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Posts Tagged ‘The Late Pass’

Distance absolutely makes the heart grow fonder. Having left the once-highly-active Theater of Mine a dust-filled cesspool of lost dreams forfar too long, I’m back in effect, hungrier than ever. The balance of dollar-free passion here and pays-the-bill, necessary passion there is a tight rope stroll, but it’s time I regain some traction. More than before. Work a good amount of literature coverage into the pot; show the world what I’m gassed about in the 2-0-1-0. It’s like that.

And what better to stick a needle in inspiration proverbial ass than a trashy zombie film from the early 1970s. Last night, I finally caught up with the late Bob Clark‘s schlock pseudo-classic Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972), an early no-budget gem from the man who’d go on to direct the great Black Christmas (1974), Porky’s (1982), Porky’s II: The Next Day (1983) and the interminable A Christmas Story (1983)—–yes, the one with Ralphie and those damn Bumpus hounds.

Written and directed by Clark, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things is my favorite of his films (that distinction goes to Black Christmas), but it certainly falls above the Red Rider BB gun flick. The characters are awful, a large amount of the dialogue grates like fromage, and the gore effects are a mere step away from using cherry Kool-Aid in the place of authentic life liquid. The first two acts slither along like a finger digging through marshmallow, and the scares are telegraphed. Somehow, though, through all of this ineptitude, Clark emerges as a magical auteur, yanking heaps of entertainment from the lame-brained festivities. That I was never bored throughout the film’s lean 85-minute duration speaks volumes.

The late Bob Clark

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Sometimes I want to smack myself. Clench my fingers into a tight knot and shoot the fist upward into my jaw. All while saying, “What took you so long?”

One of those times was two nights ago, when, after work, I strolled my way over to a local AMC theater to catch the Coen Brothers‘ latest, A Serious Man. For those who don’t frequent acclaimed film blogs and critics circles (meaning the vast majority), A Serious Man has been nonexistent, riddled to a small pocket of major city screens. If you do visit the cinema-forward websites that I’m all over on a daily basis, though, you’ll currently see this one placing rather high on most heads’ Best of 2009 lists. It’s Joel and Ethan Coen, so naturally it’s praised in the highest of ways, and typically their two-sided name would have been enough to have me immediately  slurping down flat Diet Coke and overpriced popcorn. Something about A Serious Man hadn’t clicked with me, though. The excitement wasn’t there. Anticipation was vacant. The problem is, I’m still not sure why. Literally a week before the film’s trailer premiered online, I’d once again devoured Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing; resisting the latest picture from the fellas responsible for those two gems should never happen, right? 

The fact that I’ve finally seen A Serious Man and I’m quite the fan proves that my indifference was indeed foolish. We all go a little mad sometimes. Yours truly included. While most critics are claiming this to be the best film of the Coens’ career, I’m nowhere near as exclamatory; however, that doesn’t mean it’ll simply come and go in my head. In fact, the film’s lasting power in my thoughts is exactly why I dig it so much. Sitting there in the scarcely-populated AMC theater, I absorbed the film with quiet attentiveness, but never outright verve. A few chuckles here and there, but mostly casual entertainment. But then the morbidly poetic final shot came, and I was pretty floored. Initially, in a “What the hell was that? Are you kidding?” way, but then, no more than 20 minutes later, the last image stained itself in my brain. I couldn’t shake it. And that’s when I totally got it. I was right there with the Coens. It’s a alternately profound, ironic and fearless place to be.

Not the film's final shot, but those who've seen A SERIOUS MAN should understand.

The film’s closer tops their fury-causing, heavily debated No Country for Old Men ending, in my eyes. It’s just as maddening at first, but then equally as esoteric and poignant upon closer inspection. Much like as A Serious Man as a whole. 

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