Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Just wishing everyone a safe New Year's Eve and a wonderful New Year in 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Development of a Favorite Sports Team

It's no secret: I hate the New York Knicks.  I also hate Patrick Ewing, in particular (no surprise there).  Naturally, I have my favorite and preferred teams...but the funny thing is, there aren't very many teams that I dislike enough to root against; there are even fewer that I loathe with depthless abhorrence (see: New York Knicks and Philadelphia Phillies).  A recent conversation with my buddy Cosmo and pitcher Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies have made me reflect on just why I feel the way that I do about these teams and, specifically, how team preferences are born.

The first sports team that I ever knew anything about was the New York Mets.  My Dad is a Mets fan and my first baseball game, unsurprisingly, was a Mets game at Shea Stadium.  I've always looked up to my Dad and so it's no surprise that the Mets became my favorite baseball team.  The interesting thing here though is that my Dad's not a terribly huge sports fan (by comparison--some men live and die by their teams, wear various team paraphernalia throughout the year, and watch or attend games religiously) but his interest in the Mets was enough to get me on board.  Though I attended far more Yankees games with friends and family members than Mets games through the years, my dedication to the latter never wavered.

Speaking of the Yankees, you would think that I would hate them because I root for the Mets...but that's not how I roll (nor is it how I've rolled throughout the years).  I remember lying on my parents' loveseat in the living room in 1996 holding my breath as the ball sailed skyward with Charlie Hayes trailing beneath it, ultimately catching it and giving the Yankees their first World Series victory of my lifetime.  I was thrilled; it was the first post-season experience I can remember having and I'll never forget the buzz and excitement in the city and in school over the whole run that the Yankees had that year; my Dad wouldn't be caught dead rooting for the Yankees.

I've grown up in a kinder, gentler time of baseball fandom.  My Dad's generation (and that before his) employed an "us or them" mentality when it came to rooting for teams.  First of all, you rooted local--there was no question there.  Second, you had exactly three choices: you rooted for the Giants, you rooted for the Dodgers, or you rooted for the Yankees; that was IT!  In fact, many Mets fans became such solely because the Giants and Dodgers left town and they had no other choice (because once you went Giant or Dodger you NEVER ever went Yankee).

I've never been one to follow the crowd and I think that's what has led to my selection of favorite teams.  The Mets aside, I have quite the eclectic mix of preferred teams but I also have rational explanations for my selections.  Let's start with baseball.  I am a Mets fan who enjoys post-season baseball and thus I will root for the Yankees in October and November.  My favorite player growing up was Gary Carter because he looked like a character from my then-favorite show (Mark Lynn Baker from "Perfect Strangers"--it was probably just the curly hair).  The only team I can't stand in baseball is the Phillies; the only player, Jimmy Rollins.  He's an arrogant prick and he plays for a team that likes to think that they are the Yankees of the National League.  It's funny what one World Series run will do to a team, isn't it?

Football is next and is perhaps the most bizarre in terms of my preferred teams.  My favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings and has been since I was a kid.  The reason (as far as I remember) is because they were featured frequenly on the television show "Coach."  I don't remember what drew me to them, in particular, but I know that when I first started getting into football I rooted religiously for the Vikes.  My second favorite team is the Carolina Panthers, though my reasoning here is a little more disjointed.  See, as a kid, I was always a sucker for expansion teams; I thought it was the coolest thing when a new team would come into existence.  It's why I rooted for the Marlins and Rockies (I out grew it by the time the Rays and Diamondbacks came about), the Raptors and Grizzlies, and the Panthers and Jaguars.  Though I rooted for all of these teams, I wasn't necessarily a fan, per se, nor were they vaunted into my realm of least none except the Panthers.  That didn't happen until Jake Delhomme became their quarterback.  I loved the way he played and when they made their Super Bowl run in 2003/2004 and was crushed when they lost to the Patriots.  Interestingly enough, Jake Delhomme still holds the record for the longest past in Super Bowl history (85 yards) and has a plaque for it at the Hall of Fame in Canton.

My Dad has been a huge Denver Broncos fan for time out of mind.  John Elway will forever be my favorite quarterback and I have a special place in my heart for the Broncos.  Seeing them FINALLY win it all and my Dad's satisfaction as a result was a truly remarkable experience.  It was my first experience with having someone's "team" go all the way.  Though I obtained my gratification vicariously, it was still a thrilling experience nonetheless.

The only NFL team that I hate with a passion is the New York Giants.  I hate them almost as much as the Knicks...and for almost the exact same reasons (the similarities are eerie in their quantity and type).  I must first explain which teams are my favorites in the NBA as this will help set up the Knicks/Giants explanation.  I first got into basketball in 1995/1996.  Someone had told me of a player named Muggsy Bogues who was five-foot-three--the same height that I was at the time.  I couldn't believe that a player that short was able to play and have some degree of success in the NBA.  It gave my burgeoning hoop dreams new life; if he could do it, then maybe I could too!  Bogues played for the Charlotte Hornets and I became an instant fan of the team.  I liked the colors, the mascot, and, eventually, the other players (Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Dell Curry, and Glen Rice to name but a few). 

The first full season that I was into basketball (following it daily) was the 1996/1997 season.  The Hornets made the playoffs and I was stoked beyond belief.  They were favored to do well in the playoffs, finishing third in the Central Division behind Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks.  Things were looking great...until the playoffs started.  The Hornets' first-round matchup was with the Knicks...who swept them 3-0 to take the round.  I was crestfallen.  I had never had a team that I rooted for so fervently make it to the post-season (the Mets and Vikings had little in the way of sustained success between when I started rooting for them and that point in time). 

As I tried to soak it in I was stunned.  More than that I was crushed; the Knicks had ripped my heart out and stomped all over it with Patrick Ewing leading the way.  Then, something funny happened.  I broke out of my emotional coma and found that I was filled with rage--an unquenchable fire that demanded justice.  Enter the Miami Heat.  Aside from the Vikings, there is no other team that I root for with as much enthusiasm and dedication as I do than the Heat.  Anyway, at the time, my best friend was a big Knicks fan (he still supports them but not with nearly as much interest) and seeing his smug glee at the Knicks advancing made me want to see his team lose that much harder.  And not just lose but to be eviscerated--embarrassed and shamed off the court. 

Again...enter the Miami Heat.  From the very first moment of the Eastern Conference Semifinals I knew that Miami was going to be my team.  Stating the obvious, they were the next to face the Knicks and thus had the first chance to avenge the honor of my fallen Hornets.  Alonzo Mourning (a former Hornet) was on the Heat, which definitely helped me to like them more...and then there was Tim Hardaway.  At that point in time, basketball was becoming my life.  I was playing after I finished my homework every day, squeezing as much time in as I could.  By the time I got to high school I was playing anywhere from three to five hours a night during the week and then twelve to eighteen hours on the weekend (more than forty hours a week).  I would play in the rain, I would play in the snow, I would play in the dark.  I played hurt (I've shot more one-handed three points due to left wrist/elbow/shoulder injuries than I think anyone else alive!) and I've played sick.  I figured that, the more adverse the conditions, the better the challenge and the more I would benefit from the experience.  Playing in the dark helped me to perfect my jumpshot (if you can hit shots without seeing where the basket is then...)  Playing on ice and in the snow helped me to improve my balance and my shooting (couldn't really do much dribbling then!)

Basketball was a game that allowed me to focus all of my competitive energy and my perfectionism.  It didn't require me to have friends (of which I had relatively few growing up) or to rely on other people in general to play.  It didn't require much in the way of equipment (more than a few Christmas and birthday presents were basketballs simply because I wore them out so quickly).  As I said, it became my life and, consequently, it became my identity.  I began to collect basketball jerseys from every team and I remember my sophomore or junior year of high school wearing nothing but said jerseys for over a month: a different one every day (incidentally, I also wore shorts to school just about every day, winter included, because a) I knew I'd be playing basketball at some point during the day and b) the heat was so wickedly hot in school that if I wore pants I'd be sweating my brains out for the entire day.  My logic was as follows: I'd be outside for five or ten minutes waiting for the bus (which would be heated), another five walking from the stop to school, another five or ten waiting for the bus in the afternoon, and then another two minutes walking home.  A half an hour of possibly being cold versus six hours of definitely being hot?  It was a no-brainer).

Anyway, back to Miami.  Tim Hardaway was my idol in terms of my basketball game.  I wanted to shoot like him, pass like him, layup like him, and, most of all, dribble like him.  I've never been able to do the Killer Crossover ( ) quite like him...but it's serviceable.  So the Eastern Conference Semifinals start...and the Knicks win game one.  Then they go up a commanding three games to one going into game five...and that's when my identity as a Heat fan was soldered.  Anyone watching that series remembers the P.J. Brown/Charlie Ward fight that led to the controversial suspensions...and the Heat winning games five, six, and seven.  They beat the Knicks and took the Atlantic Division crown from them in Pat Riley's second year in Miami.  Did I mention that he left the Knicks for South Beach? 

I hope it still hurts, Knicks fans.

So for as much as I loved Tim Hardaway's game I hated Patrick Ewing's equally.  He had one of the ugliest jump shot forms in the history of basketball (ditto for free throws) and was as ungainly as they come.  Worse, he was revered by Knicks fans.  To this day I take no greater satisfaction from nearly anything in sports than I do from the fact that Ewing never won a ring.  In his defense though, the Knicks proved what a classless organization they are when they let him go rather than re-sign him despite his diminishing talents (like the Yankees with Jeter) or convince him to retire.  It's still odd seeing the big man in a Magic or Sonics uniform.

Anyway, back to the NFL.  So in 2000 the Vikings were flying high.  They had two PHENOMENAL talents in Daunte Culpepper (a QB bigger than a linebacker) and Randy Moss (arguably the greatest deep threat receiver in the history of the league).  This is without even mentioning Cris Carter and Gary Anderson. In 1998 the team had set some crazy offensive records and lost in the NFC Championship game because of some poor kicking.  The upside of that, though, was that the Denver Broncos won their second of two back-to-back championships and John Elway retired as a two-time champ and one-time Super Bowl MVP.   Things were going great...until the NFC Championship Game in 2000.  I had been crushed in '98 when the Vikings had a Super Bowl bid in their grasp but this was going to be the year they redeemed themselves.  After all, I had never watched my favorite team play in the big dance despite their having made four appearances historically.

So what happened in 2000?  The Giants beat them 41-0 only to go on and lose to the Ravens by an anemic 34-7.  I hated the sudden vociferous vocality of Giants fans and I hated the fact that a less talented team beat my esteemed Vikings.  Enter Eli Manning and further said trash talking by the Giants' fans.  I hated Eli's "Aw shucks" Goofie "GAWRSH!" speech and his equally inbred style of play.  Somehow, though, despite his awkward looking style of play, Manning managed to complete passes and have success (Patrick Ewing anyone?)  Until 2007, though, his success was shortened in its scope.  Enter the undefeated New England Patriots.  I'm not a fan of their team but I AM a fan of record-setting statistical performances.  Needless to say, I wanted to see a 19-0 season.  The ending to that Super Bowl will haunt me forever.  Effin' Giants!

I bring up all of this because I now have a son who, presumably, will be into sports as he grows up.  I am excited because I developed such a strong interest in athletics without necessarily having that interest fostered by my Dad.  My hope, then, is that Timmy will be an even bigger sports fan than me simply because of my high level of enthusiasm.  I'm looking forward to seeing what sports and what teams he favors and how he comes to his own conclusions.  Will he be a Heat, Mets, and Vikings guy?  Part of me hopes so...but the bulk of me wants him to have his own teams to root for.  Hopefully it's not the Knicks, Phillies, and Giants...but if it is, at least it'll make those particular games that much more fun to watch!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

"A Serbian Film" or "A Nightmare"

I couldn't fall asleep last night and it was because of a movie I've never even seen; I can count the number of times that's happened to me on one finger. Don't get me wrong--I've had sleeping issues because of movies I've seen but not because of a movie I simply read about. The second recurring nightmare I had in my life when I was little was because of the movie "Troll" or, specifically, one scene from the movie. All I remember is a part of the film where a child's striped ball goes bouncing through an open door down a set of stairs into the basement. I don't remember if you see the Troll's eyes, hear it grunting, or actually see the thing but whatever it was it traumatized me. Cut me some slack--I was two or three years old and for someone of that age, THIS was pretty terrifying:

(The first recurring nightmare came courtesy of the 8 p.m. garbage pickup on Thursdays.  I was two or maybe even younger and I remember the loud screeching sound of the compactor going and the truck's engine, as well as seeing the red lights at the front of the truck that gave it a monstrous resemblance.)

Anyway, after "Troll" it was the movie "Leprechaun" (which, I suppose, is still in the ballpark in terms of creepiness).  Then I went through a freaked-out-by-aliens phase and watching the show "Sightings" with my parents on Friday or Saturday night would definitely render me a bit gun shy about going to sleep (I've never seen "Fire in the Sky" or "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and I don't plan to thank you very much!)  I don't remember any movies that caused me to lose sleep until (unexpectedly) 2002 when Heather and I saw "Signs" in the theater.  I know, I know--I'm probably one of only four people in the entire country that liked the movie...and the only one that got spooked by it.  I think it was more the loud, jarring, startling-in-your-face kind of scares that Shyamalan employed that got me jittery...and then the whole alien thing.  I heard that the reason many people disliked the movie was because the alien looked lame; I wouldn't know as I was looking in between my fingers at the time.  I just remember on the drive home expecting something to jump up from under the car onto the hood.  Maybe it was the thousand-or-so times I've watched the Twilight Zone finally catching up to me.  Who knows.

Next it was "American History X" that caused me a few sleepless nights in succession.  The bathroom scene freaked me out to an unbelievable degree--so much so that I didn't so much as jaywalk for a full week out of fear of winding up in prison.  True story. 

Ed Norton = Amazing.

Finally, I bugged out over "Paranormal Activity" last year.  I know it was hit or miss with people...but it was a mega-hit with me.  There were too many eerie similarities to things that have happened in my house with things that were going on in the film and when I tried to sleep that night all I kept picturing was some unseen demon dragging me out of my bed by my foot. out of the next FOUR nights I slept exactly once...and that was because I was in Atlantic City and imbibed a great deal.

So that brings us up to speed...sort of.  I still need to explain the whole movie-I-haven't-seen-keeping-me-awake thing.  It all happened last night while I was enjoying a North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (seriously--good stuff).  I popped online to check my email and I saw an interesting article in the newsfeed about a Jim Carrey movie I had never heard of.  I could see only a photo of Carrey and another male actor and the title of the film, "I Love You Phillip Morris."  I assumed from the picture that it was a movie about a gay romance but the title made me think it might be another scathing commentary on the cigarette industry.  I clicked on the link and it pulled up the article I will link you to in a moment.  Let me warn you careful what you read on that page and, more importantly, what you might be inclined to look up.  In fact, why not just skip the link for a moment and let me summarize what you'll find there and then you can decide for yourself what you investigate.

So the title of the article is "Most Controversial Movies of All Time: 10 Films That Truly Shocked Audiences."  Let me tell you first that this is a misnomer and is misleading.  Many of these films are nowhere near as controversial as some others that I will outline below but perhaps I am misreading the title.  Said title seems to imply that the list is of the Top 10 Most Controversial Films of all time...but there is a lack of a definite article at the beginning of the title, which might transform it into simply "Ten OF the Most Controversial Films of All Time."  I'll start with the list itself, which is as follows:

"A Serbian Film"
"Fahrenheit 9/11"
"The Passion of the Christ"
"Natural Born Killers"
"The Last Temptation Of Christ"
"Last Tango In Paris"
"Deep Throat"
"A Clockwork Orange"

I'm assuming that the Phillip Morris movie is included in the list...and I have to say I'm surprised that it is.  Homosexual relationships and romances are by no means part of the mainstream media...but neither is America like it was sixty years ago.  Modern American conservativism falls somewhere in between Iran (   Stay classy, Mahmoud!) and Ancient Rome ("Broscious!  Are you going to the orgy later???"  "Dude-icus!  Which one???  LOL  ::Ancient Roman High Five Ensues::); "Brokeback Mountain" was a big deal when it came out (lol) but perspectives have changed since then, so I'm surprised that the Phillip Morris movie would be considered controversial. if you're anything like me you've heard of eight of these films ("A Serbian Film" and "Salo" excluded) and that's a good thing.  From a purely critical standpoint, the list is notably lacking and repetitive in its themes (there are two films about Christ, for example, but none about racism or specific horrific socio-political events).  "Fahrenheit 9/11" isn't even a film (technically) but a documentary...and there are PLENTY of controversial documentaries that could be placed on a list of the top ten most controversial films.  "The Passion of the Christ" was definitely controversial in its own right, particularly because of its violence and its depictions of Jews as evil and money-hungry...but it became even more infamous because of its director's Anti-Semitic rants.

"Kids" is a movie you might not have seen...but you'd be missing out.  It's a disturbing film but it's definitely eye-opening.  The article misidentifies the plot, which I found irritating, but the general premise is the same.  "Natural Born Killers" is a movie I've never seen but I remember the firestorm it sparked when it came out.  It seems to be more about gratuitous violence than anything else and I remember people being disturbed by the sheer quantity of bloodshed in the film.  Again, I would recommend "American History X" for the list though for its level of violence or, more specifically, its style of violence  ("Put your fuckin' mouth on the curb"...yeah...just made me shudder thinking about it).  "Last Tango In Paris" seems to be on the list solely because it was controversial at the time...which could be said for any number of movies ("Psycho" anyone?)

So that leaves us with "Deep Throat," "A Clockwork Orange,"...and the other two.  "Deep Throat," again, is controversial because of the time it was released and the fact that it was a landmark film (as the article says, it turned the X rating into into X-Rated).  I would argue that the film "Caligula" is far more controversial than "Deep Throat" and it came out seven years later. 

Okay--a little note about "Caligula."  Someone told me about this movie a long time ago and said I should never, ever watch it.  Naturally, this inclined me to do so but at the time I had no way of seeing it and eventually I forgot about it.  When I got to college, I found that my friends shared in my general disposition towards gross things (being mostly unaffected or desensitized towards them).  We would often try to gross-out (or out-gross-out, technically) each other with ever-more shocking pictures or stories found on the Internet (even that had its limit though--the idea of a harlequin fetus still freaks me out to this day).  Somewhere along the way I remembered "Caligula" and tricked Heather into watching it with me.

Now, it should be noted that, on paper, "Caligula" sounds probably far worse than "A Clockwork Orange."  I saw part of the latter in my psychology class in undergrad and I found that to be far more disturbing.  I think it was the sense of realism (or perhaps it was real footage being used) of the sexual depravity of some of the scenes that really got under my skin.  With "Caligula," I feel that it was so kitschy and over-the-top that it detracted from what, on paper, sounds pretty horrendous.  It's considered an adult biographical film as well as epic pornography...but it's as unerotic as it gets.  I'm sure there are people who get their jollies from it...but that's a pretty creepy notion.  What also makes both "Caligula" and "A Clockwork Orange" creepy is the fact that they both star Malcolm McDowell!

So now that leaves us with two movies from the controversial list: "A Serbian Film" and "Salo."  Both seem innocuous enough...but not so much.  I read the article sections in order but I'm saving "A Serbian Film" for last for the purposes of my discussion.  Both films are disgusting and disturbing but "A Serbian Film" trumps "Salo" a million times over.

Anyway, regarding the latter, the full title of the movie is: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.  It is based upon the literary work of the Marquis de Sade of the same name (The 120 Days of Sodom).  Without even getting remotely into what I read about the plot of the film (and, presumably of the novel as well), let this excerpt from the Wikipedia article about the book serve as a warning for anyone curious enough to look deeper into the details of the film:

"[The 120 Days of Sodom] tells the story of four wealthy male libertines who resolve to experience the ultimate sexual gratification in orgies. To do this, they seal themselves away for four months in an inaccessible castle with a harem of 46 victims, mostly young male and female teenagers, and engage four women brothel keepers to tell the stories of their lives and adventures. The women's narratives form an inspiration for the sexual abuse and torture of the victims, which gradually mounts in intensity and ends in their slaughter."

"The film focuses on four wealthy, corrupted fascist libertines in Benito Mussolini's Italy in 1944 who kidnap a total of eighteen teenage boys and girls and subject them to four months of extreme violence, sadism, sexual and mental torture. The film is noted for exploring the themes of political corruption, abuse of power, sadism, perversion, sexuality, and fascism."

The sheer violence of the film and its unforgiving filming approach has gotten it banned all over the place and is what renders it so controversial.  The fact that it is based upon a book mitigates the shock value somewhat...but it is still unbelievably hideous.  The fact that it serves as a social commentary (and an effective one at that, from those that have seen it: offers perhaps the only excusable reason for watching it.  Most people (to sum up the thrust of the comments) came away haunted, some to the point that they couldn't eat for an extended period of time and others to the point that they were unable to think of anything but what they had just seen.  Again, since this film is based upon a book and its existence serves to speak to some greater issue(s), it can be understood why someone would watch it...

...but "A Serbian Film"?  There is absolutely no excuse for something like this to exist let alone to have been filmed.  Thankfully, the Serbian government is investigating whether or not the film perpetrates crimes against sexual morals and engenders the endangerment of minors.  The blurb on the Most Controversial Movies list for the film reads as follows:

"Since 'A Serbian Film' debuted at the South by Southwest festival this March, the movie has managed to create a firestorm of controversy in every country it has been screened in. While director Aleksandar Radivojević and others claim the story's graphic depiction of rape, incest and murder is a metaphor for the brutality of the Serbian government, many critics have argued that it's actually a metaphor for morally indefensible torture porn. British authorities refused to allow the film to run in London, while Serbian authorities are currently investigating the movie on charges related to child endangerment."

I have heard stories about the brutality of the Serbian government, particularly in terms of ethnic cleansing, and thus I was curious about the "firestorm of controversy" that this film created.  I will admit, I glazed over the line that cited things of "graphic depiction," with my usual "how-bad-could-it-be?" perspective and looked on Wikipedia for more information about the film.  I started reading...and by then it was too late.

To say that I was horrified would be a gross understatement.  This film isn't just hideous and heinous, it's downright evil.  At the bottom of the article there are a few quotations of critical reviews of the film, which read as follows:

First: "The film was released to great controversy in terms of its graphic and often sexually explicit violence. Screenwriter Srdjan Spasojevic has responded to the controversy with "This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government... It's about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotize you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about."

I have to say, having read the plot of the film (and given the "firestorm of controversy") I have to call Mr. Spasojevic out on his bullshit.  You want to film in black and white an apple sitting on a desk for four hours and tell me that your movie speaks to the ennui of the world or the fact that God abandoned us (both typical artsy bullshit themes) that's fine.  No one's getting hurt or mentally/emotionally scarred.  You take a puppy, cover it in gasoline, light it on fire, and play Christmas music in the background while it burns and tell me that your movie is symbolic of the treatment of refugees in some third world country...and you're starting to cross that line not only of acceptability but of believability as well (let it be said that Mr. Spasojevic has not done either of those things--they're examples I made up to illustrate my point).  But to film what he did in "A Serbian Film" and to then claim that "This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government"?  It's inexcusable and it's fucking sick.  There are plenty of other ways of presenting such a diary.

The final two reviews read:

Scott Weinberg wrote "I think the film is tragic, sickening, disturbing, twisted, absurd, infuriated, and actually quite intelligent. There are those who will be unable (or unwilling) to decipher even the most basic of 'messages' buried within A Serbian Film, but I believe it's one of the most legitimately fascinating films I've ever seen. I admire and detest it at the same time. And I will never watch it again. Ever."

A more critical review came from Alison Willmore: "Movies can use transgressive topics and imagery toward great artistic resonance. They can also just use them for pure shock/novelty/boundary-pushing, which is where I'd group Serbian Film. That it comes from a country that's spent decades deep in violent conflict, civil unrest, corruption and ethnic tensions makes it tempting to read more into the film than I think it actually offers—ultimately, it has as much to say about its country of origin as Hostel does about America, which is a little, but nothing on the scale its title suggests."

Maybe its my sensitivity to the types of violent acts that are portrayed by the film or maybe it's simply the fact that I'm a parent now and have a different outlook on things.  Regardless, I found myself opting for another brew (Founders Breakfast Stout--even MORE incredible than the Rasputin!) after I finished reading the article, knowing that I was not going to sleep well, if at all, and hoping that the 8.30% ABV of the beer would help knock me out (it didn't).  Instead, I found myself tossing and turning, haunted by the images conjured up by the plot summary and, worse, by its closing phrase: "Start with the little one."

If you're of a sensitive disposition, please don't look this movie up; the purpose of my article was to exorcise the terrible, creepy feeling its summary gave me and to warn people about it.  If you think it won't bother you and you read the description or, even better, if you've seen the film (because I know I will never EVER watch this shit) I would love to know if you agree with Srdjan Spasojevic & Scott Weinberg that the film serves as a metaphor, or if you agree with Alison Willmore and myself that to view the film as anything but atrocious and diabolically repulsive is reading into it a bit too much.  Drop a comment and let me know.


I can't end this entry on such a negative, depressing note, so I'll conclude with an anecdote.  After reading the first paragraph or two of the description I thought of the movie "8mm" starring Nicholas Cage (naively, I thought that "A Serbian Film" was going to be similar in its scope and execution).  This morning, I thought of the film and its star again...and I was shocked by the progression that Nicholas Cage's acting career has taken.  To picture him in a film as dark as "8mm" and as villainous or violent characters in "Conair" and "Face/Off"...and then to compare those roles to his more recent endeavors (Disney's "National Treasure" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" to name but two)'s quite a dichotomy.  This, in turn, made me think of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and his equal but opposite progression, going from films such as "The Game Plan," "Race to Witch Mountain," and "Tooth Fairy" to his latest movie "Faster."  It's as if the two actors are linked indelibly by some unseen bizarro universe connection causing one actor to take softer roles while the other toughens up.  I can only imagine what the middle ground would look like should both actors' careers reverse polarity!