Neame: Hopscotch (1980)

I let Criterion select comedies for me. Well, I let them select anything for me. But their comedy selections are always perfect and end up being some of my favorite films…

but I can’t really come up with anything to say about this film except that it made me feel good. I don’t want to own it, but I could probably watch it again. How can my brain be so blank?

Well, there’s this: I’m sick, I’ve got some sort of nose and head thing, it’s infuriating. I’ve got a plate with bits of cheese on it beside me on the bed, and the dog is wandering in circles on the bed trying to not let me know that he’s wondering about the cheese plate–but I made a wall of Kleenex and books and a lambchop doll, so he’d be pretty conspicuous if he really went for it. And in the meantime, I went downstairs to get that cheese plate, and thought maybe I should have some nuts too, you know, for protein. So I went to get the nuts out, and it was ant city in there. I mean, they’ve been around lately, particularly today they keep making their way into bed with me, but we haven’t figured out where they come from. Now we know. They come from behind the dishwasher.

So I sat there with the vacuum cleaner, just massacring them, though you can see them wandering around inside, and finally we took some bug killy spray and squirted it in the crack behind and above the washer. The way I justify the ants coming to get the food is that I bought some food that I shouldn’t have; it’s not kosher, and I figured I’d just not eat it in the house or something, but that was what they found, a whole bunch of blueberry muffins; and the way I justify killing them is that in some ways it’s a matter of life and death. Will I die without the muffins? No…but if I let the ants take all my food and I could never eat any because the ants had taken it, then I’d die. It’s a matter of nuance, I suppose. And I hate things like that because, of course, I believe if you play nuance with life and death, God will play nuance with you too.

The only solace is that we don’t even know what life is. Certainly we can’t create an ant, but beyond that, we don’t even know if an ant counts as an individual or if an ant colony is actually the individual itself. In which case it’s like chopping off a little toe or something. That’ll grow back in about half an hour. Nuance.

And after killing hundreds of these things, I take my cheese plate and wander upstairs to try and kill off the infection inside me that’s also trying desperately to live. It all hankers after the biblical Jonah story, but not the whale part, rather, the part about the little tree dying and his being angry that it must die.

…and in Hopscotch nobody dies.

Phew, didn’t think I’d be able to make a connection after all!

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