The movies I watch over and over and over — Jason Bourne — and why

By Caitlin Kelly

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A great post from Slate about why we love Jason Bourne:

Why do we love Jason Bourne? Why does this brooding nobody command our immediate allegiance? Because his mission is not to take down a cartel, destroy an undersea fear factory, or cripple a billion-dollar interstellar weapons system. It’s not even to save a beautiful woman. His mission is the essential human mission—to find out who the hell he is.

Plucked nameless from the Mediterranean, a floating corpse, by the crew of an Italian fishing boat (water: mother-element in the Bourne movies); rebirthed on the wet deck, his twitching hand eliciting gasps of atavistic wonder; tended to—healed—with gruff inexhaustible charity by the ship’s doctor (“I’m a friend!” insists this heroic man, as a panicked Bourne rears up and starts choking him. “I am your friend!”); recuperating on board, at sea, strengthening, doing chin-ups, tying fancy seaman’s knots and asking himself who he is in French and German—indications of hidden skill sets, strange aptitudes and attainments …

Here’s the Wkipedia entry explaining Bourne and his backstory.

I’ve watched these films so many times now, I know scenes, dialogue and the theme song off by heart.

Why, exactly, are the adventures of a desperate black ops asset of such compelling interest?

I can shoot a Glock 9mm quite nicely, thanks to my weapons training while researching my first book, about American women and guns. But I’ve never been chased across the rooftops of Tangier or had to throttle someone on a kitchen floor or evade very determined and well-paid bad guys across multiple continents…

I have stayed in some really cheap and seedy hotel rooms, in Granada and Copenhagen, as Bourne often does.

I have had to fling myself into stranger’s lives for succor, as I did when rescued by Gudrun in Barcelona, dizzy and sweat-drenched when I arrived at her home after a train ride from Venice.

I have been alone, ill and afraid in foreign countries — Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Denmark — where only my wits, cash and passport kept me safe and sound. That theme, repeated in every Bourne movie, also resonates deeply for me.

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As Bourne does, I’ve also had some spontaneous romantic encounters in far-flung spots — Carlo in Sicily, Zoran in Paris, Pierre in Montreal; you’re never more open to such possibilities as when you’re single, traveling solo far from home and with no ties restraining you.

But you never see Jason Bourne having the sort of normal life most of us lead most of the time: waiting at the carousel for his luggage, (he never seems to carry any!); ordering another mimosa at brunch, (Bourne definitely doesn’t do brunch) or even waiting, really, for anything — beyond the arrival of the latest asset with orders to terminate him.

His life is one of urgency, forever using his lethal skills to save himself and whichever woman he’s with. He bristles with competence, switching passports and languages, finding whatever he needs as he rustles, injured and bleeding, through a Russian medicine cabinet or distract the Moroccan cops chasing him by tossing a can of hairspray into a brazier so it explodes.

“Real” life doesn’t exist for him.

I suspect all of us are, in some measure, running fast and away from something: a fear, a hope, an unrealized goal, an unrequited love, or racing toward a future we can’t quite see, but which we hope lies on the other side of a border we haven’t yet reached — whether the Greek island where Bourne re-finds his love, Marie  — or something closer to home.

Here’s a terrific movie-focused blog, organized by decade. This blog, Cinema Style, explores how films reflect, or lead, design and fashion.

I admit — I watched the Oscars last night, all the way to the end. I cheered for Cate Blanchett winning Best Actress, for her searing role in Blue Jasmine, a part that required her to be sweaty, disheveled and frenzied, on the verge of madness.

Is there a film hero or heroine with whom you somehow identify?

Who’s your audience? At what cost?

If you missed last night’s Oscars, lucky you!

I watched Seth MacFarlane as host — and yes, I had to Google him — and thought “Seriously?” I found him crude, sophomoric (freshmanic? even better) and deeply off-putting.

English: Seth MacFarlane at the 2010 Comic Con...
English: Seth MacFarlane at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not, however, the demographic the Academy Awards producers so desperately crave, 18 to 49 year old men. By hiring MacFarlane, and larding the show with sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic “jokes”, they thought for sure they had a win.

And they did.

But for every teen boy yukking it up out there, a million others, men and women of all ages, were tweeting and Facebooking their shock and disgust throughout, and after, the show.

Sure, grow your audience…

At what cost?

From msn.money.com:

Seth MacFarlane was full of surprises when he hosted the Oscar awards show last night. This morning came another one: TV ratings for the 85th celebration of Hollywood’s love affair with the movies were up over last year in the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic.

Early tallies for the show say it earned a 12.1 rating for that group, up more than from 3% from last year’s final 11.7 figure, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, citing preliminary figures from Nielsen. Entertainment Weekly notes that total ratings for the Oscars also probably rose over last year’s show hosted by Billy Chrystal. Final ratings, which may be different, will be released by Nielsen later today.

If these ratings hold, it will be a pleasant surprise for ABC and its corporate parent Walt Disney (DIS +0.22%).Some had wondered whether MacFarlane, whose TV shows and movies appeal largely to men, would turn off the mostly female Oscar audience. His song-and-dance number celebrating actresses who have shown their breasts on the silver screen may have offended some, but it was tame stuff by MacFarlane’s standards.

Best known as the creator of “Family Guy,” MacFarlane got mixed reviews for his performance.

Best Actress Academy Awards
Best Actress Academy Awards (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

For Broadside, an unpaid gig, I want an engaged, civil conversation with smart, global, interesting people. I have them! Yay, you!

For my books, I want readers of all ages simply open to new ideas, especially those interested in a new spin on old narratives — whether gun use or low-wage labor. Fortunately, I’ve found them as well.

When I write on business for The New York Times, I want readers to enjoy, think, argue, share. My stories are consistently the third most read and emailed of the entire Sunday paper. So, I’m pleased that my fairly careful targeting of the audience I seek is indeed out there.

But the pursuit of the Big Bucks, in many fields, means lowering the bar — of taste, execution, style, content, tone or intelligence.

It’s not a trade-off I’m willing to make.

How about you?

Who is your audience?

How do you try to win and keep and grow them?

Does it involve making trade-offs between your personal ethics and principles — and making a decent living?

Two Fistfuls of Gold — What A Sweet Sight, Kathryn!

US director Kathryn Bigelow waves to photograp...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Not just for best Picture, but best Director, for Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker.

Not sure I’ve seen so lovely a sight on television in a long, long time.

First Oscar ever for a female best director.

I loved her dedication, twice, to all those who fight and serve, from soldiers to firefighters.

May her history-making win not be the last!

Deking Out The Greedy SOBs Disney And Dolan — How We Are Watching The Oscars

3-D logo used since 2007.
Image via Wikipedia

In utter last-minute desperation, we called our relatives in Ohio — who are not being held hostage by the insane greed of Cablevision versus ABC that is denying coverage of this event to millions of residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

You losers. You greedy )(*&^%#@@ losers.

They’ve hooked up their laptop in front of their TV in Ohio — and we’re watching the Oscars on their TV by Gmail.

Thanks, Ruth and Brian!

Whatever it takes.

We Can't Watch The Oscars — Thanks To Corporate Thugs' Standoff

A reporter takes a picture of the Oscars' stat...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

This is the garbage we put up with in the sophisticated Northeast.

Pure corporate thuggery.

From The New York Times:

The distribution spat between The Walt Disney Company and Cablevision started to look more like a spat between two chief executives on Friday, a day before Cablevision’s contract to carry the ABC station in New York City was set to expire.

Meanwhile, viewers who faced the prospect of missing the Academy Awards on Sunday seemed to split their scorn in equal portions between the two companies.

“Why do we have to be subjected to this fight?” asked Jami Lieberman, a Cablevision subscriber in Searingtown, N. Y. Cablevision serves about three million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Disney owns ABC.

Tens of millions of dollars are at stake in the negotiations over a new contract. Disney wants up to $1 a subscriber a month from Cablevision for programming from the station, WABC, which is available free over the airwaves. Cablevision has offered an undisclosed fraction of that. The current agreement expires late Saturday night.

Demands by broadcasters for so-called retransmission payments are becoming more prevalent. But this dispute is becoming especially bitter. As negotiations stalled this week, Cablevision called on Disney’s chief executive, Robert A. Iger, to “stop holding his own viewers hostage” and publicly cited his salary and bonus as evidence that the company was being greedy.

Even John Kerry’s gotten into the battle, reports the Los Angeles Times:

Disney and Cablevision aren’t the only ones squabbling over this issue. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski saying that the regulatory agency should revisit the so-called retransmission consent rules that allow broadcasters to seek fees from cable operators in return for carrying their signals. Kerry told Genachowski that he does not think broadcasters should be allowed to pull their signal from a cable operator “unless the cable company is negotiating in bad faith.” The FCC, he added, would be the ones to determine whether that is the case. Kerry is chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

From The Washington Post:

As reported earlier this week, WABC-7, the local affiliate for Disney’s ABC franchise, said it would go dark for Cablevision subscribers if the parties were unable to come up with an agreement on fees paid by the cable giant to the broadcaster. ABC has said Cablevision is not offering a fair price to carry its programming.

Cablevision has said that Disney, the parent company of ABC, was seeking unreasonable terms. The company says it already pays ABC more than $200 million a year, and is being pressured to pay $40 million on top of that for no additional content.

“We want our customers to know that we will not pull this channel and we urge ABC Disney to make that same commitment,” said Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s executive vice president of communications

Our TV screen right now  — we get Cablevision — shows only a large blue and white message:

ABC has rejected our offers. We have agreements with CBS, NBC, Fox and Univision. We apologize for their [ABC’s] actions.

Like that’s going to help.