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A Summer in Luxembourg, As Reflected through In-Flight Movies

As some of you know, I was away on blog sabbatical in Luxembourg for the past 3 months. It was a strange journey to be sure, which could be a perfect lead to talk about the sole video game I played over that time - Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. This would make even more sense seeing as how I'm the video game guy here, and not the movie guy. Yes, so much sense...

This is not me.

Nevertheless, it's the in-flight movies bookmarking my European travels that seem best suited for my broad "What I Did This Summer" essay. Looking through the lens of the game is more thesis material anyhow, and I know you all prefer to spend your audience reading something slimmer, to match your bathing suit bods.

A special thank you to Delta for this piece, for providing the best individual entertainment options I've had in the air. Not only were there around 20 movies to choose from each way, but they were all completely unedited (language-wise at least), allowing me to drown out the babies behind me with recorded shouts of f***.

The Road to Europe

A Serious Man - I was awake, anxious, and ready to experience something different in my life. What better way to complement those emotions than a Coen Brothers film? I've enjoyed pretty much all of their films I've seen (making me a real pariah in the young, white blogging community), with their sideways takes at comedrama often appealing to my own confused opinion on the seriousness/fun-ness of the world. But that sounds dumb, so let's just say I like their movies because they're different, and that's what I was looking for more than anything else. After suffering a year of the classic, mind-numbing hell that can be office labor, I wanted to do something that would make me feel alive again. Like gardening, and watching a story about 1960s Jewish people.

The Damned United - I had a 12-hour layover in London on my way to Luxembourg, so I absolutely had to prepare myself with sufficient footy knowledge with this film about some old, iconic coach. What I experienced was a competent sports biopic, which in my terms means it didn't put me to sleep or upset me with contrived melodrama. What I discovered afterward, reading up on "the real story" on Wikipedia, is that there may have been some half-truths included to enhance that competency. Meh. I couldn't care enough about any of it to complaion, yet I would later learn to extrapolate that revelation into my summer experience (by later I mean now, as I contrive this post). The farm I arrived at in Luxembourg would be in much less working order than I expected, with no bed nor breakfast in operation, and no other volunteers to speak of. Just me and an arrogant old Brit. For the next two and a half months. Oh, the drama!

Time passes. I garden. I sit quietly through awkward, one-sided conversations in which I learn primarily how awesome the landowner is, and secondly how un-awesome the rest of the world is. I survive by taking nightly walks through the beautiful countryside. Seasons change, during which I experience no pop culture outside of the World Cup and bird songs. Eventually I end up back where I belong(?), in a crowded coach seat, watching Hollywood's finest.

The Road Back

The Hurt Locker - During my stay with the Brit in Luxembourg who had no job and had obviously buried his life's frustrations under a mountain of pseudo-confidence, I frequently found myself having to tread carefully around conversational bombs that would make our time together even more awkward than it already was. I was determined to make my stay a positive one, and I determined that the only way I could achieve that was to bite my tongue and revel in my solitude. If you've seen The Hurt Locker, you can tell me whether the implied parallels above are interesting, obvious, both, or neither. I don't really know, and I actually fell asleep in the middle of the movie. The scenes became too routine: Find an IED, send in the protagonist, watch as he succeeds by breaking the rules, feed the chickens, weed the cabbage patch, repeat. It wasn't bad. In fact, it was kind of relaxing in a way. But there was little progress evident on any front. Some real things changed - maybe even for the better - but the biggest lasting impact would inevitably be psychological.

Alice in Wonderland - What a mess. I'll be honest, my mind was miles away during this movie, as I focused on fusing demons in a game you may have heard of - Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey. And what a strange journey it was! The beginning of Alice set things up to be an interesting take on a timeless classic, but it all too soon turned into a disgusting cartoon both visually and plot-wise. Every character was annoying. My eyes would wander to the screen to consider Alice's hotness, and then be punished by having to look at anything else there was. Despite its memorable negatives, my time abroad was definitely more enjoyable and worthwhile than this garbage. Plus I got to pet horseys!

The Book of Eli - And so, as I began my descent into Detroit, Michigan, USA, USA, USA, the screen fades to black (or something) on The Book of Eli. It's a fairly straightforward popcorn flick, written by a man who used to work in video games, trying to be more than it is and only succeeding in fits and starts. I would expound on the similarities to my life, again, except I've already done that over and over here and I think you get the point; and I think I do, too. My summer in Luxembourg was weird, good, bad, whatever, everything, and in the end all these words only matters to me. Maybe that British guy's conceit seeped into me through the tea? Or maybe I learned, at some level, to embrace that the only unique thing I can contribute to the world is myself? I'd be interested to know what the chickens I fed every morning would say about my impact. If I didn't eat half of them, that is.


  1. Blogger chris | 12:52 PM |  

    Welcome back Doktor! Glad you haven't lost your touch.

    I also fell asleep a bit during The Hurt Locker. Still immensely glad it won out over Avatar.

  2. Blogger Papa Thor | 9:56 AM |  

    so is it cheaper to watch these in flight than at the theatres? Time for a trip to Luxembourg!

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