Monday, February 28, 2011

You know, I wasn't going to write this one because I'm sick, but fuck it, I spent gas money and froze my ass off to see this shit, so I'm writing about this shit

"Is it cold in here, or is it just me?" is a line twice-said in Demolition Man and the answer is Fuck Yes It's Cold, because it was. I know I'm just a pussified Californian because what passes for a heatwave in the East Coast was fucking my shit up with a serious case of the Brrr's, but you know what? Fuck you, East Coast, that shit ain't my fault, it's not my fault I live in a place with awesome weather and therefore can't handle anything below Freezing. Anyway, yeah, Demolition Man played at the New Beverly Cinema for a midnight show on Saturday (or Sunday, I guess) and I guess that shit is even more popular than I thought because the motherfucker was packed and damn near sold out despite the bitter chill.

Phil Blankenship showed up in his usual all-black ensemble, then would take deep audible breaths in between his extemporaneous paragraphs about what was playing next month at the New Bev (St. Quentin is programming March's schedule, it turns out). Turns out he was trying to buy time for the long line of concession-buyers that was snaking out into the audience; waiting until most people are able to get back to their seats is a typically considerate move by the New Bev'rs. The lights went down and I remember a couple of Wesley Snipes trailers; people laughed at the awesome Passenger 57 trailer and properly applauded at John Cutter's "Always bet on black" line. Fuck that, I'm capitalizing that shit because it's so awesome -- "Always bet on BLACK."

The audience then ha-ha'd the Boiling Point trailer, and I'm still wondering who to blame for that. I mean, I've seen Boiling Point and thought it was a pretty decent low-key crime drama/character piece from James B. Harris; I wouldn't laugh at that movie. The trailer, on the other hand, promotes that shit like it was Passenger 57 II (or Passenger 58 because Passenger 57 2 would look too confusing, that's for sure) with an extra dose of Retard and that's probably why back during one week in the spring of 1993, lots of my friends at school came back the following Monday to complain about going to see the new Wesley Snipes movie that looked Awesome but turned out Lame. I wish these same friends saw the Takeshi Kitano film of the same name, it would be funny to watch their reactions to that one.

In addition to Boiling Point, Demolition Man also came out in 1993, which I'm telling you because it'll add to the following sentence I'm about to write. The movie begins with a shot of a burning Hollywood sign and sounds of chaos and gunfire in the background, and when the onscreen title card declaring this scenario as "Los Angeles 1996" came up, everyone in the audience laughed their asses off, which wasn't much of a difference from how that shit was received when I first saw this flick in the theaters 17-18 years ago (give or take a couple seasons). Then Sylvester Stallone jumps out of a helicopter in some fuckin' bungee-harness thing and screams out PHOENIIIIIIIX while firing his pistol during free-fall and then some girl a couple rows ahead of me must've found that moment some kind of geek-out victory because she shot her arms up into the air like YES and all I could do in response was nod and say Fuckin' A, just like Alfredo Garcia in the movie.

The girl had friends who would cheer as well whenever Sly owned a motherfucker during the opening scene and that is a sentiment that I both understand and share. What I get confused with is someone who is having a good time but does so in a manner that distracts painfully sensitive (read: sober) people like me. I'm talking about this man or woman with an unfortunate distinct giggle in the audience. I'll do my best to describe it in the writing, but it's really something you had to hear to understand. It went something like UH-HEGH-HEGH-HEGH and it sounded like a baby's giggle with the pitch lowered down to the Satan's Minion setting and I've yet to figure out if it came from a man or a woman and even worse, I couldn't figure out the age range of said horrible laugh-er. I turned (so did a couple other people near me) but couldn't find this person.

To make things worse, he/she with the Rosemary's Baby giggle was mostly out-of-sync with the audience, so his/her laugh usually stood out during moments that should mostly be the property of the film's soundtrack. I wonder if this person had a different sense-of-humor than everyone else, or if this person knew he/she was making a spectacle of him/herself and did it on purpose. The Me of 5 years ago would guess the former, but Current Me thinks the worst of people now and assumes the latter. "Hey everyone, listen to my 'funny' laugh!" this cunt/dick probably thought, knowing it would be funny to his/her fellow jerkoffs in the audience.

Or maybe -- most likely -- I'm the jerkoff, and I'm just hard to have fun around. I mean, the guy next to me started taking slugs from his flask and I could smell the Jack Daniels and I was actually being a prissy girl about it, all Oh My Delicate Nasal Passages Are Offended, but to be real with ya'll, I was probably pissed at my current status as Former Drinker and even more pissed that I did not arrive slightly toasted in another manner. It is a midnight show, after all. Maybe I'm just a player hater.

Since the good guy is an eye-tie and the bad guy is a (Always Bet On) Black, it leaves a motherfucker wondering if that shit was intentional. Not in a Fueling The Race War kind-of-way, but in a Rocky I-III reclaiming past glory kind-of-way. Back when Eddie Murphy was funny and publicly homophobic, he had a hilarious bit on Italians coming out of the movie theater after a Rocky movie and I wonder if the same shit happened with this one. Alright John Spartaaaann! Alright, Sly!

I thought I read somewhere that Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Simon Phoenix and I'm glad that shit didn't happen, even though I'm sure the Phoenix character would've been written differently to cater to Arnold's strengths, because I'm guessing lines like "They defrosted you just so you could lasso my piddly ass? Damn, you been had!" wouldn't sound the same coming from the Governator, nor would it sound right to hear Arnie extol the virtues of the scent emanating from an open manhole, saying it reminds him of biscuits and gravy.

As it is, they got Wesley Snipes, who is clearly having a ball with his villainous turn as Phoenix. Usually, I think the actor-ly thing to do when given a villain role would be to look at this shit from the bad guy's perspective; because the bad guy probably doesn't think he's the bad guy, he's just trying to do his thing. But Snipes probably realized way early the fuck on that this was no Spike Lee joint and he's not playing a motherfucker in a wheelchair (see: The Waterdance, no really, see that shit, it's really good) and then he probably called his people to find out if the check cleared, and after that, he just decided to just be one of those bad guys who are bad for the sake of being bad and have some fuckin' fun with it.

It's not like he's the only one. I mean Stallone is having a little fun with it, he knows this shit is pretty ridiculous, but he still tries to have his human moments, and besides, he's the hero and has to be kinda serious during these proceedings in comparison to the bad guy. But Snipes, he is totally comic-booking it up because he can, and I guess you really have no choice but to play it that way when your character's hair is dyed blond and your eyes are of mismatched color. Holy shit -- in that case, I think we need to keep a close look on Kate Bosworth because she isn't a natural blonde and her eyes are different colors too; for all we know, that chick's a super-villain in training.

So, Stallone's character John Spartan managed to capture Simon Phoenix and run all the way down a large building just before it completely explodes (they don't call him the Demolition Man for nothing) but it's all just a big Fail because the hostages he was trying to save were in that building. That means he joins Phoenix in "cryo-prison", where they put you in frozen isolation from the rest of the world. Cut to 2032, and society has become a horrifyingly pussied-out utopia of non-violence, political correctness and healthy food options.

You can't even swear in this motherfucker -- BUZZ! -- without getting a ticket from some nearby monitoring device for "violating the verbal morality". Shit --BUZZ! -- you can't even mutter that shit -- BUZZ! -- to yourself because that still counts as a "sotto voce" violation. Somehow, Phoenix escapes during a parole hearing (!) and trots off to "San Angeles", where he's like a kid in a candy store -- that is, if the kid is a psychopathic murdering criminal and instead of Snickers, lollipops and M&M's, you have weak unarmed shaky emo motherfuckers -- BUZZ! -- who need to get daily affirmations from a computer kiosk just to get by.

Faced with a bad guy they don't know how to handle, the San Angeles Police Department defrost Spartan and off he goes, looking to take this motherfucker down. Along for the ride is the fuckin' Gallo Negro himself, Benjamin Bratt and Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock. I like Sandra Bullock, and I was happy to see her win an Oscar for that movie My Pet Negro, but I still think she should've thanked Lori Petty because if it wasn't for Tank Girl getting fired from Demolition Man, they wouldn't have had Bullock replace her and who knows what would've happened.

For all we know, if Bullock never got her break, then maybe it wouldn't have been her driving the bus in Speed which would create a chain of events that leads to Miss Congeniality never happening and while I know some of you hipsters are probably reacting to that scenario with "Good!", I am going to disagree and once again declare my love for that fuckin' movie and if any of you want to take it up with me, we can square that shit out in the muthafuckin' Octagon. Because I don't fuckin' play around when it comes to Miss Congeniality. As far as Part 2, OK, I'll stand for a little shit-talking, but that's about it. Hey Hollywood, you know there's always room for a part 3, you know. Special Agent Gracie Hart could take up a new partner after the one from part 2 dies in a terrible multiple-gunshot accident, and the new partner could be played by The Adorable Amy Adams. I already have the script written if you want to get that shit on the road tout de suite.

Speaking of adorable, Bullock's performance is sprinkled with liberal doses of it. Her Lenina Huxley (ah, looks like someone's a fuckin' reader) character is obsessed with the 20th century and while the idea of someone fondly looking back at a time when shit was more violent might be kind of disturbing, I don't agree, it's kind of endearing, actually. But you want to know what does disturb me about lovely Lenina? The fact that she has a poster of Lethal Weapon 3 -- the worst in the series, I say -- on her office wall. I bet you she has an excuse, though -- the poster for part 3 was probably the cheapest one she could get (who wants that shit?) and it's not like she could afford to get part 1 or 2 on a cop's salary. Anyway, I got a kick out of her unintentional nerdery whenever she tries to use a late 90's phrase and gets it wrong or when she excitingly claps her hands when her favorite "mini-tune" plays on the radio, and if I ever have to be kicked out of some lady's house, I can only hope she does it in as cute a manner as Huxley's stomp-on-the-floor-while-pointing-toward-the-exit move.

Demolition Man is one of those movies with a cast that looks even better with the passing years. You have Sandra Bullock before she was a star, Benjamin Bratt before he became more established, the fuckin' warden from The Shawshank Redemption is being an asshole to Sly, that crazy fuckin' King George III is in this bitch trying to out-utopia his current utopia, you got Denis Leary when he was still the guy from MTV (as opposed to now being known as the guy who ripped off Bill Hicks), former governor/current conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura is here (not only does he not have time to bleed, he doesn't even have time for a line of dialogue), that fuckin' douche from MTV Sports shows up fast enough for you to not notice or give a fuck, and last but not least, the late great Glenn Shadix is here to further awesome this shit up with a Heathers vibe by saying "Greetings and Salutations" to everybody, which might be co-writer Daniel Waters' little shout-out to himself.

According to Blankenship, Mr. Waters was going to try to make it to the screening for a Q&A, but he was too busy getting drunk with hip filmmakers and stars after the Independent Spirit Awards to attend. Let me clarify, the part about Waters possibly attending was what Phil said, the rest of it is me projecting. But hey, the guy wrote Heathers and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, so he can do whatever the fuck he wants, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I raise my glass to Mr. Waters for his past work. Mr. Waters, here's to you -- suckin' my dick! OHHHHHHHHH!

Also, Deuce Bigelow has a brief role in the movie, and I don't think I caught his name in the credits. What up with that? Did he watch the final cut and realize he wasn't able to ruin it, hence his displeasure with the final product and his request to go without credit? Only he and the producers know for sure. Whatever, he's not paying my bills, so fuck that guy. The movie was directed by Marco Brambilla, which gave me a Latin Pride boner back when I was a kid, but then I found out he's really a Canadian eye-tie, so fuck him too.

You know, I'm being unfair to the guy. He did a great job with this flick, the action was chaotic without being confusing and the whole look of the film is pretty tight too (calm down, I'm also giving credit to the late Alex Thomson's cinematography and whoever the fuck did the production design). I don't know how much this movie cost to make, but I'm sure you see every penny of it on the screen. There's a shot in the beginning, when Spartan is about to attempt his free-fall drop onto the building; there's all these tracer bullets being fired towards the helicopter hovering over the roof, fuckin' searchlights moving around, all bordered by fire and little explosions -- and it's pretty fuckin' spectacular to watch.

The music by Julie Taymor's husband is pretty epic for the most part; the shit that plays during the opening action sequence (and the climax) is probably my favorite bit from him. The only track I didn't like was the one that would play whenever Phoenix was doing his thing, it's like a mixture of White Guy Scratching The Turntable and this weird scratchy 60's blues guitar riff that would come on and every time I heard it, I got the douchechills something awful. Also, I like Sting but he almost manages to suck out all the goodwill earned by the movie with his theme song. Motherfucker shoulda spent less time having Tantric sex with the chick from Fair Game and more time trying to write a badass song.

It's funny that one character says something to the effect of "no kiss kiss, no bang bang" because that's kinda what the action scenes are like in this movie. It seems like every scene between Stallone and Snipes involves a lot of dialogue in between the attempted ownage, a lot of dialogue:

Phoenix: I've been dreaming about killing you for 40 years!

(Phoenix fires his gun at Spartan)

Spartan: Keep dreaming! 

(Spartan fires his shotgun at Phoenix)

It's almost like the gunfire is interrupting their conversation, the bullets are the exclamation marks at the end of their sentences. I mean, these guys can't do a single thing without prefacing it with some line. "You're on TV!" sayeth the Spartan, right before swinging a television set at Phoenix. Usually, you say that shit AFTER you own a guy, not before. Plus, it's kind of weird that in a couple cases, one guy will ask the other guy a question and then fire at him. I'm like, what the fuck, don't you want to hear an answer? If you kill him, you'll never find out!

Back to Brambilla; so the guy then went on to make Excess Baggage because star/producer Alicia Silverstone wanted him to direct it, leaving me amused at the thought of Cher from Clueless watching Wesley Snipes using a poor guy's severed eyeball to escape from prison and then declaring "That's who I want to direct my rom-com!" In fact, it was also her idea to cast Benicio Del Toro (back when he was just the weird mumbly guy from The Usual Suspects) to play her love interest. Holy shit, Alicia Silverstone is a fuckin' mad genius, when you get right down to it. I'll have to watch that one again, because I didn't like it the first time, but who knows. I sure as fuck won't waste my time with Brambilla's other stuff though, because they look like lame TV-movies about dinosaurs, which come to think of it, I think those flicks ARE lame TV-movies about dinosaurs.

I enjoyed Demolition Man even more with this viewing; maybe it was the venue or maybe the movie improved with age, or maybe it was a little of both. I saw this movie back in '93 at a movie theater that had the best popcorn, so naturally that place eventually closed. Then I saw it a year later at a friend's house, and now I'm no longer friends with him. My third viewing was at the New Beverly and now I'm afraid something bad is going to happen. Whatever it is, I'm pretty sure Bosworth and Silverstone are going to be behind it and it will be hot to look at.