Column, Movie Diary

A heavy load to bear

By Dom Cioffi

My wife, son, and I boarded a plane and flew to a Caribbean Island several days ago. We didn’t know what to expect since it was a spring break week, but given that the airport was a zoo, we assumed it was going to be a hectic trip. Thankfully, most of the overly oppressive Covid restrictions had been lifted, so the process wasn’t as bad as in past months.

We came to the same resort last year at the peak of the pandemic and had a very strange experience. At that point, no one was traveling, but my wife and I agreed that with the right precautions in place, we were willing to take the risk.

It turned out to be an epic week – albeit different.

On one occasion we chartered a catamaran and sailed for an entire day. Normally there would have been 40 people onboard, but there were only seven of us. On another day we jet skied around the island. That was fun and exhilarating, but it was strange to pass all the popular beaches and only see tiny clumps of 10 or 15 tourists where there would have normally been hundreds if not thousands.

This year has been markedly different. There are definitely more people, but it still seems quiet in comparison to pre-Covid conditions. The nightclubs are thumping, but I estimated that they were half-full at best. We chartered the same catamaran, but there were still only 20 people onboard.

All in all, the island we visited is bouncing back, which is nice to see given that its economy is based primarily on tourism. The pandemic did damage the consumer infrastructure, but the people are positive, welcoming, and resilient so they should eventually find success.

Whenever we take one of these trips, I always make it a point to tell my son how lucky we are to be able to afford such vacations. I remind him that of the 7 billion people on earth, only a tiny fraction are able to jet around the world to visit new places and experience different cultures.

Ironically, when I was his exact age, my parents took me on a Spring Break vacation to Jamaica. We stayed at a fancy resort, ate amazing food, listened to inspiring music, and enjoyed the sunny beaches. In fact, the only real difference in the experience I had and the one my son is having is that my parents allowed me to bring my girlfriend.

And that point still baffles me.

I can’t imagine what my parents were thinking by letting me bring my girlfriend to a tropical island. Sure, she was a serious girlfriend and definitely had become part of our family, but we were 17 years old and when you put two 17-year-olds together in paradise, sparks fly in ways that could have lasting consequences.

My girlfriend and I spent the majority of our trip looking for ways to ditch my parents. We were always heading to the beach to “take a walk” or running back to the room to “grab some sunscreen.” I won’t go into details, but we were young, curious, and inspired by the tropical vibe, so the sky was the limit when we had five minutes to ourselves.

I thought we were particularly devious in our attempts to steal away, but years later, my mother informed me that she was well aware what we were up to.

I came home from that trip with a stack of albums that I purchased from a small record store in Kingston. I walked into the store curious about this guy named Bob Marley and walked out with three of his most popular albums. I then went home and fell in love with reggae music, turning my friends on to the genre and promoting it at every chance I could.

Every year since, I have religiously played Bob Marley in the springtime. His music gets me in the mindset of summer and sets an inspiring tone that few other genres have duplicated.

This week’s feature, “Metal Lords,” features a genre of music that could be positioned diametrically opposed to reggae, but for some, it’s no less inspiring.

“Metal Lords” is a quasi-coming-of-age film about two high school misfits who decide that the only way they will garner respect from their odious classmates is to win the annual “Battle of the Bands” contest at their school. They planned to do this by playing heavy metal music to a student body who is more aligned to Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons.

While the premise seems a bit campy, the result was surprisingly heartwarming and fun. The humor and interplay of characters (and the obvious respect for metal music) made this much more endearing than I expected.

Check this one out if you’re looking for a good film to share with your kids. And if you happen to like metal music, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised on multiple levels.

A heavy “B” for “Metal Lords,” available for streaming on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected]

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