Sunday, September 18, 2016

Down to the twenties.

I don't give a good God Damn what Clint Eastwood said in that fuckin' interview because he's still kind of progressive for a 171-year-old man and plus he's Clint Fuckin' Eastwood, and better yet, his films tell me a different far more complicated story about him. And you know what else, I'm gonna tell you something, T: People his age grew up Hard during tough times and if you were one of those Hard Motherfuckers still alive in 2016 after all that, you can call anyone from a younger generation whatever the fuck you want, you've earned it.

And in some instances, you might even be a little right.

I mean, c'mon, fellow un-Hard young person -- you're gonna tell me that we aren't a little sensitive in the rear-end region? Because I think we are sometimes, at least. But enough of that shit, let's talk about some good shit, let's talk about Eastwood's latest film, Sully, starring Tom Hanks as Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger. Tom and Sully, hey, that's two well-liked people right there who are an honest thought away from saying something that doesn't quite tow the line and therefore instantly turns them into The Worst People Ever BOO These Ignorant Fucks And Burn Them In Effigy And Now Let's Hashtag Them Into The Next Life.

But for now, they've still managed to keep it together. Give 'em time, though; they both have Twitter accounts and you know how *that* fucking goes; they need to replace the verified checkmark that tells people I'm A Somebody and replace it with one of those round black bombs with a lit fuse on it because that's what you are, Celebrity, and one way or another your shit is gonna blow up and all of that fanatical love is gonna turn into a mushroom cloud of hate fueled by righteous indignation.

Sorry, we're talking about the movie, were we not? (The royal We, obvs.)

I'm gonna be honest with you, I knew about the "Miracle on the Hudson" when it happened back in '09 but I was so far up into my own ass that I didn't pay much attention to it other than to get the general gist of the incident: Pilot makes emergency water landing on Hudson River, all passengers and crew survived. Then I went back to doing whatever I was doing. Good for them, I thought, now let's get back to this new blog I recently started.

To more or less Whatever a rare bit of good news in this life was in retrospect a real sin worthy of a stint in the purgatory slam for a little bit of forever. 155 people could've died in a plane crash -- in New York, no less, its soul still flinching after the sight of two planes slamming into what was assumed to be two invincible pillars representing American Can-Do/Still-Do.

There's a shot in the film where some dude in an office meeting looks out the window to the sight of the Airbus A320 as it descends towards the Hudson, just missing the top of a bridge and you know he's not just thinking "Oh my God, that plane is going to crash" he's also thinking "Jesus Christ, it's happening again".

But it didn't happen. We were all given a break one way or another -- most importantly, the one-fucking-hundred and fifty-fuckin-five people on board US Airways Flight 1549 that afternoon. They were given the biggest break by getting more time on this miserable/wonderful ugly/beautiful planet.

Speaking of time, this movie doesn't mess around by wasting ours. Including credits, this flick runs about 95 minutes. I guess that's about right for a film about an incident that lasted 208 seconds. So don't give me that "How are they going to make a whole movie about that" bullshit like I heard the dude behind me say a couple weeks ago after the trailer for the movie, because my response will be a question of my own: How the FUCK do you make a goddamn fucking Transformers: Wahlburgers movie longer than The Bridge on the River Kwai? I don't have to see that piece of shit to tell you it has absolutely NO reason to run that fucking long and yet it does.

If Eastwood and screenwriter wanted to spend three hours on Sullenberger, on co-pilot Jeff Skiles, on flight attendants Sheila Dail, Doreen Walsh, and Donna Dent, on the poor air traffic controller, on the rescue workers, on Sully's wife, etc., they would have more right and reason to do so than whatever these coke-addicted filmmakers think they need with their Optimus Prime is Awesome bullshit.

"How are they going to make a whole movie about that?" Bitch, please.

I'll tell you how. You start on Sully already safely chilling out in his hotel room after the incident, then you follow him as he has to deal with all the media bullshit, going to interviews and wading through crowds of cameras and voice recorders and flashing lights, and then having to go deal with the National Transportation Safety Board giving him shit -- we all know that to save everybody's lives, you landed the plane on the water, but what this report presupposes is...maybe you didn't? -- and you know this poor guy is up against some scary opposition because the NTSB is portrayed by some hater who thinks he's hot shit because he's got Skyler from "Breaking Bad" on one side and Randall Flagg from The Stand tv-movie on the other. (To misquote Richard Pryor in Blue Collar: If I had that kind of heat backing me up, I'd be a motherfucker too!) Sully can't even have a decent phone conversation with his wife, and on top of that he's dealing with some of that ol' Post Traumatic Stress giving him nightmares and daymares. And in between all that, you give us a couple flashbacks to his past, and you give us flashbacks to the incident in question. That's how you make a movie about that -- a good one and a short one.

At 95 minutes there's no fat to this steak. Speaking of which, there's a part where Skiles (played by Aaron Eckhart) invites Sully for ribeyes at Del Frisco's in Charlotte, North Carolina which left me of course going "Man, I want a steak now" and even now as I'm typing this late at night I'm trying to figure out if there are any places open right now for steak or if I should just go to that 24-hour market and pick one and just grill one at home and OH MAN STEAK, BRO, FUCKIN' STEAK. But yeah, if this movie gets nominated for Best Picture -- which it probably will because it feels like the kind of movie that gets nominated -- it should win for no other reason than the length. It'll probably be like that episode of "Tiny Toon Adventures" where they had a student film festival and Plucky Duck's five-second movie won because it was the shortest.

I think it's a good movie and one of the better ones of 2016, but there's always gotta be some cons and mine would be the way the NTSB is represented; they're not the most multi-dimensional characters and the one played by Mike O'Malley (guy in the middle) comes off like a hater, like Fuck A Hero. I'm reminded of that line in "30 Rock" where Matt Damon's pilot character says something like how a great pilot would've not hit the birds in the first place, and O'Malley's character seems like someone who would genuinely believe that shit. Some of the dialogue feels a little on-the-nose, but I guess 95 minutes will only get you so much subtlety. And in one of Sully's 'mares, he sees a plane crash and it ends with this really cheesy shot of a jet engine flying towards the viewer like it was the Doof Warrior's guitar coming at you in 3D and I kinda wanted to laugh at that shit. Oh, and in the nitpicking department they also fuck up during one of Sully's jogging scenes, where he's going through Times Square and you see Halloween ads for Party City when this is supposed to be taking place in January -- or else Party City is all about getting the jump on the competition before October.

(By the way, I guess Party City is done with the Laughing Devil Baby at the end of its Halloween ads? It's been two years and I don't see it anymore. I miss it.)

Tom Hanks, I guess it's no surprise to say, is excellent in this film. I give this guy the Robert Forster Award for showing that you can give award-caliber performances without raising your voice once, which is why like Forster, Hanks will probably get an Oscar nod but won't win. (They'll give it to Shouty McCrySob for his performance in My Emotions!). His most emotional moment is pretty quiet too, his eyes tear up but he keeps it together because he remembers he can't beat his sobbing breakdown in Captain Phillips.

I assumed this quiet, soft-spoken dude Hanks plays is just this quiet and soft-spoken in real life (remember, I didn't bother watching interviews and shit back in '09), but then the real guy pops up during the end credits and he's so boisterous and happy to be there and I can see why: He's alive and he's in a fuckin' Clint Eastwood movie about his life! (Then he tells Hanks about the S.H.I.E.L.D. Initiative. OK, I made that joke before. So how about this one: After the credits, Sully is driving his muscle car down Baja and his inner monologue is going on about how he lives his life a quarter mile at a time. Happy?)

The movie shows us some of the passengers, who I'm assuming are fictionalized for the purposes of the film; there's a lady with her mother, a dude and his dad, a woman and her baby, and their scenes feel like a set-up for some disaster film -- the disaster film that is Life, muthafucka! -- and even though I know what's going to happen I still found myself worrying for them and hoping they'd come out of it OK. This is, like, the second Tom Hanks movie based on real shit of which I already knew the ending (Apollo 13 being the other) and yet I was still on edge and my nerves jingle-jangled while watching it. Watching the crew getting settled and the passengers getting on board, hearing the idling engines, all that stuff, it just filled me with dread. It also really gave me that anxious feeling I always get during that period between boarding the plane and when we're finally up in the air. I don't know if you get like that, but I do. Sometimes I have a pill from the doctor to take, sometimes I gotta man up and do without one. I have a flight in November, and this movie isn't helping.

You know how they now have these super haunted houses that require you fill out some form so that the people who run those fuckin' things can't be sued by you or your next of kin? They're supposed to be really intense and some are even borderline abusing you, and I even heard of one so scary that no one has made it all the way to the end, instead they give out the safe word and are taken out of there. Most of these have waiting lists and cost mucho dinero, which makes sense because I figure if you're a privileged type then you probably have that kind of scratch to waste and you most likely haven't ever had to deal with the real world with your coddled ass, because if you did, you wouldn't need some fucking assholes to psycho-torture you. You wouldn't be in need of genuine emotional trauma, you'd be going to the regular Boo! houses to escape by being scared in a fun way, like the rest of us real people who work jobs and pay rent, living in fear we suddenly won't be able to do either.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that for those types who dig that shit, I've got an experience for you: How about you pay me and I'll put you on a plane for a coast-to-coast flight while playing sequences from this movie, Fearless, Final Destination, Alive, Executive Decision, Die Hard 2, Flight, and the entirety of United 93 on the monitors, all while the plane makes unexpected drops and turns and shit. And I'll include sweaty shifty-eyed brown people in every row doing prayers that are absolutely weird to your All-American ass. Then after you land -- if you land -- I'll greet you with a t-shirt that says "I made it!" or something and then I'll kick you in the balls or cunt.

So I'm getting anxious watching these people get on the plane, and even stuff like hearing the doorbell sounding tone that comes up before the captain begins speaking or watching the flight attendants do the safety thing with one doing the talking and one doing the demonstration is transporting me back to my previous flights and my breathing is getting shallow -- and that's when I recognize one of the flight attendants as Molly Hagan. I know who she is and will forever know who she is because in my grade school/junior high years, the Fox television show "Herman's Head" was my shiiiiiiiit and she was on it. If you were on Herman's Head, I know exactly who you are and every time I see you I'll be like "Hey, it's (insert actor here) from Herman's Head!" I know Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria are famous for their voice work on "The Simpsons" but they'll be Louise and Jay first to me.

Hagan plays Doreen Welsh, and there's a part after the landing where it cuts to a shot of the floor as river water begins to rush in, and we see Doreen's leg on the left side of the screen with what appears to be a couple rivulets of brown liquid running down her ankle. For a second, I thought Holy Shit they're going for absolute realism here, considering the I'm About To Die fear she and everyone else in the plane must've felt. Then she yells "Evacuate!" and I'm thinking "You sure did, honey. I wouldn't announce it to the world" but then it turns out that brown fear was actually supposed to be blood from an injury but either the lighting or post-production coloring made it look that way, kinda like the way they turned the blood in the Rollerball remake into dark liquid in order to secure a PG-13 but ended up making Chris Klein look like either hair dye was running down his face or he got a call from Mr. Shadow from The Fifth Element.

I watched this in IMAX and if you can too, go for it because it's worth it. It's not some wow-filled spectacle, you're not watching Christopher Nolan flip-flopping aspect ratios on you or giant blue aliens coming at you in three dimensions or Amy Adams running around in jodhpurs, but man, it really enhances the experience and this 2D experience almost felt like 3D for me. It becomes much more You Are There with the opened up image and super loud ambient sound, and watching serious Real Life stuff going on actually felt more intense in IMAX than watching a couple of superheroes compare mothers in the same format. The plane landing sequence, which they show us like 2 or 3 times, would be harrowing enough as is on a regular television screen, but with all this pumped up picture and sound, wow. Even background things, like, in the cockpit while all this is going down you hear this computer voice saying things like "PULL UP! PULL UP!" or "TERRAIN! TERRAIN!" or "OBSTACLE! OBSTACLE!" and it's like watching someone try to land the jet on the aircraft carrier during the most terrifying game of Top Gun on the NES.

It turns out Eastwood and cinematographer Tom Stern composed the shots for IMAX, which presents the entire film in the taller 1.90:1 aspect ratio while the non-IMAX version is presented in the 2.35:1 Scope ratio; you get more image on the top and bottom with the IMAX one. If you can't see it in IMAX, don't feel too ripped off about getting less image, because most of his films (and all of them since 1999's True Crime) were shot in 2.35:1 and therefore I'd bet the Scope version probably feels more like an Eastwood joint than this IMAX one. I'll probably check this out again in the non-IMAX version to see if I'm right or just as full of shit as I am on a typical day.

Eastwood's films had been edited by Joel Cox for God knows how long, but for this one they brought in some new blood, some bloke named Blu Murray. Sounded like a bullshit name to me and I thought maybe it was some Roderick Jaynes or Mary Ann Bernard type shenanigans happening, but it turns out Blu is a real dude, he was Cox's assistant editor and I guess Cox said "OK kid, here's your shot". At least I hope that's what happened, either that or Cox was busy on something else. Because what I can't get out of my head is this scene I made up of Cox getting a late night phone call from Eastwood growling "I'm done carrying you around, Cox. Time for you to hit the streets. Say hi to Sondra for me." Click.

But even if Eastwood showed Cox the door, he kinda showed himself the door as well; Eastwood had been composing the music for his films for a while but this time he stepped aside and let jazz pianist Christian Jacob do his thing along with The Tierney Sutton Band. It's good understated jazzy stuff, mostly piano coming in and the occasional lovely vocal, but unlike Eastwood's usual melancholy compositions this one is more upbeat and hopeful but not in some obtrusive way that is wringing every last drop of emotion from the situation.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean, go whichever way you want, it's kinda like that argument about using garlic in cooking, particularly Italian cuisine; those who feel that garlic brings out the flavor while others think little to none should be used in order to let the flavor of the rest of the food stand out. Personally, garlic or no garlic, it depends on which style you're more skilled with and whichever it is, that's the way I want you to make this dish and have I made it clear that I'm hungry? Now I'm thinking of a garlic infused ribeye steak GOD DAMN THAT SOUNDS GOOD With a nice cab or pinot to wash it down? HOLY SHIT

(Talkin' about music, dude. Stop with the steaks.)

My favorite part of the music score is during the rescue, where the ferry boats arrive and people are being pulled up. Like I said earlier, the music is perfect in a low-key "Well, how about that, I guess it's working out, huh?" way. That sequence might be my favorite of the entire film; watching how without hesitation you have these dudes working for sightseeing cruises and what-not pulling people up, taking off their jackets and hats to give to the soaked passengers to warm them up. You see rescue copters arrive and scuba dudes jumping in to get people who freaked out so much they jumped into the freezing water. Imagine that, the panic -- the sheer horrific panic! -- overwhelming you so much that you do some insane shit like jump into the icy river thinking you'll be able to swim to shore.

My goodness. So much potential there for everything to go badly in the most fucked-up way imaginable -- and it didn't. If this were an Eli Roth movie, the people in the river would get smooshed by a ferry or the chopper would go out of control and slice people up with the blades, and something would explode and then the survivors would look up and see a giant tidal wave approach them while in the background one of the rescue workers is raping a pregnant survivor. And the message would be Don't Help Anyone, You're Lame If You Do. But my message is Fuck Eli Roth with his fucking hard-ons for misery, these same erections which I'm assuming he then uses to fuck his hot Chilean wife. I met him once and he was super nice but then again many serial killers were nice to their neighbors.

But yeah, the rescue scene. I'm watching how selfless everybody is, both the rescuers and the survivors to each other and I know it's a movie but it's also based on real shit. And there's no arguing going on here about Making America Great Again, guns or no guns, liberal vs conservative vs men vs women vs transgender vs gay vs lesbian vs black vs white vs this country vs that country vs God vs No God -- there is none of that shit, there is only the human race and how it takes a fucked up situation for us to live up to our positive potential towards each other. And I'm like FUCK why can't we fucking do this all the fucking time, why does it have to be some kind of disaster as the catalyst? We have the keys to the kingdom and we're arguing about the keychain.

Look, I know I'm Debbie Downer about us but I wasn't always like this, you have to believe me, and little by little I feel more and more that we're doomed. But I don't get off on it. I'm not fucking happy about it. There's a little dot of light in my heart called Hope, but that's about it, really.

I'm like Mulder, man -- I Want to Believe.

Only instead of a UFO it's the human race on my fuckin' poster.

So I'm thinking all of that while I'm watching all of this rescuing to the nice music and I begin tearing up. (This is happening a lot more as I get older and read the writing on the wall.) I then feel someone looking at me. I look over to my right at the woman sitting next to me. She's looking at me. She saw the tears roll down my face. So I straighten up, wipe the tears away and tell her that I was crying for all the poor geese murdered by that evil flying machine because Man was not meant for the skies.

Because fuck Man -- the real beauty is in Canada Geese, you hear me?!