The downside to waiting in line alone is that you're waiting in line alone; the time is slower because you have no one to bounce off of with inane chatter. I understood that a couple of my Twitter friends were somewhere there but to go up and say Hi would mean Death -- death of dignity (due to my inherent doucheyness) and death of cowardly anonymity (that allows me to talk all the shit I talk). You did not invite anyone because you went last minute, and hence, must deal with the consequences. Hello, ladies and gentlemen -- this is me rambling about Birdemic: Shock and Terror at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in Los Angeles in California in the United States of America on Planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way. I don't know what to call the fuckin' place, that's why.
In line, I kept myself entertained by counting the porkpie hats and skinny jeans in the crowd; one unfortunate soul apparently was born without ass or hips, as his back pockets lined up with the back of his knees it seemed. For the record, I'm fat and ugly and badly dressed. A group of people behind me were worried for their friend; this cute girl came along with them without having gotten a ticket yet, so she went over to the ticket booth with the SOLD OUT sign and told Ticket Guy her situation. She told him that if she couldn't come in, then she'd have to cool her heels outside for at least 90 minutes because her friends drove her here. The ticket guy's response, according to her, was "Well, you can wait in the car". All hope seemed lost for Ms. No Ticket, until an employee/volunteer came along, dressed up like Randal from Clerks. He had a guest list on his clipboard along with a bunch of passes, and he gave her one so she could watch the movie with her buddies. Randal was a hero, a true mensch, I'd like to think. I'd like to think it's just the Cinefamily thing to do. But there's also the goddamned cynic in me that fears if the cute girl had a dick and a gut she'd probably be assed out.
I hadn't been to the Silent Movie Theatre for a long while, December '08, to be more specific. It was an all-night marathon of movies hosted by Nicky Katt, who I'm guessing won't be around any time soon to do more of them because all 3 of his shindigs were sparsely attended, once again proving that we as a people are assholes -- or busy. Like the New Beverly, it's a supercool and friendly place, the kind of place with a barbecue grill in the back patio and free beer. Sure enough, SMT volunteers/employees would pace the aisles with buckets handing out free Pabst Blue Ribbon (official Hipster beverage!) to anyone who wanted one. I managed to get two because I'm a greedy drunk.
One PBR hander-outer was kinda doing the hot-dog-vendor-at-a-game thing, calling out to anyone within yelling distance if they wanted a beer -- "Free beer, killer birds, it's the night of your life!". Another employee/volunteer carrying around the beer bucket was a girl wearing a jacket over her flower-print dress and calf-length boots; I had designated her as my imaginary girlfriend for the night, meaning every time she passed by, I'd smile at her like we had a connection and she would smile back like OK Creepo, Please Stop It.
Birdemic was a movie made by James Nguyen, a software salesman who was probably making a pretty good living until he decided to complicate matters by following his dream or some bullshit like that. He made a couple movies prior to this one and Tippi Hedren was in one of them, which made me sad to hear for some reason. But yeah, he made this movie about birds attacking the shit out of people for fucking with the environment, and he would've been the first to make a movie out of a retarded idea like that if it wasn't for that fat motherfucker Alfred Hitchcock beating him to it. What an asshole -- oh look at me, I made Vertigo! Whatever. Anyway, he made this movie for super cheap and fed the cast & crew sandwiches from 7-11 and somewhere along the way Tim and Eric found something to cherish and champion in this piece of shit movie and I guess that's how we all know about this flick.
The opening consists of Windows Movie Maker-style credits playing over endless Torgo-style driving shots (including one from inside the car, shot at a titled angle that I don't believe was intended) and an equally endless music loop. There's a composer credited in this flick and I guess his job was to come up with 8-second ditties every once in a long while. The camera work is something else; if there's a scene that could be overexposed, this motherfucker is overexposing the shit out of it. Half the time people look like they're living in a radiated area. Fuckin' Chernobyl-Vision. Later on, the cinematographer shows up as a dead body, his eyes plucked out by the birds -- which I guess explains the look of the film.
These motherfuckers must love them some dolly shots, because every other shot features the camera dollying from left-to-right or right-to-left and you bet your sweet ass that shit is shaking/vibrating while doing it. It's like Michael Bay got a stroke and tried to direct even though the studio was like "No Bay, don't do it, you're not yourself!" and he was all "FFFFuuuuuck all yoooush peeeeople...IIIII ammmmmmMMMIIchael B-aaayyyy!" and then he drooled and shit himself and this is why I want my family to pull the plug if I ever end up like that; be the Chief Bromden to my McMurphy if I ever get all Schivo'd out. Anyway, half of these shots go on forever. Forever. FOR-EV-ER. Shit, forget about stroked-out Michael Bay, it's more like fuckin' cracked-out Theo Angelopoulos was helming this shit.
The guy who intro'd the movie mentioned the lead hero of the movie, about how his performance seemed to consist of concentrating very hard on every movement he made and every line-reading he gave, and he's right. Poor guy does a bad job in the acting department, and I felt really bad watching him. I know I'm here to laugh at a shitty movie, but shit like that makes me think about how that guy probably wanted to be an actor all his life and the motherfucker now has a 90-minute reason why he should just give it up. I still laughed, though, so whatever. The girl, I like her, she's very cute and she might even be a pretty decent actor or maybe it seems that way compared to the tree stump she's bouncing lines off of. Their characters sat a few seats away from each other in high school and one day they bump into each other. They do the get-to-know-you thing and they find out/we find out that he's now working in some shit cubicle making million-dollar sales and working on billion-dollar gigs, while she's a fashion model who does high-profile gigs at the local 1 Hour Photo joint.
There's also a best friend character who looks like Paul Rudd and John Cusack got it the fuck on and somehow managed to impregnate one or the other. He's all about sex, and at one point, to show he's ecstatic about some billion-dollar sale his company made, he shakes his chair in a manner that looks like he's about to stick his dick in it right then and there. But luckily for him, he won't have to because he's got a girlfriend with a froggy voice who's down to party and has a thing for imaginepeace.com; she's either wearing a shirt promoting that shit or she's got an Imagine Peace sign behind her if she's just in her underwear. In case you didn't get it yet, the composer decides to dabble in leitmotifs for a bit by playing an instrumental knockoff of John Lennon's Imagine every time she and Rudd/Cusack show up. I also think the director is trying to tell us something, but I'm not sure what it is.
So our two leads, they do their thing; they eat at a Vietnamese joint (one typically extended shot slooooowly pans across a mural inside the restaurant, prompting the audience to chant GO GO GO like those mo-fos do during any Golden Gate Bridge shot in The Room), and later they go to an empty bar and do the goofiest of Goofy White People Dances while Damien Carter sings to them and at the end of the scene suddenly AHHH! there's people on the dance floor with them and you're like What The Fuck? Then they go to some cheap motel and do the Devil's business, which consists of rubbing their feet against each other while macking out. The next morning, birds attack the town.
I don't know if I mentioned anything about the birds, but yeah, killer birds attack. It's my favorite scene actually; it's a series of quiet shots of the town, each slowly dissolving into the next, until finally fading to black. Suddenly it fades back in and now it's motherfuckin' Bird Carnage (carnage caused by birds) currently-in-progress; we get a beautiful wide shot of shitty GIF-animations hovering over the small town, wreaking Bird Havoc and some of these birds must've been with the avian chapter of Al-Qaeda or something because they'll swoop in and kamikaze themselves and EXPLODE. Some of the birds have apparently mated with the Alien Queen because at one point, fuckin' acid is introduced into the mix. You think you had a bad day because a bird shat on your car? Try having a group of them shoot a gallon of acid into your faccia. Goddamn. These birds are in it to fuckin' win it.
Upon entrance to the theater, each of us was given a wire hanger with a Birdemic ad on one side and the Severin Films logo on the other. I thought it was cool, but why a hanger? That question was answered when our heroes (along with another couple) pull hangers out of the closet and use them to fight their way out of the motel and into a rusty mini-van. The audience then started to mimic the on-screen characters, fighting off imaginary birds hovering inches from their heads. The guy from the second lunch-meat couple, you're given visual evidence that this dude is/was in the military; even though he looks all of about 19, he's wearing camouflage pants and carries assault rifles and semi-automatics in his soccer mom ride. Later you find out that he left the military during the Iraq war and all I could think was Wow, that must have been very difficult to accomplish, but hey, good for you -- you managed to escape those crazy insurgents and now you're dealing with suicide-bombing birds. But based on his people-saving skills, maybe he's better off over here rather than over there. Our boys have enough problems in Iraq, the biggest one being, they're in Iraq.
Why did the eagles and vultures attacked? reads one of the Engrish-written taglines, and it turns out we did this to ourselves. Nguyen makes sure we understand this throughout the movie one way or the other, either through the constant news reports on television (we can see the Getty Images watermark during one of the clips used in the newscast) or through the enviro-friendly main character doing things like installing solar panels in his house (this smooth operator talks the salesman down from $20,000 to $19,000) and bragging about his fuckin' hybrid. My favorite bit of this is when he goes on a double date to the movies, and as they're walking out he says something like "That was a great movie, An Inconvenient Truth!", that way his friends aren't confusing it with the other movie they just watched 5 minutes ago. There's also a very long scene where some doctor/professor/scientist/whatever the fuck joins our leads at their picnic table -- where they've been enjoying a nice leisurely lunch OUTDOORS in the midst of the Birdemic -- and goes on and on about the environment. Listen man, if I have to hear this tree-hugging bullshit, your ass better be named Al Gore or Steven Seagal otherwise I'm ready to walk out the fuckin' room.
So the movie eventually ended, much laughs were had and many a mind was blown. People were laughing at the film, as they tend to do when watching a complete fuck-up of a motion picture, but it never got into mean-spirited Room territory either. This could be because it's still too early in Birdemic's run for some dude to come up with shit to yell and become the king of douchebags or maybe because Birdemic didn't make the mistake of casting a woman who wasn't supermodel-thin and therefore is made fun of as being fat, I don't know. There was a bonus of having Damien Carter, the singer who appeared in Birdemic, do a 15-minute set for those who were respectful enough to stick around for the dude. I mean, c'mon -- it's 2:30, you're late enough as it is, might as well stick around for the dude's crooning. I gotta say, he was really fucking good and his band was tight. People were totally grooving to it, at least most were because some looked like they were still trying to figure out just what the fuck did they just watch.
The drummer looked like Art LaFleur and I eventually convinced myself that it was, because the idea of Art LaFleur rockin' the skins in a band makes me smile, and it also brought up fantasies of him and Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt and Telma Hopkins going out to smoky clubs and playing as Jack Deth and The Squids or The Trancers or something like that (Ms. Hunt would be taking time off from her other band, Helen Hunt and the Twisters). The drummer also displayed the drumming equivalent to guitar face, which I'm a big fan of. Randal-lookalike may have had one too many or just likes to make a spectacle of himself to the cameras documenting this evening, because that's what was happening during Carter's performance. He really got into it, jumping around and toppling himself over one of the couches. My favorite move was when he walked up to a cameraman, pulled out a PBR, opened it, and downed it all in one move. But yeah, Mr. Carter. He was really good and the dude certainly deserves to have his singing displayed in a better film.
I won't feel bad for the dude, though. Because even if the movie is some embarrassing amateur shit, it's playing to packed crowds wherever it screens and I'm sure word-of-mouth is going to make DVD sales pretty brisk. When it comes down to it, people are seeing the movie and I'm sure it's giving homeboy more exposure than he had before. Same goes to James Nguyen; maybe he tried to make a "romantic thriller" and maybe he wanted people to come out thinking about the environment. Whether he accomplished that, I can't say.
But I will say that me and a lot of people in that fuckin' theater had Good Times watching it and we certainly came out as fans of his work. Let's see, we paid $12+ and gave 90 minutes of our lives to the dude. We sold out the room and we're buying his DVD's. I see on the IMDB that he's planning a sequel, so it's safe to say the shit's a financial success or on it's way to becoming one. In this business, that's all that matters, right? Who cares how the audience takes it, a packed house is a packed house. We could yell and guffaw all we want at Birdemic and The Room, but James Nguyen and Tommy Wiseau are clearly having the last laugh.
13 hours ago