Monday, August 20, 2012

Prelude to a Film Review

            He floated up right through the Goldfish Castle this time, so she knew Mr. Dellington was deep in thought. The Goldfish Castle had the most money she had ever spent on a project, and was the proud glass home of Dorothy, Scarlett, Yossarian, Stella, Dopey, Wedge, and Figwit. Mr. Dellington gave them all a good fright, then glided past them to the dusty dishes in front of where she read by lamplight.
            She threw out there, “You’re excited today.”
            Everything about Mr. Dellington is colorless; white and grey and even black would not dare approach him. He once helped her find his picture in a library and completely stunned her through the realization that he was once that young.
            “I am not excited, but passionately intrigued. I already have composed an opening sentence. ‘It is difficult to assume the dissenting position on a soon-to-be much-loved film when no one reads your article and no one reads your article because you’re dead.”
            “… I still think it’s a bit wordy. Remember, dear, people don’t talk like that nowadays.”
            “Yes, yes, I shall try to remember.”
            Her small hands put down the book and gave her more room on the wooden chair. “So what movie did you see?”
            The Shawshank Redemption.”
            She tightened her lips. “I think I read it. Title’s a bit different from how I remember it. How was the crowd?”
            “They were mostly critics, and they should be ashamed to call themselves that.” Now he stood through the perfect window into the broken yard by the black street with still-passing cars. “Tears! Tears in the vacated popcorn buckets! I am still uncertain if the film may be classified as bad, but a dishonest one such as this should not effect people who have seen nearly as many films as I! Of course, no one will ever see as many films as I…”
            “Now I remember,” she said. “It was the prison story with Red, the other Stephen King one. Oh Mr. Dellington, is this because of, of how you died?”
            Something in the air took out the warmth from it.
            “… I have taken this calling- not just to watch, but to dissect- because I can separate from myself what other men can not. It insults me to have that suggested, Ms. Pace.”
            “Matilda, dear.”
            “Now, Ms. Pace, the real reason…”
            “Well, it’s been long enough. Can I at least call you Marshal then?”
            “What? Of course not, Ms. Pace. We’re not married. Please cease these interruptions.”
            She did so with no more sound.
            “Where was- the real reason that this film disappoints so astonishingly is because it takes a mentally-stimulating setting and turns it into another sentimental, forced, and clache  (“Cliché, dear,” she added) message about hope. The wonderful unpredictability of films cannot surface when the film itself keeps reminding us that the main character escapes by the end. And heaven contain my surprise he does. This is why sympathy card writers should stay out of the movies.”
            “Well, the book does…” After a bit of thought, she returned with a sterner voice. “Now Mr. Dellington, I’ve told you what happens when you spend too much time watching the production of a movie.”
            “I took your advice this time. I still don’t understand why it’s such information must be ignored.”
            “You’ll have to do without it. Now, the book does talk about hope a lot too, so they could just be faithful.”
            “So change it! Blast it, it’s not that difficult, and true film connoisseurs wouldn’t mind. There were books around during my transition, but there’s a distinct reason I became a film critic! Now let’s get out your machine and begin already.”
            She rubbed the long eyelids. “No, I’d rather not tonight, dear. Reading all night to wait is just not working anymore. I’m going to bed.”
            “Come now, Mrs. Pace, this is best explored when this is fresh in my head! Besides, we must keep up a good schedule for when we start publishing these.”
            “Don’t you get it?” She stood up, accompanied with a voice that could still never get loud. “These reviews will never be published! I’m not going to use pen names or any other lies because people will still find me and lock me up! Then what sane thing will listen to you again? You’re better off thinking that your opinions won’t matter in the long run! And that’s all you are now… an oven-baked ball of opinion.”
            Her teenaged paintings hung from the smelling walls. The chain from the lamp rocked in small circles. Slowly, she stood up, using the edge of the chair to support her, and began to walk to her bathroom, led by a hand on the wall.
            She turned.
            “Matilda, I would like to apologize. I assume I’ve taken you for granted. Those boxes of reviews that keep me here would be useless dictations without your help. You may be right; I should accept what I have.”
            “Thank you,” she said. “Now I am really tired. Goodnight Marshal.”
            “Good night, Matilda.”
            She picked up her copy of that other Stephen King prison story and began to let her hand guide her again.

1 comment:

  1. Very creative concept. I really like the idea of a ghost who tries to be a film critic, and the setup of Dellington dictating to Matilda like she is his secretary is very amusing. I'd like to know exactly how the two of them found each other and why Matilda agrees to help him. Does Dellington have to do a certain number of reviews before he can "move on", or does he review films simply because there is little else he can do in his current afterlife? I'd also like to get a better sense of Matilda's character. Her using her hand as a guide suggests to me that she is blind, but other references to looking at Dellington's picture, using her "machine" to help him, and her "teenaged paintings" (is she also a teenager who married very young?) make me unsure that she is. I think it would add some very interesting levels to the story if Matilda is blind--if she can hear but not see Dellington, how does she know he is a real ghost?--but if you choose to keep her sighted, that's fine. It seems like their relationship is the centerpiece of this story, and I like the back-and-forth between them.