Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hangin At The White Elephant Party

I show up to the door of Ben's place Lucid Screening late. It's a nice place, been here before. Nice and clean and big. I look through the window and see some other people in there so I knock. Ben greets me at the door and lets me in. He takes my coat and shows me where everything is. There are drinks and beenie weenies and those little crusts with spinach and bacon in them. And of course shrimp with cocktail sauce. In the middle of the living room is a stack of presents on a table. I grab a Newcastle and make small talk with the guests. Ed Copeland is here. And Marilyn from Ferdy On Films. And Bemis From Cinevistaramascope. And Matt Zoller Seitz just stopped by from The House Next Door. After awhile, I'm feeling a bit tipsy and why not, it's the Second Annual White Elephant Blogathon. It's a celebration of generally bad cinema. Ben makes the announcement for us to all gather round for the opening of the White Elephant Gifts. The entire process takes about 15 minutes. One after another we go up and open our gift for ooohs and aaaahs and snickers and groans. My name was called at the very end.

BEN: Piper from Lazy Eye Theatre. You're up next.

PIPER: Alright, let's see what we get here.

SFX OF WRAPPING PAPER BEING TORN

PIPER: It's. It's. It's Medium Cool. Oh man, can't wait to watch this. It's really bad isn't it? I mean, I'll laugh because it's so bad. Can't wait. This will be fun.

BEN: Piper, Piper. Medium Cool is a serious look at political tension during the 1968 National Democratic Convention. It's directed by the Academy Award winning Cinematographer Haskell Wexler. It's a serious commentary on news coverage in politics and more specifically on racial tension.

PIPER: Wow. A heavy political drama, huh? One with a message? Can I put this back and open another one?

BEN: Nope. You get what you get. Medium Cool is good. It's got Robert Forster in it.

PIPER: So it's not bad? Like bad good? Like it's really bad, but that makes its really good?

BEN: No. It's good. Like good good.

PIPER: Oh. Okay. Hey Ed, you got Spy Kids 3-D. Loves me a good 3-D movie in 2-D. Do you want to trade?

ED: Um. No.

PIPER: Bemis. How about you? What movie did you get?

BEMIS: I didn't get anything.

PIPER: What are you talking about? It's right there in your hand.

BEMIS: Oh right... Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.

PIPER: That sucks.

BEMIS: What?

PIPER: Yeah, you got screwed. How about a hotbed of political unrest?

BEMIS: Huh?

PIPER: I'm talking Medium Cool? One of the films of its time. It has Peter Boyle in it.

BEMIS: No thanks.

PIPER: Hey Marilyn what'd you get?

MARILYN: Theodore Rex. It's a buddy cop movie. You know, Whoopi Goldberg and... a dinosaur.

PIPER: Good Lord that sucks. No, I'm serious that sucks. That's bad bad. Not bad good. Good luck with that Marilyn. Excuse me?

SARAH: Yes?

PIPER: I'm Piper from Lazy Eye Theatre

SARAH: Sarah from Tomato Nation.

PIPER: Hi.

SARAH: Hi.

PIPER: So what'd you get there?

SARAH: King Kung Fu.

PIPER: Oh. Wow. Sucks to be you I guess.

SARAH: I guess.

PIPER: I mean 90 minutes wasted on crap. Can't get that time back.

SARAH: It'll be fun.

PIPER: No it won't. You know what will be fun? Racial tension in the 60s. A love story set against the backdrop of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Timely, huh? We're talking an important political movie here. You must see this. You owe it to your country!

SARAH: Please leave me alone.

PIPER: There's a boy in the movie that likes Pigeons. Do you like Pigeons?

SARAH: Go away.

BEN: Um, Piper.

PIPER: Hey Ben.

BEN: You need to leave now.

PIPER: Seriously, I mean I've only tried six of those little spinach and bacon pie thingies and I haven't even got to the shrimp.

BEN: You're spooking the guests.

PIPER: Can I grab a couple of beers for the road?

BEN: Just go home, watch Medium Cool and write about it.

PIPER: Okay. I will. I will watch it. I will pay attention to the political messages. And I will drink up the irony of newscasters covering news they see fit and not news that's really, you know, newsworthy. I will marvel at Haskell Wexler's experimental directing style. And I will appreciate the timeliness of this pick and the election year. I will take my medicine and I know it will be good for me. But I would much rather grab a big slice of double-lard white cake otherwise known as Raptor or Ernest Goes To Jail or Flash Gordon.

10 comments:

Marilyn said...

Oh, how pathetic is this. Who would assign Medium Cool? Well, ok, it's kind of disjointed, kind of like a home movie run amok, but hell, it was shot right there in the middle of the police riot and in the real, honest-to-Pete Uptown neighborhood where all the hillbillies and Native Americans live.

Maybe this wasn't such a bad White Elephant after all. Piper quit your whining...and hand me the chip dip.

Piper said...

In context of Theodore Rex, it's a friggin masterpiece.

Marilyn said...

In context of Theodore Rex, Hitler liked dogs.

Andrew said...

Medium Cool is one of my favorite films of all time. Whoever submitted this for the White Elephant needs to fess up.

project.film.school said...

And I thought I was being overly nice by assigning "Follow That Bird" (good nostalgia factor despite some cheesy songs and moments - although I wonder how it stands up if you never watched SS)

But Medium Cool is either the best or worst you could get depending on what you were looking forward to w/White Elephant...

-Gina

Piper said...

andrew and project.film.school,

This is the second year in a row I've been dinged with serious fare.

Last year it was Forbidden Games. Daaaang!

Marilyn said...

If you haven't seen Mark Wexler's documentary about his father, Tell Me Who You Are (2004), I highly recommend it. There's a section about Medium Cool in it that's interesting.

Squish said...

you know what i love about blogs? i can comment a year later and it's still relevant.

you my friend are awesome.

Hopefully you got something funner this year. i know i did!

PIPER said...

Squish,

I took a pass this year. I just knew I would get The Lives Of Others or some serious foreign crap that I would have to write seriously about.

It's like a cold blackjack table. I'm sitting out a couple of hands and hope that the deck becomes friendly again.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. I'll be looking to see what you got.

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