“Just because a man is fucking crazy doesn't make his opinion less fucking valid.“
- Mr. Jack
In Gregory Dark’s Little Fish, Strange Pond from 2009 (renamed Frenemy for its DvD release 2010) the viewer is confronted with the fact that expectation is the bitchy mother of disappointment. Certainly when you see the wild beard of Zach Galifianakis on the cover you do expect a movie that entertains in a childish way, like Hangover (2009). For sure you are not expected to be challenged, having your mind fed or that Matthew Modine is the star of the movie. The movie is the work of a trickster from presentation to last line of the script. Not only this, but the movie, intended or not, has a spiritual relevance as it documents the works of Orisa Èsú (a deity very much like Hermes, Mercury, Janus and similar trickster spirits) in the world masterfully interpreted by Matthew Modine. I have no idea if this was intended or not – but for me it was this that caught my attention and it is from this realization I embrace with extreme joy this little masterpiece.
Most reviewers and critiques hated this movie quite feverishly, and tell things like the following on the www.imdb.com: “Do not watch this. It is a trap from which you will bitterly regret”, “it get completely butchered by terrible writing and equally awful directing”, “ I want my dollar and my 80 minutes back!” – well, I on my side gave the movie 160 minutes and would gladly pay a dollar more for it…
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT
The movie is a ‘walk movie’, as the two protagonists Sweet Stephen and Mr. Jack walk the world in the shape of
. Sweet Stephen comes off as a quite rustic type of guy, a victim for circumstances with base interests and a hostile view upon the world centered around sex and violence. The contrast between Sweet Stephen and Mr. Jack is evident from scene one where we find them sitting on a bench in a park where Stephen opens the dialogue with: ‘hell of a day’, while Mr. Jack, counters it with seeing the day as ‘lovely’ ending in Mr. Jack telling Sweet Stephen that: “there is nothing less masculine than a man who bitches” - and ask him to make a commitment’. Los Angeles
Sweet Stephen makes this commitment, a commitment that turns out to be about understanding ones role in the world and realizing that the world is perfect as it is. As Sweet Stephen and Mr. Jack walks the world grains of wise perception is spread over the script speaking of the relationship between good and bad, Fate, dreams, love, that ‘something special’ everyone seeks for . The movie speaks and shows the hopelessness of living your life after scripts other people made for you. All these perceptions are given in an unexpectedly raw and direct way, like the motto of the clerk in the porn store, ‘don’t fuck around’ - and I guess it is here the director loses many of his viewers and find the growing in resent also with the script, acting and directing finding the movie to be disappointing and the script blunt and mediocre.
The movie is colored by a brute surreal touch, which is generated both by the viewers expectation and the unexpected and erratic behavior of Mr. Jack and the perspective upon the world he presents us for. It is because of this I see this movie as a quite perfect testament for the work of Orisa Èsú in the world. The movie is about making a commitment to discover your role in the world – and to accept that the world is perfect as it is. The movie conveys the message that good things bring good things just as much as wicked actions will bring wickedness your way. It speaks of the balance between wickedness and how it is unavoidable because the greatest wickedness for many is death – and this is the only thing certain in the circle of life: everything dies!
As the movie goes on we are confronted in a series of b/w scenes with a talk show host, Dennis Rivers, a kind of euphoric Jerry Springer that hosts a program called Kids that Kill. Because he doesn’t can/want to understand why this six year old in his show killed his parents he scapegoats the kid in front of the audience as he sends himself to a limbo of confusion and unwillingness to understand what might have caused the kid to do what he did.
By now, we know that Sweet Stephen is also a killer and he and Mr. Jack ends up on the said tv-show where the final discourse of evil finds its ecstasy in Mr. Jack not seeing any difference in the wickedness of the child killer and the ruthless talk show host that abuses the child murder for money and ratings. It is here Sweet Stephen presents the message of the movie and the key to his own salvation of sorts, when he tells the talk show host that: “ a bad action is only a moment, being bad is an addiction”. Sweet Stephen’s realization that he was not an evil SOB as he had heard all his life made him see the world as perfect as he entered a state of acceptance – and hence he had to die, as we all must die – to keep the balance of wickedness in - balance. Sweet Stephen is shot by the cop that discovered Sweet Stephen’s murder (on national TV, I must add) as Mr. Jack kills Dennis Rivers, – to ensure that wicked annihilates wickedness and set the scales straight again as he accepts the lethal injection that was the consequence for his own wicked moment….
Whenever I see a movie, I do like to reflect upon what kind of odu in the corpus of Ifa is playing itself out - and in this case, the odu in question is most certainly Òwónrín meji in general and Òwónrín-Fú and Òfún-Wónrín in particular. Upon the second viewing I couldn’t shake the feeling that Gregory Dark and Robert Dead Klein actually had been in the company of a Babalawo getting the idea to make this movie.
Òwónrín meji is the odu where Èsú takes his àsé /power from, and according to what other odu that composes the second or first leg we get a distinct energetic manifestation. In this particular case, we speak of the odu known as Òfún-Wónrín that tells:
“Òfún gives to be petted; Òfún gives to be cared for.
This was divined for Odùduà who will do good all over the world
He said to do good worldwide is the best character trait
They said: A part of the world will not thank him.
Some even will not know the good he has done to them
They will not know its use
Òwónrín meji itself speaks of the unpredictability in the world, about the forces that turn everything upside down – to maintain that mystical balance not everyone will know or understand.
For me this little movie is Òwónrín meji and Òfún-Wónrín telling us that the world is perfect – and if we live our destiny, we live perfect lives. It is Èsú telling us that this world is a market place where opportunity walks hand in hand with the good and bad deal and deed until the circle is broken and begun upon death. This movie is Òfún-Wónrín telling that good deeds will reap goodness, that people can have bad moments, that evil is perhaps an addiction, but that man and the world are good. It is about Èsú telling us that the world is ‘lovely’, and with this he means through the words of Mr. Jack; “The perfect mix of intrigue, danger, tragedy, love, sex, violence and plain old American fun.”