Monday, November 14, 2016

Don't Laugh, It Could Happen

And in further post-election news, Film Roasters came through like a champ.

Given that it was Monday and still pouring down rain, I could've stayed in. Except why would I do that when I could walk half a mile, snag a sandwich, see a John Carpenter film and listen to Film Roasters mock it mercilessly?

Apparently not everyone was willing to trudge through all-day puddles for the same, meaning I had little competition for bar stools when I got to Strange Matter in time to overhear the bartender ask the one guy at the bar how he was.

"As well as can be expected for this week," he sighed, signaling his willingness to engage in political talk once I'd ordered my BLAT on wheat with slaw. Turns out he went to school in Arlington with Mike Pence's kids, although he assured me they were pretty normal people.

From there, we took off on a 20-minute analysis of the campaign and election, with a new arrival joining the fray when she sat down. All three of us looked up when the smell of burning began singeing our nose hairs, only to learn from the bartender that she'd just turned on the venue's heat for the fist time this Fall.

"Just burning off the Summer dust," one of the owners said nonchalantly and I couldn't complain since I'd finally broken down and turned mine on today, too. There's definitely a smell to first time use.

I managed to finish my sandwich moments before the screening of John Carpenter's "They Live" got started. As is usually the case with these events, I'd not only never seen the movie, but I hadn't even heard of it.

Still, I have a musician friend who worships at the altar of John Carpenter, as much for his quirky films as for the fact that he writes his own music for them, so I felt sure I could count on a good time and a fine A/V experience.

The pre-show trivia question was about Roddy Piper's real name (Roderick), which was my first clue that the wrestler was in the film, much less that he'd acted in a legit movie back in '88.

Just another gaping hole in my cultural literacy filled tonight.

Film Roasters had chosen the perfect post-election movie because this one was all about dismantling the sleeping middle class, except with an epic 5 1/2 minute alley fight scene I closed my eyes for most of.

So far as I could tell, the film followed a drifter who finds out that humans are being controlled by wearing special sunglasses that not only reveal which people are aliens and which still human, but also give them messages to obey (prompting cracks about Shepard Fairey), spend, consume and, worst of all, marry and procreate when they have them on.

On the way to figuring this out, Roddy takes a job working construction ("Look, they're building a Trump hotel!"), which requires being shirtless like the other guys, causing the Film Roasters guys to comment, "Hey, this is a construction site, not a Playgirl shoot," a particularly apt remark given the film's era.

That was far from the only Trump commentary the guys made ("Meanwhile, on Trump TV...") or even political snark  because when we see "They live, we sleep" written on a wall, one guy quips, "That was Hillary's campaign slogan".

Wrestling jokes also abounded (when a guy starts playing the harmonica, Film Roasters joked, "Come and listen to my story 'bout a guy named Hulk Hogan") because they could.

As our hero searches through boxes for the transformative sunglasses, "We'll find that plot around here somewhere!" and when the vaguely familiar face of an extra appeared onscreen, "Hey, is that the kid from "Dawson's Creek?"

Don't ask me. What's "Dawson's Creek?"

As funny and apt as the two Film Roasters guy were, nothing could top John Carpenter's original dialog when our hero stated his mission.

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum," Roddy says, shotgun and pistol in hand.

As I already knew from past Film Roasters events, these guys have very limited tolerance for the pacing of pre-21st century movies, whining, "They do everything in this movie too slow!" and any time a character had more than two sentences to say, they'd respond with a yawn and, "Is there a part two to this story?"

When the film referenced the "human power elite," they translated it to, "Republicans!" like it was a dirty word. Wait...

"They Live" ended with Roddy's partner being killed by the pretty girl, so he kills her and shoots out the broadcasting dish that's been brainwashing the masses only moments before the aliens hovering in a helicopter shoot him.

And you know what our hero does as a final gesture? He gives the aliens the finger, that's what, because he knows he's destroyed their means of communication and now humans can see the aliens in their midst without the evil sunglasses.

Success and final satisfaction!

You'd think that would be enough for Carpenter, but, oh, no, there's one more scene, this one with a naked girl having sex cowgirl-style alien, whom she can now see for who he actually is. Film over.

"That's really how it ends!" one of the Film Roasters guys said in amazement.

As the small crowd gathered up their stuff to leave and tonight's metal/punk/crust band began bringing in their instruments for the later show, the other Film Roaster called out merrily.

"Happy post-election, everyone!" Funny, not funny.

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