Molds

When The Dark Knight (2008) ended, I thought, well, there won’t ever be another one quite like that again. I felt sort of sad about it, but also glad that the movie was so good and that I had seen it. Ledger put his mark on the movie and now he’s gone. A sequel might be as good or better than The Dark Knight, but it won’t be the same. Ledger’s death instantly made The Dark Knight one-of-a-kind, frozen in time. The old saying ran through my head, “After they made this one, they broke the mold.” Acting in this movie, Ledger made a mold that the industry was undoubtedly planning on using, and will probably still try to use in the future, but it won’t be the same. Ledger’s death broke that mold.

I happened to watch The Longshots (2008) next and I can report that the longshots mold is not broken. Lowly team of losers, its coach a struggling yet tough and tender man adrift with a woman who will stand by her man – in this case, two women, actually, the genre’s duties split between a sister-in-law and a teacher of the coach’s neice. Small town somewhere in the midwest. A movie with some kind of first, which is a requirement of the genre – first winning all-black team or first team of kids from reform school or first native-american girls hoop team or first hockey team of kids who can barely skate or the first last baseball team before the town’s ballfield is plowed under and planted in corn, or… well, in this case, the first Pop Warner team with a female quarterback. But this particular species of sports mold, after years of use,has been reworked lately to this extent: the lowly underdogs make it all the way to the championship game, yes, but in that last .01th of a second, they no longer always win. In, say, 70% of the movies they will win, but otherwise, they’ll do a little character-building losing. Adds a modicum of suspense to the movie now. How will The Longshots come out? Will they win or lose? And then, in this genre, once you know, before the credits roll, those little postscript epilog messages pop up: “The next year, in 1955, the Wartberg Warthogs came back to Septic Field and this time won the championship, 99-0, led by Sissy Stirrups, even though she played with a broken breastbone, no two broken breastbones, the whole season.”

Molds were also in play in Last Man Standing (1996). I was in the mood for Bruce Willis and a lot of two-fisted automatic handgun fire, which is why I snagged the movie at Blockbuster. Yojimbo created the mold, Fistful of Dollars was made using it, and so was Last Man Standing. The same movie, three cultures, and the mold is not broke.

Three movies that didn’t bother with a mold that could be broken later – no mold was ever made – the movies are unique: The Saddest Music in the World (2003), The Fall (2006), and Summer Love (2006). Saddest Music and The Fall are relatively well known hereabouts. Piotr Uklanski’s Summer Love is a Polish spaghetti western in which Val Kilmer gets plugged at the beginning of the movie and lies dead throughout the rest of it. A film surpassingly strange and a lot of fun (U.S. title: Dead Man’s Bounty).

More movies that didn’t break the mold: Breaking the Mold: The Kee Malesky Story (2003); Michael Caine: Breaking the Mold (1991); TV Land Landmarks: Breaking the Mold (2004).

Just plain old mold: Black Mold Exposure (2009), Mold on a Peach (2002), Toxic Mold Solutions (2003).

Uplifting: Molder of Dreams (1991), Moldovskaya skazka (1951), Love Molds Labor (1911).

Downlifting: Down with America 3: Moldy Kitten (1999), Moldy’s Madhouse (2001), Cet imbécile de Rimoldi (1961).

Not so moldy: Smoldering Lust (1993).

Dlom (mold spelled backwards): Discounts For Lack Of Marketability: The Movie (2007).

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