Sunday, March 09, 2008


Bloody snow.

There’s no way my world’s most feeble truck is going anywhere today in this mess. I tried to take a walk to Streetsville’s little library but the driving snow nearly pulverized my head like a swarm of icy piranha so I about-faced, staggered back inside and holed up for the day.

I raided Steve-o’s movie collection – or rather – his recent acquisitions section. Between his movies and my books we probably have more material in the Grotto than the Streetsville Library has. I’ve picked five titles for my snowbound movie marathon and arranged them in ascending order; from least promising to most. The first is playing now:

(2007) John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson

I hardly ever ever watch scary movies. Hopefully I won’t have to install a nightlight before going to bed tonight. Cusack has a drink of $800-a-bottle cognac every few minutes. I’m playing along, toasting him drink for drink. I have no cognac but I’m making due with cheap scotch.

What’s with all these bits ripped from classic horror movies? Are they passing these off as homages? Lame!

Wow. That was pretty bad. I can’t think of a single kind thing to say about it. Maybe I just don’t understand horror movies.


Nacho Libre
(2006) Jack Black, Héctor Jiménez

In keeping with the audience participation theme I’ve got a tray of nachos in the oven. Actually I’m out of proper nacho chips so I’ve got jalapeno-flavored Doritos baking under shredded mozzarella and store-bought salsa. It’ll be good. Don't worry.

I like the parental content warning. Unlike those which inadvertently flatter with the label ‘mature content,’ this one reads, ‘crude humor.’

I decided early I was no Jack Black fan. Seemed all he had to offer was a lame shtick built of idiotic over-enthusiasm. Sort of Jim Carey Lite. And that may still be so but I have to confess, he makes me laugh in spite of myself and surely that’s the main, almost sole, criteria for any comedian.

Here he plays Nacho, a friar who runs the kitchen at a Mexican Christian orphanage while dreaming of being a pro wrestler. His culinary skills are clearly lacking as seen in the refried bean with corn chip garnish he serves in the opening scene and by the sentiments expressed by a superior brother:

“Your only duty here is to cook. Do you not realize that I have had diarrhea since Easters?” Somehow it cracks me up that he pluralizes ‘Easter’.

When Nacho spends his very first earnings from covert semi-pro wrestling endeavors on improved grocery supplies we get a montage of new and improved meals being laid out before the kiddies; wildly colorful salads with zany happy faces built in. This also cracks me up for some reason and I’ve scrounged the internet looking for images but the net yields naught. Google-imaging ‘Nacho Libre happy face salad’ turns up this:

A Goya. I think Google must be spun.

So, anyone know where I can get a pair of light blue stretchy pants with red knee patches?

Up next:

The Last King of Scotland
(2007) James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker

I’m out of audience participation ideas. Hmm. Scotland. I could have more scotch I suppose.

Wow. What a performance by Forest Whitaker bringing the very unstable Ugandan President Idi Amin creepily to life. I never noticed how far he’d come since Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Whitaker, that is. Not Amin.

Powerful. Suspenseful. I could have done without the scene with the meat hooks. Uggh.

Into The Wild
(2007) Emile Hirsch

The truthful story of Christopher McCandless, the boy who had it all, but who rejected society, his parents, his $24,000 university fund; who redefined himself super tramp, and embarked, by foot on a journey of discovery. He learned much, not enough ultimately, in the way of wilderness survival skill and put it to test, alone in remote Alaska.

What an excellent surprise. Very useful stuff for those with a knack for life behind the matrix – but tragic evidence that a little wisdom, without the right guidance, can be a dangerous thing.

It’s late but I’m squeezing in the final installment:

Pursuit of Happyness
(2006) Will Smith, Jaden Smith

How interesting that happiness is incorrectly spelled in the title. As if to suggest that the happiness in question is illegitimate. And such a theme was readily available in the details but the movie never seemed to acknowledge it – leaving me to wonder if some original source for this story was misinterpreted by the film creators or else they simply dumbed it down for the average new-world Joe.

A formulaic Hollywood flick, yes. But a compelling one with sound emotional structure and laudable character depth – at least in the hero – the wife character being painfully dimensionless, present strictly to service the plot.

Well done. I recommend it. I found the ending very sad and laced with a dark irony though normal people will almost surely interpret otherwise.


Kathleen said...

I had no interest in 1408 (and I adore John Cusack) or Nacho Libre (I'm not all that into "crude humor"), but saw The Last King of Scotland last year. You characterised it very well. Oy vey! I want to see Into the Wild, but want to read the book first (sitting in one of the many piles of books in my house).

I know nothing of "Happyness" and am still not sure after reading your review if I want to.

Babs Gladhand said...

Well, I haven't seen any of the above. I love crude humor, however - so I may have to check out Nacho Libre.