Saturday, December 5, 2009

2 0 1 3

According to the Mayas, who some regard as the greatest ancient civilization to have arisen in the New World, the earth is due for a major transition, which some interpret as a geological catastrophe, on December 23, 2012. Hollywood has even made a movie about it, aptly titled 2012, though I’ve refused to see it since the trailers seem to indicate it will be one more cliché of a Hollywood disaster movie with the plot given away in the first thirty seconds and then the remaining two-and-a-half hours spent on explosions and car chases, actors locked permanently in bug-eyed poses of terror.

The doomsday idea intrigues me, though, and so I took it upon myself to contact 2012’s star, John Cusack, to see if he might be interested in starring in a sequel I’m producing called 2013. My film is about Estonia, a country favorably geographically located to be earthquake- and monsoon free. According to my screenplay, Estonia miraculously survives 2012, only to be beset upon by 2013: The Year EU Funding Runs Out.

Mr. Cusack hasn’t answered my letter yet, but I’m sure my proposal will interest him, as it grapples with all the important issues of survival in a no-more-EU-money apocalyptic scenario. I don’t want to give away the ending, but in the interest of possibly piquing the interest of potential financiers, as well as the PÖFF, Cannes, and Sundance people, I have agreed to disclose a few of the gripping scenes in the virtual pages of this blog.

The film begins with a horrifying scene: With EU money gone, the mayor of Tallinn (played by Cusack) must give up the black Mercedes Benz in which he rides to work. Will he, as New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg did as early as 2008, ride public transportation? Or will he go the route of London’s Mayor Boris Johnson and ride his bicycle to work? In this nail-biting scene, the Greens offer Marek Strandberg’s bicycle to the mayor in exchange for several more seats on the city council, and ministers of parliament abandon their Audi A8s streetside in favor of trolleys and trams, since there are no funds to maintain the infrastructure which had been over-built in better times. Without the luxury automobile, utter terror descends on Tallinn.

Tallinn policeman, lacking gasoline for their more modest automobiles, are forced to once again patrol their beats the old fashioned way: on foot. This leads to many emotional scenes where policemen learn the names of people in the neighborhoods and even—dramatically shot with a steadycam—rescue a kitten from the jaws of a Tallinn Prison German Shepherd, recently loosed on the city because prison officials could no longer afford to buy dry dog food at the usurious prices set by Estonian merchants.

Estonians, like always, make the best of tough times by learning new skills, and this gives rise to an entirely fresh generation of twenty-something trainers. Armed with their diplomas but lacking any real-world experience, the trainers advance on Tallinn with the plan to teach business management skills to the unemployed. But they find no funding is available for such ventures and instead they make themselves remarkably useful by turning the flowerbed where the Bronze Soldier once rested into a vegetable garden to supply the parliament’s cafeteria. With natural ingredients in their diet and no electricity to allow e-voting, parliamentarians report weight loss and increased bowel regularity. It’s a “win-win situation” declare the trainers to cheers from crowds which had gathered across the street to visit the national library (reading being a cheap leisure-time activity) only to learn of the institution’s permanent closure. With nothing to read, but fired up by the trainers, the crowd of former library-goers closes ranks on Alexander Kofkin’s hot dog stands, demanding sausage at the same low price available in Western Europe. Stepping into the fray is Mayor John Cusack, who diffuses the volatile crowd by offering free potatoes in Freedom Square. But the potatoes are a bluff. As it turns out, all Cusack has on hand is a single truckload. Shouting “Die, Potemkin traitor,” the crowd chases Cusack through the Old Town streets.

Meanwhile, Estonia’s major publishing houses merge to form one company, and the management council chooses to eliminate some of the more self-indulgent titles such as Navigaator, Saladused, Muscle & Fitness Hers, and Minu Naba. The society magazine, Kroonika, however, thrives due to an increased popularity of prominent Estonians and their remarkable stories of how in difficult times they still manage to fund breast implants for their teenage daughters.

Mayor John Cusack, having barely escaped the mob by swimming through Old Town sewers, yet still having learned absolutely nothing in the process, issues an edict that all businesses must have Estonian-language names. Cusack targets Restaurant Bonaparte as an offending party and insists on a name change to that of an Estonian general. Expecting Restaurant Laidoner, Cusack gets Restaurant Einseln, and a scandal erupts. But Cusack by this point is without the people’s mandate and must back down to conserve power for other fights.

Early in the second act, the suffering is at its greatest as Estonia’s wealthy are no longer able to afford authentic D&G sunglasses, and a batch of reality shows springs forth about the hardships of wearing Chinese knockoffs. Slightly smarter at this point, Mayor Cusack finally sees the writing on the wall, and he makes the unpopular decision to force the bankruptcy of Hugo Boss, Versace, Armani, and the Fashion Palace, in order to replace them with Humana second-hand stores, which are experiencing new life in the crisis economy.

In a decisive finale, Jaak Aaviksoo sneaks into the Iru power station and, calling on his university rector’s training, personally rewires the electrical switches for the freedom monument, so that while there may not be enough money to light the streets of Kopli at night, the freedom monument burns bright, even if its flame of freedom is sometimes only a reflection of the Centre Party-sponsored bonfires built to cook the potatoes which have been forcibly seized from small farmers, now officially designated as kulaks.

The mayor’s position does not look good, and there will be no white ship from the EU. But Mayor Cusack is a master politician who’s been in tight spots before. Will he practice fiscal restraint in order to bring Tallinn’s budget under control? Will he borrow more to keep up appearances? And borrow from whom? The IMF? Moscow? There’s only one way to find out. 2013: Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

Lugege sama Postimehes. Kickass 2013 graphics by Katri Kikkas.

Get Vello's oeuvre here.