Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A "Watermelon Man" poster? Really? Maybe they bonded over that flick. Still, what the fuck?

I used to hate the fucking cops, especially after any time I was caught breaking the law. Traffic laws, I mean. I'm not some fuckin' dealer or something. But now I've chilled out about it a bit. Now I don't like or dislike the police, I just accept and understand that their job requires them to be assholes, because they got possible life or death shit going on everyday on the job. If you personally watched the horrible fucked up shit people are capable of on a 9-to-5 everyday basis, you'd not only be a cynical motherfucking prick but you'd also have a badge that actually certifies you to be one. Plus, by hating on the police, you put yourself in a black and white situation with no gray area. So, you hate the cops, huh? Well, then I guess you shouldn't call them then if you've just been jacked or there's some ski-masked nogoodnik in your crib. See? I don't know about you, but I never want to be considered a hypocrite.

Having said that, having excused their ways, I still don't understand people who say that they love cops. I hear that a lot on talk radio. What the fuck. Cops don't fuckin' love you. They sure as shit don't trust your ass, they can't afford to. Shit man, they probably look down on you because you're just a civilian who doesn't know any better. How can you love someone who would have no qualms about fucking up your shit if their job requires it? These are probably the same assholes who get all chipper in their voice when a cop pulls them over, with that "Why hello, Officer! Isn't it a pleasant morning?" tone they get into. Motherfucker, you don't think they know what you're doing? Everybody's pulled that shit, even me. And it don't fuckin' matter how you sound, unless you got a really good fuckin' excuse or some nice titties, you're getting that ticket -- and they're still going to talk to you like a dumb little boy. So save your dignity. But don't be an asshole either, getting all "Fuck you PIG! I didn't do SHIT!" on them. Just, you know, stay dignified and adult and shit. And unless the cop is related to you in some way or the cop just finished putting two holes in the dome of the motherfucker who was about to cut your throat, calm down with the fucking LOVE. Don't go unzipping their fuckin' flies and just be thankful for their existence.

It's seems most of the people living in Lakeview Terrace fall on the LOVE LOVE LOVE side when it comes to their feeling about the police officer residing in their neighborhood. The interracial couple who just moved in, on the other hand, aren't so quick to sing his praises. They're played by the dude who gets fucked up by Juno in Hard Candy and that chick who made such an impression as being both pretty and intelligent on Bill Maher's HBO show that I'm sure Bill Maher proposed to her and/or tried to hit that. As for the wonderful police officer everyone else in the neighborhood loves, he's played by Samuel L. Jackson and he's black, by the way.

Officer Windu's a good cop, a hard worker who spent nearly 10 of his 28 years on the force doing double shifts, taking any shit detail offered and working security jobs on the side to move his family out of South Central and into the suburbs. He's a widower raising two kids, and while he can be a strict motherfucker, you can tell he really cares about them, he's not some asshole on a power trip. Also like I said earlier, the rest of the neighborhood loves him. They're all happy to see him at their barbecues, and he gets along with them really well.

It's just the new couple he's having problems with. At first you can understand where he's coming from, getting upset about the night Hard Candy Dude and Bill Maher's Fantasy get naked and fuck in their swimming pool, out in the open for Windu's kids to watch (and they do). Then you got Hard Candy Dude tossing his cigarette butts near Windu's lawn. Show some fucking respect, asshole. The first time Officer Windu and Hard Candy Dude meet is kinda shaky, too. HCD is parked down the street having another of those unauthorized smoke breaks, when Windu comes up to talk to him through the open side window. If it wasn't for his t-shirt and shorts, you'd think the motherfucker was on the job right then and there with the way he talks at homeboy. Jackson's really good in this movie as Officer Windu, he's really got that fucked up sarcastic making-you-feel-stupid way of talking that cops do to civilians completely down. Windu notices that Hard Candy Dude likes to bump Black Sheep and Public Enemy in his ride, so before leaving, he tells HCD something like "You can listen to that music all night, but when you wake up in the morning, you'll still be white".

That's a fucked up thing to say if you ask me, and here's a little question for you. If that was the other way around and a white dude told a black dude something similar after finding out homeboy liked listening to Dinosaur Jr., would the statement be as equally fucked up or would it be considered much much worse and justifies life-ruining and/or assbeating? The world already has an answer for us, but I'm asking anyway.

So gradually it becomes clear as fucking Crystal Pepsi (remember that nasty shit?) that it's less about them not being the most considerate neighbors and way more about them being all Ebony and Ivory that rubs Windu the wrong way. HCD figures that's where the dude is coming from and tries to be cool about it. He even invites him to their housewarming party, and boy, that scene is filled to the brim with Cringe. When he shows up, he brings a gift for Bill Maher's Fantasy and upon close inspection you see that it's a book called "BLACK". I don't know, I thought that shit was pretty funny. We learn just how much more opposite Windu is from the couple -- and the other party guests, for that matter. I'm talking global-warming-denying conservative versus Prius-driving liberal kind of opposite. So that ploy doesn't work at all.

As the movie goes on, Windu's comments become more and more pointed, his behavior becomes more and more antagonistic, and he just becomes more and more of an asshole to the people around him. The rest of the movie consists of our couple as they are continually pushed by a man who doesn't want them in his neighborhood, a man who has the entire Los Angeles police force and the respect of his community to back him up. In the meantime, there's a wildfire slowly burning up the hillside communities, and it's approaching Lakeview Terrace. Oh, a subplot AND a metaphor. Two for one!

They shot this movie near my stomping grounds. I remember one night as I was driving home, I looked up to the houses on the hill and noticed two huge lights shining down on one from the sides, along with one of those big white boards they use next to them. I drove up the street looking for the shooting location (using the yellow and black "LVT" signs to guide me) and got close enough to the trucks and generators and 300-pound ex-cholos guarding them. That was pretty cool, to watch a movie shot near your neck of the woods and to try and recognize the on-screen locations. What's funny is that I've yet to actually go pay money to see one in a movie theater. I mean, you'd think I'd want to go check out a movie in a room full of people who are most likely watching it for the same reason -- they want to see their town represented in 35mm. But I haven't. I waited to see Good Burger on video and I waited to see this one too. Don't know why it worked out that way, but it did.

The actors playing the interracial couple were really good too. Hard Candy Dude really has the whole liberal pansy white boy thing down, and Bill Maher's Fantasy does a good job too. There's some moments between them when things aren't so hot, a couple of glances or lines they give each other that give me chills because that's some real shit I'm sure we've all had before. Real relationship shit. You also have my bro Jay Hernandez playing Officer Windu's partner, so that's awesome. I remember I almost went to see a double-feature of Lakeview Terrace and Quarantine at the drive-in, and Jay Hernandez is not only in both of those flicks, he plays a police officer in both too. That was probably amusing to at least a couple of people who did attend, and since it was a drive-in, that was probably how many showed up. Support your local drive-in, people. You can bring your own food! Wait a minute. Actually, you support the drive-in less when you bring your own grub. I don't want to spend so much on subpar popcorn...yet I want these establishments to survive...but I like being able to bring my own food...but -- Goddammit, why must life be so full of quandaries!

This movie was directed by Neil LaBute, whose previous movie was the hilarious remake of a movie that wasn't a comedy called The Wicker Man, and I guess he still hasn't completely shaken that off of him because there's the occasional weird and goofy touch here. Aside from that, I thought this flick was pretty good. I was into it the whole time, and it's perfect video rental material. It's the kind of flick you can watch for about a half-hour, then you pause it and make yourself some eggs and then unpause and watch while you eat your meal, then about an hour and twenty into the flick you stop it because you forgot you have to make an important phone call about some motherfucking parking ticket you got, and then you go back ten minutes later and watch the rest of it -- and you don't feel like the momentum has been broken AT ALL. That's either good or bad, I'm saying it's good because I wanted to get back to the movie and find out what happened as soon as possible. Your mileage may vary. If you're a Sam Jackson fan, (and who aside from a total asshole isn't?) this flick has a couple of REALLY intense Sam Jackson moments, particularly the end of one scene after he's chased a suspect on the job. There's also a nice amount of really uncomfortable moments that make you cringe or shift around uncomfortably in your seat, if you're into that sort of thing.

I liked this flick up until the final 20 minutes or so, then it started to disappoint me. It was like the Film forgot it was actually a Movie, and therefore had to climax like one. Up until then, this movie featured characters that lived in the gray area, but by the end everything becomes -- ahem -- black and white. Lakeview Terrace was getting solid B+'s on its quizzes at school, but when it came time for the final test, it scored a C. I'd have a chat with Lakeview Terrace after class and say "You're better than this, Lakeview Terrace, and you know it. What happened?", and Lakeview Terrace would tell me that near the end of the test, it noticed most of its friends had finished already and it wanted to go outside to hang with them, so Lakeview Terrace just rushed through the last set of questions.

Aside from the way it chooses to wrap-up, it's a good flick and I think it's worth queuing up on the ol' Netflix. At the very least, you got two deleted scenes on the DVD that are pretty funny; one is a walk-by cameo by LaBute's homeboy Aaron Eckhart, and the other is a scene that climaxes with Jackson screaming out "You bitches always trying to cut a nigga's dick off!". It's true -- you bitches are always trying to cut a nigga's dick off. Stop it. It has a hard time putting up with its owners' abuse, let alone yours.