Week in Review
In honor of George Clooney's performance in Syriana, I gained 30 pounds to write this blog. There was a big deal made about Fat Clooney, that he gained the weight for the film. In fact, on my Netflix envelope, it's the first part of the description of the film. The idea was that Clooney would more match the physique of former CIA agent Bob Baer, upon whose work the screenplay was based. But there's no reason in the story that demands that Baer be 30 pounds overweight. My conjecture: Clooney doesn't give a damn anymore and showed up fat.
"Georgie baby," his agent said in my imagination. "You're looking bloated. All that Olive Garden and Mike's Hard Lemonades are really putting on the weight."
"Screw 'em," Clooney replied, also in my imagination, while dipping a Hot Pocket in Ranch Dressing. "I'm George Freakin' Clooney. I'm the new Brando. Time for me to do an Apocalypse Now and show up twice the man I used to be."
"Georgie baby, what'll we tell them about your weight gain?"
"Tell 'em I gained it for the role. I'm like DeNiro in Raging Bull. Put it in the press release for all I care. Now pass me that plate of cheese fries."
For an actor, gaining weight for a role is the same as a standup comic sitting on a stool and calling his bits a one-man show. It's trite, and a little insulting to the audience. Clooney is following the lead of his fellow cast members from Facts of Life. Yes, Clooney was on that show, near the end when the girls were no longer at boarding school but all worked at Edna Garrett's bakery, and lived in the rooms upstairs. Mindy Cohn initially was hired to play the fat one, but they all were the same size by the time the series was over. All those baked goods were to blame, I assume.
Syriana is full of emotional muggings and clichés. Not only are the evil oil companies looking to destroy the environment and the world economy, but they're also the reason children drown in swimming pools. The CEOs make world decisions during cutthroat games of racquetball, just as they always have for any screenwriter who saw Gordon Gecko play Bud Fox in Wall Street. Are there even racquetball courts anymore? I thought they had all been converted to yoga studios by now.
Pick of the Week
This was another close week for the pick. The first one I watched, Clean, featured an amazing multilingual performance from Maggie Cheung with a strong supporting role by Nick Nolte. V for Vendetta had many cheesy moments, but was fun to watch and engaging to the end. Jason Statham had a movie-saving performance in London. Selma Blair was adorable in her role as a bank teller who inadvertently thwarts a bank robbery by attempting suicide in Kill Me Later. Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies started slow but picked up speed and took some great turns. The winner this week is a film I found a little randomly called Trojan Eddie.
Netflix suggested this film to me when I put director Gillies MacKinnon's film Pure in my queue. MacKinnon also did Hideous Kinky and Small Faces. When I realized it was a Tinker film, I had to get it. With a great backdrop, engaging plot, and amazing cast, combined with the fact that you probably haven't heard of it, I'm recommending you to get it.
You probably have seen Snatch, a film I enjoyed quite a bit. Brad Pitt's character in that film is a Tinker. Tinker itself, depending on the tone of usage and context, is either a word of pride or a pejorative. They are a nomadic traveling Irish people with their own dialect and customs. However, in popular culture they are often shown as con men, unscrupulous day laborers, and living in ramshackle trailers (or caravans, as they call them). Not ever having met one of the Pavee, as they refer to themselves, I am extremely fascinated with their portrayal in film.
Trojan Eddie is a man who can sell anything to anybody. He works in the British version of the flea market, in small street stands or wherever a crowd may gather to hear his pitch. Eddie's right hand man is one of the Tinkers, Dermot. Dermot's girlfriend catches the eye of John Power, local mob boss, and that's where the trouble and the plot starts.
The cast is top notch. Stephen Rea, 1992 Oscar nominee for his role in The Crying Game, plays Trojan Eddie with full sympathy. Richard Harris shows how ruthless John Power can be. His frightening main henchman is played by Brendan Gleeson, star of The General, one of my favorite heist films. One of the gems of the film is a performance by Pecker Dunne, playing a traditional song on the banjo, "Tinker's Lullaby." In case you miss it in the film, it plays again in the credits. Visit the Irish Traveler's Movement website to learn more about Tinkers first hand.
I watched 10 this week. 290 DVDs in 218 days. 210 DVDs left in the next 147 days for a pace of 9.99 per week.
Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Support is also provided by Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Diane B. Wilsey, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Helen Sarah Steyer, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and the members of KQED