Because AK and I like to stay on the cutting edge, we just saw Borat. (I’ll agree that it’s funny, and that that Sacha Baron Cohen kid is a smarty, but I’m not sure it was the big exposé of America that people have said it was—I just came away thinking, Yeah, America has some nice folks and some assholes.)
It was only playing at a second-run theater on
The ticket taker was a tall, lurching man with a birthmark covering much of his face. It was hard to understand him because the speaker in the plastic wall of the booth was broken. When we walked in, a smaller man scampered down the stairs to ask if we wanted him to open up the darkened snack booth. We didn’t.
The theater was also dark when we walked in. After we groped our way to our seats, I whispered to AK, “When the lights come on, I feel like we’ll see that the room is full of dead bodies.” Luckily it was just a few snoring homeless people.
Ultimately I enjoyed the stale smell of the theater and the crumbling tile and exposed wires in the bathroom—it was like we’d just seen Borat in
Later we saw The Pursuit of Happyness, a movie with a lot more faith in
That makes the movie sound painfully heavy-handed, which it wasn’t. It was sincere and refreshing and riveting in a way you might not think watching a guy try to make $21 last a week would be. Most movies about money are about people trying to get rich—and while this movie ultimately was as well (Chris is trying to become a stockbroker while raising his five-year-old son), he spent most of the movie being poor. Not just pan-across-a-crappy-apartment-to-show-the-gist-of-it poor, but the kind of poor where you have to think about every dollar all the time. In forcing the viewer to do the same, the movie brings us $10.50 closer to knowing what it’s like to be really and truly broke.
But while I give Happyness an A+ for its depiction of real problems, I give it a D- for offering real solutions. Because of course (spoiler alert—but not really) he does become a stockbroker. He lives in a homeless shelter, sells medical equipment to pay off his debt and stays up till the wee hours of the mo
The “haves” in Happyness are depicted as nice if slightly oblivious guys—the head exec thinks nothing of borrowing $5 for cab fare from Chris because he would never consider that he only has $7 to his name. And Chris, who lea
Arguably, the movie makes it clear that only an extraordinary person could do what Chris does. This is a man who takes big risks and can solve a Rubik’s Cube in the duration of a cab ride. But because it does such a good job of making us empathize with him early on, we’re subconsciously deluded into thinking he’s us, and that we too could go from rags to riches, and therefore shouldn’t begrudge rich folks their riches.
Should I be giving moviegoers more credit? Maybe—but this non-extraordinary moviegoer found herself (despite all her socialist-ish thoughts) waking up this mo