The Wrath Of Columbus

Columbus isn’t exactly Hollywood, California, but this week it sort of seems like it, because they’re making a movie on the streets of Ohio’s capital city.

IMG_5153The film will be called I Am Wrath and it stars John Travolta.  According to the IMDb website, it’s about a husband out for vengeance when his wife is killed and crooked police officers can’t, or won’t, catch the murderer.  It sounds vaguely like Death Wish and a number of other vigilante and quasi-vigilante movies.

There have been a number of Travolta sightings around town, including some shooting along Parsons Avenue close by German Village.  Today the film crew was supposed to work downtown, in the alley that runs between Gay Street and Broad Street.  (Our receptionist said, somewhat breathlessly, that they were going to film a scene in a neighborhood eatery and had cast an actual waitress and cook as extras.)  As a result, the parking spots on our side of Gay Street were unavailable so the movie trucks and trailers would have a place to park, and there were a number of random people — women, especially — wandering around hoping to catch a look at the star of Welcome Back, Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy, Grease, and Pulp Fiction.

I didn’t get to see Mr. Travolta, but I’m glad that they are using Columbus as a backdrop for a movie.  I’m not sure how much revenue a movie crew and actors pump into a city’s economy, but every little bit helps.

Not A Great Name For A Dance Place

I was glad to learn that UJ has been out dancing, because my big brother can bust a move with the best of them.  At one point back in the ’70s, he actually owned a white suit a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

However, I confess that when I read his post about his dancing exploits I was stopped dead by the name of the place where he is cutting a rug.

Cementos?  As in, Cement Toes?  Really?  For a dance place?  Normally you’d think that a dance joint wouldn’t choose a name that conjures up images of lead-footed people stomping on the feet of their hapless partners.

Still, I suppose there are worse names for a dance hall.  Here are some options:

Macarena Time!

The Awkward Geek Lounge

Stumblebum’s

The Drunken, Sweaty Groper

I’m sure there are others, but Cementos is pretty hard to top.

“Inglourious Basterds” Review

inglorious-basterds1

Yesterday, my friends and I went to the Arena Grand to see Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Inglorious Basterds, which he has supposedly been working on for almost a decade. At the very end of the movie, after carving a swastika into a Nazi’s forehead, Brad Pitt’s character turns to the camera and says “I think this is my masterpiece.” Obviously, Quentin Tarantino was speaking to the audience with this line, and is quite proud of this movie.

Tarantino should be proud. He took his usual routine – humorous violence, cool villains, non-stop cheesy pop culture references – and made it work in the setting of the Holocaust, a historical event that few like to joke about, at least openly. Tarantino’s style is toned down slightly, since the 1940s didn’t have the cheesy pop songs or fast food orders of the late 20th century, but everything is still there. When one character, known for killing dozens of Nazi SS officials, is introduced, his name shoots across the screen in bold, bright letters that look like they came from the seventies, and a power guitar chord is sounded. The movie also features a montage set to David Bowie and Giorgio Moroder’s early eighties hit “Cat People”.

Despite Tarantino’s sarcasm, I never felt that the gravity of the Holocaust was disrespected. Brad Pitt’s crew of American Jews intent on killing as many Nazis as possible is always understood to be on a righteous mission, despite their ruthlessness. If anything, the Holocaust setting makes Tarantino’s formula work better. Tarantino’s movies have always glamorized violence, and the fact that most of the violence in Basterds is affecting Nazis makes it easier to enjoy. The scenes that show the violence and hatred of the Nazis are intense and could upset some people, but they served to make Brad Pitt’s murderous acts more excusable and, frankly, enjoyable. They are certainly easier to root for than John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction and even Uma Thurman’s in Kill Bill.

The movie is flawed, mostly in the same ways all of Tarantino’s movies are flawed. The dialogue sometimes drags on too long and feels awkward, some characters (including Brad Pitt’s) are underdeveloped, and the movie itself is too long. But it is good, and Tarantino should get credit for presenting the Holocaust from a new, bold perspective, and doing so quite masterfully.