Wednesday, June 22, 2005


[As promised, a review of the film Anaconda, first published in 1997 - a halcyon year for cinema]

“You are such a flamin’ drongo!” hollers Ice Cube at one point in his new [see note above] film, Anaconda. He is addressing this outburst to a rather large green and yellow snake, which is attempting to wrestle him to the ground in a rather unsporting fashion.
The word ‘anaconda’, for those of you who may be slightly ill-informed due to your background or your own sheer stupidity, means ‘snake’, in much the same way as one might use the term ‘blowie’ when referring to a fly of hefty proportions. That this entire film is entitled Anaconda, then, suggests something of an about-turn for those wielding the large brown sticks in Hollywood marked ‘power’. After negating the contribution of colloquial language in modern cinema for so long, not only have the industry Demi-gogues (cheers) incorporated a prime example of this linguistic activity in naming an artwork in this fashion, they have also seen fit to cast undoubtedly the finest performer of colloquial speech in the film’s title role.
Yes, that’s correct. Title Role. Yes, that is correct. Title role. For, while it will go unnoticed by the majority of suburban parasitic consumers of the cinematic art, Ice Cube is the Anaconda that the promotional posters mention, casually, almost indifferently. As the musical piece ‘Numero Uno’, by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, from their breakthrough 1989 album “... And In This Corner” suggests, threateningly:

Snake Eyes, you lost chump...” (My italics).

This is an allusion to Ice Cube. In the years following the 1986 release of Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s album “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper”, a bitter feud had erupted between the two camps. The track “Live at Madison Square Gardens” (an indication of one of the Fresh Prince’s greatest strengths, his lyrical literalism - it was, in fact, recorded “live” at Madison Square Gardens) contained the line “All the ladies in the house say ‘Ho-oh’”. Ice Cube’s lawyers objected to the use of this line, as they claimed it was a piece of intellectual property owned by the aforementioned Mr Cube, and that no lease agreement had been entered into. The lawyers representing Jeff and Mr Prince retaliated by suggesting that this argument was “insipid”. Thus the slanging match began. In “Numero Uno”, the Fresh Prince calls Ice Cube ‘snake eyes’, a reference to his childhood nickname, and particularly telling when it comes to this film.
It would seem, therefore, that the maturity of Ice Cube is now such that he can leave behind the childish taunts which plagued his existence for many years, and can indeed intercept and appropriate such abuse and use it for his own creative endeavours. Ice Cube struggling with a fifteen-foot long snake, then, is not merely Ice Cube struggling with a fifteen-foot long snake (as the Fresh Prince would probably have interpreted it), but a metaphorical struggle between Ice Cube and himself, between Ice Cube and his intellectual endeavours.
So the eyes peering out of promotional posters and magazine advertisements, while appearing to be those of a snake, are, to the observant film critic, most definitely the eyes of Ice Cube himself, gazing deep into the souls of passers-by, looking, searching for signs that others may have found their own true identity in a similar manner to Ice Cube himself. I fear he may be disappointed.When watching Anaconda (and I do recommend it - if the viewer is willing to watch it for the right reasons), realise that this is not a film. It is a highly personal and colloquially emotion-charged plea for help, from one of this generation’s most sensitive and passionate performers. I would challenge anyone to feel a closer, more personal bond with Ice Cube than I do now.


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