...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Penguins on Parade
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I don’t get to the movies much. I like movies, mind you but well, you know by now the hassles I can encounter and sometimes, it’s just iffy whether it’s worth dealing with bus schedules and theater chairs. I think the last “live” movie I went to – the last movie that was actually first run in a theater - was “A Mighty Wind”.

It was time. So off we went today to see “March of the Penguins” - the cute fuzzy feel good movie of 2005. But dammit, I SO need feel good. And it did sound interesting; I know very little about penguins and what I was reading about this film made me feel like “oh, no, I’m not going because it’s about cute fuzzy birdies, I’m going because it’s educational”. Of course. Right.

It was, truly. It was educational. It was breathtakingly filmed. I wonder how they filmed the damn thing in Antarctica where the summer temperature is – what was it? Like 58 below zero. That’s SUMMER. And the equipment, not to mention the people. And dear gods, they did underwater shots. Gorgeous underwater photography. In the waters of the South Pole. Of penguins swimming. Of sunlight through the ice.

I have quibbles with the narration, although the choice of Morgan Freeman was inspired; he’s got a beautiful evocative voice, with just a touch of whimsy at times, which was welcome. But there was occasionally a feeling of “ok, we get it” in the reminders of the dangers the animals faced, and how, yeah, it was really a hard life and cold and there was another storm coming, yeah, we see it. We get it. I think, seriously, that the 80 minutes in silence would almost have worked. Although, okay, some narration is helpful. Since well, um, telling the male penguins from the female penguins is not possible and since a key part of the story of these Emperor penguins is how the male cares for the egg while the female who laid the egg goes off to feed….yow. (and they come back 3 months later and they get to find their mate, who has a tendency to look NOT just like every other penguin there, but like every other penguin. Period.)

But there is so much to giggle at and at the same time such astonishing beauty. Ice like we can’t imagine it. I got gooey a bunch of times, but only felt any tears at the sequence showing the Southern Lights, hard to explain. The pictures of the stars in the night stopped me from breathing as well. Combined with the awesome efforts of these birds, along with the physicality of an animal that looks so graceful in the water and then splash, slide, is on the ice. Then gets up and, well you know how penguins walk. Little tiny steps. For miles upon miles upon miles.

Sorry , I’ll stop. You need to see for yourself what’s interesting in this film. I’m sure there’s something for everyone – as I say, the technology in itself, that they could FILM in those temperatures. The access to the penguins – the credit crawl showed the filmmakers, at times inches from their subjects.

And then there’s the awesomely on beyond zebra ridiculous cuteness of baby emperor penguins. When we talked about going and I said “oh, honey” (as I do) “baby penguins”, Stu said “they’re all hand puppets.” And you know, they just could be. Nothing’s that cute and fluffy , come ON. He could be right. And now I want a little stuffed emperor penguin toy of course.

Two other things worth noting; it was at a “Landmark” theater which is like the best chain in Seattle.(The non–gigunda corporate 83-plex showing Adam Sandler/Bruce Willis/tiny tee-shirt movies.) They have hugely comfy chairs. The trailers – real trailers, without ads for the food in the lobby, for coke, for whatever – were shown for five films. And I have to say, I’ve never watched 5 trailers and said “I want to see 3, maybe 4 of these”. There’s ANOTHER documentary coming called TOUCH THE SOUND which is about Evelyn Glennie, who just $%(*”^& fascinates me. She’s the profoundly deaf percussionist. Then there was a trailer for “MirrorMask” which isn’t exactly my cuppa coffee, but is fascinating to look at – a fantasy film with Neil Gaiman writing, I believe, and the Henson people working on design. Then there was the new work by George Clooney, bless him, for he uses his money for good instead of evil. It’s a black and white film called “Good Night, and Good Luck” and it’s about Edward R. Murrow. Who is played by the brilliant amazing David Straithairn. (and if you don’t know either name. go look these people up. Please.)

And finally, ah, FINALLY, Wallace and Gromit are back, FINALLY, in Wallace & Gromit, the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It involves, as far as we can tell, giant bunnies. Really really BIG bunnies.

So okay the other thing worth noting; we’re in the lobby post-movie, as I’m heading off to the bathroom and we overhear the conversation where Stu gently breaks in to explain to the man who is wondering about penguins, “are they mammals. Are they birds? Are they fish?”

Fish. Dear gods. [fill in your rant here] Are penguins fish? Fish.

Anyway. Go see da penguins. I’m off to Top Ten toys tomorrow to see what they have in the way of soft squishy little baby emperor penguins. But only because I could learn a lot from owning one.

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