Sunday, September 24, 2006


Movie of the week:

Most people probably remember Peter Sellers from the Pink Panther series of movies. They were very very funny. Sellers played the buffoon, Inspector Clouseau, and had fun with his outrageous French accent, and even more outrageous situations. The humor was mostly physical. He was very good at that, but it was his other work which showcased his immense range and creative talent for comedy.

Basically, by trying not to be funny, Peter Sellers makes not only the greatest performance of his career, but one of the best comedies of all time. Sellers plays Chance, an aging retarded man. He's known only as Chance - he doesn't even have a last name. Chance has lived his entire life in the employ of a rich man, and now he takes care of his garden. He's never been outside the walls of his estate, and everything he knows, he's learned from watching TV. When the old man dies and the household is disbanded, Chance is set out on the street, alone, with nothing but a small suitcase and a television remote control. When he sees something disturbing, he tries to use his remote to "change the channel".

Somehow, through a series of circumstances, he finds himself within the inner circle of the Washington DC elite. When asked his name, he can only reply, "Chance, the Gardener". This is misinterpreted as "Chauncey Gardiner", and his simple statements about tending the garden and such are misinterpreted as profound wisdom. Here is the basis for the comedy. Sellers plays his role as straight and focused as possible, while all around him, people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear (ever see Paris? ever see New Delhi?). In a way, this movie in a precursor for Forrest Gump.

I won't tell you where this movie goes or what eventually happens to him. But I will say this: The ending is very enigmatic. Much discussion has taken place in film circles and in cinema courses about what the ending means. If you've seen the film, you'll know what I mean.

The film is rated PG, so it's family friendly. However, the satire may be beyond the reach of young'uns - but then again, I never want to underestimate the comprehension ability of children. Here are some positive attributes of BEING THERE.
  1. funny, very funny
  2. political and social satire - about the only thing it has in common with the show "South Park"
  3. has inspired other great movies such as Forrest Gump.
  4. can cure cancer
  5. just kidding about #4. Wanted to see if you were paying attention.
  6. rated a 100% on the tomatometer. Nobody didn't like it.
  7. I said I was kidding about #4.
  8. Bring home BEING THERE. It will make you a hero for the day.
  9. The DVD disc is so well balanced physically, that it doesn't rip apart as it spins at high speed.
  10. maybe it can cure cancer - what do I know?

Do yourself a favor by watching BEING THERE.


At 4:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your tomatometer link goes to forest gump's imdb page...

At 9:54 AM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

Thanks for the heads up. I fixed it.

At 11:41 AM, Anonymous JoeC said...

Great choice once again, Frank.

You forgot two things. That Shirley Maclaine was in this movie, and was actually palatable. Might actually have been one of the funniest "love scenes" of all time. And secondly, what you thought of the ending.

I never really thought he was retarded, just simple, which is a big difference. Chance viewed the world on such simple terms that higher forms of thought were simply not necessary. While definitely a satire in the way people interpreted what he said, it also illustrated that real truth is simple, and expressing that truth can be profound.

I did wonder at the end if he was just too stupid to know what should have happened there, or if there was in fact some divinity involved. Poking the umbrella in made it even more interesting.

Keep up the great work. I always look forward to getting your recommendations.


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