Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams
seen on TV @ TCM

All this snow is slowly driving me insane. And I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. I mean, living in the northeast, we expect heavy winters, but when you see people tweeting about snow in places like Alabama, something is seriously wrong with the universe. I wanted to go out last Saturday, but it was snowing, and I was in a glum mood to begin with. I needed some kind of reminder of spring - y'know, that it still exists, and that it will actually come sometime this year, once all this snow stops piling up all over the streets and all the slush stops gathering in my boots and all the cold makes walking around dreary and uncomfortable. (Actually, February has been marginally warmer compared to the single-digit days of January.) And what better way to be reminded of spring than baseball?

I never had anything against Kevin Costner. He always struck me as being a decent actor, Gary Cooper-like looks and all. I don't think I've ever sat all the way through Dances With Wolves - I probably wrote it off as boring back when it came out - but you better believe I've seen his sports movies. I never saw For Love of the Game, though; that one was actually recommended to me by a guy I met during NaNoWriMo last November, since I was writing a baseball story. And now Costner's making another sports movie, Draft Day, but I can't talk about that yet.

I remember all the hubbub about Waterworld and how much it cost and all the behind-the-scenes drama, and honestly, I didn't think the end product was all that terrible. Hell, compared to most of the superhero movies today, I imagine it might even look better. (It definitely deserves a reappraisal of some sort.) The Postman, on the other hand... well, I can't defend that one. Maybe Costner did get a little big-headed after the success of Wolves, and maybe he did need to come back down to Earth for awhile, but it would've been wrong if he had stayed in Hollywood jail forever.

Field of Dreams was made during his glory years, and it was a bit of a shock to see him look young again, but that's time for you. It's a purely American movie, the kind that wears its heart on its sleeve, and while baseball is the vehicle for this story, at its heart, it's about fathers and sons. 

I had forgotten that; I had come into this thinking about just the baseball aspects, and as a result, I found myself thinking a whole lot about my father. This was the first time I had seen it since his death, and while he's never very far from my thoughts, watching this sorta made him come alive for me again, for a moment. 

I've written here before about how I learned about the game from him, how he took me to ballgames and all that stuff, and without going too deep into it again, the point is that I see this movie in a different context now. For all of the good things I remember about my father, there were things on which we strongly disagreed as well, and I understand, to a certain extent, why Costner's character would be afraid of becoming his father, and why he would want to do something as crazy as build a ballpark in the middle of his cornfield.

Maybe it's a baby boomer anxiety, but I don't think it is. At some point, every generation measures itself against the one that came before it. They may find it lacking at first, but things that seemed incomprehensible once can seem more understandable over time. I know that much, at least. And while I'm grateful for the positive things he contributed to my life, I'd still like to see my father as a younger man and try to figure out why he believed the things he did, made the choices he made. Who wouldn't, given the opportunity?

So yeah, I cried at the end of the movie... which I never did before, and I've seen this a bunch of times. It was cathartic, I suppose. I've learned to live without my father, but every now and then, something comes along that reminds me of him - the bad stuff as well as the good. It'll be a long time before I can watch this movie again, that's for sure.

On a different note: I watched Field with my mother, and wouldn't you know it, after it ended, she said she didn't get it! Apparently she was confused by who was alive and who was dead and why. I tried explaining it to her, but it didn't help. Sometimes, I fear for my mother's sense of imagination. 

We had had a conversation earlier that day about movies and television and she said she prefers watching History Channel/Learning Channel-type programs these days because most movies and shows clash with her sense of morality and taste. The word "wholesome" was used. And while I don't expect shows like Mad Men or Breaking Bad would ever appeal to her, a movie like Field is much more accessible than, say, your average Christopher Nolan movie. I'd think she'd be able to make the creative leap necessary to understand the Twilight Zone-type premise. 

Maybe I give her too much credit. I'm not sure. I'd like to be able to talk movies with her the way I used to talk about them with my father, but the level of interest isn't the same, to say the least. Even when I try and sit down with her for an older movie, a movie closer to her generation than mine, she'll still say things like, oh, the ending was too depressing. She said that once after we watched A Streetcar Named Desire, which kinda misses the point of that movie completely. But maybe I shouldn't judge.


  1. I'm glad you had that cry. "Field of Dreams" touches so many emotions to do with family and relationships and life.

    My late dad was a rabid movie fan who passed that love on to his four daughters. Everything from "Bad Day at Black Rock" to "Mary Poppins" is our legacy.

    On the other hand, our mom is one who will respond to an invitation to join us in watching a film by saying "I saw that once" and that's the end of the conversation. Saw it once!! Once!! Well, her daughters are made of different stuff.

    PS: Did you know the novel's author is Canadian?

  2. I didn't know.

    Funny thing: it wasn't until I got deeper into movies from my many years in video retail, that I was able to talk about them with my father. For instance, I used to think the Westerns he'd watch on TV were corny, but once I actually saw some on my own, I could talk to him about them. I didn't plan it that way, it just happened.


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