Sunday, August 30, 2009

Choke on it, bitch: reflections on infernal tokens of exchange

Forgive me, blogger for I have sinned. It's been three months since my last post.

But this time I've changed. I really have. I'm going to post more frequently, stop eating ice-cream and be nicer to puppies (like giving up eating puppy ice-cream for a start, furry and fattening).

Having been away a long time, I thought I'd kick off with an easy topic. A crappy film I just watched.

Drag me to hell, starring the delightful Alison Lohman (rowrrr, etc)

In this film, Lohman plays a bank loans officer bucking for promotion who is cursed by an old gypsy woman when she refuses to grant her a third extension on her over-due mortgage. The gypsy attacks her, rips a button off her coat and um curses it. The effect of this curse is that Lohman will be visited by demon for three days running after which she will be dragged to hell for all eternity to suffer burning and sharp poking and Family Ties re-runs.

Firstly, this is a little harsh for, you know, just doing your job as a minor functionary in the halls of not-quite high finance. Eternity is a long time. Longer than the list of stuff found in Michael's Jackson's blood. (Boom-tish. Too crass?)

Secondly, it's a little hard to create dramatic tension around a button. Normally, these things are done with rings or golden chalices or burnished swords. Not usually those cute as a, uh, you know thing, that you keep your shirt from flying open with.

"Uh, well, it's a nice little teal and tortoise-shell affair with four holes and a smooth glossy finish and its a portal to hell!" Somehow I just don't associate paths to eternal damnation with the rag-trade. I don't know. Maybe it's just me.

We're also asked to believe that Alison Lohman, in real-life an urbane and sophisticated Hollywood stick-figure on 144 GSM paper, is a previously fat farm girl. I think she would stand a good chance of out-weighing the demonic button but not by much. (Her previous weight problem and a few scenes involving food and throats and shit like that led one IMDB theorist to opine IN SHOUTING CAPITALS!!! that it was all in her head as a result of anorexia. Um maybe.)

Anyhoo, once her scheme to unload said demon fails, she learns she can unload her impending fate by simply giving the button to another person. Ouch. Life is cheap and hell is cheaper (but nice 400-thread cotton sheets, not so cheap).

She learns (so much learning! A B-movie is not unlike kindergarten) that she can give the er button back to the cursing gypsy (even though the woman's now passed beyond the bank's earthly jurisdiction if you know what I mean). This leads to immortal piece of Shakespearian wit: “Choke on this, bitch.”

I'm just disappointed in their choice of one-liners. Would it have been so hard to go to the next level: “Choke on this, bitch! With interest!” Or “jam that up your fixed-rate derivatives portfolio!”

[Spoilers!!] The nasty twist at the end (a turn of the screw, a flip of the button) is that the satanic, um, button is in an envelope which falls to the floor of her boyfriend's car after a sudden stop. She looks around for it desperately and then finds it, neglecting to actually check if the hell-spawn chemise-fastener is indeed in there. So when she re-gifts it to the old biddy she's just passing on an empty envelope sans bouton as the French say and hence does not avoid her fate.

Which reminds me of two things I already knew:
1.Fashion is pain; and
2.In the end, everything comes down to good stationery management.

You have been warned.