Some Quick Notes on Cheap Surrealism

Just got home from seeing Anchorman with my brother Jeff, clearly the most surreal film of the decade so far, and that’s saying a lot, considering the stiff competition from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Super Troopers and Soul Plane (which was horrible, really, but very close to brilliant in a way). When teenagers walk into a cheap funny movie these days they’re getting godardian radiation and bunuel cooties right along with boobs and fart jokes, it’s Python without the Eric Idle smugness (remember his “quite frankly we didn’t think you’d live this long” speech in Yellowbeard that was the only thing that keeps that movie from being the single greatest cinematic work of all time?), it’s a thing of beauty.

I once said on ILX that my two favorite movies were Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and that one could locate my tastes right in the middle, and I think if I had added His Girl Friday and Big Trouble in Little China and She’s Gotta Have It and The Lady Vanishes and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Lagaan and Black Orpheus and The Thief of Baghdad and Better Off Dead and The Big Sleep and Miracle at Morgan’s Creek and Caddyshack and Twice Upon a Time and The Knack and How to Get It and This Is Spinal Tap and Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams and Strange Brew and Monsters, Inc. and The Asphalt Jungle I would have been right. (And about a thousand more movies duh.) (Especially the ones that don’t fit the template like The Adventures of Robin Hood and Hoop Dreams.)

Oh I’m going to kick myself tomorrow for forgetting a lot of things.

But it seems like there’s a common thread here, a casual effed-up edge of nonsense crossed with low realistic stuff whether humor or violence or both, that touches me on a deep level, and that’s why I’m so excited when suddenly Will Ferrell and his news team are rumbling all the other news teams in San DiAAAAAHgo with weapons including a trident, a big stick with scissors jammed through it at odd angles, and a table leg. And when Kumar is having his “I’m in love with weed” dream and they’re all holding hands and they’re kissing, and then we see them in bed, and then Kumar’s in the future struggling with paying the bills and weed brings him a cup of coffee and he says “why don’t you learn how to make coffee you WHORE”–well, that’s just about as mean-spirited as it comes, but it’s funny as shit, it’s a bag of weed.

Movies that tell stories are nice, I appreciate that on a few levels. But movies that do things that books can never do, create worlds we cannot inhabit, give us razors for our eyeballs, revolutionaries on fire, convoluted pretentious mysteries , flying dogs named Hosehead, David Lo Pan and his search for a Chinese girl with green eyes, dudes arguing about cricket scores while fighting off the Nazis, villages all bursting into song awaiting the rains that would save their village and the song ends because the rain never comes…that’s the kind of stuff I want, bizarre off-the-cuff stuff. Not too much to ask for now is it? It’s no coincidence really that Julio Cortazar wrote the stories on which Godard’s Weekend and Antonioni’s Blow-Up were both based, and furthermore no surprise that he’s my favorite writer probably ever–he hated genre and tried to destroy it, but honored it too, and knew to tell jokes in the middle of sadness.

Oh, what am I talking about, I’m not sure. If you read this it’s because I looked at it tomorrow morning and decided that it was okay. Otherwise, I just told myself a whole bunch of things I already know.