Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Time warped

The world is going too fast for me. Everything seems to be accelerated, sped up, expedited, scheduled early, ramped up, and front-loaded.

This sensation is due entirely to the fact that I live in an American media bubble. I watch American TV and listen to American radio via satellite. I follow developments in the U.S. hour by hour via the internet. At times it is easy to forget that I am not actually in America. But just outside my little bubble is the west of Ireland, where things are moving at a whole other pace entirely. Just outside my bubble, it takes eleven months for the Irish telephone company to hook up my telephone to the pole a hundred feet or so from my house. It takes a contractor more than a year to put in a kitchen. It takes five or more minutes to get a pint of Guinness poured in a pub (but in that case the wait is entirely justifiable and well worth it).

And why does life seem to be speeding out of control inside my bubble? Here are three cases in point:

  • The primary season: I’m old enough to remember a time when the states that didn’t have primary elections before June were essentially irrelevant to the presidential nominating process. Now, if your state doesn’t vote or caucus before, say, the first week of March, you’re pretty much out of things. This year the primaries and caucuses started so early that they seem to be over before I was really psyched up for them to begin. Was it only last year that Howard Dean was being anointed by the press as the presumed Democratic nominee? Oops, sorry, that was last month. The quadrennial nominating process, which used to seem to take ages and ages until everyone was sick of it, has been reduced to the relative time-span of, say, a combination of the two TV sweeps periods. And, we know what that means, and it ain’t good. It means that the full-scale two-man presidential campaign is going to run for an unconscionable length of time, in subjective emotional terms the length of the combined series runs of both Friends and Frasier. The pundits and analysts tell us to brace ourselves for an exceptionally dirty campaign. And why wouldn’t it be? You can’t expect the candidates to actually talk about the issues. The whole point is to win over the relatively small segment of voters who aren’t already entrenched in their respective love or hate of the president, and how can these people make any kind of rational choice between two candidates who, once again, are really more alike than different? Hey, don’t take my word for this. Just ask Ralph Nader. And, speaking of how old I am, I am actually old enough to remember a time when Republicans were against budget deficits and Democrats thought that people who avoided fighting in Vietnam were heroes too.

  • The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival: Last year at this time, I didn’t even know there was such a film festival. This year it is already over. For reasons that I am sure were explained at some point to some one, the second DIFF was scheduled in February instead of March. That’s fine. They can have it whenever they like. I will try to attend no matter when it is. Still, I am left wondering if I would have been able to attend for more days if it had been in March. But that’s really irrelevant. I can’t expect them to schedule an entire film festival for the sake of my personal convenience. Can I? Anyway, I am glad I got to see the films that I did. Strangely, though, the four films I wound up seeing—plus Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, which I caught at the Irish Film Institute (formerly the Irish Film Centre)—seemed to have overlapping themes. A big one was children in jeopardy, which was a key element in both Ron Howard’s The Missing, which features the kidnapping of a teenage girl, and Julio Medem’s Sex and Lucia, in which a young girl has an unfortunate encounter with a family pet. And, of course, Van Sant’s Elephant, based on the Columbine massacre, is the very epitome of fear over safety of pre-adults. (Errol Morris’s documentary The Fog of War featured plenty of references of real-life destruction of human lives of all ages.) It’s all enough to give a father anxiety attacks and guilt pangs for leaving his wife and child at home—even if the house isn’t struck by lightning. Anyway, I was happy to see that the DIFF has every appearance of becoming a well-established and hopefully long-lived Dublin tradition.

  • The Academy Awards: Last year at this time, I was still digesting the Oscar nominees and the awards ceremony was still more than three weeks away. This year, for reasons that were probably explained to someone at sometime, the academy has decided that it is better to have the awards ceremony while the youth of America, who provide most of the revenues for the movie industry, still have some dim memory of the films in competition. Maybe the early scheduling of the awards explains why my enthusiasm for the competition hasn’t managed to heat up. Or maybe it’s because I’m still regretting the fact that I didn’t manage to see Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River during the week or two that it played in Ireland. (On the other hand, probably the last thing I needed to see was yet one more movie featuring something horrible happening to a child.) More likely it has to do with my combination of fear and hope about whether The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will pick up all of the Oscars it deserves to. If it doesn’t win all of them, and even if it doesn’t win any, it certainly won’t change my opinion of Peter Jackson’s three-part mega-movie. On the other hand, if the movie does get the Best Picture statuette and Peter Jackson does get the Best Director award, then I just might have to change my opinion of the Academy Awards. And I suppose that’s the really scary part.

    -S.L., 26 February 2004

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