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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Usual Suspects Not Unusual 

I was watching The Usual Suspects again, and trying to think how the story works if you know the ending already. And I thought, “Well, actually, there's a bit that doesn't quite make sense, because if Verbal Kint was ... no, wait. The whole story as we know it comes exclusively from the mouth of Verbal Kint, and therefore hugely compromised, so it could be all bullshit. All you really know is ... no, okay, but you do know that ... a lot of guys are dead?”

...a bit that doesn't quite make sense...

I'm fairly sure this gimmick has been used before, but I can't remember it being so central and so successful. Apparently, nothing Kint says directly contradicts what is known, or could be confirmed. In fact, his story accomodates those few facts, and even takes them as a starting point. But nothing else he says (and he says a lot) needs to be true. Of course, far from being an odd story, this is a fairly normal story.

How often has someone told you a long epic about the ex, or previous Liebhaber or whatever? At first it's not that important, because who cares? He did what? Jeez. I guess I won't be inviting him to my consortium. Anywayz ...

But after a few months of this, if you're still listening, the whole story makes no sense. In fact, the more elaborate the story, the less sense it makes. And you can hardly go and get to the bottom of it, but sometimes you end up meeting the person, with all too predictable results.

Or, how often has someone laid out in painful detail the economic predicament they're in? See, it kind of works out that they don't owe that money, they really only owe this money, a lesser sum. Because you have to look at it the right way. Lots of people don't realise that accounting can be an interpretive art. Sun Tzu has a chapter about that, I think. First there is a shitload of money. Then there is no shitload of money ...

Trivia are usually not important, but there are two bits of trivia associated with this movie which are, in my opinion, of staggering, abyss-staring-back-at-you importance:

Kint is Yiddish for “child”. I don't know if that was intended, but it sorts well with his seemingly harmless character.

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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.