Pumpkin [2002)

This is almost a perfect film.

Because it’s better than perfect.

Like Napoleon Dynamite, what should have been a larf was generally a sobfest for me throughout.

If you’re having problems in life, you need to see this movie.

Hollywood is so denigrated these days because the vast majority of popular cinema is utter shite.

From the very beginning, Pumpkin is different.

We should thank American Zoetrope.

And for that we have to thank Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

Do you even know what a zoetrope is?

Well, I do.

And they did.

And it was le mot juste.

A zoetrope is special.

Let’s call it retarded cinema.

A more pure form.  Slowed down.

Pumpkin grossed $308,552 at the box office.

No, I didn’t forget a comma and an additional three digits.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics has no way of predicting the sort of inflation Pumpkin will experience in the annals of cinema history.

For any who have ever doubted Christina Ricci:  this is her masterpiece.

As lead actress and coproducer, she gives a performance which goes deeper than even the esteemed Thora Birch in Ghost World.

Yes, this is that sort of film.

Indispensable.

I have overused it of late.

But there is no other word.  Pumpkin and Ghost World and Napoleon Dynamite are not second-class films to such as I fidanzati.  No.  They are equals with Ermanno Olmi’s masterpiece.

But don’t get confused.

Pumpkin goes in a direction completely “other” than any film I’ve ever seen.

Sure…it starts out tongue-in-cheek.

It is perhaps a dystopia which is best summed up by the saccharine mise-en-scène of The Truman Show.  But where The Truman Show fails (and that is in many places), Pumpkin succeeds at telling a timeless story.

The story is the cast.

[Thank you Marshall McLuhan.]

Ricci is a thespian goddess here.  Real skill.  Real goddamn skill!

But neck-and-neck is Hank Harris.

I can’t nail it.

It’s something I saw long ago.

At my college orientation.

A bit of Sam Shepard and some other playwrights.

Sure.  It is Steinbeck.  Of Mice and Men.

But it’s more.

Sweeter.  More optimistic.  More frothing with disgust.

All three.

A concoction.

Frozen yogurt and 1400 on the SAT.

Harry Lennix is indispensable to the story.  [start counting]

He is the angry poet.  Not a college professor.  And this is not a class.

This is a poetry workshop, motherfucker!

Even Julio Oscar Mechoso is indispensable in his short role as Dr. Frederico Cruz.  [where we at?]

But let’s talk about some buttresses.

Melissa McCarthy is indispensable (truly) as Julie.

It’s not an easy role.

And yet, she’s not as bad off as Pumpkin.

Who’s Pumpkin?

Is it Christina Ricci with her jack-o’-lantern-perfect bob–her Chantal Goya -meets- David Bowie Low surf perm?  That one little curl…so perfect…all the way ’round?

No.

It’s Hank Harris.

He’s Pumpkin.  Napoleon.  Lothario.

But Sam Ball is especially indispensable here.  [Ugh…]

He is Ken (actually Kent) to Ricci’s Barbie.

Tennis pro.

Spitting image of Ryan Reynolds.

Or Whitney Houston…

Anyway.

This cast brings it together.

Bringing it all back home are directors Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder (neither of whom have a Wikipedia page).

BLOODY HELL, HOLLYWOOD!  HOW COULD YOU CHURN OUT SO MANY FILMS AND NOT SEE THE BRILLIANCE OF THESE TWO BLOKES!?!?!?!?!

But in the end it’s just Ricci and Hank Harris.

The brilliance of a duo.

A truly timeless film.

I’m inclined to agree with many (including Dr. Steve Pieczenik) that Adam Lanza did not exist.

But Pumpkin Romanoff (a nod to Michael Romanoff, the storied Lithuanian restaurateur of 1940s/50s Hollywood?) most certainly did exist.  For me.  Tonight.  When I needed him most.

This is immortality.

 

-PD

#5 The Trouble with Mr. Bean [1992)

This is more like it.

Perhaps the most classic bit of all.

Getting dressed in the Mini Cooper.

Brushing his teeth.

Rinsing with the windshield wiper fluid.

It’s bloody clever!

The dentist appointment is rather good, though it’s hard to follow the adventurous trip which precedes it.

The final picnic bit is rather lame.

But the very opening…yes, let’s go back to the top.

Bean, apparently, has an immensely difficult time waking up.

I can wholeheartedly sympathize with that.

He has his grandfather clock.

And then a small alarm on his right nightstand.

And finally a tea kettle alarm on the other nightstand to which he has affixed a hose which runs to the foot of the bed…to spray scalding hot water on his foot.

But there are no snooze buttons.

The little alarm is dropped into a glass of water.

The hose is stopped up by the muscle memory of his big toe.

And back to sleep he goes.

Which all explains why he must rush to the dentist in the fist place.

But let’s examine something else.

In this episode, Bean’s childlike nature is on full display.

He sleeps beneath an A-Team blanket (upon which Mr. T’s flannel, pastel head is displayed clearly).

But just as importantly, Bean sleeps with his teddy bear by his side.

For Bean, his teddy bear is a living entity…a toy doll with feelings.

So Bean tucks in the bear for some extra Zzzz…allowing his faithful friend to sleep in.

And thus begins the frantic race to the dentist.

Furthermore, Bean is solely interested in reading a Batman comic book at his dentist’s office.

None of the vast magazine collection in the waiting room will suffice.

And about that picnic scene…

At least it reminded me that Rowan Atkinson is essentially a mime on this show.

Indeed, he says only one word in his basso profundo voice during this episode.

“Bean”, he intones, as he arrives at the opaque receptionist’s window.

For those in search of art, look no further.

The man says one word.  In the entire episode.

Not zero.  And not 571.

But merely one.

Directors Paul Weiland and John Birkin were starting to get the hang of things with this one.

Highly recommended!

But don’t let your nose hair get caught in your Norelco (as Mr. Bean painfully finds out).  Always reminds me of El Sayyid Nosair.  And Meir Kahane.  And the Jewish Defense League.  MIPT (and by extension, Homeland Security) classifies the JDL as merely a “former terrorist organization”.  (Jewish terrorists…imagine that!)  Even the ADL gets it right regarding the similar sounding JDL:  “thugs and hooligans”.

Kahane (founder of this former Jewish terrorist organization) has a nice little monument in Kahane Park in the West Bank.  Which is to say, Israel seems proud of their terrorist martyrs.  What hypocrisy!

-PD