After a relaxing sampling experience and some great conversation (don't ask me what it was), we stumbled en masse over to the MAC to see The Great Buck Howard, John Malkovich's latest offering. The film chronicles the adventures of (guess who?) Buck Howard, an aging "mentalist" (as opposed to magician) on the road in an endless road tour to nowheresville. Buck, played by Malkovich, is a smarmy, larger than life character in an obvious toupee who springs from limo's at aging venues in every second city from Akron to Bakersfield exclaiming, arms outstretched toward the sky, "I LOVE THIS TOWN!" Buck also shakes hands in a trademark arm-pumping style so enthusiastic it threatens to unhinge the shoulders of all who find themselves on the receiving end of it.
I was already pretty much gone on Malkovich when I learned that the object of so much of my cinematic affection actually sprang (if you can imagine) from the cornfields of southern Illinois, in a little town called Benton, a mere forty-five minutes up the road from our little berg. The great Malkovich strode the same high school hallways as my own father, albeit twelve years later. That would mean that, during those summer weeks I spent at Grandma's as a kid, I very likey came close to rubbing elbows with the man himself. Stranger still? Malkovich later attended Illinois State University in the town I also grew up in. During the same years I was growing up there. Saints preserve us.