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Kino Korner June 12, 2003
The Squint that Stalks Me
By Mark Ames Browse author Email

The Recruit

What sort of person willingly joins the CIA? Before answering, ask yourself this: what kind of freak never tried drugs in his youth? Cuz that's the only type of person the CIA will even consider. Strange?

Yeah. Sick? Sure. But true. Langley's ranks are packed with snitches, Mormons, compulsive gamblers, sadists and closet-case pole smokers.

Which explains why they're so easily-penetrable and why they alwaysblow every vital assignment. If you believe THE RECRUIT's propaganda, then the CIA is none of the above. Rather, it's a magnet for sensitive, model-level geniuses, here mplayed by Colin Farrell and his female counterpart Bridget Moynihan. Just in case you're slow, they have Farrell himself spell it out to Al Pacino, the CIA recruiting agent: "All I know about the CIA is that they're fat, old white guys who fell asleep when we needed them." (Note how he can't actually say, you know, that thing that happened on that certain day when all those people got killed because someone wasn't doing their job...better not bring it up! Just make Aesopian references!)

Pacino's reply, "Well, you don't know shit," is confirmed in the first scene showing the new recruits: a lecture hall full of 20-somethings so beautiful, fit and multi-ethnic you'd think they were mposing for a Benneton poster.

I can't tell if Farrell is a decent actor or not because he's always distracting me with that goddamn squint expression. It's his squint that's made him a star. Farrell literally squinted his way out of small-time Ireland fame and straight onto the Hollywood A-list as fast as you can say "Josh Hartnett." You know the squint I'm talking about. It's not actually a squint, it's more like a squint and a sigh at the same time. The Squinter is inevitably a chiseled brunette male in his mid to late 20s, often playing characters much younger than his age. The Squinter's trick is to pad his first frames in each film squinting his eyes cockily while sighing with his eyebrows, furrowing the forehead into a ripple of emotion. The squint represents his disdainful individualism, the sigh his inner teddy bear. This one expression captures everything a woman wants in a man: a cocky asshole who, deep down, just wants to spoon. The Reigning Baron of Squint today is Josh Hartnett, the body-waxed hero of Pearl Harbor, a movie which itself is like a 3-1/2 hour squint from Hell.

The Squint has taken a few knocks recently in the comedies Not Another Teen Movie and Hot Chick. In Not Another Teen Movie, Jake (played by Chris Evans), the rich homecoming king with a crew-cut, struts down the school hallways squint/sighing to the adulation of his classmates, who are heard off-screen whispering, "I love how he does that with his eyes!" and "He's so cocky, wow!" At one point, Jake stops to examine a framed portrait on the corridor wall of himself squinting. You'd think this parody would vaccinate mankind against further outbreaks of The Squint, but there's a big demographic out there that demands squinting male leads, and that demographic is loosely gathered under the category "women." Since these "women" make up roughly half of the ticket-buying public, it'll take a lot more than a parody or two to consign The Squint to the dustbin of history.

Even Hot Chick, whose squinty homecoming king turns out to be an insufferably whiny, spineless virgin, failed to beat back the Squint. This is bad. When I see a crew-cut 20-something male doing The Squint, my gas acts up. And that's exactly what happened to me in the first five minutes of The Recruit. Farrell plays a computer whiz just graduating from MIT happily squinting as he bikes down Central Square to a recruiting fair. Two minutes of Farrell's face and my stomach swells out like some Sudanese 4-year-old's.

You might object here that you're not going to see The Recruit for The Squint but for Al Pacino, whose presence should act as a kind of salve or antidote. Unfortunately, you're wrong.

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The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

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