Monday, April 20, 2020

Reframing Dad



I’m a big James Bond fan. Always have been and I can think of many movies in this long, long franchise that can still make me smile. The movies are a great way to unwind and dive into a world where a state sanctioned assassin is suave, sophisticated, shags loads, and never ages beyond about 50.
There are only two entries in this series that piss me off. One is A View To A Kill, which is awful on so many fucking levels and the other is Die Another Day. Now, AVTAK cannot be saved no matter what you do. Roger Moore looks pigging awful at 57 in the role and Bond girl Tanya Roberts’ mother was a year younger than Moore. The movie was the closest you can get to being a straight version of Austin Powers. Until you get to DAD.
Pierce Brosnan’s swansong was so over the top that it became farcical. Invisible cars, space lazers, ice palaces, race-altering plastic surgery and Madonna as a fencing instructor…to name a few. The film is irritating and so OTT that, despite some good moments, is something that die-hard fans will avoid when rummaging through the Blu-ray box set on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Unreality needs to have ground rules. I accept without question that Jon Snow in Game of Thrones can be brought back to life. I accept dragons and white walkers and wights and the lord of fire. What I don’t accept is when Snow falls through the ice into a frozen lake, climbs out and rides his horse back to Castle Black and recovers without so much as a case of the sniffles. No one said that his return from death made him immortal so an experience that would have killed Bear Grylls is, quite frankly, taking the fucking piss.
Superman can fly, is allergic to Kryptonite and has lazer vision. Accepted without a murmur. BUT…putting his spectacles on and combing his hair differently grants him a disguise? Fuck off!
Indiana Jones keeps his hat on in a bar room brawl? OK. He jumps out of an aeroplane in a dingy with two other people and survives…with his hat on? WHAT KIND OF CUNT DO YOU TAKE ME FOR?!!”
And then the other day while disinterestedly thumbing through YouTube videos I came across one called “James Bond dies in Die Another Day”. In the actual movie, after being captured in North Korea in the pre-credits bit, Bond is tortured for 14 months and then traded for uber-baddy Zao by the British Secret Service and the CIA. He then fakes flatlining while in hospital recovering, and escapes to take revenge in typical Bondian fashion involving lots of shagging, explosions and gadgets.
The video that I’d found, presented an alternative angle on proceedings. What if…..Bond flatlined for real in that early scene and the rest of the movie is a dying dream. The final shot of the film is Bond and the female protagonist lying on a pile of diamonds while making out which then fades to black, which the documentary maker interpreted as saying this was where Bond finally died. He added that this is why Judi Dench is still M when Daniel Craig got the role and that the reason she is so fucked off with him for creating havoc in the embassy at the beginning of Casino Royale is because this type of foolhardy behaviour is what got his predecessor killed.
And…not only does this make sense it also makes Die Another Day a LOT less shit.
If Bond is simply hallucinating and dreaming of palaces carved from ice, fist fights amongst swirling lazer beams and cars falling like confetti out of aircraft then the movie is a fine homage to Pierce Brosnan’s tenure in the tuxedo and makes sense. Bond imagines that every woman he meets finds him phwooarsome (including a nurse who tries to give him the kiss of life) and that a Chinese contact he hasn’t seen for years wouldn’t bat an eyelid when meeting him again, even when he looks like Robinson Crusoe in pyjamas. The ludicrousness and weirdness of the film is sooo much more enjoyable if you take it that NONE of this is real, and it is all Bond’s final dream of a final adventure. The opening sequence is relatively grounded in reality compared to the later excesses and last night I watched DAD again and enjoyed the movie much more than I previously had, solely through approaching it with a reframe.
This attitude has been used for other films in the past. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has a fan theory that Ferris is merely Cameron’s imaginary friend and none of the film is real except Cameron wrecking his dad’s prized sports car. He even brushes Ferris off once he decides to stand up to his father (for the first time in his life). This TOTALLY changes the experience you get when watching the movie.
So….let’s try and put this in other films. Maybe Superman has some kind of Kryptonian mind control technique that means that people can’t recognise him as Clark Kent. Maybe Jon Snow was granted immortality when brought back from the dead in Game of Thrones but we just weren’t told that. And maybe Indiana Jones is just incredibly lucky?
And then maybe the reframe can be applied to real life?
As I write this we are in a global lockdown because of the fucking, pigging, cunting corona virus. I spend most of my time indoors, getting a taste of what it must be like to be a geriatric and looking forward to the weekly trip to the supermarket. While I’ve kept busy (I’m still teaching, albeit online now) and read, meditate and do yoga on a daily basis there is a whole load of boredom to deal with.
If you reframe the monotony of quarantine it becomes less of a chore and more of a time to reflect, work through some anxiety issues and appreciate the solitude. I’ve been borderline misanthropic since I was in my late teens so this isn’t that much of a haul for me, staying in and having limited contact with other people.
I have a class on Saturday mornings. The students are between 12 and 14 years old and as it’s a 9am kick off, are invariably grouchy, cheeky, arrive late and have side conversations in class. I’ve taught them for a couple of years through two levels of English and while, individually, they are all nice kids, as a group they act as a catalyst for each other and get right on my frigging tits. Now it’s less of an issue because I can mute their microphones or even kick them out of Zoom into the “waiting room” if they push it too far. When I go back to teach them face-to-face I’ll apply the following reframe. It’s Saturday. They’ve just spent a week at school and the LAST bastard thing they want to do at 9am on the first day of the weekend is have nearly 2 hours English tuition as an extra curricular activity. This flips the perspective not to one of sympathy for twatty behaviour but instead to make me realise that I need to try and find other ways to stimulate them into learning rather than rely on methods that work fine from Monday to Friday. The 11am group just after them are no problem whatsoever and it’s basically the early start that is the mosquito in the yoghurt.
I can reframe interactions I’ve had with other people that have been both positive and negative. It’s not an attempt to empathise but more a desire to be able to view events without getting annoyed or emotionally attached to what is going on. Things that happened to me as I grew up were, I have found, quite often meaningless to the other people involved. Merely reframing events can reduce the drain that these memories place upon my psyche and my anxiety.
You don't have to try and get hippyfied over this and be constantly trying to seek reasons for bad situations. What I've realised is that if you reframe, even if only for your own benefit, then things can and usually do appear more bearable or even become enjoyable.
Things that meant so much to me in a negative light before corona lockdown have now become much less important than they were, solely through reframing with the eyes I now have.

A View To A Kill still honks though.

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Reframing Dad

I’m a big James Bond fan. Always have been and I can think of many movies in this long, long franchise that can still make me smile. T...