First, my apologies for the late review. Google Chrome seems to have decided that it doesn’t want to run Hotmail, so I am being forced to suffer through the slow-moving horror that is Internet Explorer. To get over your shock and disappointment at the late review I suggest you try and think of it like a weekend version of a daily paper – an Observer, if you will, or a Mail On Sunday, which you probably won’t. Now, down to business.
Our second MNFC Christmas gathering was also our third session hosted by an MNFC virgin this year. Susan swelled the ranks of the south London MNFC contingent and brought us all to Clapham for an evening of mulled wine, festive treats, pizza and comedy. She also provided a few more technological firsts, showing the film on a Smart TV and iPad combo (there were a few teething problems with this, which led to some discussion as to whether the TV was in fact not-so-smart, or whether this label should be applied to its owners; I know which one I’d go for).
The comedy came courtesy of Little Miss Sunshine, the 2006 film about a young girl travelling to compete in a beauty pageant with her family. The film manages to be a feelgood comedy despite covering such topics as death, drug addiction, marital breakdown, suicide and general family dysfunction. This is down to an excellent ensemble cast. Abigail Breslin played seven year old Olive, managing to be completely adorable and very moving without any trace of child star annoyingness. Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear played Olive’s parents, Sheryl and Richard, and Steve Carell was convincing as Sheryl’s suicidal academic brother, with a fine range of tortured expressions; surprising for a man who is most famous for playing the equivalent of David Brent in the American version of The Office. Olive’s electively mute half brother Dwayne, was played very expressively by Paul Dano, but the man who stole the show was Alan Arkin as Richard’s drug-taking, potty-mouthed father. Although the character only featured in half of the film, he was responsible for the shocking but hilarious final scenes at the beauty pageant (I have to confess that I’ve forgotten who sang ‘Superfreak’, and I was too scared of what might come up if I typed it into Google to check!).
Arkin won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in the film. Abigail Breslin was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar but lost out to Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls. The film was nominated for Best Picture (The Departedwon), and won the statuette for Best Original Screenplay.
The post-film chin-stroking was brief and not particularly deep, but it did allow us the opportunity to recap on all our favourite funny moments of the film.
e.g. ‘Buns & Ammo: Cocked and loaded’
The jammed horn on the van – just why is that so funny?!
Steve Carell’s running
Anything Grandpa said
I was also particularly impressed that the film managed to portray adult beauty queens and paedophiles in quite a sympathetic/humorous light.
There was a general consensus amongst us that child beauty pageants are a thoroughly disturbing thing, but it seems that we are in a minority. Apparently one of the most popular shows on American TV network TLC is Toddlers & Tiaras, a reality show following aspiring young beauty queens and their families as they prepare for pageants. You can even Toddlerize yourself on the site, so that you too can look like one of these
creepy, dead-eyed doll-children lovely little angels.
For some reason we managed to chin-stroke our way onto the subject of Macaulay Culkin again, and also covered Slankets and onesies. For those of you unfamiliar with Slankets, click here. Couples (and chocolate-lovers) among us will be happy to discover the existence of the Siamese slanket (‘ if you do manage to drop any chocolate crumbs they won’t even show up! ‘). And just for Lucy, here is a special Newsnight investigation into the strange surge in popularity of the onesie.
I think there was very much a missed opportunity for some serious discussion of Proust and Nietzsche, but as none of us really know anything about either of them (even me, and Proust was one of my final year topics for my degree!) it probably wouldn’t have lasted very long anyway. I had planned to provide you with a couple of summaries about both men and their oeuvres, but frankly it’s beyond me (and I can’t be arsed). So, please consult Wikipedia at your leisure, and enjoy these quotes from the wonderfully named BrainyQuote: Friedrich “That which does not kill us makes us stronger” Nietzsche and Marcel “Love is a reciprocal torture” Proust. For those with a special interest in Proust, here is Monty Python’s attempt to summarise ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’.
So, next MNFC is in the ’Stow on the 21st January, Tuesday Review to be provided by a volunteer. All that remains is for me to say Happy Christmas, and may the festive season bring you an excess of food and drink, and plenty of sunshine!
THERE’S TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD, THERE’S FASCISTS AND THERE’S LOSERS.