Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personally, I wipe it off the moment I sense snot running down my nose. But then again, I'm not that kid's mother.

Frozen yogurt kicks ass, but self-serve frozen yogurt joints are the devil. That last statement is just an attempt at deflecting blame from my own stupidity. You see, this place I went to allows you to take their huge one-size-only cup and fill it with as much of the tasty treat as you want, then you go over and help yourself to the self-serve toppings bar. Then you take it over to get weighed and pay the amount based on the weight, like buying meat at the butcher shop. I don't know how it happened, other than being a fat fuck with no limits, but I ended up filling most of the cup with French Vanilla, topped it off with mini M&M's and Oreo bits and when I took it to the nice girl behind the counter and placed it on the scale, it came out to six dollars and fifteen cents. How could I have been so fucking dumb? I wanted to say "forget it" and dump it, but for some reason I couldn't do it. So I ate the cost and ate the frozen yogurt. Then I went to my favorite theater with the kiosk that doesn't know if you really are a senior, only this time I made it think I was a child to take off some of that financial sting from the Fat Boy Special I bought at the frozen yogurt joint.

I didn't feel like watching He Doesn't Fucking Like You Stupid Bitch So Leave Him Alone He's Probably Gay Anyway or whatever the fuck that penis-shriveler is called, so I saw Doubt. Not a tough choice to make, I always had some interest in this flick, because the guy who wrote and directed it also wrote and directed Joe Versus the Volcano, one of my favorites. That was his first movie and also his last. Homeboy didn't get behind the camera for another 18 years, until he got around to making Doubt. In between films, he wrote plays that were big hits but who gives a fuck about that shit, we're talkin' movies here.

In addition to being fond of the filmmaker, I also dig the three leads. Meryl Streep is always good, she's one of the few Serious Oscar Winners that I don't feel like throwing through a plate-glass window. She's always been all right with me. Then you have Philip Seymour Hoffman, or "Seymour Phillip Hoffman", as Alan Arkin called him at the Oscars in a genuine Old Man moment. PSH is fucking awesome in everything he's been in, even as that annoying fuckin' "XTREME!!!" dude in Twister. I noticed he was wearing some kind of knit cap on his head for the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars. Either that's him being terribly stylish or the motherfucker just got follicle replacement surgery, like my boy Anthony Cumia did, and he's got to protect the new plugs for a while. Rounding out the three is Amy Adams, who I've been crushing on since Catch Me If You Can. Most actresses I dig, I dig because they're hot and I want to bang them. But not Amy Adams. She doesn't inspire those type of dirty feelings in me. But she's just so gosh darn adorable that I had to use "gosh darn" a few words ago to properly display my feelings about her. She brings out the AWWW in me and I would very much like to share a milkshake with her. One glass and two straws, drinking up our chocolate shake and all the while making lovey-dovey eyes to each other. I think Amy Adams is a swell gal.

This flick takes place in 1964, in New York or somewhere there, and starts off with Hoffman's Father Flynn giving out a sermon about having doubts. He says that doubt is a lot like faith in that it brings everyone together. He uses the recent assassination of JFK as an example, saying that everyone felt down and didn't know what this meant for the world or what to tell their children. It makes a motherfucker think that maybe there isn't somebody Up There, like the adult equivalent to finding out there is no Santa Claus. Or so I'm told. I pretty much figured there was no Santa Claus when I was 4, after finding my Dad eating the cookies I left for Santa right before taking me to Toys R Us and having me pick out my present. Plus, no bicycle.

During this sermon we are introduced to Adams' character, Sister James. She's sitting in one of the pews and sneezes in the way only an adorable human being like Amy Adams can. No snot or mucus involved. Then we are introduced to Streep's character, Sister Hardass. I forgot her actual name, but Hardass might as well be it, and she is given a Badass-style introduction, something more akin to the entrance of a Sergio Leone villain or Indiana Jones or someone like that.

It starts with a shot of her sitting in a pew from behind, then she gets up and walks towards kids in other pews ahead of her who are misbehaving in one way or another. The camera follows her from behind. Then it cuts to a side angle, tracking along and passing by each pew, and the kids sitting in them. Sister Hardass walks by them in the background, and we can only see her from the chest down as she passes each pew and drops some discipline on each of the children. She smacks a slouching kid in the back of the head, she shushes some other talking kids, and some of the kids she doesn't have to do anything to because they sit up as soon as she gets near them. They know what the fuck is up. Finally, she stops at one poor child who is pitched forward, fast asleep. She crouches down and turns her head, slowly revealing her face to us for the first time. That moment is so full of Win. "Straighten! Up!" she says to the boy, and even though she never raises her voice above a whisper, this lady has a way of still making it feel like a lightning bolt from God Himself has been jolted down on the little motherfucker.

Sister Hardass is the head nun in charge (or HNIC, but not the Lean on Me version) and is also the principal of the school. Catholic school. I hear stories about those schools. There was some comedian who had a bit about how he tells people that he went to Catholic school for twelve years, and when they ask him why he isn't a Catholic anymore, he answers them by repeating that he went to Catholic school for twelve years. This is 1960's Catholic school too, which coupled with Sister Hardass' "spare the rod, spoil the child" ways makes this old school REALLY old school, like great-grandfather-school. If she walks into a class that's in session, all the kids freeze up like they're at Parris Island and Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann just walked in. Shit, had things gone differently, she could've actually been a drill sergeant.

Someone in the clergy suggests tossing in a secular holiday tune along with the old Happy Birthday Jesus standards for their approaching Christmas pageant. Maybe a tune like "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" or "Frosty the Snowman", the latter of which Amy Adams' character adorably admits to really enjoying. Well, Sister Hardass hits 'em back with how Frosty the Snowman is really a song celebrating Pagan beliefs and boo-ha-ha scary Devil stuff, so there's no way she's going to have that shit playing at her school. It's fucking Frosty the Snowman, lady! That's like back in grade school, when I had a couple of friends who came from a very strict religious family. Once I stopped by on Halloween just to see if they wanted to go trick-or-treating with me. When they answered the door, they were not dressed up at all, and they explained that they didn't celebrate Halloween for reasons you probably already know. Later on I found out they didn't celebrate New Year's Eve either, but I don't know if that was a religious thing or they just preferred to sleep in.

Anyway, during dinner, Sister Hardass brings up Father Flynn's sermon. She asks her fellow sisters if any of them have noticed anything weird or off about the dude, like maybe he's troubled or got some other troubling shit going on. They're like "no", so she tells them if they do notice anything, let her know. It's pretty interesting to see the differences between the way the nuns eat and the way the priests eat. The nuns eat quietly, VERY quietly in the convent. There's no talking, except for when Sister Hardass rings her little bell and speaks to them. Sister James takes out a piece of fat or gristle out of her mouth and puts it back on her plate, then looks over to find Sister Hardass staring back at her. You best put that shit back in your mouth. And she does. Then when we go to Father Flynn and his fellow priests eating at the rectory, it's a different scene altogether. These dudes are chowing down on blood-rare meat, smoking, drinking beer and scotch and laughing it up. Just a bunch of rowdy dudes, bro-ing out with each other. The only thing missing here is chicks. And that's the problem.

Hardass can be cruel and she can be a bitch, but she ain't no cruel bitch. It's part of the job to put into these kids the fear of God and the fear of Sister Hardass, she tells Sister James. There's the occasional human moment that peeks out of her once in a while, like when she notices one of the older nuns having trouble finding her fork, while trying to eat. It's just a few inches away, but the lady keeps fidgeting her fingers around it. Close, but not close enough. Hardass nonchalantly pushes the fork to the old lady's hand, not making a big deal about it, because that's the last thing she'd want it to become. She knows that as soon as the boys in charge find out that the old lady is going blind, she's out of the convent, and that would probably be the worst thing for the old broad. That would be some Brooks from Shawshank type of shit, right there.

This has nothing to do with the plot (which I won't give away anyway), but I have to point out one of the minor characters in this movie, this little chubby boy who appears in a few scenes. He looks like a junior version of one of those funny fat fucks from the good ol' days, like Lou Costello or Jackie Gleason. He's got this overly expressive face that I couldn't get enough of, especially in one scene when Father Flynn finds him sitting outside the principal's office, waiting his turn to face the music. I kept expecting him to go "I'm a bad wittle boy" with the faces he was making. This kid was awesome. He'll probably grow up to play the fat drunk slob in PG-13 high school or college movies, but by then, the cuteness will be gone, so fuck him.

You might already know what this flick is ultimately about, but even then I'm not going to get further into it. Because maybe you don't know, and the less you know, the better. Shit, you can say that about all movies. But all movies are not as Fucking Awesome as Doubt is. I was in a pretty bad mood after blowing $6+ on watery frozen yogurt, and with the way I was feeling, this movie was really going to have to try hard to impress me. And it sure fuckin' did, man. I was left very impressed. Shit, I'll go as far as to say this was the best 2008 movie I've seen. I liked Slumdog a lot, but not nearly as much as I liked this movie or Frost/Nixon. And I still have to see Wall-E, even though I fear that all the critical raves and award nominations will have made it impossible for me to like it THAT much.

It's all dialogue, this flick, most of it taking place in one location, and I was into it the whole time. This is just me, but I kinda wished I was watching this at home, because there were quite a few scenes where I wanted to say shit out loud, like I was some stereotypical black moviegoer. "Oh no you di'nt!" kinda stuff. But since I was in a movie theater watching a "serious film", I thought I had to keep that kinda shit in check. I got so into it, I was leaning in towards the screen for most of the running time, like I did with Frost/Nixon. When you're watching a film projected on a 40-foot screen, leaning in closer is fucking useless, but it just goes to show you how this motherfucker drew me in. I didn't even know I had been doing it until halfway through.

What's also awesome is that there are scenes that run the whole gamut of emotions, or in some cases, combine them in a way that it doesn't come out uneven. There's quite a few funny moments in this movie, along with the serious stuff. There's a bit where someone is nearly in tears with the whole Frosty the Snowman deal, and it's the kind of awkwardly genuine moment that comes out of real life. But some people are writing off moments like that as bad filmmaking, and those are people who probably have a really hard time taking a shit with all that talking they're always doing out of their asses.

Goddamn, John Patrick Shanley -- you made Joe Versus the Volcano and Doubt. Motherfucker, you are two for two on the winning side and that makes you my fuckin' bro. If it takes you another 18 years to make a flick, it'll suck to wait, but it'll probably be worth it. It doesn't matter if it's an action movie or a dialogue-filled movie, if it's Rambo chopping a motherfucker's head off with his machete or if it's the end of Father Flynn's sermon about gossip -- a kick-ass moment is a kick-ass moment, and I thought this flick was full of them.

Also, it doesn't piss away the ending. Are you listening, Taken? It ends at a perfect moment with a wonderfully ambiguous line of dialogue. The whole film is like that, actually. Different people have different opinions of what happened and what certain things meant. And I think that's the point. I mean, the fuckin' movie is called Doubt, and it leaves a motherfucker with a couple. Or maybe I'm just a dumb cunt who didn't get it. Don't answer that, I wasn't asking you.