pushed through it in a way I never managed, so I can’t criticize. He certainly does a good job with kind of the idiot savant role.

Robby Benson is, of course, associated with one of my favorite films of all time, one of the first I bought, even before I owned a VCR myself: Beauty and the Beast. Naturally, right? Me, the hopeless romantic. I just am not on board with sad endings the way I am with happy endings. It is well known that I had a thing for Meg Ryan in her romantic comedy heyday. Just don’t ask me how I felt when I watched City of Angels and found it was a tearjerker. I cry at movies that aren’t meant to be tearjerkers! Melody overlaps the category of romance and of comedy, while being something different. It doesn’t have an overtly unhappy ending, but if you look past “ha ha we had a wedding ceremony” snubbing of the adults, the ending is ambiguous and potentially quite unhappy. Not like the two are running away to a honeymoon suite and then a life on their own.

Anyway, I love the musical aspects. Was anything an homage to Melody? Probably not. There was the school setting and a flurry of madness as kids went to class, but these were older kids. There was the Ornshaw-like best friend of Jeremy’s advising or being a sounding board. Where Daniel was the loner, Susan was the loner here, so Jeremy was everything. Though she did date another boy briefly and that’s apparently where the name Danny came in from her father. Was Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom an homage to Susan? Probably not, but you never know with these things. The seeing her dancing and falling in love was right out of Melody, though she was alone working on her routines.

Overall? I liked it. I found it hard to take the ending and some of the awkwardness. It was too painfully me, except I was worse and never made it to the payoff. There weren’t dates. Any calls were disasters. After I stalked her long enough, Ella, closer to the Melody scenario, did fall for me but then I ran away because that scared me and I didn’t know what to do next. Handling that better, even if it wouldn’t have lasted, would have made it easier, but lack of success, however self-induced, bred lack of success.

I often think it’s good that I lacked success through my teens, given my hyperactive fertility. Not that family history made that a surprise.

Anyway, gotta go to bed. It’s normal bedtime but I have to be up two hours earlier than normal. Meant to get to bed an hour ago.

Google Is a Funny Thing

All the more so paired with AWSTATS, which purports to give results on search strings but really doesn’t. On the HTTPS version of the page, the only search string listed for this month is:
“melody s.w.a.l.k. release”

This blog is on the 4th page of Google results, but the result points to the category for Mark Lester. Not for Melody the movie, or just the site overall, or the post that uses enough of the above terms together to make the search work. Weird.

The top hits for melody s.w.a.l.k. release are things like March 28, 1971, parsed and displayed prominently by Google with a graphic linking a search for Melody. Next, per most searches, is the title for the link to “Melody (1971 film) – Wikipedia” linking to the Wikipedia entry.

Then it’s an offering of associated videos, IMDB, a Facebook post on the making of Melody, Rotten Tomatoes, and then it goes from there.

On my non-SSL stats, I show that there have been 1228 hits from Google proper (another 303 from Google Hong Kong) through May 26 for the month, but there’s nothing but nonsense words searched by bots, spammers, hackers or such in the list of search phrases or words. The most popular pages besides the main page are the post on Melodye and a Dog Named Boo, the category of Melody the movie, and a couple Game of Thrones posts. That doesn’t count all the traffic that pounds the pages that are hacker and spammer targets. This is how you can have a blog with comments turned off and still get comments. Mine are on, at least for an initial period of time after I write a post, but nobody ever comments. Just spammers.

I’d love to know what all the searches are that get here via Google.

Update:
Mission accomplished. This post moved me to the first page of results for that string, no quotes, and pointing at the Melody category. Using quotes makes me the only hit other than Google’s information thing that answers the question through AI or whatever.

As for the Melodye post, however else people get there, I’m high up in the hits for the woman’s birth name, and near the top if you add her married surname. Which begs the question of whether that’s how people end up there, searching that name, or if it’s some other way.

To Love Somebody Poster

This is an interesting find. It’s a poster for Melody where it was marketed under its alternate alternate name of To Love Somebody, as opposed to the alternate name of SWALK (Sealed With a Loving Kiss), and the primary, intended name of Melody. The pictures are a little glossy looking, if that’s the right word. They look like they’re allw wearing super shiny lipstick. Tracy and Jack look older and perhaps as if they are the couple, while Mark looks much younger and oddly feminine.

What is has going for it is the question it poses. This sums up the movie in the shortest possible way, and works with that version of the title. How old is old enough? For what? To love somebody. Can you fall in love at 11 or 12 and have it be “real”? Not that they look 11 or 12 in the poster. Jack looks his age. Tracy looks Jack’s age, which is quite a trick, adding six years. Mark looks about 8. Quibbles aside, let’s see it…

 
Melody poster showing Mark Lester, Tracy Hyde and Jack Wild, presenting the film as the alternative title To Love Somebody for some markets, asking how old is old enough.

 

 

Moonrise Kingdom Rewatch (Sorry, Melody Kind of Took Over the Post)

I decided to rewatch Moonrise Kingdom last night and, while I liked it the first time, this time found myself feeling delighted when it ended. And I don’t mean in a thank goodness that’s over sort of way.

I don’t have a lot of new observations. I did notice more details, like Edward Norton’s relationship, potential or actual, with the operator being evident throughout. It was more professionally produced than Melody. That was, after all, a first film. Even the director was more of a TV person when he did Melody. MK is meant to be more surreal than Melody.

MK is about broken people and a broken community. What heals Sam and Suzy is each other. The very worst outcome would have been for them to be barred from ever seeing each other again. Melody and Daniel may have clicked and felt more complete together, but so did Ornshaw and Daniel as friends. They would have survived being apart. What heals the community is Sam and Suzy. It was this viewing of Moonrise Kingdom in which I picked up on the meaning of the orchestra record. It talks about the instruments and sections of the orchestra, then how they are amazing when all put together.

Sam and especially Suzy look and seem more mature than Daniel and Melody, though Melody’s apparent age and maturity varies wildly through the film and even within proximate scenes. I have chalked that up in part to filming taking place over four months combined with a high growth age. Melody and Daniel are implicitly on the cusp between 11 and 12. It’s late in what would be 6th grade in the US. A kid at that point in school would turn 12 between September 1 and August 31. Their story centers around the month of May.

Speaking of the timing of Melody, I’ve seen a photo or screen capture of something that was not in the film that has a date on it. The picture is in the music room. Daniel is holding up his cello and using the bow. Melody is standing to the other side of the cello. Her recorder is in her left hand. Her right hand wraps around the neck of the cello from the back to press the strings. Behind and above them and the cello is a plain black and white poster for Iowa String Quartet, from USA, and at the top it says something about April 1 and at the bottom has lists of performances or whatever. The poster is never apparent in the actual scene. Even the thing you can see the bottom of that could be it doesn’t really look like it’s the same.

So was this the kids playing around and someone captured a photo? Was this an alternate idea for a shoot of the scene? I’d actually bet it’s the latter. It strikes me that they had a script, kind of, but they tried this and that, did many takes, then pieced things together. My favorite part where the narrative fails is in the headmaster’s office. Now, that scene famously took all day anyhow. Mark Lester was so unflappable that he was unable to muster the anger required to yell at the headmaster. Even when he did, he sounded more petulant child than properly angry. Or scornful might be the word, not petulant. They may have used what they had to use. However, when Daniel says “we want to get married,” Melody’s head whips sideways to give him a shocked, startled WTF look that has possible interpretations ranging from “why are you telling him that” to “we want to do what” and it’s not clear. It doesn’t fit with her subsequent vehemence about getting married, though.

The music room scene is almost perfect as it is. I am especially taken by 11 year old Tracy capturing the exact same look of confused consternation I can recall seeing on 14 year old Ella along the way. Having a scene where Rhoda goes in to try out and Melody expresses curiosity about the cello would change the dynamic between the two kids. They would have interacted more. She would have had more of an impression of him, perhaps one that led to her declaring him “quite a nice boy, really.” It would have made his playing the cello a more important plot point. Neither that nor painting make an appearance again. Of course, there’s also a picture out there of Jack Wild in Daniel’s room playing with a paintbrush in a scene that wasn’t used. We are just to take it on faith that there was a lot more interaction between the boys. In reality, the time that passed between the day he fell in love with Melody and the day he said it had been a week ought have been longer. Even if not, there ought have been more time from the boys meeting to Melody becoming a factor, but it implies it was almost immediate.

I digress. Funny how Melody takes over.

My point is that I think Wes Anderson knew exactly what he was going to shoot and how he was going to shoot it. There’s always multiple takes to get things just so, but there was probably less shooting of alternative versions than I perceive there to have been for Melody.

Moonrise Kingdom is explicit in describing the kids as 12. It’s the beginning of September, so for the main events of the film, they would be about to start 7th grade, rather than coming up on the end of 6th grade/first form. I think I originally thought they were more dramatically older than the Melody kids, but that may have been when I was confused by a year, after I had worked it out and then forgotten. There is still innocence, but less so. They hang out in their underwear. It’s not just seen sometimes because of absurdly short dresses. They kiss and then French kiss. She remarks on his resulting erection. She invites him to touch her bra-covered breasts and notes that she expects them to grow. They sleep cuddled up together. We have no reason to believe there’s anything more to it.

All we see in Melody is holding hands, an arm around her, an accidental almost kiss, and a lot of smiles and eye talk. There are images out there in which a kiss on a cheek happens in the context of the film and appears to be something filmed and not used. Otherwise the kisses on cheeks are things like publicity and cover photos. They are still on the innocent side of the cusp of teen years. Daniel wants to paint a nude and has a girlie magazine he was given in support of that, but to him he’s doing it as a painting type he’d not tried before. Jack flashes girlie pictures in class, and the boys know that this is a cool and forbidden thing. The age isn’t completely innocent. The girls are boy crazy to varying degrees, even if they don’t all know much more than it takes more than kissing to bring babies. Melody knows darn well why her mother and granny are freaking out about the man in the raincoat story and is being a wise ass. Jack and Daniel jokingly try to sneak into a girlie show at Trafalgar Square. There’s awareness of forbidden fruits. At the same time, Daniel isn’t thinking “I’d like to get naked with her” when he sees and falls in love with Melody. I know exactly what he felt. Been there. Got the scars and memories. I knew hanky panky existed to some degree or another, but got crushes that were pure emotion. Moonrise Kingdom is just a tiny bit farther along the spectrum.

Daniel and Melody aren’t broken the way Sam and Suzy are, but something is missing from their lives. Daniel found that to some degree in Ornshaw, and arguably more vice-versa, which is why Ornshaw was so hurt by Melody coming along. Imagine Melody. Dad is always working or drinking. Mom makes fun of him. Mom and Granny can be overbearing stick in the muds and de facto absentee by turns. There aren’t siblings. The other kids in the building, to whom Melody seems to relate initially, are not her contemporaries. They are poor but do have a relatively happy and stable family life compared to some. Daniel comes from money but has a horrible helicopter mom who, again, can be absentee when she’s not smothering him. His father is indifferent but at least has the good grace to question his wife’s choices of what she puts Daniel through. They fight a lot and it’s a much less happy home, for all there’s enough money. Ornshaw is an orphan being raised by his grandfather, effectively meaning he cares for the grandfather and is raising himself. Sam is the orphan, in MK, while Suzy obviously is the moneyed side of things but with troubled parents. MK doesn’t set out to be  as much about class differences as Melody.

This time around, I made the connection between the reference to electric shock therapy and Sam getting hit by lightning.

The interlocutor was an interesting and potentially annoying addition to Moonrise Kingdom. It helped speed the narrative along and, breaking the forth wall, explained things efficiently at times so they wouldn’t have to be shown or explained any other way. It preserved and even added to the surreal nature of the film.

Melody could have done more with Daniel’s painting. Moonrise Kingdom ran with it. Can you imagine Mrs. Perkins finding a painting by Daniel of her daughter nude in a tub? But then, she might get less excited than Mrs. Latimer would about catching him creating such a painting.

I found the ending satisfying. Melody’s ending is so ambiguous. I love Melody, but it’s Moonrise Kingdom that leaves me believing the kids have a real future together forever. Why does he leave out the window? Is he in fact not supposed to be there? But then, it would be pretty obvious his new foster dad is there to pick him up. As I put it while I was watching MK this time, Melody ends with them running away and you never see the outcome. (Unless you count the day at the seaside as running away.) The meat of Moonrise Kingdom begins with them running away and hijinks ensue. Yeah, it starts well before, when they meet, then become pen pals. I have a soft spot for the pen pal angle. I had a story concept that would incorporate that, based on an actual pen pal. It was my “western hemisphere turns magic” scenario. The hero would go on a quest to meet up with the girl who was his pen pal. On foot, because things like cars wouldn’t work, or would have morphed into creatures. There’s also a lot after they run away. That’s the heart of it, though. Poor, misunderstood kids. Creepy mom, giving 12 year old baby a bath to wash the cooties away.

I forget whatever else I might have meant to say. Melody hijacked Moonrise Kingdom’s post, and time faded my thoughts. I’ve been at this off and on for hours. I did want to note that in my travels yesterday I discovered a move from I think 1974 1973 called Jeremy. It was in relation to Melody stuff, and is an older young romance. High school teens. I haven’t yet watched it, but I pecked at it particularly to see the ballet scene where he sees the girl for the first time and goes all special needs. I related rather painfully, but it’s funny how much like Melody that was. Then there’s the fact he plays cello. But it’s an arts high school, so it’s natural that they have those things. Having read Wikipedia about it, I know that she is new to the school, as Daniel is to the school in Melody. I know the whole thing starts and ends in about a month before she moves away again. I know the relationship gets intense and consummated. I might have seen it along the line when I was younger, and just not had it register the way it might now. I’d have related more to seeing Melody at or before that age.  Actually, that’s a difference between Melody and Moonrise kingdom. If I’d seen MK when I was 10-12, I’d have seen it as fantasy and taken away an entirely different impression. If I’d seen Melody when I was 10-12, I’d have realized I was normal and seen it as something of inspiration and instruction. Speaking of alt history or personal points of departure, if I left absolutely everything the same, but saw Melody in April 1971, my life would have been completely different.

Update:
Note that in Jeremy the girl’s name is Susan (Suzy). Her father can’t remember Jeremy’s name and refers to him as Danny. Amused.

Well Darn

The best full copy of Melody on YouTube just got taken down. I figured it was being allowed to stay up because nobody really cared. The movie wasn’t exactly a blockbuster, it’s almost impossible to get a legitimate copy, and it’s almost 50 years old. The rights holders have abandoned the thing in all but name. Being available online lets new people discover what they missed because of lousy distributors and marketing.

I haven’t checked for other versions, but I’ve probably linked that one once or twice and now it’ll be broken. Since playing it from the DVD is tenuous, I’ll have to figure out how to port it to digital form for my own convenience. All I was going to do was play the music room scene because I was remembering how much the reactions Tracy portrayed from Melody regarding Daniel were like reactions I got from Ella when we were a couple years older than the kids in Melody. That’s part of why it’s one of my favorite scenes: the realism.

Update:

Technically this is a legitimate takedown, even though it is silly under the specific circumstances. However, it was done by a super sketchy outfit called LeakID, that has a history of false takedowns/copyright claims on material that is, for instance, homemade and copyright the person who posted it. They were so bad, they got fired years ago by a major software company that probably put them on the map by being their big client. That makes it more insulting than might otherwise be the case. If Puttnam, Parker and the production company suddenly decided Melody had more than sentimental value, that would be one thing. It’s entirely possible nobody actually hired LeakID to go after this movie, or after things by whatever entity owns the movie after all this time. Realistically, it’d be out of copyright and in the public domain after this long anyway. Or approaching it, even with a more liberal yet realistic term.

Happy Birthday Tracy Hyde

Tracy Constance Margaret Hyde is sixty years old today. That means it was 49 years ago that she turned 11 and celebrated on the set of the movie that made her famous, early in the shooting. Obviously I am talking about Melody, filmed in 1970 and released in 1971.

She took her second husband’s name, so these days it’s actually Tracy Ayoul.

No matter how old she gets, and how old we get, for better or worse, Tracy will always be best remembered like she appeared here with Mark Lester:

 
Mark Lester and Tracy Hyde as Daniel Latimer and Melody Perkins in the cemetery scene in 1971 film Melody, originally released in some markets as SWALK.

Two Night Stand

I just watched Two Night Stand and it’s one of my favorite romantic comedies ever. The kids who are the leads are adorable. Well, to me they seemed like kids. That’s starting to happen.

What are their names? John Cusack, right? No. Miles Teller. But hey, if you don’t look too close…

Analeigh Tipton is gorgeous and was perfect for the role. Great chemistry. It’s a bit less… innocent… than your classic Meg Ryan romantic comedy.

They’ve been in a lot of other stuff, with his roles being especially notable. Funny thing is I saw Jessica Szohr’s name and recognized it, but had to consult IMDB to realize it’s because she got the role of Talla on The Orville, replacing Halston Sage’s Alara as chief of security.

Anyway, the rough arc is predictable because of the type of movie. I suppose this is what’s what’s weird or different about a young romance. How do you have a similar happy ending? Assuming walking off down the snow covered street together, neither with a place to live, is entirely happy and can be presumed to be ever after. I guess a faux wedding might count if you’re 11 or 12. Getting to see each other regularly afterward at 12 might count, especially in light of improved family situations. A student rebellion and what will presumably be a short-lived running away from adult intervention in the faux wedding might not end up so happy.

Some of the details are predictable from the plot description and even more so if you watch the trailer. That doesn’t make it bad, though.

The experience of the people in the film is entirely outside of mine. I can’t actually say that nobody that attractive was ever interested in me, but what gets me is the ease of it all and the casual nature of the sex. I’ve talked about this before. Her roommate is all like “you’re horny and miserable, go get some.” I’m like “on what planet does it work that way?” And I was a teenager in the seventies. I wouldn’t be able to write something like that very easily. To me it might as well be dragons and unicorns.

But I love a romantic story and happy ending. I love obvious chemistry on screen. It’s what I grew up believing in, even without much more evidence of it being a real possibility than there was of sex being acceptable.

To be fair, so much of my understanding of things came from Daphne that earlier today I was telling myself that she might have prevented me from overly early fatherhood with the wrong person. Perhaps that should be viewed as a favorable role. I just could have done without waiting to have my first kid at 43. Then again, I would no more snap my kids away than Tony Stark would his. They’re amazing. Everything I did may have brought me to where I belong, but that doesn’t mean it was or is pleasant.

Maybe this is why I like this genre so much.

Still Confused, Apparently

I keep thinking of the kids in Melody as being in 5th grade, in US terms. In looking at stats, I ended up reading my own post on ages in Melody and found that I had concluded that they were equivalent to 6th grade. That because they are “First Form” and that is the year when you’d generally turn 12. In the US, sixth grade is the year when you’d generally turn 12. This does fit the story better, in that it was the earliest there were generally strong interests in the opposite sex and kids have girlfriends or boyfriends.

So I’ll have to remember that when I think about the story it’s sixth grade, it’s on the edge of 12, not fifth and 11. That means Tracy Hyde was a year young but looked older (well, her apparent age was highly variable in the film), and Mark Lester was exactly the age (looking on the young side of close enough to it). Jack Wild of course was playing much younger than his actual age, and always looked at least a year older than the age he was attempting to play. Perfectly plausible in the real world and Ornshaw’s apparent circumstances.

I could totally see this happening to me in late 6th grade. Heck, that was when I met my best friend, Zack, who would probably have been a crush had he been a girl. My daughter, a year older than that, has a huge girl crush on her best friend, even though she’s never shown any sign of being interested in anything but boys. Other than that, I still wondered about the 4th grade crush who disappeared, and had a crush on Paula, who was a year and a third younger than me. She’d be the obvious analogue for a scenario based on my life. If I merged her and Carol, I’d have dancing, but she’d have a brother who was a friend in my own grade. There’d be an alcoholic father, but a more stable, larger family otherwise, and more friends. Clearly the idea of writing something based loosely on me has not let go. Not a big market for youth romances, though, notwithstanding the success of Moonrise Kingdom.

But I digress. Writing this was intended to poke fun at my memory and to help reinforce what I had figured out previously so I might not forget it this time.

Timeline Elasticity

If any of you follow all my babbling here, you know I think about alternate history scenarios, and alternate timelines to ours based on points where events large or small departed. One of my fiction ideas, started but never remotely completed, was one such based where I grew up. In it, I had certain changes I knew I wanted, then started thinking about what would have had to happen in the wider world to make it so. I could stick to lesser changes, and certainly I could keep it ambiguous. However, I arrived at the change possibly deriving from there having been no Teddy Roosevelt. I knew that was a huge change, but in fact it’s more so than I had realized, based on subsequent reading of history.

Digression from the main topic: TR gave us the Spanish-American War and the advent of the United States as an empire. He really kicked off the progressive movement, a creature of both right and left, and inaugurated massive changes to the size and role of government and collusion with big business interests. Things may have been ripe to lean this way in any event. That’s where the title of the post comes in. Who knows. We might have had no Great War, or no US participation in it. Take that away and you change the economy. It’s more certain there’s no Second War.  I’d originally thought about Wilson being eliminated, but it was TR who put us on a collision course.

The first big thing that impacts is a company that makes fireworks never becomes a munitions company, never becomes as big, never makes the owner as rich, never has residual effects on my family history.

When thinking about timeline changes, you can butterfly up a storm and treat it that all bets are off. You can also treat events as being somewhat elastic relative to what we knew in our timeline. I suppose that’s kind of a temporal-centric outlook, as if we are the One True Timeline. But if it’s elastic enough, then it’s not going to diverge as much as it would otherwise across a wide range of moderate changes.

What I mean by timeline elasticity is that things happen like JFK still becomes president around the same point in time, even with a good bit of change prior to that, even with one or more other presidents having been different. It snaps back, as best it can.

I would think that if you want to use that as an approach when planning out an alternate timeline, then you would have to be consistent. You can’t plead timeline elasticity when people question Nixon being president despite there never having been a Teddy Roosevelt, but wildly diverge on something that would be just as elastic. To put it another way, you’d treat the initial departure as your science fiction gimme and be “realistic” with other details. The “gimme” thing is a concept I got from Allen Steele. He said “you get one gimme” for your story. For instance, faster than light travel that simply exists and you don’t need to explain or justify at length. It’s the impossibility you’ve allowed yourself. But that’s what you get, and the rest follows or is logical.

This whole thing came to mind again in relation to Melody, of all things. I had been thinking it would be entertaining to reference Melody in the alternate timeline, which would be visited in the past, just a few years after Melody’s release in our timeline. I pictured having it be more successful. The thing is, change things enough and does it ever happen? If it does, would we recognize it? Just one thing is the minimum change: Mr. Perkins has an uncle who lost his hearing when a bomb fell on Berwell Street in the war. No war. No bomb. No story. Unless the uncle was destined to lose his hearing and the cause changed.

Now, it’s possible I could invoke some of the changes I want without such a huge point of departure. It’s possible strategic local events could do what I want, and nobody would notice much difference otherwise. On the other hand, the deeper story, including why and how people ended up crossing between timelines, seems to factor in the bigger source of change.

Besides, I still have a chance to use Melody in a story if I want. All I have to do is write a puppy love story based on myself, but in which I’ve seen the movie.

I suppose you could say that A Sound of Thunder was elastic. When the scared time traveling dinosaur hunter steps on a butterfly and changes everything, people are still people and things seems quite familiar. It’s just that the wrong guy got elected and English has changed slightly. Over millions of years of evolution that’s not much.

At least you don’t have to worry about these things if you change something now that matters going forward. For instance, changing physics to eliminate explosives, electricity, and some other details, while also adding subtle degrees of more mystic elements working. I had a similar but more radical idea years ago. If I wrote it now, people would think I was inspired by Dies The Fire. Or possibly Coldfire Trilogy. When I read the latter, I tried to figure out whether the author had been one of my pen pals. I briefly corresponded with a bunch of other aspiring SF&F writers found via the Writer’s Digest Book Club, and told some of them more about my ideas than I probably should have. In some ways, Coldfire was completely different from my biggest idea at the time. In others it was disturbingly familiar. Alas, there’s not really anything new under the sun, in some permutation or another.

Happy Birthday

This is the birthday of the girl I had a crush on around the time Melody came out in 1971. I didn’t know her name then, and she was gone the next year, as I know I have written elsewhere here. We were younger than the age depicted in the movie, by a year, which was basically the same age as the actors playing Daniel and Melody. He would turn 12 shortly before filming ended, and she would turn 11 just after filming began. (In her case, you can see her look older or younger at different times during the film, or look like it’s late in the filming because her hair has sun bleached, but I digress.)

It really would have been fascinating to see the film when it was first out and I was smitten with Carol without understanding what I felt at all. I might not have waited until 5th grade to try to seek her out and identify her. That was fruitless, because she had moved. When she returned, she looked different and time enough had passed that I’d never have made the connection. I learned by seeing a picture of her 4th grade class on Facebook, and there she was.

Long, relatively dark hair. Birthday in May. Father with a drinking problem. Dancing involved in my falling for her. It’s just crazy the parallels. The rest would have gone completely differently, but I could see us ending up hanging out. She’d have been receptive because she thought nobody liked her and she had exactly one friend.

I’m so glad I learned her identity, even if it wasn’t until we were 50 or so.

Happy First of May

May first is celebrated by fans of Melody due to the degree to which the Bee Gees song First of May inspired the story told in the film, and due to its inclusion in the film as the theme of Daniel and Melody. It is played starting when they officially “get together” when she makes unambiguously clear she returns his interest. In the movie, it plays as they go from the school to the overgrown cemetery, then is reprised after the famous cemetery scene and as they walk to her apartment to have tea with her family. That’s on YouTube as First of May, Cemetery Scene, Melody (1971).

This embed is my favorite version that creates a music video for First of May from scenes clipped from the movie, covering a lot of that part of the story, without sticking exclusively to the part around the cemetery scene.

This is a much happier observation of May first than the increasingly widely observed Victims of Communism Day. But we should certainly remember them as well.

Love Grows

One of the best parts of The Kissing Booth was their use of Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse, essentially as a music video over a video collage of activity between Elle and Noah once they secretly get together. Shades of the use of Melody Fair, First of May (though this is broken up by the cemetery scene and then reprised in the actual film), To Love Somebody (though this does have cheering audible over it), and Give Your Best in Melody. For all we know, there will someday be YouTube videos of Love Grows with that movie clip.

This is one of those songs I have loved since forever. Which is to say, 1970 when it charted as a one hit wonder studio group featuring the prolific Tony Burrows. It’s one of the “can’t resist singing along” songs for me. Funny thing is that I associated it in my mind with another super favorite, My Baby Loves Lovin’ by White Plains, before I ever knew it was Tony Burrows on both. He also sang Beach Baby with First Class, which I may have forgotten in songs that remind me of Zack, and United We Stand. The last one was a decent song but never grabbed me like the other, and I left out the 5th hit he’s known for, a novelty song I never cared for much.

The big ones are the first two, for hands down being big favorites I can’t not sing along with. On that note, here’s the embed of the title song…

 

The Kissing Booth

I felt like relaxing and watching something light, which tends to mean romantic comedy. This time I surfed Netflix until The Kissing Booth caught my eye. It’s something of a teen genre romance/romantic comedy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It was adorable, as was the female lead, in a down to earth sort of way.

Since it shares aspects of the “can men and women be close friends” genre represented overwhelmingly by When Harry Met Sally, I spent much of the movie wondering when we would find out that Lee was in love with his best friend Elle, while she had a crush on his brother Noah, who turned out to have a crush on her. To paraphrase Meg Ryan, “and then they fell in love…” Except the issue was a longstanding rule between the besties that family members were off limits for dating, leading to a secret affair and recriminations.

It ends ambiguously, not in terms of all that being settled and the relationship being sustained, but in terms of Noah, apparently a school year older than the two besties (who were born on the same day at the same time to  mother’s who were best friends) going to college all the way across the country. I’m intrigued to see they are making The Kissing Booth 2, and wondering which way that will go. Will it turn into Lee and Elle after all?

Apparently it was panned for being cliched, but these things tend to be. They’re like movie junk food. Yum! It’s certainly fitting that Molly Ringwald stars as one of the adults.

Saw Endgame

Loved it. It was astonishingly well done. Better than I expected or might have predicted even from how good Infinity War was.

I can confirm there is no end credit scene. The first part of the credits is worth watching for how beautifully done it is, but once that’s over, it’s safe to go join the bathroom line.

I took my oldest to a showing not that long after I got home from work this morning. She wanted to go because she’d learned that Loki would be in it. She loved the whole thing, even with having missed more of the MCU movies than I did. The wife observed that seeing Dr. Strange was particularly useful. She went with the youngest Thursday evening. The ones I never saw, apart from the Ed Norton version of Hulk, were Winter Soldier, Dark World, Ant-Man, and Ragnarok. I’d say Ragnarok and Winter Soldier were the most important ones to have seen for their weight in the overall storylines and cast of characters.

Anyway, that’s it until it’s been out long enough to be even slightly more detailed.

Update:

I realized I didn’t say why I stayed for the end credit scene that I already had good reason to know didn’t exist. One of the YouTube people I sometimes watch sent a notification that I saw in my inbox as, in part, “end credit scene explained” for Endgame. So if this person was analyzing the end credit scene, then maybe there was one? No. I haven’t watched the video, but the title/description is obviously misleading. Weird, since we all know nobody ever does that kind of thing for views.

Endgame of Thrones

Given the wordplay possible with Endgame and Game of Thrones, and the cultural event that is this weekend in both regards, my overactive imagination can’t help going all Number of the Beast via the quantum realm.

An expansive take on quantum many worlds theory is that anything that can happen as a branch of reality creating a parallel universe not only does happen, but also any fictional reality exists as an actual reality in its own universe (or presumably its own infinitely branching multiverse). Heinlein’s Number of the Beast, not IMHO his best work ever, yet intriguing enough that I read it twice, long ago, delves into that, notably by visiting Oz.

So I find myself picturing the Avengers gang going astray and landing in Westeros in the midst of the… endgame… of the Game of Thrones universe as, up to that point of departure, depicted in the TV series. Puny Mountain! Hulk smash. But perhaps I’m just easily amused.

Ka-Boom

I can’t help thinking that Ornshaw hopping into the back seat of Mrs. Latimer’s car at the beginning of Melody, initially landing in the same spot in the middle, is meant to be analogous to the bomb landing in the car in the same spot at the end of the movie. I’d noticed this before but I don’t believe I had written it. It stood out for me just now on a casual watch of part of the film between doing other things. Ultimately he blows up her tidy little world. He’s the catalyst and enabler of the events of the film. No Ornshaw, no Melody. It’s cleverly done. No wonder Parker – assuming he was the source of it via his primary role in the script – turned out to be a brilliant filmmaker.

Awstats Not the Most Useful Thing

I’ve grumbled about this before, including in the recent post about a hit for Tracy Hyde pics that, when I search it, brings up no actual result pointing here. Now I also see one for Tracy Hyde photo, same deal. Most of the “search phrases” reported by Awstats are things like attacku3k, pressdjv, changing1gx, holdk6w, etc. Completely strange and bogus. Then again, the referrers are almost completely fake, too: Referrer spam, in hopes you might click them when you look at your stats, or something. Some of them are topical, at least, like one that points to something on how to be assertive.

Why purport to show search strings in the stats when obviously you can’t or won’t? So far this month, through about 90 minutes ago, I have about 437 hits from Google. The rest are trivial. By comparison to supposed hits from other sources like “direct address,” “bookmark,” or “link in e-mail,” search hits are trivial. However, that is based on “pages,” which is a number inflated by spammers or other malicious sources hitting things on the site that might not even be visible to people. It’s what happens when you get a relative monoculture of one convenient CMS such as WordPress. Or even an oligarchical culture of a few such things, rather than a wild west of people writing their own HTML. Then again, the nature of the web is relatively transparent regardless. Back in the day, PCs using a Microsoft OS got viruses or malware, and, as people would say, “Apple doesn’t get viruses.” Aim at the big target.

So really those Google hits are probably actual people less a portion of malicious sources arriving via search, and are some fair portion of the 2317 “unique visitors” so far this month. Yet the stats can’t see what the search strings were and report them? I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some obfuscation from Google going on, since they are in the business of reporting their own results if you sign your site up with them. Google Analytics, in my experience, is a bit like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. Also I haven’t seen actual search strings there, on sites where I have used it, though it’s possible they must be if you look hard enough through the mess that is the interface.

The most useful thing I can discern currently is that an overwhelming amount of my traffic is now from Great Britain, with the next two being a race back and forth between Japan and United States. That’s how it settled out since blocking enough malicious IP addresses to reduce the numbers from the usual suspect countries. What do I post about a lot? Melody, the 1971 movie. Where was it filmed and where did it eventually if not instantly become popular? Great Britain. The actors tend to be from England or elsewhere in the UK. Some of them are actually part of the movie’s fandom. Where was it a runaway hit? Japan. However they’re finding it, that’s gotta be the source of a lot of traffic.

For some reason, this post is particularly popular as a landing page, and has been almost since I posted it, but after that is the category for Melody. Above both of those are the main page, naturally, and the feed. How are that many people reading via RSS? This is not my blogging heyday. Heck, in my blogging heyday, I’d have considered these great stats. I’ve had individual posts avalanched with tens of thousands of hits in years past, but not in a long time. Anyway, after that some of the results include popular ancient posts on an archived site at this domain that was created in Expression Engine and never ported to WordPress. Brave souls, going there when the pages consist of long lists of PHP errors before and after the actual post. The version of PHP on the server outstripped the version supported by EE.

So I can discern a few things mainly by looking at the stats. Melody posts generate some interest. So do some of the music posts. Google sends me a lot of mystery traffic from searches. For all I know, a lot of that goes to the archived site. A weird number of people use the feed. Most of the traffic is nefarious. All I get for comments are spam ones, which I believe these days are generally automated. The mix of pages people visit via HTTPS is substantially different, with the residual politics category and history category being far above Melody, but the total coming that way is dwarfed by plain HTTP.

It’d be fun to see a better report of the search results, but oh well.

How It Should Have Ended

I still haven’t done the Melody blurb rewrite, but thinking about that has left me amused to imagine Melody getting the Honest Trailers treatment, or the How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) treatment. Obviously I can’t readily create videos that would emulate those, even if I came up with content that would make them work, but I can imagine Epic Voice Guy talking about coming for the short skirts on pubescent girls and staying for the story of love, friendship, and childhood anarchy in a world of clueless adults.

As for how it should have ended, that’s a darn good question! It’s possible that the ending is perfect for what the movie strives to do, and it’s just the questions of what happens after that make it feel incomplete. Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t leave us hanging in the same way. But then, Moonrise Kingdom also deals more seriously with the marriage thing, and leaves the kids knowing they can’t really get married, but a ritual won’t hurt. You can see Sam and Suzy ending up together forever. But Sam is more Ornshaw than Daniel. Heck, Suzy is perhaps more Daniel than Melody.

Melody could have ended with each of the lovebirds having it explained to them what marriage is about, even without the sex talk and detail of that part, and about the legalities. They could have been allowed to have a ceremony that would mean something to them and then carry on without there being trauma. If they drifted apart, well, that happens, but they could simply have been particularly young boyfriend and girlfriend until they grew up enough to have it not be unusually young and still loved each other, or grew up enough to grow apart and move on. Perhaps if the adults have sense, when they are rounded up and returned home after the ending, or when they return home themselves upon realizing they’ve nowhere else to go, that might be how it goes. That’s about the happiest after-ending you could have without invoking pure fantasy.

Not what I set out to cover in this post, which is already much longer than I’d expected, but I had further thoughts on the class and family aspects. You have Ornshaw, essentially an orphan, low class but super smart, if sassy. You have Daniel upper/middle class but may as well be an orphan, with a horrible family situation and a mom who is simultaneous neglectful and an overbearing helicopter mom before the term was invented.  Then you have Melody, working class but with a more normal, which is not to say imperfect, family situation. We watch Daniel fall in love with her family and perhaps that makes him love her even more. Arguably the scenes with her father are meant to contrast with Daniel’s father, absent even when present, entirely disengaged. For all Melody finds her dad buffoonish at tea, for Daniel it’s a pleasant switch.

Anyway, How It Should Have Ended: Melody. That would be fun. An honest trailer would be easier, since you could use actual footage and create a voiceover. I wouldn’t begin to be able to animate any HISHE type of video.

Tracy Hyde Pics

I was amused to see that a search for “tracy hyde pics” registered in my stats, which normally don’t show traffic that resulted from searches. At least, not legitimate ones. I’m impressed, since when I searched that on Google, this site didn’t come up in any of the 12 screens of results. It did get kind of interesting though, with things purporting to have Tracy Hyde nude, topless or whatnot. Many years ago I used to have fun with Google by creating posts with bunches of names of current celebrity young women and the words nude, naked, etc. This would generate a bunch of traffic, and probably a bit of disappointment or chagrin. Erica Durance was the favorite for searches at the time, though I was partial to Allison Mack. That turned out a bit unexpected, celebrity-wise.

Anyway, I haven’t actually posted any Tracy Hyde or Melody-related pictures. There are tons of them out there, and I have downloaded a few. I created one from a screenshot as an aid in learning the name of the actress who played the unnamed character played by Karen Williams. A more obscure one I found is a collage of modeling images of Tracy Hyde when she was even younger. You can totally see the star quality that made them want her for the film. You can also see the ways in which modeling is a form of acting.

So I’m sorry to say that there are no Tracy Hyde or other Melody pics here. Maybe someday. I don’t like to upload pics via WordPress, so when I have done pictures in the past, I have sized them as needed, uploaded them with FTP, then embedded them in posts, sometimes with the embedded picture linking to a larger copy. I’d probably do this with textual context, like illustrating something I am discussing. Or discussing the illustration, as the case may be.

I don’t watch much TV these days. Not that I ever did. So I’m not sure what names I’d even use in a tease post with nude, naked, etc. Maisie Williams, perhaps? Bella Ramsey is a bit on the young side. Halston Sage? Eh, whatever. That was kind of a past amusement. Now, who cares?

When You Never Watched The Movie…

You write a DVD cover blurb that sounds like this utterly ridiculous one from the Melody DVD:

An excellent musical score by the Bee Gees adds appeal to this curious little movie about two ten year olds, Daniel and Melody (Mark Lester and Tracy Hyde) who are completely taken with each other and announce to their parents, in all seriousness, that they plan to get married. This marriage is not planned for the distant future, but as soon as possible. The uproar that is caused when their seriousness becomes clear is not too surprising. Their best friend Ornshaw (Jack Wild) is not too thrilled with their plan either. What makes the film work is that the entire story is told from the children’s point of view in which the grownups’ objections, since they have no relation to the truth of what the children are feeling, come across as silly or inconsequential. This film is a reunion of sorts for Oscar-winning Oliver! co-stars Mark Lester and Jack.

My aim is to rewrite this using the same amount of words/space, so my text could be used in the same spot on a DVD case. Or as a brief description that might actually make the film sound like something you might enjoy seeing. I transcribed from the case to help with that end, but that allows me to post and critique it her. This is vastly more annoying than the reviews you see by people who sound as if they never saw the film.

The music not only adds appeal, but also was incorporated into creation of the story concept and the writing of the script. That phrasing sounds like damning with faint praise.  That gets worse when it is described as “this curious little movie.” That tells me the writer found the movie odd at best and is warning people that there is a good chance they won’t like it.

The kids are not ten. They are eleven. While their age is never outright stated, the school year and time of year makes them 11 or so close as not to matter. This also fits with the ages of the actors, though that is moot in that Jack Wild was 17 and Lesley Roach was 16, yet they were playing kids who were also 11. It’s possible that kids in the grade level could be as old as 12, but few would be lower than 11 by late in the equivalent of American fifth grade. Not that it matters. My equivalent crush with some surprising similarities was around the time I turned 10.

Why do we need to mention Mark Lester’s name twice? Why do we cut off in the middle of Jack Wild’s name, at the end, so he is mentioned one and a half times?

At no time do the kids announce to their parents that they intend to get married. It is probable that both sets find out, but the only ones we see knowing and doing a poor job of talking her out of it are Melody’s. The closest we see Daniel coming to announcing it (which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen off-screen) is when his mother finds the note saying that they are eloping.

Melody and the love between the two kids is central to the story, but not remotely the only part of it. If you could say it’s about one thing, that would be love. But it’s love between friends as well.

About the only thing in the description that is accurate is that the story was told from the point of view of the children. I’m not sure it’s the objections to the marriage idea that come across as silly and inconsequential so much as it is the general incompetence of the adults that makes them come across that way in general.

I might never have paid enough attention to this to tear into it, except my oldest used the description as the basis for her decision not to watch the movie. That was what cause me even to read it. I was horrified.

What If

It’s not just a genre for alternate history SF any more. It’s a 2014 2013 (the latter per IMDB, the former per Amazon, which owns IMDB) romantic comedy, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver. Fantastic! Zoe was just gorgeous, and amazing. Daniel makes you completely forget he was ever Harry Potter. Adam is tall. Very tall compared to Radcliffe. I don’t think I had noticed his height as the rogue Skywalker. He made a great Ornshaw-like friend, whose cousin is actually the girl in question.

Weird! I just discovered that the original title was “The F Word.” I had heard of that one. Just never saw it, though the trailer looks familiar.

Megan Park was Zoe’s sister and was also great. I would be attracted to the looks plus quirkiness of Chantry (Zoe), but would be attracted probably more at sight to Dalia (Megan), if I knew nothing but how they each looked.

The film was delightful, funny, quirky and different. It was somewhat a modernized variant of When Harry Met Sally, which to its credit is something I didn’t catch until well into the movie. On the negative side, it’s about being soundly friend zoned, and could bring out bad memories of Daphne. On the positive side, it’s a look at how important being that close as friends can be to a relationship.

Daphne didn’t ruin things by wanting to be just friends after cuddling with me and being my first kiss. She didn’t really even ruin things by dating my best friend and ultimately having casual sex with my other best friend. She ruined things by coming along later and teasing me with the possibility of something that was never going to happen and spending some nights platonically in the same bed as me. At that point, much later in our lives than our high school and immediate post high school years, she lectured me about the evils of casually having sex, rather than “making love.” Yet that was just what she’d done with one of my friends who had zero interest in her but was having a dry spell just then. He thought of it as lowering himself shamefully. But this is supposed to be about a movie I just watched and loved.

I still find it funny to watch these things and see people in, say, their twenties or so being so free, enthusiastic and open about sex. That’s not the world I grew up in, or at least not a part of the world I ever saw personally. It’s how it ought to be, but it still boggles me. I probably would have been better off to have been the guy in Hello I Love You, working and working and working, never making the slightest attempt to be social, and being 29 with no dating experience or friends but 200k in the bank. No way I’d have stayed “living at home” as he did to help save money. I moved out about as soon as possible, never went back to my mother’s, and still feel somewhat shamed I moved to my father’s to make it possible, or at least easier, to go to college. One of these days I might remember to write a post about how I’ve always identified with my work to an irrational degree.

Maybe that’s why I like romantic comedies. They connect with something I wanted and never had. Which reminds me how great it was that The Princess Bride had a cameo in What If. One of the best movies ever.

Hello, One Small Hitch

After watching Moonrise Kingdom and already being up past my bedtime, I watched One Small Hitch free on Amazon Prime. It may be a “by the numbers romantic comedy,” but I was entranced. I thought Aubrey Dollar (sounds like a stage name if I ever heard one) as Molly was wonderfully acted and stunningly beautiful. Like Melody, Molly would have been a fantastic name for my second daughter, had we thought of it. Even though I have seen it and know how it ends, I might even consider watching it again after a while. I knew roughly how it would end before it started, after all, because of what it was.

I liked the rest of the cast as well. Josh seemed more generic than Molly, to me. Giselle was well cast and in the end a very wise character. I just loved Max and was sure he must be one of those old guys I’d seen in other things before. Yet the only thing I might have remembered him from was Hill Street Blues. I wasn’t a regular viewer of that, but would have caught enough to have seen him in action when he was much younger.

If you like romantic comedies and don’t mind that they are all relatively predictable variants of the same basic idea, I would recommend it.

After this, late as it was, I started to watch Hello I Love You, which I remember seeing promoted last year. I love the idea of it. I love Emma, played by Kabrina Miller, and to a lesser degree her friend Mandy, played by Elizabeth Monte. It’s a great setup, that the two of them play elaborate practical jokes on each other and this Emma believes Andy is part of the next one of those. That figures into her accepting ten dates with him after he comes up to her, a stranger, and asks her to marry him. At the end of the ten dates, he will ask again. Andy’s character is in some ways relatable to me – 29 and no dating experience, plus career frustration for all he’s been a workaholic. His is the weaker character or casting, in my initial impression of having watched until partway through their first date.

The premise is good. The villainy of the people at the production company is predictable. I found myself wondering if that wouldn’t turn out as you might expect. He works in a lowly job at the production company and pitched this as a reality show idea. The girl has no idea she is being filmed.

I turned it off before the first date was over. I had finally gotten quite sleepy, and I was cringing. Sometimes I empathize too much with people on the screen and, in a home environment where I have a choice, will stop watching because I find it too hard to take. It’ not Andy on that date, in that messy, awkward situation. It’s me. I internalize things that much when they are happening to other people, even fictional other people. Arguably an autistic tendency, if you subscribe to the theory that autism involves feeling and empathizing to excess, rather than not feeling or relating. That makes it hard to people if you have those tendencies, even if you’re nowhere close to something that’d ever be diagnosed. So I was ready to skip ahead or go to bed, and being sleepy made it go to bed. I may pick it up where I left off, or may fast forward and watch enough bits to follow what happens. One awkward thing made me think of Melody. On the first date, he tries to order for her because he has seen that on TV or whatever. It doesn’t go well. That reminds me of Daniel trying to carry Melody’s bag because he “knows” that’s what you do when you’re walking with the girl. Except they’re 11 years old. Melody bemusedly takes it back with a silent I can do that myself kind of reaction.

Anyway, there’s my romance binge for last night, when I didn’t feel like doing anything else. For all I wasn’t sleeping yet, I was way too tired to think much or do anything at all useful.

Update:
I couldn’t resist. I continued watching Hello I Love You. It was awesome. Didn’t go exactly as I’d expected, apart from Mike turning good, the boss getting what was coming to him, and Emma being angry when it turned out to be a reality show. I had also thought about permissions right at the beginning, and wondered how it would go if they couldn’t get the right to use her in the show. Despite that, I didn’t think it would be a big plot point.

Moonrise Kingdom

After the kids weren’t eager to watch Melody with me, I bought Moonrise Kingdom in SD digital from Amazon and watched it for the first time. I was a little worried that I had effectively “already watched it” by seeing all the clips and some commentaries online. It’s true I’d seen a lot of it, even key scenes, but there was a lot missing, and order missing. That is, the clips didn’t reflect the order in which things were shown in the film. That was not in exact chronological order. It flashes back. It gets to the goldfish promptly.

I don’t have a detailed analysis or such after one viewing. I can say it’s hardly a “remake” of melody, or even all that close to being anything but homage to Melody. The comparisons I saw made to another film or two that predated Melody make me think it owes more to at least one other. The one thing I saw that was a tiny detail that was a direct tie between the two was the bubbler. That’s water fountain to folks outside the Massachusetts or New England area. That was when he was sneaking off to get to the dressing room where the birds were getting ready for the Noah’s Ark show. As far as we ever know, the first time he sees her is when she turns to look, along with the other girls in bird costumes. And at that, you only see her face framed by the costume. It begs the question of why he seemed to be seeking her out. Much as there are elements unseen or unexplained in Melody, we are left to fill in if we don’t believe that’s Sam’s first sight of Suzy. Sam paints, as does Daniel, but painting was a big factor in at least one of the other movies in the genre. It ended up being a minor factor in Melody.

I was thinking you’d have a somewhat different film if Daniel painted Melody. There was room in the world of Melody for her to have gone to Daniel’s house after school on days when adults weren’t home. Whereas at her house adults were always home. You see her family meet him, but not vice-versa. You see her family reacting with her to the whole marriage thing, but you only see his mother reacting to the note about eloping. Which begs the question of what she knew and when she knew it before then, as well as why he left a note. Besides to give the story an exploding car.

One thing Moonrise Kingdom did was give us a satisfying ending. Sam gets a decent family. He and Suzy get to see each other. They complete each other and are more stable, happier people. Her parents avoid the crisis that her mother’s affair might have caused. Edward Norton might not have to stay single after all, however subtle that scene was. In Melody, the ending is the anarchic explosion of the kids in response to the ridiculous adults. Daniel and Melody run off ambiguously, since where can they go, really. Yeah, in Moonrise Kingdom we can wonder what happens in the future. Do the two kids stay together as they age, becoming lovers and then married for real? Do they become friends who happened to have that adventure than bonded them together?

Moonrise Kingdom, which we never actually see stated on screen as the name of their cove, their land, until the painting at the end gives us the source of the title, has distinct differences due to the kids being basically a year older. In Melody they are 11, notwithstanding some people saying they are 10 and others saying they are 12. If you’re matching the school year and time of year, 11 it is. That explains the difference in maturity and activity. Despite all the publicity pictures, we never see either of them kiss the other on the cheek. They hold hands, maintain as little personal space at times as you might expect, and he puts his arm around her when they sit in the rain after the bad day. Sam and Suzy kiss, French kiss, dance close, reference his male reaction to her, and he “feels her up.” They sleep cuddled together. For all that, it’s still nearly as innocent as Melody.

The adults are messed up, just as they are in Melody. We see the hint of the headmaster having an affair with Miss Fairfax, but they are single so who cares, even if he’s a religious figure and her boss. We see more overtly that the police chief is having an affair with Suzy’s mom. Suzy knows this and her father figures it out. The stylized nature of the film means the scouts are active endlessly. The troop leader is more attached to that than he is to being an adult with a real job.

The scouts are the closest we get to the friends and classmates around Daniel and Melody. Instead of a best friend sidekick to Sam, Suzy is the best friend. We see the scouts come around to helping Sam, and Suzy, rather than hating Sam as they had.

Anyway, I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s not Melody, but I will also watch it again. Which is why I bought it rather than renting it.

Oh! I just realized as I went to click the categories that a parallel to Melody might be when Sam sleepwalked and set a fire in his foster home’s yard, compared to Daniel setting fire to his father’s newspaper. At least I didn’t sleepwalk when I was a kid, along with wetting the bed. I saved sleepwalking for when I was an adult, and did it a number of times circa the early to mid nineties. This was bad because I could easily have fallen down stairs. I’d get up to go to the bathroom, apparently so sleepy that I didn’t remember having done so, and I’d get turned around on my way to or from. I woke once with my hand on the knob of my stepsister’s door, at the opposite end of the hall and right at the top of the stairs. I woke in the closet of the spare bedroom I used as a computer room. I woke at the door of my room, or by the bathroom door. It was crazy.

Well Then

On my first attempt to get the kids to watch Melody, they are refusing. That’s with them having been intrigued because I had to order it from South Korea, and offering them each a small stipend to watch and give feedback. On a day when they’ve been looking for ways to make money. I think I caught them at a bad time, where they are preoccupied with other things. Worst case, I will requisition the living room one day while they are on school vacation and watch it myself for the sake of seeing it on a full TV screen. Since they will be around, they will no doubt see at least parts of it.

It also didn’t help that the oldest had me shut up and read the description on the jewel case. That decided her. I read it afterward and was appalled. It’s the equivalent of a review that sounds like it was written by someone who hasn’t seen the movie. It’s almost entirely nonsense.

That begs the challenge of what would you say to describe it in about 150 words and make it actually both reasonably accurate, comprehensive, and appealing.