The Mountain Times

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The Movie Diary

Talking in circles

It used to be a clear sign of mental illness if you saw someone walking around alone and talking to themselves.
Nowadays, that's rarely the case. It's not that mental illness is on the decline, but rather that earpiece phones are on the rise.
In the past few years I have personally mistaken several people for schizophrenics because I saw them fully engaged in a conversation, with arms gesturing and head shaking in agreement, and no one else in close proximity.
Of course, any anxiety we have about someone doing this is immediately assuaged when we see their arm bent at 90 degrees and their hand next to their ear - an instant giveaway to an obvious phone conversation.
The first time I witnessed the "Bluetooth phenomenon" was at an airport several years ago when earpiece phones were first becoming available.
I was waiting for a flight at my gate when a guy wandered up and sat down two seats away from me. I was reading a book at the time and could clearly hear him having a conversation with someone. But when I glanced over his way, he neither had a companion nor a cellphone in his hand. In fact, he was just staring straight ahead and talking.
I did a double-take, closely analyzed the scene and then casually pulled my backpack a little closer to my side.
My mind raced with scenarios: Is this guy having a conversation with an inner demon? Is he meditating out loud? Does he think he's in communication with an alien race?
Whatever the situation, the more I watched him out of the corner of my eye the more anxious I became that he was about to go postal inside the terminal.
I was just about to engage the woman sitting across from me with the statement, "Seriously, are they really going to let this guy onto our plane?" when I heard him wrap up his conversation in a very phone-like manner.
Once finished, he reached up to the side of his head that was blocked from my view and removed a small earpiece.
The guy noticed me looking at him and cheerfully stated, "These new hands-free devices are amazing."
I shook my head in agreement, acting as if I used one all the time.
Because of that experience, I now avoid rushing to the "crazy" judgement when I see people having seemingly one-sided conversations.
However, I was in the grocery store recently when I crossed paths with a woman who seemed to be having a perfectly normal conversation without anyone in sight. I noticed that she did not have a phone in her hand so I obviously assumed she was wearing a Bluetooth device. But as I got closer, I realized that was not the case.
I was just about to tag her with the "nut-case" classification when I noticed her body language gesturing toward something inside her shopping cart. When I passed by, I caught site of a tiny infant child lying in the bottom of her cart, swaddled up in a blanket and set at an incline by a sack of potatoes - no baby carrier, no car seat apparatus.
I try not to judge so I simply assumed she was making the best with what she had.
But it wasn't the lack of baby accouterments that had me concerned, but rather the strange conversation she was engaging in with the child. It wasn't the typical goo-goo-gaga, mommy-type stuff.
This child was clearly an infant and obviously far removed from understanding the specifics of language. And yet the mother (I'm assuming it was the mother, of course) was rambling on about how her friend Debbie had
questionable morals and that if she didn't change her sinful ways, she was going to be run out of town.
Now I can see working through some thoughts by using your child as a pretend sounding board, but all that should come to a stop when a stranger wanders by. Sadly, this was not the case. Even though I was only a few feet away analyzing my choices for breakfast cereal, she carried on in full volume, ripping poor Debbie to verbal shreds.
I hate to admit it, but I immediately rushed to judgement with this woman's child rearing techniques while also wondering what lie ahead in the life of that innocent soul in the bottom of that shopping cart.
Ironically, this week's film also features some questionable child rearing techniques. Except in this case the future of the human race is at stake.
"Ender's Game" is the story of a teenage boy who has been molded since childhood to be the commander of an elite military force that will one day wage battle against an alien race that is threatening Earth.
Starring Asa Butterfield (who came to worldwide prominence as the main character in Martin Scorsese's "Hugo") and Harrison Ford, "Ender's Game" is part sci-fi adventure, part meditation on the role society plays in the indoctrination of our youth.
While I would not label "Ender's Game" a top-shelf sci-fi selection, I would note its success at maintaining an accessibility to younger viewers without alienating more mature patrons.
Check this one out if you love sci-fi and can also bring a youngster to the theater. Seeing them engaged in the story should beef up the enjoyment factor for you.
A nurturing "B-" for "Ender's Game."
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

Tagged: movies