Last night ‘The Illusionist’ put me to sleep. But I bolted up when the orange tree fruited without flowering. I imagined nearly a half-dozen people across the world shaking their heads in displeasure. Years ago Anne Raver wrote a nice article about movies that screw up garden-related details.I long for the old days (“when movies were movies”). ‘Rome’, on HBO, is startlingly good. But it’s a never ending serial. At least it has characters. When will John Milius turn his attention to the years before the Old Testament? He gives us the perennial story of pre-Christian Rome which, I think, is relatively safe and easy. Plenty of excellent historians ready to help. Lots of family, blood, sex, swords and sandals. The dialogue is great. But it ultimately descends into a “Dallas”-like palace drama to appeal to the goobers.
Please, take on an important background subject: the world of Abraham. Get some real nerve. The world needs an honest panoramic view of the roots of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the ancient world.
But anyway, God bless the BBC, and especially PBS. We boomers must remember how bad TV was before the Brits got cranking over here. That was the real British Invasion. We’d still be watching ‘The Three Stooges’, ‘My Three Sons’ and ‘Queen For A Day’. The closest we got to Masterpiece Theater in my childhood was ‘Hazel’. So, John Milius, get together with David Mamet and do it. Use actors from Brooklyn and the Bronx, just like the Romans with the English accents.
And, please, someone make a gardening movie. Combine it with outer space themes. Nothing gets me warm and fuzzy like a plant-related conspiracy theory. I was drooling after they announced ‘Signs’. I thought to myself, “Finally, a movie about crop circles with lots of corn stalks!” I anticipated it like it was a magic pair of shoes. Then I saw the wretched thing. For a minute, at least, before I passed out.
There are a few flicks I’ve seen that touch on horticultural subjects. ‘A New Leaf’, with Elaine May and Walter Matthau, portrays a botanist as a sweet but absent-minded heiress. Matthau is truly hilarious as the aging bachelor. ‘Medicine Man’ is entertaining, if a bit flat at the end. Two botanists in that one. ‘Bridges of Madison County’ casts Meryl Streep as, well, a passionate gardener. ‘How To Make An American Quilt’ showed a few seed packets (Yeah!).
But all these are small potato tubers next to ‘The Southerner’, which certainly gets the heartbreak of a crop failure right. And who doesn’t love a movie that prominently features a catfish named “Lead Pencil”?