The one-year promotion for Comcast’s digital phone service includes two premium cable channels thrown in, so we now get HBO, Showtime and Starz and you know what that means — we now get eleventy-jillion channels with nothing to watch, but with all their on-demand crap, there’s usually something worth spending 112 minutes with on a Saturday night when you’re already tired.
So it was that I found myself watching “Black Snake Moan” by myself. Alan didn’t even make it to the opening credits, which come at about the five-minute mark. At every five-minute point afterward I considered joining him, but there was something compelling about this Southern Gothic train wreck. Writer/director Craig Brewer is the luckiest man in Memphis. First “Hustle and Flow” and the Oscars, and now Samuel L. Jackson playing the lead in his tale of a broke-down southron bluesman who chains Christina Ricci to a radiator?
Why does he do this, you ask? Well, Christian Ricci has “the sickness,” which in medical terms is known as Dick Deprivation Syndrome. Not five minutes after French-kissing her soldier man goodbye as he heads off to Iraq, this after a full-tilt horizontal farewell worthy of such a transition, her eyes roll back in her head and she falls to the ground and runs her hands all over herself and the next shot is of her getting rogered from behind by a big black drug dealer. You find yourself thinking, why doesn’t someone give this girl a vibrator, which would save her a lot of trouble, but thinking is not what this movie encourages. It’s supposed to be a fable, but keeps popping into realism when it suits it, and about the only thing that keeps you watching is the fact Ricci plays two-thirds of the movie in a teensy T-shirt and a pair of white panties. (It was good to see white panties acknowledged as the true pinnacle of sexy underwear. Thongs and lace have nothing on tighty whities, IMO.)
Oh, and the chain, too, which is what Jackson wraps around her waist and secures with a padlock so he can cure her of her sickness, but not in the way you’d think, but with…something. There are some heart-to-heart talks and a lot of blues and a certain amount of Bible-reading, but mainly it’s the standard script about two wounded souls who cure one another by really listening, and also by dancing in a hot Saturday-night juke joint while Jackson plays the guitar.
The nymphomania device kept misleading me, as it seems to beset Ricci at random, like epilepsy. One minute she’s fine, and the next her eyes are fluttering and she’s grabbing 13-year-old boys and all you can think is, well, this is a guy who made a movie about a misunderstood pimp, after all, and maybe that’s the way women are in Tennessee. Who knows? I’ve known a few sluts in my life, and they all made a man buy them a drink or two first, but maybe things are different in the south. I would have liked it better if he’d had the courage to take it all the way, rather than throwing in an explanation for everyone’s affliction and a ridiculous redemption ending, but oh well.
Jackson runs a small vegetable farm, as does our NN.C community member Coozledad. I kept thinking what a better movie it would have been if he’d been the one who found a half-naked woman lying in the road, and the imaginative ways he might have tried to cure her of her sickness. If nothing else, the dialogue would have been better.
Quick bloggage today:
Laura Lippman’s serial started this week in the NYT magazine. It’s a Tess Monaghan story, and it’s off on the right foot. Chapter one, here.
Quick tech question for someone who knows: There was a guy at the Dirtbombs concert Friday night with something I’ve never seen before. It looked like a horizontal mount for seven count ’em seven identical digital cameras — Canon PowerShots, I b’lieve. He’d hold it up, they’d all twinkle their autofocus lights and fire as one. What the heck was it? And please don’t say “a horizontal mount for seven cameras.”
UPDATE: J.C. Burns and kind commenter DanG appear to have the answer: It’s how you get the ‘bullet-time’ effect…dollying dimensionally around a frozen or slo-mo image. The rig was similar to this, only wider and with an antenna-like thing above it that could have been a microphone. Think of an old-timey photographer’s flash bar; it was like that, only with cameras instead of flash powder. But I think they’re right — it’s for capturing that Matrix-y effect.
Off to bed, and I’m sleeping in tomorrow, so don’t call.