Sunday, March 28, 2010


I had finished dining alone and directly across the street was a cool-looking bowling alley, as most bowling alleys are, and I figured I should go. Into the street I went, and into the left turn lane I merged. I made my turn and it was at that moment, as I was inches away from making my way into the entrance, that I misjudged the distance and location; the entrance was another ten feet to the right and I was headed for hard curbed concrete. Perhaps it was the two glasses of stronger-than-usual wine that I had with my meal, perhaps it was my already nervous state-of-being (whenever I'm behind the wheel), or perhaps it was me making an inexplicably stupid move caused by some odd synapse going wrong or maybe I'm just a Dumb Fuck, but rather than make a three point turn, I instead decided to drive the ten feet for the entrance -- in the wrong direction.

This incredibly dumb decision was made slightly smarter by the illusion that there was no oncoming traffic. I swear this to be true, there were no cars in sight. Yet as I made my move, sure enough, a goddamn speeding exodus approached my way, horns honking & lights flashing at me in a sort of morse code that translated as WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY YOU'RE GOING TO KILL SOMEONE GET THE FUCK OFF THE ROAD. I quickly hugged the curb, trying to make as much room as possible for the rightful drivers, and finally making it into the bowling alley and screeching to a halt at the first available parking spot. For some crazy reason, I thought it was best to immediately stumble out the door and make like I was having some sort of attack. I coughed and wheezed and spasmed because in some retarded way this made sense to do. Maybe if one of the drivers I nearly Death Proof'd on the highway decided to come over and Zoe Bell my ass, seeing me suffer from some kind of hitherto unknown medical affliction would overcome him or her with some kind of sympathy.

After about two minutes of this, I calmly walked to my car, got in, and drove away just as calm. After passing down two blocks, a fleet of cop cars drove past me in the opposite lane -- flashing red/blues, sirens wailing -- and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, someone had made a frantic call to 5-0 about some possibly drunk piece-of-shit of Latin descent driving the wrong way toward oncoming traffic. This wonder was made even wonder-er when 3 out of the 6 cruisers entered the bowling alley parking lot. I eventually made it back on the road, heading home, radio turned off for some odd made-up-at-the-moment superstition that convinced me my goose would be cooked if I kicked up the tunes. Halfway home I was tempted to get all Woo! and celebrate like I got away with it, but I knew I shouldn't do that. Because it would be like that asshole from Creepshow 2 declaring his win over that man-eating oil slick, and we all know what happened then, don't we? Nom nom nom. Except for me, the man-eating oil slick would be the cops and a different kind of Nom nom nom-ing would be happening to me in jail. I made it home, sighed in relief, and took a 30-minute disco nap because I decided that perhaps the best course of action would be to go to the New Beverly Cinema and catch this Rockula movie all the cool kids were talking about. 

While waiting in line, the movie's composer stood behind me and was telling whoever he was with stories about somebody fucking over somebody money-wise, the kind of stuff that I suppose is unfortunately normal business in Hollywood. Inside, Cathie was up front handing out tasty treats -- it was her birthday, and this was her b-day movie. Clu Gulager was in the front row being his usual cool self. He was in a lot of cool joints, one of them involving him and fuckin' Lee Marvin owning motherfuckers. I found out that this guy was there as well, and later that night he tweeted that we shoulda said hi. Alas, Mike, I was unfortunately born with swollen testicles and that makes it impossible for me to go up and say hi to people. I'm also a master of the awkward situation and I think it is only responsible of me to spare people of said awkwardness by leaving them alone.

The star of Rockula, Dean Cameron, was there for a Q&A before the flick. If you don't know him by name, you'll know him by face. One of his best known roles was as Chainsaw in Summer School, and I think he's the same Dean Cameron who also created a small metal pocket-sized Bill of Rights shortly after 9/11 for use in fucking with airport security. Mr. Cameron does not look the same as he did in the Summer School days, which of course is something that happens to most of us when 20 years go by. This is not an insult; he actually looks more distinguished, carrying a more serious look about him rather than the young goofball type he used to resemble. I have no fucking idea why this matters to me, but allow me this; looking exactly the same most of your life isn't what it's cracked up to be, and if you don't agree, just ask Dick Clark and he'll be glad to slur his thoughts to you on this issue. That motherfucker was blessed to always look 30, then one day God had it with that bullshit and punished Dickie Boy with the goddamn stroke-to-end-all-strokes, putting Billy Squier to fuckin' shame.

The Q&A was moderated by some dude who runs the midnight shows at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco (and sounded every bit of it). I love this motherfucker because he used a term that I'm gonna run with in these here ramblings: "Neo-Sincerity" (or "Post-Irony", I can't remember but I prefer the former), something about how we've been living in the age of Irony for quite some time and now it's time for Neo-Sincerity, when you can like some shit because you actually liked it, not because it's incredibly bad and you laugh at and feel all superior and shit over it. He talked about how he didn't love a flick like Rockula in an ironic sort-of-way, he genuinely loved it from the heart, and these days I think most people are kinda self-conscious about admitting to digging something everyone else might find lame. I understand that we as a people will be submerged for eons in Irony, I understand. But we need to lay off of that shit for a bit. Listen, I love a good bad movie just as much as the next asshole -- I inflict them on a regular basis to my friends (which is probably why I've precious few nowadays). But not every single goddamn movie has to be The Room and maybe, just maybe, you like Roadhouse because goddamn it, Patrick Swayze is a fuckin' badass in that film. I'm speaking for others, of course -- I'm too busy laughing at that shit. Ahem.

I could sense a lot of that when I went to see Hausu a couple of weeks ago or maybe I was just being a sensitive douche or both. But it seemed like some people around me thought they were watching the reincarnation of Edward D. Wood Jr., and I sure as shit didn't feel that way. I fuckin' loved it, and you can call it weird, you can call it insane and you can call it 90 minutes of sheer WTF -- but you couldn't call Hausu a bad movie. The Japanese motherfucker behind that shit KNEW what the fuck he was doing, he fuckin' KNEW. But as far as the dudes behind me were concerned, that movie might as well have been directed by Mickey Rooney's character in Breakfast at Tiffany's. If you're going to make comments and can't keep it down to a whisper to the guy next to you, here's a handy way to determine if you should in the first place: Unless the movie you're watching features a muscular long-haired actor of indeterminate origin or age getting cheated on by his blonde-hair/black eyebrow'd wife and his possibly gay best friend, unless it involves Tim Curry in drag, or unless you once worked on the writing staff for MST3k and/or are currently under the employ of either Rifftrax or Cinematic Titanic, you should probably just keep your goddamn mouth shut and save that shit for when you bro out with your bros over chili dogs at Pink's.

But yeah, back to Cameron. He was cool and very funny. Sometimes he got a little too self-deprecating on his past work and I think this unfortunately resulted in Castro dude taking that shit a little personal sometimes. It was interesting to observe because I think Cameron sensed that his words may have been misconstrued, and if he didn't at first, he certainly did by the time a guy a couple rows ahead of me who looked like Buzz from the Home Alone movies started yelling out his disapproval on Cameron's disapproval on stuff like Miracle Beach. Cameron then clarified what he meant, saying that he had nothing against those movies and was very happy that people were fans. He just didn't think he was as good as he could've been and can only see the flaws in his performances. In the case of something like Miracle Beach, he felt his career was pretty much in the tanking stage and a flick like that wasn't helping him mood-wise, either. This guy is also an excellent shit-talker. Best part was when he talked about Charlie Sheen accidentally shooting Kelly Preston, ending with something to the effect of "if you knew Kelly, you'd want to shoot her too". Dean Cameron is fucking awesome. At the end of the Q&A, some guy in the back said that it was also his birthday (that makes 4 -- Cathie, Mike, Quentin Tarantino who is always there in spirit, and this guy) and asked Dean to do his tension breaker scream from Summer School. Rather than politely tell this man "I understand and respect that it's your birthday, but it's 12:45 in the morning and I'm not a trained seal", he went through with it. And you know what, he's still got it, that one.

They showed trailers of some of Cameron's work, like Men at Work (for which he got paid a shitload of money for minimum work by holding out) and Ski School. Of the flicks shown, I'd really want to see Bad Dreams, that looks like an awesome flick. Plus, it's directed by the guy who did The Craft, Dick, and Hamlet 2, so it's got that going for it, which is nice. Then the movie started. Rockula was co-written and directed by a guy named Luca Bercovici. He also directed some other joints like Ghoulies and acted in quite a few more, but I mostly know him as the jerk who learned the hard way in Drop Zone that it's best not to go skydiving near power lines, especially if Gary Busey's your wingman. But I guess Luca didn't learn his lesson, because a couple years later he directed that crazy fuck in a movie. Real quick, did you know one of Kathryn Bigelow's first short films starred Busey, who later went on to ask Utah to get him two in Point Break? Fuckin' A.

So, yeah, Cameron plays this vampire named Ralph who's been around for centuries, living with his mom, played by Toni Basil. I never cared for her song Mickey, but I was definitely a fan of her performance here, particularly when she hissed and showed her fangs. That always made me laugh for some reason. Anyway, this dude, he's under some kind of curse where he falls in love with the same chick every 22 years but on Halloween she ends up getting killed by some hambone-wielding pirate. Yeah, man. And I guess this curse involves having your reflection in the mirror talk to you and give you shit, because that's what Ralph's got going on here. Anyway, Ralph's tired of going through this all the time, so this October he decides to stay and do nothing about it. He's just going to chill out at his favorite watering hole with Susan Tyrell, Bo Diddley, and some other fuckin' dude I guess I should know but don't. Also, I don't know if they know that he's a vampire. I mean, they know his story about the curse, so either they don't believe him and they're humoring him, or they do and they're cool, or maybe they're vampires too. I mean, it IS Susan Tyrell, after all. The set-up of this movie made me feel like I came in 20 minutes late, kinda like what that John Landis-looking motherfucker Leonard Maltin said about the awesome Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai; it's like watching a serial, except it's missing the first few chapters, so you're on your own as to what the fuck is going on.

Oh, by the way, Ralph can't stand the sight of blood and it appears he and moms get by with donations from the local blood bank, brought to them every morning like dairy from the milkman. So he's not your average asshole vampire, attacking people for their blood, he's a pretty decent dude. He also loves to cook with garlic and it appears he can eat regular food too, so he's not THAT kind of asshole either, you know, like the kind of person who tells you they don't eat dairy, meat, vegetable, bread or mineral and you're like GODDAMMIT WHERE THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO TAKE YOU THEN? and that's why you're no longer going out with her. Please call me, Stacy.

Because life likes to fuck with a motherfucker, he ends up running into the reincarnated chick he was trying to avoid. She's a singer named Mona and she's one of those chicks who is hot but not exactly pretty, like Gina Gershon. Not a butterface, I'm talking about something else and I don't know what I'm fucking talking about. Forget it. I was actually kinda crushing on Mona's friend with the glasses (I'm a sucker for cute chicks in glasses). She's played by the wife of the dude from Devo who now composes music for Wes Anderson flicks except for the last two, so he probably feels all assed out now. She was also in this criminally unfinished project.

Anyway, sure enough he's smitten with her, she's intrigued by him, and somewhere along the way he bullshits her into believing that he's a musician in a band. This bullshit is made true when he gets his bar buddies to join and next thing you know, they're doing rock songs and Fresh Prince-style rap. Which might be why this flick is called Rockula. Along the way, Thomas Dolby shows up; he's not so much an evil villain as he's just a fucking douchebag. I still haven't figured out whether Dolby meant to play his character the way he did because of the movie's tone, or if he blinded me with bad acting? I'll go for the former; my favorite bit of his is when he starts swinging a weapon around during a fight while doing a "whoosh whoosh whoosh" sound. I was fuckin' rolling when he did that shit.

Speaking of which, while I laughed a few times, I didn't laugh nearly as much as I expected. Which made me feel like a bit of an asshole, considering how fondly remembered this flick is by the relatively few people that saw it. And yet, I enjoyed Rockula very much. It's just such a weird, oddball movie and it has a very good-natured, so eager-to-please attitude, that it still won me over. It has a very slick look to it too, which I'm guessing might have more than a little to do with having the cinematography being done by the same guy who went on to shoot The Rock, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor for Michael Bay. At times, the lighting reminded me of something you'd see in a Bay flick, only the camera is standing still for a change and it isn't cutting to a new angle every seven frames. I dug the soundtrack too, and Castro dude gave away a few copies, even though that shit isn't officially available, so Buzz from Home Alone who kept yelling shit at Cameron is a lucky motherfucker. My fave songs would have to be the title track, the hilarious rap song, some emo shit from Thomas Dolby and the end song.

But yeah, Rockula. As a comedy it gets a C for results, but an A for effort and me being the schoolteacher in this motherfucker, I averaged that shit out to a B. And that's way fuckin' better than how I did at school. Stupid-ass motherfucker. I used to be smart, but now I'm just stupid. This movie, though? Pretty decent.

One last thing, during the end credits I recognized the name of Adam Shankman, which I hope you don't. He played the airport shuttle driver who jacks Mona's underwear. He's since gone on to direct The Wedding Planner, Bringing Down the House and The Pacifier. Those movies were huge hits.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne (and Santa Monica Blvd.)

I needed something to do and rambling about movies seemed like a good time-killer, something else to do while I was broke and unemployed. But since last month, I've been working, and while it's supercool to have some money in my pocket again, the downside is that I have far less free time than before. There's just about enough time to watch movies and drink, but little to no time for writing this shit down. So I think the way I'm going to do it from now on I'm going to group together a bunch of movies I watched every couple of weeks or so, devote a couple paragraphs each to them or something and post 'em up like some Reader's Digest or The Week type of bullshit. I don't know, I'm just saying. Who knows, maybe I'll fuck up and be back on the unemployment line and then things will be like before, but until then, there'll be fewer posts. That's okay, because no one's holding their breath over these things to begin with.

Here's just a few things that have been going on with me movie-wise:

I worked on a Top 100 list a couple of weeks back, which was pretty easy to write since I just wrote down every movie I really dug, and I'd be finished with it by now except I stopped at about 97 movies and haven't gone back to it since. But I'm sure I'll return and put 3 more flicks on it and post it up.

While I would've loved to have caught the Corey Haim tribute screening of Lucas at the New Beverly, I had plans to catch The Big Lebowski at the Nuart, and that was an interesting evening right there, let me tell you. I met with my friend and his lady friend, and while my friend and I have seen Lebowski multiple times (this was 5th time watching it on the big screen -- 1st in '98 at an Edwards, 2nd in '07 at the Pasadena Rialto, 3rd in '07 at the Nuart, 4th in '08 at the Egyptian), this was his lady friend's first viewing. My buddy was worried that the screening would get too crazy with people quoting lines and stuff, worried that it would ruin it for his lady friend. I told him he shouldn't be worried, because the last time I saw this at the Nuart in '07, Marc Heuck, the guy who runs this shit, he seemed to be more annoyed than usual, introducing the screening by pretty much telling people not to be jackasses during it.

Later at that '07 screening, I went and bought a diet Coke and he seemed really flustered while working behind the counter. Having made an ass of myself at the Aero Theatre by buying snacks and trying to pay with a credit card (turns out they were Cash Only), I asked him if they accepted Visa here. Dude looked at me like he wanted to Highlander my ass if he had the proper surgically-sharp implement to do it with, for asking the dumbest of the dumb questions. I felt bad, because I know how it is to  have a bad day at work. Doesn't everyone?

Some time later, I read a post from him on some message board where he talked about a movie that was recently screened at the Nuart that apparently played to the audience from hell. Homeboy had such a bad night dealing with drunk motherfuckers, high motherfuckers, vomiting motherfuckers, and various other motherfuckers and their motherfuckery, that he went home that night and took his DVD of the movie in question and threw that shit away, like some guilty by association kinda shit. He wouldn't even identify what flick it was, because to call the movie by its name would be to give it power or something. Anyway, there's a good chance it may have been this movie -- or Suspiria, or Fight Club or Office Space, cause I think those were the other midnight movies that played in April, and he said all this shit went down in April.

So flash forward to last night; I had a couple pint cans of Bud before the movie and went to buy my ticket. The girl at the ticket booth had a stuffed crocodile or something to keep her company. She was cute. She also was annoyed by the "frat boys" who were fratting it up a few feet away. If I had the powers of Bruce Lee or Charles Bronson, I might have had a chance with her. So I meet my pals in line and later I noticed fuckin' Troy from Community chatting up a group of people in front. Apparently, he had just come out of a Q&A for a movie he made called Mystery Team, which I'm sure will be funny when I rent it on DVD a few months from now. We go inside and the theater's packed, the crowd down to have a good time. The movie begins and people laugh, as people do when a comedy succeeds at its goal. But a couple of rows down, on the left side, there was this girl who was giving out the most annoying, call-attention-to-itself laugh imaginable. This would be all well and good, because we all have different laughs. But this chick was obviously on something and not even laughing in sync with the audience. She wasn't even paying attention to the movie, she was texting on her phone in between her HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!'s. You know who she was? She was fuckin' De Niro in Cape Fear. She was laughing and acting EXACTLY like that motherfucker, minus the cigar:

I have to stress how not part of the experience this chick was. You can see the people around her looking annoyed, shuffling uncomfortably. It was the kind of laugh that overpowers yours and sucks out whatever enjoyment you were getting. It was the fakest sounding, loudest laugh. The people in front of her got up and left. Other people would stare at her or look at each other in disbelief. And like I mentioned earlier, the worst part was that it wasn't even genuine. There were other people in the audience with very loud distinct laughs, and yet they didn't bother me, because you can tell they were with the movie, and they didn't laugh like that at Every Single Moment, even the ones that weren't funny -- in between her incessant texting, of course.

I started thinking of my buddy's lady friend, and how with her luck, she was in fact having her first time ruined. I can sense my buddy was growing more and more annoyed. And hell, even I was getting annoyed. This bitch had managed to fuck up my buzz, she laughed me into fuckin' sobriety, so even I couldn't ignore this shit no longer. Something had to be done. But what? What was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to go to the manager and complain that someone is laughing too hard at a goddamn comedy? It's a weird position to be in and a weird situation to try to explain to someone. Even now, I feel like a real asshole writing this down, but ladies and gentlemen, You Had To Be There. Then what else? Politely ask her to calm down? We live in a world where people get shanked with meat thermometers for merely asking for some common goddamn courtesy. The animals have won, and the rest of us can only pray to whatever god we believe in/don't believe in that we can pay our money and maybe, just maybe get a decent theatrical experience.

The only thing I could think of was this: if this girl (who I would guess to be somewhere in the 18-25 range) was going to make things uncomfortable for us, I was going to make things uncomfortable for her. Perhaps I should stand up above her and just stare? Or counter her laughs with my own Max Cady-style guffaws? No, I decided upon something else -- something that I feel ashamed about and yet, I feel it had to be done. It had to be done. I had some peanut M&M's on me (thanks to my friend) and after one of her HAWHAWHAWHAWWOOOOOHAWHAWHAWHAWWOOOOO's, I grabbed one of those delicious chocolate & peanut ovals...and fuckin' launched that motherfucker directly to her motherfucking head. Immediately I got back into innocent position, watching the movie and didn't pay attention to her reaction. I didn't even think I hit her. But evidently, I did, because a minute later she and her friend got up and left...and returned with the goddamn manager. Yup. I'm the bad guy. I'm the asshole. And for the record, I don't normally do this sort of thing.

She pointed in our general direction and told the manager (at least I think he was the manager) that "it came from within 10 feet, I'm sure" and he nodded and looked around. I understand that he was doing his job, these chicks probably went and complained and most likely asked for their money back, and he went down to at least look like he could do something about it. But I'm sure even he knew there wasn't much he could do, save for shutting down the movie and turning the house lights on. Dude would've had to have seen me holding the smoking M&M bag in my hand to even consider kicking a motherfucker out, and even then, it's pretty hard to accuse a dude who happens to be eating candy. They then left, and the theater was left to the genuinely mirthful, the people who laughed because it was funny, not because it was funny to laugh. I'm not proud of this, even though my buddy and his lady friend thanked me for it, but I felt I had to pull the dick move for the good of the audience -- not to mention my goddamned sanity.

As we walked out, I saw the manager/employee dude whose name was Witney, standing near the concession counter. I felt compelled to confess and hopefully get him to see it my way after explaining the situation. Also, I hated the idea that this dude would think that two girls had their night ruined by some asshole out to get them -- which is exactly what happened, but still they had it coming. We all have it coming, kid. But I knew that shit wouldn't go down that way. I like the Nuart and would like to continue to go there and to tell him would be to get my ass reprimanded and kicked the fuck out forever -- at least that's my worst case scenario fear. So instead, I kept walking and lit up an American Spirit. Instead, I decide to post it all down on a blog that I'm sure wouldn't take a genius to figure out who I am and fuck my shit up. Because I'm a stupid, stupid asshole. Have a good weekend, everybody!

UPDATE: I realize that this is unfortunately not the first time I did something like this. There was also a brief altercation when things couldn't get civil between me and a dude at the Regency Fairfax. But that was in '07. I'm getting better about this sort of thing, plus I was sober that time and far more irritable.