Rightwing Film Geek

Welcome to Costco, I love you


I watched IDIOCRACY again the other night, and it stayed where I had it the first time — uneven, repetitive, but often brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny. And one of the best “guy movies” of recent years — the perfect flick to watch with a fellow reactionary intellectual-wannabe over pizza and beer. (I an not unaware of the irony of consuming the film on those terms. Is there a text in this house, etc.?)

I repeated to this fellow-reactionary Sicinski’s comparison of the film to Allan Bloom and he agreed (Waz must love have so many starboarder fans). And then he made a slightly less highbrow comparison to National Review’s John Derbyshire, aka “The Derb,” a curmudgeonly natalist and pusher of “demographics as destiny.” (UPDATE: The Derb saw the film and didn’t think it did much with the premise, which he acknowledged thinking was great, but done better in a novel.)

One thing that struck me harder than it did before was the ending (SPOILER warning) … Private Joe and Rita marry and have “the three smartest children in the world” and he becomes president. The family is playing in the Oval Office. Then Judge pans the camera and the dumbass Frito has multiple wives and a gaggle of children.

In other words, nothing changes. The cinematic language on display is of the happy ending — swelling score, happy characters, plot threads all tied up to the main characters’ satisfaction, etc. But the actual content of the image is not. The scene specifically mirrors the intro segment about the two couples’ child-whelping practices, and it makes it clear as day that the dysgenic collapse of society will continue.

Nor is this an atypically grim ending for Judge, who may be one of the most astringent moralists making films. The ending of OFFICE SPACE follows the same template, a happy-looking ending that collapses the minute you think about it — Michael and Samir are back in the rat race. Peter is smiling, but only because he has radically lowered his expectations and is now in manual labor (always historically considered a stepdown from a white-collar job). The key speech is given to him late in the film by Joanna, about how people in general just try to carve out some space to be happy despite having jobs and lives that suck (sorry, can’t find the exact wording online).

womens-history.jpgBEAVIS & BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA ends with the boys sunk back into TV, having completed their quest for the only thing that matters to them as they walk off into the sunset. About half the episodes of the B&B series end with the boys happy or contended, but the viewer has one of several fundamentally different reactions, from pity to contempt, from bemusement to bewilderment. For example, when they’re caught out in the rain outside the movie theater after the two chicks (“I’m Lolita and this here’s Tanqueray”) con them of their money, they resolve to come back with twice as much money the next night — “then we’ll score” as the growling guitar riffs of the closing theme well up. The more Todd beats them up and treats them like shit, the more they admire how cool he is. They waste $499 to get a mower, so they can buy $1 of gasoline. They don’t realize how badly they lost their campaign for school treasurer (“is that like, the money dude?”). Whether it’s learning Women’s History, Positive Acting Teens or the Christian Businessman’s Group, it all flows over them. Beavis even learns he’s destined for hell, and all he and Butt-head are doing is laughing about St. “Peter.” Huh-huh … Peter.

Mike Judge’s theme: the world is incorrigible. Live with it.

June 7, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Speaking of sports and movies


From USA Today:

A roll of the drums, please. LeBron James is ready for his close-up.

From the AP Sports Digest (I don’t know whether this is online to the general public. It’s the nation’s leading wire service’s listing of “what we will have today,” varyingly also known as a “budget” or a “tout.” I have access to it in the ordinary course of working at a daily paper):

SAN ANTONIO – LeBron James is ready for his close-up. The superstar drawing comparisons with Michael Jordan leads his Cleveland Cavaliers into their first NBA finals against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, who are going for their third title in five years. By Tom Withers. Game starts 9 p.m. AP Photos.

My point isn’t plagiarism, but one of the annoyances of being a film geek and pop-culture omnivore that I see this stuff all the time and sputter … um, but, uh …

(Spoilers for SUNSET BOULEVARD. But if you haven’t seen it, shame on you. Get thee to a video store.)

My reaction when I read both these items was the same. This line is said by a woman who thinks she is about to shoot a closeup in her great comeback film with DeMille. But she is not because she has gone insane after committing a murder. The line both ends and sums up the greatest tragic delusionary in cinema, a once-grand heroine who is no more. But because life can be strangely merciful, the dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her.

But it is NOT a complimentary line. And it’s still less so to apply it to someone like LeBron James — young and with his best years ahead of him.

I had the same reaction when Bill, Hillary, Al and Tipper, mounted the Democratic Convention dais in 1992, while Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” a uncomfortably-autobiographical song about the singer’s past relationship hurts against the addressee. And when Rush Limbaugh plays the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone,” a wail of union-Democrat rust-belt distress (though Limbaugh is smart enough to use the opening licks, before the lyrics begin). And, professionally, when I edited a meant-to-be-complementary feature that referred to its subject as “a modern major-general.”

Is it ignorance or is there really no text in this house?

June 7, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Too bad there’s no Latin word for “Spurs”


… cuz then it would be a lock-down cinch.

The NBA Finals start tonight, and its due compensation to me for my not getting an Ann Coulter book release on my birthday THIS year. And the Spurs have got a whole team of nuns praying for them and cheering them.

“We pray for them to win, but we also pray for them to continue their sportsmanship,” said Sister Sandra Neaves, head of the [Salesian Sisters] in the Western U.S.
“We make a lot of noise in that room,” laughed Sister Angelina Gomez.
The Spurs have embraced the nuns, hoping to harness the power of prayer during their attempt at a fourth NBA title. …
On Thursday, four of the nuns will attend the opening game of the championship series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The tickets were a gift from the NBA.

The nun in the middle of the picture is a Hispanic lady, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she’s wearing a Manu Ginobili shirt. I think the Spurs are the only team in the NBA with two foreign players from the same country. With two players from the gold-medal country (none on the Cavs), how can you lose? And the Spurs will have the intercessionary prayer of the dead too.

Sister Filomena Conte, 86, was the most avid fan among them. She watched or listened to every game, praying for the team and corresponding with Coach Gregg Popovich.
Even as Conte suffered from a congestive heart condition and was ordered to bed during the regular season, she lay listening to the games on the radio. When she was ordered to a hospital, she had one question as she waited with another sister: “Am I going to have a room before the game starts?”
Conte died March 8, but the sisters have taken up her cause in cheering and praying for the Spurs.
If the Spurs win the championship, “I won’t be surprised if she had something to do with it,” Neaves said.

What do you mean “if”? I would be stunned if the Spurs lose more than one game. The Cavs Web site is playing regular-season highlights from November, as if that counts at all — remember when Dallas was gonna win 70 games and sweep through the playoffs? They were awesome.

The Spurs have got more than one reliable offensive option, a top-flight point guard to the Cavs none, and an unguardable center (unless Anderson Varejao’s hair gets in the way). Bruce Bowen’s obviously not gonna shut down LeBron totally, but the Spurs play good enough overall team defense that he’ll work for everything and the Cavs second and third options are not gonna be there (Larry Hughes and Daniel Gibson are streaky enough as it is, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas can’t create for himself). You obviously can’t bet against LeBron doing what he did in Game 5 against the Pistons, maybe the greatest single-player performance I’ve ever seen, made greater by the total lack of output from the rest of the team. But you can bet against it happening more than once.

Also, the particular matchup will do wonders for the ratings and the NBA’s profile, at least through the first three games — or longer, if the series is more competitive than it should be. I think another Spurs-Pistons matchup would have been a disaster, seen as the boring rerun of a bad show (great as games 5-7 were; 1-4 were snoozers). Rooting interest aside, I’d have loved to see Phoenix play Cleveland, and I’m enough of an Avery Johnson fan from way back to overlook that his winning a title would also mean Mark Cuban winning a title. But as it is …

I don’t know that I know any Cavaliers fans to win any bets off of, even among the Ohio residents I know (Stults? Father Fox? Rich?). But comments are welcomed from fans of loser teams like the Pistons, the Lakers (even erstwhile ones; no explaining some people), the Mavericks. Even from SoCal sports fans who dislike the Lakers (CQ on that one, Joe?) but who can at least celebrate a title in the other spring playoff sport. As long as these fans acknowledge that Tony Parker is only half-French.

June 7, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment