Culture vulture

Cinematic duality
Culture Vulture doesn’t get out to the movies very often. So bookending the weekend by seeing two films that exist at opposite ends of the cinematic spectrum in two theaters that exist at opposite ends of the technological and economic spectrum qualifies as an actual and unusual event.

Friday found us at the multiplex marveling at the garish interior design, the cornucopian snack bar and, once inside the actual theater, the comfort of the seats and the richness of the sound system.

Arriving a half-hour before show time, we were treated to a looped series of advertisements for everything from real estate brokerage firms to Volkswagen dealerships. It’s a tribute to the ineffectualness of this form of advertising that I cannot remember a single name out of the dozen or so businesses whose ads I saw flash across the screen at least 15 or 20 times while we waited for the film to begin. “Oh yeah, this is why I stopped enjoying going to the big theaters,” I remember thinking as I pined for the days of pre-movie cartoons and short films.

But I was there on a mission: To reunite with my old friends Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect and go bouncing off into the special-effects universe created around one of my favorite books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the Culture Vulture literary firmament, The Hitchhiker’s Guide exists as a shining star equaled only by The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the novels of Philip K. Dick, the tales of Blandings Castle and Bertie and Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse, and the Cthulu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.

I attended the film with the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie and two of our friends. Daphie and Friend A had never read the book. Friend B and self were huge fans of the book. We all thought the movie was great. Funny, philosophically adept, gorgeously depicted, convincingly acted. A very worthwhile and highly recommended experience, one of my favorite aspects of which was the use of nature imagery in the introductory credit sequence and in the closing coda of the film. Despite the outlandish, psychedelic freakiness of much of the film’s imagery, these sequences asserted that the real world around us is filled to overflowing with equally weird, equally gorgeous, equally interconnected spectacle. Bravo, I say. Go see it.

But before you do, give serious consideration to first seeing The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, the other of my pair of cinematic weekend bookends. Daphie and I went to the Pageant Theatre on Monday evening to see this film, and, having marveled for the umpteenth-hundredth time at the tininess of the price of admission, the narrowness of the entry way, the inexpensiveness of the snack bar items, and the coziness of the theater, we were treated to one of the most beautifully filmed and poignantly told tales I’ve ever seen on film.

The true story of Mark Bittner and a flock of feral parrots is a meticulously realized illustration of the interconnectivity between conscious beings and nature and tells a genuine love story, too. A must-see if ever there was one.

Seeing these two wonderful movies in close proximity, I was struck more by their similarities in intent than their diversity of content. Vulture Bob says check ’em out.