Monday, May 11, 2009

My clumsiness and THE HARDER THEY COME (83)

I've never thought of myself as clumsy. Sure, on many occasions I've managed to break/hurt myself in a way that completely baffles me, but I always just chalked it up to karmic punishment for a slew of misdeeds I committed in the late '70s. Since my arrival in San Francisco though, it's come to my attention that in general, I'm excessively clumsy. This isn't standard clumsiness, I think, rather it's a sort of magnetic connection to me running in to things, or pulling things off shelves with my elbow, or any other number of accidental collisions/injuries.

Seriously, this isn't a once in a while thing, I'm a full-blooded clutz and I have no idea where this stemmed from. I look over my shoulder sometimes after bobbling a sharp object or tripping over some infinitesimal crack in the sidewalk, and Alex is literally cringing, hands up in defense as who knows where this bundle of flailing limbs might end up.

I wanted to just give a list of the clumsy things I've done in the last three or four days, just to prove my point, and hell, I think, on most occasions, that my bumbling persona is almost endearing and always comical:

1. While trying to eat a chip at my favorite pupusa shop in San Francisco I stopped paying attention briefly and managed to misjudge the chip's trajectory slamming it in to the upper part of my lip, spraying my face with salsa.

2. While joking playing around with a kid's soccer ball at Alex's work, I, again, stopped paying attention, misjudged the power of my kick and smashed the soccer ball in to the back of the chair sending it caromming around the room.

3. Minutes before I had, sigh, misjudged the stability of a table and while trying to talk to Alex's boss, had leaned too heavily on said table, sending shooting out from under me. Luckily I'm used to this sort of misjudgement, so I caught myself and the table.

4. While riding my bike, I attempted to push my dented glasses up on my face, but instead soundly slapped myself in the eye area with a bike-grease covered hand, leaving one side of my hide smarting and imprinted with a disgusting hand print of grease .

And these are just the ones I can remember. I mean literally, I thought about writing every single clumsy act I performed over the last few days but there is only so much paper in the world. But you get the point, I'm a clumsy, clumsy man.

If you've any interest in music history or reggae or just classic albums from the 1970s you've probably heard the soundtrack for The Harder They Come (83), the Jimmy Cliff-starring tale of reggae-artist-turned-outlaw-folk-hero in Jamaica. This is where Toots and The Maytalls premiered "Pressure Drop", this is where "The Harder They Come" first appeared, literally this is one of the corner stones of why reggae is still being blasted from every thick-headed frat boys room. This film made Jimmy Cliff a star, and made reggae a new genre for America to steal from.

The Harder They Come (83)
isn't a bad film by any means. It's entertaining in that sort of cheap-o, exploitive, 1970s cult-film way that has created pedestals for so many decent films. The story of Ivan his rise to moderate success as a reggae star and then his steady downturn in to crime is a classic one, just pushed through a miniscule budget, and made more intense by the grainy camera work and ad hoc editing.

I'll be very honest, I had to turn the subtitles on at some point in this film because I couldn't understand a single fucking thing these thickly accented gentlemen/ladies were saying. For some reason when I have to turn subtitles on in an English speaking movie I always feel vaguely racist, as if I'm just not global teen enough to be able to decipher the almost pidgeon-English of a culture like Jamaica. But, I pushed past my reservations and found myself understanding what was going on far more. Also it's hilarious to see a subtitle that says [indecipherable] or [water pipe being smoked].

This is an exploitation film, rife with violence and music and gratuitous nudity and though I liked that aspect of it, it made the film seem almost too cheap. Sure, the soundtrack is as famous as any out there, but when every song from said soundtrack is played in the first thirty minutes of the film you wonder, "What will they play next?" After hearing "The Harder They Come" seven times and "Pressure Drop" for the fifth time, it becomes quite clear, they'll just play the soundtrack over and over again. And it will, even with its sunny ganja-laced disposition, grate on you.

I watched this film with a smile on my face, enjoying it a decent amount, really enjoying Jimmy Cliff's dark-hearted anti-hero Ivan. But I couldn't get past the fact that the film tried to portray Ivan as a hero to the people of Jamaica, but all I could see was an exceptionally screwed up man, thrust in to the spotlight because of his violent activities. A celebrity in the mold of today, infamous, but nonetheless a household name.

For you reggae kids, this will probably float your boat down the mighty Mississippi, I just wasn't that impressed.

Tuesday: Good Morning (84)

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