Mind Your P's and Q's (Part 2)
So, miss me? Ready for the second part of the alphabet? We got all the way up to M (thank you Fritz Lang!) with only a few glitches. For those who didn't see the first part of this exercise, the idea is to identify at least one film with only a single letter as a title, going from A to Z. Mind you, I'm going into this blind. I have no idea as I type this line if I can get thirteen single initial films from N to Z. So here goes:
N – Well, there's a 2010 movie that's called N-SECURE. It apparently involves a wealthy, powerful man whose insecurities bring him low. Next thing you know, he's suspicious of his girlfriend, who finally leaves him for someone less psychotic. Overtures of Othello, no? It got a score of 2.7 on IMDB, so be forewarned: not Shakespeare. It does have Tempestt Bledsoe in it, so if you want to show some love for Vanessa Huxtable, you now know where to turn.
O – Speaking of Othello, O is a modern retelling of the Othello story which, for the sake of trivia was directed by Tim Blake Nelson, who played Delmar in O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU. In O, Mekhi Pfifer plays Odin, a black basketball sensation playing for a lily-white prep school who somehow or other earns the hatred of his coach's loathsome son, Hugo, who's not only a nasty, little snake but a steroid abuser. As anyone who made it through high school English class can tell you, things do not end well for Odin's girlfriend Desi (for Desdemona – imaginative, eh?), who was played by Julia Stiles. Since the film came out in the late '90's, there was a bit of controversy based on rumors that Odin was modeled on O.J. Simpson, since it featured a black man killing a white woman. Presumably, these rumors were started by persons who did not make it through English class. In retrospect, since the Coach is played by Martin Sheen, I'm willing to suggest Hugo was modeled on Charlie Sheen.
P – A 2005 horror film from Thailand, in Thai, yet made by a westerner. Go figure. It involves young girl, being trained in traditional magic by her white witch of a grandmother, who is forced by circumstances to go to Bangkok to make a living before her training is finished. Perhaps inevitably, she finds herself sucked into in the sex trade (no pun intended) and as she is used and humiliated in the
club where she works as an exotic dancer, she fights back by using her magic. Since she has not quite graduated the hocus-pocus program, the magic begins to control and change her, converting her ultimately into a dark and evil creature. P, I understand, sounds like the Thai word for ghost; the movie sounds like a cross between THE EXOCIST and SHOWGIRLS, which some of RINGU thrown in for giggles. From P and RINGU, I conclude that Asian ghosts are not cuddly Caspar types, unless Caspar were to be bitten by a rabid zombie bat.
Not the critter you'd want to find on your roof.
Q – There are an amazingly large numbers of movies called Q, most of them low budget or French, but I'll mention the best known of the lot. Well, best known if you watch a lot midnight movies. Q is the heart-warming tale of a New York City cult who manages to resurrect the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, who goes on a murderous spree on the rooftops of Manhattan in the form of flying serpent. If that plotline is not loony enough for you, even more confounding is the fact that the cast includes David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, Michael Moriarty and several others you would expect to know better. Ah well, it was 1982. I guess times were hard.
R – A 2010 Danish film that played in some International film festivals, that involves a violent prisoner who befriends a Muslim inmate. Their relationship upsets the prison class structure. Since the Danish prisoner is named Rune and the Muslim prisoner is named Rashid, I think we can speculate where the title initial comes from.
S – There is a movie from 1998 called S., please note the period at the end. From the tag line on the poster, the S. may refer to S.exy, S.ensual, or S.inful. It may also refer to the main character whose name, coincidentally, is S. It is in Dutch, French and English, set in Belgium and New York, and is, reportedly, utterly unintelligible. I really can't do any better than the Yahoo! Movie synopsis, so I'll plagiarize: "S is a lost young woman who has rarely known happiness. Her mother is a prostitute, her father was executed for murder. In a Belgium reeling from the discovery of a paedophile murderer, S. looks for happiness but finds mostly low-lifes and violence. So she kills them." A feel good movie for the masses.
T – A 2008 short film, set in a dystopian society where the government enforces
heterosexuality, a woman defies authority to keep the memory of her Sapphic love alive. All in six minutes. And yes, it features characters called the Evil Doctor and the Evil Nurse. But, hey, it cost only about $1500 and made it to a film festival in Palm Springs, so kudos to writer/director Amanda Overton!
The heroes of Beastmaster
U – THE U is a 2009 sports documentary, featuring Michael Irvin, which equated the changing racial situation in Miami in the late eighties with the desegregation of the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. Ironically, the U symbol on the Hurricane players' helmets was originally depicted on the DVD cover, but had to be airbrushed out when the university objected to its use.
V – While there is the television show V, in, not one, but two incarnations, I just can't go to T.V. for an entry, so I default to V FOR VENDETTA, featuring Hugo Weaving in a Guy Fawkes mask and Natalie Portman in a pretty awful performance. Once again, Alan Moore, the creator of the original com...excuse me, graphic novel, ran screaming from any association with the movie. Now I got that out of the way, I must return to the original T.V. show V, featuring the great Marc Singer. I love Marc Singer because he did THE BEASTMASTER in a loin cloth, a film that inevitably reduces me to tears due to heroism of the ferret. I will say no more on the subject.
W – Here, you get to take your choice: W., with Josh Brolin as George W. Bush as directed by Oliver Stone, or W, with Twiggy enduring a string of quirky accidents, somehow tied to her nutso ex, where the accident victim was found with the letter "W" written on them. According to Netflix, there's also a martial arts movie known by the same initial. W is a very fertile number, but I give the edge to W. (again note the period) if only for the fact that, in interviews, Richard Dreyfuss, who played Dick Cheney, called Stone a fascist leftist. I admit I'm paraphrasing, but is that even possible?
X – Here I was all set to default to X-Men or XXX, either of which I could say something about, but there is an anime movie called X, so the rules indicate that's where I have to go. It has something to do with dragons, but beyond that, I find it hard to focus on the plot, if there is one. However, I'm willing to go out on a limb and suggest it features a
tall, skinny guy with long hair, who grunts a lot and carries a sword, at least one female in a school girl outfit and some shrill and unholy hybrid of Hello Kitty and the Pink Care Bear who speaks in a highly over-caffeinated manner and is meant to be loveable.
Dhoom 2 must be seen to be believed!
Y – Sadly, I failed to find any film called Y, but there is a very new Bollywood production company called Y Films, started by Aditya Chopra, a notable director and producer through the well known Yash Raj Films and the brother of star Uday Chopra. Aditya produced and Uday starred in one of my favorite Bollywood films, DHOOM 2, which also stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan. It's completely nuts. It manages to be a cop buddy comedy, a heist film, a rom-com, a musical, a slapstick comedy and, somehow, in one late scene, to evoke FITZCARRALDO. Aish's character annoyingly insists on referring to herself in the third person, but that flaw is, in this writer's opinion, overcome by Hrithik's epic lack of shirts. Except, of course, when he's disguised as Queen Elizabeth II. I kid you not.
Z – Again, we can end on a great film that really does have a one letter title. Z was a 1969 film by Costa Gravas, that darkly lampoons the totalitarian Greek government at power at the time, with the backing of the US government. In an unnamed but hinted at regime, democratic speech and activities are suppressed. When a popular political figure called the Deputy (Yves Montand) speaks at a rally, he is run over and eventually dies in an event the government maintains is an accident. An investigator begins to uncover the truth, but his actions are suppressed and the film ends on the grim note of all the things that had been banned by the Greek government in the late 1960's, which included Mark Twain, sociology and encyclopedias. Also banned was the letter Z, which had become a political slogan, as it is short for a Greek word, meaning "he lives." The "he" in question was an athlete and politician named Grigoris Lambrakis, who was assassinated and inspired the film and the book it was based on.
Well, congratulations, you made it all through the alphabet. I should have made certificates. Sorry.
Anyway, I wish you all a wonderful Fourth of July. I usually watch 1776, which has no letters whatsoever, and for that, I am rather thankful.
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|A Musing in Movieland|
Every other Sunday
One woman's attempt to find meaning in movies, from movies, and between movies and to figure out why movies should matter to us, all while trying to find a laugh in the whole, screwy business."
I'm still cautiously optimistic that there really is a pattern to our lives and am striving to find mine, although I secretly suspect that life is really just about a Big, Space Baby. Which would be disappointing. And confusing. But, hey, you gotta have a sense of humor about it all, right? Philosophical stuff aside, I am an attorney, an artist and a performer and, if I could figure out a way to make the last two pay the bills, I'd dump the first one tomorrow.|
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Summer Wood by clicking here.|