Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thoughts inspired by fresh salsa

For dinner tonight I'm making one of Argotnaut's favorites: bean and cheese quesadillas with spicy fresh salsa. As I was putting in one of the key ingredients -- two fresh jalapeno peppers with all the seeds -- I thought of a German movie A. and I watched not long ago, Schultze Gets the Blues.

In the film, a German miner retires and has to figure out what to do with his life now that work doesn't dominate it. An accordion player, he one night listens to a musical radio show and hears zydeco music, and the rollicking free spirit of the music inspires him to try some new things, among them a cajun recipe. He makes it for some friends he has over for dinner, and the spiciness of the dish somewhat overwhelms them. (Not hard to do, as anything beyond yellow mustard is too hot for most Germans).

Schultze is the kind of movie that Americans find hard to make, and if they do, not many Americans find enjoyable to watch. It's a slow-moving film and deals with a subject not many movies dare to tackle: what do you do when you retire and find yourself at loose ends? For the last four decades or so, mainstream Hollywood films have been dominated by Baby Boomer demographics. In the 70s, movies about rebelling against authority were the hip thing (from "Serpico" to "Easy Rider" and all points in between), in the 80s, it was yuppie greed and temptation ("Wall Street" to "Basic Instinct" and all points in between). As the Boomers started to have families, the 90s and the 00s have been awash with moppetploitation movies from the "Home Alone" series to the "Family vacation" series to the "Cheaper by the Dozen" -type spectacles where a passel of cute kids are jammed into the smallest possible space and fill said space with the greatest amount of noise Noise NOISE NOISE!!!,slime and gas.

Now we have the dawn of the retired Boomer movie. But where Schultze deals with the subject with the reflection, insight and melancholia it deserves, Hollywood deals with it with films like "Something's Gotta Give," a slick production featuring attractive actors meeting cute and breezing to a predictable conclusion.

While I don't have a lot of faith in Hollywood's ability to deal honestly with the problems posed by one's retirement years, the Indies might be up to it. My money's on Jim Jarmusch (see "Broken Flowers").

I'm sure most people feel as incited by this topic as Buster is:

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