Friday, January 24, 2014

The Friday Review of Cinema

I have always loved this movie called "Career Opportunities" but loving it puts me in a very small group, which is not uncommon for me and movies, music and food.

It's an old movie now anyway; it came out in 1991 and features Frank Whaley, now seen in many places as a character actor, and Jennifer Connelly, who is still around, but I think more as a model than as an actor.  It was one of those John Hughes movies, and the deal is that Whaley plays a 21-year-old working at a Target store (back when you could shop in one of them without having your credit history on display all across Mexico) with plenty of what the Irish call "blarney."  Connelly is the beautiful daughter of the richest man in town.

One of them is the victim of cruel physical abuse.  One has a perfectly normal family life with all that a person could hope for.  One has no firm grip on reality; the other has a grip but sees nothing hopeful down the line.

You'll have to see the movie to see who has what going on but I think it's worth it, as a reminder that the lives of others, behind the curtain in front of which we all perform, are not always as wonderful as we think they are - nor as awful, for that matter.

Key to the story is that the Target store is locked up all night while Jim Dodge (Whaley) cleans the place.  It's also key to me because on the nights when I, in my early days as a clerk for the A&P, wound up working the overnight shift, filling shelves with Vienna sausage, Fig Newtons and ginger ale, the store was locked from the outside.  If one of us had gotten burned roasting a chicken that we happened to find in the meat department, they would have had to break the door to get us to help.  Those were the days in retail when everything had to have a price stamped on it, so all night long, while chickens roasted for our 4 AM meal, we heard the ka-CHUNK of the prices stampers marking up No Bugs M'Lady (a shelf liner paper treated with insecticide), Cut-Rite wax paper, and Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco treat!)

There was plain yogurt only in those days.  No flavors. The people who bought it also purchased wheat germ and carrot juice.

Then we would dine and doze off, dreaming of new horizons and new career opportunities. I can still hear the hearty morning cry of the ass't manager coming through the door at 6:30 AM.  "Wake up, you stupid SOBs!" he would cry.

And we often did.

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