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Act local, think Global
January 19, 2011 - Rick Chatenever
Writer-director Brian Kohne goes into post-post-production when he brings his made-on-Maui comedy “Get a Job” to the Historic Iao Theater for a 13-show run Jan. 27 to 30. (See www.getajobthemovie.com for details.)
It hearkens back to the Iao’s past life as a movie theater. Growing up on Maui, Kohne still remembers seeing “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Sting,” there when he was a kid.
Kohne’s employment agency misadventure starring Eric Gilliom and Willie K has a wacky tone reminiscent of the kinder, gentler comedies of those bygone days.
“Get a Job” takes pride —not to mention, delight — in being a local production in every sense. It’s six degrees of separation, Maui-style: Everyone you know knows someone who’s in it, for at least a second or two. You may well be in it yourself.
When “Get a Job” premiered at the MACC in November, it sold out Castle Theater. It was kleig lights meet rubbah slippahs, one big party where everyone knew everyone, and everyone was a star.
It was Maui’s answer to the Golden Globes on TV last Sunday. Everyone knew everyone there, too — except they actually were stars. From the looks of the show, movie stars are just like the rest of us … with two or three extra zeroes on their paychecks. And better plastic surgeons.
The Globes are bestowed by the obscure Hollywood Foreign Press Association, whose membership at last count was around 90. Back in the day when I used to go on movie studio junkets — otherwise known as Freeloaders-R-Us — I knew some of them.
In those days, the Globes were seen more as slightly sleazy press agentry than as actual awards. Horny folk singer John Hartford summed them up with the obvious anatomical analogy.
But as Academy Award fervor — another press agent’s dream — expanded into “awards season,” with lots of organizations, societies and critics’ associations getting into the act, the Globes gained cachet.
They’re like the Oscars … with a hosted bar. And since they recognize comedies and musicals separately from dramas, and then throw in TV, too —they have their pick of Hollywood’s most beautiful beautiful people, although it may require calling “The Tourist” a comedy in order to wangle nominations for Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.
So, with so much inebriated gorgeousness everywhere you looked, why did Sunday’s telecast leave the question lingering: Are we having fun yet?
It wasn’t the awards themselves. Practically all the choices matched my own. Adding to the performances was the grace and style with which folks like Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Annette Benning, Christian Bale and Claire Danes accepted their prizes, along with the glee displayed by the cast of “Glee.”
The show’s problems —according to the morning-after commentators —were a matter of tone. This, in turn, was attributed to host Ricky Gervais. The brilliant English comic’s trademark is to tiptoe up to “the line” of taste, civility or personal safety —then hurl himself over it with total abandon.
His lead-ins to jokes were fascinating to observe —in the same way time seems to slow down in the split seconds before a car crash. “Cheeky” is the word for it. I don’t know what that means, but it’s more polite than mentioning another nearby body part.
The result was winces and groans rather than genuine laughter at his punch lines, and fewer and fewer friends for Ricky as the night wore on.
He didn’t have a monopoly on snarky. Robert De Niro, recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille prize for his extraordinary career, painted the members of the Foreign Press Association more as groupies and sycophants than actual journalists. Bull’s-eye — ouch!
Robert Downey Jr. referred to the evening’s mood as sinister and mean-spirited; Steve Carell avoided Gervais’ attempt at a hug. Even lovable Tom Hanks got a barb in.
Was it all part of the act? By night’s end, who could tell? There were jokes, and in-jokes and a level of snide winks under that, leaving no one in the ballroom, or the TV audience, quite sure what had happened. But feeling like we all needed a shower.
The night’s big winner —Ricky acknowledged it was his favorite, and mine, too —was “The Social Network,” a fascinating look of the birth of Facebook.
Along with best drama, it won Globes for ingenious director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, the Shakespeare of our times.
It didn’t win any acting prizes. That’s because, in its vision of loneliness, insecurity ambition, ruthlessness and betrayal, it’s more about human nature than human beings. At least admirable human beings. And it’s about the world they’ve led us into, which is less human still.
On Sunday night, it was the perfect choice. • Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com.
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