30 June 2004

Recent Movie Watchin'...

I've had occasion to see a few great movies lately (old ones), and they've all come courtesy of the great IFC Channel.

The first was Michael Moore's The Big One, the documentary chronicling his whirlwind book tour in support of "Downsize This!"



This film- probably Moore's funniest- adheres more to the tone and execution of his TV show, "The Awful Truth." It really amounts to his experiences travelling across country and conversing with people about their job situations- unions, layoffs, hour hikes, wage cuts. In a few scenes, Moore stormed corporate headquarters of companies guilty of laying off employees while turning record profit. Upon said stormings, Moore would present them with giant gift checks for eighty cents to pay for "the first hour of Mexican sweatshop labor," or a certificate rewarding "prolific laying off." Funny stuff. One CEO, in fact, Philip Knight, spoke with Moore.


A very funny moment- Moore invites Knight to visit Indonesia with him to see the young sweatshop workers he employs there. Knight demurs, and Moore continues to corner him with questions. Nothing revolutionary- which is true for the entire film- but an interesting chronicle of Moore on the road. Nothing more.

A lot critics proclaimed, on it's release, that the film had no focus, no detailed target- something Moore was so effective with in "Roger and Me." The problem with such a criticism I think would be the assumption that Moore was attempting to do ANYTHING with the movie- by that I mean, assuming that he should. The Big One is a chronicling of Michael Moore's new celebrity, and everything that happens on the trip grows organically as it progresses.

The next film I saw, not two nights ago, was John Landis' documentary, Slasher. Not a horror behind-the-scenes, but instead a portrait of a used car salesman, Michael Bennett. Bennett is the "slasher" in question, travelling with two partners to used car lots putting on "slasher sales"- big promo weekends where Bennett, a sort of Las Vegas showroom version of a used car salesman, runs around with a microphone slashing prices and never once stopping the verbiage.



Bennett borders on frightening, though he's harmless enough. His face is weathered; almost in the way that guy that hangs out at the beach with an electronic treasure finder's face is weathered. He struggles over missing out seeing his family, never stops talking, moving, pacing, smoking, eyes darting. A very compelling figure. I guess the movie is, as such, a portrait, and so any more elaboration would be repeating myself, but it was a great, great movie. Amazing music, too.

Finally, last night until nearly 5 AM, I watched a movie I've seen a million times and LOVED... Trainspotting. Every time I see it I see more- I know it has everything to do with trying to get through the nearly impenetrable Scottish accents in the film. It seems like this movie has been overlooked in recent years- which is too bad. It's totally great- beautiful scenes, great characters. Beautiful, beautiful movie.

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