The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Sunday, August 03, 2003
FILM CORNER: The Road to Bali (Hal Walker, 1952): I thought I'd seen all the Crosby/Hope/Lamour
road movies, but there this was, staring at me from the hastily assembled "Bob Hope, R.I.P." shelf at the video store. So I rented it. Turns out the Road to... formula was starting to wear a little thin by the '50s. Or maybe it's just my general preference for the pictures of the '40s over the pictures of the decade that followed. But the laugh-to-bomb ratio is out of kilter on this one, and it's only in the last half-hour that it really picks up.

Then again, once it picks up it gets pretty good. Fans of gay subtexts will enjoy the sequence in which Hope and Crosby are tricked into marrying each other, an act that offends the local volcano god and prompts a lava-flinging eruption. The Pope should thus be pleased that the film reflects his views on same-sex unions -- though not, I presume, his views on volcano gods.

Punch and Judy (Jan Svankmajer, 1966): One of the most accessible experimental filmmakers, Svankmajer is obsessed with sex, digestion, death, regurgitation, childhood anxieties, decaying old buildings, fetishes, rocks, and nails. You can watch this play out over the course of the wonderful Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer, two DVDs that anyone even remotely interested in surreal cinema should watch.

I won't write a film-by-film review of the set, but I will single out Punch and Judy as one of the best entries in the package. The famous puppets battle each other in an environment akin to a Cornell box, their familiar fighting gradually evolving into something more like a ghost story. It's brilliant, funny, spooky, and weird.

CaddyShack (Harold Ramis, 1980): Not one of my favorite movies. Still, it was on TV last week, and I watched it just to see if it had improved since I was 13. It hadn't, though it's kind of engaging in a Holy shit, when did this flick become a period piece? way. The strangest thing about it: Is it just me, or does Rodney Dangerfield act and talk a lot like Mae West? Sure, their central schticks are different: Rodney Dangerfield does not pretend to be sexy, and Mae West knows how to command our respect. But so help me, they carry themselves the same way.

Or maybe I was just drunk.

posted by Jesse 2:48 PM
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