The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD, I GUESS...: Rachel at Tinkerty Tonk has a list of movies up that she didn't particularly like, including such flicks as Citizen Kane, Forrest Gump, and some others. Now, I liked all of the movies on her list, thereby proving it takes all types to make a world, as they say, but if there is one film that should have made her list and didn't it's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, a 1989 release directed by Peter Greenaway. My brother saw it and said it was absolutely great, that I had to see it, and that I wouldn't regret seeing it. So I said, okay, I would...and I did. I saw it all the way to the end, invoking and then ignoring the five minute warning along the way.

I have what is called the five minute warning, which is different from the five minute rule. The latter states that no film that displays a full frontal shot of a young woman's breasts in the five minutes after the end of the opening credits is any good whatsoever, the first Lethal Weapon being an exception to this general rule; the five minute warning, on the other hand, is simply my saying that this film gets better in the next five minutes or I am leaving. The above mentioned Greenaway film was the exception to this rule. This was a film so utterly godawful that I had no choice but to stay in my seat and see how much worse it could get, and in this it did not disappoint. The film sank from nadir to nadir, going through Ralph's family tree with complete abandon and with no thought to the consequences, until finally it ended in a sinkhole of cannibalism and murder, or was it murder and then cannibalism; it was hard to tell by the end.

And this from a film that received two thumbs up from Siskel & Ebert. That my brother could not tell cinematic dross from gold is easy to explain; he thinks that Surf Nazis Must Die was one of the great motion pictures of all time, but for Siskel & Ebert to stick their thumbs into this putrid squid dung pie and think they'd pulled out a cinematic plum beggars belief, as if belief didn't owe enough money as it is. I think it's all the movies the critics see; most films are more alike than they are different, the conventions of the form being what they are, and after you've seen a couple of hundred in a given year you can more or less tell what's coming up without bothering to look at the screen, which when you think of it is probably a good thing if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the movie. But it also means that after a while you want to see something new on the screen, and whatever else you can say about The Cook, etc. it is different from the usual thing people saw on their movie screens back in 1989, which may be why we all stayed at home and watched Communism fall on television instead; that was a lot different than the usual fare and you didn't have to worry about losing your lunch while watching the Wall collapse.


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