If you liked 'Water For Elephants,' Scarecrow suggests other carnival films
Do people still run away with the circus? It seems like the tantalizing world of the Carny has been pretty much demystified.
Do people still run away with the circus? It seems like the tantalizing world of the Carny has been pretty much demystified. Gone are the days when one could see the countryside, roaming from town to town, while manning the ring-toss booth or having a passionate affair with a baton-twirling trapeze artist. Now it's frozen corn dogs and probably a birdbath-style shower in a pubic restroom at the Puyallup bus terminal.
Anyway. This week's featured release is "Water For Elephants," based on a novel by Sara Gruen, about recently orphaned veterinary student Robert Pattinson running away with the circus and falling in love with the lovely wife (Reese Witherspoon) of its swaggering Ringmaster (Christoph Waltz). So we thought we'd recommend some other interesting stories in the carnival milieu.
First up, the most obvious choice, Tim Burton's "Big Fish." With a similar flashback structure to Water For Elephants, it follows Billy Crudup's journey as he tries to learn about his dying father (Ewan McGregor in the past, Albert Finney in the present), who regales his son with stories of traveling the world, performing in strange places and meeting strange people. This is pretty much the last half-decent Tim Burton film before he went off to remake every other beloved childhood story into a megabudget 3D eyesore (we're looking at you, "Alice in Wonderland").
A totally unsung (no pun intended) circus film would most definitely be Elvis Presley's 1964 epic "Roustabout," wherein the King, upon losing his singing gig, is forced to hitch his wagon to a traveling carnival when his motorcycle breaks down. The whole shebang is run by the amazing Barbara Stanwyck (still got it even in 1964), and even Elvis's manager, the legendary Col. Tom Parker, shows up as a rival Carny. This is my favorite Elvis movie, if only because it's so rarely mentioned (or in fact seen). Check it out.
Lastly, as regards the aforementioned demystification of the circus/carnival/county fair/what-have-you, is the recent and underrated "Adventureland." Directed by Greg Mottola (who previously did "Superbad"), it stars recent Oscar Nominee Jesse Eisenberg as a teen who picks up a job at a local amusement park in the summer of 1987. There he struggles with the indignities of customer service, the pain of first love (he has a big crush on a cranky punk girl played by Kristen Stewart) and the agony of eating stale carny food. This is a great coming-of-age movie that manages to avoid most of the cliches of the genre by presenting all of its characters as flawed but lovable losers. It also sports a great late 80's soundtrack for all you folks out there of a certain age and a love of nostalgia.
Till next week!
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.