Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A tale of two films, one marathon, a big fried breakfast and some other stuff

This weekend showcased the two sides of autumn. On Saturday it was miserable. The rain came down, the wind blew, my ears got cold and my gloves came out for the first time this season (just to clarify, I didn't use the gloves to warm up my ears). On Sunday it was gorgeous. The sun shone, a light breeze fluttered the turning leaves and the world looked like a beautiful, colourful place.

Fortunately, for the runners, the Columbus marathon fell on Sunday rather Saturday. So whilst some people got up bright and early on Sunday morning and started running at 8 am, I woke up around 10:30 and rolled downstairs for an artery clogging, fat ladened, fried breakfast. I must confess I felt slightly guilty sitting at the bar scoffing my food when not more than twenty metres from me people were rounding mile 24 of their marathons.

But enough of me being a lazy, fat bastard. On Saturday I came over all intellectual and reactionary and went to see a documentary, The Corporation. It was very interesting. Obviously it was something of a one-sided film, as most documentaries seem to be, but they did make some token efforts to mention the positive side of corporations. However, most of the time the film concentrated on the litany of offences that corporations have committed, and it is quite some litany. I'd try and list some here, but it'd be easier if you just went and watched the film. Suffice to say that a lot of corporations are doing a lot of naughty things.

There were a few things which I didn't like about/didn't quite agree with the film. One of these things was their history of Fanta (the Coca-Cola drink). They claimed that Fanta was created so that Coke could still turn a profit in Nazi Germany after Coca-Cola had been banned due to it's American/Jewish connections (I read somewhere that it was banned after somebody showed Hitler a Kosher bottle top). The story I'd heard previously, and still believe, was that once Coca-Cola was banned in Germany, the Coke bottlers (who are all independent companies, they buy the syrup from Coke and then make the drink and bottle it) tried to work what the could do to keep making money. The solution they came up with was to make a fruit based fizzy drink, which they called Fanta. After the war Coke went back to its old bottlers and bought the Fanta brand from them to grab a foothold in the German/European market. So not quite a nasty subterfuge to ensure that Nazi money flowed to Coca-Cola, as the documentary implied. Of course I may be wrong and they may be right.

Another problem I had with the film was Michael Moore. He was in the film far too much, for my liking (and I like Michael Moore). I think the reason he featured was to try and give the film the "star power" necessary to get a wide release, so maybe he was a necessary evil. My problem with Mr Moore is that I think that he has been so vilified, as an extremist and self-publicist, that he doesn't add credibility to the film, but instead takes it away. However, he certainly does help generate media interest. I was particularly annoyed that he got the last word in the film, but it's only a small gripe.

To try and recover from Saturday's intellectual endeavours on Sunday I went to see Team America: World Police. In places it was very funny, I'm sorry but puppet sex scenes are just hilarious. In other places it was teeth grindingly telegraphed, and not in a good way. All in all, there were enough funny or clever moments in the film to make it a mostly enjoyable couple of hours. (However, by far and away the best part of watching the film was that I was doing it maybe 100m away from the finish line of the Columbus marathon, while people were still finishing. This in itself was not particularly impressive, and was probably somewhat reprobate-able. What made it an excellent experience was that two of the customers in the movie theater — I only use that phrase to emphasis the American-ness of the upcoming contrast — were Big Fat Americans, you know the type I mean. I'm not joking when I say that these people were more out of breath getting up out of their seats and walking 50 yards out of the cinema, than some of the marathon runners were upon finishing their 26 miles, 385 yards. It was really quite amazing to see the two sides of American fitness in such proximity and sharp contrast... and yes I know which side I'm closer to, after all I was in the cinema with them.)


Anonymous said...

When I heard of "Team Americe: World Police", I assumed that it must take a "liberal" tongue in cheek look at the "Go USA, I've got a big gun, so I must be correct (and have a small penis)" approach to world affairs. I was rather shocked to read in Time magazine that it thought the film was pro-Bush in outlook, and might "energize the Repubicans the way Michael Moore energised the Democrats".

You can't really make a Terrahawks meets Power Rangers spoof that isn't ironic, can you?

Ryan said...

Pro-Bush in outlook? I'm not sure they saw the same film as I did. The two main targets of the film's satire were the arrogance of the American military aggressors (in this case Team America who blow up the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramids, causing all of the world to hate them) and the ridiculous self-importance of certain Hollywood liberals (after all how is being an actor any qualification for having a political opinion). The Hollywood liberals might get the worst of the satire, but being anti-Ben Affleck is not the same as being pro-Bush... at least I hope it isn't.