Discover more from Art / Life: Scribblings by Michael Bryson
The Shining (2023)
In which the author enters the weird zone of life's rich pageant
On October 28, I took this picture when I saw The Shining (1980) at the Fox Theatre (2236 Queen St E, Toronto) with a friend.
We met before the show across the street at the GOOF (Golden Gate Restaurant). He and his wife ordered food, as they hadn't eaten yet. The menu didn't seem to have alcohol on it, so I asked if they served it, and they provided a drinks menu.
I scanned the list and tapped, "Vodka martini, please."
Huh? "No, thank you."
After then left, my friends, laughing: "Did he ask if you wanted ice in your martini?"
Five minutes later, they were back. No martini option, could I choose something else?
I chose a hard apple cider.
First minutes later, they were back with a pear cider. No apple cider option.
"Is this okay?"
A glance at my friend opposite, his eyes wide.
"Of course, thank you."
My friends were doing well with their fried rice.
“That was kind of weird?”
“Yeah, well. How would you write that up?”
I had been in the process of telling them about how the new Premier of Manitoba, sworn in wearing a war bonnet, (once maybe still?) had grandparents who lived in the Beaches. My friend didn't know Manitoba had a new Premier.
"Did you say Wab Canoe?"
I'd read Kinew's book, The Reason You Walk (2015), which opens with the GOOF, before going into the story of how his parents met at university, his mother a white girl from the Beaches, his father an Anishinaabe man from Treaty 3 Territory.
My point was just, the new Premier of Manitoba started his memoir with the restaurant we were sitting in.
I'd also told them how a week earlier I'd seen She Came to Me (2023), Rebecca Miller's great new film about a tugboat captain played by Marissa Tomei hooking up with an opera composer played by Peter Dinklage. The headline in the Globe and Mail review was: "Finally, a film that reveals the secret sex lives of tugboat captains," which I thought ought to win some kind of award. The film, itself, was generous and sweet.
In any case, before the film I was standing on the sidewalk outside the theatre, a young couple nearby also waiting, when a loud grinding motorcycle approached from the east, its rider painted black head-to-toe, his radio blasting The Trogg's "Wild Thing" (1966). YOU MAKE MY HEART SANG *boom boom boom boom.
The light turned red, the hog sat roaring and blasting, then moved along.
I glanced and the young couple, and they glanced at me.
I said, "It's a little too on the nose, don't you think?"
How would you write that up?
My friend cited Feature Writer's Law, saying I should combine both events. They both happened, they just didn't happen at the same time. Well, three events now, right? The citation of the Manitoba Premier, the hog, the missed ice-filled martini?
Life's rich pageant.
Then we saw the movie, and I hadn't seen The Shining in three decades, when I'd rented a VHS from a video store and popped it in the slot in my parents' back room. I'd watched half the film, stopped it, sick with anxiety, then returned and watched the rest of it later.
This time, no anxiety, just some stomach dropping moments when the characters cited the n-word, and the Jack character was more darkly misogynistic than I'd remembered. Plus, the film used the odious phrase, "Indian burial ground," presumably to suggest a cause for the supernatural events that follow. It's a cheap, problematic, and undeveloped idea. Ugh.
Overall, though, I can now say I finally know why it's called The Shining. I remembered the iconic scenes, but most of the plot escaped me 30 years ago. All I wanted to know, then, was — was he going to axe murder them or not?
But there was more metaphysical questions to ponder than I'd expected. Not surprising with Kubrick, but I'd missed them previously. What is up with the time travel? Still, given all the paranoia narratives that surround us now, this flick (except for the racist, hateful bits) seemed almost tame. Or maybe I'm just now old and numb.
Wild thing, do I love you? No, I don't. We won't be seeing each other any more.
And I want you to know that for sure.