Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Firefox" With a Side of Sentiment

My late father's birthday came recently, and the Angels of Netflix gave me a present - the arrival of "Firefox", and 1982 suspense/cold war caper film with Clint Eastwood. This was the first movie I ever saw with my dad, just the two of us; I remembered the name clearly through the years, and Netflix gave me the opportunity to enjoy this on his day. Probably healthier than the German chocolate cakes I haven't made since his departure; certainly a ripping yarn.

Clint's a hard guy to hate, and even going back to my squeamish but entertained viewing of Dirty Harry with my ex husband, back when I was probably all of nineteen, I understood he has a singular charisma. The talent's fairly hard to argue with, too. Clint's easily the sort who'd fit on that short list of "stars" I think must actually be interesting people.

I re-read Roger Ebert's review after watching, and I think he nails it pretty much. I love Ebert, his writing is incredibly good, and he's practically a blessed national institution - but of course, agreeing with most of his opinions about actual movies must be left beside the point. A less reliable indicator of whether I'll like a film than the reading of one of his reviews would be hard to locate, but when we do agree, we seem to agree for all the same reasons.

"Firefox" had faded almost perfectly from my memory, leaving little but the impression of cockpit shots of Eastwood and the plot flourish that the russian MiG Eastwood is out to steal is thought-controlled. This last sci-fi touch, oddly memorable as it is, is actually so negligible to the enjoyment of the movie, and such a minor note, I'm surprised I made enough of it to remember.

The movie is one my dad must have really liked. He was a bit of a James Bond fan, a great reader of spy novels and suspense thrillers. He loved sports cars and, I realize, somewhat sporty women; his love of my mom, deep as it was, contained a very real interest in her physical attractions, something he never let go of until the day he died. Dad was an absentminded professor and a mellow philosopher ... a lover of Broadway musicals and great classical music ... a powerfully loving family man ... and a guy who loved exciting caper stories and, yep, it seems, a "dish" for a wife.

(Writing this, it seems my capacity for containing multitudes is one I came by honestly. Anyway.)

I don't remember the day we saw the movie clearly, just the sense of "event" about going to a movie with my dad, when my mom and brother weren't going with us. I think we probably talked about it enjoyably a little afterward, and I'm reasonably certain, narrow as my tastes still would have been at fourteen, he must have had some pleasure in watching his younger kid kind of get excited about a flick so well outside her established mental stomping grounds. I'd grown up watching edited Bonds on The Sunday Night movie with the whole family, but actually partaking of a $1.25 ticket, even paid for by daddy, was a big step for me, taste- and experience-wise.

I'm glad we took those steps, my dad and I, occasionally. He went with me that same year to see "Excalibur" ... a movie we *ahem-ed* to mom was rated R for its violence, which it truthfully did contain in abundance. I remember seeing "Elizabeth" with him, and discussing with him the departures from history, as well as what was good about it.

Dad was the single most interested and interesting person I've ever known - next to my mom, who originally put that phrase in my mind. He was so personally engaging, and so eager to find himself likewise engaged by those aroun him. G-d, I was a lucky child, to be his daughter.

Also, yeah - good movie too.

But the dad was better.

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