March 6th, 2004


competence is a kink

After two years of subscribing to TCI/Comcast, I only tonight discovered the "Menu" button on my remote. Pressing it, I *then* discovered that I had all sorts of movies "on demand." Free! It's the coolest thing ever and I'm disgusted with myself for not having noticed this two years sooner. You cannot measure the limit of my disgust.

Anyway. I immediately clicked to watch "The Fugitive." Haven't seen this in a while. It gives me all sorts of random thoughts. First, adaptations of TV shows *can* be good. They can be ass-kicking good, which should comfort everyone reading the current reviews of "Starsky and Hutch."

Also, competence is a kink. I should have put that as one of my story requirements when I signed up for the Spander Inquisition--competent Spike, oh man, and competent Xander, yeah, baby--but I'm not sure if everyone gets the thrill of it. Hard to explain why competence is hot. It's just...guh. Competence isn't infallibility or smugness. It's a clever, inventive exercise of whatever special skills you possess, distinguishing you from the rest of the gene pool as a desirable mate, marking you as a survivor and protector. It allows for mistakes and the thwarting intrusion of chance, but even if you lose the game, you're still a winner, because you were fucking hot when you assembled that M-16 in six seconds.

"The Fugitive" does something else that's really cool, which is to pit opponents against each other without either side being wrong. Both sides are in the right--the marshals for upholding the law, Kimball for being innocent and pursuing justice. It can be great to have evil villains, but there's a different sort of dramatic greatness when both sides are worthy and the only conflict stems from unfortunate circumstance.

Also? Ensemble! This movie totally gets ensemble. If this movie was just Kimball pitted against Gerard it wouldn't be one-tenth as interesting. (Unless they fucked at the end.) The combination of ensemble with competence is killer, because it gives us this fly-on-the-wall view into a group of people with their own logic and language. The U.S. Marshals are cool. We only dream of being that cool. It's freaking amazing how quickly the movie builds up all the unqiue identities of the team and the web of their relationships. It's not mythic, but its degree of fascination is almost super-heroic--within about three minutes, you feel you're getting a glimpse of a law-enforcement unit that has this deep, complex history behind it. (Unquestionably why this spawned a sequel focusing on their team.)

Final great point of the movie: it casts Joe Pantoliano against type as a good guy. Smart. Almost every other movie since then has typecast the guy as a villain. Too easy, too pat.

(Oh, but also this movie has Jane Lynch! And Julianne Moore, wow, in a tiny role. And a couple of unknown Cusacks. Weird.)

In other news, "Dead Like Me" was moving tonight, while SG1 was probably quite good, but I wasn't up to watching a clip episode. Eh.

Must recline on my couch now.