Monday, April 27, 2009

It's just like riding a bike again and W.C. FIELDS - SIX SHORT FILMS (79)

I think I said at some point on this blog that I've recently purchased a bike. To most this doesn't seem to be a big deal, but I've been actively avoiding riding bikes for four or five years now and the idea that I've actually taken the time and effort to find a bike and the purchase said bike and am now "riding" this bike as much as possible is honestly a huge leap forward for me. Sad? Maybe. Invigorating? Possibly. Mostly though, it's been ego-bruising.

Turns out I'm pretty awful at riding a bike. All that talk about "it's just like getting back on a bike" seemingly don't apply to me. My ankles, legs, hands, and sensitive nether-regions are a testament to the number of times shuddered to a stop, dragging my chain/pedal across some exposed part of my body. I don't know what it is, but I'm just not that good at bike-riding. I went on what's referred to as a Cougar Run last Wednesday, two days after getting my bike, and in front of a group of true bike enthusiast I ate complete shit, twice. Asidet from that I was asked by a burly man named Jeremiah if the bike I was struggling to get on to (in my defense, I was wearing a very short, very exposing dress) was in fact my bike at all. I certainly left the evening red-faced, bloody and with a smited self-confidence.

Strangely enough, my biggest surprise is how annoyed I am that I'm not good at bike-riding. I guess I just assumed through my life that I'd be decent at least at everything I tried and this has proven me quite wrong. In turn this has exposed another daunting aspect: the reason why I've been unknowing of this inability to be bad at things is probably because for the last few years of my life, I haven't been trying very many new things. And now that I'm in a new city with new people and new, well, shit to try, I'm realizing that I'm not going to be good at all of it, that I'm going to have to struggle and as frightening as that is, it's actually pretty fucking exhilarating.

W.C. Fields - Six Short Films (79) should've come first in the W.C. Fields section of The Criterion Collection as it's more of a historical view of the growth of the W.C. Field's character. Truthfully, I have very little to say about this collection of shorts. I found The Bank Dick (78) to be funny in a pretty corny, dated way and these shorts, many made long before that film, were even cornier and more dated and I struggled to keep myself interested.

Fields is rightfully a comedic legend. He's a truly hilarious physical comedian and as he developed as a comedian, he added this sort of under-the-breath insult that just cracks me up. Unfortunately six of his short films, watched in one marathon session, completely bored me. It's just the same thing over and over and over again. W.C. Fields is some sort of business owner and oh the wacky things W.C. Fields can do with his customers. The most interesting thing I read about these films are the idea of Field's being this well received misanthrope. A true asshole, but one who somehow ended up charming the pants of an entire country. If you watch the films, the shorts especially, he is particularly mean-spirited. He hates his customers, loves torturing them in bizarre ways, and seems completely racist in most scenes. Perhaps it was the air of the time, or just the general way things were done back in the day, but he was accepted and revered for this mean-spirit.

Watch these films if you're a completist, if not just stick with The Bank Dick (78) or the thirty or forty other of his feature length films I've never seen and probably never will.

Tuesday: The Element of Crime (80)

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