Endnotes and Digressions:
1. Grey-tones for this installment by Chad Essley.
2. A handful of quotes re: screening rats that I wasn't able to fit into this comic:
• "There's one guy who always leaves five minutes before the film ends so he can have first dibs on the posters and swag. It doesn't matter what the film is -- he would leave five minutes before the end of 'The Usual Suspects.' "
• ANONYMOUS SOURCE: "There’s one rat who got kicked out of this very theater earlier this year for letting her friends in."
ME: "Is she back again?"
ANONYMOUS SOURCE: "Oh, yeah."
• "Two of them met in line and got married!"
3. Would you like to know more? D.K. Holm delves into the local history of what he calls "these freeloaders on the body filmic" at the end of this "Nocturnal Admissions" column. And if you want to read a really outstanding prose piece on the screening-rat phenomenon, look no further than "Meet the Passholes," a feature that ran in The Stranger in 2002. Writer Nate Lippens actually interviewed and went into the homes of Seattle's screening rats -- and came out with some powerfully funny and sad portraits.
4. When this strip originally ran, I got the following comment from reader Carrington Moore:
"In Atlanta they're called 'Movie Pigs', 'Prize Pigs' and 'Passholes'.. and I deal with them every day.. I run the movie screenings for an Alt. Weekly in Atlanta and they are everywhere.. at my office, in my- e-mail, on my phone ... and I've been given Candy, Fresh Baked Apple Pie and most recently Homemade Lasagna... oh, and one is trying to set me up with his son...
"From your strip I've come to the conclusion that they are the same everywhere.. I believe everything in your strip has happened to me almost detail for detail in the last year."
5. So anyway: How’s “King Kong”? Well, it was simultaneously the most jaw-dropping and frustrating moviegoing experience I’ve had in years. Maybe ever.
The movie’s packed with stretches of inspired, technically brilliant filmmaking. There’s the biting opening montage in Depression-era New York; the creepy middle hour on Skull Island; and the surprisingly emotive Kong — a real creature-effects landmark. When it sticks to monster-movie thrills, “Kong” is unprecedented, scary and cool.
But it’s also way too long — in part because director Peter Jackson failed to nurse an affliction that started plaguing his work during “Return of the King.” He doesn’t trust the audience to feel anything unless he’s peppered it with cinemotional exclamation points.
Which means we’re subjected to what feels like dozens of overlong, over-milked moments where Kong and a dewy-eyed Naomi Watts stare meaningfully at each other — with the music blaring and the light just so — where one or two such moments would have sufficed. It’s relentless schmaltz that might embarrass a “Titanic” fan.
This essential lack of discipline makes “King Kong” almost-great throughout, on a maddening scale. If it were 30 minutes shorter and less indulgent in the ape-girl department, it might be the movie of the year.
The rats were really well-behaved, though.
Lettering too small? You can download a high-rez PDF of CulturePulp 043 right here: CulturePulp43.pdf