I've noticed two things common to film columns in other publications: They are filled with inaccurate puns, or they take a metaphor and stretch it as thin as they can. Since I'm new to all this, and since I never was any good at puns, let me try out that second structural device.
For my first attempt, I'd like to explore a rather long simile I've been thinking about since a recent trip. Good films are like good food. They fill you up, provide you with energy. All art does this, I guess, but, in my opinion, film does so the most. So, come with me as we suck the marrow out of this metaphor, get our fill of it, if you will. (It's started already. Excited?)
In college, it's easy to get by eating junk food. I don't mean \American Pie 2,"" which is a guilty treat. No, I mean living off what Comedy Central serves up as appetizers in the afternoon. The fifth viewing of ""Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag"" is only going to give your brain cavities. You have to go out and actively search for good films on the menu.
Take, for instance, two of my favorite films from a summer brimming with blandness: ""Moulin Rouge"" and ""Hedwig and the Angry Inch."" Both are very fulfilling, probably because both are musicals. And, since ""Moulin Rouge"" has already made it to the budget theaters, let's bite into ""Hedwig.""
This rock musical is a loosely thrown together adaptation of a cult-favorite off- Broadway musical, and its (at times) sloppy storytelling is a lot like a sloppy Joe'very satisfying and not for the queasy. Through songs and flashbacks, Hedwig tells her story of growing up in East Berlin as Hansel. A botched sex change, meant to allow her to escape as an Army wife, leaves her with an Angry Inch. Now in America, she follows around her Jesus-freak protege, Tommy Gnosis, who has stolen her songs and achieved fame. Sound appetizing?
The story itself is not funny'even the fact that Hedwig's band plays salad bars and crab shacks next to wherever Tommy Gnosis performs comes across as weak reference to Spinal Tap. Instead, director John Cameron Mitchell dishes up all the laughs. Hedwig's witty wordplay during her monologues adds some great spice to the movie.
The music is delicious, surprisingly powerful rock 'n' roll. Yet, it's also nutritious, with references to everything from Aristophanes to the Lillian Vernon catalogue. Songs like ""Wig in a Box,"" ""Midnight Radio"" and ""Wicked Little Town"" are so good that you walk away humming them. They get stuck in your head, instead of your teeth. And the great thing about musicals are that you can go out and buy the soundtrack afterward, and it's like buying a doggy bag to take home.
I understand if you're getting tired of this food business, and I promise you I won't pull a stunt like this again. Just let me get a few more examples out of the way. You can think of the stickiness on the theater floor as some kind of spilled beverage or candy. And, your ticket is like a toothpick, in that your can pick popcorn out of your teeth with it.
I'll leave you, after this failed first attempt at a column, with some recommendations, as I will try to do every week. If you see ""Hedwig"" and like it, here are some others that I enjoyed that have similar themes or moods: ""Moulin Rouge,"" ""Still Crazy,"" ""Psycho Beach Party,"" ""Rocky Horror Picture Show,"" ""This is Spinal Tap"" and ""Velvet Goldmine.""