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Archive for December 2011

Kubrick’s The Killing: Why Do They Shoot the Horse?

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Why does the plot of Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing (based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White) hinge on the shooting of a horse? It’s presumably because they expect a horse that falls during a race to create a big commotion and distract everyone while they rob the track. Whoever came up with this plot either had no idea what goes on at the racetrack, or thought that most people reading the book or watching the movie would be clueless.

The truth is that horses break down during races all the time and that something akin to the showbiz ethos, “the show must go on,” operates. Don’t believe me? Here’s what a columnist in Today’s Racing Digest had to say about Vic Stauffer, the race caller at Hollywood Park, when he failed to adhere to this ethos:

He’s taken us to the precipice often in the past, but this time Vic Stauffer went right over the edge. His call for Thursday’s Hollywood Prevue Stakes was the last straw, not to mention a flagrant violation of the neutrality code and professional ethics that announcers from coast to coast have lived up to for nearly a century. (Source.)

What was Stauffer’s sin? When a horse broke down during the race, he had the gall to say, “Galex has pulled up. It doesn’t look good for Galex. Darn it.”

Like I said, horses break down practically every day during a thoroughbred race somewhere in North America, and practically nobody bats an eye. It makes no difference whether the horse is the favorite, as is the case in the film, or a longshot. This is why the plot of The Killing appears to be hatched by people who never set foot on a racetrack in their life. If they had, they would know that most of the people at the track were inured to the tragic consequences of the Sport of Kings long ago. These people accept break downs as part of the game. Thanks to this attitude, the killing in The Killing was doomed the moment someone came up with the idea that shooting a horse at a racetrack would create a stir. Would there be any reaction at all? Sure. Bettors with losing tickets on the fallen horse would be angry as hell, perhaps even shouting “boo!,” as they tore up their tickets and marched towards the exit.

Written by David Kilmer

December 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

Posted in Are they serious?, Films

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The Adventures of Tintin’s Nose

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Tintin’s nose

While watching Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, one thought kept flashing through my mind: why does Tintin (and Snowy) have cute little noses, while everyone else have noses that one must describe with words such as bulbous, hooked, huge, unsightly. This is the kind of nose for which the word “proboscis” was no doubt coined.

So here it is, The Adventures of Tintin’s Nose:

Will Tintin and Snowy's cute little noses survive their adventures intact?

The big nose threatens the little nose. Bystanders' noses add to the threatening atmosphere.

Tintin's nose meets Captain Haddock's nose. No contest. Even Snowy seems impressed.

The first mate, despite having an admirable nose himself, appears none too keen to gaze upon his captain's mighty proboscis.

Bad guy nose vs bad guy nose. Which one will win? Tough call!

Imagine this shot in 3D! Tintin appears to be doing just that.

The big unanswered question is this: What would Freud have said about this game of nose vs nose which Tintin’s nose is forced to play? Of course, to pose that question is tantamount to answering it. The same could be asked of one of my favorite films, The Nose by Alexander Alexeïeff and Claire Parker. It is about a man’s quest to find his nose. If you want to watch an animated film about noses, this is the one to watch. Here it is:

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

You have been reading my review of The Adventures of Tintin directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Moffat and Edgar Wrighy & Joe Cornish, based on the comic book series “The Adventures of Tintin” by Hergé.

Thanks for reading.

Written by David Kilmer

December 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm