October 21, 2004

Diagnosis: Brain Cloud

What is this gentle breath of fresh air, this tendril of a breezy caress? No, that’s not the onset of the red-gold autumn chill. That would be Seattle Maggie waving “buh-bye” to The Man, at least for the time being. Yes, we are now officially unemployed, having finally come to the end of our tether with office politics, administrative drudgery and wacked-out bosses who make sweeping decisions about the future of their employees, yet can’t for the life of them adjust the brightness on their monitors. On top of that, when our CEO was canned because he had the temerity to come down with a bad case of cancer, and replaced with a backslapping frat boy with typos in his cover letter, we thought perhaps it was time to move on before we came to work one morning with a flamethrower and a quest to purify the place.

So, for the time being, we are coasting along on our savings and our rescued sense of self-respect. Is there life outside the cubicle? Seattle Maggie hopes so. While we know that ending up back by the water cooler may be inevitable in this day and age, we feel we have struck a small blow for our own sense of decency and intelligence by putting our proverbial foot down. In celebration of this, we turn our investigational eye toward – what else? – the movies. Apart from the classic Office Space, which quite literally everyone and their mother has seen thanks to a near-constant run on afternoon Comedy Central, all you desk jockeys out there can rejoice in several other very fine films celebrating the inane and soul-shriveling nature of modern office culture.

haikutunnel.jpg For those of you suffering trouble with commitment, give Haiku Tunnel a try. Based on monologuist Josh Kornbluth's one man show, this light n’ entertaining film explores the trials and tribulations of a temp worker turned perm. While Kornbluth is entertaining in a shaggy-dog sort of way, the movie does get a little exasperating as the plot concerning the unsent letters drags on and on (just stamp 'em and post 'em, dude, it's not rocket science). However, it is almost worth the price of the rental just to watch Kornbluth have voluptuous fantasies about his bed, which coyly peels its covers open before him like a shy concubine. Seattle Maggie confesses that our bed has the same allure.

Also on the temporary career path is Clockwatchers, starring some of our favorite indie female talent. A quartet of temps, including Toni Collette, Lisa Kudrow and brash young thing Parker Posey, form an unlikely bond in an office full of permanent employees. When things start disappearing around the office, the lowest members of the proverbial totem pole are blamed, and the temps begin to turn on each other in an attempt to save their already uncertain jobs. This is a great movie for anyone who has ever suffered the anonymous indignity of temporary work, and the elevator music soundtrack is sure to wedge itself in your unused brain cells for a good long while.

bartleby-poster2.jpg Perhaps one of the weirdest movies we've seen in a long time was Bartleby with Crispin Glover, the man who defines quirk. While Seattle Maggie did plow through the original story by Herman Melville in Freshman English, we found it was not necessary to appreciate the modern film version. With every firm, soft-spoken repetition of Bartleby's mantra "I would prefer not to" we found ourselves growing amused, then irritated, then concerned, then desperate to understand the reason behind the words. We, too, would prefer not to. Add in a blink-worthy color scheme and an excellent supporting cast of office misfits, and count yourself rescued from another long afternoon of Judge Judy and Pokemon reruns.

Last, but not least, is Seattle Maggie’s all time favorite anti-office, up-with-the-people movie, Joe Versus The Volcano. Tom Hanks is everyman Joe Banks, beaten down by the endless rote of his joyless life, but indirectly rescued by the diagnosis of a “brain cloud”. Meg Ryan, pre-Sleepless in Seattle, stars also as the various women in his life. This modern fable, scribed and directed by one of our favorite playwrights John Patrick Shanley, always lifts our spirits, and we long to find our own volcano to conquer. As it is, to have our time back, even for this short while, is indeed like gold in our hand. Seattle Maggie is giving that forbidden valve a good turn, and who knows on what fabulous shores we may wash up on.


Posted by seattle maggie at October 21, 2004 9:49 PM