Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Introducing the Ponchos

April 15th, 2011 · 12 Comments

I’m assuming this news will break few hearts, but Bad Movie Friday is gonna go on hiatus for a while. I just got a little sick of sifting through the mountains of cinematic dreck each week; it’s pretty depressing to realize that Invasion U.S.A. is actually the cream of the B-grade action crop. And so henceforth, I will be wasting no more precious hours reviewing the oeuvre of Frank Zagarino—at least for the next few months.

But fear not, Microkhan is not totally abandoning the movie beat. I’ll be replacing Bad Movie Friday with a periodic awards series called the Ponchos. This coveted prize is named after Richard Chaves’ character from Predator, who sadly ends up losing his life in a generic Central American jungle. But before he does, he is gravely wounded by the film’s titular antagonist, so much so that his comrades briefly ponder leaving him behind to die. Sensing that he might be discarded like a licked-clean Popsicle stick, Poncho grits his teeth and utters a throwaway line that has stuck with me for decades now:

I can make it!

In homage to that one-second moment of unintended cinematic greatness, the Ponchos will honor tiny movie fragments that were never meant to be extraordinary, but somehow left an indelible impression on viewers’ minds. The awards’ criteria are pretty strict: the honorees must be consist of dialogue no longer than a single sentence, and they must involve bit players rather than stars. Special consideration will be given to moments in which the impact is created more by facial contortions (aka “acting”) than mere words.

I created this award for somewhat selfish reasons. I’m on the verge of starting to write my second full-length book, and I want to make the project’s main narrative as cinematic as possible. I’m starting to realize that the best way to do this is through the careful selection of minor details—moments that may not seem significant in the grand scheme of things, but that enrich the story far more than pages’ worth of exposition. For example, there’s a moment I plan on introducing early on, in which a hostage notices that her friend is shaking with fear—a vibration she detects by looking at the plate of red Jell-O in her pal’s hands. Doling out the Ponchos on a semi-regular basis will hopefully give me a better sense of what makes those sorts of scenes hum and pop.

Nominations appreciated in comments, of course. And if anyone could upload that “I can make it!” scene to The Tubes, I’d be much obliged—can’t seem to find it anywhere.


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12 Comments so far ↓

  • biztheclown

    I think I will have more nominations for this great idea later, but here’s the first one to pop into my head from Pulp Fiction.

    The kid is riding in the back seat, being driven to an uncertain fate. Vincent Vega asks him a question and his response is beautiful, and has stayed with me:

    “Man, I don’t EVEN have an opinion.”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @biztheclown: Ah, need to go back and rewatch that scene. My only clear memory of it is Travolta’s deadpan line, “I think I just shot Marvin in the face.”

    I like how he stresses the word you wouldn’t expect him to. Those little idiosyncrasies of delivery can mean so much, in terms of making an impact on the viewer.

  • scottstev

    @Brendan, if you want to see brilliant comedic line-reading, check out Archer. The actors are able to add a ton of nuance to what is generally a silly show. All the more impressive considering that the dialogue is not recorded simultaneously.

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  • danthelawyer

    Is it too obvious? The Harry Dean Stanton character in Repo Man: “Ordinary F-ing People. I hate ’em.” Along with Duke’s (Dick Rude): “Yeah, let’s order sushi and not pay.”

  • Captain Button

    One that has always stuck with me is one of the running gags from “1776” where every time the Continental Congress holds a vote Yea or Nay, when they get to New York the answer is always:

    “New York abstains, courteously.”

    Every time I hear someone vote Yea or Nay I always want to quote that line.

  • Captain Button

    Line is here, 38 seconds in:


  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Captain Button: Love that one, thank you. Something about the way “courteously” spurts forth from that powdered wig masquerading as a man.

    Also, dig how Rhode Island gets cracked on by the delegates. Was that a consuption joke I detected?

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    […] before a preschool picnic. Apologies for not yet following through on installment two of the Ponchos; next Friday, for […]

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @rob: Yes! Thanks so much for sifting through the entire Chaves highlight reel to find that gem. Even more powerful than I remember!

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