On a recent Saturday night, Encyclopedia Brown and I were left with a hole rent in the delicate fabric of our social schedule. The Lunts, a local famous theatrical couple had backed out of dinner plans in the afternoon. Both of them calling separately not knowing what the other was up to, with wild tales of illness.
"Right now I am kneeling by our bathtub and a shark is devouring my arm," Harold said, trying to sound like he was wincing hard from unbearable pain.
About a half hour later Harold's tall, lithe bride called, sounding sheepish: "Would it be vain if I were to cancel for tonight having just broken out with leprosy? I have to make some calls to that island off Maui where they keep others like myself."
This being, as Sun Ra says, after the end of the world, and the two of us being mainly homebodies anyway, our schedule usually consists of me trying to remain as strictly parallel to our couch as humanly possible while Kim Jong Ev props a tome on the Holocaust on one knee while the Fogcaster runs a marathon of the show "Hoarders Who Hoard Other Hoarders While a Bunch of Cute Animals Get Trapped".
Without remembering any of George Romero's early zombie masterpieces, one of which took place entirely in a mall, we headed off for the White Marsh mall to catch either "Insidious" or "Hanna". I didn't know much about either, but I was leaning toward "Insidious" because although it was done by the people who foisted the godawful mess of "Saw" crap on us, this was supposed to be their attempt at redemption through classic psychological horror. I doubted it would be as fun as "The House of the Devil", "Drag Me To Hell" or of course no where near as brilliant as "Pontypool" I was hoping I at least would whiz in my pleated khakis.
But like the anticipated candlelit evening dinner of sophisticated repartee with Harold and Lana Lunt, it was not to be.
"Yeah, sold out. Over three hundred people in there. Of course, mainly teenagers," scoffed the puffy cheeked teen.
We were blown away and terrified by the masses of writhing ex-urbanites or post-surburbanites, or whatever real people are classified as these days. People who work in real estate, live in McMansions without trees in their neighborhood, occasionally wig out and slaughter their families. We're used to catching a high quality film at the comfortable Charles or deco Senator with only ten or twenty other cinephile weirdos, but here was a firehose of 21st Century DNA gushing at us, most of it teenaged. I forgot how rarely I see teenagers in groups these days.
As it turned out "Hanna" was a blast, reminding me in its rollercoaster slightly arty international thriller post-hippy hippy vibe of the film "Diva" in the '80s. I had a weird Twilight Zone parallel world experience after seeing "Hanna" though, of asking folks whether they remembered "Diva" and at first only one out of about ten remembered it! My memory of it was that it was huge among our circle in the '80s and that it caught something of a "zeitgeist" of the time, a bit of mucal plug from the cosmic sneeze.
Finally, out of desperation, I do what I always do when I fear the world has been turned upside down - I called the wise Desert Vixen out in the desert of New Mexico.
"Diva?" she said. "Is that that new movie with Cher and what's her name, Christina Applegate?"
"NO", I cried out in anguish. They had even gotten to the Desert Vixen! Should I call Matt Damon or George Clooney? Were they my last hope?
"Oh wait, Court has taken this hookah out of my hand and Gavin has hooked me up to an electro-shock treatment. I am also burning a candle I got from 'The Hugging Monk' and it's becoming clearer. Not only did I see it, but I saw it with you and Gavin! And there was wine! And beer! And smoke, followed by a little bald guy and an opera singer. Why did you call?"
At any rate, "Hanna" features not only a foxy ethereal star with an unpronounceable old school Irish name, but also one of the funniest side characters in recent films that I can think of - a great cynical before her time world weary early teen Brit girl. Can't wait to see what all this girl does in the future. The only two weaknesses in this polished thriller (besides the plot which of course ends of being way silly and hard to believe - the Maguffin, as Hitch would say) is Cate Blanchett's weird Southern accent that doesn't really show up until about mid-movie, is at first really hard to figure as Southern and then by the end turns into Minnie Pearl on goofballs. Also, there is a moment when a scraggly gnarly Euro-hippy magician threatens to reduce everything to "If only we could all juggle and believe in circus magic and wear stovepipe hats there would be golden happiness everywhere, but lots of bad music".