Thursday, December 31, 2009

TONIGHT: Strokeface & the Highlighted Fairy vs. The Flaming Globe of Sigmund

It's the end of the year and I'm nowhere near the winter of my discontent, as I hoped I'd be. This feels more like the motherfucking spring of my discontent. About a year ago in this blog that nobody reads, I asked/begged/pleaded 2009 to be good to me. Well, a lot of good that did, because now I would like nothing more than to see 2009 get fucking got. I want to see Liam Neeson show up at 2009's pad, drink its tea, kill its homies, knock the motherfucker out, tie it to a chair, wake its ass up, impale its legs with electrified spikes (unrated version), pull the fuckin' switch and just walk away to leave that motherfucker frying forever. I guess what I'm trying to say is Suck A Fat Fuckin' Dick, 2009. Sure, you gave me The Hurt Locker but you also put me in one, so yeah, suck a fat fuckin' dick and choke on it, but not before finding out in your last moments before plunging into eternal darkness that the dick was covered in AIDS slime.

Speaking of sucking fat fuckin' AIDS-ridden dick, last Friday was Christmas Day, and I decided to spend it the way I usually do -- avoiding most of the family by going to see movies at the theater. I'm no fuckin' animal, though; I intended to see the family eventually, after the cousins and aunts and creepy insurance-selling uncles have gone and it's just Mom and maybe my sister and her kids there, that way I can grub on some homemade tamales. But yeah, I had myself a little marathon that day. I'm gonna talk about two out of the four movies I watched, I don't know if I'll get to the other two because I'm lazy and terrible and yeah.

Through the use of my reloaded gift card and Cheap Bastard magic, I was able to watch 2 movies for the price of one. If you don't know how I did that, then you have confirmed my worst suspicions that you, in fact, do not read my shit. The first movie was Sherlock Holmes, starring The (Hopefully) Former Druggie, The Star Who Never Was, Rachel McAdams and directed by the rich Brit who played at being from the street until he married Madonna and got his shit fucked with Kaballah-style so badly that he wound up with his head all the way up his ass and when he finally pulled it out, he wiped all the shit off his face and made Revolver with it.

Some people are bitching about how the source material was betrayed in favor of blockbustering it up, and these people are half right and half way-fucking-wrong. They're right about the filmmakers trying to make this more audience-friendly by adding doses of Boom and Pow and Zip and Zang, but they don't know what they're talking about when they go on about how the real Sherlock Holmes was some asshole with some stupid-ass double-brimmed shit on his head and that Watson was some ineffectual fatass who was always being schooled by Holmes and being told that everything was fuckin' "elementary". I've read some of the short stories, so unless you've read at least a couple of those or one of the books, take your complaining ass out of my fucking face, take it over to a fucking mosque, and have yourself outfitted with a special vest designed to help you gain entrance to a private club that is so exclusive, the guest list consists of only your name and +72 next to it, then take yourself to the nearest vacant lot and put that shit to use.

So here you have Holmes getting all butt-hurt about his hetero life mate Watson getting closer to taking off with his fiancee, but in the meantime there's a problem regarding some evil motherfucker who thinks he's all slick with his black magic and human sacrifices. It takes some getting used to when it comes to watching Holmes disabling a baddie with the use of well-planned asskickery and while I don't remember him owning motherfuckers in bare-knuckle fights in the stories, but there were always mentions of the dude knowing some shit in the fight game, so it's the filmmakers aren't cheating. They're taking the spirit of the thing and adding a heaping dose of Testosterone to it.

With the exception of the Snatch-style fight scenes, this doesn't really look like a Guy Ritchie flick, but it certainly still has the feel of one; you get loads and loads of entertaining dialogue punctuated with some snazzy visual shit. I guess you can say the same about Quentin the Foot Fuckin' Master's works, but the dialogue in Ritchie's movies is spoken in English accents, so that makes it different. Hans Zimmer composed the music, and when it comes to his scores, Zimmer-boy's got two speeds: Fuckin' A and Lagging It. Thankfully, Zimmer brought his Fuckin' A game to the table and comes up with some crazy off-key piano shit that is just as pulse-pounding as his Dark Knight joints.

The villain is scary/awesome, he was also in Revolver pretty much playing the Vinnie Jones role, he never feels fake or MWAHAHA at all, he always creeped me the fuck out. As for the rest of the cast, Jude Law proves that he's best when supporting the man rather than trying to fuckin' be the man and Rachel McAdams' wears a bunch of period costumes that don't do her any favors so it's a good thing they cast a chick with a cute face so we at least have that going for us. As for Downey Jr., holy shit this motherfucker is top-notch like always. Even when he's terrible in something like Hugo Pool (which I liked, don't get me wrong) he's still putting his all into it, this guy doesn't fuckin' slack it for any fuckin' part. I'm glad to see him come up from all the bullshit and showing everyone he's more than just a fuckin' media punchline.

I remember back in the late 90's he hosted SNL, and this was right after he did some jail time for having a good time, and his monologue consisted of mostly visual jokes about him being somebody's bitch in prison. The worst part of it was despite having a sense of humor about his freshly fucked-up situation, the shit still bombed and the audience didn't give much of a reaction. Now people are lining up around the block to see him do his fuckin' thing -- provided it doesn't involve doing it with Jamie Foxx, evidently -- but I really wish these motherfuckers were lining up a little earlier, like October '05 earlier. But what can you do?

The second movie I watched was Nine, not to be confused with that Elijah Wood cartoon or the scene where Hitler loses his shit in Inglourious Basterds. This Nine is basically the Weinstein Brothers calling in the director of Chicago and demanding that he shits out another fuckin' Best Picture Oscar for them, like old times. So, here they go, with another flashy musical based on a Broadway hit. They probably told their whipping boy/director that this better another fuckin' Chicago, right down to the standout bad girl number sung by a current pop diva, only this time it's Fergalicious playing a whore singing about how you should be Italian, which is funny considering the cast they went with.

This one is based on some shit that was based on that Italian movie about how it sucks to be a Great Fucking Filmmaker and to have bitches all over your fuckin' jock while you try to think up your next masterpiece. Boo-hoo. Don't mean to be an asshole about it, but much like I dug Sorcerer over The Wages of Fear, I'm gonna straight out admit I preferred All That Jazz over 8 1/2, sorry everyone. The musical had muthafuckin' Raul Julia in it, but then that guy went Game Over after proclaiming "Game Over!" in Street Fighter, so for the revival they got Antonio Motherfuckin' Banderas, baby. Well, they assed Zorro out of it for the movie and ended up getting Daniel Day-Lewis to play the part of Guido for the movie.

Holy shit. If you're going to replace heavily-accented, over-acting greatness like Banderas, you might as well only go for Daniel Day-Lewis, otherwise I'd be pissed. Daniel Plainview the Butcher does an excellent job here as he always does, managing to not sound like a douche with his Italian accent, he actually comes off like the real deal here. He's not a bad singer, either, he can belt out those pipes when needed. The burning question, though, is Why? I mean, I looked it up and this guy went all out Method like he always does, speaking in Italian and staying in character always. But why? This is a decent movie, entertaining and all, but it's not as good as Chicago, which wasn't even that fuckin' great of a movie to begin with. It's like when my friend told me about seeing Christian Bale lose 60 pounds and get into Holocaust shape for a movie called The Machinist; he thought it was hard work for a bullshit movie. I wouldn't call Nine a bullshit movie, but its ambitions are far greater than the achievements.

Whatever, it's a fast breezy way to spend a matinee. And if you're like me, you'll dig the eye candy. Penelope Cruz's intro number should be called A Rush of Blood to the Head, and I'm not referring to the Coldplay album. That French chick from the Edith Piaf movie and Public Enemies looks very cute and fetching here as well. Then you got Nicole Kidman reminding a motherfucker how she used to be such a babe in the 90's before she got crazy with the plastics and the blades. I'd still hit it, though, do not be mistaken. I'm just saying she had better days, when she didn't look like a porcelain China doll, which I'd still fuck. Kate Hudson is in here too, and it wasn't until now that I realized that I can't stand her. I wondered why it took me so long to notice this, and I finally realized it during her insipid Cinema Italiano number -- every other movie she's been in, I stayed away from. This is a chick who made a career starring in movies only women go to see, and the only men who see her movies are the unfortunate husbands and boyfriends that were dragged in by said women. I'm sure not even gay men chick her shit out, only whipped straights.

Every other song in this movie appears to consist of the following lyrics: GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIDO GUIIIIIII-DOOOOOOOO!!!!! But half of them are pretty catchy and the rest are for you to go take a piss or get a refill on your Diet Coke. I loved the look of the movie, that shit was right-on Oscar-worthy. Give that motherfuckin' cinematographer and production designer some goddamn nods, that's for sure. But then again, this is Italy we're talking about here, you can fuckin' Tenebrae that shit and shoot everything in blinding white light and it's still gonna look awesome because it's fuckin' ITALY. You know what is curiously missing in Italy, though, at least in this movie? Italians. Yeah, man, it's like the director and producers were like "I want you to get me every well-regarded top notch Italian actor for these Italian roles -- and then I want you to lock 'em out of the fuckin' auditions". Whatever, man, it's not a complaint, just an observation.

And that's it. I have nothing else to say other than looking over what I've just written, and putting into consideration what I've been writing over the past 12 months, I'm reminded about something a fat ugly Iranian chick asked me at a Christmas party two weeks ago. She asked me if my brain ever registers what I'm about to say before it comes out of my mouth. My first reaction was to say "Of course it does, you fat fuckin' terrorist cunt", but my brain stopped that thought from becoming vocalized, so instead I told her No, no it never does. Anyway, 2010 is gonna fuck me in the ass just as hard as 2009 and 2008 did. I know this, and so does 2010. Tall, lanky 2010 will strut in, look at me with that pervy look in its eyes and yell to me, "You got a date Wednesday, baby!", which is true. At least this time, the least I can do for myself is have my cheeks spread and be totally lubed up for it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Now that's a knife

My fresh-out-of-prison friend invited me to his daughter's birthday on Sunday. Fuck, that means I have to buy a gift. I didn't ask to go to this fuckin' thing, and he has like six kids from three different mothers, so if I go, that will open up a whole new expensive can of worms I have no interest in purchasing. I think what I'm going to do is show up, which would make me look like a good guy, but not bring anything, which would make me look like a bad guy. Faced with this confusing duality, his wife -- and it WILL be his wife -- will then tell him afterwards never to invite me again because I didn't bring anything. Even if I could afford it, his kids are assholes and not in the way that all kids are assholes (i.e. aloof douches), I mean these children are fucking jerk-offs.

I'm basing this off my one visit to see them, where I was greeted with ugly strange dagger-shooting looks, like I'm Stanley Tucci from The Lovely Bones over here. The only one who was cool to me was his stepson, but the fact that he was wearing a shirt that had an outline of a farting dog with the words "Blame the Dog" under it and was going to wear that for his dinner at Hometown Buffet gives me pause in praising him. My neighbors have these two adorable kids, and I would love to get them something if I had the cash. They always say Hi, even if I don't see them. I see hope when I look at those kids. My friend's daughter, on the other hand, I don't see anything resembling hope. She will most likely grow up to become a drug addict like her aunt and grandmother or she will end up doing time in juvy, like her half-brother. Sometimes it's best not to buy Barbies for the doomed.

But I will buy two tickets to see the new flick from my boy James Cameron, the fuckin' crew-killer himself. I know he did like 2 or 3 IMAX movies about the deep blue sea, but who gives a fuck about that shit, he's back with a real movie called Avatar. Most of his downtime was spent creating the technology necessary to make the movie with. Whatever, I just want to see a new Cameron movie. I found out that he shot the movie in 3-D, and apparently he has a real hard-on for the format, calling it the future of cinema or something, and this is how all his movies from now on will be shot. But the dude also understands that not every theater around has 3D capability (and even if it did, not every moviegoer wants to pony up the extra 3.50 for it), so he also has a flat 2D version going around. What I found interesting is that the 3D version is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio while the 2D version is composed at 2.35:1. Cameron said that 3D is more pleasing when presented in a taller frame while a flat picture still looks best in a wider one. OK fine, but when it comes down to it, the movie should be awesome regardless of what format it's shot on.

I want to judge a James Cameron movie without a fuckin' asterisk next to it denoting that the shit has to be seen in 3D. When all is said and done, if I'm going to be re-watching this shit like I do with his other flicks, it's most likely going to be in the flat format. When all is said and done, this movie better be entertaining as fuck, that is more important than whether things are coming at you out of the frame. So for the opening midnight show, I went to see the 2D version. Besides, the 3D version was sold out.

So the movie takes place in the very distant future on a far off planet called Pandora, where a tribe of giant blue aliens called the Na'vi reside. Currently, the Na'vi are not happy with the visiting humans (working for a big corporation that might as well be Weyland-Yutani). The humans are interested in a very valuable substance within the planet that they refer to as Unobtainium. Holy shit, I thought that was lame shit Cameron made up, but it turns out it's a real word and I'm an idiot. The problem is that the most Unobtainium is directly located under the Na'vi's stomping grounds, and they're not looking to move. So now you've got Marines showing up a la Blackwater and trying to muscle the natives out of there with machine guns, bulldozers and some fuckin' Robotech shit. But the natives give as good as they get, fighting them off with poison-dipped arrows among other things, and now everything is at a standstill because of this standoff.

Some PhD was gonna join the scientists there to help smooth things out with the Na'vi, but he ended up catching a terminal case of lead poisoning (by way of mugger) so his twin Marine brother takes his place. He's played by the guy from Terminator Salvation who isn't Christian Bale and his character caught a bomb or something in combat because he's now in a wheelchair. They need him to control his brother's "avatar", a genetically-engineered creature that a motherfucker can control by entering one of those Michael Jackson pods and mind-melding with the motherfucker or something. Avatars are needed because Pandora is like some Battlefield Earth shit which means if you're a man-animal, you won't be able to breathe here, plus avatars look like Na'vi and I guess that helps when you're trying to do business with these savages.

I avoided watching any commercials or trailers for this one, just because, and all I ever saw about it was the Internet banners. So I had an idea what the Na'vi looked like and that was about it. For the first half-hour or so, I wasn't too impressed with them, and they didn't seem too "photo-realistic" to me. Maybe they made this movie in sequence and got better as they went along, because somewhere along the way it seemed like the Na'vi started looking better and better. It was real trip watching the expressions on their faces; I eventually forgot I was looking at CGI shit and thought I was looking at the real thing for the most part. What I'm wondering is if the alien faces had something to do with that, I mean, if they did the same shit in another movie and instead of aliens the CGI characters were human, would it have been as WOW-ish or would we get that dead-eyed Uncanny Valley shit we've seen before, aka The Zemeckis Special? I don't know, but it looked good here.

This is a pretty cool story, nothing incredibly original, but it does what it sets out to do. You cheer for the good guys and jeer the bad guys, but unfortunately because this has kind of a Love The Environment/Fuck The Evil Corporation thing going for it, I wouldn't be surprised if the Fox News types start calling for Commie Pinko Lefty Cameron's movie-making license to get pulled. They're gonna forget that they were busy creaming their slacks back in '94 when he was giving them 140 minutes of Arabs getting blown up, they're gonna look at him the same way those soldiers looked at Costner in Dances with Wolves when they had him in custody; "Turned Injun, didn't ya?"

When you think about it, all of Cameron's films (except maybe The Abyss, his best work IMHO) suffered from the same shit people complain about with Titanic and will complain about with Avatar. They go on about the horrible dialogue, and I'm like, really? Motherfucker, I was cringing as far back as "If you want to shine them on, it's 'Hasta la vista, baby'" and "Ditch the bitch!". It was never his strong suit, and while he was capable of writing some clever shit sometimes, well then yeah, what did I just say? Sometimes. I'll straight out say he's one of the best storytellers in the motherfuckin' business, but was always 50/50 when it came to character and dialogue. When he got it right, he got it so fucking right, and when he got it wrong, then most likely it was a bad guy he got it wrong with. The villains in his best films were single-minded killing machines and they never really got any better, so I wasn't bitching about how Mr. Slam Evil in Titanic wasn't a fully-fleshed out character, I was just enjoying what a piece-of-shit he was when he did things like snatch little girls to ensure himself a seat on a lifeboat. So even when Cameron never got into what makes the assholes tick, he still did a bang-up job making you hate the motherfuckers and in the end, that's all you need.

What I'm trying to say is to expect the same kind of shit here; the two villains in Avatar are played by Stephen Muthafuckin' Lang and Giovanni Ribisi. To me, Lang will be Awesome For Life because not only was he Stonewall Jackson in Gods and Generals, but because he was the fuckin' Party Crasher in The Hard Way. He got owned by Tom Noonan in Manhunter, but looking at him now with his two tickets to the gun show, I think in real life he would be the one doing the owning. His character here is such a fucking badass, it almost makes you sad that he turns out to be such an asshole. Ribisi, on the other hand, plays the role he's been working towards his entire career -- an annoying douchebag you want to throw out a window. I liked to think that his character was somehow related to Paul Reiser's character from Aliens.

They say that Cameron is a real asshole to people on his sets, and for a long while I always thought that maybe Sigourney Weaver felt that way about him. Don't ask me why, I just did. Well, either she never had a problem with the guy or they paid her a shitload of money to forgive and forget, because here she is playing a botanist who is an expert on Na'vi and Pandora. I don't know what else to write about her, except that I would still hit that. The main Na'vi chick is played by the new Uhura and her CGI Na'vi has the best facial expressions out of all of them, she's always scrunching up her face or hissing or doing that weird wrinkle thing chicks do before they cry. I guess guys make that face too, but I don't spend my time trying to make guys cry. But yeah, I'd say New Uhura and Stephen Muthafuckin' Lang give the best performances of the entire film. I'll give Michelle Rodriguez an honorable mention; it seems like people love to hate her, which I never understood. She's always been OK with me and her character was kinda cool too.

I didn't have to see James Horner's name on the credits to know he composed the music, I just had to listen for that fuckin' Wrath of Khan horn he loves using in every fucking movie he's ever worked on to know it. I guess it's appropriate that for such an environmentally-themed movie, Cameron would pick someone notorious for recycling.

For the midnight show, I watched the 2D version. After, I got home at about 3:30, went to bed until 7:00, cleaned up, got coffee at the 7-11, made it to the IMAX at 8:00, and waited in line (it got pretty packed for a morning show). They eventually let us in and the show started at 9:00 A.M. Fuckin' A, baby -- time to catch Avatar not only in the intended format, but blown up to IMAX proportions. And here is where I give what might be the minority opinion (given by a minority): I preferred the 2D version. I know Cameron shot the fuckin' thing in 3D and it's supposed to be watched in 3D and the 2D print is more of a compromise because while he might be King of the World, he isn't King of the fuckin' Movie Theaters. Yet, I enjoyed Avatar more when it was presented flat in 2.35 scope. See, I figured the first viewing was to get into the story and the second viewing would be just to kick back and enjoy the three-dimensional visuals, but I ended up being distracted by them. Maybe I was never the biggest 3D fan; I don't have anything against it, and Captain EO still remains one of my all-time favorite childhood memories, but I didn't feel like I had missed on much when comparing both versions. The flat version looked and felt more like a James Cameron movie, while the 3D version simply didn't. That's how I felt, anyway.

Also, I don't know if this happened at other IMAX joints (and I'm talking about the real IMAX joints), but the way they presented the 1.78 version was a little odd. Now when a movie isn't shot in IMAX but blown up for IMAX presentation, there are black bars on top and bottom of the screen. For Avatar, there were not only black bars on the top, but on the left and right sides of the screen as well, leaving the bottom of the frame filled with movie. Compared with the 2D version, we were definitely getting more image, and I have no problem with the bars on the side, but having the movie off-center took a bit to get used to. This is a case where watching it in fake IMAX might be the better way to go, since I suspect that while fake IMAX isn't as big, they probably don't have the black bar shit going on and it takes up the entire frame. Shit, you might as well just see it in the biggest Digital 3D screen you can find and save yourself the extra bucks.

It was interesting to note how the two different audiences reacted to things. Both the midnight and morning crowd applauded at the end, which I don't get. Who are you applauding, the projectionist? I understand if someone involved with the movie is in attendance, otherwise, I don't know. I'm just being a wet blanket. There is a little bit of prelude to Na'vi ugly-bumping, which brought quite a bit of titters and chatter in the midnight crowd, but not the morning bunch. There's a touching bit near the end where the size difference between Na'vi and humans is made noticeable and that had the 12 A.M.'ers busting up like they were at Def Comedy Jam, even though I don't think that was the emotion Cameron had in mind.

I wanted to see a cool, fun, kick-ass James Cameron movie, and I wasn't disappointed. There are some awesome visuals throughout, always something to grab your attention (my favorite would be the incandescent neon glow the entire jungle would have at night, like some underwater algae shit) and the action is top-notch Cameron. Visually, it's fascinating and story/character-wise it's a little derrrrr, but I don't care, I felt I got my money's worth both times. Honestly, I wouldn't feel bad about missing out on the 3D version, and unlike The Polar Express, if I watch it flat on DVD/Blu-ray I won't feel like I'm only seeing half the movie and getting only half the experience. But that's just me, I also prefer the mono versions of The Beatles box set.

As I left the IMAX showing, a guy who looked a little slow came up to me. He was wearing black socks with white sneakers and was wearing a bus pass around his neck. He took a sip from his large soda and asked me if I thought there would be a sequel. After I answered him, THEN he asked me if I liked it. I told him yes. He told me he was going to catch the next showing. Because I have the habit of telling people more than they care to know, I started telling him about the midnight showing I had gone to a few hours earlier, and how that one was in 2D. I then told him about the different aspect ratios. As I went on and on, I could see it in his face that not only was I boring him, but that a line had been crossed. The paradigm had shifted. Now I was the fuckin' retard. He began to shuffle uncomfortably and told me he had to go. Then he walked away in his black socks and white sneaker ensemble.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stop doing this. Nobody cares.

Indeed, there was a second visit to the house my buddy was housesitting for a buddy of his, and with it, more Oscar screeners to watch.

After a takeout meal of Peruvian food from a place called Mario's in L.A., we welcomed my pal's special lady friend and popped in Clint Muthafuckin' Eastwood's new film, Invictus, or as I like to call it, Box Office Poison. Why? Well, it doesn't matter if you have Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman in your flick, when the shit involves South Africa post-Apartheid bullshit and soccer, people will find themselves hard-pressed to buy a ticket to the motherfucker. Yeah, I know the sport in the film is actually rugby, but as far as the average American is concerned, that shit is soccer. Never mind that your average rugby player is a Super Chief Master Dick Swinger compared to the padded pussy that is your average football player, rugby might as well be soccer to Joe Sixpack and as far as Joe Sixpack is concerned, soccer might as well be Synchronized Cock-Chugging. Face it, unless there's some dude turning into an alien in this South African setting, it's gonna be an uphill battle for this one.

In this movie, Freeman plays a free man -- Nelson Mandela, to be exact. In the opening, we go through a whole visual Cliff Notes on the dude and when the events of the story begin, he's just started his new job as President. One day, during a rugby match, he gets this wild hair up his ass about the national rugby team somehow helping South Africa get over all the bullshit, put aside their differences and become one and share a Coke of something. What's so fucking boss about this plan is that Mandela never straight out says this, all this shit is implied. He meets up with the captain of the Springboks and never says "Hey bro, if you guys take it to the World Cup and win, it's no longer about black versus white, it's about South Africa as a whole kicking ass."

Freeman is good as always, bringing to Mandela the usual dignity and grace that he always brings, and then you got Matt Damon not embarrassing himself as the team captain. In fact, he goes further than not embarrassing himself, he does a pretty good fucking job at playing South African. If it wasn't for his great work co-writing and directing Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck would be looking goddamn useless by now, compared to Matty boy.

They did something pretty ballsy here, at least ballsy for me; the movie goes on about how the most important step in creating a new united South Africa is to move the fuck on from the past, but it doesn't make it a one-way street either. What I mean is that both black and white people are guilty of being assholes here, and they have their own personal reasons. There are scenes of black South Africans having trouble accepting the whites into their daily lives and routine (like the guys working security detail for Mandela) because all they see is the same color of asshole that used to come in to their homes, drag them out and beat the shit out of them. It's tough to get over some shit like that, but Mandela makes them try, makes them channel their inner Ganhdi and live-and-let-live that shit.

The rugby scenes are very well-done and they get you cheering for the Springbok team to triumph, and it was during one of these sequences that I realized this flick is neither a straight-up sports movie or an study on the rebuilding South Africa -- it's both and it's neither at the same time, if that makes sense and it probably doesn't so shut up. They also do a good job of avoiding cliches (most of them, anyway) that come with both sports movies and racial strife movies; the most predictable thing that feels like something you've seen before is the final game, and even that avoids a lot of cliches save the outcome. Besides, this shit is a true story, of course you know how it's going to end. I thought this was a solid flick, maybe not in the league of Million Dollar Baby or Changeling, but it's certainly not in the WTF? league of Gran Torino either. Invictus is just a solid fucking movie from a solid fucking director. Now that I think of it, "solid fucking" is faint praise for an awesome motherfucker like Clint, but, uh, yeah. I know I'm all up on his jock, I know. I'm sure if I met him in real life, I'd get all giddy schoolgirl and he'd shove his .44 Magnum into my chest and growl "Beat it, beaner!" That would be so fucking cool.

We followed that movie up with the new Peter Jackson joint, The Lovely Bones, which I guess you can call a sorta spiritual follow-up to Heavenly Creatures. Even though both flicks have nothing to do with each other, I just got the sense that thematically they park their cars in the same garage, to use the Tarantino parlance of the time. This is based on a best-selling book that I never read and I don't know why I thought Jackson would get all epic on us and 3-hour this motherfucker. But he didn't, and I thank him for that.

If you've seen Atonement, then you've probably wanted to see the little lying bitch from that movie get throttled. Well, I guess you're in luck because she really gets hers in this movie. Unfortunately, she's an innocent and likable girl this time and it's a scumbag creepo fuck who does her in. Don't you feel like an asshole for cheering. It's not a spoiler, because like William Holden in Sunset Boulevard or Kevin Spacey in I Wanna Fuck Teenage Girls and Smoke Pot, you find out pretty early that the lead character narrating the movie is as dead as the dreams of your average 28-year-old. This dead girl winds up in a kind of afterlife limbo which apparently is comprised of every allergy medication commercial you've seen along with the beach where Jodie Foster talked to her ghost dad in Contact. Meanwhile, Marky Mark and the hot wife of the director of The Wrestler are doing the whole grieving parent thing. Tim Robbins' mother, Susan Sarandon also shows up as the wacky lush grandma who brings comic relief to the proceedings by acting like someone who would bring pity and embarrassment to the family in real life.

Speaking of real life, I wish the movie spent more time in the real world rather than the afterlife. I mean, I'm sure in actuality the movie DOES spend more time with Marky Mark and company, it's just that after the first couple of scenes with Fibby McLie from Atonement wandering around cheesy CGI landscapes with her nail technician companion, you pretty much get the point. But I guess ol' Jackson fell in love with his computer generated oceans and gazebos and cheesy giant portraits of Indian teen dreams to trim down on that shit. Again -- very glad he kept this to just a tad over 2 hours rather than 3 or 4. Jackson gives himself a cameo, showing up at a camera store looking through a Super 8 camera. Get it? Because he's a filmmaker! That same shopping center has a bookstore as well, featuring a big ad in the window for a little trilogy of books called The Lord of the Rings. Get it? Because he directed the film adaptations! I don't care how good you are, that kinda thing annoys me for some reason, and it's even more annoying when you know Jackson figured he could get away with it by saying he was paying tribute to Tolkien and not himself.

Stanley Tucci was so awesome as Julia Child's husband in Julie & Julia, and it's a trip to see him look so different and act so fuckin' skeevy as the scumbag here. I hated this motherfucker and during the movie I wanted Horatio Caine to show up and take him down. YEEEEAAAHHH! Instead, we have Christopher from The Sopranos as a well-meaning detective trying to figure shit out, failing every step of the way and making me wish he would just call up Tony and a couple of the fellas to teach the child-killer a lesson. It seems like the movie has a message when it comes to home craft hobbies: regular guys like Marky Mark spend their time making ships in a bottle, while pervs like Tucci build dollhouses that are so detailed they come with basements which I assume are for little girl dolls to get trapped in and raped/killed. So if you're building dollhouses, you might as well get yourself a van, too.

I didn't read this book because reading is for queers, but my gay friend did and he told me that he was into it for the first half, and then something happened that made him hate the fucking thing. He told me that this flick is the rare exception though, a film that is better than the book it's based on (and he said it improved on what pissed him off in the book). Me, I thought it was OK and I wouldn't go out of my way to see it again. It was decent, but decent shouldn't be the outcome when it's fuckin' Peter Jackson in charge, it should be fucking great. Sorry Peter, but that's what you get for setting high standards. The biggest problem is that I got kinda tired of the afterlife shit, I was more into watching how the family was dealing with all this, and the stuff with Tucci was really creepy and suspenseful. But then here comes more hippy-dippy bullshit with Briony Tallis and icicles and giant beach balls or whatever that shit was. Maybe if I was tripping balls or if I was a member of the CGI department, I'd get more out of it.

Jason Reitman is a dude who had it made; he had this big-time director/producer for a father and he could've just fuckin' coasted off Daddy if he wanted to. Instead, he had to be a fuckin' douchebag about it and try to make movies on his own. To make things worse, he ended up making good movies like Thank You for Smoking and Juno. What a fuckin' asshole. Jason Reitman is such a fucking piece-of-shit, he's gone on to make ANOTHER good movie. This one is called Up in the Air, starring that good-looking smug bastard George Clooney.

These are trying times we're living in, the economy is shit and every person who needs their job the most is getting let go. So, of course let's make a movie about
a man whose job is to travel all over the country and fire people. And let's get a guy who is better-looking than you and makes tons more money than you to play him. That's what the filmmakers thought up, and crazily enough, it ended up becoming a pretty good movie. You actually end up kind of caring for the main character and you find yourself remotely giving a fuck about his situation.

His situation is that he loves his job, loves being up in the air and living the single-serving lifestyle. He's mentions that he spent a total of only 43 days at home last year, and those were miserable days for him. Well, he's about to get more miserable because thanks to some new young chick's idea of firing people over the Internet, it looks like his flying days are over. I guess Reitman couldn't get Ellen Page again, so he got a prettier chick from Twilight to play the new gal on the job, and Clooney is forced to take her on the road to show her the ropes and that's pretty much the movie, I guess. Vera Farmiga shows up as basically the female version of Clooney, and the interactions between them are pretty funny. The movie does a great job of balancing comedy and drama; in the end, this is all about people either losing their jobs or realizing that maybe their life isn't as awesome as they thought. This movie is downright hilarious at times and yet there's an undercurrent of sadness to the whole thing.

There's kind of a perverse move done by the filmmakers here in casting guys like Zach Galifianakis and Danny McBride in relatively serious roles. I wonder if their roles would come off as humorous as they did if non-comic actors were cast instead, because most of my laughter came from just seeing their faces in the movie. They don't really have anything that funny to say, but because it's them, you're laughing anyway. That must really suck for them whenever they want to be serious; I remember watching David Hyde Pierce doing an interview on some morning show, and he brought up something about a retarded woman and they guffawed, because it's fucking Niles from Frasier displaying those comedic chops in his response. He then had to tell them that he wasn't joking about this girl, she really was retarded. Beautiful awkwardness followed.

Like I said, I thought this was a pretty good flick and everyone involved does a fine job, but it just doesn't feel like something Oscar-worthy. Of the 3 movies that bastard Reitman has made, I'd put this between Smoking and Juno in terms of quality. Anyway, fuck you and your good movies, Jason Reitman -- you're the kind of motherfucker who would still work after winning the lottery. It's funny how I liked this way more than The Lovely Bones, yet I had less to write about. I guess I'm just starting to get a case of the half-assed lazies.

After that movie, my buddy's special lady friend took her leave and we went over to Jack in the Box. After that long break, my buddy went to bed and it was just me and An Education, starring Peter Sarsgaard and some Brit chick who kinda reminded me of Emily Mortimer a little bit. Also, Dr. Octopus plays her father.

So the Brit chick plays a 16-year-old swept off her feet by an high-living older dude, and we watch just how easy it is for this guy to go about getting some underage trim. I mean, we're introduced to her father being this hard-ass who doesn't suffer fools gladly and seems pretty quick himself, yet fuckin' Sarsgaard smooth talks both him and the wife. Next thing you know, he's taking her to operas and dances, traveling to other parts of the country, and eventually out of the fuckin' country. I think what was going on was that when it came down to it, Mum and Dad decided to act dumb and look the other way if it meant that their little girl was gonna end up living a great life. This could be the Celine Dion story, except Sarsgaard isn't THAT old.

Boy, does this girl think she's hot shit after hooking up with this guy! She starts talking back to her teachers, giving out Chanel No. 5 and wearing diamond rings. What's funny is that her situation isn't a secret to anyone, both her instructor and headmistress (Emma Thompson, how about that?) know about this shit. They get on her case about it, but homegirl has a pretty interesting philosophy on it, saying that before she "ends" her life by going the college route, she wants to live live live until she dies. I guess it's safe to say that the other shoe is inevitably going to drop, and when it does, it's pretty fuckin' funny what her man's really all about.

So fuck this guy, this asshole, but I still have to give it up to him for waiting so long to get with her in the biblical sense. Half the time, they end up sleeping in the bed together but he agrees not to do anything. Holy shit. I don't know about you, but I can't sleep with those kind of blue balls without taking an extra-long shower beforehand. Now you have THAT in your mental movie screen, sorry.

Yeah, this was a pretty tight flick too. It had a really fast pace compared to the other movies and the story is entertainingly fucked up. It ends a little too pat, but since this was based on some shit that happened for real, I guess you can't fault life. Everyone's good, but I think the best performances were from Alfred Molina (a motherfuckin' chameleon, this guy!) and Olivia Williams, playing the dowdier version of Miss Cross from Rushmore. There's a bit where Brit chick says something really fucked up without thinking about it, and you can see in dowdier Miss Cross' face the tiniest bit of heartbreak. If she had back-handed Brit chick, I wouldn't have complained. Speaking of Olivia Williams, you wanna see something kind of awesome? Check out this interview she did with former lov-uh Craig Ferguson for a little taste of awkwardness.

As much as this flick was involving and all that, I didn't sleep well the night before and it was catching up with me. The coffee from Jack in the Box might as well have been warm milk, and I started getting tired. The plan was to watch two more screeners, but I had to dump the last one if I wanted to drive home without waking up off the embankment. So the last movie of the night (early morning, actually) was called A Single Man, which is nice because what this world needs is a title damn near the same as a fuckin' Coen Brothers movie that came out two months earlier.

Turns out this movie has a touch of the Gay in it, so if that kind of thing bothers you, then take it over to something more manly like Deliverance or American Me. But yeah, this movie stars Colin Firth as a gay college professor (he's gay, not the college he teaches at) who wakes up to the terrible news that his lover of 16 years has gone to the big Kylie Minogue concert in the sky. The worst part of this is that he can't even go to the fuckin' funeral because it's for family only. See, the movie takes place in the 60's, when homosexuals didn't live so much in the closet as in a goddamn underground bunker. Now this guy's long-time love is fuckin' dead but because as far as everyone else is concerned they were just friends, he can't even say goodbye to the guy. Because we as a people have to get over this shit.

Sorry for getting all soapbox here, but really, man -- what the fuck. I'm talking about the whole gay marriage thing, which along with resulting in some goddamn human rights, would help them the fuck out when it comes to visiting rights and insurance issues. Yeah, well it doesn't matter because the Book says it's wrong and -- ARRRGH! Listen, I love Jim Caviezel too, but if it comes down to treating my fellow man with love and compassion or denying him or her basic human rights just because an old archaic book that could've been rewritten and revised by anyone tells me to, then I pick the former. Because, straight or gay, a human being is a human being. We have to get beyond all the hatred and name-calling if we ever want to evolve as a species.

Anyway, this pillow-biting fudgepacker is all emo about losing his butt-buddy and decides that now is as good a time as any to walk out of the movie that is his life. Yup, it's Budd Dwyer time, folks. He packs a revolver in his valise and heads off to complete one more day of life before doing his Richard Jeni routine.

Like Up in the Air, A Single Man was directed by a real jerk-off of a human being. Tom Ford's his name, and he's already super-famous and rich as a fashion designer, and I guess that wasn't good enough for him, because somewhere along the way he decided to become a filmmaker. So now he's got this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel and here we are. And just like that asshole Reitman, Ford ended up with an awesome flick. Fuck that, he's even worse than Reitman because this movie is even better. What a fuckin' asshole.

I didn't know a fucking thing about this movie except that Julianne Moore was in it, so I guess that's why so much of it felt like a surprise to me. I mean, nothing too crazy happens, it's not a plot-twist type of deal. This is more of a character study and I found it fascinating, but I think what makes this whole piece stronger is the style of it. There's a great dreamy look and feel to the whole thing, and the 60's setting combined with the Bernard Herrmann-esque music makes you feel like you're watching a super-pristine print of a European film of the times that was shot in Los Angeles. Fuck it, that statement makes sense to me, at least. The shots are artfully composed and the motherfuckers behind the camera know the best times to shoot something really fucking close or in slow-mo for full effect. There's this trick involving bringing color to a desaturated shot that's done every once in a while. I got a real kick out of that, because when it happens, you know why the fuck it happens. You're totally in the lead character's mindset. Either that, or that was the DVD copy-protection going wonky for no reason and I'm an idiot.

Colin Firth is fucking great at this, and he doesn't even have to go balls-out Pacino to do it. It's one of those understated deals where you know he just wants to let that shit out and go nuts, but nope, he keeps it together pretty much. He only lets a little steam out every once in a while, almost as a precaution to avoid completely losing his shit. But it's really something to see, watching this man decide to put on a brave face and just try to have a regular day, while periodically taking breaks to take get his affairs in order; buying bullets, leaving an envelope of money for his maid, checking his deed and insurance out of his safety deposit box.

I don't know what it is about Julianne Moore, but she's always more attractive when she's playing from a different time period. Boogie Nights, End of the Affair, this fuckin' movie. She plays Firth's close friend, and she's getting up there in age and she likes the booze -- so that means she likes to party. Fuckin' asshole Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias is in this too, playing the dead lover in flashbacks. I'm sorry Matthew Goode, I'm never gonna trust your ass, especially in that Amy Adams movie you're gonna be in next month.

Anyway, this was an awesome fucking example of Style Over Substance, and even the substance was pretty good. Sad as fuck, but good nonetheless. The ending was awesome in a really fucked-up way too. This would make a good double-bill with Apartment Zero, if for no other reason than Colin Firth is sorta gay in that one.

By now, it was morning and the sun was up. I was tired, so unfortunately, foxy-ass Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria was gonna have to go unwatched. It was time to go home. I'm gonna do what Cathie did in her BNAT blog and put the flicks I watched in order of preference:

1) A Single Man
2) Invictus
3) An Education
4) Up in the Air
5) The Lovely Bones

So yeah, I took off and headed home. I stopped and realized that Philippe's might be open, and since I've never been, why the hell not? So I went to try one of their sandwiches for the first time. There were three people in front of me, and it took 15 minutes to get to me. I'd hate hate hate to imagine the lines during lunch hour. I asked for a double-dipped beef sandwich. Then, in a last-second panic, I asked for blue cheese on it.

I fucked up.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Samantha Morton has big breasts and Viggo Mortensen has skinny legs

Now I want to be in the film business, and I don't care what it is, as long as I make the minimum requirements to get those awesome "for your consideration" screeners of shit I'd have to pay to see. Especially now, in my current situation, where I'd most likely have to wait until DVD to see half of these motherfuckers. This is what I was thinking to myself while watching said screeners this past Sunday night/Monday morning.

My buddy was housesitting for a friend, and it's a nice place, the kind of thing to give ambition to an unambitious motherfucker like myself. In addition to a bunch of DVD's and Blu-rays of old favorites, there were stacks of thin cardboard cases of these screeners. Fuckin' A. So we started watching them on the dude's sweet flat-screen, marathon-style.

The first movie was called The Messenger, starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. Now I know you know who the fuck Woody Harrelson is, and even though he's never been out of style as far as I'm concerned, it's safe to say that thanks to Zombieland he's got a little more heat on him currently, a high temperature not recorded since the days he's been doing buddy pics with IRS favorite Wesley Snipes. By the way, THAT motherfucker's resurgence is LOOONG overdue. Make all the tax jokes you want, homeboy can fuckin' bring it when he wants to, and I hope he gets to make that James Brown movie Spike Lee is always going on about (now that Lee's Jackie Robinson flick is probably never gonna happen). Always bet on black, is what I'm trying to say. But I digress.

So yeah, you know who Harrelson is, but maybe you don't know who or what a Ben Foster is. Foster is this kid who started off playing teeny dreamboy types in films like Liberty Heights (see that shit) and Get Over It (I don't wanna see that shit), but nowadays it's hard to even fathom that because the guy has been playing freaks and psychos for a while. Plus, he just has this crazy intensity to anything he does; if you watch him in Alpha Dog, you will see that Foster can't even take a shit without looking like he's gonna have himself a stroke -- or maybe it was just one of those really painful dumps, I don't know. But yeah, in this movie he plays a soldier who got wounded in Iraq and is now back in the States. Because he's being played by Ben Foster, you know this dude has issues, and it doesn't help that he's been given a new assignment: breaking the news to a family that their soldier son/daughter/husband/wife/etc has been killed in action.

Holy shit, are those scenes tough to watch -- which is the point, obviously. You feel like you're witnessing something way too personal to be witnessing. You don't want to be in this room and would love nothing more than to get the fuck outta there. There's a subplot involving Foster and Samantha Morton (as the wife of one of the fallen) that I was never fully into, and yet I wanted those scenes to go on as long as possible. Because each additional minute spent watching these two mumbling at each other meant one less minute watching mothers and fathers and wives crying/yelling/vomiting after finding out their loved one is fuckin' dead.

The off-duty scenes between Foster and Harrelson were far more interesting, reminiscent of some Hal Ashby kind of shit, which I guess means that I was getting a The Last Detail vibe from it. The performances are top-notch; Harrelson is good as always and this is easily Foster's best work yet and Jena Malone is cute too. But the movie was OK but nothing worth tossing your cookies in a corner store for; the "We regret to inform you..." scenes were powerful to the point of being unwatchable, and the stuff with Foster & Harrelson was cool, but the Samantha Morton stuff wasn't that interesting. If it's Ms. Morton that interests you, maybe you're better off watching a film she did with Jason Patric called Expired -- HOLY SHIT what a fuckin' movie THAT was.

The second movie was A Serious Man from the Brothers Coen. Real quick, can I bring up my little theory on the Coens? Ok, cool. You know that scene in The Big Lebowski when the Dude is at Maude's place and she's on the phone while some fuckin' bald prick is laughing his ass off while reading something? Then both Maude and Bald Prick get on separate phones to talk to someone (from Spain, right? I don't remember) and they share a joke ("Que ridiculo!") and laugh their asses off while Dude just stands there looking assed out? That's the Coens laughing at their secret joke and we're the Dude left standing there wondering what in the fuck. And I love the fuckin' Coens. You just have to admit their totally having their fun at what a bunch of dopes we are.

Anyway, I had read the script for this movie a few months before the film was released, and after the watching the finished product, I was surprised at how the movie damn near reflected the script exactly. I mean, even fuckin' Tarantino made some cuts and changes for Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. But it was weird to see that the movie I pictured in my head while reading the screenplay is pretty much the same movie I saw on my friend's buddy's plasma set. The only thing missing was the neighbor's kid constantly saying "Ow" each time he caught his old man's fastball.

It takes place in 1960's Minnesota and some actor I never heard of plays this professor whose life begins to take a turn for the shitty. His wife wants to leave him for some asshole, the kind of asshole who never raises his voice and plays at being super-nice to you in a way that makes you wish he'd fuckin' scream profanities at you so you can deck the motherfucker. He has this deadbeat brother who lives with them, never looking for a place of his own, or a job for that matter. Then there's this kid who doesn't want to fail the prof's class and maybe he did/maybe he didn't try to bribe the dude. All this has our guy looking for answers, so he tries getting advice from some rabbis, and if the movie is saying what I think it's saying based on the outcome of what the rabbis say, it's got a pretty fuckin' right on point about this kinda shit.

I thought the script was an amusing read, with only one real laugh-out-loud moment -- and that's exactly how I felt about the movie. I know this shit has been getting praised all over, but unfortunately I can't say the same. I understand this is probably the Coen Bros. most personal work, but to me, the whole piece felt like minor Coens. Keep in mind that minor Coens is still Pretty Fuckin' Good, I'm not slamming this one, I just don't see coming back to it like I do their other flicks. Watching all the fucked up things our main dude goes through, I kept flashing back to the Coens' other films, and how they seem to take pleasure in torturing their leading characters. It makes perfect sense that they're very good friends with Sam Raimi.

3rd flick of the night was Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, directed by Michael Shannon's former manager, Lee Daniels. Daniels produced Monster's Ball and The Woodsman, then went on to make his directorial debut with a real piece of work called Shadowboxer. Now when someone's first movie is incredibly well-received and watched, their second movie is eagerly awaited with bated breath. But since Shadowboxer was neither of those, I guess it's safe to say there wasn't much buzz going on with Precious, a buzz that soon came around after it won over the Sundance crowd and left with a couple of awards. They say the air is thin up in Park City, and perhaps that's why motherfuckers were swooning over this one, because as far as I'm concerned, Precious is most definitely a film made by the same guy who made Shadowboxer.

Which is not to say that either film is garbage, because I might be one of two people who enjoyed the hell out of Shadowboxer (me and whoever decided to play it at the Silent Movie Theatre a few months ago) and I enjoyed the hell out of Precious. But the critics and audiences who are Slumdog Millionairing this motion picture are confusing me because they're telling me this is not only Powerful and a Great Movie but downright Respectable. Me, I'm like Whaaa? Shadowboxer was a awesomely weird trip of a movie, and so is Precious. I'm just confused that something as oddball as Precious is getting a free pass by the general public.

Storywise, it actually sounds like something created for the Oscars; a fat, illiterate black chick tries to get by while getting the shit beat out of her physically and emotionally by her monster of a mother (played by monster of a comedian, Mo'Nique). But then I watched the fuckin' thing; it's a goddamn phantasmagorical freak show of garish colors and harsh camera filters and sweaty, pockmarked skin and extreme close-ups of a rapist's face intercut with super gross shots of boiling cauldrons of pig's feet. Ugliness seems to be Lee Daniels' forte, in some cases repeated and familiar; the apartment Precious lives in is shot and designed much like the apartment Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character lived in as a boy in Shadowboxer. Mariah Carey is here and made to look very dowdy and every ounce of Crazy Ho is drained out of her; the only pretty thing to look at in the entire movie is Paula Patton as the black version of Nice White Lady.

This flick features some great performances, and any awards Gabourney Sibide or Mo'Nique get will be richly deserved. The final scene between them is as intense and awesome a climax this year as watching Shoshanna Dreyfus & Aldo Raine try to do their thing at the end of Inglourious Basterds. If I wasn't so overtaken by the nutty strange tone of it all, it might have affected me emotionally in a tear-jerker way. Instead, it only affected my head as I was left scratching it. The stuff Mo'Nique says to this poor girl, for example, left me at a weird crossroads, stuck between Cry Your Eyes Out Blvd. and Laugh Your Ass Off Lane.

At this point, we took a break from the screeners and watched Big Trouble in Little China because my friend had never seen it before and that, my friends, is a goddamn Crime Against Humanity, if you ask me. I think he liked it, I don't know, I didn't ask him; I fear the truth sometimes and would rather live in the Matrix when it comes to friends/families opinions on stuff I dig.

Fifth screener on the menu was The Road, the Weinstein Brothers' attempt at having their own Oscar-winning film adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. I'm sure you know the deal; post-apocalyptic world, man and his son walking the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu, getting into adventures, trying not to lose hope and humanity, shit like that. The guy who made The Proposition made this flick and I wish I dug The Road as much as I dug that flick, but alas, that was not the case.

It was an OK movie, but I just wasn't able to get into it. I wish I could get into it more, but this a lot like The Messenger in that I liked it in stops and starts, but never as a whole. Plus, it's one of those movies that feels a lot longer than it really is. Mortensen is good, but nothing special, the kid is really good and he didn't annoy me the way most kid actors do. You totally get the sense that this is a kid who only knows this world (he was born after the Apocalypsation) and it's pretty goddamn heartbreaking to see him enjoy what is quite possibly The Last Can of Coke In Existence -- that shit would probably go well with the last fresh Twinkie in existence from Zombieland.

I didn't know Charlize Theron was in the movie. The Road remains the only Cormac McCarthy I've yet to read, but I understand that Theron's character is less a presence in the book than she is in the movie. Surely, the book is better, and I might even revisit the movie after I read it. But for now, this one was kind of a sad disappointment.

Last movie after sunrise was Brothers, starring Spider-Man, the guy who almost replaced Spider-Man, and Queen Amidala. Jim Sheridan directed it, and I guess he's still recovering from that 50 Cent movie. Perhaps after one more movie he'll get it out of his system, but this was still pretty good. Maguire's the good brother, a Marine on his way out to Afghanistan and Gyllenhaal is the bad brother, and we know this because he's introduced getting out of the joint and because he's got the perpetual five o'clock shadow going on. That means you're either a badass or bad. Or just lazy.

After Tobey goes out to fight the questionable fight, he gets into a chopper crash and it looks like he's a goner. The family is devastated (the kids seem to take it pretty well, though) and poor Natalie Portman is left looking as alone as Mathilda after Leon went jihad on Stansfield. Bad bro Gyllenhaal slowly becomes the new daddy to the family, and we are treated to a few montages of the warmth entering all their hearts, etc. If you've seen the trailer, then you've seen the entire movie, and you probably already know the little twist that follows. Shit, you don't even have to see the movie to know where this shit is going, but I'll hold off anyway.

Like I said, it was a good flick; Gyllenhaal is decent, Portman is good and looking older for a change (is it her hair?), but fuckin' Maguire is pretty fucking top notch. I guess when you make Spider-Man money, you can take it easy on the acting jobs, but it's work like this that makes me wish he worked a lot more. You know who doesn't make Spider-Man money but is certainly working his ass off? Muthafuckin' Clifton Collins Jr., baby. Yup, he's in this motherfucker, as Maguire's superior. Good for him, and good for Jenny Wade showing up in one scene as Gyllenhaal's date. When I did the MySpace thing, I had her -- and half the cast of Feast -- as a friend, and she was capable of some very entertaining blogs when she felt like it.

My main complaint would have to do with something that happens to Maguire, and what results from it. I just never bought it. I don't know if they had to trim that shit out or it was never in the script to begin with, but it felt like there were some scenes missing from this movie about Maguire, and I think they were sorely needed. His character pretty much changes in a snap of the finger, and this was the kind of shit I think you needed to see happen in slow-motion, so to speak. Ugh, I'm not making any sense. Shit, I never was.

So that was it for the first night of screeners; we then chowed down on breakfast burritos after. I could end it here, but let me just mention something about these screeners. Some of them actually give you a choice to either accept or not accept the rules; shit about not pirating copies and not letting your friends borrowing them, etc. And then ACCEPT and DECLINE would pop up on the screen. Clicking on ACCEPT gets you to the main movie menu, but I was tempted with clicking DECLINE to see what would happen. I just didn't want to find out that the DVD would get all Mission Impossible and self-destruct or something, so I never did. Also, they all have periodic disclaimers during the movie, reminding the viewer that this isn't something to be pirated or sold.

About those disclaimers; it was interesting to see how they differed in timing, depending on the studio. Lionsgate (Brothers, Precious) was the most frequent, their shit popped up every fuckin' five minutes. Dimension Films (The Road) was every ten minutes, and so was Oscilloscope with The Messenger. Focus Features (A Serious Man) wins the prize with a disclaimer popping up only every 30 minutes. Nice work, Focus. Regardless of frequency, the disclaimers weren't distracting -- with the exception of The Messenger. While all the other disclaimers would fade in and out at the bottom of the screen, fuckin' Messenger would scroll in from the top of the screen from left to right -- twice. What the fuck, man. That shit just cost you a nomination, if I was a member of the Academy. But I'm not, so consider yourself blessed.

There might be another screener marathon tonight. If so, consider this shit Part 1. If not, consider this shit Buckaroo Banzai and I just promised you ...Against The World Crime League next.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This asshole thinks he's writing for Yelp or something

The pictures are terrible, I know. I wanted to go the extra mile (mostly because my written descriptions are shit) so I borrowed a friend's camera which I was as familiar with as I am with the Balkan highlands, which is to say, no familiarity whatsoever. Besides, I never said I was fuckin' Robert Capa, motherfucker. I never said I took pictures like him, either. *rimshot*

So an old friend of mine got out of prison last Tuesday, and even though I hadn't spoken to him in years, he hit me up and we've been hanging out for a while. This, in addition to being lazy, has kept me from writing about a couple things I intended to write about. But before I continue, I just have to say that ever since my friend called me a few months back (via smuggled Boost Mobile cell phone), I was afraid that hanging out with him would result in my violent death from one of many rival gang members/drug dealers/general scumbags we'd run into. Turns out (for the time being, at least) that I'm most likely going to die of boredom -- and that's a good thing when you think about it.

Anyway, here are my long-delayed, never-awaited ramblings about my two visits to the new Gold Class Cinemas, located in beautiful, increasingly homeless populated Old Town Pasadena. The deal about this place is that they charge you between $22-27 for a ticket to enjoy a movie in a luxury environment (it's $32-35 everywhere else). There's 3 other GC's in the United States, but there's a lot more Down Under (where GC was established). I guess they figured if we welcomed fuckin' Crocodile Dundee with open arms, then we'll welcome an even more expensive night at the movies than usual.

I buy tickets at the Child's price whenever I can get away with it, and in my current financial state, I shouldn't be going out to see ANY movie (and yet I do), so visiting the Gold Class was something I would have to hold off on until the hopefully-near-future to accomplish. I'm also waiting for the day I can fill up my gas tank completely full instead of to the halfway point, like I've been doing for about a year now. But thanks to a friend with friends, we got wind of a pre-opening "Mock Service" thingy the GC people were doing. See, the week before they were scheduled to open on Dec. 2nd, the GC wanted to straighten everything out, work out all the kinks, oil up the squeaky wheels and gears and blah blah. They would do this by screening movies for volunteers and giving said volunteers the full GC experience gratis. Tickets, food, drinks -- all on the house.

The only downside to this was 1) the movies would be second-run choices and 2) there was plenty of room gleefully given for error, hence the idea for a Mock Service. Fine by me, since I wasn't paying for shit and who knows when I'll be able to afford to go to this joint, if ever. My buddy reserved two seats for The Invention of Lying on the first day, and I reserved two seats for Zombieland on the last day. You can get seats online, but for the Mock Service you had to call it in. I was asked where I preferred to sit; front, middle, back & center or aisle. My friend told me they never asked him that, so that may have been a fresh mistake right there. They tell you to show up about 30 minutes before showtime, and I'll get to that in a bit.


We arrived at what used to be the Laemmle One Colorado Plaza, inside Miller Alley. The old joint was turned into a new one, with the Gold Class marquee up, but even then, it's still very easy to miss it outside the block.

Inside, we went to the counter and my friend gave his name and reservation number. The lady printed out our tickets and put them inside a little foldout card, then she told us to go down the two flights of escalators (literally underground cinema) where a host would greet us. A lady in a black dress met us and took our ticket card, then walked us over to the lounge area. It has the look of a trendy hotel bar/lounge, with nondescript "hip" music playing at a low-enough volume as to not disturb whatever conversation you're having. Another lady, dressed in an all-black Asian-style jumpsuit thingy brought us our menus and took our orders. This is the reason why they suggest you come in 30 minutes early; it gives both customer and staff enough time to do everything comfortably. Our server asked us if we wanted to eat our meal here in the lounge or inside, where it would be brought in during the film; we went with the latter.

About 5 minutes before showtime, the lady took our drinks and walked us to our seats inside the auditorium. There are about 4 rows of seats in the entire room, each row containing about 4 groups of 2. So I guess that makes it 32 seats, maybe even less if I remember it wrong. Either way, it's very small and intimate, making the medium sized screen look gigantic because of it. It's raised stadium-style seating with plenty of leg room, there is no chance whatsoever of somebody's head getting in the way or of you accidentally kicking someone. The seats are large, plush and recline as far back as to make it a bed -- it's even more like a bed if you request a pillow and/or blanket, which the GC peeps happily offer. One side of each seat contains a large compartment under the armrest, where you can put your jacket/purse/shopping bag/whatever inside. The lady also mentioned "man bags", which was funny, mainly because she was cute. There's a small table attached to the center where the food is would be served. At the seat end of the table is a green-glowing button; this is the call button that you use if you need anything from your server, or if you just want to be an asshole like Ricky from Made and calling them over.

The servers all wear the black ninja outfit thingies; this helps make them less likely to stand out as they walk back and forth, in and out of the room. They never get in front; they always do their thing in the aisles, crouched down to your level and never speaking about a whisper. When the lights went down, the movie immediately started, there were no trailers even though we were told there would be. Our food arrived about ten minutes into the Ricky Gervais flick, and our server slowly reached over to the table from the aisle. She was on my side, so I felt antsy about it, wanting to take over as my plate of Wagyu Beef Burger hovered over my fat stomach as the poor server's wrists showed signs of weakening.

The meals are prepared in a manner that makes it easy to eat in the dark, and with minimal chance of making noise or a mess. My burger, for example, was given to me as two White Castle-sized sliders, albeit a very thick and tall sliders. The sides on my plate consisted of a handful of their potato chips (slightly thicker and softer than regular chips) which were okay, and onion rings, which were insanely tasty and it's a damn shame they only give you two. My buddy got the Cuban Sandwich, which he said was pretty good for its type. Oh, and I really liked the burger too. If I had to pay for it, I might have felt a little gypped considering how compact they were, but for free food, they were goddamn scrumdiddlyumptious.

During the movie, we took advantage of the call buttons and asked for refills. Just for S&G's, I asked our server if they happened to have popcorn up in this bitch; turns out they did, and my friend and I each got a regular-sized bag. It was rather sub-par and I'm guessing they just bought the kind that comes already popped inside a big bag from the local grocery store. Twice we had another server come up to us with food we didn't ask for ("rice pillows" with dipping sauce and a creme brulee dessert), and like a couple of dumb assholes we asked if these were complementary. They weren't, these dudes just fucked up and were about to give it to the wrong people before we brought that shit up like Good Samaritans/Stupid Douchebags. How could we be so fucking dumb? We should've accepted that shit and scarfed it down -- after all, this is Mock Service week and that was THEIR mistake to make. My buddy and I pledged we would do take advantage next visit.

The print for The Invention of Lying had seen better days; there were scratches and splices every once in a while, and I guess that goes with the whole free thing -- you're not going to get Arclight quality audio-visuals. I'm assuming this all got better after the GC opened proper. For the record, I thought the movie was good but uneven. It's like Gervais and company didn't know how to segue between hilarity and pathos, so instead they bumper-car that shit together. By now, I'm sure it's only a few weeks away from a DVD release, which sounds about right for this kind of flick. I don't subscribe to the "If a movie isn't considered good enough to see in a theater, then it isn't worth seeing" theory, some flicks are better off waiting a few months to see. I mean, this Gervais flick isn't some kind of grand spectacle that demands to be seen in the largest moviehouse you can find. Some movies feel more at home being watched a few feet away from your couch, you know what I mean?

We were supposed to get a mock bill and a survey to fill out after the flick, but we never did. Most of us in the audience even stayed behind a few minutes after the credits just in case, but nope, nobody came. So we left. Of course, I had to check out the restrooms, and I would've taken pics of the crappers and pissers except there were other guys in there and that would've been really weird for them to see some fat asshole of Mexican descent snapping shots of them with a Sony Cybershot as they excreted recently imbibed Diet Coke. It would feel odd. So here's the sink:

Instead of soap dispensers, they had bottles of Aesop "Resurrection Aromatique" Hand Wash and Hand Balm. Whatever, right? But I looked it up, and the same size costs $37 for the wash and $100 for the balm. This is why I love the 99-Cent Store, by the way. Clean hands are clean hands, regardless of whether you spent a buck or $100 on them. But if you need to satisfy your inner Patrick Bateman, then by all means, hit this shit.


This one shouldn't be as long. But the following Monday, we returned for Zombieland, or to be more precise, I returned and waited for my friend who was being held up by a baby. I could explain, but that statement reads pretty funny, so no. As I stood outside the building, anxiously awaiting my buddy to get the fuck over here, a lady of the darker echelon came from behind, deep into a cell phone call:

"She said 'I bet you like bumble bees'. I was like 'Bitch, what the fuck kind of question is that?'"

The lady had a point, though -- what the fuck kind of question IS that? If "bumble bee" is code for something, let me just say right now that my bumble bees are Exit Only, bro. So back off.

By the time my friend arrived, we had less than 10 minutes before showtime. But by now, the GC peeps had their shit together because they were able to take our orders, lead us to our seats and all that jazz within that brief amount of time. In as nice a possible manner, they pretty much told us to fuck having our drinks in the lounge, we better take that shit inside right now. Unlike the first day, they had trailers and a Gold Class Feature Presentation thingamabob before the movie. Unlike Invention, the Z-Land print looked great and based on that it's safe to say that the GC peeps will be downright Arclight about sound/picture presentation. If not, then that's another reason to use the green button. Yup, they got their shit together by now -- which is unfortunate because we never got to take advantage of wayward meals being sent to us. We also found out too late that they finally got their liquor license (which they hadn't finalized at the beginning of the Mock Service week), otherwise we'd have definitely picked something stronger than the usual caffeinated sugar water.

After both screenings, I'd move around and sit in various seats to see which ones were better or worse. Turns out, they're all good EXCEPT the left and right side of the front row -- only the middle seats are good there, and even then, you're gonna want to recline it back a bit to get a good view. The side seats in the front row are bullshit, they're just as bad as if you sat in a similar seat at a multiplex, you're gonna have to tilt your head way up AND turn it at an angle. If I had paid $22-27 and ended up sitting there, I'd be pissed. Yeah, well what do you expect if you choose to sit front row to the side? I certainly wouldn't expect fuckin' Bowfinger seats, that's for sure.

I've seen Zombieland before and liked it, so I didn't mind my buddy asking to check it out. I was very disappointed to find out that he already knew about a particular cameo ahead of time, even though he's hardcore about avoiding spoilers. Me, I spoil everything and even I wouldn't spoil this one. After the movie, the servers gave us the mock check and a survey. This time we ordered Fish & Chips and a Chicken Piccata Sandwich; including two drinks each, it came out to about $37.

As we left the theater, I told my friend that I thought it was a nice experience. But even if I was back living the salad days and dropping green like DeNiro in Goodfellas, I don't think I'd frequent this establishment often. It's more like a once-in-a-while type of venture. Part of the fun of watching certain movies in a theater is watching them with an audience; like when Avatar comes out, I want to see that shit with a packed opening night crowd, not in what amounts to an intimate screening room. But then there are some movies that I don't want to take a chance with and end up watching with a bunch of noisy jackasses; I still remember going to see Far from Heaven at my local AMC and having to deal with a couple of cunty yentas who not only refused to shut the fuck up, they then had the nerve to declare out loud "THIS MOVIE WAS TERRIBLE" as the end credits barely came up. Something like that or There Will Be Blood I'd see at a joint like this.

And even if I did go again, I'm not sure I'd order food. Tasty as it might be, the portions are too small for the price they're charging, plus, it can be a little distracting trying to work with food more, uh, substantial than a hot dog or nachos or something. A visit to Gold Class would make a nice gift, though; treat your sweetheart or your mom to something like this and not only will it make them feel good, it'll also work toward justifying your assholishness towards them the other 364 days of the year.

I told my friend all of this, and he responded by telling me that the Alamo Drafthouse was better and cheaper. The End.