Cinerama: My Giant

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

My Giant

By Mike Derderian

Ever befriended a giant that took you by the hand over the rainbow, where instead of a pot of gold he offered you his undying friendship? I have, and contrary to the belief, they do not eat humans while reciting lines that go like this: “Fee-fi-fo-fum; I smell the blood of an Englishman;
be he alive, or be he dead; I’ll have his bones to grind my bread.”

I know what you are thinking, but handing out pots of gold was not restricted to leprecons and gnomes. The reason why I chose giants for this week’s column is because a very dear friend of mine left our esteemed establishment.

When I started working for The Star, and met the people I now call my second family, I was surprised to meet a familiar face that I’ve seen four years earlier in a different place. Ghassan Joha was covering an expose about shoe making and I happened to be there ushering people—a favor I did for a friend shoe maker, no not a leprecon.

Holding an over packed portfolio in one arm and pen and paper in the other, Ghassan was interviewing my friend. I kept on watching the hulking figure that had gingery hair from behind the glass window of the meeting room where he and my friend sat. It was back then that I first heard of The Star when Ghassan left his business card with my friend.

Who would have guessed that a few years later I was to share an office with him in The Star, but alas it will no longer be so. For he decided it was time to rest and visit the misty land of oblivion.

I enjoyed watching him as he wrote earnestly on his not-so-very-fast computer after interviewing a touchy parliamentarian on the phone. The long hours he spent typing, writing and going through taped interviews would have impressed anyone including a novice writer such as myself.

“Shush! Can’t you see I’m writing?” he used to exclaim, whenever I interrupted his train of thoughts, before cunningly smiling at me.

I loved how he always was more than willing to help me, whenever I hit a snug, in writing an economy article—a topic that I really hate writing about. I mean, what’s the point writing about petrol price hikes, when I can hear about it from the man filling up the tank of my car. Can the same be said about my Cinerama writings? Well, you can always ask the local video storeowner for a list of good movies.

Giants have the gentlest of hearts and Ghassan had his; he wasn’t my giant only but The Star’s, and our friendship was and will always be like that of Sam ‘Sammy’ Kamin (Billy Crystal) and Max Zamphirescu (Gheorghe Muresan) in Michael Lehmann’s 1998 comedy My Giant.

The story begins when Sam Kamin, a not-so-very-successful movie agent crashes his car while in Romania. The reason: Kamin was fired by his snotty teenage client Justin Allen (Rider Strong) moments before he drove down a valley; so, I guess the phrase ‘when it rains it pours’ is more than true.

He wakes up and finds himself in a monastery. Having no recollections of what or who saved his life, he begins to panic when he discovers that the objects and furniture in his room are bigger than the normal size.

“Are you going to eat me,” yells out Kamin to Max, when the latter pulls him out from under a curtained cupboard. This was one of the funniest scenes in the film but halfway through, the events took a dramatic dive, especially for the 2.31-meter character.

To Kamin’s surprise, Max appreciates Shakespeare and is knowledgeable in various literary fields; however, Max’s wit and knowledge is not what Kamin is interested in.

My Giant also stars Kathleen Quinlan, Zane Carney, Harold Gould, Joanna Pacula and Steven Seagal in a brief cameo role.

Joanna Pacula plays the role of Lillianna, the love interest of Max since childhood. Despite her brief screen presence, Lilianna, as a character, plays a pivotal role in the friendship relationship between Sam and Max, especially when the former concocts a scheme to help Max avoid the pains of love and the memory of Lilianna with the help of his ex-wife Serena (Quinlan). In reality, Lilliana is the name of Muresan’s wife, and the character’s name was originally “Angelica” but it was changed when Muresan said he talks of love best when he thinks of his wife.

Lehmann utilizes the typical, if not cliché, Hollywood scenario, where a short hustler deceives the tall kind-hearted guy to serve his not so sinister purposes. Nothing personal, because for the short hustler it is always about making money—if you can remember the 1998 Twins starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito then you’ll know what I mean.

Using his unique style, Crystal provided most of the film’s funny lines, as he always does whenever his co-stars are larger and bigger, while Muresan—who enjoyed a successful, albeit brief, basketball career in the 1990s as the tallest player in NBA history—gave a subtle portrayal as the gullible giant.

My Giant is about friendship, ideals and sacrifice; some will like it and some will really hate it but as a wise man once said, tastes vary and so does the angle from which you view a movie and if you want my true opinion, it all depends on whether you met a giant or not.

Must see scenes: The wrestling match between Max and the wrestling midgets and Max throwing up on the snotty Justin Allen after riding a horse and getting dizzy in the shooting scene of a big budget film in Romania.

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