Notes from the back row 

Dating and puppet sex

It’s a tricky time of year for real movie fans in this town. You don’t have any money, you want to go to the movies but you don’t want to go alone. And anyone telling me they like going to the movies alone is full of shit. Sure we’ve all done it, I’ve gone solo dozens of times, but only because I couldn’t find a companion. (Except the Britney Spears movie. I was glad none of my friends had to suffer through that.)

Anyhow, what’s a movie fan with limited funds supposed to do? One idea is to take your date to the most popular movie showing on a Saturday night and purposely arrive totally late. Hopefully it’ll be sold out and you can say you’ve already seen everything else. Then suggest the two of you get a video and go somewhere (better her place, you can always leave). Boom, you just skipped a step and saved some cash.

However, if you liked the South Park Movie, grab a date and rush out to see Team America: World Police , the new political/action/comedy/puppet movie from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It’s worth the money. First off, all the movie characters are marionettes (those are the puppets on strings, not the ones you put your fist in). When asked why they made a puppet movie, Stone and Parker replied, "Because we hate actors." Apparently they hate lots of things. Team America is a scathing satire on almost anything you can think of, including Hollywood big-budget action films, World Leaders, both American political viewpoints, the film Pearl Harbour , and even Michael Moore.

Plotwise, Team America is about a terrorist-battling super-squad of soldiers who think the best way to stop a terrorist with a suitcase bomb is to blow up the city he’s trying to bomb, making sure he’s in it. They’re trying to protect the world from terror and all roads end up leading to Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who speaks broken "Engrish" in Cartman’s voice. Team America is chock full of profane songs and dirty speeches, awesome action sequences and puppet sex. While a lot of the never-ending comedy comes from simply watching the puppets dangle around looking sad at how useless their legs are, Team America actually makes so much fun of everyone, it comes out as somehow patriotic. With all the politics and seriousness in movies and the media these days it’s refreshing to see somebody take it the other way, into total absurdity. In my opinion, if you’re pissing people off with your movie, you’re doing something right. And Stone and Parker are the best there is at pissing people off.

What isn’t the best, far from it in fact, is Shall We Dance , a remake of the popular 1997 Japanese import of the same name. This one stars Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon and it’s a stirring tale of…. Ah screw it. Gere and Sarandon are too old to be cool like Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie, and they’re not old enough to be cool like Jack Nicholson or that crazy bitch from TV’s Golden Girls, so they get stuck with scripts like this. And J-Lo doesn’t help anyone. It’s about ballroom dancing for Christ’s sake. Count me out.

By the way, The Heavy Hitting B-Grade HorrorFest is coming up at Millennium Place on Saturday, Oct. 30. If you’re into locally made short horror films (and how could you not be?) then get your tickets as soon as they go on sale Oct. 16 th at Millennium Place box office. These suckers go fast so get two and start looking for a date. This one’s worth the price.

For few more tips on dating in the slow season I bit the bullet and hiked deep into the Callaghan Valley to see my buddy Scotty. Scotty’s a hermit who lives in a burnt out, old-growth cedar stump. The cedar was hit by lightning and somehow retains enough of an electric charge to power a couple lights and a turntable. Scotty hunkers down up there for months on end, listening to old school breaks and philosophizing on life. His advice was simple. "You pay the first time, she pays the next. There’s nothing wrong with treating somebody, but the ship should sail both directions. It isn’t 1920 anymore." Then he reflected a moment and added, "Unless she puts out on the first date. Then you pay again. But otherwise…."

"You’re right Scotty," I said. "If I’m not getting any play with a girl I at least like to break even financially."

"No don’t Feet. You like to be in the hole."

Like a goddamned modern-day Aristotle, that Scotty is.

At Village 8 Oct. 15-21: Team America: World Police; Shall We Dance; Shaun of the Dead; Shark Tale; Taxi; Ladder 49; The Forgotten; Friday Night Lights.

At Rainbow Theatre Oct. 15-21: Anacondas

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