Then I went to the zoo, because they just opened a new Asian Cat exhibit, which I hadn't seen yet. It was kind of disappointing, though, because it wasn't that different from the old exhibit. They did have a new viewing area, but most of the changes seemed to be related to the decor; it seemed somewhat superficial, but maybe the actual cat habitats are improved, and that's the important thing. They do have a new cat on display there called Pallas' Cat (named for a naturalist whose last name was Pallas, not Pallas Athena). They're kind of interesting because they're gray cats about the size of a house cat, but they have flattened ears and round pupils, and extra long hair on their bellies to keep them warm in the snow. They were cute.
But the best part of the zoo was when I went to see the gibbons and I noticed that one of them was nursing a little baby. I don't know how old the baby was, but my guess would be only a couple of months. Then she groomed the baby a little bit, then she took him outside (I couldn't tell for sure, but I think the baby's male), and he held onto her leg while she was swinging around. It was amazing. To the best of my knowledge, I've never seen a zoo animal take care of a baby before; it seems like the babies always have to go to the nursery and have human care. It was so cool.
And then I picked up the copy of The Mist that was on hold for me at the library, so I FIIIIIINALLY got to see it. I have to say, this was not my favorite Frank Darabont movie. Don't get me wrong; it was good, and it was as well-made as his other films, but it was... I guess I would say it was a tonal departure. Shawshank and The Majestic are hopeful, life-affirming films; The Green Mile is arguably less so, but it still shows the promise--or at least the possibility--for redemption. Well, I suppose you could also argue that The Mist also includes the possibility for redemption, but its primary concern is exploring the darker and more primal recesses of the human soul, what fear and desperation will drive people to do, which turns out to be not very pretty. Stephen King is a big fan of Lord of the Flies, and boy does it ever show in this story.
I've heard a lot of people say that they don't like the end, and I can understand why. I think it's a perfectly valid ending; it makes sense within the context of the story, it fits in with the theme. It's not that there's anything wrong with it or that it's unearned; it's just depressing. In fact, it's kind of the opposite of the Shawshank ending (or at least the Shawshank climax) which is Andy raising his face and arms to the sky having come through and overcome tremendous adversity, whereas The Mist ends with David Drayton kneeling into the dirt having just succumbed to the darkness in his soul and destroyed people he loved for what turns out to be no good reason.
I understand the ending. I understand it intellectually, I understand it psychologically...but emotionally I just have to say WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????????? Why did you save the boy from the crazy lady if you were just going to end up shooting him? Why didn't you all just let them take you and be done with it? I mean, I understand that, having exhausted their last hope, they wanted to die on their own terms; I can even see how, in their situation, I might be driven to at least consider such a course of action. From one point of view, you could say that he kept his promise to his son and prevented the monsters from "getting" him. On the other hand, you could say that he ultimately became a monster himself and therefore broke his promise. I'm kind of leaning toward the latter interpretation myself, because it shows the kid waking up and then it cuts to the exterior of the car and shots going off, which implies that the kid was conscious at the time, which is a monstrous thing to do; they should have at least waited until he went back to sleep.
It wouldn't have been so upsetting to me if the mist hadn't started clearing immediately after he finished with their little suicide pact. I know the movie was getting kind of long at that point, but maybe there could have been a little montage of him struggling to indicate some passage of time. I think as is the ending makes the suicide pact ending all the more shocking, which I'm sure is what Darabont was going for, so I don't claim that my suggested ending would make for a better movie; I'm just saying that, emotionally, it would have been easier to take. By the same token, while I personally, as an emotional being would have liked to have seen all five of them see live to see the mist dissipate and be rescued, I'm not sure that that would have made for a better movie either; that might have come across as sort of a Hollywood ending. I would have liked it better, but I'm not sure it would have made for a better movie. Ironically, I almost wish that the movie had ending ambiguously with the five of them just driving off into the mist, except that I'm sure that if it HAD ended that way, I would have been upset, saying, "What?! Tell me what happens!!!!!!!!!"
Also, how did the woman who left the store at the beginning survive until the end? And why did it take them so long to realize that the giant bugs might have been attracted to the windows by the lights inside? Wouldn't that be the natural assumption? I mean, you can't safely assume anything about the bloodthirsty mutants from another dimension except that they find you delicious, so the natural assumption wouldn't necessarily be correct, but if you saw giant bugs flying about, wouldn't you expect them to behave like bugs as we know them? I was greatly mystified, though also gratified, by the fact that I figured that out long before it occurred to them.
Bottom line on The Mist: I didn't really enjoy it much more than Beowulf after all, so I don't feel so disappointed that I didn't see it in the theater anymore. But even though I didn't find it very enjoyable, I commend Mr. Darabont for daring to do something different and make this kind of tonal departure, to grow as a filmmaker and invite audiences to grow and develop and shift their paradigms as well, which can be a very risky endeavor. Of course, the next logical step from here is for Mr. Darabont to start adapting the Dark Tower series for the screen. Hey, they've got the poster all ready to go.
By the way, my friend Julie gave me the novel Adverbs by Daniel Handler as a birthday present, and I started reading it today during my downtime at work. It's the first book by Daniel Handler I've read that wasn't a Lemony Snicket book, and I love it. How do I love it? Madly, wholeheartedly, truly, unabashedly, utterly, helplessly, shamelessly, redundantly, deliberately, and redundantly. But not unrestrainedly, since peals of raucous laughter are frowned upon in the workplace, with good reason.