Before celebrating romantic love tomorrow on Valentine’s Day, let’s pause to salute motherly love — and the return tonight of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a show most people probably think of as driven by action sequences and sci-fi concepts but which owes most of its emotional power to the viscerally-convincing conceit that a woman will do anything necessary, even sacrifice other people, to keep her son alive, since he is, after all, the human race’s only hope. Despite the obvious appeal of the robot-filled show to nerd males like me, there must be more than a few moms out there watching it and thinking “This feels right somehow.”
(What feels less right about the show is the strange contrast between the actress in the title role, who is British but sounds so flawlessly American that it’s almost alarming — they can imitate our voices! — and the actress playing the series’ most-advanced Terminator, namely Shirley Manson from the band Garbage, whose pale Scottishness and robotic demeanor somehow combine to make me feel as if I’m suddenly watching Doctor Who, interfering with my suspension of disbelief. But then, I won’t have to suspend my disbelief long, since I have no intention at this time of getting a digital converter box, do not have cable, and fully expect that if I watch tonight’s episode — along with the premiere of the new show Dollhouse from Summer Glau’s old boss, Joss Whedon — it will be the last TV broadcast I see for a long, long time, which is just as well.)
For a beautifully violent display of daughterly love for a mother, though, I recommend the Thai martial arts movie Chocolate, which opened last week, from the makers of the Jackie-Chan-level martial arts film Ong-Bak. Chocolate starts out slow, almost silly, and builds to such an acrobatic climactic melee that you’ll wonder how they could possibly have done it without injuring lots of people — and then you’ll see easily the most disturbing blooper reel full of injuries ever during the credits. How could they do it without injuries? They couldn’t.
The cutesy but effective premise is that a delicate-looking, autistic teenage girl whose nearly-only talent is imitating kung fu fighters on TV goes around innocently demanding the money that is owed to her ailing mother by a bunch of gangsters — then beating the crap out of them and their minions when they won’t pay up. By the end, it’s like ballet, I tell you.
But for more on love and sci-fi — and more on the perpetual struggle to balance the claims of past and future — join me for my Book Selection(s) of the Month entry tomorrow, featuring Ray Bradbury and much more.