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.