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Monday Movies, You Are So Mercifully Free from the Ravages of Intelligence

Let’s start with a song!

Time Bandits was a childhood favorite, a VHS prize worn down to the tracking. But Mrs. K-sky only ever saw the trailer, and once more into the breach. It unquestioningly holds up.

A couple of things I noticed this time that I hadn’t before:

Katharine Helmond (Brazil, Who’s The Boss) is instantly recognizable. Peter Vaughan, whom you may have enjoyed as Maester Aemon out at the Wall, was a surprise.

Kevin, the boy whose bedroom wardrobe hosts a time-hole, isn’t a particularly active or commanding hero, although he was a great window character for young K-sky in 1982. He does have an interesting role to play in the way the movie sets up value oppositions, however. His parents are obsessed with modern gadgetry, living in a perpetually fritzing ultra-modern kitchen. Evil (credited on imdb as “Evil Genius”) shares their obsession, disdaining Creation and its slugs and wanting to wipe the slate clean and start over with “subscriber trunk dialing.” The bandits operate on an entirely different axis; they want to use the map of the the time-holes in creation to pull off audacious heists and get stinking rich. (As in my childhood D&D games, the encumbrance question is left unanswered. Where does all the loot go?)

Before the medieval knight comes crashing through Kevin’s wall, that wall is plastered with drawings of the same knight. Kevin wants to see the places and meet the people. He has no interest in the conversion of history into cash nor in its erasure with technology — he wants to go there.

Of course, since it’s a Terry Gilliam film, this doesn’t entirely pay off, other than to establish him as wiser, more alert and more courageous than the bandits. “Why did all those people have to die?” Kevin asks the Supreme Being at the end, after a battle royale ends with a deus ex machina. “Something about free will,” answers the Creator. Of course, the very end of the film is even darker and funnier.


The idea of a children’s film where the parents blew up was not possible. We had a screening in Fresno, California. It was one of those NRG screening where they hand out the cards and you fill in [your reactions]. It gives the audience a chance to have power over the filmmaker and they really grasp that moment. Something was wrong with the print and it went through the wrong sound system so the first at least third of the film was garbled. People were leaving. On the questionnaire, there were all these questions. One of the questions was ‘What was your favorite part of the film?’ and one of the answers was ‘The end.’ I took the cards home, because it’s very nice to read them because you see the handwriting. You can see the anger, you can see the joy of the person writing this stuff. It was clear that because of this terrible sound system and so many people leaving that the part they liked best about the film was the end. It was over is what they meant. But when you looked at the statistics the next day, the part of the film that was most loved about the film was the end because of the parents blowing up! So I won and got the parents blowing up!

Wikipedia notes that the band of dwarves match up neatly to the Monty Python troupe.

What have you seen?


August 22, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies | ,


  1. Such a great movie — though seeing something like that as a kid is inconceivable to me. I was subjected to so much boring Christian shit, when I got to watch movies at all.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | August 22, 2011

  2. I watched the Watchmen, though it should probably be mentioned I did so in the edited TNT version. So I was subjected to “gosh damn”s instead of “goddamn”s, but on the plus side was spared Dr. Manhattan’s genitalia (I thought it would have been funny if they would have made the blurred box like two feet long. “Well, Manhattan is rather large.”)

    Unfortunately, the editing was only for objectionable content and did not extend to the story itself. This movie seemed to me like the sum of the worst parts of comic books. Overly serious, cornball dialog from overly serious, boring heroes.

    Perhaps I’m a dullard, but what was the point of Rohrschach’s (too lazy to check spelling) mask? My understanding of Rohrschach tests is your interpretation of the shapes is telling, and I see that it could be considered clever that your understanding of Rohrschach’s being a hero/villain could be telling about yourself, but why would his mask constantly changing be significant?

    By definition, the interpretation is all about viewer of the ink spots so it would seem to be independent of him, and if it’s constantly changing, almost meaningless. So I fail to see the point.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | August 22, 2011

  3. I saw Singin’ in the Rain. You know what? It’s a good movie! Also, I learned,a s I did not know before, that all the songs in it had previously appeared in earlier musicals. (As opposed to having previously appeared in later musicals.) This is kind of funny given the haphazard construction of the film within the film—just pasting some modern scenes around the ancien regime stuff the title requires.

    Comment by ben | August 22, 2011

  4. One of my favorite recent Glee moments was the Will & Mike Chang performance of Make ‘Em Laugh — Harry Shum, Jr. is just great to watch.

    I have been pleading for a musical version of The Fugitive starring Neil Patrick Harris and Justin Timberlake, but I’m thinking if we add Shum, Jr. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt we’re close to a fantastic Reservoir Dogs.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | August 22, 2011

  5. 8/16/11 – The Road Home – Zhang Yimou 2000
    uncontrollable sobbing; simple but perfect love story between illiterate peasant girl in mountain village and new schoolteacher; first movie of Zhang Ziyi who dominates the film and takes my breath away; neat is that this isn’t any pretty picture landscape but more subtly attractive

    8/17/11 – Marusa no onna – Itami 1987
    taxing woman;terrific soundtrack

    8/18/11 – Accident – Losey 1967
    8/20/11 – The Only Son – Ozu 1936
    8/20/11 – Air Doll – Koreeda 2009
    Koreeda’s a treasure;inflatable sex doll comes to life and explores her self and the world that made her; art, not exploitation although there are a couple uncomfortable semi-consensual scenes;quotes Levinas and Little Mermaid;drags down into a dark ending that many people felt was too long. This movie is amazing in so many ways, including great cinematography and humanistic vignettes that coalesce

    8/20/11 – Botched – Kit Ryan 2007 heist/slasher gorefest comedy;”stupidly entertaining from beginning to end” including deliberately bad Russian accents

    8/21/11 – Tales of Earthsea – Goro Miyazaki (son) 2006
    nothing spectacular;nothing to complain about;solid first film

    Comment by bob mcmanus | August 22, 2011

  6. Singin’ in the Rain is an amazing movie.

    I actually disliked the Will and Mike Chang performance of Make ‘Em Laugh. But I love k-sky’s imagined recasting of Reservoir Dogs.

    Comment by jms | August 22, 2011

  7. Oh what the hell happened there. I meant to link to this.

    Comment by jms | August 22, 2011

  8. I don’t know what jms was trying to do but I agree with her.

    Comment by ben | August 22, 2011

  9. Oh now I see.

    Comment by ben | August 22, 2011

  10. Singin’ in the Rain is an amazing movie.

    Prefer Band Wagon and Kiss Me Kate but Singin might be third for that era

    Comment by bob mcmanus | August 23, 2011

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