Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I've been a father for about three weeks and a boy for thirty one years.  Seems strange to try to put this in comprehensible terms, but there is something deeply sad about becoming a parent.  People will tell you the great joy of watching the birth of your child.  The cliche of saying it was the best day of your life seems to me to be either false or spouted by a sort of sociopathic male distance.  Watching your partner labor and your children fight for survival is neither beautiful or magical.  Its a hot, smelly, messy affair that is absolutely traumatic.

Don't get me wrong, it is something deeply moving and I now have two little ones that I adore, but the romantic notions of beauty are folly.  Its more akin to that scene in THINGS when Don's asshole brother's wife gets ripped open than it is to a beautiful image of rainbows and waterfalls.

But, on to Richard Linklater's beautiful film.  BOYHOOD is something deeply special.  I'm sure there are more than a few haters who will read this, but I am currently the least jaded I've ever been in my life.  I've spent the majority of the last few weeks dreamily staring down at these two marvelous creatures, contemplating my own existence, their future and thinking about THE HUMAN TORNADO.  But, I'll get to that.  First, BOYHOOD.  So, you probably know about it already, but it's a film that Linklater started shooting in 2001 and shot slowly over the course of the next twelve years, chronicling moments in a boys life.  Patiently put together, it slowly unfolds to show the creation of a boy and who he will choose to be.  Perhaps it doesn't all come together and has a number of flaws, but I'm in no place to pick it apart.  I connected to it as a father and a boy.

I work at a movie theater and people love to give their take on films.  We're currently playing Boyhood, and a three hour art / collage / biography film is bound to have its fair share of walkouts and unhappy people.  But, there was particular interaction about Boyhood that I found startlingly poignant and frustrating.  An older couple came out of the movie around twenty minutes before the end.  They came charging up to the counter and simply blurted out, "Does anything happen?"  I asked some follow up questions like, "Um, what?" and "Do you need anything?"  They proceeded to berate the film, and then the man said one of the more shocking things I've heard.  In asking about the titular boy (Mason), he asked, "Does he get anything figured out?  Does he have any epiphanies, or does he just continue to be a loser?"  Now, if you've seen the film you probably understand how offensive and off-point this is.  Not only is the film anti-epiphany, but the fact that they see this boy, who they just watched grow up, as a loser is also telling of the problems that Mason experiences during the film.  That capitalist, goal-oriented, money-driven view of life is what makes sensitive boys dissociate from society.  When being thoughtful and unambitious is seen as being a loser, you create the creeps that run Wall Street, politics and big business.

And so, the sadness of becoming a parent.  Watching Mason go through all those difficult moments and pain, trying to find his place, figure himself out and become who he wants to be is close to a tragedy.  When I think back to nights of nightmares, bullies, my first year of college, and feeling lost in high school, it's hard to picture those new little guys going through all of that.  Even moreso, I lament the fact that they will have to deal with the likes of the old man who considered Mason a loser.  Having little to no room in our culture to "find yourself" they will need to fight to become individuals, to not fall into traditional forms of success and to not base their lives on money.

That brings me to Rudy Ray Moore's effusive 1976 disasterpiece, The Human Tornado.  It is the second in the Dolemite series, and a real mystery.  A mystery because I want to know how he got it made.  It is a Blacksploitation stand-up comedy sexploitation kung-fu comedy that seems to "work."  And, its about running from the man.  Dolemite gets into hot water when some racist white cops break into his big time sweet party house and Dolemite is in bed with the Sheriff's wife.  Pretty fantastic fighting, over the top violence, bizarre sexual comedy and Dolemite jumping and then rolling down a hill naked ensue.  To be fair, I did watch this movie in a sleepy haze in twenty minute segments inbetween feeding infants, so I don't even exactly remember how it ends.  But, the point is this: If someone can make The Human Tornado and then it eventually finds its way into my movie collection and is available for these little munchkins someday, then everything is going to be just fine.

-J. Moret

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