Friday, May 10, 2019

An uncomfortable motif.





It was the Spring of 2017 and there I was at the family reunion talking to my cousin, and he asks me if I've heard anything about this skateboarding movie that Jonah Hill was going to make. I only knew what he knew, which was that Jonah Hill was planning to make a skateboarding movie -- and that it took place in the 1990s.

That got both of us interested; as a child of both the 80s and 90s, I looked forward to looking back. As for my cousin, he not only shared the time period experience but was part of the skateboarding scene back then as well.

My cousin asked me if I had any idea when the movie would come out; I told him that usually these things come out about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half after they're announced -- so I figured sometime in 2018.

Allow me to give you some background about me and my cousin. He's a few years younger than me, and because we lived no more than ten minutes away from each other back in the 1980s, we grew up together. We hung out, played with action figures, graduated to video games, watched the WWE back when it was the WWF, and cheered on the latest Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks. (My first viewings of The Karate Kid, Big Trouble in Little China, and Robocop were with him.)

Then he moved to Mexico in the early 90s, and from then on I'd only see him whenever I was visiting over there or he was visiting over here. We'd stay at each other's places and catch up while taking in all the wonderful pop culture the glorious 90s had to offer us. As we got older, I saw him less and less because that's what happens; I'd only see him at family functions or weddings or funerals or all that other fun stuff.

So back to 2017 -- back to us talking about this Jonah Hill 1990s skateboarding movie. I can see how excited he was getting because of the subject matter and time period, and while I was only half interested, the half that I was interested in was a pretty big half. He knew this and I knew this, and so he said something like "It'd be cool to see it with you whenever it comes out" and I immediately jumped in with "So let's do it. When it comes out, I'll come down and see you and we'll make a day of it."

By this time, he and his family were now in San Diego, which from my Los Angeles County location is only a two hour drive. My cousin loved the idea and so I told him I'd hit him up the closer we got to the film's release date, which was to be sometime in late 2018.

Now cut to early 2018, when my sister asked me if I had anything I wanted to say to my cousin for a special going-away message the rest of the family was putting together for him. It turned out that my cousin was moving out of San Diego, California and moving into San Antonio, Texas.

Which meant that he would go from being a two hour drive away to a twenty hour drive away.

After picking up the nearest pillow and screaming into it, I then wrote my cousin a message wishing him and his family all my best with San Antonio -- and that I still planned on meeting up with him to see this goddamn movie called Mid90s.





A few months later -- November 2018, to be exact, I flew to San Antonio. I checked into my hotel room, and yeah, I got a hotel room because I didn't want to put my cousin out like that, plus he has kids and they're young and I fuckin' hate kids and I don't want to be jerking off in the guest room while watching YouPorn and all of a sudden here comes my cousin's six-year-old barging in catching me off guard just as I shoot and WHAP he gets nutted in the eye and great, now I'm a sex predator.

Fuck that shit, I like my privacy. I like to have a nice hotel room where I can comfortably walk around naked with the curtains open, just in case there's a voyeuristic woman or man in the next building who's looking for something to wish for.

Anyway, before unpacking I had DoorDash bring me a double cheeseburger and a Monterey Melt with an order of fries and an order of onion rings from Whataburger as a nightcap. The following day, I went to 2M Smokehouse BBQ where I had some incredible beef brisket and a side of "chicharoni macaroni" for breakfast, then I did the tourist thing by visiting The Alamo, got myself a hot towel shave and a haircut at a place where they served me Shiner Bock while I waited, and then I had dinner on a riverboat at Boudro's over on the Riverwalk, where I had a lovely conversation with the only other single person on board, a woman who appeared to be in her 70s and who was there to watch her grandkids perform in a band for some function at the Alamo.

Somewhere during this conversation, I mentioned to her that I always wanted to eat on a riverboat on the Riverwalk ever since I saw Steve McQueen do it in the 1972 film The Getaway, and that's where we both discovered we were both movie geeks. She was particularly fond of the works of Paul Schrader. I asked her if she had seen his latest film First Reformed.

She said she hadn't. Neither had I.

And that's when we locked eyes and I remembered earlier when she mentioned being divorced and I knew right then and there that we were only four glasses of wine between us from having a little May-December action in one of our hotel rooms later that night.

Having reached that ratio by the end of the meal, I waited for everybody else to exit the boat before hitting her with the big question: Would you like to join me for another drink or three? I hadn't finished my proposition when I saw her slowly reach into her purse and pull out a whistle, to which I immediately said "Good evening, ma'am!" and stepped off the boat and walked straight to the Coyote Ugly Saloon next door. I ended up having a couple beers while watching girls stand on the bar while doing PG-13 dance routines and giving both men and women their version of "body shots" which consisted of one of the Coyote Ugly girls tying the lucky man's hands behind his back while she put a shotglass of tequila into her mouth and tilt it so that the contents poured into the James Franco-in-Spring-Breakers lookalike's mouth -- again, that's if the customer is a man.

For the female customers, the body shot consisted of the Coyote Ugly Girl bringing the lucky lady onto the bar, laying her down face up on said bar, and grinding her body against hers and somewhere along the way, the lady gets her drink and we're all supposed to act like there isn't a double standard going on and this is of course called "experimenting" because it's OK for women to fuck around with other women all they want and it doesn't mean they're dykes but if I say something like "Hey, I have no problems sleeping with a transgender chick provided she doesn't still have a dick -- and if she does, OK fine, as long as it isn't bigger than mine" NOOO, I'm the biggest homo this side of San Antonio!

You see, old single grandma on the riverboat? I wasn't trying to sleep with you, you're not customized with the proper add-ons! So put away the rape whistle, honey, and let's get back to talking about that one movie where George C. Scott watches his daughter get banged in a porno!

The next day, I met up with my cousin at the AMC Rivercenter 11 and we spent a couple hours catching up, and then spent another ninety minutes watching the film we'd been talking about for the past couple years. So I guess I should talk a little about the film, huh?

Mid90s follows a young kid named Stevie somewhere in Southern California circa 1995 who has a typical lower middle class lifestyle, that is, if your lower middle class lifestyle included having a young single mother who has no problems discussing her love life in front of you, and having an older brother who regularly beats the ever-loving fuck out of you for sneaking into his room while he was out.

Me, I didn't have to deal with that kind of bullshit back then, I realized way too late in retrospect that I had it really fucking good back then family-wise -- my parents were straight arrows and the worst thing that ever happened between me and my sister was when we watched the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie Blown Away, which we thought would be good for a laugh but it turned out that the joke was on us when half of that movie consisted of watching fuckin' Lucas over here bang Nicole Eggert over and over again, and I don't know if my sister and I were trying to tough it out, figuring that watching The Lost Boy show Charles who really was In Charge would eventually give way to, you know, the fuckin' story, but no, it didn't.

Anyway, Stevie doesn't have to watch Nicole Eggert get passed back and forth by the Coreys much like they used to pass needles and STDs to each other. Instead he takes his beatings, and one gets the sense that perhaps he feels he deserves it, because on occasion Stevie will do the self-harm thing with such lovely household items as a hair brush, the cord of a Super Nintendo controller, and his own fists. This is his life, he has to deal with it, he's used to it, and maybe it's because he doesn't know any better, he just knows what he knows.

So one day, Stevie walks into the skate shop that had previously caught his eye and slowly ingratiates himself into the small tight-knit crew of skater boys that hang out there. It's four guys and half are assholes and half are all right, which sounds about right. I'm glad they weren't all assholes, because otherwise I'd have to say about skaters and this film what Quentin Tarantino said about surfers and the John Milius' film Big Wednesday -- that it's a better movie than those assholes deserve.

But no, the few times I hung out with my cousin when he was with his skate-bros, half of them were decent dudes, while the other half I wanted nothing more than to see a fucking truck splatter them all over the pavement, followed by listening to the sweet screams of their worthless mothers wailing to their former sons/current street pizzas.

I can joke about that because I almost got hit by a truck when I was six years old. I was being a little fuck and I ran out of the house and into the street and a semi-truck almost Gage'd my ass. My mother nearly had a heart attack at the sight of this, but she recovered quickly enough to regain the power to inflect major damage on my hindquarters with her immortal chancla. Some of you fuckin' hippies can call it child abuse if you want, but it was the only time my mother ever hit me and I feel I earned that beating, and you know what? I don't run blindly into streets anymore.

Maybe Stevie could stand for some chancla action, rather than his usual brotherly beatdowns, because maybe that would've taught him not to scream at his mother to "shut the fuck up!" I shit you not, he actually does that, in one scene he goes off on her, repeatedly screaming that shit at his mom over and over again. That really is some white people shit, right there. I've never heard of any Hispanic or Black kids yelling at their moms like that, probably because those that did -- if they ever did -- never got more than two words into their tirade before every trace of their existence was immediately wiped off the face of the Earth by their moms.

I love my mom and I think she's awesome, but I also respect the fact that inside that increasingly tiny old woman beats the heart of a lioness and I would never dream of screaming at her as if I were some spoiled ass white boy. You can point all the guns and knives in the world at me, but threaten me with telling my mom about something I did and I'll drop to my knees faster than a 14-year-old boy auditioning for the next Bryan Singer production.

Stevie soon scores a skateboard of his own and discovers a new way to escape from the realities of his life via rolling down streets and sidewalks on a board that has a dinosaur saying "Cowabunga" on it. Rather than having movie night in the living room with his mom, Stevie enjoys the simple pleasures of finally pulling off a trick move at the end of a night full of failed attempts. This is an awesome new thing for the little dude, who is soon given the nickname "Sunburn".

No longer alone or depending on the kindness of an abusive older sibling, Stevie has a second family to hang out with and now he also has access to cool things for little children like 40-ounce beers and cheap weed and older girls who are into you because you're too young to ditch them for someone hotter later on.

About that last part, this girl -- who looks Hispanic and I'm assuming is under 18 -- ends up chatting Stevie up and eventually takes him to her room where she ends up kissing up on him. First off, I bet you that chick grew up to become one of those teachers you hear about on the news, the ones who hook up with one of their students, and me and my fellow men react with the same bullshit half-joking comments about how we wished we had a teacher bang us when we were kids because it would instill in us a confidence well beyond our years, and that this confidence would probably have made us into goddamn winners in life.

Second, this scene between Sunburn and the creeper chola feels kinda weird because she looks older than her age and he looks younger than his age, and it's shot in a way that I didn't find exploitative, but it does feel like you're peeking into something that you shouldn't be peeking into, like you're hiding in the closet with Kyle MacLachlan's character from Blue Velvet watching this scene go down.

Also, I had a bit of a debate with my cousin after the film about that scene, about whether it was some kind of weird wish fulfillment trip from Jonah Hill, like, maybe when he was that age he fantasized about some older chick preying upon his tubby little body, the way I fantasized about Mrs. Kennelly in my seventh grade science class telling me to stay after school so we can discuss what an impotent piece of shit her husband is, I don't know. Or maybe that situation between Sunburn and the chick really happened, being that this is -- well, I'm assuming, anyway -- kinda autobiographical for Hill.

Whatever the case, the girl -- and the other girls in the film -- took me back to my junior high school days, or more specifically, my junior high school weekends. The way they were dressed and the way they wore their hair, wow, I was reminded of all the girls I was too chicken shit to talk to, as well as the ones that I managed to work up some balls to chat up but then fucked it up by being myself.

I would've been fine with the film being a time capsule dripping in Hey, Remember the 90s? if it were just that. But it's not. Aside from the opening five minutes in which we're inundated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedsheets, Street Fighter II t-shirts, and CDs by "Tha Alkaholiks", Mid90s creates nostalgia in more of a matter-of-fact manner -- much like watching an old VHS home movie from that time period where things don't look too much different except every once in a while you'll notice things about a person's clothes or the way somebody's living room looks like every lower middle class living room from back then.

What adds to this rather casual presentation is that the film is presented in the 4x3 -- or 1.33:1 -- aspect ratio, or in other words, it's a square box with black bars on the left and right sides of the screen, because you see, kids, in the good old days, we watched television from a square box that was front heavy as fuck and took at least two people to carry around if it was a big size. Mid90s was also shot in Super 16mm, giving a nice grainy image with the occasional scratch here and there, which combined with the 4x3 aspect ratio makes the film look like an independent film I would've rented from Blockbuster Video or Hollywood Video back in the 90s.

So in that context -- as an independent film from the 90s -- what would I have thought if I had rented this at a video store back then? Pretty much the same way I feel now, minus the nostalgia parts. It's an interesting character study of the kind of person who would devote his free time to increasing his chances of getting harassed by security guards, running from cops, and breaking bones. My only real complaint is that it feels too bare bones for this kind of film; I got the impression that there was probably a lot more footage shot for every scene but Hill and his editor knew it was best to get to the point of a scene and make said point as quick as possible. Now that definitely works with some scenes in the film, but there are other scenes that I felt definitely could've used some more breathing room. Nevertheless, Jonah Hill makes an impressive debut as a filmmaker here.

With the exception of Lucas Hedges who plays Stevie's dickhead brother Ian, and Katherine Waterston as Stevie's hot mom, the majority of the cast appear to be real life professional skaters rather than real life professional actors -- although the kid who plays Stevie, Sunny Suljic, is both a pro-skateboarder and an actor -- and these non-actors do pretty well just being themselves rather than shooting for the actorial stars -- which works for a film like this where just playing things natural enhances the verisimilitude.

I have to give props to Hill and his music supervisor for the eclectic mix of tunes that pop up throughout the film; you want to talk about taking me back, well, it seemed like every other song in this movie gave me serious I Remember Way Back When type of feels, stuff from Wu-Tang Clan, Pixies, Jeru The Damaja, Morrissey, and The Pharcyde among others.

After the film, my cousin and I walked around Downtown while discussing the movie; he gave me some good background on certain things in the movie that had flown over my head, on account of not being familiar with the skating scene back then. He talked about how the filmmakers did a great job with such details as the kind of clothing the characters wore; he said that one character wore stuff from a certain skate company that you'd only see people with money wear, which makes sense considering that this character did in fact come from money. My cousin loved the movie, by the way -- he ended up watching it twice.

I also ended up watching the film twice during its theatrical run, but not so much for the same reasons as my cousin. While I liked the film enough to watch it again, it was really more because my first viewing did not go as well as it should've. For one thing, I can hear whatever bullshit blockbuster playing next door booming its bass through the walls. But even worse, a couple of rows behind us sat a mother who brought along her kids who happily walked up and down the theater and stomped around on the row behind us and did that fucking annoying mumbling thing that these little snots do and the whole time nobody else -- not my cousin, not the people in front of us, not the lady in her Air Force blues -- seemed fazed or bothered by it. I was the only one and it was driving me mad. And when I brought it up with my cousin after the movie, he said he didn't notice. What the fuck? Am I the asshole? Am I losing my mind? Or is this how movie audiences in San Antonio get down? I don't fucking know, man!

But it's OK because I ended up seeing it again a few days later back home practically for free (thanks AMC Stubs A-List!) and this screening was especially peachy because I was the only one in the theater. Which is really the best of both worlds for me, to see a movie in an empty theater because that's where I am in life, that's the fuckin' misanthropic piece of shit I grew up to be. I wasn't always like this, but you know, fuckin' people, man. Maybe if I spent my youth watching less movie rentals at home alone and more time hanging out with asshole skaters more I'd have a different outlook by now. But I didn't, so I don't.

But I guess Jonah Hill did and that's how this movie came about. I think. I mean, I don't know how much of is based on his life, and I really don't care -- because it doesn't matter and because I don't give two shits about that creepy fuck.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little detail -- I fucking can't stand Jonah Hill. He seems like he really is the characters he plays, or at least he is most convincing as an actor when he is playing fat scumbags, and I'm sure it's a matter of time before it comes out in the news that he Cosbys chicks or something. I see him in The Wolf of Wall Street and I don't see him playing a character, I feel I'm seeing the real him. I bet you this motherfucker has screamed at his mom to shut the fuck up too, and he's probably graduated to yelling that shit to whatever desperate wannabe starlet is currently blowing her way up his casting couch. It wouldn't be so bad were it not for him being in cast in movies that I want to see, because then he would be easily avoidable.

So think about the good laugh God is having at the fact that I dropped serious ducats to fly 1200 miles away from home just to see a movie written and directed by a probable piece of shit in an everyday multiplex occupied by rowdy roaming children who made sure I couldn't even really enjoy the movie. Well, laugh all you want, ma'am, because in the end I got to hang out with my cousin and watch a movie with him, just like we did in the good old days -- and that's what really matters.

OK, OK, I know what you're thinking after hearing my Jonah Hill rant. You're probably thinking, "Ah, you're just jealous because he's rich and famous and working with people like Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino and he's probably living an awesome life and you're stuck in your dead-end existence and with each birthday you're getting farther and further away from your dreams and let's be real, your window of opportunity passed about ten years ago and you're gonna probably die poor and miserable and full of regrets and bitterness, so all you can do now is talk shit about the goddamn winners in life while they continue to win and you remain stagnant in your pool of failure, you fucking pussy."

















ohmygod

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The tin duck







About a month ago, I was eating lunch in the park when this man who appeared to be in his sixties walked up to me with a notebook and a pen. I looked at him in his white button-down shirt and black pants and figured, oh great, what is this asshole gonna try to sell me.

The man was very apologetic and proceeded to give me this whole tale about how he needed to pay for a procedure he was going to have or already had, I don't remember, because by that point I was too busy noticing that the man only had half a jaw and I'm guessing the procedure had something to do with that. I'm sure I also heard the word "cancer" somewhere during his spiel, but I couldn't be too sure because I was too busy processing the overwhelming sight of a man with HALF A FUCKING JAW.

Now I don't know if this was special effects, maybe it was. But it looked real. This guy was trying his best to talk and he did pretty well considering his condition. What he was asking for was a loan of any amount to help pay for the procedure. He needed something like $1500 and he already collected  about $1100. He showed me that he had the names and addresses of the people who loaned him money in his notebook, plus the amount they loaned him. It was a thick notebook and nearly all the pages had been filled out. He said he was going to make it his mission in life to pay everybody back as soon as he could.

For all I know this half-jawed gentleman was full of shit. I mean, he probably was, he probably got half his jaw shot off in a gang fight or something and now he was using this as a way to make some money off of people and he'll probably then have one of his buddies break into these people's houses and steal shit or kill them or rape them or all of the above.

But if there's any possibility of his story checking out 100-percent, well, I'd rather err on the side of wanting to be helpful.

But there was something else -- a nagging feeling somewhere within, and it always comes up when someone comes up to me and asks for help or charity of some kind. It's a kind of fear, a fear of I don't know what, maybe fear of some kind of karmic retribution or something. Maybe the person asking me is really a beautiful enchantress with the power to turn me into a beast or a gypsy with the power to curse me to keep losing weight until I'm nothing but skin and bones.

Or maybe I really am a sucker who wants to help. Whatever the case, I ended up giving him $20 but I didn't give him my name or address. I told him there was no need to pay me back; he could pay me back by doing a kindness for somebody else who needed it. Also, I didn't want to risk being home invaded by his friends.

Whether it was true or not, his story felt real enough and if it wasn't, at least he put in some effort into the ruse, and that's all I ask for. Just make the effort. Don't just walk up and be like "Hey man, got some money?" This dude gave me a notebook, a story that worked on my emotions, and oh yeah, HALF A FUCKING JAW.

But I don't think all the Greg Nicotero special effects makeup in the world could convince somebody like Ebenezer Scrooge to give any amount aside from the grand total of jack shit, based on how I saw him treat a couple of dudes taking up donations. But more on that a little later.



Well, thanks for the trailer, TNT, I guess nobody has to see this movie anymore, now that you've told the whole story. Don't see any point in rambling about this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I'm kidding. Most of us know the story already, so it's really about the telling, right? There are many film adaptations of Charles Dickens' immortal classic A Christmas Carol, and in her second long-unfulfilled request, Karen from Florida has asked me to ramble about one of them. With her help, I narrowed it down to either the 1984 version starring George C. Scott or the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart.

I ended up going with the Stewart film because I'd never seen it, and also because if I went with the Scott version, the entire time I'd just be making references to that scene in the film Hardcore where he watches a porno starring his daughter. Trust me, I can make lots of references to that. I suppose I could do the same with Stewart by making "Star Trek" references, so I'll do my best to keep them to a minimum.

All right, so for those who came in late, I was saying earlier that the main character of this tale, Ebenezer Scrooge, is pretty harsh with a couple of dudes who are looking for donations to help supply food and warmth to the less fortunate in this cold and bleak 19th century London. They tell him how tough it is our there and that people can die from such poor conditions, and this piece of work responds with something like "Well, they should die as soon as possible, that way can stop suckling on the city's titties."

To be fair, these donation dudes kinda brought it onto themselves; when they visit Scrooge and give them the whole spiel about helping feed and shelter the poor and hungry, they end it by asking how much money he plans to give. That's mighty presumptuous, guys. You can't assume everybody is going to want to give, you gotta close it out by saying something like how appreciative you'd be and how helpful it would be if the person could donate any amount if possible. No matter what, you have to ask, just to be polite -- kinda like the no-jaw dude who hit me up. He had no jaw and he still asked politely, he didn't assume.

If I had to guess, I would say Scrooge is the kind of person who throws in the word "bootstraps" a lot. Usually, you can tell who is and isn't a jerk is by whether or not they use the word "bootstraps" preceded by something like how a person should pick him or herself up by them. Not that I'm against working hard in an attempt to elevate yourself to a better station in life, I mean, I have no issues with the concept of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

It's just that in my experience, the people who usually say that are people who didn't actually have to do that. It's usually those who were born into money or had more than a few other hands pulling their bootstraps for them. Now, I'm not saying that those who were born into privilege or were closer to achieving their goals should feel some kind of shame or guilt or should have to keep their mouths shut about how others should be working hard for what they want. I'm just saying there's a way to say all of that without sounding and looking like an asshole.



Scrooge doesn't say "bootstraps" but he does have a moment later on where he remarks on how a young girl already has a job, and he's saying it like Wow, this girl is a real go-getter! and he doesn't understand that this girl has no choice but to work because her family is dirt poor. Because there's a big difference between getting a part-time job after school so you can buy sneakers, and having to get a full time job -- forget school at this point -- in order to help feed the rest of your family because your father's employer is a lousy skinflint named Scrooge.

Yeah, Scrooge only has one employee at his money-lending firm, his clerk Bob Cratchit -- played by his future antagonist in Logan, Richard E. Grant -- and while it seems like this place does all right, you wouldn't know it from how stingy he is when it comes to keeping the place warm; Cratchit wants to add a couple of measly chunks of coal to the fire and Scrooge is like, you better put some water on that damn shit -- no, no, he says to just poke the current coals and keep what little fire there is barely burning.

It kills Scrooge to spend money, it just kills him that he has to give Cratchit a paid holiday on Christmas Day -- and he has to say this poor old Bob, he can't keep it to himself. Why do people do things like that? Let the poor guy enjoy his one paid day off, man.

On top of that, Scrooge has no use for Christmas. No, he's not Jewish or a Jehovah's Witness or Phoebe Cates in Gremlins, he's just a miserable man; a group of Christmas carolers know better than to go sing in front of Scrooge's place -- except for one poor child who learns that to go sing to Scrooge is to invite a possible Singapore-style caning.

I love Christmas but I might be with Ebenezer when it comes to carolers. I figure back then carolers were like the flash mobs of their day, which is to say that it's really more about themselves than in the people they're purporting to be entertaining.

Anyway, Scrooge's nephew Fred shows up all joyous and triumphant about the holiday and Scrooge doesn't want to hear it, it's like it irritates him that other people have hope and joy during this time of year. He apparently doesn't know about the high suicide rate during this time, otherwise he'd probably dig Christmas a lot more.

I wondered why Scrooge was so cold towards his nephew, he seems to be upset that Fred is able to enjoy the holiday season despite not being as up on the monetary hustle as he'd like to be. Scrooge also seems to disapprove of Fred's marriage. Like, why does it bother him so much that Fred is married? Does Scrooge have a bit of a thing for Fred, like some pervy forbidden taboo love between uncle and nephew, or is it more of a player hater kind of thing, because Scrooge messed up his chance at true love right around the same age that Fred found his? I'm thinking maybe the latter. But I won't count out the former, because a very sick man like me loves the idea that Scrooge dreams of making his nephew cry uncle, if you know what I mean.

I mean he wants to bang his nephew, is what I mean.

Fred, by the way, is played by Dominic West, or as I prefer to call him, McNulty from the HBO series "The Wire". Man, I'd been hearing about the show for years, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally got around to seeing it, and you know what? It's as good as everybody says it is. Although considering how things are going nowadays in this wonderful big blue world, I don't think I will ever give a series as cynical and depressing and true to life like that one a rewatch ever again.

Speaking of depressing and true to life, you could've made a 19th century version of "The Wire" with this London setting. It's very glum and there's no chance of Christmas cheer in how things look, which I think is the idea -- I mean, I think that's the idea, you know, finding the ability to enjoy this time of year regardless of your surroundings. We see that in the way Bob Cratchit and his family are able to make the most of what little they have during their Christmas dinner, and how appreciative and happy for what they have, as meager as it is.

Then there's a sequence where Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present watch as various people celebrate Christmas by singing "Silent Night"; the keepers of a lighthouse, the crew on a cargo ship, workers at a mining facility -- not the most ideal of conditions to be in good cheer, and yet, they are able to have the Christmas spirit. Even if the conditions were better, these people are working on Christmas Eve, which has to be a little bit of a bummer -- for those who celebrate the holiday anyway.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole Ghosts of Christmas deal. OK, for those who aren't familiar with A Christmas Carol, what happens is that Scrooge gets visited by his old business partner Jacob Marley, which sounds all fine and dandy except for the fact that Jacob Marley has been dead for seven years. Marley tells Scrooge that the afterlife sucks because he's forever tortured by his past actions -- or more like his past inactions, because like Scrooge, Marley didn't do shit for his fellow man and was just as much a tightwad as Ebenezer. Now he's wearing heavy chains he can't take off and walking around all morose and shit, being as much a drag as those heavy ass chains.

Scrooge tries to dismiss this as hallucinations brought on by indigestion or maybe someone dosed his stew, the same way somebody dosed James Cameron's clam chowder on the set of Titanic in a possible attempt to Christmas Carol that Hollywood Scrooge. But Marley doesn't let up, and he has some tricks to really get into the old man's head that this is in fact The Real Deal.

Marley then gives Scrooge a peek into the lives of the dead, specifically those who like Jacob Marley, led selfish and uncaring lives. Now they have to spend the rest of forever watching the living who in need of help, and these sad specters are unable to do anything about it because they're dead. Their opportunity to do something has passed. This is a lesson they've learned too late. But it's not too late for Scrooge!

At least that's the idea, and to help prevent Scrooge from getting fitted for his own chain ensemble, three ghosts will visit him: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Joel Grey, who looks like a pale transgender in mid-transition here. That's not a knock against transgenders, by the way, I've met plenty of transgenders at functions and parties and they've all turned me down.

Anyway, GC Past shows Scrooge his, uh, past as a little Scrooge, taking him back to his old school -- which Ebenezer seems pretty jazzed about. I don't know, man, maybe you had a better time back then than I did. You take me back to my old school and I'd probably start going into convulsions before reaching towards the small of my back for a pistol that I'm not carrying. The fun ends for Scrooge, though, once he sees himself as a sad little boy all alone in class because his father is a piece of shit.

This is the second film in a row that I've rambled about featuring grown-up assholes who were raised that way by their asshole fathers. The first was both versions of Disney's Beauty and the Beast -- which I guess makes this movie the third film in a row -- and now this one. And both were requested by Karen from Florida. If you're trying to tell me what I think you're trying to tell me, well let me make it clear, ma'am: I wasn't raised to be a douchebag, my father was great to me -- as is my mother. No, ma'am, my high level achievements of being A-Prick-Number-One are a result of being a self made kind of shitheel. Now this could mean one of two things: the whole "bad father equals bad son" thing is bullshit, or maybe I, much like Michael Myers, was just born under a bad star.

I'm pure evil, is what I'm trying to tell you good people. It's why I keep to myself. I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel. And you don't want any of me. Unless you're ready to give up the goods. And by goods, I mean sex and/or food, but not both at the same time.

GC Past then shows Scrooge an older younger version of himself, back when he was working for Mr. Fezziwig. Now that's a cool boss, right there; Fezziwig is very cheerful -- at least during his company's Christmas party -- and he insists that all employees who are still working to stop what they're doing 'cause he's about to ruin the image and the style that they're used to: that is, if the image and style is of a Scrooge type who won't take a break to enjoy life every once in a while. You see Fezziwig and his family getting down with their bad selves on the sing & dance floor, and even Ebenezer knows to have some fun because he hasn't grown into old Scrooge yet.

Let me talk about office Christmas parties. I can do without those too. In fact, I have been doing without them for most of my work life, as well as any other social functions and gatherings at my places of employment. I'm polite to my co-workers and treat them with kindness and respect, but I don't want to be reminded of work during my free time. It's my time! It's why I've turned down company softball games and work picnics and Christmas parties. I don't want any of these assholes to see me drunk -- hell, I don't want anyone to see me drunk, and I certainly don't want to see any of those assholes drunk, fuck those guys.

Old Scrooge gets to observe Young Scrooge fuck it up with the love of his life, but is it really his fault? I get where he's coming from -- he's not ready to marry poor because he's trying to make that fuckin' money, bro. It's like the great Tony Montana once said: First you make the money, then you get the power, and then you marry your sweetheart. Stewart is great in the film, but I really liked his performance during this scene, as he witnesses one of the biggest -- perhaps the biggest mistake of his life -- and starts talking back at his young self like some overly emotional housewife watching her "stories".



After that, comes The Ghost of Christmas Present, who's a big dude in a robe, looking like party animal from a frat house movie. He ends up showing Scrooge that whole deal with the various people having Christmas spirit, singing "Silent Night", despite of or in spite of their situations, preceded by the whole Christmas dinner at the Cratchit crib, where the lovely family digs into their meal -- Christmas goose with all the trimmings, followed by plum pudding. It all looks nice but it's all too small for a family that big -- which is what an overeater would say.

Because when you really look at the portions given to the Cratchit clan, that really is the ideal serving size. It's how much we're all supposed to eat -- particularly we heavy Americans, who eat our food in way too large portions. Also, why so many kids? Great googily moogily, Bob, couldn't you keep it in your pants a couple times here and there? You know what, I take that back, Bob -- I can see why you and Mrs. Bob would do so much fucking. I mean you have to keep warm in that cold weather somehow.

Scrooge, this fuckin' miser, he asks GC Present about the infirm Cratchit boy Tiny Tim, he wants to know if things will get better for him and GC Present responds with something like "I see an empty seat and a crutch without an owner....something something if the future doesn't change, the child will die". That line and the delivery of that line, left me thinking what a great public service announcement it would make, preferably played on digital over-the-air television.

Have you ever watched digital over-the-air television? I'm talking about those stations that have dashes between the numbers, the ones that show cool old programs and cool old game shows. They're really cool but then come the commercial breaks and it's always a horror show filled with injured old people, dead old people, mistreated animals, dead animals, and kids with cancer. So an ad for some kind of charity towards helping little gimpy kids would be great with that line about the empty chair and crutch.

GC Present then takes Scrooge over to Fred's house where they're all having a great time, friends and family alike. "It's been so long" says Scrooge, regarding the old timey Christmas dinner party games being played. Man, it's been so long for me as well. The last time I played a game at a Christmas party, it was 14 years ago and we played Jenga Truth or Dare.

It's a good thing they didn't have Jenga Truth or Dare back in Scrooge's day, because one of the guests is this fuckin' panty-sniffing creep named Topper, who should be thanking his lucky stars they hadn't invented sex offender registries yet. Although considering how long ago this story takes place, they probably hadn't invented the term "sex offender", that was just how gentlemen rolled. You had to be Jack the Ripper to be considered doing something wrong to a lady back then. God, Topper made my skin crawl, talking to ladies about their "pretty little mouths" and making sure there's mistletoe in the immediate vicinity of his most likely syphilitic johnson. Who knows what this bucket of unwanted sex would've done with something like Jenga Truth or Dare.

Following all that pervitude, Scrooge gets the ghost he fears the most: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, looking like a half-decent Halloween display outside one of those Halloween stores that only operates during September and October out of some recently closed business. The Ghost shows Ebenezer how his homies at the stock exchange will not really give much of a care about him after hearing news of his death. They'll only attend the funeral if food is being served, which I kinda understand too, provided we're talking about serving the food after the funeral. That would be weird to eat during the actual service.

It all bums Scrooge out, the way people react about his him going tits up. Some of the help from his house end up selling his silk shirts and bed curtains, and even the undertaker makes some money off of him. Nobody seems particularly bothered, save maybe Fred, but in most cases, people's lives are improved, such as the couple who were in debt to Scrooge, but now that he's merged with the infinite, they have time to save up and pay the new piper.

I think at this point, Scrooge would've been like "Fuck it, if these assholes are going to ditch my funeral and sell the fillings from my teeth, I might as well keep up the shitty attitude and really earn my postmortem disrespect!" but then of course, here comes Tiny Tim to gum up the works with his own death, and now Scrooge is super bummed. Then he catches the sight of his sad-ass tombstone and his cold-ass corpse in the coffin and for some reason he embraces his own corpse and off they go, swan-diving cheek-to-cheek into the black void like a couple of twin fruits.

But it was all a dream! Scrooge used to read Word Up magazine! And now he's awake, back in the real world and he hasn't missed Christmas! He's so overjoyed at this, he tries to laugh but it's such an alien reflex to him at this point, it takes him like half a minute of choke-filled attempts before he finally gets it right and laughs like a goddamn human being again. He then pays some street urchin to buy the biggest goose this side of Footloose and send it over to the Cratchit residence -- but he makes sure that it's done anonymously, so that Bob and company don't know who the goose is from.

I like that, it shows real altruism, that move. Most people in Scrooge's place would've made sure that Cratchit would know who got his goose, for the same reason I want the baristas at Starbucks to see me when I put a buck in the tip jar. Scrooge is so beyond that bullshit by this point, he doesn't care and maybe it'll have Cratchit believe it was some kind of Christmas miracle HAHAHAHAHAHA miracle.

Scrooge then goes to church because He is the reason for the season, you know. We gotta remember who put the Christ in Christmas, and that's something you heathens don't understand and will never understand unless you give yourself to the one true God. Instead, you try to make it secular for all the libtards who hate my Christ, love paying taxes, and want to take my guns away. Well to that third part, I quote my good boys from Gonzales, Texas: Come and take it.

The following day, Scrooge pulls one of those bullshit pranks where he acts like he's pissed off at Bob for coming in late, and he talks all serious to him, until he pulls back the false dickhead facade and reveals himself to be the new and improved Scrooge by giving Cratchit a raise and allowing him to warm up the place with all the coal his heart desires. Then McNulty narrates over footage of the Cratchit family visiting Ebenezer -- including Tiny Tim, who did not die -- talking about how "ever afterwards, he knew how to keep Christmas well" and I start tearing up and getting choked up because that's where I am in my life, I fuckin' cry at everything, especially with stories like this, because the older I get and the more I experience in this life, the more these tales about people changing their negative ways to become better people increasingly feel like science fiction.

What they don't show us is Scrooge visiting his supposed pals at the stock exchange, followed by giving them a solid thrashing with his cane for being fake people showing fake love to him, straight up to his face, straight up to his face. But I guess I'll have to make that version myself, where I devote a good twenty minutes to Scrooge taking care of business with those stock exchange fucks by giving them a little stick time.



OK, well, I pretty much went through the whole movie but you already knew the story -- so the question is: how does this 1999 adaptation of A Christmas Carol do in telling it?

Pretty damn well, I think. This has less of a Christmas-y feel to it compared to others, but I think in exchange for that, there's a bit more of a, I don't know -- real tone to it? The setting is suitably bleak and a good part of that should be credited to the production designer, Roger Hall, who had previously worked on such classics as Chariots of Fire and Highlander II: The Quickening. One of those films won the Academy Award for Best Picture, by the way.

I haven't read the Dickens story in nearly two decades, but based on what I remember of it, this adaptation is very close, including things like that "Silent Night" sequence, which I don't remember ever being in other film versions of the Scrooge story.

The film was directed by David Jones, a stage director who went on to work on television shows like "Law & Order: SVU" and films like Jacknife starring Robert De Niro. He does a fine job telling the story, moving things along at a fine clip and getting good performances from his cast. Speaking of which, Patrick Stewart is solid as Ebenezer Scrooge, but I feel his doesn't quite match up in comparison to previous Scrooges like Alastair Sim and George C. Scott. He doesn't seem as particularly upset by the otherworldly sights he's treated to, it's a little too stiff upper lip compared to the way other Scrooges handle seeing ghosts and freaky mutated ghoulish children named Want and Ignorance and Tiny Tim. I think what he does best is show us the regret Scrooge feels over his past mistakes during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.

More than anything, I was left wishing I had seen one of Patrick Stewart's one-man performances of A Christmas Carol, where he played over thirty characters without the use of props or costume changes. He's performed the play on and off since the late 80s, but it doesn't look like he's going to do it again anytime soon, which is too bad because it sounds fascinating. I now kinda wish they filmed one of his shows rather than make yet another standard film version of the Dickens classic. But they did make another standard film version of the Dickens classic, but it's a good one, so I'm not complaining. I can definitely see myself checking this one out again come next December.

OK, that's it. I haven't done a rundown like that in a while, where I pretty much just go through the movie from beginning to end, but I figure it's no secret to most people how this story plays out, so why not.

Anyway, if you happen to be reading this during the holidays, have fun and be safe.

Also, this won't mean anything to those who are listening to the podcast which is only a few episodes old at the time of this recording, but the day that I'm putting this out, December 25th, in this foul year of Our Lord 2018 also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Exiled from Contentment blog, from where these ramblings come from. I can't help but feel it's all been a colossal waste of time. But hey, it beats sitting on my ass and doing nothing, right?

Don't answer that.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Not worth the wait.





There was an advertisement from one of those charities that help out wounded veterans, and I felt both sympathy and a great feeling of gratitude to all those brave men and women who served in the military and fought in the name of this great country that I was lucky enough to be born in -- the United States of America.

They are the ones who were sent to fight, and while some were wounded physically, others came back with wounds of the soul, returning home only to find that the sunlight was no longer as bright as it used to be.

I knew a man like this. We weren't close friends, but he lived in my neighborhood and I'd run into him from time to time. I never knew his name but everybody knew him by the nickname "Easy", because he always took life that way. After high school, Easy joined the Marine Corps, and a year-and-a-half later he was sent Over There. I didn't hear about him after that, having moved on from the neighborhood myself.

A few years later, I was back home for Thanksgiving, and before meeting the family I had stopped at a bar for some liquid fortification. As I exited the bar, I saw Easy standing by himself across the street, his head tilted upwards, staring out at something apparently only he could see. He was unshaven, wearing a stained shirt, wrinkled worn out cargo shorts, and was now about a hundred pounds heavier.

I called out to him but he did not respond. I called out again -- louder this time -- and he looked over in my direction, a medicinally glazed look in his eyes. He slowly nodded to me while giving me a weak open-mouthed smile. Easy did not recognize me but had done his best to give a polite acknowledgement.

"It's no use, bro" said the man standing a few feet behind me, smoking a cigarette. "Easy hasn't been the same since he came back from Afghanistan. Something there broke him."

I looked back at Easy, who had gone back to staring at the invisible, and I nodded back to him before walking away.

Wow. This guy, Easy -- he seemed so together and now he's barely a shadow of his former self. The stuff he saw over there must've really messed him up, and if so -- what a fuckin' pussy.

Shit. It's one thing to have experienced war back in the 1930s and 40s when all Johnny America knew was small towns and Daisy the high school sweetheart, who he was going to marry as soon as he came back home. It was so innocent back then, when American ingenuity and know-how were Number One.

Back then, America was great, Negroes knew their place, and all Our Boys knew before going to battle was apple pie and "Moonlight Serenade". Back then everybody wanted to fight the Krauts and the Japs -- and they had no idea what was in store for them, so of course it made sense that they came back with scarred souls after seeing their friends lose arms and legs and their dying buddies piss and shit themselves while crying for mommy. But c'mon, man. Since then, we've had countless films that have presented war in the most vividly graphic terms -- exploding heads, severed limbs, miles of exposed guts, rape, murder, suicide, dehumanization, atrocity after atrocity, and the screaming OH MY GOD the screaming.

After all those movies and television shows and documentaries with old survivors, how can someone still come home all fucked in the head? You've been fuckin' programmed to be desensitized to it by now, how the fuck can you come home all wacky in the cabeza?

Jesus Christ, Easy -- you played hours and hours of "Mortal Kombat", "Grand Theft Auto", "Call of Duty", you watched fake death on Faces of Death and real death on YouTube and yet somehow the sight of Private First Class Duggan shoving the barrel of his M4 up some Haji's rectum is gonna give you nightmares?

Yo yo yo yo yo Easy Easy Easy -- how is it that you, a fuckin' failed cholo millennial who's seen all those movies and actually trained for that madness still come back a shell of your former self, while a soldier in the 18th Century -- a Frenchman, of all people -- not only came back OK from his battles, but still had a thirst for killing that he satisfied by being a badass hunter? I'm talking about Gaston, you fuckin' Hispanic Birdy, I'm talking about the motherfucker from the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast.



This is a request from Karen from Orlando, Florida and I will withhold her last name to save her from both public humiliation and possible loss of employment due to being associated with me. Karen has requested this film over a year ago and like everything else, it took forever but I finally got around to rambling about this film -- thanks to it being available on Netflix, which I was able to easily access through my sister's account.

Beauty and the Beast is a live action adaptation of Disney's 1991 animated film of the same nameYes, I know about the 1946 version directed by Jean Cocteau, but that wasn't part of the request, so you film geeks can quit your whining and go back to throwing yourselves off bridges because they got rid of Filmstruck. 

It's directed by Bill Condon, who also directed the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Dreamgirls, the Oscar-nominated film Kinsey, and a movie that I'm sure someone with the name "Oscar" really liked, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. He also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Gods and Monsters.

This is a tale about a strapping young beast of a man named Gaston, a former captain in the French army turned current animal hunter who has the whole town of stupid peasant proles wrapped around his strong finger. This man knows he's the shit and everybody else agrees, as we see and hear during one of the film's many musical sequences, this one focusing on the man himself.

Gaston has everything he needs: the admiration of an entire town, the company of his close gay friend Lefou, and all the single ladies are on his jock 24/7. But like most of us human beings, Gaston doesn't know how to appreciate what he has and instead wastes his time and energy on going after what he doesn't have -- some weirdo bookworm named Belle.

She's played by Emma Watson, who turned down the lead in La La Land to do this movie, which financially was a good move on her part; Beauty and the Beast didn't get the Oscar attention of the other film, it ended up making about three times more at the box office -- profits of which Miss Watson was contractually entitled a decent chunk.

Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling turned down this movie to do La La Land, and so he and Watson passed each other like two pretty ships in the night going opposite directions.

So yeah, this chick thinks she's too good for my boy, she has this whole thing about wanting to leave the village she lives in because she thinks she's too good for this town. I don't get people like that, but maybe it's because I never grew up in a small boring ass town either. I grew up in a decent suburban area with malls and mini-malls and plenty of chain restaurants and movie theaters and bars and that's really all I needed. If I wanted to see a beautiful view from a mountain side, I could go the local library and rent Cliffhanger. Nowadays, I can just look that shit up online.

Eventually, I moved but I always remained in and around Southern California because I like the weather and I like the women. The women don't like me -- neither do the men, for that matter -- but that doesn't stop me from introducing myself to new ones at a friend's baby shower and making a bigger ass than usual: Oh hi guys, I'm Princess Sparkle, oh hi I really appreciate how you would thank me by my name when I picked up my tickets at the booth, oh hi there, you go to the New Beverly Cinema too? Did you hear about how the owner Quentin Tarantino installed new cameras on the floor, that way  he can see everybody's feet a-hyuk a-hyuk a-hyuk hey, where's everybody going? Hey sir, can I borrow your gun, I just need it for a second *gunshot*

Then the pain ends.

Except it didn't, because nobody had a gun -- this is pussy ass Southern California, after all, the only thing these liberals carry concealed is their medical marijuana card.

Anyway, yeah, Belle -- a name that sounds a lot like Bella, the name of the girl from the Twilight books and movies. No wonder they got Bill Condon to direct this -- he also directed some of those Twilight movies. But don't hold that against him, I mean, homeboy's gotta make those mansion payments somehow.

So Belle is bored with her small town because they don't have Applebees or a Sonic, and she's not down with the same routine day in and day out, and reading all those books have infected her brain with the idea of a great big old world out there filled with so much to do. She wants a life like the ones in the books she reads, and well, guess what, honey -- it is! This film and the 1991 animated joint are based on the French fairy tale La Belle et la BĂȘte and if you only knew what was going to happen to you, girl!

And what does happen to her? She ends up in this spooky run-down castle somewhere out in the boondocks because that's where her goofy-ass father ended up. The poor old man was trying to get some peace and quiet because he can't even fix a goddamn clock at home without hearing his daughter sing all over town, so yeah, he took off with his horse and then some wolves try to eat him and now he's locked up in a dungeon and his jailer is this big ugly beast named Beast.

We never know what Beast's real name is but I'm guessing it's Prince Douchebag, because the opening scene shows us that before he was the Beast we all know and fear, he was this young handsome wealthy prince, and like most handsome wealthy princes, this guy was a douchenozzle twatface asshole who wouldn't know empathy if it came into his home on a dark and stormy night asking for shelter. Nope, he would look at this old lady and laugh in her face -- this fucking human garbage who grew up with everything and yet that wasn't enough for him, he's taxing people and using the money to buy more stuff he doesn't need. Yeah, not only does he laugh in her face, even his servants and employees laugh at her.

It fuckin' figures it'd be that way; we all want to be the motherfucker, and if we can't, we'll settle for  riding the motherfucker's coattails because even being on the motherfucker's coattails is a higher level than the rest of the peons. And I'm like OK fine, if you want to be that way, then enjoy your slightly higher status in life, but don't look down on those below you as if you were King Shit of Fuck Mountain, because you're not. That's the same kind of unearned asinine behavior exhibited by maitre d's and house n's.

But if you are gonna be that way and join your master in Ha Ha Ha-ing the poors, then you better be ready to take any possible punishment headed your boss' way. Because this old lady? This old lady that the prince and his people are laughing at, well, she actually happens to be a beautiful enchantress -- and these people are so fucked, it's fucking beautiful, man.

The enchantress curses the prince and his servants and makes it so that the people who knew them don't know them anymore, so basically these assholes won't be missed. Prince Douchebag is turned into a beast and the servants are turned into walking/talking furniture, appliances, and various other housewares -- even the dog gets it, which I'm fine with because I'm sure that dog ate human food everyday like a king and ran around biting beggars in the butt.

This prince tried to beg forgiveness from the enchantress, but when it comes to this chick once you're fucked, you're fucked and there's no turning back, you can't even offer an insincere apology the way most celebrities do on social media after they've been caught being scumbags.

I like that because that's how I roll. I don't believe in forgiving pieces of shit. Like the song says, it's easy to be hard -- and that's why I use up so much energy everyday in not being an asshole. It's why I get so exhausted at the end of the day and go to sleep after I get home from work, causing me to not work on this blog/podcast and next thing you know, I have a backlog of three or four of these goddamn things and I still haven't written about the Aero Horrorthon back in October even though it's just about Christmas right now. But as tired as I get, I still manage to say Please, Thank You, and Excuse Me to people -- people who don't even have the common courtesy to return the favor.

Everyday I have to see these people living awesome lives despite having zero empathy or sympathy or any pathys for their fellow human and very rarely do these amoebas get their comeuppance -- so when I see or hear of actual justice being served to these people, well, lady and gentleman, to be as delicate as I can be with what I'm about to say:

It gets my dick hard.

So imagine how much Viagra I didn't need seeing what happens to this dude -- cursed to live as a Beast all alone in that castle -- talking furniture doesn't count, chief -- and nobody from the outside world even remembers that he exists.

Later in the film, we find out that his assholishness wasn't something he was born with, he was raised to be a shit by his shit father -- much like our current president. But unlike *that* walking shit stain, Beast eventually shows himself later in the film to be a kinder and deeper person than we took him for -- which I think is supposed to be a way to get the audience to be more sympathetic towards the guy, but I don't buy it. I think that's just what the curse did to him.

What I'm saying is, if you live an awesome life with zero consequences, you're not going to change. If anything, you might actually start pushing it to see how much you can get away with, because that's just human nature. But if something or someone knocks the wind out of your sails and your awesome life isn't so awesome anymore, you're going to eventually have to adapt to a new way of living, not out of a sudden realization that your fellow man deserves respect and kindness, no -- but because you have no choice.

It's like this: say you're a hot chick, right? You're a hot chick and so your life is pretty cool because everybody wants to bang you. But then somewhere along the way, you hit the wall and guess what? You don't look like Ava Gardner anymore.

Suddenly your jokes aren't so funny, you start getting called out on your lack of manners, and your questionable personal hygiene isn't acceptable anymore. No longer fuckable, you have to adapt your way of life and be nice to people, and you better learn to juggle or play the piano or something because these bills aren't gonna pay themselves either.

Well, the Prince was a hot dude and so there you go.

So Belle goes to the castle to free her father and ends up taking his place as the Beast's prisoner, but ends up getting to know the Beast better in his adapted state and she starts digging the dude and he's starts digging on her because she's a nice person who appreciates his immense library -- plus it's been a long time since he banged a lady, and I'm sure he hasn't even been able to get rid of the poison on his own, on account of all this sentient furniture in his castle.

I mean, I wouldn't be able to jerk off knowing that my bed is alive and can see and hear what I'm doing. I can't go the bathroom to do it because the sink, toilet, and shower can see what I'm doing. I can't go outside because then one of those wolves will bite it off and even if they didn't, I certainly can't convince one of them to let me put it inside him, because I don't know if you know but wolves are extremely homophobic.

In the meantime, my boy Gaston tries to help free Belle, but when her stupid father tells Gaston that she would never marry him, Gaston leaves his ungrateful ass out in the weeds where he belongs.

But I think the movie is trying to say that what Gaston did was wrong.

Once I got over the fact that the film was going to focus on Belle and the Beast and not on the awesome Gaston, I was able to enjoy what played out for the most part. The new songs didn't really do it for me but the songs from the 1991 film still sound nice. Emma Watson does a fine job singing them but she was nothing spectacular, either. But hey, she doesn't embarrass herself and I think the dude playing the Beast is a better singer overall but maybe I'm the last person you'd want an opinion on singing, considering that I thought Pierce Brosnan did OK in the Mamma Mia! movies.

Acting-wise, I thought Watson and the Beast were pretty good together, there's nothing wrong there.
I also dug the interactions between all the items in the castle; they're voiced by Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellan, and Emma Thompson. They were my favorite characters in the film, and I honestly would've preferred a lot more of them and less of Belle and the Beast because there scenes are a lot more fun to watch. What I'm saying is that I felt that in their attempt to make a more grown-up version of the animated film -- specifically during the scenes between Belle and Beast -- the filmmakers sometimes confused "grown-up" with "dull" and so I found myself checking the time more than I should.

It's not like I had anywhere to go or something, but I kept checking my non-existent watch as if I did. This film is about forty minutes longer than the animated film, and I definitely felt the extra running time without feeling I got much out of it. It felt less like a deeper and more detailed version of the story and more like a simple story being padded out for reasons I don't understand. If I did understand, I'd be making these goddamn movies rather than bitching about them.

Things get a lot more interesting in the final third, when things come to a climax with the stupid villagers storming the castle and getting their asses handed to them by a candelabra, a harpsichord, a feather duster, and a teapot and teacup. They'll never be able to live that embarrassing shit down.

But a few of them will leave the experience wiser and happier; three of these assholes are Gaston's friends, or as Cogsworth the walking/talking clock calls them, "third rate Musketeers". And when they end up getting swallowed up by a walking/talking wardrobe, they are spat out dressed in women's clothing. This freaks out two of the Musketeers, while one is left digging his new look -- a moment that I'm sure left the more conservative members of the audience walking out in a huff over what they feel is Disney's pro-perversion propaganda:

"How am I supposed to explain to my child why there are Men who like to dress up as women?!"

It's easy, sir. In the same manner that you take your kid aside to tell him or her why the Chinese can't be trusted or that the Jews control the media, you tell this fucking tyke that much like there are people who like Coke over Pepsi and vice versa, there are dudes who go out as dudettes and some of them still dig women while others dig on each other, and there are also chicks who dress like guys and some still dig guys and some dig on each other, and there are both guys and girls who don't even dress like the opposite sex but they play for the home team, and that's just the way of the world.

Then you can go back to telling your kid Obama almost turned the entire country into Muslims.

By the time the closing credits come up, things have ended happily ever after for the characters and if you think I'm spoiling the movie, then you need to go blame your parents for homeschooling your sheltered ass and leave me alone. Now I'm gonna spoil something else -- the end credits look like the opening credits to a soap opera. OK, I'm done.

Between watching the film nearly a month ago and rambling about it today (thanks flu!), my opinion more or less remains the same -- leaning towards the "less" section. The reason for that is because after watching the live action Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to make sure if this version did in fact suffer in comparison to the 1991 film or if I was just looking back at it with rose-colored contacts. Because it's easy for me to say "oh, the original was better" when the last time I watched the original, it was 17 minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

And so, I immediately went to the movie site Vudu and plunked down twenty bucks on the 1991 version because Disney doesn't believe in a Rental option when it comes to streaming, the greedy fucks.



Well guess what? Not counting the hooker in San Antonio last month, this was the best twenty dollars I spent in a long time. The 1991 version is the same story as the 2017 one, only before that one gained all that extra fat over the years. This one is lean, mean, and damn near obscene in how goddamn good it is. When you compare this one, the 1946 Cocteau joint -- are you happy now, geeks? -- and the 2017 version, what you'll get is one that's more fun, one that's more dreamy, and one that's more, well, uh, blah.

Holy cats, does this sucker move! Maybe it doesn't feel that fast, but after watching the slower current version, the '91 film feels like you're riding shotgun in one of Dominic Toretto's muscle cars and he just unleashed some NOS. It gets down to the nitty gritty -- the brass tacks, as it were -- and brings you up to speed in a couple minutes by telling you about the whole backstory between the Beast and the Old Lady; how he turned down her request for shelter, and how she cursed him and gave him a rose as a kind of countdown in which he'd have to find a woman who will love him for who he is before all the petals fall, otherwise he's cursed forever.

We get our introduction to Belle which is similar to the live action version only this one is better; it's a lot more energetic, a lot more entertaining, and Paige O'Hara is a far more talented singer than Emma Watson, who has a nice voice but is no Paige O'Hara. I turned on the subtitles and started singing along to the songs in this version, it was so infectious! My neighbor started shouting at me to keep it down but then I stepped out with the Sig Sauer P320 and continued singing while waving my piece around like a conductor's baton, and that bitch went back inside to watch the rest of "America's Got Talent" faster than you can say "justifiable homicide".

Not only is Paige O'Hara a better singer, everybody's a better singer in this version, like Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, and my man, muthafuckin' Walk Proud himself, Robby Muthafuckin' Benson as the Beast. I know, he was the bomb in City Limits, but you gotta see my Semitic brother Robby B play a Chicano gang member in Walk Proud. As far as I'm concerned, he's got a permanent invitation to my Sunday afternoon carne asada backyard cookouts.

This Belle is a better Belle, that's what I think. She just comes off more likable, while Watson carries too much of that snotty English girl vibe, which to be fair is probably closer to fitting the character of a French village girl than some All American type like O'Hara's portrayal, but hey, this is merely my opinion. I like nice people or at least people who exude the illusion of being nice and 1991 Belle does a better job of that. I mean, look at how everybody seems to like her, despite being a weirdo bookworm.

In this version, Gaston comes off more -- ahem -- cartoonish, like some big dumb oaf who thinks he's the shit, and he doesn't seem particularly threatening, but that's why his heel turn later on is far more effective than in the 2017 film. You look at the live action Gaston and you don't have to had already seen the '91 movie to know this guy is trouble, you just have to look at this guy's face to know you don't say No to him. Or you just had to have seen Fast & Furious 6.

There's more humor in this, compared to the more recent film, which does feature the occasional gag but they all stand out like studio-mandated sore thumbs, whereas the older film does a better job segueing between the moments of levity and the stronger emotional scenes.  Plus, the jokes are better here, they hold up. The live action version has jokes but they already feel old seconds after they play out.

Look, I'm not bashing the newer film, I think it's fine. But watching the older film immediately after, reminded me how much more lovely and magical it is in comparison. Your mileage may vary, but I feel this one goes a lot farther in a lot less time.

By the way, if you're gonna watch the animated film, may I suggest you watch the Special Edition cut? After watching the movie, I looked at the accompanying special features and saw the Special Edition was one of the viewing options. Still under the film's spell, I ended up watching it again for the first time and I found out that in addition to fixing some continuity issues and mistakes here and there, this cut also includes an extra musical number, adding some welcome character detail to the Beast's cursed servants. This isn't a George Lucas kind of Special Edition, it's more like what Ridley Scott did when he released the Final Cut of Blade Runner, and I think it's the one to check out -- but it's good times with either cut, either way.

Both films will appeal to most people; if you're a comic book nerd, you can pretend that the castle in the film represents your house and that the rose the Beast keeps protected under glass is like your most prized issue of Spider-Man, that way when the scene comes up when Beast loses his shit over Belle fucking with it, you can nod your head and be like "I know what that's like".

I figure ugly people can also enjoy watching a beautiful woman learn to love this hideous smelly hairy fuck for the good person he supposedly is on the inside. And if you're half a fuckin' furry, I already know you love this movie. You probably dress up like the Beast all the time or have your significant other dress like the Beast before you guys get it on -- doggy style, of course. AWOOOO!

In conclusion, grow some fucking balls, Easy.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Two weeks late and a dollar short









My favorite time of year has begun. This is also my least favorite time of year because it's when I begin to live my own personal version of every killer virus movie ever made as everybody around me gets Down With the Sickness. Out comes the hand sanitizer and down goes the Emergen-C powdered vitamin drinks and there's me standing back from people from even greater distances than usual, as they tell me why they didn't bother getting a flu shot because it's only, like, two percent effective from this year's model of influenza. Then they cough and sniffle while I try to keep my cool, when all I really want to do is point at them while screeching a la Donald Sutherland at the end of 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Spoilers.)

I'm forced to walk a tightrope of good health that puts me at risk of missing out on the fun stuff if I get sick -- stuff like Camp Frida, an all-night horror movie marathon being held at The Frida Cinema located in the city of Santa Ana. But thankfully, I was able to keep the evil viruses away long enough to attend on the rather crisp evening of October 7th.

Camp Frida is a summer camp-themed 12-hour marathon of horror films scheduled to run from 8pm to 8am, hosted by an 80s-era camp counselor named Aly; I did not attend the previous year but my friend Cathie did and she covered the inaugural event on her blog -- I highly recommend that you give it a read.

I arrived just in time as the theater opened its doors and started letting the people in line inside, where we were greeted to a lobby that was done up with fog, cobwebs, and various other spooky decorations. My favorite was a large black curtain or shroud or blanket, whatever it was, it was covering a large part of a wall and there was a sign that read something like "Look under here if you want to see a dead body"; I watched as someone began to lift the curtain when all of a sudden a zombie hand popped out and swiped towards the victim's leg causing her and her friends to scream and/or jump while I stood by looking all cool and stoic because I'm better than that and thank god I was wearing dark pants because then nobody could tell I had just pissed them.

There were also many cupcakes being offered to us, and there was nothing scary about that unless you're diabetic; we had a choice of Camp Frida S'mores or Deep Red Velvet Braaaaains. I went with neither for the same reason I didn't get snacks or bring a blanket and pillow or come dressed in ultra comfy pajamas. In my experience with marathons, comfort -- too much comfort, in both what you wear and what you eat -- is the enemy. That goes double for the popcorn and soft drinks available at the snack bar, and triple for the blood bag cocktails they were also serving at said snack bar.

This was my second time at the Frida; it's a nice non-profit two-screen cinema that screens a good variety of films both classic and current. For Camp Frida, the auditorium on the left was called "The Graveyard" and the one on the right was called the "Main Lodge". After being hand stamped, we were told to go to the Graveyard first, which had a spooky cemetery setup under the screen along with a tent. Waiting for us was a photographer who was taking pics of each of the attendees, who were then told to go to the Main Lodge.

A little before 9pm, the evening finally got under way with a little scene being performed on stage for us as a group of young campers gathered around the fake campfire and told a scary tale about the legend of camp counselor Aly, who had hosted the previous Camp Frida and met her unfortunate fate at the hands of Jason Voorhees. One of the kids pulled out her trusty Necronomicon and read from it, and so we didn't have to wait long for the sudden appearance of the now undead Zombie Counselor Aly as she arrived, who despite obviously having been dead for a while, had not lost any attitudinal spark in her delivery. She told us that even though she was a zombie now, she was still a vegan, and so we shouldn't be too worried about her feasting on us -- but that she wasn't above murdering anybody who didn't behave either.




First up on the menu was the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez. This is the one where Tarantino and George Clooney play brothers -- so you know this is a movie -- who are on the lam and kidnap a family in order to hijack their RV so they can get across the Texas/Mexico border. Once they're on the other side, they stop at the mother of all dirty biker & trucker bars called the Titty Twister, and that's when things go from crime movie to vampire movie.

This was my third time seeing it on the big screen -- the first was during its original release in 1996 and the second was at the New Beverly Cinema in 2015 -- and this was the best crowd yet, with lots of laughs and cheers throughout. I think a big part of it was that the sold out event made for a packed house full of people who were already well into their blood bag cocktails. My only real complaint was that there were quite a few piece of shit cocksucking asshole scumbag douchebag fucks who started recording video and/or snapping photos with their phone -- one award winner even used the goddamn flash on the camera!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that a couple scenes early on with Tarantino's rapey Richie Gecko felt a bit more uncomfortable to watch this time. I'm guessing it might have had something to do with the fact that mere hours earlier, a rapey piece of shit had been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That might've painted an unfortunate shade to some of the proceedings.

But at least I wasn't in full pearl-clutching mode, like the guy I stood next to outside the theater while getting some fresh air between films. I overheard him telling his friend something like "I forgot how racist and misogynistic it was...it was just so gleeful." As far as the racist part, I can only say speaking as a filthy spic that I didn't find anything particularly racist about the movie. I mean, yeah, they're dealing with Mexican vampires in the movie, but I don't know, was it the language being used by Seth and Richie Gecko that bugged him? Well, their characters aren't exactly choir boys. And plus it helps that I just assume everybody talks like that in real life anyway, even the pansy liberals, they just do it behind my back -- and that's all I ask, is to keep your secret hatred of my people behind closed doors. Save it for your weekly poker game in the garage, you bitter honky fucks.

As far as the misogynistic claims, I can't really speak to that because I'm a misogynist. But I have a legitimate reason to hate women -- they won't have sex with me.





I'm happy to report that between films a gentleman from the Frida whose name I can't remember came out to kindly tell people to cut it the fuck out with the goddamn cameras and to also calm down with the conversations while the movie is playing or else he would feed them to Zombie Counselor Aly, even though she's vegan.

A few minutes later, Zombie Counselor Aly returned with one of the young campers, Ethan, who was now a zombie himself. He seemed pretty bummed out because being undead at 16 years of age meant that he would forever be in puberty. Aly claimed to have only killed him but didn't snack on him, instead having let other zombies take a bite out of him. Aly then told us that they were trying something new for this year's marathon based on something they did last year; at one point, both the Main Lodge and Graveyard were showing a different movie and audience members were able to choose which one they wanted to see. It went so well, they decided to do that for this year's marathon, only this time instead of one movie, they would give the audience a choice for the next four films.

After a guessing game where audience members were given an on-screen clue as to what the next set of films would be, the choice was revealed: those who wanted to see the 1989 adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary could stay in the Main Lodge while those who wanted to see the 2004 rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead would have to go to the Graveyard. I went with Shaun because I had already seen Pet Sematary in the past and have even rambled about it in a past blog entry, and to be honest I'm not a fan of the movie. So I went with the Edgar Wright-directed film which I had only seen once during its theatrical release.

Shaun of the Dead is the one about the dude who's pushing 30 and is kinda stuck in that limbo between growing up and enjoying your goddamn life. I mean, I kinda get it; it's that choice between hanging out with your friends and getting drunk and playing video games OR having a girlfriend and spending a whole day at fuckin' Ikea or something and trying not to fall asleep as she gets all excited about a stupid table. It's a table! I don't give a fuck about it aside from Can It Hold My Keys, My Remote Controls, and My Dinner? If it can, then cool, let's buy the fuckin' thing.

That's the conundrum that Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, is going through -- and to be honest, it's pretty clear that he's better off becoming a fuckin' responsible adult and living life with his special lady friend Liz. At least that's how I see it. I mean, his friend Ed has his moments but goddamn he can be a real fuckin' style-cramper, man. He means well but, I don't know. I don't have friends like Ed and I'm glad I don't, to be real with you. Maybe it's because in reality, I'm closer to someone like Peter Serafinowicz's character in the movie, especially in that scene where Shaun and Ed are blasting that goddamn Electro in the middle of the night and out comes Peter's character losing his shit about how he's trying to get some goddamn sleep because he has work in the morning. That's pretty much me everyday with this whole goddamn world.

And come on, Shaun, you had one job: make the reservations at the place that does all the fish. See what being friends with Ed does to you?

Anyway, it's all very interesting, and it almost makes you forget that this is a zombie movie, and it almost kinda bummed me out when it got to that point because I would've been fine with a movie just about Shaun, Ed, and Liz that has nothing to do with the undead. But I was just as fine with what did happen, because once zombies come into play it becomes a most amusing tale about how to deal with these goddamn things and live through the day while trying to get from point A to point B. What really makes the film is all the details, though. I mean, not just visual setups and payoffs and quick little bits that are easily missed the first time because they go so fast -- I mean, just all of the dialogue is a pleasure to listen to but not in a snappy comeback sort-of-way, it's all very funny and there are just as many setups and payoffs in the things that they say.

That's why I would've been cool with a non-zombie version of this movie, because the characters are so well-written and lived in. And as funny as it is, it also manages to have a serious moment or two -- and it all blends together well, it never feels forced or tone deaf. I found myself actually caring about what happens to these people, although maybe not so much that douchebag David. Fuck that guy. It's a good zombie movie from the Romero school of the undead -- it gives you the goods while also being About Something, which I'm choosing to see Shaun as being about having to grow the fuck up and move on to the next stage of your life. Because as much as it pains me to say this, we can't be kids forever, man. But you can still have fun, so long that you can keep your indulgences on a leash and visit them once in a while.

Edgar Wright's direction has pretty much always been this way, hasn't it? I forgot that he was already doing things like long takes and scenes synchronized to songs in this film, way before Baby Driver. It's good stuff and the dude's already had cinema running through his veins.





After another break, I went back to the Main Lodge where another visual guessing game was played; the next choice of films turned out to be either stay and watch the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead or go back to the Graveyard to watch the 2010 film Insidious. I had never seen the latter and had been meaning to see it, and so eight years after its release, I finally did.

Insidious is a tale about a well-moisturized married couple living in an old grandmother of a house with their two or three children -- I say two or three because I swear they had another kid and somewhere along the way that motherfucker just disappeared not unlike Chuck Cunningham on the television series "Happy Days".

What I know for sure is that there are at least two kids; one is a little boy and the other is a fuckin' baby who never shuts the fuck up with her goddamn crying. I don't know how you parents do it, or did it; I don't know how you are able to take in the sound of that horrific crying without wanting to tear the nearest human being limb from limb. But the mom in this movie, played by Rose Byrne, seems to be used to it. The father, played by Patrick Wilson, has an easier way to deal with it: he leaves for work and stays out late so he doesn't have to hear that shit.

The son, he deals with it even better than the others -- he falls into a coma.

In addition to having a comatose child, this family has to deal with lots of spooky haunted house type of stuff going on in their grandma house. It's all very effective because I jumped quite a bit every time some scary red faced demon thing popped up, along with the accompanying music sting. It wasn't so much the idea of the house being possessed that got to me, no, I was afraid because every time a potential scare scene was coming up, it meant that the wife would scream, which would cause that goddamn baby to cry again and I don't go to the goddamn movies to hear babies cry. If I wanted to hear babies cry, I'd be banging chicks without a condom and then wait nine months.

Insidious was director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell's return to low budget independent filmmaking following the failure of their big studio fright flick Dead Silence back in 2007; I haven't seen that movie but I did see Saw. I mean, I saw Saw. I mean -- OK, you know that movie Saw? That was their first film and I watched it back in 2005 and I liked it. I liked Insidious even more. It has more of a classical horror film style compared to the MTV flashiness occasionally exhibited in their debut, and it manages to display that Wan and Whannell have the ability to supply the scares without having to get all NC-17 on us (this film is PG-13).

Halfway through the film, Insidious turns into the cinematic equivalent of Wan and Whannell asking the audience "Hey, did you ever see Poltergeist? Me too! Wasn't it awesome?!" but that's OK because they ask that question in an entertaining manner. It's fun to watch Lin Shaye enter the film as the resident paranormal expert who is gonna Get Shit Done. Her underlings, played by Whannell and some other dude, are a little too goofy for my taste but at least they don't raid the fridge like their equivalent characters in Poltergeist. In fact, one of them shows up having brought a Hot Pocket. That to me shows a person who is prepared and considerate.





The next guessing game revealed the choice of either Friday the 13th Part III in 3D or Beetlejuice. As much as I love me some Winona Ryder, I had already seen Beetlejuice on the big screen twice, but have seen Jason Voorhees in 3D zero -- so I stayed at the Main Lodge and put on a pair of 3D glasses handed to me by one of the volunteers.

I guess this is as good a time as any to bring up the format of the films we watched that evening; they were all digital, which is not a dealbreaker for me. These marathons are more about staying up all night watching movies and less about the privilege of watching them in 35mm. Although that would be nice too.

I bring this up because I'm not 100-percent sure whether what we watched of Friday the 13th Part III was a DCP or Blu-ray; it looked fine but I had my suspicions. I don't know what a 35mm print of this film is supposed to look like in 3D but we watched this one with the old school red and blue anaglyph glasses, so we weren't getting modern quality three dimensions with full color, but like I said it was watchable. The color was kinda whack and there was occasional "ghosting" where some of the image would split into a slightly visible double, but if I'm grading it on the 3D scale where you have Captain EO on top and the Nintendo game "Rad Racer" at the bottom, this film would reside right in the middle.

As for the film itself, it's pretty important to the series because in addition to being the one in 3D, it also introduces the hockey mask to Jason's ensemble and gives us the theme song that makes me want to break out the cardboard and go Boogaloo Shrimp on all you motherfuckers. It's also one of the better films in the Jason saga, which isn't to say it's one of the more intricately plotted sequels -- far from it, it's actually pretty simple even for a Friday the 13th film. But it's the simplicity that makes for the film's strength: people show up, drink, do drugs, have sex, then get killed by Jason. After a time-padding prologue that replays the climax of Friday the 13th Part II, the film gives us a good pace in between the kills so that we never get bored. Or at least I never got bored, I can't speak for the rest of you jokers.

In this film, a girl named Chris and her friends go up to her family's cabin in the woods where she had previously survived an attack by Jason -- because that's exactly what traumatized victims of violent attacks should do, I guess, return to the scene of the crime as way to own that shit? I don't know. But what becomes bad news for these characters becomes good news for the audience because that means Jason gets to murder these morons for our entertainment.

I can't say I was gonna miss most of these victims; early on, there's a dude named Harold who owns a general store along with his wife and a bodega rabbit, and this piece of work has a habit of eating everything on the shelves. It's disgusting, not just the fact that he'll take a dirty backwashed swig of Sunny D and then put it back on the shelf for some unsuspecting customer to purchase, but the fact that he eats more like a stoner than the actual stoners in the film -- stoners who look about ten years older than everybody else, by the way. So yeah, Harold eats peanuts, donuts, the aforementioned Sunny Delight, fish food, and god knows what else. So it's no surprise that we're then treated to the sights and sounds of him having a production session on the toilet.

I don't know why we had to hear that in addition to seeing it -- and I don't know why we get two separate scenes of characters taking a shit in this film, and I *really* don't know why both of these dudes get up and put their pants back on without wiping their asses. I mean, OK, fine, they heard a strange noise and they want to go check on it. But I'm telling you, if I'm in the middle of taking a dump and suddenly my firstborn starts screaming for help, I'm sorry, I have to clean house at least a little bit because going back out onto the field to make a play -- and you bet your unwiped ass I'm washing my hands too, and not just a quick once-over, I'm singing Happy Birthday twice before drying them.

This also might be the first Friday the 13th film that introduces raza into the cast -- poor pretty Vera Sanchez, and I don't just mean "poor" as in her unfortunate fate in the film as one of Jason's kills (Spoilers). I mean, she's financially poor and she's rocking food stamps, because of course you have to have the wetback on welfare. You find this out during a scene in a store, where she's told by the cashier that they don't take food stamps, even though Vera never mentions food stamps, she was just reaching into her shirt pocket.

OK fine, in this case, the cashier assumed correctly, but that still ain't right. That would be like me assuming that the Asian lady driving in my opposite direction is going to make a sudden left turn in front of me without signaling. Just because every single Asian driver that I've come across in my life couldn't drive for shit, I can't assume that the next one is going to drive like shit as well. It's wrong to think that way.

Anyway, Vera is saved by her fellow camper Shelly, who according to the Friday the 13th Wiki has the last name of Finkelstein. Bucking the trend of his heritage, Shelly eagerly gives Vera some of his money so she can pay for the groceries. Although when you consider that Shelly has been dreaming of dipping his kishka into her mole, maybe he wasn't really giving the money away so much as he was paying for something he hoped to get in return.

Eh, I kid those two because I liked those two. I also liked the character of Debbie, because she was played by Tracie Savage; those who grew up in the L.A. area in the 90s might remember her as a reporter for KNBC-TV Los Angeles, because that's what I knew her from and it's funny how long it took me to make the connection that the attractive anchorwoman on the news was the same hot chick from this movie. After working on Friday the 13th Part III, Savage retired from acting and went on to have a successful career in journalism, where her previous experience with murderous slasher Jason Voorhees served her well when she covered the O.J. Simpson trial.

At one point, Savage herself was called to the witness stand at the trial, where she was asked to give up the identities of her confidential sources regarding some incorrect information about O.J.'s bloody socks. She refused to give up her sources, even though Judge Lance Ito had threatened her with jail time if she didn't cooperate. But what Judge Ito got instead was confirmation that Tracie Savage would rather rot in jail than be a fuckin' rat, because she sure as hell ain't no stoolie. Jail? Fuck jail! What can jail do to her that fuckin' Jason Voorhees didn't already do?!

Today, Miss Savage teaches journalism in college, where I'm sure among the many things her students learn are the two most important things in life: Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.






Up until this point, the guessing games were hosted by Zombie Counselor Aly. But in the last round when it was revealed that a Jason movie was among the choices, she got upset because Jason was the reason she was now a zombie, having killed her during the last Camp Frida. Then the real Jason Voorhees showed up at the theater and followed after her as she ran away. After the film, when I walked back into the Main Lodge for the next guessing game, I did not see Zombie Counselor Aly but instead there was a bedsheet-clad ghost with a male voice. I asked the guy next to me who that was supposed to be and he said it was supposed to be the ghost of Zombie Counselor Aly, having been killed again by Jason. He was chuckling the entire time and he reeked of the blood bag cocktails, so I can't be too sure if he was telling me the truth or just having me on. But that is what I was told.

Anyway, for the final choice of films we were given either Blade II or 30 Days of Night. I've always wanted to see 30 Days of Night and so it was back to the Graveyard for me.

This adaptation of Steve Niles' graphic novel of the same name takes place in Barrow, Alaska where an extended month-long period of night is about to fall. For those who are night people, this sounds like a pretty cool time, but unfortunately vampires are also night people and they're about to swoop in on this little sad town and have themselves a good ol' time all month long with the bitin' and the chompin' and the drinking of the blood.

The town sheriff is played by Josh Hartnett, who based on his obvious youth must've graduated from the same police academy that Ben Affleck's sheriff character from Phantoms attended. I'm not saying that there aren't really young sheriffs out there in real life, but it's hard for me to buy dudes in their 20s walking around these small towns acting like grizzled seen-it-all types. But I'm gonna give Hartnett a little bit of slack because maybe the pickings were slim as far qualified police officers who wanted to move up to the northernmost city of the United States. Nobody wanted to go up there, they wanted to patrol in the contiguous United States, baby. So maybe the best they could do was hire some kid fresh out of the academy who was willing to move out to the goddamn tundra if that's what it took to move up the ranks.

I don't know if you're familiar with Barrow, Alaska, but based on what I saw and read about the place, it's super cold and barren and there's not much to do there as far as having fun. It's also a dry town, where you're only allowed to drink at a bar -- which is bullshit for a solo drinker like me who prefers to stay home when it comes to getting fucked up. I mean, I'm not gonna get drunk alone in a bar and have the paranoia set in every time I have to stumble my way to the commode to take a fuckin' piss while some assholes in a booth chuckle at my drunk ass, fuck that shit. It's better to get drunk while home alone, that way no one laughs at me if I fall and crack my head on the nightstand and bleed out like William Holden. I deserve a little dignity.

So yeah, vampires. They're led by Danny Huston and I'm guessing this film takes place in the Blade universe because they all look like nouveau riche Eurotrash who came out of some ultra elite VIP only nightclub at 2 in the morning and are looking for a place to eat -- which in the case of this film is the town of Barrow, Alaska. They swoop in and start with the feeding and it's very impressive and scary as fuck. There's a great sequence where they're attacking everybody in town and it employs overhead tracking shots of the carnage that look like they could've been done with drones but I'm not too sure about that, but whatever the case the filmmakers really give us an unforgettable mini-apocalypse to "enjoy".

It's a very well made film with style to spare; once night falls, the film takes on a nearly monochromatic look as nearly everything is dominated by the black of the night or the blueish white of the snow, punctuated by crimson red blood or yellow-orange flames. It brought to mind the 1954 film Track of the Cat, starring Robert Mitchum, another snowbound film with a similar visual color scheme.

Early on, I was sure I was watching a slept-on masterpiece. "Why don't more people talk about this movie?" I thought to myself. The chilly setting, the shocking sudden moments of gore, and an overwhelming bleak sense of doom reminded me of John Carpenter's The Thing -- had that film been randomly hacked down by about forty-five minutes. And there's the rub; the more 30 Days of Night continued, the more disjointed it felt, as if it were missing important scenes -- and maybe it was, maybe the studio forced the filmmakers to cut stuff out so they can fit in more showings at the local cineplex. Because what I saw felt like it could've used a lot more meat on the bones, particularly the scenes involving the survivors of the initial attack as they wait out the rest of the month in an attic. I never got to know the supporting characters well enough -- so as a result, I didn't really give that much of a shit if anything happened to them.

These vampires speak another language and I thought it was interesting that the film didn't have subtitles, or at least that's what I thought until a random subtitle popped up here and there. It happened twice in the film and I even remember the lines: "The heads must be separated from the bodies" and "We cannot give them reason to suspect".

I thought that was a strange choice by the filmmakers and it didn't feel right to me, so the following day, I streamed the film from Starz On Demand -- and it turns out that all the vampire dialogue is subtitled! Oh my God, is it subtitled. These vamps are subtitled up the wazoo, I gotta read subtitles three times a day, I got fucking subtitles coming out of my fucking ears, mang.

Anyway, the film started out as Great but eventually downgraded to Good Enough. I don't know why the digital print at the Frida held out on us with those subtitles, but I wonder how many first timers in the audience were as confused as I was, and like me, how many of them would've had a higher opinion of the movie had the subtitles actually shown up for work that night.






Everybody gathered at the Main Lodge to watch the final film of the marathon: the 1982 Steven Spielberg production of Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper.

That's right, motherfucker -- directed by Tobe Hooper. The Frida volunteer who introduced the film made sure to let his movie douche flag fly by loudly stating that it was directed by Steven Spielberg and I held back on grabbing this motherfucker and showing him the life of the mind because I must remain pure. But I don't get these people who seem to get giddy when spouting off their garbage that somehow Tobe Hooper was sitting in a corner on the set tripping out on mushrooms and playing Atari the whole time while Spielberg really directed the entire thing.

I harbor no delusions of Poltergeist being purely a Tobe Hooper film, but I feel it was indeed a collaboration between him and Spielberg, with Spielberg having the final creative say. The final product looks, sounds, and feels every bit as much a Tobe Hooper joint as it does a Spielberg flick. Maybe Hooper didn't deal with the actors as much and maybe he wasn't involved in the post-production process after turning in his cut of the film, but there's still enough here visually for me to point out similar types of shot compositions and lighting set-ups and camera movements in his other films -- not to mention a kind of coked-up hysteria that occasionally rears its long-haired sweaty-toothed head in all of his films. That in particular is a Tobe Hooper specialty.

So give the man his due.

Anyway, I'm sure most of you have seen this one or know about -- and if you haven't seen it but have seen the remake, I'm not gonna judge you but I'm going to politely yet firmly suggest that you remedy that shit most ricky-tick or I'm gonna have to show you the life of the mind.

As I mentioned earlier, the film Insidious is mostly running plays from Poltergeist's playbook. Both are about suburban families dealing with spooky stuff happening in their nice house, and eventually both families have to deal with the spooky stuff snatching one of their kids. In the case of Insidious, it's the kid's consciousness that is taken, and in the case of Poltergeist, the supernatural forces literally take the child -- body and soul -- to the other side. And in both movies, the parents employ the help of paranormal investigators who try their best before finally bringing in the big guns: an older woman with an extraordinary ability to make contact with the otherworldly.

Insidious does a pretty good job at remaking Poltergeist -- even better than the actual remake, I've heard -- but there's no beating the original, and it still holds up as a top notch haunted rollercoaster of a cinematic experience. You want quiet, you got quiet. You want loud, you get loud. You want a family that you actually like and care for, but most important of all, believe as real human beings? Poltergeist 1982, baby.

Part of why I buy these people as a real family is because there's enough here -- the way the house looks, the way they're dressed, even the kind of cereal they eat -- to remind me of my childhood in the 1980s. I don't remember my parents ever smoking a joint in their bedroom like Coach and JoBeth Williams do here, but otherwise, this all feels familiar. Anyway, it's one of the movies that brings up the most nostalgia in me.

Something that I'm not nostalgic for is anyone who thinks they can come to my house and eat whatever they want; I'm referring to that one scene where visiting paranormal investigator Marty looks at himself in the mirror and...well, you know (or don't know, which is why I don't want to spoil it). When talking about Poltergeist, people often bring up that scene as one that genuinely disturbed them, but I was more bothered by what preceded it; so Marty and his partner are staying over at the Freeling family house to record evidence of paranormal activity, and late at night Marty decides to raid the fridge for a snack. He takes out a leftover chicken drumstick, and that I can understand.

But then he pulls out a big raw steak from the fridge, and I'm like Wait a Minute, and then he puts a pan on the stove, and now I'm like WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE.

The fucking balls on this guy!

Steak is, has been, and always will be expensive. It's one thing to jack some cheaper stuff from someone else's fridge, but a goddamn steak?! I didn't see him ask for permission, or maybe that part was in Tobe Hooper's original cut of the movie, I don't know. Then he places that steak on the kitchen counter with nothing underneath it -- no cutting board, plate, foil, paper towel, Fangoria magazine -- just plop that raw bloody steak anywhere, chief. And don't beat yourself up about not washing your hands at all during this.

He never gets around to cooking that steak. I bet you he didn't even bother to put it back in the fridge either. Next time, bring a Hot Pocket, you inconsiderate fuck.





It was a little before 9 in the morning when the marathon ended. After the final film, the campers all gave a big round of applause to the volunteers and the projectionist, and then we all got up on stage together to pose for a picture.


Following the picture, we all stepped out into the lobby where we were greeted by the sounds of Semisonic's "Closing Time" and treated to one more cupcake for the road. We were also given a Camp Frida badge/lanyard, featuring the late Counselor Aly's picture; the badge also served as a voucher good for one free drink at the Frida, but I figure I'm just gonna hold onto it because I'm sentimental like that.

I then went down the block to Eat Chow for my post-marathon breakfast; I had the "A.M. Burger" that consisted of two eggs, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, hollandaise sauce, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle aioli, tomato, and avocado, served between two brioche buns. I recommend that you get one and I highly recommend that you ask for extra napkins.