Notes from the back row 

The eight-gauge of Christmas

Ah, Christmas. Remember how Lethal Weapon starts off with Mel Gibson sitting on his couch watching Christmas specials on TV, and then he puts a gun in his mouth? That was awesome.

They say suicide rates are higher around Christmas season, but it’s not true. In fact, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association website, suicide numbers are actually lower this time of year — it’s depression rates that go through the roof.

Regardless, I’m hoping for a shotgun this Christmas, an eight-gauge shotgun, double barrel. Unless you live in Pemberton you might not understand the ‘gauge’ system of measurement. Each gauge refers to the number of lead balls of a size exactly fitting the barrel required to make one pound. If you had twelve lead balls approximately 18 mm in diameter, you would have a pound. So a 12-gauge barrel is about 18-mm wide. Doing the math, an eight-gauge would mean 8 balls make the pound so they’d be bigger by about a third, say 24-mm. As well, an eight-gauge shell holds almost twice as much gunpowder which means an eight-gauge is basically a handheld cannon, just carrying one around made you a badass in the old Wild West.

  Case in point – Appaloosa , a 2008 western starring Ed Harris,Viggo Mortenson, and his eight-Gauge soon to be out on DVD. The movie isn’t all that great — Rene Zellwegger ruins most of it with her scrunchy face and shitty acting– but Viggo carries an eight-gauge around almost the entire flick and he lights it up a couple times too. The eight-gauge can make a pretty big hole. Remember the giant carnivorous worm in the basement scene of Tremors? Killed by an eight-gauge.

The silver screens of the Village 8 will also be lit up this Christmas, with some pretty decent movies.             The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in a 160-minute love story in which Pitt is born an old man and ages in reverse. Sounds weird, and tricky to pull off, but director David Fincher ( Se7en, Zodiac, Fight Club) is a cinematic master and here he’s made an engaging epic that also carries a gauzy, detached, dreamlike feel. Pitt’s Ben Button is a tragic observer, out of synch with the world, time, and the nature of love and mortality. Cinematically, Benjamin Button is a visual treat but it also has something to say about the fleeting nature of true happiness and even though we’re all gonna end up in the grave, it’s how you get there that’s important. Kinda long, kinda weird, and not a flick isn’t for everyone but Benjamin Button is a fresh film that’s one of the best of 2008.

Marley and Me also opens on Christmas and stars Jennifer Aniston alongside Owen Wilson and a misbehaving yellow dog. Based on the super-popular, tear-jerker memoir by John Grogan, Marley is more than just a cute dog movie. It’s a coming-of-age (abeit a bit late) tale for a man who must mature and grow into his marriage and family and tolerate a dog that, despite his worst, eventually proves the old ‘man’s best friend’ adage. Do you know a girl who likes dogs? Take her to this one, then home to your pooch — second base guaranteed.

Next up is Bedtime Stories , a Disney film in which parts of what happen in two kids’ bedtime stories come true the next day. Adam Sandler stars, which is weird because his best comedy has never been kid-friendly.

And finally, Valkyrie is a no-advanced-screenings mega blockbuster where Tom Cruise goes hunting for Hitler and doesn’t get him. Tom probably should have used an eight-gauge– those suckers don’t miss. Merry Christmas.


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