Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hey, you have to be more careful. This is a dangerous neighborhood.

Sobriety is a game for the thick-skinned and unfortunately I am one overly sensitive motherfucker. I've come down to this conclusion after about half a year, so I've been thinking on how to get back to not giving a fuck anymore. I don't know, maybe I don't need booze or weed, maybe I just need some time alone for a while, like on that island I was going on about in my Man with the Golden Gun ramblings, or better yet, my unemployed ass should try to find a job that would take me far away, all alone, with minimal possibility of getting a bug up my ass about something.

Take Sam Bell in Moon, for instance. This fuckin' guy has a job working on the motherfuckin' luna, and he's contracted to stay up there, all by his lonesome, for three years. That would be an awesome fucking job for me, but I'm not a fictional character in a movie with a futuristic setting, so I guess I'm fucked there. In this flick, some Enron of the future has figured out how to harvest something called Helium-3 from the moon and they're using that shit to help give Earth some much needed energy resources.

Of course I have to digress, so let me say how I'm all for not depending on oil anymore to power our shit. I'm down with more of those wimpy-looking Priuses (Priusi?) on our streets and all that. Not because I'm some Save-the-Earth environmentalist, but because I'd like nothing more than for our country to finally be able to say "Hey, (name of country redacted) -- GO FUCK YOURSELVES!" when it comes to how we're getting that precious black gold to begin with. I want this Helium-3 stuff or Mr. Fusion to become a reality soon. If we absolutely need to still use oil, then lets just fuckin' go Daniel Plainview on our coastlines and do a little DRAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIINAGE on those beaches. And before you start moaning about drilling the waters, let me just remind you that jellyfish will sting you, sharks will eat you and surfers are just a bunch of assholes. If it has to get to that point, fuck 'em.

Anyway, even though they have these harvesters roving all around the moon, the Weyland/Yutani's who run the whole Helium-3 deal need guys like Sam Bell to for any necessary manual fix-its and to make sure everything's everything. One can only hope the gig pays really well, because in Sam's case, he's leaving behind a wife and kid at home. It seems to be pretty comfortable up there on the moon base, and any free time Sam has can be taken up occupied with the use of a gym, reruns on television, and enough wood to carve a whole model town out of (he brought a tree along with him?). If there are any downsides to it, it would have to be having to eat English-style breakfasts out of plastic bags. Oh, and then I guess there's that whole loneliness thing as well. That can really suck.

Sam's only company is a gay HAL 9000 voiced by Kevin Spacey (no comment), but even with a talking computer, he still finds himself having conversations with plants. He's not quite Silent Running, but the cracks are showing. Not being with his old lady and little girl is taking its toll, and to make things worse, Sam's beginning to hallucinate things. Even though his three year contract is coming to an end, the guy can't keep it together long enough and ends up fucking up on the job something awful. It's like that scene in Last Action Hero where that old cop gets blown up and before he dies, he says "Two days to retirement" before croaking. He was so fucking close!

What happens is that Sam ends up crashing his moon-roving thingy into one of the harvesters and gets pretty banged up in the process, and I guess this is where I have to stop telling you what happens next because everyone else who's talked about Moon stopped here as well. There's still enough surprises that I should just go ahead and tell you what the fuck happens next, but whatever, I won't go any further. I'm just gonna do both of you readers a favor and make this a short one. What happens in Moon isn't some kind of Sixth Sense twistery anyway, it's just the kind of shit that is best not given away ahead of time. I'm not fuckin' Brian Grazer, telling people that he didn't care if a big turning point in Ransom was given away from the trailer as long as it meant asses in the seats. I know that shit's like 13 years old now, but it still bothers me.

Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, and I've always liked that dude, and hopefully most of you do too, since he's pretty much the only person in the entire movie. He's really good here and he's particularly good at, uh, how should I put this, uh...playing variations on a theme. That's not saying too much, is it? For Christ's sake, this isn't the goddamn Crying Game. If it was, I'd be turned on right now. That's a joke, I think. My favorite bit of acting in the entire movie is during a scene where he's talking to...someone...and for a second, his voice starts to crack and his eyes tear up a bit, but then another second later he gets back on track. It's like he started feeling so helpless, and for a moment he considered just going into Cry-In-Fetal-Position mode but then thought better of it and instead switched to Man-The-Fuck-Up mode and continued on like nothing happened. He turned into Terrence Howard there for a second, that was pretty awesome.

Even though the gay HAL 9000 is nothing more than a big piece of plastic set design with only smiley faces to show emotion, Spacey manages to give a good performance through it, using just his voice. Maybe it's just me -- I watched Electric Dreams as a kid too many times -- but I left the movie thinking I knew where this machine was coming from. Or it may have something to do with the alleged personal lifestyle of the actor behind the voice, adding some extra dimensions and baggage and all that. Either way, it was unexpectedly sweet to me, the way shit turns out between gay HAL 9000 and Sam Bell.

This movie was directed by David Bowie's son, and kudos to him for trying to make a name for himself as a director, rather than live off of daddy's Ziggy Stardust money. Or maybe Daddy told him to get off his ass and get a job. Either way, I definitely look forward to his next movie. His is a name to remember, whatever the fuck it is. But enough about David Bowie's son, let me focus on the producer of this fine movie: Ms. Trudie Styler. To you, she might be nothing more than the alleged receiver of many an 8-hour orgasm from her husband Sting, but to me she will always be Eva, the goofy chick with the goofy socks from Fair Game (aka Mamba). Obviously, the themes of that snake-on-the-loose movie remained with her over the years and she looked for a project where she could continue to explore them. She found the right movie in Moon, where Sam Bell is Eva and his shattered psyche is the snake. Sure, why not?

It's not perfect; the movie can get a little too slow in some spots, as the only other guy in the theater would make clear to me by loudly sighing when shit needed to move on, and I think people who are being sold on this movie like it's the second coming of Kubrick or that it's Solaris for the 00's, will be disappointed. It's neither. Besides, there was already a Solaris for the 00's -- it was called Solaris. Moon definitely feels like a mind-fuck for a while, but at heart it's just a good ol' fashioned Well Told Story. It's like the best episode of The Outer Limits that was never made, in the same way that I felt Drag Me to Hell was the best Tales from the Crypt episode that was never made. But unlike Drag Me to Hell, there were no old loud ladies in the audience ruining what should have been a good time. With Moon, there was only an impatient man who sighed a lot -- and in these days of horrifically shitty movie etiquette, that's as good as it will ever fuckin' get.

Whatever, you won't see this and you won't see The Hurt Locker. You'll be going to see The Ugly Truth with the rest of 'em, and I'll be sitting a few rows behind you, laughing my ass off because I'm too drunk to care what I'm watching -- and that, folks, is sometimes the closest thing to contentment one could ever hope to achieve.

I take that back. I'm pretty sure no amount of booze is gonna fix *that* fuckin' movie.

Monday, July 27, 2009

James Bond can be a real dick sometimes

Basketball has too many points, and hockey has too few, but football is just right. Soccer, on the other hand, is in a class of its own, a very annoying class. Maybe it's because I live in a neighborhood that is predominantly Latino (hell, the fuckin' region is predominantly Latino), and while I love mi gente, I can't fuckin' stand their love for this sport. They get so goddamn loud with the howling and the yelling and the yowling and the helling and the overall caterwauling when one of these fuckin' Third World countries finally makes a score, and for some reason (probably because I'm a fucking asshole), their joy makes me miserable.

Perhaps I'd feel the same way about baseball if I lived in Boston, and instead of raza, I'd have to put up with loud-ass fuckin' Pahk-da-cah Chowdaheads who don't act much differently from those characters played by Jimmy Fallon and that odd-looking chick with big tits on SNL. Perhaps I'd feel the same way about NASCAR if I lived in Alabama and had to put up with all those shitkickers getting all excited as if someone had brought in a rare extended print of Birth of a Nation. Perhaps I'd feel that way about basketball if I lived in, uh *leans in and whispers* the hood *clears throat* and had to put up with, uh...the fine individuals who are fans of that fine sport. It's the same everywhere, I guess, and I think what I'm trying to say here is that I should be living in a secluded island, somewhere far away from these jokers known as my Fellow Human Beings.

I was thinking about that while watching The Man with the Golden Gun, the James Bond movie starring Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, and a couple of hot chicks. Lee plays the villain in this piece, Francisco Scaramanga, a man who makes an honest living by shooting motherfuckers with a golden bullet. He's the best at the assassination game, making one million dollars a kill. Business is so good, he's able to afford his own private island to live in. Man, I want a place like that. It's off of southeast China, and his pad is built into the caves. He's got his own energy source, all done with solar power, and he's got a dwarf for an assistant. This dwarf Nick Nack is awesome; he handles all of Scaramanga's business deals (that way he doesn't have to see any of these asshole clients), he takes care of the house, and he's also trained at Le Cordon Bleu, so you know he can make some mean grub. Unfortunately, Scaramanga made the dumbass mistake of making Nick Nack the sole heir to all of this. That means the little bastard is always setting up other hitmen to show up and try to kill homeboy, as both a means for Scaramanga to get some practice, but also in hopes that he gets killed, so Nack could get everything.

But whatever, that's fine. There's always something. If it's not that, he'd probably get mixed up with some broad who'd want him dead. Oh wait! He DOES make that stupid choice in life as well -- mixing it up with this chick named Anders, and what a fucking C, man. She can't just live it up with this dude, no, she's gotta set him up and send MI6 a golden bullet with "007" etched into it to get them involved. What the fuck, lady? No wonder Scaramanga's leaving all his shit to Nick Nack; at least the little dude stays professional, even when trying to get his boss dead. This chick can't even pretend to dig having sex with him, probably because he's got a third nipple like Mark Wahlberg or Krusty the Clown. Sure, he's got his little kinks, like rubbing his custom-made golden gun all over her face and around her mouth, but I was once with a girl who wanted me to choke her, and did I complain? No! Besides, she was out of my league, I was in no position to complain.

I can see why British dudes like Tony Blair backed up Dubya, that motherfucker's probably cut from the same cloth as the MI6 guys who wanted my man Scaramanga stopped. Here you have a guy who has all that solar power, he doesn't need to deal with Edison or the gas company or any of that shit, his money is his money and he probably doesn't have to pay taxes and that pisses these assholes off. That's why they send Bond to kill him, not that bullshit they're trying to sell you about him trying to take over the world or whatever the fuck they say he's guilty of.

So we follow Bond on his job, which consists of acting like a real asshole. That's what Roger Moore brings to this portrayal; Connery had a way of never completely breaking that smoothness, he could make even the most threatening shit sound like pillow talk. Moore, on the other hand, seems quicker to smack a lady around if he doesn't get his way -- and it's always a lady. With guys, he's getting his ass handed to him and unless he cheats, he hasn't got a chance. There's one part where a couple of sumos are fucking him up, one guy's got him over his shoulder, crushing against him, so what's the first thing Bond does? He grabs at the sumo's buttcheeks. For real. Right after that, Bond realizes how fuckin' gay that looks, and instead gives the sumo some kind of wedgie. You know both Bond and the sumo are going to have the cheek-grabbing incident in the back of their minds for a while.

Later on, Bond's got to fight against a couple of martial arts experts, and he takes out the first one by kicking him in the face while he's bowing. There's no honor in this motherfucker. The second martial artist doesn't play that shit, and the moment Bond has a chance to get the fuck out of there, he does, jumping out the window just so some young schoolgirls can save his lame ass. He should be kissing these girls asses, but he doesn't even acknowledge them, instead he just goes back to treating other women like shit. Bond rules!

There's a chick named Mary Goodnight that Bond particularly likes to be a dick to, at one point getting her all hot and bothered, ready to bed her down. But then that ungrateful Anders shows up, so he shoves Goodnight into the closet and makes her wait there for the rest of the night while he bangs the other broad. That would be pretty awesome if it was someone else pulling that shit, but it's Roger Moore's asshole version of Bond, so fuck him and his proto-Patrick Bateman ways. By the way, even though she was just treated like a blow-up fuckdoll being hidden before the parents show up to visit, Goodnight is still into Bond, even more so, proving once again what Albert Einstein always said: Chicks Dig Jerks. (Incidentally, this is what led to Einstein helping in the creation of the atomic bomb -- you can't get more jerky than making a weapon that kills millions -- and sure enough, homeboy started smelling like ass 'cause he was getting so much of it afterward.)

The best moment is when Scaramanga treats Bond and Goodnight to lunch; he tells Bond that they are both very much alike, they both get pleasure from killing people. Bond tries to justify his ways by saying that he doesn't like killing, and he only kills because he has to and because he's licensed by the government to do so. Whatever, Bond. If you hated killing so much, you wouldn't be so quick to have a fuckin' witty line to quip with afterwards. At least Scaramanga's true to himself about being a sociopath. Then Bond kills him and blows up the island and we're supposed to cheer that shit.

Of all the deaths in the movie, it was the island's demise that really got to me. I want to live in a place like that, hell, I'd like to have Scaramanga's life -- third nipple and all. The two main differences would be that I'd try to have a screening room attached to my cave dwelling and instead of a dwarf for my assistant, I'd hire some cute girl, maybe an actress who hasn't been in the spotlight for a while and could probably use the money, like Rachael Leigh Cook or someone. Then while she's filing papers or making me a grilled cheese sandwich, I can annoy her by asking her a bunch of questions like "What was it like working with Freddie Prinze Jr.?" and "Is it true that Freddie Prinze Jr. is really into comic books?". She'd give me the grilled cheese, and I'd take a bite and say "The cheese isn't melted enough. By the way, did you know that Freddie Prinze Jr. is supposed to be a very good cook?" and she'd finally get fed up and scream "WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING HIRE FREDDIE PRINZE JR., THEN?!" and storm out. Then I'd take another bite of my grilled cheese and start to laugh while my mouth was still full, saying "Where are you going, Rachael Leigh Cook? This is an island and you don't know how to work the boat" and she'd stop and mutter "Dammit!" before going back to her assistant duties. To think that this could have all been avoided had Josie and the Pussycats done well at the box office.

Since last December, I've been watching all the Bond movies in a row, checking one out whenever I was in the mood, and this is the most recent viewing, the second of the Roger Moore series of Bond flicks. The Man with the Golden Gun is considered one of the worst (if not THE worst) Bond movie ever made, but I thought it was okay. Diamonds Are Forever is easily the worst Bond movie so far, tarnishing what was a damn near spotless run for Sean Connery. The fact that the Moore flicks haven't been that great to begin with is probably why I'm pretty easy on this one. The theme song, on the other hand, is fuckin' HIDEOUS.

Holy shit, was that tune hard to sit through. You can only be a champion for so long before you start to lose a bout or two, and I guess it was time for composer John Barry to eat shit in a big fuckin' way. I tried to let it slide, but then there's a pretty decent chase scene late in the flick that ends with a really cool stunt. Bond drives his car off a broken bridge and it does a 360 degree spiral onto the other end of the bridge. No CGI, just the real deal -- the kind of shit only pulled in the "all or nothing days", to quote Stuntman Mike. When it happens, everything goes silent for a second -- and then this motherfucker Barry adds a goddamn slide whistle to accompany a perfect moment.

This man composed many beautiful epic scores; along with a bunch of Bond flicks, he also did the music to Zulu, Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves. Hell, I just about cry every time I hear his score to Somewhere in Time (being half-a-fag might have something to do with that), and yet if I was to meet the man himself one day in person, I just might have to kick him in his wrinkly English ballsack for adding a slide whistle to that scene. Even if he tries to backtrack and say that it was the director's idea, I'd tell him it doesn't excuse the theme song for The Man with the Golden Gun. Then he'd nod in agreement while nursing his sore testicles. And if I ever run into the chick who sang the theme song, Lulu, I'll just give her a stern talking to, because I don't beat women, I'm not Chris Brown.

If I was, I'd be rich and happy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

One of the villains looked so familiar, I thought Tony Jaa was going to say "Yo, she-bitch! Let's go!" before dispatching her.

This goddamn heat can suck my dick.

Anyway, I rented the latest flick from Tony Jaa, Ong-Bak 2 from my local video store/head shop. It's a place cool enough to stock multi-region DVD's, and cool enough to rent out movies 2-4 weeks before they're supposed to be available to the public, but apparently not cool enough to stock the director's cut of Watchmen. Yup, it's all widescreen and full-screen copies of the theatrical version over here. C'mon, video store people -- you were supposed to be reading my fuckin' mind.

If there's one thing that VHS has over DVD in a big way, it's that with VHS I could fast-forward past the FBI warnings and advertisements. Try that shit with DVD; it's a 50/50 deal, depending on your model and brand of player. You'll either be able to skip that shit no problem, or in my case, have no choice but to wait while still pressing the Skip and/or Menu buttons in a futile attempt to buck the odds. It's even worse with titles from other countries. You get anti-piracy warnings up the yin-fucking-yang in, like, 13 different languages, followed by 7 different movie company logos with the triumphant music, then the menu comes up, you hit play, then 3 more fuckin' anti-piracy warnings come up, followed by the same fuckin' 7 movie company logos with the triumphant music from before, and by then you're like Fuck This Bullshit, I'm just gonna go watch Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day for the fifth time on cable (although to be fair, I was probably going to watch that delightful romp again anyway). I don't know if Blu-ray is any different in this matter, since I don't have the money or the home theater system to mess with *that* shit.

Thankfully my patience outweighed my Amy Adams crush, and the flick was definitely worth the wait. Ong-Bak 2 is a prequel to the original Ong-Bak in the same way that The Patriot was a prequel to Payback; you've got the same star beating the shit out of/killing the shit out of motherfuckers but that's about it as far as connections go. For the record, I don't know if Tony Jaa is a crazy anti-Semite like Mad Mel, so maybe that was a bad comparison to make, but you get the idea.

This movie takes place in 1400's Thailand, and we're introduced to a little boy named Teean. It turns out Teean is the son of some big deal ruler and as it always is with this kind of story, there's turmoil and all that other bad stuff going on. Sure enough, the shit just got real, so the king/ruler/whatever has one of his men take the boy away to safety. Naturally, this doesn't quite work out, and soon Teean is running for his life alone. Eventually, Teean is saved by the leader of a pirate gang. But these guys aren't the sailing-the-seven-seas Arr Matey! type of pirates, they're more like R-rated Robin Hood/guerrilla types who punish the bad and protect the good (while making some serious bank outta the deal).

The pirate leader takes in the boy and gives the little dude a choice in either staying with him and his crew or going off on his own. The boy decides to stay, since he has nowhere to go and besides, these guys are pretty badass and he wants to learn how to give hardcore beatdowns they way they do -- and boy does he learn. As the years go by, Teean learns how to fight and becomes so good at it, he grows up to become Tony Jaa, that's how good he gets. We watch as he has to pass a series of tests to get his diploma in Badassery, and I guess it's no spoiler to tell you he passes with flying colors. Teean soon becomes the leader of the pirates, and we follow him as he leads his men to victory, time and time again. He's got the respect of his people, the admiration of the common man, and business is good in the ass-kicking department. But there's something nagging him, something that he can't shake off on those lonely nights while drinking. As Teean goes over his mental checklist of things to do, he realizes there's one empty box next to REVENGE, and it's time to get that motherfucker checked off.

Tony Jaa's been called the new Jackie Chan, which kinda sucks because Chan's still alive, but I can see why they would say that. Like Chan, Tony Jaa mixes it up between amazing martial arts skill and Holy-Fucking-Shit-Did-He-Just-Fucking-Do-That? stunts. I think the main difference between the two is that Jaa has this incredibly goofy sincerity that I think even Chan would feel a little embarrassed by. I can imagine Chan wanting to put his arm around Jaa, buy him a drink and say "Dude, calm down. It's just an elephant" or something. Jaa probably carries a photo of an elephant in his wallet to look at and get all weepy with, like homeboy with his dolphins in The Big Blue. I'm being unfair, I understand the Thai people love their elephants and probably packed the movie houses when Operation Dumbo Drop came out.

Ong-Bak 2 definitely has its share of elephants, but there's a lot less going on in the crazy stunt department. There's a wild sequence involving Teean and a stampede of ever-present pachyderms, but for the most part this is all about the fights. Oh, but what fights! It's been a while since I've seen a martial arts movie that really knocked me on my ass, and it's good to have that feeling once again while watching this. Every time some poor schmuck got a faceful of kneecap you could feel it, and thanks to the great sound work on this movie, you sure as shit hear it. Of the three Jaa movies I've seen, I prefer this one over the first Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector). For one thing, there's a lot more action going on in this movie. I remember getting a little impatient waiting for some assbeating to happen with those two other flicks. Here, the balance is completely flipped over so that there are more action scenes than scenes of dialogue and exposition, at least it feels that way.

I liked that the filmmakers give you enough of an involving story to get you, uh, involved without overstepping their boundaries. They didn't appear to be suffering from any delusions of storytelling grandeur. Too many of these guys think they're making the martial arts Braveheart or something, and the audience (me) ends up suffering through what's supposed to be some emotional shit but is really some third-rate warmed-over epic movie cliches that you've seen a million fucking times already. And to add insult to injury, they give you more of that bullshit than the shit you paid to see in the first place -- the fucking fights, man!

This one is also a step up as far as production value goes. They go for that epic wide look, shooting it in 2.35 or 2:35 or however the fuck that's supposed to be written. It looks very expensive, coming a long way from the "Hey guys, we can make movies too!" aesthetic of the other Jaa flicks. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Jaa himself directed it as well, or at least half of it. From what I've found out on the Interwebs, the stress of making this movie got to poor old Jaa, and at one point he just took off and disappeared into the jungle for a couple of months, leaving the cast and crew with nothing to do.

The Weinstein Company originally had partnered up with Jaa and was going to put up a lot of the money for this flick, but after finding out about all the Apocalypse Now/Tropic Thunder shenanigans going on, they pulled out. That must have been hard for poor Harvey Weinstein, losing a good opportunity like that to take a motherfucker's movie and chop the shit out of it. Eventually, Jaa came out of hiding and made an appearance on a talk show where he admitted he ran away so he could be alone and cry. He didn't even have to look at some elephants to get worked up, it was the stress of the movie that got him like that.

So Jaa wiped away the tears, put his testicles back on and went back to work. Only this time he brought along his friend/fight choreographer to complete principal photography. And here's the rub -- in order to finish the movie with no more money, they had to end Ong-Bak 2 on a cliffhanger. I feel I have to spoil this and tell you, because if you end up watching this movie, it's better to be prepared rather than ask out loud "What the fuck?!" like I did when it happened. It's pretty funny too, because it ends at such a messed-up moment (which come to think of it, is how a cliffhanger is supposed to work) and then a narrator comes in and says that it's up to us in the audience to save him, with our good thoughts or some shit like that. I thought he meant it in a clap-for-Tinkerbell way, but I think the underlying message is "Hey, if enough of you motherfuckers pay to see this movie, then we'll make another one that shows you how he makes it out of this pickle". Which I guess makes me a fuckin' murderer since the copy I rented was probably a bootleg that the film company won't make a dime out of.

But hopefully I'm in the minority, and the majority of people's dollars or baht will go directly to the moviemakers. Then we can get Ong-Bak 3 and not only will we get to see how Teean makes out, but maybe we can also find out if Tony Jaa loves every elephant or makes exceptions in some more randy cases, like this one:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Leelee Sobieski should only dress in 1930's clothes from now on

I'm a Michael Mann fan, and while I've enjoyed all of his movies (except The Keep), I prefer when he keeps things on the street with flicks like Thief, Heat, and Collateral. So it's cool that he's got another crime story out with his new film Public Enemies, starring the oh-so-dreamy Johnny Depp. Holy shit, if you never got the idea how much chicks love this motherfucker, you would've gotten that shit way too clear at the showing I went to.

You can hear the ladies in the audience swoon at every close-up, giggle at any remotely amusing line of dialogue that came out of his mouth, and quietly chatter amongst themselves in excitement when he got to putting the moves on a chick. But it's all good, because I've always liked the dude. He's a good actor and he seems like a pretty cool guy based on what I've heard. I guess things change over the years and people mature, but I remember back in the day when this dude seemed kinda like a douche for trashing hotel rooms and getting "Winona Forever" tattooed on his arm (I agree with the sentiment, not the inking). Now he's tipping waiters $4,000 for steak dinners and donating $2 million to a children's hospital.

My favorite story has to be about some dude who suffered from one of those horrible body-debilitating diseases that only a genius/sadist like God could come up with. This guy could only move his left thumb and his face. They did a bit on him on This American Life, and since the guy couldn't talk anymore, they asked him who he thought his ideal voice should be and he told them Edward Norton or Johnny Depp. They figured Why not? and tried to get Norton, who then told them to go fuck themselves or something else similarly Norton-esque. But somehow they were able to get the word out to Depp, who not only said yes but did the shit for free. You know what, ladies? I think I'll swoon with you. I guess it depends on the person, though. Because no amount of philanthropy or humanitarianism or general acts of Good Guy-ness will turn Ashton Kutcher into anything else above the status of Fucking Cunt, you know what I mean?

Anyway, yeah, Public Enemies. Depp plays bank robber John Dillinger and according to this movie, he was a hero of sorts with the people because while everyone else was struggling to get by during the Great Depression, he was out there just fuckin' taking what he wanted. Never mind that a few cops got killed in the process. It makes me wonder when that kind of shit stopped. I guess you can flash forward to the '97 North Hollywood shootout, when everyone's sympathy went to the poor cops getting blasted on. But this is a Hollywood movie, and you can't have Johnny Depp look like too much of a bad guy, so they designate the "murderous scumbag" role to characters like Baby Face Nelson and a couple of other dudes whose names I can't remember at the moment.

It's a lot like Heat, actually, in that Dillinger is portrayed as an intense, methodical, professional-as-a-motherfucker thief. Which I guess makes it a lot like Thief as well. The big difference between Dillinger and Neil McCauley from Heat is that Dillinger allows himself the luxury of turning that serious mode off when he's not working. Homeboy likes to go to clubs for some booze and broads, whereas McCauley couldn't even allow himself the pleasure to respond to a cute bookstore employee sitting next to him at a restaurant without worrying what her angle was. What the fuck, McCauley? I'd kill to have that kind of shit happen to me, and you're just throwing it away.

All of these successful bank robberies by Public Enemy Number One is making J. Edgar Hoover look bad to his superiors, so he wants to take this motherfucker down ASAP. But since he's just a chubby crossdressing coward who never even wore a badge and has only worked in law enforcement in an administrative position, he puts all the pressure on FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Purvis is played by Christian Bale, who needs to learn to calm the fuck down. We get it, you'll trash his fucking lights. I like Bale, and I think he's a real talent, but holy shit does he seem like someone a wrong word away from stabbing a motherfucker in the eye with a fork. There was a recent interview where he talked about how he was a vegetarian for a long time until he saw the movie Life is Beautiful. Somehow, that movie about a father trying to shield the horrors of the Holocaust from his son made him crave a bloody rare steak like never before. Is it because it made him value the good things in life like steaks? Or is it because he's a fucking psycho? Maybe a little of both.

Purvis is on the job, but he knows his team could use some help in the toughening-up department, so he gets a badass Texas Ranger to fly over to Chicago to join the squad and teach these guys about catching criminals Texas style. The Texas Ranger is played by Stephen Lang, and the last time he was in a Michael Mann movie it was as a gossip journalist getting owned by the Tooth Fairy in Manhunter. Not only is he the one owning motherfuckers this time, but it's his first big screen Hollywood movie since 2003, when he played Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals, a big-budget Civil War movie that was apparently only watched by me and 17 senior citizens.

It's funny how this film, mostly based on real people and real events (while completely fictionalizing the fuck out of it) ends up playing like Heat '33. The structure of the movie plays out by going back and forth between Dillinger and his crew with Purvis and his posse. Dillinger's crew even includes a couple of Waingro-types who don't know how to pull off a heist without killing a bunch of motherfuckers for no reason. Unlike Heat, the loose cannons work on the other side as well; I guess for the same reason that we can't see Depp murdering people without losing sympathy for him, we can't see Purvis beating or torturing suspects, so that shit is left to other FBI agents like the one played by Shawn Hatosy, who I remember back in '98 and '99 being set up as the next Big Young Thing, along with other up-and-comers like Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. Well, those magazines were right about him getting big, only not in the way they thought -- the motherfucker's quite husky now. Or maybe he gained it and/or wore padding for the movie, like the guy who plays J. Edgar Hoover, Billy Crudup. Crudup looked like a fuckin' Adonis when he played Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, but as Hoover he looks like he sucked up more than his fair share of donuts and meat salads.

The chick from La Vie En Rose is in this, playing an American with a French accent. That's how awesome Michael Mann is, he doesn't give a fuck if an actress can hardly speak-a the English, if she feels right for the part, she's in. Seriously though, her accent isn't that bad, she's certainly a lot better with it than Gong Li in Miami Vice (aka Mojitos Like A Muthafucka). And she's certainly a hell of a lot more attractive here as Dillinger's special lady friend Billie Frechette than as Edith Piaf. She looks really good here in her 30's getups. There was another really hot chick in this movie, she appears near the end of the movie, and looked a little familiar, but goddamn was I smitten. Turns out it was Leelee Sobieski, and I guess I'm into her now. How about that?

Going back to the Heat comparisons, I was reminded of a line in that flick where Tom Sizemore says "for me the action is the juice", because it seems like that's how Dillinger rolled. There never seemed to be an endgame for this guy, no plans for retirement or an island to escape to after stealing all that money. He was just going to continue robbing banks until he got caught or killed. But I don't think he expected shit to end the way it ultimately did, (SPOILERS IF YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR CRIME HISTORY) because while he may have always thought about the possibility of being killed on the job, he never considered that he would be (at least as far as this movie's version of the truth goes) the last of his crew left. You can see that there's no fun in it for him anymore now that his friends are dead. Loneliness can be a motherfucker, and Dillinger finds that shit out the hard way. So he figures, Shit, at least I got my girl -- but then that leads to heartbreak as well.

Mann has been on a whole HD kick for quite a while now, and he doesn't even try to make it look like film. That's his thing, and I'm sure that's the look he wants for his movies now, stuck in a limbo that's not quite film and not quite video. Like his last couple of movies, the picture quality of Public Enemies varies depending on the lighting situation. Scenes look pretty good in daylight, but then get a lot more grainy and strobe-y in nighttime or low-light scenes. Quite a few critics have been bitching about this, saying that it distracts from the 1930's setting, but I have to disagree. Sure, things don't look so cinematic anymore, but goddamn if this wasn't the most realistic a film of this period ever felt. It's like someone took a time machine to 1933 Chicago and took a video camera to document it. To be fair, I watched this HD movie in digital projection, so it probably looks a lot better that way than if you saw it on a film print, where the transfer might not come off so well. This might sound weird, but I think I prefer the HD being used here than in the modern-day settings of Miami Vice or Collateral.

There's some cool bank robbery sequences and shootouts here. With Mann, you know you're gonna get real live gunshot sounds that make the audience jump because they're so fucking loud. One minor complaint about the sound is that Mann sometimes dials down the dialogue a bit too much, leaving you cupping your hand around your ear like some old fogey going "Wha? Speak louder, boy!" and then suddenly the music comes BLARING into the soundtrack. I thought it was the theater's fault until I looked it up and other people have made the same complaint at other screenings. What the fuck, Mann? Are you so burned out from working with Al Pacino that you're determined to make your other actors speak in a volume way below inside-voice?

This was a solid flick. But some people might have a problem with it, because while it may be a Hollywood movie about gangsters, it ain't no Hollywood gangster movie. Public Enemies is more of a character study than a cops-and-robbers flick but it's still intriguing in a nuts-and-bolts docudrama sort-of-way. Has Mann done better? Sure. But good times is good times, so while it may not be Heat, it's still entertaining. If he keeps making good-but-not-great movies like Public Enemies, I'll continue to be a happy Michael Mann fan. I guess you can say I'M A FAN OF MANN!

By the way, if it's just gangster tommy gun shootouts you're looking for, try checking out another movie also called Public Enemies. Not only does it have the same title as this one, it also features Melvin Purvis as well, only in that one he's played by Dan "MTV Sports" Cortese. Sure, you don't see Johnny Depp or Christian Bale, but you do get to see Frank Stallone break Alyssa Milano's neck and then toss her into a swamp, and that's got to count for something, right?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Be safe, be good, and most importantly, be patriotic -- otherwise Mr. Freedom will come for you.

Friday, July 3, 2009

One character has a Bad Boys II poster on his wall. You hear that? That's the sound of Michael Bay sucking his own dick.

Trying something new for a change. Whenever I'm too lazy or just can't bring myself to form a coherent structure (relatively speaking, of course) I'll just post my random thoughts on the movie, no beginning/middle/end (again, what else is new?) So here's some random thoughts on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

On Michael Bay in general

I think Michael Bay is a genuine artist, and it's opinions like that that probably explain my lack of friends. That and my horrible personality and terrible hygiene. But I've always gotten a kick out of Bay's crazy camera-always-moving style and have much appreciated the vulgar, juvenile and misanthropic tone to his work.

The only time I thought Bay made a misstep was with Pearl Harbor. I'm sure he had his black heart and corrupted soul totally committed into that flick, but it wasn't the best match of script and director. And while he's always had this "screw the critics" public attitude, I think deep down inside he probably thought he'd get some props from them with that movie. Instead, that flick got trashed just as bad -- if not worse -- than his other movies, and since then Bay has been doing a total Fuck You to the critics and naysayers with his flicks, standing on top of a monster truck with two busty coeds at his feet, letting both middle fingers fly and hanging his cock out to flap in the wind with a giant American flag behind him, and behind that, explosions upon explosions -- metaphorically speaking, of course.

On the Komedy

There's a whole sequence involving the main character's parents helping him move in to his college dorm; among the many moments of "hilarity" is one where his mom ends up eating up a bunch of pot brownies (she thought "green" meant they were environmentally safe) and winds up acting that bullshit movie version of being high. I'm talking about the movie version of marijuana that makes the person act like they're on a combination of LSD, cocaine and mushrooms. At one point, the mom ends up tackling a student from behind, because I guess that's what you wanna do when you're baked. Is it some kind of Hollywood conspiracy to purposely get that kind of shit wrong? Or was I just smoking some weak shit back in the day? I guess it's just more visually interesting to make shit up like that, rather than go the realism route and have a motherfucker take twenty minutes to take his money out to pay the pizza delivery guy at the door (true story).

There are two Autobots who call themselves the Twins but might as well be called Amos & Andy. For the record, I laughed my ass off at these guys, but it wasn't because they were funny. I laughed because of how fucking WRONG it all was. These are two robots with bug eyes, huge ears, gold teeth, and white-guys-doing-black-guy-from-the-streets voices. At one point, they tell the main characters "We don't really do much reading", and all I could think about was Chris Rock's bit about how "Books are like kryptonite to a nigga!". I'm guessing in the next one, they'll have the Twins munching on metallic watermelon or bionic fried chicken or something.

I really want to hear what someone like Spike Lee thinks about this shit, because watching these two modern day Stepin Fetchits reminded me of that Bamboozled movie he made. Even better, I would've loved to have sat next to the actor Tyrese at the premiere just to see if he laughed or scowled, 'cause it's only going to be one or the other. What makes it feel even more wrong is that they got two white dudes to play the parts. That makes me wonder if the filmmakers even bothered to look for two black actors/comedians to perform or maybe they did and were repeatedly told to go fuck themselves. (NOTE: I've since found out after writing this that one of the two voice actors is black. So I guess that makes it all right if you have at least one black guy involved in your minstrel show) Then later on, there's a scene with a black dude working behind a deli counter and he can hardly talk because of these huge buckteeth sticking out of his mouth. Holy shit.

On Megan Fox

Here's the requisite part of the blog where I'm supposed to go fucking nuts at how fucking hot she supposedly is, so here I go: OMG! MEGAN FOX *IS* A FOX! GODDAMN I'VE NEVER SEEN SOMEONE SO BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY IN A MOVIE! ANGELINA MOVE OVER (OR BETTER YET JOIN IN, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN *GROWL*) HERE COMES THE HOTNESS TRAIN THAT IS KNOWN AS THE MEGAN FOX EXPRESS!!! I NEVER KNEW MY COCK COULD GET SO HARD UNTIL I LAID MY EYES ON MEGAN FOX!!! Okay, that's enough. Sure, she's attractive, but I never got that crazy about her the way others have been. Let me beat you to the punch with your response to what I said: Yeah, that's because she has a vagina instead of a penis. Don't get me wrong, you bet your ass I'd hit that. I don't know, maybe it's the overhype telling me that I'm supposed to worship her that turns me off, or maybe she's simply just not my type. Maybe I don't like them so...I don't know, uh, dirty. I guess that makes me Barney Coopersmith to the Vinnie Antonellis of the world.

On the IMAX experience

Like The Dark Knight, some of Transformers was shot with IMAX cameras. But with the exception of one Optimus Prime fight scene, all the IMAX moments are just shots that seemed to have been picked at random, and they only serve to distract from the experience, rather than improve it. The parts that I really wanted to see blown up and fill the entire frame, are not, and the parts I couldn't give a shit about seeing blown up, are. Remember the chase sequence in The Dark Knight where the Joker was trying to get to Harvey Dent in the police van? That entire sequence was in IMAX, from beginning to end. Now imagine if every other shot during that sequence wasn't blown up to IMAX proportions. One shot IMAX, the next shot normal, the following shot IMAX, the one after that normal, and so on. That's EXACTLY how the Transformers IMAX scenes play. I'd have preferred that they never shot any of it in IMAX. Just go find the biggest non-IMAX screen around and you'll be fine.


It's sad for me to say this, but this is the first Michael Bay movie where I was bored by the action. None of it engaged me the way his other action scenes had before. This is the second Michael Bay movie I didn't like. Maybe I've finally had my fill of his style in my old age; I recently rewatched The Rock and Armageddon to kind of hype me up for some new Bayhem, and it just wasn't doing it for me like it did back in the day. When I was a kid, I used to pour gallons of syrup on my pancakes, tons of sugar on my cereal, and I washed down chocolate chip cookies with chocolate milk. Today, just the thought of that makes me sick. Hmm.