Words: 1,410. It was like pulling teeth, and then I made two changes. I told the scene from another character’s perspective, and I asked, “Well, what if she decides she wants to do that?” Boom. Flowage. 

In the last few weeks, here are the movies I’ve seen:

Seven Samurai 

Silent Running



Bridge on the River Kwai

All of them have one thing in common: What does it mean to be a man?

In the Seven Samurai, which I didn’t like as much as I liked The Magnificent Seven, the young kid loses his virginity and kills in battle pretty much on the same day, and the lesson seemed to be he became a man. But the girl he sleeps with turns away from him in the end and he’s the one who is shown as betrayed, his heart broken, when she really got the worst of it. Her father was a jerk. Manhood: having sex, killing people, and hateful fatherhood.

Silent Running: what a weird movie. Basically hippy monk in space. Manhood: doomed obsession. Also, remember that plants need sunlight.

Taken: there’s a great scene in Taken at the beginning, where Liam Neeson’s character gives his 17 yr old daughter a karaoke machine for her birthday. Then her rich stepfather ups the ante by giving her a horse (a pretty damn impressive horse too). Bio dad: 0. Stepdad: 1. But Neeson rescues his daughter from the Albanian sex-slave ring, racking up a mighty impressive body count, and he’s the one she says thank you to at the end.  Biodad: 1. Stepdad: 0. This was a fatherhood revenge fantasy — father vs. stepfather. I think the actual plot was secondary. In fact, you could have played this as a comedy, entitled “Buy Me Love,” in which father and stepfather keep upping the stakes with more ridiculous presents. Tim Allen would be in that.

Bridge on the River Kwai: old-time movie goodness with the best climactic scene ever. I’m sitting there going, “Blow the bridge. Blow it now. Blow it, blow it, blow the fucking bridge!” Manhood — build a bridge for your enemy to show him how it’s done. Manhood — blow up the bridge because this is war. Being a man is complicated. Alec Guinness is splendid.

Darkon: I left Darkon for last because it’s the coolest and because it’s the hardest to write about. These are real people, and even though the theme is reality and fantasy, you can’t watch it without thinking about the theme of masculinity and what it means to be a man in today’s world. After all, the two kings, Keldar and Bannor, are real people in a real world. I thought it was interesting that Keldar basically said that he couldn’t have become a manager in his day job if he hadn’t first become a king in Darkon. And contrast that with Bannor, who is a stay at home dad, and loses the war he starts. I’ve met stay-at-home moms who could have run that campaign and won it (good lord, who storms a castle like that?) — did Bannor lose because of his non-traditional gender role in real life? From what the documentary showed, he hated being the stay at home spouse. Not saying he didn’t love his kids, but he really did not take to the domestic life. Keldar obviously loved what he did, in Darkon and in the mundane world (okay, he may not have loved it but he was proud of himself in the real world). You got the impression that Bannor only loved Darkon.

In Say Anything, there’s a great line: “Don’t be a guy. The world is full of guys. Be a man.”

Bannor was a guy. A good guy, but a guy nonetheless.

I didn’t particularly like either of them — I feel bad about saying this, because these are real people. But I would hate to work for someone like Keldar in the game or in the real world, and Bannor irritated me because if you are going to stay home, you have to do a good job, okay? I felt like his wife — who wisely stayed out of the movie — had an extra kid.

Now the one guy, who was using the game to make small advances in his growth and maturity and maybe eventually to be able to talk to girls and start dating and such? Him I was rooting for.


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