attack of the cab monster: day six

day six started off strong with scott hamilton kennedy's documentary the garden (2008).

it chronicles the bitter struggle between a group of south central los angeles farmers maintaining a 14 acre urban garden, the largest is the u.s., and a shady cabal of land developers, lawyers and ethically challenged local politicians. the garden itself was a result of community programs meant to enrich impoverished areas in south central in the wake of the rodney king riots and more than a few people have a vested interest in this plot of land. about 350 families are responsible for the food that is grown on the property and it feeds a few thousand in this section of los angeles' latino and immigrant community. they depend on it to eat and it is an oasis in the middle of a part of the country in which there is little comfort to be found. it is sacred to them. the owner of the property strikes a backroom deal with a local councilwoman and a corrupt community activist (referred to in the film as a "poverty pimp") that is the impetus for him to reclaim his property from the farmers and evict them. i am sure they expected little resistance from this group of farmers and expected to be pocketing a windfall as easily as they had on a previous deal to build a soccer facility in the area. man, were they wrong. the farmers organize, get legal representation and mount a furious opposition. the struggle plays out in the courts, the farmers up one minute and down the next. internal strife besets the garden. protests, fundraisers and community outreach programs are set in motion and the lawyers go at it hammer and tong. there is a pesky question of entitlement that runs underneath this whole thing. it is the owner's land after all, and he is within his rights to do what he wants with it. had he handled it honorably, in an above board fashion, i don't think you could quibble with the decision. it was his land. he allowed farmers to use it for fourteen years but now it was time to do something else with it. had that been the case, it would have been sad, even tragic, but not wholly unreasonable. but when you start looking at the soccer field that was built you begin to wonder. $4.7 million dollars allotted to it and it looked like about five grand had been spent on it. a dirt field with one porta-potty and a chain link fence around it leaves a few million floating around in someone's pockets. when the community gets wind of a secret deal being struck that will oust them and exploit the community even further they dig in their heels. they are not going to be your underclass to be trampled today, buddy. they are going to be your worthy adversary. it's a riveting portrait of a community making sure its voice is heard.

we go from fuckery on the community level to the international stage with our next film, oliver stone's JFK (1991).

ok, gang, here's the deal. we're never going to know. even the truth, if we have heard it, is going to seem like just one more scenario that anyone can debunk with ease. there are loonies on every side of this case. i look at this film more like a really good magic act. there's diversion, some excellent sleight of hand and some moments of wonder that seem to reveal something true but, in the end, none of it is necessarily real. it's great to look at it, with stone using a variety of techniques and film stock, foreshadowing a style that he would take to its manic terminal point a few years later with natural born killers (1994). and i know it might be a little odd to say about a film that is 205 minutes long, but i think the editing in this film is its greatest achievement. in almost three and a half hours i don't feel like the energy ever flags and there are a couple of scenes, particularly donald sutherland's centerpiece, in which the rhythms of the film just pull you along whether you want to go or not. just relax and let oliver take you for a ride, back and to the left, back and to the left...

which brings us to a piece of film capturing acts more heinous than anything abraham zapruder saw in his worst nightmares, joan micklin silver's loverboy (1989). i would have rather watched this on a loop for 98 minutes.

i don't even know where to start, so i am just going to skip to the end first. after coming home from college for the summer, patrick dempsey ends up working as a prostitute, servicing a coterie of deranged beverly hills trophy wives for two hundred dollars a pop to raise tuition so he can get back to school to be with his true love. yeah, you read that right. true love comes to visit and he attempts to explain how, in the span of a few weeks, he has become a morally bankrupt manwhore.

"it sorta just happened."

yeah, you read that right.

i knew i was in trouble from the outset with the delightful eighties cartoon credits. how fun! it didn't help matters when the opening dorm room "punk rocker" party scene segued from edie brickell right into the escape club. the movie wastes no time in introducing us to the quite obviously insane barbara carrera who will become dempsey's de facto pimp. other repulsive characters include his best friend who boasts with great pride "i come onto every girl that walks", and his dad, who is chiefly involved in the film via a wacky subplot revolving around the misunderstanding that his son is "a fruit". stop! oh my sides! e.g. daily speaks in some language that is mostly squeaks whenever she is on screen and carrie fisher makes a surprise return appearance this week, adding cigarettes to her provocative mélange of desperation, maybelline and liquor stink. as if all this wasn't enough, in a hilarious oedipal twist, our casanova is hired to bang his mom. oh no he di'n't! actually, he doesn't. unable to deliver that pizza, he instead offers his mother up to a miniature-stallone, exchange student date rapist (one of two date rapists featured prominently in this cast). oh! the hijinks! well, i know you're wondering, and yes, his plan to sleep with forty-three women during the course of a summer does eventually get him back in his girlfriend's good graces - she's not crazy - so everyone lives happily ever after. cue the dance number and the smooth saxophone over the closing credits!

one odd note: in an eerie echo of apocalypse chelsea: day six, today also had a disturbing rendition of "great balls of fire" sung in a car, this time by vic tayback and his amazing toupée.

i can only think of one way this could have been redeemed. as dempsey is spinning his true love, and future sharer of his stds, around the dance floor, a sound begins to invade the music. a high pitched beep insistently pushes through as the dance scene fades out and we fade in to dempsey being hustled down a hospital hallway on a gurney. turns out, when he took that corner to talk to the redhead that kicked off this mess, he was plowed into by a dumptruck. this whole thing was just the final vision of a horny, stupid clown making his way into the light while he lay crumpled and broken in an intersection strewn with anchovies. how's that for a mcdreamy sequence? time of death? the moment some moron green-lit this abomination. call it.

cabby, the next time i see you i am kicking your ass for this.

tomorrow has got to be better, right? lord, just give me some kind of sign.

whew. thanks, buzz.

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