Scouting on the summer movie fringe

By Jon Roig

Arizona Summer Wildcat

"Each one of us, at one time or another, has a terrible idea that, for a moment, we think is a burst of genius."

─ Craig Nelson, Bad TV

When the temperatures rise and you feel your energy being slowly sapped away by the summer air, sometimes there's no alternative but to sit inside and vegetate. TV's good for a quick fix, but too much "Doogie Howser, M.D." and you'll never be the same again. Movies, especially during the summer, seem to be a source of salvation ... only the much-hyped summer blockbusters not only fail to deliver entertainmentwise, it's hard to feel completely engrossed in the story when you've just payed seven dollars for admission to, uh, say "Casper", and three bucks for a small drink.

There are, however, alternatives. The local video stores and Gallagher, the on-campus theater, can provide plenty of entertainment those of us that lack an unlimited entertainment budget.

Studio executives ─ they're not like you and me. Their "ideas," usually validated by market research, are what drive the entertainment industry. Usually, as movies require vast resources and cooperation to make, there's a built-in system of checks and balances that forces a certain level of quality. "It's Pat", however, makes us painfully aware that the system can sometimes fail.

One has to wonder what boardroom exec came up with the idea to turn the "It's Pat" sketch on Saturday Night Live into a full-length film. At less than 10 minutes in length, the sketch wasn't bad. We got to watch the main character, Pat, wander around aimlessly while the people around him/her/it tried to guess Pat's sex. Now imagine that for 76 minutes straight. No commercials. No musical guests (unless you count the band Ween's small part). Just Julia Sweeney as Pat.

To be fair, it's a little more complicated than that. There's a whole love triangle that develops. See, Pat falls in love with the equally sexually ambiguous Chris (played by David Foley of The Kids in the Hall), while Kyle (Charles Rocket) becomes obsessed with the Pat gender question and goes insane trying to win Pat's love. Much madcap behavior ensues, but really it's the same tired joke over and over and over again.

Before that scares you away from the video store forever, there are, however some good new releases out on video. Take for instance, "A Low Down Dirty Shame". Andrew Shame (played by Keenen Ivory Wayans, who also directed the movie) plays a down-on-his-luck ex-cop who is forced to work as private detective. Desperate for money, he's glad to take on a missing persons job for his old mid

friend Sonny (Charles S. Dutton). Without ruining the story for you, it should be said that Shame's the type of black private dick who's hip with all the chicks.

Shaft, anyone? Wayans, formerly of "In Living Color" on FOX, seems to draw most of his ideas from the black exploitation movies of the 70's. Way back in1988, Wayans' film "I'm Gonna You Sucka" mercilessly parodied movies like "Shaft", "The Avenging Disco Godfather", and "Superfly". It doesn't seem out of character or beyond his reach to update the "blaxploitation" genre for the '90s.

The video store isn't the only quick and cheap movie fix in town ─Gallagher started it's new summer season this week. Aside from the normal second run films that you missed in the "real" theater ("Outbreak", "Dolores Claiborne") and the classics you never caught on the big screen ("Cinema Paradiso", "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"; "Vertigo"), they'll be showing some rather odd movies that you might not have ever heard of or had the chance to catch on the big screen.

If you had to say what type of movie "Spanking the Monkey" was, you might call it a "drama/comedy/incest" movie. It's about a promising medical student (Jeremy Davies) who has to give up an important internship to take care of his bedridden mother (Alberta Watson). Basically, he goes insane and ends up sleeping with her ─ that's the super-short summary, it's more complex than that. Anyway, it's probably not a good first date-type movie, but it's still an interesting and totally unique film. That'll be playing June 16th and 19th.

Speaking of unique, a big thanks in advance goes to the Gallagher folks for bringing "Delicatessen" to campus. Set in post-apocalyptic France where food is scarce, the film follows a young and somewhat naive man recruited by the residents of a very surreal apartment complex to work as an odd jobs/repairman in exchange for room and board. Little does he know that the residents are all cannibals and this is their way of luring new victims into their lair while getting all the necessary repairs done. Only the French could come up with something this twisted. If you're not into subtitles, you might wanna steer clear, but if you don't mind reading while watching a movie and you're in the mode for something really, really strange, "Delicatessen" is worth checking out on July 20-21.

Read Next Article