Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alex Clare – “Too Close”

  We start out with Alex sitting in what might be an abandoned warehouse somewhere, looking vaguely Irish and vaguely poor. He seems to be a little unsettled for some reason, and this might have something to do with the quick images we get of another person pulling on some type of Ninja-biker gear, an intimidating outfit that doesn’t indicate happiness and sunshine. Right off the bat, this doesn’t look like a very healthy situation, so maybe Alex should go sit somewhere else that doesn’t have people preparing for war while creepy music plays.

  But instead of heading out the door like a responsible person, Alex chooses to remain seated and stare at a dilapidated wall, a trashy mess that hasn’t been properly maintained. (Why did the words “honey boo boo” just pop in my head?) We get a full shot of the back of the Ninja (and I’m only assuming it’s a Ninja, since I’ve never actually been one and don’t have all the details) and then a full shot of the front of Alex, who has managed to stand up and move to a better-lit area of the room so we can confirm that he does look vaguely Irish. (I would not be surprised if this turns into a commercial for breakfast cereal or invigorating body soap.)

  The Ninja person has now managed to pick up an intimidating stick-weapon and hold it in front of him, so perhaps he’s about to practice for a “Star Wars” sequel that we haven’t heard about. Whatever he’s about to do, I’m not thinking very fondly of that stick. Couldn’t he have just picked up a beer and handed it to me? I’d feel much better then.

  Now Alex is back in the one room where he likes to sit and stare at the wall, although now we have a bigger shot and can see that there’s also a window in the mesmerizing wall. This means Alex has twice the amount of things to look at, so he’ll probably be entertained for weeks. (There’s also an odd closet off to his right, with broken things and crappy shelving and probably a rusty murder weapon or two from that time in 1947 when somebody got pissed about the unsatisfying results of a card game or a spouse who was playing squat tag with someone whose name did not appear on the marriage certificate.)

  We cut back to the Ninja, front view this time, and we can see that he’s wearing a spooky fencing hat that has been modified to protect one’s face from more than just one of those skinny swords that prancing people use to poke at one another. (The headgear also has a flying-nun enhancement that will probably help the Ninja take off like a helicopter, should the need arise.) Oh look, in the background we can see another evil-priest Ninja walking into the room, sporting the industrial mask and carrying one of those hefty stick things. (Do they shop at the same stores?) I’m thinking these two will probably not be discussing the weather.

  Quick shot of Alex in the other room, singing. He doesn’t know what’s going on, either.

  Back to the more exciting room, where the first Ninja is kneeling on the ground, while Fashionably-Late appears to be walking in a circle around the squatter. (I may not know that much about Ninja etiquette, but I’m thinking I’d be getting my ass off the floor if Darth Vader’s cousin was anywhere near me, holding a weapon and not saying anything. Then Squatty suddenly leaps to his feet and faces the other man so they can both cross swords in a non-gayporn way. They start slowly circling around, sticks still touching, doing some type of intricate routine while they wait for just the right moment to… do whatever it is that they plan to do with those sticks.

  (This is an entire different rumble from what we have in my neck of the woods. Over here, when you want to physically have it out with some fool that has gone too far, you just walk up to them (hopefully when they are drunk and not as light on their feet) and then both of you start beating the hell out of each other with whatever you can find, like rocks and barstools and cue balls and somebody’s weave. It doesn’t have to be pretty as long as somebody finally gives up. None of this formal mess where you follow traditions and send out hand-written invitations.)

  The Ninjas get up in each other’s face (even though they can’t actually see them, what with the Blade Runner tribute-gear) and kind of breathe and push on each other. This quickly becomes boring, even to Alex in the other room, so Alex starts belting out one of the louder parts of the song. This inspires the Ninjas to actually start whacking at each other with their man-toys, which perks things up a bit, but I’m not sure if they are doing things correctly because nobody is losing any blood or teeth, which is how we normally keep score in bar-fights.

  This goes on for a while, with the no-blood and the sense of nothing getting accomplished, so I start hoping that Alex goes back to the quieter part of the song so the Ninjas can break apart, go sit in their corners for a bit, and have other men squirt water at their face. Then one of the Ninjas pokes his stick in the barbecue grill of the other mask and they instantly stop fighting. Wait, was that a foul of some kind? Does somebody have to go sit in a box now?

  But before I can get any answers, we switch gears with the video, and now we have Alex and Ninja 1 and Ninja 2 wandering around in a really dark part of the decaying warehouse. Somebody starts screwing around with the minimal lighting, so we end up with a series of images that look very “Blair Witch”-like (Josh? Josh!! Oh my GOD!!) but don’t really explain anything. (Does a proper Ninja competition include a scavenger hunt? Did they get some breaking intel about where Jimmy Hoffa might be buried?)

  Then Josh, I mean Alex, starts singing again, and the Ninjas race back to the bigger room that has more light and less of chance that you will walk into a spider web and temporarily lose your mind, and they go at it again. (Hey, maybe the Ninjas can only make physical contact when there are lyrics involved. Who knew.) This round goes on for a very long time, so obviously the regulation time periods are quite different from something like boxing, where the rounds are the same length and the women who hold up numbers between those rounds are clearly not virgins.

  The loud part of the song kicks back in, and while Alex gets down with his bad musical self in that room where peasants probably milked cows at some point before deciding to band together and overthrow the Romanovs in Russia, the Ninjas decide it’s time for some Matrix action. We now have freeze-frame shots of them leaping through the air while hoisting their poles skyward. It’s a nice change of pace, but I’m still not seeing any bloodshed or resolution.

  This also goes on for a long time. Stunt-work and trick photography are very expensive. If you’re going to shell out the big bucks, you might as well make sure those dollars show up on screen.

  We briefly zip back to one of the dark and dusty rooms where we had the Blair Witch flashback (Don’t go in the basement!), and we see the Ninjas doing some form of kick-boxing. This doesn’t seem to be as much fun as using the giant chopsticks, so we head back out to the main arena for more of that action. And finally, one of the Ninjas manages to knock away the other Ninja’s stick, so even though we haven’t  seen any blood, at least things seem to be wrapping up.

  The victorious Ninja touches his man-stick to the neck of the loser, and the loser (per the sacred instruction manual, page 43) drops to his knees, and then proceeds to remove his pimped-out Robo-Ninja hood. We see that his head is encased in black rubber that mashes his facial features flat, making him look like somebody left Voldemort out in the sun too long.

  What the hell?

  We turn to Alex for answers. (Did you have script approval on this thing? ) But Alex doesn’t have any answers. Instead, he just stands there in his questionable sweater as the camera pulls back and the screen fades to black…

  Wait! Were those handprints on the dusty wall behind him? (Josh!)

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

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