Friday, March 29, 2013

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)


PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (if written by a Boston Red Sox fan)

Once upon a time in a New England wood...

Baseball star Johnny Damon is propped up on top of a giant rock. His hands are tied behind his back and is close to unconsciousness. A splash of water onto his face causes him to awaken quickly.

ALDO: Wake up sleepy head! I need your full attention, Private Damon.

DAMON: (Becoming alert) What? What? Who are you? What’s going on? Why am I tied up?

ALDO: (holds up his hand as a sign for Damon to stop talking) Please, Private Damon. You inquiries will be shortly addressed. But first let me introduce myself. I am Aldo the Apache and I render justice to those that perpetrate offenses outside the jurisdiction of the American legal system.

DAMON: This is outrageous! You can't do this to me. Let me go at once-

Aldo throws another bucket of water into Damon’s face.

ALDO: Please Private Damon. I was still talking. I will kindly ask you to not interrupt me again. However, since you appear to be the impatient type, I will get right to business by giving you a quick recap of what led us to the predicament you find yourself in. If you recall, you were a member of the grandest organization in sports, The Boston Red Sox. During the 2004 postseason you became quite a hero. I certainly thought of you as a hero. Many others did too. You could have been set for life as a member of the Red Sox. But do you know what you did after that?

DAMON: I…I…I

Aldo throws yet another bucket of water into Damon’s face.

ALDO: I will now tell you what happened. The devil tempted you and you put your name on the dotted line to be one of his foot soldiers. Yes, you signed with the New York Yankees.

DAMON: Oh, my God! Are you going to kill me?

ALDO: Kill you? You really wound me, Private Damon. Though you may find my accent to be one you might associate with the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, let me assure you that I am a gentleman of New England through and through. I am not some common Brooklyn street thug. No, grievous as your offense is, it does not constitute a capital punishment. Though that which you have perpetrated does require justice of some kind.

DAMON: But this isn’t fair! I don’t even play for the Yankees any more!

ALDO: I’m sorry, Private Damon. When you are accepted as a Hatfield, you just don’t start hanging out with the McCoys. I’m paraphrasing the honorable Curt Schilling, of course. You took Yankee money when you could have gotten plenty elsewhere. Do you think you’d be in this situation if you had signed with the Milwaukee Brewers? Besides, you can take off that Yankee uniform you once wore, but the Apache in me can still can smell it on you. But not everyone has my nose for truth, but I’ll get to that momentarily. As I said, this is not a capital crime, but to forgo any punishment at all? This, I cannot abide. You need to learn that actions have consequences, though I think your punishment should be a little more than me just making you eat a straw hat.

Damon begins to say something, but Aldo again raises a hand for him to stop. Aldo turns into the direction behind him.

ADLO: (Shouting) Cpl. Yastrzemski! Private Damon here once said he wanted to be a Yankee for life. Oh-blige him!

There are several thumps from a dark tunnel behind Aldo before the figure of a strapping Polish man with smart, dark sideburns and a Red Sox baseball cap emerges outside. He comes into the light twirling his bat like a baton.

YASTRZEMSKI: Yahoo! I’m Teddy Williams and I’m about to go the other way and belt one over the historic Green Monster. And the crowd here at Fenway goes wild!

As Yastrzemski comes next them, Aldo smirks and Yastrzemski reluctantly puts the bat down. Aldo reaches into his pocket and tosses him an all-purpose Swiss Army knife. He nods in Damon’s direction and Yastrzemski quickly takes the knife to Damon’s forehead and goes to work.

An hour later.

ALDO: (looking at Damon) My God, Cpl. Yastrzemski! You do mighty impressive work. Looks just like the emblem on their cap! This is much better than the one you did on Reggie Jackson. Anyway, he’s still out, but you can go ahead and cut him loose now. It looks like the bleeding has stopped and we need to get a move on before he wakes up.

YASTRZEMSKI: Did he really think we were going to kill him?

ALDO: That’s the mentality, Cpl. Yastrzemski. That’s the mentality. As always, I thank you for your good work here today, but it is once again time for us to part our ways as some in our society still don't recognize our way of administiring justice.

Yastrzemski shakes Aldo’s hand and begins walking away from Aldo.

ALDO: (Shouting back) Oh, Cpl. Yastrzemski. Let's remember to keep our knives sharp, I hear A-Rawd might be retiring soon.


Monday, March 25, 2013

THE TREE OF LIFE (2011)



(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies 6: Rod vs. Chip! The Final Battle! Armageddon! Night of the Living Dead!)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime during the 21st Century

Mobile’s Crescent Theater had become about the only place Chip would go see a movie these days. Located in the middle of downtown Mobile, Alabama, the theater’s intimate and cozy atmosphere reminded him of some of those theaters he went to in Atlanta during the early 80’s. The Silver Screen…The Rhodes …those were the days. Days long ago, but days he always thought about whenever he went to the Crescent and watched whatever film was playing and always with a Anchor Steam bought from the lobby. At the front of the theater there were eight plush leisure chairs, but you had to get there early to claim one of them. Yeah, this was it, all right. Plopped down in a leisure chair with your Anchor Steam at the front of the Crescent watching whatever was on the screen. Setting mattered more than the specific movie that was playing for Chip these days.

Playing tonight was the Terrance Malick film, The Tree of Life. The film was unconventional in its narrative and Chip wasn’t sure if his wife, Dana would like it. The crowd was sparse, but enthusiastic. An interesting assortment of educated upper middle class middle age types and young college age intellectuals would certainly be filling the seats shortly. The setting was just like the old days in those theaters of old…Almost… Well, not really. But it was pleasant. After getting his Ales, Chip noticed the break that he and Dana were one of the first in the theater. He scooted her up to the front and sat down on the second leisure chair on the end. Chip pointed for Dana to claim the leisure chair next to him, but Dana hesitated.

“What’s wrong? You’ve got to get these seats while you can,” Chip said.

Dana looked a little squeamish for some reason. “Not yet. I’m going to see if I can get some popcorn,” she said.

Chip was a little annoyed at this, but signaled for her to go. Chip’s unspoken law of the Crescent was to grab the comfortable seat whenever it was open because you wouldn’t get a second chance.

After Dana went out front, Chip was surprised that no one asked him if the seat was taken. He was going to guard it for her, but the lack of interest as the back rows of the theater began to fill up was surprising to him. He took a sip from his drink as he tossed the coat he had been holding on his lap onto the empty seat.

“Hey, watch it!” A voice from the seat came at him.

Chip did a spit take as he spun his head to his left.

Chip couldn’t believe who was sitting in the chair next to him! It was his old friend, Rod!

All Chip could do was stare. It was Rod all right. The person that had sat to the left of him at hundreds of movies in the past was next to him again. But how could this be?

“Hey, don’t waste your Ale, old man. Does my presence here really startle you that much?” Rod asked.

Chip stammered before finally finding the resolve to speak coherently. “How are you here? Now? In this theater? In this town?”

“Calm down. Let’s just say that I got a special theater pass to come tonight. What was the last movie we went to together? Schindler’s List, wasn’t it? That was many moons ago. Of course, I’ve seen you at a few movies since, though I know you haven’t been able to see me.”

“This is unbelievable. Are you telling me that you’re-“

Rod interrupted him, “Let’s just say that the plane on which I reside is not something you can totally understand at this time.”

Chip took a deep breath. “Oh, man! It’s...just...crazy to see youin this form. bit I admit I'm really glad you're here! Can anyone else here see you?”

“Unlikely. Too bad they aren’t showing Harvey, eh? I could be your imaginary bunny friend. Let me get to the point since my pass is only good for a limited time. I know you are married. You have a couple of daughters now. You love them, but they give you hell sometimes. You have steady employment, which shows how people can change, eh? Oh, and you came here tonight because you wanted to see this with your wife because you thought she wouldn’t get it and you could pose as her intellectual superior to feel better about yourself.”

“Rod, I thought you majored in Anthropology, not Psychology.”

Rod lifted a finger. “I’m not finished. You came here to this same theater two nights ago and watched the same film with your…ahem, mistress so you could feel intellectually superior to her as well. You’ve become one insecure individual, my friend.”

Chip shook his head. “You’ve been keeping tabs on me. And you’re judging me. Geesh! This whole thing is mind blowing. I’m thinking back to that time you saw Frank’n’Furter in that theater. You remember? You clearly saw him in your mind, but I couldn’t>”

“Of course, I remember. Frank may have been here tonight, actually. I doubt you’d have been able to see him. Don’t ask me why. It’s difficult to explain. And don’t think I’m judging you by calling you insecure. You have to live your own life. Well, unfortunately my ticket is just about to expire. I’ve got to move on.”

“Wait! When will I see you again? I’ve got so many questions. Aren’t you going to stay and watch the movie?”

Rod laughed. “I’ve seen it. I like it. It gets some things right. It’s no Night of the Living Dead, but what is? Of course, you’re favorite was always that Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie Pillow Talk, wasn’t it?”

“You’ve been making that same Pillow Talk joke since 1977! I do kind of like Pillow Talk, truth be told. Ha. So, Rod, If you really have to leave, could you at least give me a closing line?”

Rod stood up and cleared his throat. “I have always been and shall ever be your friend….Live long and prosper, Chip.”

Wrath of Khan, Northlake Festival, Summer 1982...” Chip closed his eyes in remembrance before a voice from his right startled him.

“Hey, can you move over one?” Dana said.

Chip looked in her direction for a moment before staring back to the chair by to left of him, which was now empty. He moved over to the open seat that Rod had occupied a moment earlier and Dana sat down in the seat next to him.

“What’s this movie about again?” She said sitting down as the lights dimmed.

“What’s it about?” he asked. “It’s about…it’s about life!”





Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)


(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies, Part 5: Revelations)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime in 1993, 1994 or thereabouts

Rod and I met that night at the Phipps Plaza Mall to see a movie. It seemed like an impersonal if not corporate place to go see a film, but the theater was well kept, I must admit. Besides, I hadn’t been to see anything with Rod in quite awhile and was looking forward to his company. As we approached the ticket booth, he surprised me with his question.

Rod: “So, what do you think? Dumb and Dumber?”

Chip: C’mon. We haven’t seen a movie together in over a year. Don’t you think we need something with a little more substance?

Rod: (Eyeing the marquee) I know what you’re thinking, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood to see a holocaust movie. Actually, that’s most of the time.

Chip: Remember when we were in college and I wanted to see The Elephant Man, but you wanted to see Mother’s Day?

Rod: Vaguely…Yeah, I remember.

Chip: And we went to see Mother’s Day.

Rod: Hey!..I liked Mother’s Day. It had a certain appeal of its own. Not quite good and not quite campy, but somewhere in that happy space in-between. It was no Night of the Living Dead, but what is? But, uh. Yeah. I can’t really categorize it. It was a limbo movie.

Chip: A limbo movie? Yeah, I guess. Kind of like that movie Bug. You know, the one where the bugs begin to talk and spell words and take over the town and cause earthquakes.

Rod: No that one was closer to bad.

Chip: Anyway, my point is that we went to see what you wanted to see that night. Don’t you think you owe me?

Rod: No I don’t. But if you’re pea pickin’ heart is set on Schindler’s List, I guess I can tough it out.

Rod and Chip go buy a coke and Raisinets and some Chocolate Stars before heading into the theater. After finding a couple of seats near the middle of the theater, Chip notices Rod staring at an empty seat.

Chip: What are you staring at?

Rod: What? Oh, nothing...Hey, do you remember that guy Frank that we always ran into when we went to the Silver Screen or the Rhodes Theater?

Chip: Frank n’ Furter? How could I forget Frank n’ Furter? Or when we went to see Rocky Horror at a matinee and those people threatened Frank’s friends when they kept talking back to the screen?

Rod: (Imitating Chip) “It’s part of the show. Let them speak!” Yes, I’ll never forget you yelling that out. A rare public political statement from our man Chip.

Chip: That just kind of came out of me. And I’ll never forget my applause. And that actually shut them up if you recall and Frank acknowledged me with just a slight nod of his head.

Rod: Yes, you are now world renowned for the preservation of performance art in movie theaters everywhere.

Chip: (Sarcastically) You mock me sir! Like I always tell you. If you mock, I won't share. Anyway, what made you think about him?

Rod: Hang on. The movie is about to start.

Roughly three hours later

After watching Schindler’s List, Rod and Chip leave the theater and sit down on a bench outside the mall.

Chip: That was something else. (Rod doesn’t respond) What did you think, old man?

Rod: I think I need to do something.

Chip: Bathroom is right around the corner…. (Rod doesn’t respond) Fine, I’ll bite. What kind of something do you need to do, Mr. Rod?

Rod: How many movies have you and I gone to see together over the years?

Chip: I don’t keep a running total. I do know the first one we saw was L'Avventura. I confess I didn't like it at age 14. Of course, it's one of my all-time favorites now. As far as a total number, I'm sure it’s well into the hundreds by now, I’m sure.

Rod: Yeah, in the hundreds. That sounds about right.

Chip: So what is it you want to do?

Rod: I think I’m going on that dig out West.

Chip: You mean actual archaeology? Use your degree? I thought you said you weren’t interested in that.

Rod: Look, Chip. We aren’t nineteen anymore. I have this opportunity and I think I should do it. It’s a bit romantic to say that I want to find the origin of man or whatever may else may rise to the surface beneath a pickaxe. But it would be a first hand look into our past. How man became what he is today. For better or for worse.

Chip: Boy, all these life revelations just because we saw this movie. I’m wishing we had just gone to see Dumb and Dumber now.

Rod: You know who I saw in the theater? In that empty seat?

Chip: No. But I think you’re going to tell me.

Rod: Frank. Our old cross dressing friend Frank n Furter. He was there. I swear! He was watching us. Watching us from another plane.

Chip: Like a ghost? You’re saying we were being spied on by a transvestite Casper?

Rod: Now it’s your turn to mock me. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably do the same, but I know what I saw.

Chip doesn’t respond. They both rise.

Rod: I think I’m going to head for home. I need to start packing right away. That bus leaves tomorrow. And don’t look so glum. I may be back some day.

Chip: I know. If you don’t get on that bus, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but by next week I’m sure regret will have kicked in by then. Well, all I can say is good luck. I would hug you, but we aren’t really the hugging types.

Rod: You can go hug your kid.

Chip: Huh. He’s three years old and we’ve never even had a conversation about him before.

Rod: Yeah. Sometimes the two of us can be a little superficial aren’t we? Very well.. No hugs, but I could give you a hearty hand clasp.

Chip: That would be okay.

Rod: What’s that from again?

Chip: The Bank Dick. Or was it It’s a Gift? I know it was one of those W. C. Fields movies.

Rod: (Giving Chip a hearty hand clasp) You know Louie, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Rod waves before starting to walk away

Chip: (As Rod begins to walking away) Here’s looking at you, kid!

As Rod goes out of view, Chip sits back down and pulls out the box of candy from his pocket and notices there are a couple of Raisinets that stuck to the bottom of the box, which he consumes.

Chip: (to himself) He’ll be back.

Rod and Chip never went to a movie together again.

OR DO THEY? JOIN US NEXT FOR OUR FINAL INSTALLMENT TO FIND OUT!

Friday, March 15, 2013

PEEPING TOM (1960), GREAT BRITAIN, BLACK NARCISSUS (1946, GREAT BRITAIN)



(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies, Part 4: The Awakening)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime in the 80’s…

Rod and I came out of The Silver Screen Theater breathing a sigh of relief. After the fiasco a couple of weeks ago involving our unwitting viewing of the gay oriented films Satyricon and Sebastiane, our recent Silver Screen double feature viewing of Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus provided a welcome relief.

“Can you believe Peeping Tom was made over twenty years ago?” I asked Rod.

Rod rubbed his chin as he thought my question over. “It kind of puts Blood Beach and New Year’s Evil in their proper place on the movie quality food chain. Oh, and did you catch the nude scene? It was only for about a second. But I clearly saw breasts.”

“No way, that was a 1960 movie. You were just imagining things.” I said.

“I know what I saw,” Rod said, holding his position.

I told him that if he imagined he saw a brief nude scene, than a nude scene it was. I didn’t want to argue the point. When I asked him about the other film we saw, Black Narcissus, he looked much more puzzled.

“That was a tough nut to crack,” he said. “Beautiful looking film. I wasn’t sure of the point. I have to admit when that nun shed her habit and put on her lipstick it was pretty darn sexy.”

“We got to get you a girlfriend, pronto.” I snickered as I said it, but I actually found the scene a bit provocative as well.

“Back to your original question,” Rod said. “I wasn’t really sure of the point of Black Narcissus, but just by definition of it being shown at the Silver Screen, it had to have a point. Am I not right, Chip old man? That’s the comfort in seeing a movie here. You know they're not going to show something like Chu Chu and the Philly Flash or Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. What they show will have significance to someone, somewhere in someway. Comprende?”

I nodded as I thought he had actually made a good point. As we left the theater, I grabbed the Silver Screen calendar.

“Before you continue with your metaphysical philosophy on film choice, why don’t we take a peek at the coming attractions,” I said.

I looked at the calendar for a moment before all feeling left my hand and dropped the calendar to the sidewalk.

Rod picked it up and looked at it. “What’s the matter with you, are you-Oh, my God!”

Rod and I sat down at the same time on the bench outside the box office.

“It’s over. Can you believe it? This is the last movie,” Rod said.

Neither one of us said anything else for the next minute until a man in a three-piece suit came up to us.

“Hey, I know you guys,” the man said. “I saw you at the Rhodes for Motel Hell and for Il Sebastiane here couple of weeks ago.”

Being still in a state of shock, it took a moment for us to recognize him as the man who was dressed as Frank-n-Furter at the Rhodes Halloween week and the man who was with another man he referred to as his husband during the showing of the infamous Sebastiane the week after. It’s funny how the embarrassment of seeing that film suddenly seemed so unimportant.

“Oh, hello. You look different.” I said to him, though my mind was still on the closing of the theater.

“Well, I wouldn’t get much business as an accountant if I dressed like a queen from nine to five, would I? Anyway, my real name actually is Frank. You probably don’t believe it, but it's true.”

He stuck his hand out for us to shake. After we shook his hand, he joined us on our bench.

“A shame this place is being shut down, isn’t it?” he said.

“What happened Frank? Why are they taking away our theater?” Rod asked.

“Georgia-Pacific bought it, I believe. The venerable old movie house just doesn’t do enough business anymore. People want to see second run movies, they just rent a videocassette these days.”

I looked at him like he was crazy. “Videocassettes? Like I have Eight-Hundred dollars to buy one of those players or sixty more to buy a movie. And I want to see it on the big screen anyway. What the hells the matter with people?”

“I know. I know.” Frank said as he tried to comfort me by patting my hand. “You’re preaching to the choir, honey.”

As if suddenly waking out of a trance, Rod grabbed me by my shirtsleeve. “At least we still have the Rhodes. They aren’t planning to shut that down I imagine.”

Frank handed Rod a copy of the Arts and Entertainment section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had just pulled out of his breast pocket.

Rod looked down the pages and began to read: Atlanta’s Rhodes theater will be showing the 1938 Spencer Tracy-Clark Gable movie Test Pilot this weekend.

Rod looked up. “You see! They’re still in business.”

“Keep reading.” Frank said.

The Rhodes is showing this film because it was the first film it showed in 1938, so the management thought this would be a fitting final farewell before the Rhodes goes under the wrecking…

Rod pulled his head from the paper and looked skyward before looking back and finishing…before the Rhodes closes its doors for good and goes under the wrecking ball.

Rod handed the paper back to Frank who casually tossed it to the ground.

The three of us sat on the bench and starred across the parking lot at the venerable Oxford Bookstore, wondering if even that Atlanta institution might one day be vulnerable to the greed of land developers.

“So, what do we do now?” I asked.

Frank turned to us and put out his hand to emphasize his point. “And they’re moving Rocky Horror from Garden Hills to Northlake Plaza next week. Can you believe it? Me..in suburbia”

Rod showed a little interest “I’ve never seen it. You, Chip?”

I shook my head.

Frank let out a laugh that came close to registering as a squeal. “Oh, my. A couple of virgins, huh? Well come down to Northlake next Saturday, midnight.”

“We might as well,” Rod said. “Our social options seem to be suddenly limited.”

Frank stood up. “I got to run. I’ll look for you kids. Remember Rocky Horror. It’ll make you forget about this disappointment. Come dressed up if you dare. I’ll copy an extra script for you if you want to participate. Hey, you’d make a good Eddie,” Frank said looking my way as he left the two of us on our bench.

“What did he mean by that?” I asked Rod

“Oh, I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything anymore. My whole worldview has been decimated into fragments.”

I took one last look at the calendar. “Peeping Tom and Black Narcissus have one more showing tomorrow. You want to come back?”

“We’ve already seen these two, but I guess we could come tomorrow and watch them again. One more chance to…no, that would be prolonging the agony. I’m done. It’s time to move on.” Rod sighed.

“I guess you’re right. Guess I’ll save up for a video cassette player.”

“Guess the first movie you’ll get will be Pillow Talk. You’ll be able to watch it anytime you want.”

“Shut up about Pillow Talk already!”

Rod laughed and I couldn’t help but smile a little too, though I was not smiling at his endless need to make fun of the movie Pillow Talk. I was instead thinking of all the great movie moments that I had experienced at the greatest theater in the world over the last few years.

We both turned our gaze to the Silver Screen marquee one last time before driving away.

IN OUR NEXT EPISODE OF ROD AND CHIP GO TO THE MOVIES...WE SEE ROD AND CHIP GOING TO THE MOVIES DURING THE 90'S, BUT WILL IT BE FOR THE LAST TIME?


Sunday, March 10, 2013

SATYRICON (1969, ITALY)


(Rod and Chip Go To the Movies Part 3: The Emasculation)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime during the 80’s…

My friend Rod and I were looking forward to seeing tonight’s double feature at the Peachtree Street's Silver Screen. We had seen many double features at the Peachtree Battle Shopping Center theater, but Satyricon and Sebastiane came equipped with an Adults Only label. It hadn’t been hard to convince Rod to come with me to see this one.

After our arrival, we were a bit surprised to see a long line outside the theater, but we shrugged and patiently joined the cue. On the other hand, the guy ahead of us was getting a little impatient.

“They need to pipe some disco music out here, “we overheard him say to his friend.

The voice sounded familiar. He turned and looked at us.

“Hey!” he said. “Didn’t I see you two at Night of the Living Dead a couple of weeks ago?”

“Oh, yeah.” Rod said. “You were dressed as Frank-n-Furter. Yeah. How are you?”

“I’m a little cold,” Frank –n-Furter said. “Oh, this is my partner, Bruce.”

“Oh.” Rod said. Rod pointed at me. “This is…the guy I go to school with.”

“How do you do?” Bruce said to us.

Why did he feel the need to emphasize the first do? I thought.

Before I puzzled on this any further, the line began moving and we headed in.

“Hey, Rod.” I said quietly as we moved to the theater ticket booth. “There’s a lot of guys here. A lot of guys that look like they’re…together.”

“You fret too much. You have to expect a little of that. This is Atlanta. No worries,” Rod said as we went inside.

2 hours later, after our viewing of Fellini’s Satyricon

“Well, my first Fellini movie is in the books now,” I said. “I wonder if they’re all as odd as that one”

“Sheesh.” Rod added. “No wonder Rome fell! And I’m wondering why they didn’t just hand out hits of LSD at the door so we could get a better grasp on what the hell that movie was about?”

“Ascyltus, my sword is blunted!” I said

“No, Ascyltus, my sword is much more blunted than yours!” Rod said in return.

I laughed and shook my head. “I would think a movie with hermaphrodites, albinos. quadruple amputees and hunchbacked dwarfs would be right up your alley.”

“It’s all about hunchbacked dwarfs with you. It always comes back to HUNCHBACKED DWARFS!” Rod said.

“I can see where Frank ‘n Furter and his friend would like this movie. There was a little bit too much of mano e mano affection for my tastes,” I said.

“Yeah, kind of like that Rock Hudson movie you love so much, Pillow Talk.”

“Yes, yes. Hunchbacked dwarfs and Pillow Talk. You really got me figured out! Ha Ha!”

Rod waved both hands at me indicating he wanted a truce. He came closer so he could whisper.” Let’s move on, shall we? This second movie, Sebastiane, is why this is adults only. They put in Satyricon as a prestige film, which gives them the leeway to shove in the hot and heavy adult second feature. I can just picture Frank-n-Furter and his boyfriend running screaming from the theater as soon as they show a naked breast.”

I gave Rod a thumbs up. “I think its about to start. Let’s go find our seats.”

“After you, sweetheart.” Rod said fluttering his eyelashes.

“Oh, shut up,” I said as we went in.

1 hour later, midway through Sebastiane

Rod and I stumbled out to the lobby. He glanced in my direction, but just as quickly looked away.

“I’m not sure what to say,” he said.

“I-I-I,” I can barely speak,” I struggled to get even a few words out.

“Let’s just call this what it is. That’s a gay porn flick!”

“No! Let’s not jump to conclusions. The scene where...”

“What scene? What scene could you possibly be talking about contrary to what I just said? Are you going to try to spin this into something it isn’t? There’s St. Sebastiane taking an outdoor shower. There’s a guy leering at his naked body. Pan back to Sebastiane taking a shower. There’s the guy watching him again. Pan back to Sebastiane. A close-up of him washing himself, thoroughly…I mean all over. And then…I can hardly go on.” Rod rubbed his forehead in anguish.

“Oh, God. I know! What about the scene with those two guys? What were they doing?”

“I closed my eyes through a lot of that one. They were naked and grabbing each other. Why were they doing that…that way? Rod asked.

“And in slow motion. Why did it have to be in slow-motion? I thought it would never end. And with an aria from Carmen playing in the background,” I said.

“I think that was Verdi playing in the background and God I’m real uncomfortable discussing opera right now! I’m even embarrassed my name is Rod at the moment!”

We both noticed Frank-N-Furter coming to the concession area. We turned away from him and shielded our eyes. He didn’t notice us as he quickly bought his Good N’ Plenty and head back into the theater. After he scurried past us to his seat we looked at each other again.

“Well, what should we do?” I asked.

“We could leave now. But if there are women in the second half of the movie, we would have stayed through the gay half and left before the naked women came to the island or whatever. I’m not comfortable with that.” Rod said.

“It’s a risk. It can’t get any worse than it’s already been.”

“Let’s go,” Rod said.

We proceed back into the theater with a little hope.

1 hour later, after our viewing of Sebastiane

After the movie ended, the lights came on. Before anyone else got up to leave I looked at Rod. I yelled at him. “Let’s get out of here!”

Rod took my cue and hurdled past me and headed out the front door of the Silver Screen. I scampered behind him. As we sprinted to our getaway car, we both turned to the sign that said The Silver Screen and cursed it.

“We are to never talk about this again,” he said.

“It never happened. It never happened.” I replied.

IN OUR NEXT EPISODE OF ROD AND CHIP GO TO THE MOVIES, ROD AND CHIP RETURN TO THE SILVER SCREEN. LITTLE DO THEY KNOW, THEY WILL NEVER RETURN THERE AGAIN!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)



(Rod and Chip Go to the Movies 2: The Heckling)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of.

Sometime during the 80’s…

The feel of Halloween was everywhere as we entered the Rhodes Theater off of Atlanta’s historic Peachtree Street. Rod and I were especially looking forward to tonight's double feature. We plunked down our money for Ms. May, the ninety-nine year old ticket taker with the fire engine red hair, to scoop up. She gave us a smile that we returned as we headed over to purchase a snack.

"She's a legend," Rod whispered to me.

I nodded in agreement as we got a big tub of buttered popcorn to share. It was definitely a popcorn kind of movie night.

We came across a man dressed up as Tim Curry’s character Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

"Hey, you guys are going to love the second feature. It's got soooo many old people," he said. He flipped his hand out at us to give extra emphasis to the word soooo.

We gave him a hesitant thumbs up as we entered the theater.

Frank-n-Furter was talking about Motel Hell, a 1980 horror film starring Rory Calhoun, which was the second feature on the bill. We were going to sit through it all right, but it was Night of the living Dead, the first feature that we were really there to see, it being Rod's favorite movie and all.

Night of the living Dead! Night of the living Dead! Night of the living Dead!” Rod repeated the title three times and smiled in anticipation as he took his seat with the big box of popcorn.

"And on the big screen." I said for emphasis as if this special moment for Rod wasn’t significant enough already. “But, I wouldn’t say it was my favorite movie.”

Rod scoffed. “So what’s your favorite movie? Pillow Talk? Maybe you and Frank-n-Furter can watch next weeks Doris Day-Rock Hudson double feature together. I think there going to show The Glass Bottom Boat-”

“All right, shut up about it already. I should have never told you I liked Pillow Talk!” I said.

Rod put a finger to his lips for quiet as the lights began to dim.

It was then that we heard someone behind us noisily struggle to their seat. The guy behind us cackled and hooted after he finally sat down. You can always tell when someone sitting near you in a movie theater might be trouble. And this was trouble.

Rod looked worried.

The lights went down and the movie came on. Rod’s eyes sparkled as he watched the title flash before us on the screen.

Maybe there wouldn’t be any trouble after fall. I thought.

My relief was short lived as the dude behind us yelled ‘Woooooooooo!” As the credits rolled across the screen. Rod looked at me with a barely restrained expression of outrage.

The guy behind us (who we quickly labeled “the dude”) didn’t make noise constantly throughout the movie, or else I’m sure that he and Rod would have come to blows.

There were, however, some disturbing incidents, most noticeably in the scenes whenever an older zombie would descend upon the house and the dude kept repeating, “Get it Granny!”

3 hours later

By the time of the end credits to Motel Hell, Rod looked at me. “That movie was alright. Love that Elaine Joyce. Glad it ended happily. But my God, our friend here slept through all of Motel Hell. Why couldn’t he have slept through Living Dead instead?”

We noticed the dude stretching as he got out of his seat when the lights came on. He looked at us. “Movies are over already? Damn, I must have tied one on.”

I looked worriedly at Rod’s bloodshot eyes, fearing there might be trouble.

“Let’s go Rod. Let's just get a beer at Jaggers,” I said.

“No, Chip. I got to say something here.” Rod said.

“Hey dude,” he said to the dude. “You know what you need?”

The dude heard the question, but just stared back at Rod with a vacant expression.

“Better material.” Rod said.

The dude looked confused, but Rod continued. “We’re going to our neighborhood bar. You want to join us?”

I was surprised at this olive branch of peace, and even more surprised when the dude (whose actual name was Dan) accepted.

At Jaggers, we began drinking a pitcher of Stroh’s Lite, when Dan brought up the subject again. “What did you guys mean when you said I needed better material?”

I started to say something, but Rod broke in. “What I meant was, if you are going to interrupt the greatest movie of all-time you better come equipped with your A-game.”

“What do you mean?” Dan asked.

Rod cracked his knuckles. “Ok, son. Heckling 101. For example: Don’t you think it is weird that they kept killing zombies? You might have said off-handedly to no one in particular, ‘Isn’t killing a zombie redundant?”

“What do you mean?” Dan asked again.

“Zombies are already dead. Why do you need to kill them?” I said.

Dan thought for a moment and then laughed. “Hey, that is kind of funny.”

“And you know how some of the zombies walked like Elvis Costello? What do you think you should say there?” Rod asked.

Dan thought for a minute as he took a drink from his beer glass. “I know. You’d say that zombie looks like Elvis Costello.”

“That’s okay, but wouldn’t it be better to say, “Ladies and Gentleman, Elvis Costello! as he walks by,” Rod said.

“Say it like you’re an announcer at a rock concert. And some of those zombies were exhibiting a lot of Joe Cocker movements. Use that too” I said.

“That’s good, Chip.” Rod said. “But you don’t want to overdue the Cocker references. After one or two, it gets stale awfully quick.”

Dan was very interested now. “I like it. You got anymore?”

“I have one.” I said. “When the zombies were marching to the house and appeared to be in unison you might start singing The Jets song from West Side Story.”

Dan looked puzzled. “I don’t know that one.”

Rod pounded his fist onto the table. “Danny, boy. You’ve got to work on getting a handle on common frames of references. Casablanca, On the Waterfront, and the entire Billy Wilder catalog are good places to start. Movies with lots of memorable quotes.

Dan nodded in agreement and actually pulled out a pen and started writing the suggestions down on a napkin.

“Comment on any repetition.” I said.

“What do you mean?” Dan asked.

“You know how they endlessly argue about whether to stay in the cellar or not? Just blurt out something like, ‘The Night of the Living Dead drinking game, one shot every time they say the word cellar.’” Rod said.

“Guess you’d get pretty drunk if you took a drink every time they said cellar.” Dan proudly observed.

“He said cellar!” I shouted and downed my drink, as did Rod.

Dan hesitated, but then smiled and chugged his beer.

“You remember how the guy is boarding up the house and keeps asking the girl to help him and she doesn’t do anything for the longest time and then after about twenty minutes she finally brings him a couple pieces of wood? Maybe talk as if you are her and say, ‘Here’s a couple of pieces of wood, can I go now?’ And don’t forget to be whiny as if you are talking for her,” Rod said.

“In her voice? Yes, that would be better.” Dan said as he scratched his chin.

“And don’t forget what I call the absurdist comparative paradox, where you come up with something totally unrelated but relevant to what the characters are saying. Like when the character says ‘Murder victims are being partially devoured by their murderers,’ you say something like ‘like what Elizabeth Taylor does with husbands.’” I said.

“Chip never misses the chance for a Liz Taylor reference,” Rod said. “But like the Joe Cocker thing, don’t overdue it.”

I shrugged at Rod’s slight rebuke. “Let’s hear yours then, Rod old man. What’s that speech the radio announcer says?”

Rod put his hand up to his ear as if he is Gary Owens from Laugh-In.
"From Washington-‘It has been established that person's who have recently died,have been returning to life and committing acts of murder.The unburied dead are coming back to life and seeking human victims.’ And then to contrast in the same announcers voice say…something like… in the lighter side of the news,lets take a look at Freddie the news chimp on his magic tricycle.”

“I get it! Because if zombies were taking over, there wouldn’t be any lighter side of the news.” Dan said.

“Yes, Danny. Yes.” Rod said, proudly praising his star pupil.

“I remember that radio announcer going on and on. Would it work with that?” Dan asked.

“Yes, when he drones on and advices to kill the brain, kill the ghoul. Say that, hesitate and then excitedly say, And on tonight’s episode of Fibber McGee and Molly…yadda yadda.”

“I think Fibber McGee and Molly is a shaky reference. Our generation may not have ever heard of Fibber McGee and Molly.” I said.

“Chip, you disappoint me. I’ve heard of it. You’ve heard of it. We don’t have to actually have to know what an episode sounds like. We know it’s an old radio show reference. We understand the reference enough to use the joke!”

I didn’t want to register my disagreement with Rod, so I let the point pass. We were in teaching mode after all and I had to admit Rod was on a roll.

Rod turned away from me and looked Dan squarely in the eye. “Dan, the whole yelling out ‘get it granny’ thing. About the third time you yelled out ‘Get it granny’ when the old zombie tries to grab them. I almost climbed over my seat to punch you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Oh, no permanent harm done. But next time make it interesting. Say something like ‘Who said there aren’t any good roles for older actresses in Hollywood?'”

“Or at least Pittsburgh.” I interject. “Remember, it’s set outside of Pittsburgh and was shot there.”

“And Danny boy, what did you say when the naked zombie was headed to the house?”

Dan looked down in shame. “I think I just shouted out ‘Owwwwww.’”

“Can you think of anything better?”

Dan scrunched his brow in thought. “Maybe I could have said like I was talking in her voice and ask if this is the way to the zombie centerfold shoot.”

Dan had a proud look on his face as we clapped for him.

“The fact that the posse needlessly shoots a black man in the last scene is an attempt to make a commentary on the unjust way that blacks have been treated in American society,” Rod said.

“What’s the punch line?” Dan asks.

“There is no punch line.” I said. “That’s Rod’s overall take on this movie.”

Rod nods. “Yes, Danny. Jokes aside, this is still my favorite movie.”

Dan stands up and throws some money on the table. “Guys. I want to thank you for giving me some things to think about.”

We shake hands with Dan and he departs.

“I think he has potential.” Rod says.

I nod in agreement.

IN OUR NEXT EPISODE OF ROD AND CHIP GO TO THE MOVIES, ROD AND CHIP GO TO A HIGH-BROW X-RATED MOVIE, THOUGH IT TURNS OUT TO NOT BE THE KIND OF MOVIE THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

L'AVVENTURA (1960, ITALY)


Rod and Chip Go To the Movies Part 1: Beginnings

(The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The events depicted are real…sort of)

1977

Schoolmates, Rod (age 15) and Chip (age 14), have just gone to see a presentation of Michaelangelo Antonioni’s film L’Avventura at an Emory University Lecture Hall. They have stopped for a cheeseburger at a nearby Burger Chef.

Rod: Glad you were able to go with me this afternoon. It’s about time you and I finally went to see a movie together.

Chip: Oh, no problem. It was…interesting.

Rod: I sense that it wasn’t what you were expecting.

Chip: I just always thought there was a little more…sex in those 60’s European movies.

Rod: This wasn’t an Emmanuelle movie! This was an art film.

Chip: Emmanuelle? You’ve seen an actual X-rated movie?

Rod: No, I’ve read about plenty, though. And my brother has told me all about them.

Chip:Ah, the all knowing, all wise Nick.

Rod: Nick’s been around. He’s twenty-three you know.

Chip: Huh. I didn’t realize he was that old.

Rod: Anyway, the sexuality in L’Avventura was all there-you just had to read between the lines and use your mind.

Chip: Except in that art scene. All those Picasso-type nude paintings.

Rod: There you go, Chip! There were some nude scenes, after all.

Chip: I was looking more for actual giant breasts spilling out into a close-up!

Rod: You disappoint me, Chip. I have to remind myself sometimes that you’re only fourteen. Besides, this isn’t a Russ Meyer movie! At least I’ve heard Russ Meyer movies are the way you described. You know…maybe you just haven’t starved enough yet to appreciate a movie like this. (Rod uses this as a segue to eat of couple of Chip’s fries)

Chip: Order your own next time!

Rod: (Waiving off Chip’s complaint) So… What did you think of Monica Vitti?

Chip: Oh, the blonde? I liked her, I just wanted to see a little more of her. That reminds me, did I tell you about the time a couple of years ago when my dad took me to see The Reincarnation of Peter Proud?

Rod: No. Go on.

Chip: I didn’t realize before that you could show breasts in an R rated movie! Margot Kidder, that was who it was. They actually showed her boobs in the bathtub! And the blonde in that movie! When she took her top off...I felt my breath leave me for a moment. I remember looking for everyone else’s reaction in the theater. I wanted to shout aloud “Oh, me God, mateys! There be tits on the screen!”

Rod: (Laughing) Oh, a twelve-year old seeing his first set of ‘moving bosoms.’ What a sweet story.

Chip: Knock it off. If you continue to mock, I won’t share.

Rod: Okay. Okay. Speaking of stories. Did I ever tell you about the time my brother took a date to see the movie O Lucky Man!?

Chip: Ah, the great Nick again.

Rod: Anyway. After the movie ended, the two of them left the theater and she began pounding him with her umbrella, all the time cursing at him about how dare he take her to see such a weird movie.

Chip: I like that story. But do you have a point here?

Rod: The point is…people don’t want anything at the movies that are too different. They want Rocky. They want Star Wars. They want the music from Saturday Night Fever. My God, the next time I hear You Should Be Dancing, somebody is liable to get hurt!

Chip: Then what about movies like L’Avventura?

Rod: Probably a relic of the past, my friend. Think about some of the movies we’ve talked about over the past few years that were our favorites. The Godfather, The Last Detail, Papillion, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…

Chip: The Towering Inferno

Rod: Let’s leave that one out of the discussion for now so I can make my point.

Chip: If you do have a point to make, let’s try to get there soon.

Rod: I know a bit about movie history. Movies like the ones I just mentioned are the exception to the historical rule. We have been lucky enough to have grown up during a time when American movies actually began to be pretty good. But a quality movie can’t compete with something that appeals to the masses like a story about a fish that eats people.

Chip: I liked Jaws!

Rod: I liked Jaws, too. 1975 will always be the summer of Jaws, but I just have a bad feeling about the way movies are going.

Chip: Is that what Nick says?

Rod: You know I can have opinions independent from Nick. And what was the name of that big movie from this past summer?

Chip: You know it was Star Wars.

Rod: Right. It seems like every dumbass in our whole damn school can’t shut up about Star Wars. Good versus Evil boiled down to the basics for the simple-minded.

Chip: Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?

Rod: Let me give you a quote from your typical Star Wars fan, Brice. This is Brice’s critique of Star Wars. Ahem ‘It was good. I like Star Wars because you don’t have to think about it. It’s just good!”

Chip: Pretty good Brice impersonation. But do you really think Brice is typical? Besides, he is the one with the cute girlfriend.

Rod: (angrily) Let me tell you something, Chip! Girls are just as stupid as most boys despite the power over us they possess. They are shallow. Brice plays on the football team. He can punt, or whatever the hell it is you do in football. That’s why Mary Margaret likes him. I used to think she had more depth. Guess I was the one who was na├»ve on that one.

Chip: Calm, down man! Let’s get back to your point. What you are saying is that you don’t think any movie with something subtle and profound to say can possibly compete with an intergalactic battle between good and evil with cute, fuzzy aliens and robots.

Rod: And with blinding special effects that makes moviegoers salivate as if they were a kitten following the path of a shining flashlight.

Chip: Special effects. You know, my favorite special effect is still how in the world they got the horse to speak on Mr. Ed.

Rod: Yeah. I’m still convinced Mr. Ed really talked.

Chip: I like simple special effects sometimes. Like that split screen scene from Pillow Talk.

Rod: Pillow Talk? You mean that Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie? Oh, Chip!

Chip: Yeah, I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal to have a simple split screen.

Rod: I don’t care about the split screen. The bigger issue is that you’re watching Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies during your spare time.

Chip: Let’s just drop it. Besides, Mr.Night of the Living Dead. At least my favorite movies aren’t about zombies.

Rod: Night of the Living Dead is not to be taken literally. It isn't really about zombies. It's a metaphor. It's about...it's about...life! You know, we’ve had this discussion before. And don’t start comparing something as simpleminded as Star Wars or as 'frou frou' as Pilow Talk to Night of the Living Dead!

Chip: Whatever you say, Rod. I think my ride's here.

Rod: All right, Chip. Oh, I see that next week Emory is going to be showing The 400 Blows. Interested?

Chip: But isn’t Close Encounters opening next weekend?

Rod: Yeah, that’s right. I admit I did want to see that one. I'll go. But if the aliens are too cuddly, I promise you I’m taking a walk! I'm going to march right out of that damn theater!

(Chip waves as he departs before Rod helps himself to Chip’s leftover French Fries.)

IN OUR NEXT EPISODE, CHIP AND ROD ATTEND A SCREENING OF NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!