Hornswaggler | The culture, the humor, a bit of the sports, not so much the politics, and the workplace distraction

Hornswaggle is an alternate spelling of hornswoggle, an archaic word that means to bamboozle or hoodwink. I take my pronunciation from the late Harvey Korman in "Blazing Saddles" --

"I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, conmen, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswagglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers, shit kickers and Methodists!"

Culture, Humor, Sports
Workplace Distraction

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Film Notes:

Finished "My Dinner with Andree" tonight and there will be no review. Just see it. A few thoughts though. One, it occurs to me that "Waking Life," by Richard Linklater ("Dazed and Confused") owes a lot to this movie. Both are philosophical explorations of ideas within a dramatic context. Two, I was reminded of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Wit," by Margaret Edson, which I actually didn't like all that much. It was too stilted for me and way too precious at the beginning with the Donne scholar (and I know that the rigidity and pompousness of the protagonist was, to an extent, a device meant to highlight her change in perspective over the course of the play). At any rate, the idea of the impersonal doctor is represented in both. Three, habit and routine are topics in "Dinner," and the concept of Habit (with a capital "H") is a theme that Proust delves into heavily over the course of "In Search of Lost Time."

I saw "Spiderman" on the flight back to San Francisco last week and it is a piece of shit. Not as large a piece nor as fetid as "Star Wars: The Attack of the Shitcans," but almost as cliche-ridden. First there's the nerd not able to get a seat on the bus cliche. Then there's the bullying cliche: "Yo what's up, wimpus! Ha ha ha!" -- it's been parodied to death by Nelson of "The Simpsons." Then there's the "If we don't get the troop-deployment whirligig up and running by Tuesday, the government's going to pull our funding" cliche. And that's the first 15 minutes.

Now, granted, I saw it on a small screen so I couldn't be blown away by the video game graphics of Spiderman whipping around the city. But I'm able to estimate, on the basis of a sort of equation, how much seeing said effects on the big screen would have mitigated my negative reaction to the rest of the film and the answer is -- not at all.

One of the only cool moments of the film occurs when Toby Maguire is trying to figure out how to trigger the spider web throwers imbedded in his wrists. "Go web!", he exclaims as part of his humorous attempt to figure out the magic "go" code. The movie could have used more of this kind of inventiveness, more inversion of the established format. Instead, what humor we get is limited to moments such as when he looks down his pants during his initial "What the fuck is going on" scene and discovers that his dick has grown bigger along with his pectoral muscles. We can imagine him reasoning to himself, as he looks through his bedroom window into Mary Jane's bedroom window (yes, she's been his next-door neighbor since the age of six but they've never met), "Hey! Maybe I can show my new big penis to my cute next-door neighbor!"

It's a mess. I guess it makes sense that Sam Raimi, who has done good things in the past (the incredibly inventive, scary and funny but eventually cloying "Evil Dead" series [each film seems 30 minutes too long] and the very good "A Simple Plan"), dumbs it down here. It's great for his career. He's sitting on top of a multi-billion dollar franchise and he'd be a fool to mess it up.

Must stop. Notes on "Mulholland Drive" and a revisit of "The Royal Tenenbaums" to come.

.: posted by hornswaggler 12:57 AM

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