Monday, 10 February 2014

Beating the heat at the movies.

Bliss was my first feeling as I felt the need to pull up the bedcovers early this morning. It has been days since it has felt cool enough to even consider pulling up a sheet! The waking experience has been a sigh as the realisation dawned that the temperature felt like the middle of the day and it was only 7am.

Without an airconditioned home, the weekend's heat meant that retreating to somewhere cool was a necessity. My usual strategy is to go to the movies. When the weather is like this, I will see whatever is on next. That is why I saw "12 Years a Slave" on Saturday. On Sunday I planned to go in the middle of the day and saw "Inside Llewyn Davis", the new Coen Brothers' film.

My tissue supply was not assured as I took my seat for "12 Years a Slave". The film was not on the top of my "to see" list because I rated the content as "harrowing". Physical comfort trumped the psychological.

Solomon Northrup wrote the account of his kidnapping, transportation to the south and sale into slavery and the film is adapted from his account. For most of the first part of the film I was unmoved. I was interested enough in the characters, but felt quite removed from the story. Intellectually I absorbed the details of slave transactions, deceptions and the clear view of slave owners that slaves were not human. My tears flowed at moments of kindness shown to Solomon and during a particularly harrowing scene of a slave being beaten. The hyprocrisy of slave owners reading the bible to their "property" and using the scripture to justify beatings and other examples of bad behaviour made me angry, rather than sad.

It was a musical moment that brought me completely undone. A group of slaves sing a gospel song after burying one of their number. Solomon takes some time to join; when he does, the ferocity of his singing conveys such meaning - anger and hope simultaneously.

It was a complete change of pace on Sunday when I bought a ticket to watch a film about a folk singer in 1961. My heart sank as I took my seat in the cinema that was uncomfortably hot. Before the previews were through an usher advised that the airconditioner had died that morning. It had just been fixed, but it would take a while for the cinema to cool down. Full refunds were offered. I decided to have faith.
Before long I was freezing to death as the newly effective airconditioner caused a layer of ice to form on my bare arms and shoulders. It was welcome.

I'm a fan of the Coen Brothers' work and was looking forward to a film about a singer. It turned out to be a strange film. There were moments where I laughed, but I was largely frustrated by the lack of Llewyn Davis to seize the opportunities he had before him. I really enjoyed the music but the film is less than memorable.

As I emerged from the cinema the wind had turned and the cool change had arrived. Such a relief!

What's your strategy for surviving the heat?

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