Wednesday, November 23, 2016

10 Items or Less

"Life feels so easy, some days, it feels so easy..."
Ellen Allien - Sun the Rain

Maybe I find too many things worthy of complaint. Maybe I don't talk about the things I like enough. I'm a very negative person.
No, fuck that. The world's shit and I'm just not willing to pretend it isn't. I'm positive the world's negative. I'm positive you're all shit.

Anyway, I betray my snarling persona somewhat by my list of lycanthrope-approved movies. Besides escapist fantasies like Mirromask and apocalyptic ones like Fight Club, The Road or Melancholia, besides weird-ass forgotten yarns about loneliness in crowds like Elle est des notres that nobody else seems to even want to get, some of my favorite flicks are hopeful tales of interpersonal connection, of strong individuals bracing against each other to push through the world's stupidity. A decade and a half after I first watched it, the anime Whisper of the Heart with its self-made young heroine still ranks somewhere about the top of my list.

Today though I'm talking about 10 Items or Less. No, not the unrelated TV series by the same name. I mean the movie made a decade ago that almost nobody bothered watching. Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega wander Los Angeles to a melancholic Paul Simon soundtrack discussing life, the universe and everything. It mostly centers on the stereotypical actor's catchphrase "what's my motivation" or rather the attempt to dredge up some sort of motivation or driving force in life. For intelligent people I mean - not inbred degenerates working their minimum-wage jobs with puritan passion just to get on Geebus' good side for the Apocalypse. Features a minor two-line role for Jim Parsons before he became Dr. Sheldon Cooper, who I must once again stress bears no resemblance to me whatsoever.

I mentioned 10 Items or Less here at least once before, in the context of One Day, One Room proper endings to stories about meetings of independent minds. The movie's one of those painfully low-budget artsy affairs filmed in the back lots of local businesses for free advertising. Its celebrity appearance toward the end was a literal drive-by shooting. It boasted a grand total of one stunt. If you like those kinds of books, movies and comic strips where two characters just yammer back and forth at each other, then this is the flick for you! I'm told there's a long tradition of this sort of thing in theater, and very few of its over-indulgent incarnations are ever palatable, but 10 Items or Less certainly qualifies.

For one thing, it's funny. It strews enough visual gags and cheesy one-liners along the heroes' path to lighten the existential angst while offsetting it rather than diminishing it. It also properly times and delivers its more sentimental moments to render them memorably poignant rather than simply cloying. Most importantly, the two characters manage to come across as the sort of personalities who value their independence with their almost Noldorin displays of pride giving each other a run for their money. They play off each other well enough that even if you don't normally watch this sort of thing, their charming repartee will likely keep your interest.

So watch it. Think of it as an extremely slow power ballad.

At this point, the movie's central theme would demand I write my own list of ten. What ten things would you keep; what ten things do you like about the world? I might be tempted, were I playing to type, to even list the movie itself as one of them, but that sort of seems like cheating to me.

But honestly, I can't think of any. Trump just got elected. We're headed into that cavalcade of religious idiocy known as The Holidays. The top movie in the country is Ass. Errr, I mean some moronic Harry Potter spin-off or other. The SyFy channel's about to shit all over my favorite book. My local supermarket's all out of Code Red Mountain Dew.

Fuck the world. You want me to show up at the checkout with ten items? Stock something worth buying, humanity.

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