Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leslie Nielsen as Osama bin Laden? How can you fuck that up?!

When I went to the video store, I grabbed the two first movies available that were new to me. Turns out I made myself a little Republican themed double feature. So to get into the mood, I cursed out a Mexican and filled up the Hummer with premium gas, even though I myself am of Mexican descent and I don't even drive a Hummer.

An American Carol had a bit of buzz around it late last year, or so it seemed, because it was a comedy made by-and-for conservatives that skewered liberals like Michael Moore. It got horrible reviews and bombed just as badly. Of course, the filmmakers called foul and blamed the liberal theater owners for not counting the ticket sales or some weird conspiracy theory like that. The truth is that people probably didn't go because it looked shitty. And it is really shitty. It was one of those cases where despite the reviews, I just had to see for myself and rented it. It's not an exaggeration when I tell you that I laughed four times during this entire movie, and they weren't even good laughs, more like amused chuckles. I'll count them out for you:

1) Terrorist training video done in the style of cheesy driver's ed film.
2) Terrorist leader in disguise by wearing a fake beard over his real beard
3) A documentary by "Rosie O'Connell" about Christian terrorists, which then proceeds to piss all the funny out of it by going on way too fucking long.
4) Musical number that makes fun of liberal college professors who are really just trying to relive their 60's youth. Again, it goes on way too long, to the point that you're ashamed for having laughed at the beginning of this shit.

Then there's the occasional attempt at having a sincere moment, which just comes off really fucking awkward and wrong. Like in one part when the ghost of General Patton watches proudly as a group of soldiers in Iraq are huddled together for a prayer before going out to battle. Maybe get rid of Patton's ghost and there's nothing wrong with the actual scene itself, in fact this could be a well done emotional moment, but it doesn't work in this movie, it comes off really lame. Even more out of left field is when the Michael Moore character (called "Michael Malone" here) meets the ghost of George Washington in an abandoned church. During this, Malone keeps noticing all this dust and ash around him that's making him cough. By the end of the scene, Washington opens the doors of the church to reveal to Malone where all the dust is coming from -- the remains of the World Trade Center. Komedy!

Even spoofs and satires have to have some kind of logic when it comes to what they're making fun of, but this movie has no fucking leg to stand on. They have Michael Malone constantly say that there is no terrorist threat to America. Wait a minute, are they trying to say that Michael Moore says that? When the fuck did he say THAT? Shit, I must've been taking a bathroom break during Bowling for Columbine or Fahrenheit 9/11 when he said that shit, but I haven't seen his other movies, so maybe he said that shit somewhere else. Malone is also leading a movement to abolish the 4th of July, which makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Why the fuck would he want to to do that? Oh, I get it -- all liberals want to see America destroyed.

That's good enough an explanation for some people, but I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Let's get this out of the way, so you know where I'm coming from. Opening paragraph joke aside, I'm definitely not a liberal and I KNOW I'm not a conservative but I sure do love money and want to keep as much of it as I can, even though I currently have very little of it to begin with. Make of that what you will. Anyway, I'm sure there are a few leftists who probably do want to see this country fall apart for their own weird illogical reasons, just as there are a few right-wingers who honestly don't get what this great country stands for and want to change it to their own fucked-up standards. I believe we call these kinds of people "extremists". Yet somewhere along the way, people on both sides have been increasing the size of the fringes, so that anyone who remotely disagrees with them is included, and An American Carol definitely feels like it was made with that mentality. I prefer to save that kind of polarizing attitude for foreign countries.

Hey man, it's just a comedy! Listen, there are liberal comedies and liberal comedians out there I believe are just as wrongheaded as the motherfuckers behind this goddamn movie, but some make up for it by being funny and the others that don't, I don't waste my time with. If this movie had actually generated more than a few pathetic chuckles, all would be forgiven, but that's not the case here. I don't know what happened, the director of An American Carol was also responsible for Airplane!, Top Secret, The Naked Gun, BASEketball, and the last two Scary Movies. The dude knows how to make a funny movie, but he stumbled badly with this one, probably after tripping over his fuckin' soapbox. It's like the idea of exposing those darn liberals turned him on and he jerked himself off into such a frenzy that he ended up numbing his funny bone.

This motherfucker used to set up gags and shots like a fuckin' master, but here everything is all off and his comic timing is for shit. It's like this once great comedic director had a stroke or came back from rehab or the mental hospital like Gena Rowlands near the end of A Woman Under the Influence or something and he was too shaken up and just couldn't get it together. The shots and edits go way too long or are cut way too short, and the entire production looks cheap too. You're much better off going the Trey Parker/Matt Stone route if you want to watch far better examples of liberal-spoofing. But this movie? This movie can go fuck itself.

Thankfully, I had a better movie to follow it up with, W. This was a decent flick, not one of Oliver Stone's better works but still worth a watch. It plays kinda like an underdog tale, following Dubya around in his youth as he drinks and fucks around. His father is always bailing his son out of trouble or literally bailing him out of jail. We watch him fail at various jobs his father hooked him up with, we watch him meet the woman that would become his wife, Laura, we watch him turn his life over to Jesus Christ and we also watch him eat. Goddamn, do we watch him eat. This motherfucker is always eating. They should've changed the title of this movie to Nom Nom Nom, that shit would've been more apropos. It's like the filmmakers were aware of all this on-screen eating, and realized they had no choice now but to go cause-and-effect and eventually show him taking a shit.

The movie also cuts to older Dubya in the White House and gives us some of his greatest hits and misses, even though 9/11 is curiously left out and only mentioned from time to time. We also get some of his best lines in different scenarios, like "misunderestimate" and that "fool me once...fool me twice" line he fucked up. The cast is good here, some looking more like the real-life people they're playing than others. Josh Brolin is very good as Dubya, doing enough of the voice but not to the point of coming off as some sketch-show impression. Miri from Zack and Miri Make a Porno plays Laura Bush, which means that for the rest of my life, my mind will always flash to Miri and not the actual woman whenever I read something in the news that mentions the former First Lady, much in the same way that I see Tina Fey's face whenever I read or hear about Sarah Palin. Funny how that works. The guy they have playing Karl Rove played Truman Capote in that other Truman Capote movie and he had an awesome part in The Mist. He's good here too. The chick who played Condoleezza Rice came pretty close to SNL-impression territory with her performance, otherwise all of these motherfuckers are top notch.

Richard Dreyfuss, in particular, is awesome as Dick Cheney. He doesn't do much early on (I was especially bummed not to see him shoot a motherfucker in the face), but he has a pretty cool bit halfway through where he brings up the plans for an American empire to Dubya and company. I know that scene is supposed to be chilling, yet I'm looking over his plans and I'm going "why not?", which I guess tells you what an evil asshole I am. I mean, come on, who would you rather have to deal with when it comes to getting the hook-up on some sweet sweet guzzle-ine: Tex Texington from Texas, a ten-gallon hat & cowboy-boot-wearing, redneck hick billionaire in a stretched limo with bullhorns on the hood? Or Prince Bulla-Bulla from Derkastan, with his harem of burka'd women, an inability to smile, and a burning hatred for my Western ways? At least I can bro out and tell dirty jokes with Tex. I'm just being honest here.

W.'s not a hatchet job but it's not a lovefest either. I wouldn't call it even-handed, but it definitely gives Dubya the benefit of the doubt, especially when you consider that Stone could've very easily done his thing and really tear Bush a new asshole and fill the gaping void with conspiracy theories. I don't know if Stone is mellowing out or what. There's nothing new to learn here; the dude was good with people, the kind of guy you'd want to have a beer with but maybe not one you'd want running your country, he has serious "please love me daddy" issues, maybe his staff took advantage of him, or maybe he knew full well what the fuck he was getting himself into. If that's news to you, then that's news to you.

It's too bad Stone had such a hard-on to make this movie so soon. If he waited, maybe we'd have gotten to see a recreation of that Iraqi journalist throwing his shoes at homeboy. That shit was hilarious, and it would've been so awesome if Stone could've ended his movie that way; a dramatic slow-mo version of those shoes comin' a-flyin, maybe followed with some white doves passing by afterwards. Oops, wrong director. I'm not giving up hope yet, because Stone could always put that shit in the sequel, 2 Bush 2 Furious.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Personally, I wipe it off the moment I sense snot running down my nose. But then again, I'm not that kid's mother.

Frozen yogurt kicks ass, but self-serve frozen yogurt joints are the devil. That last statement is just an attempt at deflecting blame from my own stupidity. You see, this place I went to allows you to take their huge one-size-only cup and fill it with as much of the tasty treat as you want, then you go over and help yourself to the self-serve toppings bar. Then you take it over to get weighed and pay the amount based on the weight, like buying meat at the butcher shop. I don't know how it happened, other than being a fat fuck with no limits, but I ended up filling most of the cup with French Vanilla, topped it off with mini M&M's and Oreo bits and when I took it to the nice girl behind the counter and placed it on the scale, it came out to six dollars and fifteen cents. How could I have been so fucking dumb? I wanted to say "forget it" and dump it, but for some reason I couldn't do it. So I ate the cost and ate the frozen yogurt. Then I went to my favorite theater with the kiosk that doesn't know if you really are a senior, only this time I made it think I was a child to take off some of that financial sting from the Fat Boy Special I bought at the frozen yogurt joint.

I didn't feel like watching He Doesn't Fucking Like You Stupid Bitch So Leave Him Alone He's Probably Gay Anyway or whatever the fuck that penis-shriveler is called, so I saw Doubt. Not a tough choice to make, I always had some interest in this flick, because the guy who wrote and directed it also wrote and directed Joe Versus the Volcano, one of my favorites. That was his first movie and also his last. Homeboy didn't get behind the camera for another 18 years, until he got around to making Doubt. In between films, he wrote plays that were big hits but who gives a fuck about that shit, we're talkin' movies here.

In addition to being fond of the filmmaker, I also dig the three leads. Meryl Streep is always good, she's one of the few Serious Oscar Winners that I don't feel like throwing through a plate-glass window. She's always been all right with me. Then you have Philip Seymour Hoffman, or "Seymour Phillip Hoffman", as Alan Arkin called him at the Oscars in a genuine Old Man moment. PSH is fucking awesome in everything he's been in, even as that annoying fuckin' "XTREME!!!" dude in Twister. I noticed he was wearing some kind of knit cap on his head for the Independent Spirit Awards and the Oscars. Either that's him being terribly stylish or the motherfucker just got follicle replacement surgery, like my boy Anthony Cumia did, and he's got to protect the new plugs for a while. Rounding out the three is Amy Adams, who I've been crushing on since Catch Me If You Can. Most actresses I dig, I dig because they're hot and I want to bang them. But not Amy Adams. She doesn't inspire those type of dirty feelings in me. But she's just so gosh darn adorable that I had to use "gosh darn" a few words ago to properly display my feelings about her. She brings out the AWWW in me and I would very much like to share a milkshake with her. One glass and two straws, drinking up our chocolate shake and all the while making lovey-dovey eyes to each other. I think Amy Adams is a swell gal.

This flick takes place in 1964, in New York or somewhere there, and starts off with Hoffman's Father Flynn giving out a sermon about having doubts. He says that doubt is a lot like faith in that it brings everyone together. He uses the recent assassination of JFK as an example, saying that everyone felt down and didn't know what this meant for the world or what to tell their children. It makes a motherfucker think that maybe there isn't somebody Up There, like the adult equivalent to finding out there is no Santa Claus. Or so I'm told. I pretty much figured there was no Santa Claus when I was 4, after finding my Dad eating the cookies I left for Santa right before taking me to Toys R Us and having me pick out my present. Plus, no bicycle.

During this sermon we are introduced to Adams' character, Sister James. She's sitting in one of the pews and sneezes in the way only an adorable human being like Amy Adams can. No snot or mucus involved. Then we are introduced to Streep's character, Sister Hardass. I forgot her actual name, but Hardass might as well be it, and she is given a Badass-style introduction, something more akin to the entrance of a Sergio Leone villain or Indiana Jones or someone like that.

It starts with a shot of her sitting in a pew from behind, then she gets up and walks towards kids in other pews ahead of her who are misbehaving in one way or another. The camera follows her from behind. Then it cuts to a side angle, tracking along and passing by each pew, and the kids sitting in them. Sister Hardass walks by them in the background, and we can only see her from the chest down as she passes each pew and drops some discipline on each of the children. She smacks a slouching kid in the back of the head, she shushes some other talking kids, and some of the kids she doesn't have to do anything to because they sit up as soon as she gets near them. They know what the fuck is up. Finally, she stops at one poor child who is pitched forward, fast asleep. She crouches down and turns her head, slowly revealing her face to us for the first time. That moment is so full of Win. "Straighten! Up!" she says to the boy, and even though she never raises her voice above a whisper, this lady has a way of still making it feel like a lightning bolt from God Himself has been jolted down on the little motherfucker.

Sister Hardass is the head nun in charge (or HNIC, but not the Lean on Me version) and is also the principal of the school. Catholic school. I hear stories about those schools. There was some comedian who had a bit about how he tells people that he went to Catholic school for twelve years, and when they ask him why he isn't a Catholic anymore, he answers them by repeating that he went to Catholic school for twelve years. This is 1960's Catholic school too, which coupled with Sister Hardass' "spare the rod, spoil the child" ways makes this old school REALLY old school, like great-grandfather-school. If she walks into a class that's in session, all the kids freeze up like they're at Parris Island and Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann just walked in. Shit, had things gone differently, she could've actually been a drill sergeant.

Someone in the clergy suggests tossing in a secular holiday tune along with the old Happy Birthday Jesus standards for their approaching Christmas pageant. Maybe a tune like "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" or "Frosty the Snowman", the latter of which Amy Adams' character adorably admits to really enjoying. Well, Sister Hardass hits 'em back with how Frosty the Snowman is really a song celebrating Pagan beliefs and boo-ha-ha scary Devil stuff, so there's no way she's going to have that shit playing at her school. It's fucking Frosty the Snowman, lady! That's like back in grade school, when I had a couple of friends who came from a very strict religious family. Once I stopped by on Halloween just to see if they wanted to go trick-or-treating with me. When they answered the door, they were not dressed up at all, and they explained that they didn't celebrate Halloween for reasons you probably already know. Later on I found out they didn't celebrate New Year's Eve either, but I don't know if that was a religious thing or they just preferred to sleep in.

Anyway, during dinner, Sister Hardass brings up Father Flynn's sermon. She asks her fellow sisters if any of them have noticed anything weird or off about the dude, like maybe he's troubled or got some other troubling shit going on. They're like "no", so she tells them if they do notice anything, let her know. It's pretty interesting to see the differences between the way the nuns eat and the way the priests eat. The nuns eat quietly, VERY quietly in the convent. There's no talking, except for when Sister Hardass rings her little bell and speaks to them. Sister James takes out a piece of fat or gristle out of her mouth and puts it back on her plate, then looks over to find Sister Hardass staring back at her. You best put that shit back in your mouth. And she does. Then when we go to Father Flynn and his fellow priests eating at the rectory, it's a different scene altogether. These dudes are chowing down on blood-rare meat, smoking, drinking beer and scotch and laughing it up. Just a bunch of rowdy dudes, bro-ing out with each other. The only thing missing here is chicks. And that's the problem.

Hardass can be cruel and she can be a bitch, but she ain't no cruel bitch. It's part of the job to put into these kids the fear of God and the fear of Sister Hardass, she tells Sister James. There's the occasional human moment that peeks out of her once in a while, like when she notices one of the older nuns having trouble finding her fork, while trying to eat. It's just a few inches away, but the lady keeps fidgeting her fingers around it. Close, but not close enough. Hardass nonchalantly pushes the fork to the old lady's hand, not making a big deal about it, because that's the last thing she'd want it to become. She knows that as soon as the boys in charge find out that the old lady is going blind, she's out of the convent, and that would probably be the worst thing for the old broad. That would be some Brooks from Shawshank type of shit, right there.

This has nothing to do with the plot (which I won't give away anyway), but I have to point out one of the minor characters in this movie, this little chubby boy who appears in a few scenes. He looks like a junior version of one of those funny fat fucks from the good ol' days, like Lou Costello or Jackie Gleason. He's got this overly expressive face that I couldn't get enough of, especially in one scene when Father Flynn finds him sitting outside the principal's office, waiting his turn to face the music. I kept expecting him to go "I'm a bad wittle boy" with the faces he was making. This kid was awesome. He'll probably grow up to play the fat drunk slob in PG-13 high school or college movies, but by then, the cuteness will be gone, so fuck him.

You might already know what this flick is ultimately about, but even then I'm not going to get further into it. Because maybe you don't know, and the less you know, the better. Shit, you can say that about all movies. But all movies are not as Fucking Awesome as Doubt is. I was in a pretty bad mood after blowing $6+ on watery frozen yogurt, and with the way I was feeling, this movie was really going to have to try hard to impress me. And it sure fuckin' did, man. I was left very impressed. Shit, I'll go as far as to say this was the best 2008 movie I've seen. I liked Slumdog a lot, but not nearly as much as I liked this movie or Frost/Nixon. And I still have to see Wall-E, even though I fear that all the critical raves and award nominations will have made it impossible for me to like it THAT much.

It's all dialogue, this flick, most of it taking place in one location, and I was into it the whole time. This is just me, but I kinda wished I was watching this at home, because there were quite a few scenes where I wanted to say shit out loud, like I was some stereotypical black moviegoer. "Oh no you di'nt!" kinda stuff. But since I was in a movie theater watching a "serious film", I thought I had to keep that kinda shit in check. I got so into it, I was leaning in towards the screen for most of the running time, like I did with Frost/Nixon. When you're watching a film projected on a 40-foot screen, leaning in closer is fucking useless, but it just goes to show you how this motherfucker drew me in. I didn't even know I had been doing it until halfway through.

What's also awesome is that there are scenes that run the whole gamut of emotions, or in some cases, combine them in a way that it doesn't come out uneven. There's quite a few funny moments in this movie, along with the serious stuff. There's a bit where someone is nearly in tears with the whole Frosty the Snowman deal, and it's the kind of awkwardly genuine moment that comes out of real life. But some people are writing off moments like that as bad filmmaking, and those are people who probably have a really hard time taking a shit with all that talking they're always doing out of their asses.

Goddamn, John Patrick Shanley -- you made Joe Versus the Volcano and Doubt. Motherfucker, you are two for two on the winning side and that makes you my fuckin' bro. If it takes you another 18 years to make a flick, it'll suck to wait, but it'll probably be worth it. It doesn't matter if it's an action movie or a dialogue-filled movie, if it's Rambo chopping a motherfucker's head off with his machete or if it's the end of Father Flynn's sermon about gossip -- a kick-ass moment is a kick-ass moment, and I thought this flick was full of them.

Also, it doesn't piss away the ending. Are you listening, Taken? It ends at a perfect moment with a wonderfully ambiguous line of dialogue. The whole film is like that, actually. Different people have different opinions of what happened and what certain things meant. And I think that's the point. I mean, the fuckin' movie is called Doubt, and it leaves a motherfucker with a couple. Or maybe I'm just a dumb cunt who didn't get it. Don't answer that, I wasn't asking you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

So I guess her friend was an orphan, then?

I listen to satellite radio now, but every once in a while I'll switch it over to a couple of the old FM programs and stations I used to listen to, like Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW 89.9, or any of the talk shows on KLSX 97.1 to see what's up. It only takes me a couple of minutes to get over that, because that's how long it seems to go before it goes to twenty minutes of commercials or pledge drive bullshit, reminding me why I dumped regular radio. Last week, a local store I was shopping in was playing Heidi, Frosty and Frank on 97.1 where they kept referring to their "last show" coming up on Friday. Turns out the station was dropping the talk format and going Top 40 at the end of the week, and the entire staff was notified about this at the last minute, meaning no more Heidi-Frosty-Frank, no more Tom Leykis, no more Danny Bonaduce, no more Adam Carolla and no more Tim Conway Jr., the last two firings only proving that there's a silver lining to every cloud.

Anyway, I caught the end of Bonaduce's show on my way to the theater, listening to him choke up about how he can't understand how people love him when it's publically known he's a bad husband, a bad guy, etc. He barely had time to say his last goodbyes to the audience before Leykis' show began playing over him. Then I got out of the car and bought a ticket to Taken, the latest film written and produced by Luc Besson.

Notice I didn't say he directed it. That's because homeboy's been writing and producing flicks for others to direct for almost ten years now, keeping a close eye and short leash on the directors during production. I think I might actually like his non-directing movies more than the ones he directed himself. They're a lot more fun and wacky and are made with such an unapologetic disregard for logic, you're required to suspend your disbelief with a crane. You either go with 'em or you don't. I fuckin' go with 'em. What makes Taken different from other Besson productions is that rather than starring Jet Li or Jason Statham, this one is starring a genuine Actor, Liam Neeson. I'm not dissing Li or Statham, those dudes are my bros. I'm just saying that it's kinda cool to see Oskar Schindler/Alfred Kinsey kicking some ass and bringing back some good ol' Darkman memories while he's at it.

Neeson plays an ex-CIA "preventer" who left the game to live near his ex-wife and daughter, now shacked up with some rich dude. At first he comes off a little dorky in that "Dad, you are sooo uncool" sorta way, visiting an electronics store daily to look at a karaoke machine he wants to buy for his little girl's birthday. Slowly but surely though, you start getting hints of his badassitude and realize he's not as meek as he previously came off. He only comes off that way with his daughter, because that's what having kids does to you. Later on, Neeson's buddies from the old days stop by his apartment to kick back, drink some beer, eat some steaks and reminisce about being in The Shit. What I liked was that if this movie was made in the 80's, they would've had a bunch of bodybuilder types play these dudes. But they don't, they get Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite and this other actor who always plays nervous/creepy nerds to play these kill-for-the-government types. If anything, that makes it more realistic, I figure. A lot of these government badasses probably look more like unsuspecting office supervisors from your job, only a lot more physically fit. They don't have Schwarzenegger's muscles or Brad Pitt's looks, but they've certainly left their share of dead and/or tortured bodies at the end of their average workday.

Neeson's ex-wife acts a little cunty toward him, but you can kind of see where she might be coming from. He was hardly around for them while they were married, busy going around the world, probably slicing motherfuckers up or hooking up car batteries to some Derka Derks' testicles, and it probably made the woman kind of sore to spend many a sleepless night expecting a call from Neeson's employers with Bad News. The daughter is kinda alright with him; when he gives her the karaoke machine, she's pretty polite about it, even though you suspect she's probably not too impressed with this circa-1994 model. But then when she sees that her rich stepfather has bought her a pony, she practically drops the fucking thing on the hard ground and goes running for the other gift.

Let's talk about this girl's running style. It's awesome. I couldn't get enough of it, and they unfortunately don't give you enough of it. I'm going to give the actress the benefit of the doubt and guess that the director and Besson told her to run like that, that way she can really convey to the audience that she's playing a 17-year-old Girl. But if this actress actually does run like that, that would be even better and I'd try to raise money for a movie she and Steven Seagal could star in where all they do is run. If you ever see me, I'll gladly demonstrate the run for you, if you ask me to.

So the daughter goes off to Paris to start a European trip with her friend, where they intend to follow U2 on tour. It doesn't take long before they are both snatched up by evil Albanian sex-slave traders and Daddy hears all of this on his cell phone. The trailer I saw for this movie was really cool, because it pretty much only consisted of this one scene; the off-screen kidnapper picks up the cell and Neeson starts talking to him, telling him if he lets his daughter go, nothing will happen and they can all go about their regular lives. But if he doesn't let the girl go, he will find him and kill him, because that's what Neeson does for a living. The kidnapper simply responds with "Good luck" and hangs up. Most trailers give away everything, and this one gives you just enough for you to want to see what happens next, as opposed to waiting to see what you saw in the trailer. Anyway, the hunt is on, and you're basically watching what Jason Bourne or Val Kilmer in Spartan would do if they had to find their kidnapped daughter.

This also could've easily been 24: The Movie. Neeson is very much a Jack Bauer type, his daughter shares the same name as Bauer's daughter, torture and killing come easy to the main character, and Neeson even has a countdown to save his daughter -- 96 hours before she's sold off to some rich foreigner. I think that's a part of why this movie's such a hit. Like 24, this movie allows people to watch an American (albeit one played by an Irishman) throw pussy-ass rules out the window and do what he has to do to get the job done against evil foreigners. Everyone could get behind such a thing -- rich or poor, black or white, liberal or conservative. The difference is that liberals watch that shit in a "it's cool to watch what we could never and should never do" sort of way while conservatives watch that shit like "that's EXACTLY what we should be doing". Plus it appeals to that animal protective-of-our-pack thing we got going on in our nature; you touch a single hair on my little's girl head and I will tear your fucking throat open.

I think a lot of us are like that. Doesn't matter if you're a pacifist and would never commit any kind of physical violence toward someone in real life, most of us probably like to think that we all have the potential of turning into Sonny Corleone, beating the fuck outta the cocksucker who smacked your sister/brother/mother/father/whoever around. Someone once said that deep down all mothers are Jewish mothers, and I like to add to that and say that deep down we're all Italian guidos when it comes to someone giving our family shit.

There's an interesting running theme in this flick, if that's what you can call it. Neeson only cares about finding his daughter, and since that's all he cares about, he passes up opportunities to free other sex slaves he discovers in his mission. The only reason he saves one of the girls is because she's wearing his daughter's jacket and therefore could know something. He's also got an old friend in Paris, a detective or something, and this dude keeps telling him to just go home and they'll handle it. But Neeson knows if he lets him take over, his daughter is as good as gone. We see that his friend has kids of his own, and you know things would be different if they were kidnapped. Later on, one of the bad guys tells Neeson he can understand how he feels because he also has daughters, but he's going to kill him anyway because he can't have homeboy fucking up business, which happens to be selling other people's daughters as sex slaves. I guess the theme is "Not my kid? Not my problem".

I've heard some complaints about how the movie takes a while to get started, and I can see what they mean, but I can't agree. Those 20-30 minutes at the front of the movie contain quite a bit of that Besson goofiness I was talking about, mostly involving the family, stuff that might make your average moviegoer cry out "LAME!". But having watched other Besson fare like the Transporter series and Kiss of the Dragon, not only was I expecting it, but I would've been disappointed if Taken had lacked in that unintentional weirdness and humor. Besides, once the Neeson Punishment Train finally gets rolling, it doesn't stop. It's like they got all the boring/lame stuff out of the way in the first third, so that way you can enjoy an uninterrupted flow of Motherfuckers Getting Owned.

This would make a cool double-feature with Darkman, another flick about Liam Neeson kicking ass. The difference between the main characters is that the Taken dude is more of a straight up no-nonsense type, while Darkman is the closest thing to an Emo superhero we have, right next to Eric Draven from the Crow and Peter Parker in the third Spider-Man. I remember him crying and weeping a lot in that movie. I'm not judging him, hell, if I resembled half-eaten fried chicken that was thrown away, I'd cry a lot too. There are some similarities; both characters have a penchant for not holding up their part of the deal when it comes to letting motherfuckers go after getting info from them. Both movies have scenes where our heroes are listening to an audiorecording of the bad guy saying something on a loop, over and over again; "Good luck" and "That would be...just fine". But there's something Darkman doesn't do that Neeson's character in Taken does do and I'm not giving it away, but I honestly didn't see it coming. I actually went "Oh!" out loud in the fuckin' theater when he did it. There were some gasps from others in the audience, so I wasn't alone and therefore felt less douchey about my reaction. Darkman would never have done what Taken Dude did, he'd probably cry if he saw that shit. Or go into a adrenaline-fueled rage. It's either one or the other with Darkman.

Complaints? I have a few. For one thing, while there's lots of ownage, it's actually a bit too clean, a bit held back. Afterwards, I looked it up online and it turns out this PG-13 movie is actually a watered-down edited version of the original international cut, which is reportedly more hardcore. Since Taken was released in the United States last, that means uncut import versions are available online. It's up to you whether you want to acquire it the legal way or not. Also, I wished they calmed down with some of the shaky-cam shit. That shit's gotta stop. I miss the good ol' days when fight scenes involved communicating to the audience who is hitting who. Last but not least, they really piss away the ending. There's one moment where it could've ended, and it would've been so fuckin' boss if they did. But they don't. So they continue on for another scene, and I'm like okay, they just want to make sure we understand what happened next and that's cool, they can just end it here then. Nope, it goes on for yet one more scene that's really fucking lame.

But flaws aside, Taken is a solid action flick that moves fast and entertains, and that's all you can ask for with this kind of movie. In retrospect, I'd have waited for the eventual unrated DVD, but it was only a $5 matinee and I was left satisfied. On the way home I caught the end of Tom Leykis' last show before his indefinite leave. He ended it by playing a song that he said he heard one day and realized it was all about him and the lyrics expressed everything that he felt. The lyrics pretty much consist of "I'm the Man! I'm the Man! I'm the Man! I'm the Man!", which sounds about right for an egotist like Leykis. I bet you he really does think it's about him, listening and singing along to it in his car and saying "I really am the Man!". Fuckin' rich smug fat-ass wife-beating bastard. God, how I wish I could be him.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Feral Black Cat to Coraline: "I know it's pretty, baby. But I didn't take it out for air."

I fought the law and the law won. What little cash I have is better spent on entertainment and gasoline (I got off the booze), so to pay off my fine, I went the Community Service route. Because my troubles all happened in Los Angeles, I had to go to the Volunteer Center over in that piece-of-shit town to work it out.

There was a line of people ahead of me at the office, all waiting to be served by the one lady on duty. The guy in front was a jerk in sunglasses with slicked back thinning hair. The lady asked him if he would like to work off his hours at a hospital. Doing what, he asked. Laundry, she responded. He let out a snort and said "Laundry? At a hospital? No way. Next." She then offered a position at an animal shelter. "Nope", he responded. How about picking up trash at the beach? "Uh-uh."

At one point, he told the English as a Second Language lady of raza to hurry up because he had to go to court soon. He said he didn't want to do anything that involved cleaning, so she offers him a thrift store job. The jerk then looked at us with his fucking stupid sunglasses and gave us that "Get a load of this chick" look. I can't speak for the others, but I personally wanted to pull those sunglasses off his balding head, snap them in half, drop them on the floor and stare back at him to see what he would do next. Finally he told the lady to forget it, that he was just going to go pay the fine. Then he left.

I was able to get my community service transferred over to my stomping grounds, and after going to my local Volunteer Center for an interview, I decided to go see a movie called Coraline in 3D at the local cinema.

Coraline is the latest flick from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas. No, not Tim Burton -- he wrote the story for Nightmare, but it was this dude Henry Selick who actually made the movie. When it comes to animation, everything is all CGI now, but Selick keeps it old-school and does his thing with stop motion. Goddamn, how much fucking patience does one have to have to work in stop motion? I could never do that. I'd pull my hair out of my head within twenty minutes, that's what I think. So even if Nightmare and Coraline sucked, I'd still have to raise my glass of Sierra Mist (no more booze, I said) to Selick and his crew for having the motherfucking gumption to go through with that shit. Thankfully, neither Nightmare nor Coraline suck. In fact, they're two pretty fucking sweet movies.

Coraline is the name of the flick and the name of the main character, this girl who I'm guessing is 12 or 13 years old. She and her parents have both recently moved to Oregon, out there in the middle of all those trees, shacking up in a old huge house that's been broken down into three apartments. Coraline and her fam live in the center section that takes up the first and second floor, and her neighbors live in the basement and attic. Like most kids her age, Coraline is kind of a brat, but not in an overdone Hollywood somebody-beat-the-fuck-out-of-this-snot way. It's that realistic kind of self-centered behavior that every child has displayed at one point or another. If you did not act up like this at any point in your tweens, then that means you're currently decomposing in a car at the bottom of a lake since you were six, because that's where your Mom drove you and your siblings before running off screaming and claiming some black dude kidnapped you. I'm just saying.

Our girl had friends back in her old hood (Michigan, I believe) and she really misses them. It sucks to be that age and it sucks even more when you're pulled out of your comfort zone and now you have to start all over, so again, you can kind of see why Coraline is kind of cranky. But because kids her age love to sulk and wallow in their state of misery to attract attention, she treats the neighbor's kid kinda shitty whenever he shows up and tries to be friends with her. His name is Wybie and he's always wearing his fireman's coat and this homemade helmet that's outfitted with telescope/night vision lenses. The way he acts and carries himself around, you can tell he's an outcast at school and probably eats lunch by himself a lot. His only friend and partner-in-crime is a black feral cat. No, I'm not making the cat's color an issue, I'm just letting you know. If that bothers you, then you must really look within yourself as to why it does bother you. It's like homeboy Eric Holder said, man, we gotta stop acting like cowards when it comes to this kind of shit. So the cat's black, and that's the way it is.

Coraline's parents both work as writers for a gardening catalog. They're always typing away on their computer or laptop, and they just don't have much time for their little girl. Of course, Coraline keeps trying to get them to pay attention to her, talking to them or fidgeting around a few feet away while they're trying to write out some bullshit on how to mulch or something. The mother has got her turtleneck sweater and slacks on, while the dad is always wearing his Michigan State sweater and his disgusting fucking flip flops. That bugs the fuck out of me, for some reason. When Coraline sticks around too long around Dad, he gives her a notebook and tells her to go do something, anything to get her the fuck out of there. Her parents also have this deal where Mom does all the cleaning and Dad does all the cooking, which is too bad, because the dishes he serves don't look good at all. Probably faggy liberal organic crap.

Coraline goes around to check out the neighbors; the basement dwellers are a couple of old retired actresses. They live with a bunch of Scottish terriers and have posters of old past theatrical shows all over the place. Up in the attic is this Russian dude who trains rats or mice or whatever the fuck they are for a circus. I don't know if he still works in the circus or if he's retired and just fucks with the mice to have something to do. Anyway, her neighbors are all a real trip.

While exploring around the house, Coraline finds a small door that's been wallpapered over. She has her mom open it up and they find that it's been bricked up inside. Coraline wonders why someone would do that, and her mom figures it got walled up when the house was separated into apartments. But that sure as hell isn't the case, because late one night, a couple of the mice lead Coraline to the door and instead of bricks, there's now a long umbilical-like entrance attached. She crawls into it and comes out the other side to find an alternate version of her house. Whereas the real house is gray and drab and cold, this alternate version is warm and inviting. She looks around and finds her parents, only these motherfuckers have giant buttons for eyes. They're also very happy to see her. While Coraline's real parents are busy and hardly have time for her, the "other" parents shower our girl with attention and cook huge feasts of delicious food for her.

I guess for a 12-year-old girl like Coraline, this is all good and gravy. But me, as an audience member, I'm watching the whole time creeped the fuck out. I'm just waiting for the inevitable moment when the other shoe drops. A little girl like Coraline just sees this as love, sweet love, the only thing that there's just too little of in her life (at least that's how she probably sees it), but she's too young to understand these motherfuckers are acting like cult members on opiates who are waiting for the mothership to arrive. Funny how that goes for children.

That blissful kind of childhood ignorance reminds me of the time my mom took me to see Tim Burton's Batman and we waited in line outside the theatre. I was about 8 and I ended up having this spirited conversation with the dude behind me, while my mother observed. This guy looked to be in his late-30s and he was really cool. We talked Batman, comic books, video games. I really liked this awesome chubby comic-book dude. He managed to convince me in his argument that the best place to watch a movie was by sitting at the very front, looking up at the screen as it overwhelmed you. I didn't sit front row with him, because while I bought his argument, that's as far as it went. Afterwards my mom told me that she thought it was nice how non-judgmental I was to the man, since most kids tend to be cruel and not want to deal with the mentally handicapped. What? Jesus Christ, how could I not know? I thought that was an accent he had. In retrospect, I should've known; the man liked sitting dead center in the front row, and this wasn't a place like the New Beverly or Silent Movie Theatre, where front row isn't a bad place to sit, this was your average multiplex where the front seat is about two inches away from the 40-foot screen. He was sitting right there with his head tilted all the way back. Who the fuck does that? OF COURSE HE WAS A FUCKIN' RETARD!!!

This movie is available in both 2D and 3D, just like My Bloody Valentine 3D or Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D was when they played in theaters. But the difference between those two flicks and Coraline is that those flicks are pretty useless in their 2D forms. Coraline, on the other hand, is a genuinely good flick that I wouldn't mind watching in a flat version. Even without 3D, the animation and production design can really impress a motherfucker. Someone on the AV Club message boards wrote that watching Coraline was like taking mushrooms without actually having to take mushrooms, and as someone who has done shrooms before (Never again!), I can kinda see what he or she meant by that. There are things that happen in Coraline that I couldn't even try to explain to you without sounding like a crack addict; images and moments that lead a motherfucker to believe that Henry Selick and Neil Gaiman (who wrote the short story this was based on) certainly have done their share of psychotropic substances and are inflicting the shit that wowed them or freaked them out in their college days on the general public. And I say bravo to them for doing so.

I mean, come on -- you pay your money on something like Paul Blart: Mall Cop and you're gonna get Fatty Falls Down, right? But you pay to see something like Coraline and you're gonna get shit like flowers with dragon heads that try to bite you, theaters packed with terriers in the audience, worlds that gradually disappear into white and then reappear again, cannons that shoot cotton candy at you, hundreds of marching rodents in their marching uniforms, etc. I'm just naming some of the tame things in this flick, because there's a lot more weirder, more disturbing, and outright creepy-as-fuck imagery in Coraline. If I was tripping balls while watching this movie, going on my previous experience with the magic mushroom, I'd probably run out screaming and crying like that lady in Hong Kong who missed her flight. But that's because I'm a pussy.

This isn't a kids movie, though. Sure, kids are invited to the Coraline party, but only if they're cool and can hang. Otherwise, take that shit over to Hotel for Dogs. We as a society have yet to jump the hurdle when it comes to distinguishing certain kinds of animated features from others. Apparently, it doesn't matter if it's stop-motion, CGI, or hand-drawn, "Animation is completely safe for kids" is the attitude and there's going to be some parents who are going to take their pansy-ass children to this movie and they're going to be outraged -- OUTRAGED, I SAY -- when little Timmy or Sally start bawling at the extreme close-up of a particularly freaky-looking thing. It depends on the kid. There was only one kid with her parents in the audience when I saw it, a little girl, and I didn't hear a peep out of her. But that's probably because I gave her the universal "shhh" finger-to-mouth gesture followed by the universal cut-throat gesture before the movie started. Your kids' mileage may vary.

I thought Coraline was a really cool movie and it's a cool 3D experience too. It's no Captain EO when it comes to shit flying out of the screen, it's more subtle and I'm sure the movie would work just as well without it anyway. I wonder how the 3D would play out if you watched it sitting dead center in the front row of the theater. If only I had that chubby retard's number, he could tell me. Chubby Retard, if you're reading this, I hope you're doing well, I hope you're with people you love, and I hope you're safe. Be well, Chubby Retard. Be well and take care.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I guess the only early Full Moon flick left to watch is Meridian

Back in my late years of elementary school, I started to rent a lot of these Full Moon movies at the video store. Full Moon was the name of a production company that specialized in low-budget sci-fi and horror for the straight-to-video market. At the end of each flick, there was also a 15-20 minute featurette called Videozone that featured a behind-the-scenes of the flick you just watched, trailers and coming attractions for other Full Moon productions. The flicks were entertaining and fast-paced, and they released a new one every month.

There are still a couple flicks from the early years of Full Moon that I never got around to watching though, and I found one of them at the going-out-of-business video store. It's called Shadowzone, and it starts with a dude from NASA arriving via helicopter at an underground bunker in the middle of the Nevada desert. There's an experimental project called Shadowzone being conducted for the past year, one that involves deep sleep for extended periods of time. NASA is funding it, but there's been a death during one of the procedures, so NASA Dude is here to check out on it and determine whether or not his bosses should continue footing the bill for Shadowzone. He's taken down to the bunker by the maintenance man, nicknamed Shivers because of his always trembling right hand. Shivers is a dirty-looking motherfucker; he's got a huge bushy unkempt beard, filthy clothes (with filthier-looking undershirt), dirty smudges all over his hands and fingernails and he's greasy too. You just know this scumbag has been wearing the same underwear for at least two weeks.

NASA Dude then goes to the pantry to eat and be brought up to speed by Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She tells him that they are close to making a breakthrough. But NASA Dude doesn't want to hear it; he wants to meet the main dude in charge and he also wants to see the body of the unfortunate test subject who died. We also meet Cutter the cook and Dr. Kidwell, this chick who works with a bunch of lab animals. Kidwell's young and pretty, which means she will be the only other survivor, along with the handsome NASA dude. That's just how it works in these flicks. After inspecting the body, they all go to the control room that is adjacent to the experiment chamber, and NASA Dude meets the computer whiz at the controls named Wiley. NASA Dude then enters the experiment chamber and meets with the head dude, this guy named Dr. Van Fleet. Van Fleet is played by Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China. We have an Asian actor playing a dude with a Dutch name and a German accent, which I thought was pretty cool, because I'm down with the melting pot.

Van Fleet shows NASA Dude the male & female test subjects who have been in deep sleep. Both are laid out and enclosed in sleeping pods and both are completely naked. This is awesome in the chick's case, because she's got a nice rack and we get full frontal too. Her name is Jenna, she's been in deep sleep for only a few days now (replacing the recently deceased security guard) and for the record, the carpet does not match the drapes. The male test subject is named James, he's been under for six months now and unfortunately we see all of him too. Van Fleet explains that he has safely disconnected their brainstems electronically, that way they can enter an even deeper state of sleep without going brain dead. NASA Dude asks if this could've caused the last subject to have his deadly stroke, but like the others, Van Fleet strongly insists that there's no way that could be. It was just a bad coincidence, he says.

That night, NASA Dude has a bad dream where he watches the rest of the crew performing an autopsy on Jenna, then we're off to the next morning at the experiment chamber. NASA Dude has read the print-outs of previous tests and discovered that the last subject had been sent to a particular level of sleep before expiring, called Level 31F. Van Fleet insists it has nothing to do with the test subject's stroke. NASA Dude tells him in that case, if there's nothing wrong with 31F, then they shouldn't have a problem setting one of the subjects on it and letting him observe. Van Fleet tries to talk his way around it, but he knows that refusing to do so would be an admission of guilt and Shadowzone would get shut down. So he and his crew go ahead and set Test Subject James on Level 31F and hope for the best, knowing that the last test subject only lasted 40 seconds under that setting.

NASA Dude goes to the experiment chamber and watches over James' in the sleeping pod as he undergoes Level 31F, meanwhile Van Fleet and his crew are in the control room with fingers crossed and assholes puckered, wishing for NASA Dude to hurry the fuck up and finish getting what he wants so they can shut it down before the 40 seconds are up. Almost a minute passes before NASA Dude is satisfied, and James is brought down to a safer level. Suddenly something interfaces with the computer system and overrides it. Alarms and bells start going off, and Wiley is powerless to stop it. The earth starts quaking and the sleeping pods start shooting out sparks, and it ends with Test Subject James' head exploding all over the pod. The lights go out, and we cut to Shivers as he comes out of the restroom, zipping up his fly and hooking his belt back up. I can bet you this filthy motherfucker didn't even wash his hands. He goes over and turns on the emergency lights, contaminating the switches with his unwashed shit-wipers.

Van Fleet, Kidwell and NASA Dude then go into the experiment chamber to check and make sure everything else is okay. Wiley has control of the system again, so he uses the mapping system on the monitor to keep track of the three while they're inside. The three check on the pods; Jenna is fine, still under deep sleep in her pod. James's pod, on the other hand, looks likes its been coated with Wild Cherry Slurpee, so that's how he's doing. Back in the control room, Wiley notices on the monitor that there is another life form inside the chamber. Van Fleet separates himself in one part of the chamber to look for the lifeform, forcing NASA Dude and Kidwell to go back to the control room. Van Fleet looks around, gets a couple of false scares and is then attacked by some mutated Leprechaun-looking thing in woman's clothing. The last thing he says is "Madam Pip!" and then after that it's just a bunch of high-pitched squealing, the kind one usually lets out when he or she is getting murder-ized.

Our cast of characters all go to the pantry for much "Rabble rabble harumph harumph" about what just happened. Ratched explains to NASA Dude what she and Van Fleet had discovered early on. They found out that when taken past the deepest level of dream-state sleep, a human being's subconscious becomes a sort of radio tuner that is able to communicate with other dimensions. The only reason inter-dimensional communication isn't an everyday occurrence is because the brain wakes the person up as a kind of defense mechanism. In other words, your brain knows when your stupid ass subconscious is walking into a bad neighborhood, so it drives its Hyundai up onto the sidewalk in front of you, opens the door, pulls you inside, and then double-backs the other way and speeds its way back to Mayberry before the fuckin' Crips and Bloods see you and try to jack your shit. But since Van Fleet shut off the brainstem from the test subjects, that means that not only was communication with an other dimension made possible, but with the help of Shadowzone's system, a lifeform from the other dimension has been able to come over to our side and start fucking shit up. Ain't that a bitch?

Dirty motherfucker Shivers explains to everyone that the top is sealed, communications are down, and they only have a few hours of air left. They also find out that the lifeform from another dimension has the ability to change its shape and size, meaning it can be anywhere in the bunker it wants to be. So they also have that going for them. NASA Dude and Wiley decide to go further downstairs to fail at fixing something. Shivers and Kidwell take off to go and check on Cutter in the kitchen. As for Nurse Ratched, she stays to hold the fort back at the control room, where she applies Chap Stick non-stop, and if she's not doing that, she's playing with the tube. Every fucking scene, she's messing with that Chap Stick.

Cutter buys it first. She reaches into a mousehole to replace a trap. She screams, blood splatters on her face, and suddenly a giant mutant rat smashes through the wall, Kool-Aid-Man style.

Surprisingly, Kidwell gets it next. I figured she was going to live to become NASA Dude's fuck buddy, but it's made very clear that she won't, not after she messed with a lab monkey that was really the creature in monkey form.

Shivers is next. After hearing Kidwell's dying screams over the intercom and finding Cutter's mangled corpse in the kitchen, he runs hollering like the mortified hillbilly he is through every part of the bunker. If I was the director of this flick, I would've asked the sound guys to add in the sound of constant urination and bowel evacuating, because that's what this motherfucker looks like he's got going on. Because Scared and Stupid park their cars in the same garage, Shivers' fires his weapon all over the place until he's left facing the unseen monster with an empty shotgun. Well, at least Shivers' no longer has to worry about taking showers anymore. Not that he ever did, the stinky motherfucker. NASA Dude and Wiley arrive and find shredded pieces of meat and gore and a pair of broken glasses where Shivers had been standing.

They stand there, open-mouthed and stunned at all the blood. NASA Dude looks over to the darkness at the other end of the hall. It's completely quiet, and it looks like there's nothing there. But NASA Dude just fucking knows and quietly whispers to Wiley that they should beat their feet. I have to admit, that was a pretty creepy fucking moment. The filmmakers didn't use special effects or sound effects. There's no growl or monster roar. It's just a shot of an unlit section of the hall. And yet even I was like "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!!!"

Off they go, to the nearest elevator, which of course is out-of-order. Wiley runs down the hall to a control box so he can hotwire the elevator to work again. Motherfucker. That elevator had been out for a couple of days now, and all along Wiley could've fixed it if he wanted to? Well, Wiley is about to learn a painfully final lesson about procrastination, because while he manages to hotwire the elevator doors to open, allowing NASA Dude to go inside, Wiley does not make it to the doors in time and they close on him. NASA Dude cannot pry them open, and guess who just showed up down the hall? NASA Dude is then treated to the sound of Wiley screaming and the sight of the elevator door window getting splattered with blood.

NASA Dude climbs out through the elevator shaft and makes it to the control room. There he finds Ratched, who tells him what she's found out about the killer lifeform. Based on what happened to both Van Fleet and Kidwell, Ratched has figured out that the creature takes the form of whatever happens to be in the victim's mind. Kidwell was looking around for her monkey, so the creature took the form of that ugly fuck. And before Van Fleet was attacked, he was scared, and his fear triggered an old childhood memory of a carnival geek named "Madam Pip", so that's what the creature appeared as. I guess that would mean that if I was in the movie, either a Scarlett Johansson clone or a giant pizza would end up doing me in. Unless I was scared, because in that case I'd probably be running away from a giant Algebra book. That's Komedy people! Komedy!

The lifeform once again interfaces with the computer system and communicates with NASA Dude and Ratched. The lifeform says that it can no longer sustain itself in our world and wants to go back to its dimension. Our survivors agree to help, but they must set Jenna at Level 31F and risk killing her to do it. They turn on the doohicky, sparks explode and then a big shaft of glowing light forms in the center of the room. The creature shows up, looking nothing like the full-bodied mutant on the video cover. Instead, it looks more like the sad AIDS-stricken version; it would be more at home in a robe and slippers, walking slowly across the study and sipping a cup of broth.

Anyway, the creature walks into the shaft of light and disappears. Ratched just can't leave well enough alone, so she picks up a broken piece of metal rod and sticks it into the light. It gets sucked in. I guess this was Ratched's way of checking if the water was fine, so to speak, because she then walks right into the light and disappears.

NASA Dude figures she ain't coming back anyway, so he grabs an axe and smashes up the entire system, both to ensure this shit will never happen again and to save Jenna from getting the Scanners Treatment. Ratched suddenly returns, stepping halfway out of the light. She looks at NASA Dude with an amazed and excited gaze and tells him "There are thousands of th--" and that's all she gets to say because that metal rod from earlier has just poked out of her chest. She then does that thing we've seen in lots of movies; she stands there confused, rubs the blood off of her mouth and finally keels over. This all just goes to prove my long-standing theory: Never try to confirm if you have been gravely wounded. If you think you've just been shot or stabbed, by all means DO NOT LOOK OR TOUCH, just let it go. As long as you don't try to confirm your fatal wound, you will survive. You can go days, months, years like this. But as soon as you touch it and raise your bloody fingers up to your eyes for a closer look, you will DIE.

Turns out it was the creature who ran Ratched through with the metal rod. It leans in closer and starts stroking Ratched's hair, then looks at NASA Dude before giving out an anguished-sounding scream. The creature then pulls Ratched's body back into the other dimension with it. I don't know, man. You figure that shit out. Anyway, stuff explodes and NASA Dude passes out. He wakes up a short while later to the sounds of someone yelling. It's Test Subject Jenna, now completely woken up and trapped in her sleeping pod. NASA Dude goes over and gets her out, left dumbfounded by the sight of this hot naked piece-of-ass sitting before him. Roll credits. It's gotten to a point that when one of these movies ends without a surprise "IT AIN'T OVAH! DUN DUN DUN!" ending, that in itself is a surprise ending.

Shadowzone was a'ight. It lost two L's and an R over time. The movie looks good for its budget and it has the occasional good moment and surprise. I liked the idea of a creature that takes the form of whatever you're thinking about, and since you're most likely thinking of some scary shit to begin with in this kind of situation, it's not going to be good. Anyway there was no Videozone after the flick. Instead there's an odd promotion for Full Moon merchandise. It's's...uh...hmm. I'll just post it at the end of the Not-So-Random moments YouTube clip and let you see for yourself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A "Watermelon Man" poster? Really? Maybe they bonded over that flick. Still, what the fuck?

I used to hate the fucking cops, especially after any time I was caught breaking the law. Traffic laws, I mean. I'm not some fuckin' dealer or something. But now I've chilled out about it a bit. Now I don't like or dislike the police, I just accept and understand that their job requires them to be assholes, because they got possible life or death shit going on everyday on the job. If you personally watched the horrible fucked up shit people are capable of on a 9-to-5 everyday basis, you'd not only be a cynical motherfucking prick but you'd also have a badge that actually certifies you to be one. Plus, by hating on the police, you put yourself in a black and white situation with no gray area. So, you hate the cops, huh? Well, then I guess you shouldn't call them then if you've just been jacked or there's some ski-masked nogoodnik in your crib. See? I don't know about you, but I never want to be considered a hypocrite.

Having said that, having excused their ways, I still don't understand people who say that they love cops. I hear that a lot on talk radio. What the fuck. Cops don't fuckin' love you. They sure as shit don't trust your ass, they can't afford to. Shit man, they probably look down on you because you're just a civilian who doesn't know any better. How can you love someone who would have no qualms about fucking up your shit if their job requires it? These are probably the same assholes who get all chipper in their voice when a cop pulls them over, with that "Why hello, Officer! Isn't it a pleasant morning?" tone they get into. Motherfucker, you don't think they know what you're doing? Everybody's pulled that shit, even me. And it don't fuckin' matter how you sound, unless you got a really good fuckin' excuse or some nice titties, you're getting that ticket -- and they're still going to talk to you like a dumb little boy. So save your dignity. But don't be an asshole either, getting all "Fuck you PIG! I didn't do SHIT!" on them. Just, you know, stay dignified and adult and shit. And unless the cop is related to you in some way or the cop just finished putting two holes in the dome of the motherfucker who was about to cut your throat, calm down with the fucking LOVE. Don't go unzipping their fuckin' flies and just be thankful for their existence.

It's seems most of the people living in Lakeview Terrace fall on the LOVE LOVE LOVE side when it comes to their feeling about the police officer residing in their neighborhood. The interracial couple who just moved in, on the other hand, aren't so quick to sing his praises. They're played by the dude who gets fucked up by Juno in Hard Candy and that chick who made such an impression as being both pretty and intelligent on Bill Maher's HBO show that I'm sure Bill Maher proposed to her and/or tried to hit that. As for the wonderful police officer everyone else in the neighborhood loves, he's played by Samuel L. Jackson and he's black, by the way.

Officer Windu's a good cop, a hard worker who spent nearly 10 of his 28 years on the force doing double shifts, taking any shit detail offered and working security jobs on the side to move his family out of South Central and into the suburbs. He's a widower raising two kids, and while he can be a strict motherfucker, you can tell he really cares about them, he's not some asshole on a power trip. Also like I said earlier, the rest of the neighborhood loves him. They're all happy to see him at their barbecues, and he gets along with them really well.

It's just the new couple he's having problems with. At first you can understand where he's coming from, getting upset about the night Hard Candy Dude and Bill Maher's Fantasy get naked and fuck in their swimming pool, out in the open for Windu's kids to watch (and they do). Then you got Hard Candy Dude tossing his cigarette butts near Windu's lawn. Show some fucking respect, asshole. The first time Officer Windu and Hard Candy Dude meet is kinda shaky, too. HCD is parked down the street having another of those unauthorized smoke breaks, when Windu comes up to talk to him through the open side window. If it wasn't for his t-shirt and shorts, you'd think the motherfucker was on the job right then and there with the way he talks at homeboy. Jackson's really good in this movie as Officer Windu, he's really got that fucked up sarcastic making-you-feel-stupid way of talking that cops do to civilians completely down. Windu notices that Hard Candy Dude likes to bump Black Sheep and Public Enemy in his ride, so before leaving, he tells HCD something like "You can listen to that music all night, but when you wake up in the morning, you'll still be white".

That's a fucked up thing to say if you ask me, and here's a little question for you. If that was the other way around and a white dude told a black dude something similar after finding out homeboy liked listening to Dinosaur Jr., would the statement be as equally fucked up or would it be considered much much worse and justifies life-ruining and/or assbeating? The world already has an answer for us, but I'm asking anyway.

So gradually it becomes clear as fucking Crystal Pepsi (remember that nasty shit?) that it's less about them not being the most considerate neighbors and way more about them being all Ebony and Ivory that rubs Windu the wrong way. HCD figures that's where the dude is coming from and tries to be cool about it. He even invites him to their housewarming party, and boy, that scene is filled to the brim with Cringe. When he shows up, he brings a gift for Bill Maher's Fantasy and upon close inspection you see that it's a book called "BLACK". I don't know, I thought that shit was pretty funny. We learn just how much more opposite Windu is from the couple -- and the other party guests, for that matter. I'm talking global-warming-denying conservative versus Prius-driving liberal kind of opposite. So that ploy doesn't work at all.

As the movie goes on, Windu's comments become more and more pointed, his behavior becomes more and more antagonistic, and he just becomes more and more of an asshole to the people around him. The rest of the movie consists of our couple as they are continually pushed by a man who doesn't want them in his neighborhood, a man who has the entire Los Angeles police force and the respect of his community to back him up. In the meantime, there's a wildfire slowly burning up the hillside communities, and it's approaching Lakeview Terrace. Oh, a subplot AND a metaphor. Two for one!

They shot this movie near my stomping grounds. I remember one night as I was driving home, I looked up to the houses on the hill and noticed two huge lights shining down on one from the sides, along with one of those big white boards they use next to them. I drove up the street looking for the shooting location (using the yellow and black "LVT" signs to guide me) and got close enough to the trucks and generators and 300-pound ex-cholos guarding them. That was pretty cool, to watch a movie shot near your neck of the woods and to try and recognize the on-screen locations. What's funny is that I've yet to actually go pay money to see one in a movie theater. I mean, you'd think I'd want to go check out a movie in a room full of people who are most likely watching it for the same reason -- they want to see their town represented in 35mm. But I haven't. I waited to see Good Burger on video and I waited to see this one too. Don't know why it worked out that way, but it did.

The actors playing the interracial couple were really good too. Hard Candy Dude really has the whole liberal pansy white boy thing down, and Bill Maher's Fantasy does a good job too. There's some moments between them when things aren't so hot, a couple of glances or lines they give each other that give me chills because that's some real shit I'm sure we've all had before. Real relationship shit. You also have my bro Jay Hernandez playing Officer Windu's partner, so that's awesome. I remember I almost went to see a double-feature of Lakeview Terrace and Quarantine at the drive-in, and Jay Hernandez is not only in both of those flicks, he plays a police officer in both too. That was probably amusing to at least a couple of people who did attend, and since it was a drive-in, that was probably how many showed up. Support your local drive-in, people. You can bring your own food! Wait a minute. Actually, you support the drive-in less when you bring your own grub. I don't want to spend so much on subpar popcorn...yet I want these establishments to survive...but I like being able to bring my own food...but -- Goddammit, why must life be so full of quandaries!

This movie was directed by Neil LaBute, whose previous movie was the hilarious remake of a movie that wasn't a comedy called The Wicker Man, and I guess he still hasn't completely shaken that off of him because there's the occasional weird and goofy touch here. Aside from that, I thought this flick was pretty good. I was into it the whole time, and it's perfect video rental material. It's the kind of flick you can watch for about a half-hour, then you pause it and make yourself some eggs and then unpause and watch while you eat your meal, then about an hour and twenty into the flick you stop it because you forgot you have to make an important phone call about some motherfucking parking ticket you got, and then you go back ten minutes later and watch the rest of it -- and you don't feel like the momentum has been broken AT ALL. That's either good or bad, I'm saying it's good because I wanted to get back to the movie and find out what happened as soon as possible. Your mileage may vary. If you're a Sam Jackson fan, (and who aside from a total asshole isn't?) this flick has a couple of REALLY intense Sam Jackson moments, particularly the end of one scene after he's chased a suspect on the job. There's also a nice amount of really uncomfortable moments that make you cringe or shift around uncomfortably in your seat, if you're into that sort of thing.

I liked this flick up until the final 20 minutes or so, then it started to disappoint me. It was like the Film forgot it was actually a Movie, and therefore had to climax like one. Up until then, this movie featured characters that lived in the gray area, but by the end everything becomes -- ahem -- black and white. Lakeview Terrace was getting solid B+'s on its quizzes at school, but when it came time for the final test, it scored a C. I'd have a chat with Lakeview Terrace after class and say "You're better than this, Lakeview Terrace, and you know it. What happened?", and Lakeview Terrace would tell me that near the end of the test, it noticed most of its friends had finished already and it wanted to go outside to hang with them, so Lakeview Terrace just rushed through the last set of questions.

Aside from the way it chooses to wrap-up, it's a good flick and I think it's worth queuing up on the ol' Netflix. At the very least, you got two deleted scenes on the DVD that are pretty funny; one is a walk-by cameo by LaBute's homeboy Aaron Eckhart, and the other is a scene that climaxes with Jackson screaming out "You bitches always trying to cut a nigga's dick off!". It's true -- you bitches are always trying to cut a nigga's dick off. Stop it. It has a hard time putting up with its owners' abuse, let alone yours.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"And I hope the people of the United States of America will be able to sleep better knowing that women like us have guns."

Recently an audio clip came out of Christian Bale losing his shit on the set of the next Terminator movie. It made me wonder how many more instances are there of on-set shit-losing that we don't know about? What about actors who are jerks to their fellow thespian? What about the ones who are supposed to play lovers or family members or friends or work partners? What about buddy movies? That would be funny if the "buddies" in the buddy movie fucking hated each other. One of my newly acquired VHS flicks is a buddy movie, and the two chicks in it have such a nice chemistry together it would be pretty funny to find out that they wanted to fuckin' kill each other in real life.

Feds starts with this chick named Elizabeth "Ellie" DeWitt, a U.S. Marine, and she's played by Rebecca DeMornay, the smokin' hot woman who was so hot, she managed to turn Tom Cruise straight in Risky Business. Then Tom Cruise went on to make Top Gun, where all those shirtless volleyball-playing assholes turned him gay again and we lost him for good. At the beginning of Feds, DeWitt leaves the Marine base and off she goes into Quantico for FBI training, or at least that's where I'm sure it's supposed to be. You see, they're pretty vague about that sort of thing in this flick because the real FBI didn't give them shit as far as cooperation is concerned.

DeWitt arrives with her duffel bag and leather jacket and has a meet-cute with homeboy from Krull. She then meets her roomie, a studious bookish-type (read: nerd) named Janice Zuckerman. At first, the uptight Zuckerman kinda blows off DeWitt's attempts at friendship, but DeWitt quickly ends that when she straight out asks Zuckerman what's up with the stick up her ass. Zuckerman apologizes, saying that it's nothing personal, she's always like this when in "extreme academic stress".

The rest of the class is mostly white dudes in suits and a black guy in a suit too. They all reek of Ivy League and smugness and Krull is their unofficial leader. There are a couple of other women, but we never hear shit from them and they get axed pretty quickly, so fuck 'em. It's pretty much recruits DeWitt & Zuckerman against the world from here on out. The only guy recruit who is cool with them is another nerd named Howard Butz (ha ha, it's almost like Butts!). He's from MIT where he apparently majored in looking like a jackass and it's only a matter of time before he and Zuckerman become an item.

The classes are hard as fuck for DeWitt, who is constantly coming off like a dumbass when the instructor calls her out to answer a question. This instructor is fucking hardcore, he's the kind of teacher who gives you back your test grade out loud in front of everybody. At one point, he tells DeWitt that only nine out of forty trainees graduate, the rest become salesman or telephone repairmen or beauticians. That sounds a little too extreme for me. I'm sure the ones who fail become police officers or go work in a law firm or something. But I guess he's just trying to make a point and be a dick at the same time.

No worries in the class for Zuckerman, though. She aces all her tests and gives all the right answers when called upon. Whenever she's back in her dorm room, she's busy reading from the assigned books, highlighting sections and putting colored paper clips on the page for quick reference. I used to do that sort of thing, and now here I stand before you, a proud community college dropout, so if I can do it, YOU can do it! The one thing Zuckerman can't do is accomplish anything that requires more physical exertion than taking notes. She can't do one pull-up, she can't shoot for shit, and she's constantly humiliated by her male counterparts when called on to demonstrate handcuffing a suspect.

DeWitt, of course, is fuckin' Hoo-rah Semper-Fi Do or Die when it comes to the manly shit. She always hits dead-on during target practice and you're never gonna make her look dumb during a handcuffing procedure. This big beefy mustached Mike Ditka-looking motherfucker who's probably from Chicago and I'm certain is well-acquainted with all the different subtle flavors of bratwurst makes the mistake of pulling that shit with her. Next thing he knows, he's kissing the mat and his hands are cuffed behind his back. Don't underestimate the lady, Ditka.

Early on, they all meet the director of the program, and he's played by Fred Dalton Thompson. If that name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because he's acted for quite a while. It's also probably because he was a politician for even longer. Same thing, I suppose. Most recently he ran for President, and well, we all know how THAT worked out. It's too bad it didn't happen for him, because I wanted to be able to say that the fucking President of the United States is in Feds. Ms. DeMornay, if you are reading this, I think you should consider a career in politics and you should shoot for the highest office while you're at it. But be prepared for those assholes in the competition to run ads using scenes from The Hand that Rocks the Cradle to pull that "Do you want THIS kind of person running your country?" shit.

During a game of poker at the lounge, Mike Ditka suggests ordering some pizza. Butz figures two large pies should do, but Ditka says it won't because he could eat two large by himself. DeWitt offhandedly comments that she could probably eat as much pizza as him. Next thing you know, they're competing against each other for cash. DeWitt realizes she's way in over her head, or her eyes are bigger than her stomach or whatever the appropriate saying is, so she wins by grossing out Ditka by talking at length about how insect eggs fester in pepperoni and if not cooked properly you could have a bunch of hatching insects in your belly. I don't think that's true, but if it is, I don't give a fuck. Pizza is just too awesome to throw away on something like that. I'm like Chong in Up in Smoke, when Cheech gives him shit for eating food from a street vendor, telling him that it's most likely made of dog. "It's good dog" responds Chong.

While out shopping for the weekend, DeWitt figures this is a good opportunity for Zuckerman to buy a handgun, so off they go to the local gun store. Like other women are good at matching what shoes to go with what dress, DeWitt knows what gun should go with a person, so with her help Zuckerman walks out with a SIG-Sauer P226 fitted with Tritium night sights and a compensator. Our gals then go out to enjoy a nice patioside lunch, and it's there that DeWitt notices a bread truck parked in front of a bank for nearly twenty minutes. The engine's been running the whole time, there are no bakeries or stores on the block, and the bank just closed for the day, so it looks like there might be a robbery in progress. She and an apprehensive Zuckerman go over to check it out and sure enough, out come the masked men with bags and machine guns. The robbers take off, and our gals commandeer some dude's car. The poor dude tells them to be careful with his ride, because he just got it back from the shop, and if you've ever seen a movie before, you fuckin' KNOW where this is going. A car chase ensues, but thanks to DeWitt's expert shooting with the SIG, the truck goes flipping over and the bad guys are apprehended. DeWitt is thrilled and she's sure this will go over well with her instructors.

It doesn't. Coulda-Been-Prez tells her that she and Zuckerman pretty much did nothing by the book, and it's only because the press has agreed not to reveal it was FBI trainees that were involved that he won't expel them, and instead they're put on probation. It's not looking good for our girls, what with DeWitt flunking her tests and Zuckerman flunking in the ass-kicking department. There's a pretty harsh moment during another of the handcuffing exercises when Zuckerman tries to get Krull to cooperate. He ends up taking her down hard, landing her face down and putting the handcuffs on her. He then takes her rubber gun, shoves it against the back of her head and goes "Bang. You're dead". Then he just gets up and walks away, leaving her there. If this was someone else, I could excuse that as someone just trying to teach her the hard way for her own good, so she could understand that this is life and death shit they're dealing with here. But you can tell this guy just likes being an asshole.

DeWitt returns to her dorm room to find Zuckerman packing all her stuff and talking about how she's had it with the bullshit, and that she could be working in a law firm for $60,000 a year. DeWitt tells her that she should be happy with how far she's made it. She brings up that Richard Nixon didn't even get this far, he was turned down by the FBI, and the reverent tone she has when saying this, along with her military background and her love of guns tells me that this chick's GOT to be a Republican. I figure Zuckerman's a Democrat then, since she doesn't appear to give a shit about that Nixon shit. Anyway, DeWitt figures it out; Zuckerman's one of these smart kids who always got A's, the kind who would get all pissy if they got a B+ on a quiz. There was a moment like that on The Wonder Years, where Pfeiffer got a B on his math test and compared it to kissing your sister, and Kevin Arnold held up his C+ and asked "Then who am I kissing?". That show fucking ruled. Anyway, DeWitt tells Zuckerman that she knows they can help each other out and help rid each other's weaknesses by using their individual strengths.

A cutesy montage follows, with our girls teaching each other their ways. Butz even joins in to help them every once in a while. Later on, DeWitt scores an A on her exam while Zuckerman slips and scores a B, and sure enough, Zuckerman gets all pissy about it. But it's okay, because Zuckerman gets to let it out when she has to do the handcuffing procedure with asshole Krull again. He thinks it's going to be second-verse-same-as-the-first in The Ballad of Krull & Zuckerman, but instead our girl helps him rewrite that little ditty, and the second verse now goes something like "Ow My Foot/Ow My Balls", preferably sung falsetto.

Krull wants to make sure his dick still works after having it introduced to Zuckerman's size 8, so he asks DeWitt out on a date. She accepts, and off they go for dinner at a fancy restaurant. Meanwhile, Zuckerman is back at the dorm, reading a magazine in her PJ's on a Saturday night because she likes to party. Butz shows up to borrow a couple of books, and they have a little cutesy chat that leads to them heading over to the lounge to catch a PBS special on Nobel Prize winners. DeWitt's date with Krull goes south because Krull's an asshole. Big surprise.

The trainees are assigned to look over and study old case files and one of them involves Navy blankets being stolen when they were sent to a laundry service. The investigation didn't go anywhere and the case is only a year old, so DeWitt and Zuckerman go over to question a suspect who is still in college. They find him and his roommates smoking some herb and watching some football. These motherfuckers are some of the lamest fuckin' stoners I've ever seen in a flick. A lot of "hey baaabe, what's hangin' duuude" and all that shit. Anyway, they play at being official FBI agents and grill the college student, who ends up giving up all the info. He tells them that it was some other guy who stole the blankets and that he hangs out at some shitty club in a shitty part of town.

They go to this lowlife place and find the lowlife blanket thief, but not before a brief scuffle breaks out between DeWitt and some of the patrons, which Zuckerman puts a stop to by blasting the whole fucking joint with her muthafuckin' SIG-Sauer. Wow. In the previous scene, she slammed a suspect against the wall unprovoked and put the fear of jail and assrape into him and his friends. Now she's shooting holes in a crowded bar and aiming her loaded weapon at cowering innocent bystanders, calmly referring to them as smart men but making it very clear what the alternative to not being smart would be. In a few years, Zuckerman will probably end up pulling some Val Kilmer-in-Spartan shit on a motherfucker. The thief confesses to them that he did steal the blankets but honestly didn't know they belonged to the Navy, and they in turn confess that they're just trainees looking for extra credit.

Coulda-Been-Prez reads the report the next day and gives our homegirls some major props for their work. He then congratulates the remaining trainees and tells them there is only one more obstacle to conquer before graduating and becoming FBI agents. Sometime soon, he tells them, there will be a crime simulation exercise that he and the instructors will be taking part in and the trainees must treat this like the real thing. For now, they're allowed to go out and enjoy a well-earned night of liberty. The girls go out to a local bar where they both get hammered and Zuckerman gets all whore-y and tries to hook up with a sailor. DeWitt ends up cockblocking the sailor, probably out of jealousy, and she and Zuckerman stumble back to their room. A few seconds after they go to bed, the phone rings -- the exercise has begun.

The girls apparently managed to sober up when they arrive at the briefing room, where they meet up with the rest of the trainees and find Coulda-Been-Prez leading a group of black-clad men who are carrying shotguns. They are portraying the "Terrorist Liberation Front" and they have kidnapped the president of a major banking organization (played by the main instructor) and are demanding a ransom. The trainees objective is to find and neutralize the kidnappers and save the president. I love how they make the bad guys so vague and politically correct. This was made in 1988, but they still didn't want to offend any real terrorists, because as long as we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone, right?

Krull appoints himself as leader and off they go. A map is found on the grounds and Krull figures it will lead them to the terrorists. DeWitt, Zuckerman and Butz all disagree, saying that it's just too convenient that the bad guys would leave a map out in the open like that. Krull tells them they can either leave and form their own group or shut the fuck up and follow. They decide on the former. Using their brains, teamwork, gumption and all that other crap, our group finds out where the terrorists are hiding -- the conference room of the administration building. They radio Krull and his Alpha Male posse and pretend to be Headquarters, giving them bad information on the whereabouts of the terrorists.

The girls suit up in black and load up with shotguns and rope, making themselves ready to go PG-13 non-violent attack squad on that ass. Butz then busts in the room with his shotgun while DeWitt and Zuckerman swing in from the roof and smash through the windows, taking the terrorists by surprise. Jesus Christ, I know this is an exercise, but is it okay to commit such wanton acts of destruction to government property like that? The terrorists are handcuffed and the hostage is saved. They all go riding triumphantly back to the briefing room on jeeps and run into Krull and the Alpha Male posse, who are looking all worn out and beaten up. These motherfuckers failed at the exercise so badly, they should be thrown out of the program in the same manner that Uncle Phil throws Jazz out of his mansion, but DeWitt saves their asses by thanking them for the idea of splitting up into two to cover their bases faster. Which is actually kinda true, now that I think about it. But whatever, Krull is still an asshole and he'll always know that he got fuckin' schooled by our girls. Forever and ever, he'll know that shit, which is cool but also kinda sucks, because this asshole will probably take that shit out on the chick he marries. He'll probably smack her around in front of the kids, and that's gonna fuck up his young son who will grow up to be a fuckin' pussy-whipped pansy and it will fuck up his daughter who will grow up to become a man-hating stripper. Or maybe he'll just catch a bullet in the line of duty and spare us all that pain.

So it's graduation day, and all the trainees get their FBI shield and are applauded by the instructors and the guests. New Special Agents DeWitt & Zuckerman are named the valedictorians or MVP's or Best in Show or whatever and go up to receive their award. DeWitt makes a stupid joke at the podium, everybody cheers and we fade to black. Roll credits.

Hold up -- there's an extra scene during the credits. Nice. DeWitt & Zuckerman are on their way to be given their first assignments, and Butz meets up with them. He tells them he's really happy with the assignment he got: Duluth, Minnesota. Good for you, Butz. Zuckerman receives her envelope containing her assignment and opens it up: Los Angeles. My condolences, Zuckerman. DeWitt then opens up her envelope: Los Angeles. She and Zuckerman both do that "Oh My God" scream and hug each other and girl power and sequel possibility and all that. Meanwhile, Butz is standing there looking all assed out because his assignment ain't shit compared to theirs. Sorry bro, I don't know what to say other than dress warm.

Feds was written and directed by a couple of Ivan Reitman's homeboys who had previously written Stripes, Meatballs and Heavy Metal for him. I guess the intention with Feds was to do for the FBI what Stripes did for the Army, but I guess it didn't work out that way. You probably already know who Rebecca DeMornay is, so we'll get into the chick who played Zuckerman. Her name is Mary Gross and her brother is best known as the father from Family Ties, or as I prefer to remember him, Bert Gummer from muthafuckin' Tremors. She was also a member of Saturday Night Live, working on the show with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo. Of those two, one went on to destroy his promising comedy career by working in shitty unfunny movies for the paycheck and the other is Joe Piscopo.

Here's a little confession for ya -- I've seen this flick before, caught it on cable a long time ago. I know this is a terrible film. I know every other human being who has seen it would call Feds a comedy with no laughs, which is the worst thing for a comedy to be. I know this. And yet something about this movie tickles a section of my subconscious that causes me to find Feds insanely watchable. I try to take my boy Quentin Tarantino's advice and not use the term "guilty pleasure", because if you like it, that's all that matters and you shouldn't feel ashamed. Yet I do feel ashamed, and boy do I feel guilty. If this shit was on DVD, I'd have it already, but it's not and that's why when I found the VHS at the going-out-of-business video store, I snatched that mutha up faster than Angelina Jolie snatches up poor ethnic kids at an orphanage. If you were to watch this with me, you would sit stonefaced and on occasion turn to look at me in disbelief as I guffawed at some of the lamest lame shit ever committed to celluloid.

It reminds me of this one time I was hanging out with one of my bros and I noticed Miss Congeniality was playing on television. I don't remember how it came out, but I'm guessing I felt so close to my bro that I could comfortably admit that I really liked this Sandra Bullock flick. The way he reacted, you'd think that I had just told him I really enjoy the taste of warm cock in my mouth -- which I understand might as well be the same thing. Considering the subject matter of both films, the best I can come up with is maybe I have a thing for shitty comedies about female FBI agents. In a way, Miss Congeniality is very much the sequel that Feds never had.

There's a theater in Los Angeles called the New Beverly Cinema where on occasion there are drawings for the prize of being able to program your own double feature there. I figure I'd pick two cool badass cult 70's flicks, but now I think I would go with Feds and Miss Congeniality. I can picture it now, me introducing the flicks in front of an angry crowd of hipsters and movie geeks that are hoping that I'm really bullshitting them and that I'm really about to screen something like the lost extended cut of Metropolis they found in that dead Nazi's closet. Then when the lights dim and the title FEDS fills the screen in all its 35mm glory, the entire audience swarms down upon me and thrash me severely.

A couple of the geeks come down with two big wooden posts and a hammer and nails. I am crucified and put up in front of the screen, blood pouring from my fresh wounds while projected images from the film play over me. Soon, the pain all goes away as I pass out, followed by the sweet sweet release of death. Then, from the back of the theater come three glowing figures in white. They are the fictional characters of Special Agents Ellie DeWitt & Janice Zuckerman and Special Agent Gracie Hart made flesh. They walk over to the cross and take my limp form down. The light of the projector comes down and shines upon me. A few minutes pass and then -- HUZZAH! I am reborn! I awaken completely healed and refreshed with a new sense of peace and dare I say it -- contentment. I join the fictional film characters as we walk out of the theater, ready to begin the much-needed paradigm shift in our ugly self-destructing society. It will be the beginning of the age of The New Mediocrity...and it will be glorious.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

O.J. says: "A snake? Damn, I wish I thought of that. (long pause) Oh, what I meant to say was 'Wow, that's scary'."

Right after high school, I started working as a file clerk for some credit financing joint. One of the two main dudes was a guy who I'm going to refer to as Clint Eastwood, because that's who I can see playing him in the movie of my life. For the record, the drunk rich lady on Will & Grace would play me. Anyway, Clint Eastwood was a white dude probably in his late 60's or early 70's, and he was a hardcore Republican and NRA member who would occasionally bring one or two of his guns to work just because. He drove a nice car, made lots of money, treated people like shit and took to making racist and homophobic jokes. Naturally, I looked up to him. When I started there, Clint was going through a divorce, and one day he was looking over some forms he had to sign. Apparently it had to do with the monetary settlement he and the ex agreed on. After signing and putting the forms back into his briefcase, he casually looked over to my supervisor and said matter-of-factly, "It would be cheaper to just kill the bitch".

Fair Game (aka Mamba) is about a dude who not only thinks the same way, but is actually going to put his money where his mouth is (as opposed to in his ex-wife's wallet). This dude is named Gene, and he's a multi-millionaire in the computer business. He's also a creepy fuck, and you can see why his wife would want to ditch him. Gene meets up a snake wrangler in a shack way out in the desert so he can buy a mamba snake from him. When the wrangler tries to give him all the details about this particular reptile, Gene beats him to the punch. He knows everything to know about this snake; it's one of the most highly venomous creatures around but it's particularly dangerous during the mating season, when the poor thing gets so fuckin' pent up with sexual frustration it has to bite the first motherfucker it sees for some goddammed relief. Can you believe that shit? That's like if some dude walked up to you in the street and suddenly stabbed you once in the chest. As you lay bleeding on the ground, covering your wound, you ask the guy "Why?!" and the guy responds "Sorry, I'm just so fuckin' HORNY, dude!".

It happens to be mating season and the snake wrangler kinda gets the hint that this dude is up to something bad, so he takes advantage and doubles the price of the mamba, which doesn't make Gene so happy. Here's a multiple-part question: if you were to suddenly jack up the price on some deadly shit knowing you're putting the buyer into a real pickle, would you then afterwards take up an offer by the buyer for a ride into town? And if so, would you allow yourself into the vehicle first and wait while the buyer is outside putting the deadly shit into the back seat of the car? And if so, would you just stay there like a dumbass while the buyer stands in front of the car staring at you all sinister-like? And if so, would you still remain seated while the sinister-looking buyer slowly raises his car door-locking thingamabob and points it at your direction? If you answered Yes to all those questions, then your ass is as dead as this stupid-ass snake wrangler.

We're then introduced to Gene's ex-wife, Eva, who is played by Sting's current wife. This is one of those lame fucking intros, with that fucking late-80's top-40 KISS FM Rick-Dees-in-the-morning type of pop music playing and the character being all wacky and cute and shit. She's carrying a bag of groceries to her loft and keeps dropping shit while talking to her cat and turtle. Gene may be a fucking over-controlling creep, but Eva is a fucking loon and you wouldn't want to be married to either of them. Maybe that's how these two found each other in the first place -- no one else could stand them. This flick was made in either '88 or '89, and you certainly will know this when you see the trendy shit this chick's wearing. My favorite article of clothing would have to be the beret with a Swatch watch attached to it, I guess that way everyone else BUT her can know what time it is. Later, when she takes off her stupid overpriced designer cowboy boots and puts her feet up on the table, we see that she's wearing mismatched socks with differing wacky color patterns. We get it lady, you're a free spirit!

The movie doesn't think we get it yet, though. So we get another musical interlude of Eva as she takes of her clothes and walks around in her underwear and a shirt that has a design of fish flying next to the moon, while some Laura Branigan type of shit plays in the background. Eva struggles to put her groceries into her already full refrigerator (then why the fuck did you go grocery shopping then?!) and solves her spacial problems in her own wacky way. Oy. She even gives a name to the fish she puts in the freezer, she calls it Moby Dick, and I just want to beg her through the screen to please stop with the wackiness. Please, lady -- I never did anything to you. Dial it down a tad for me, and I'll buy you some matching socks. Please! Por el amor de Dios, STOP!

Eva is also a sculptor, and she's currently working on some grade school piece of work, an octopus. Two of them, actually, a male and female octopus. The person who commissioned it calls Eva to tell her that he is sending the finished female one back, because he wants it to look meaner, along with the male octopus she's currently working on. She's kinda bummed about it, but she goes ahead and gives the octopus a mean face. She's interrupted by Gene, who sneaks in and gives her a good scare doing so. He notices the octopus and believes she's making it look like him. Dude, it's not always about you. Much dialogue follows. This is actually a pretty decent scene, because Eva changes her attitude quite a bit, turning into this rather meek and scared individual. It felt a little real, I thought. I mean, I'm sure there are people out there like that, loud and boisterous people, incredibly confident people who you'd never expect were actually frightened victims behind closed doors, people who somehow fell under the spell of some creep and may even excuse the creep's abuse with illogical logic. It happens to the best of us, I guess, and I can see how it happened to Eva. During the scene Gene is saying how much he despises Eva and weak people like her and then next he's hugging her up and nuzzling against her neck doing the "I'm sorry, baby" thing. Shit, that pretty much sums up their relationship right there.

Gene manages plant a tiny transmitter on the back of her necklace. This will be important later. Eva tries to get tough and tell him off, but it's obvious how scared she is of him, which leaves the fuckin' asshole pretty satisfied with himself. At this point, you figure it's less about the money and more of a "If I can't have you, no one else will" trip he's on. He takes off, pretending to accidentally leave behind one of those long cylinder-shaped blueprint containers. But you just fuckin' KNOW there ain't no blueprints in that motherfucker. Eva suggests that maybe in about a month they can get together again and talk about this more (Jesus Christ, girl! Stop doing this to yourself!) and he responds with "I don't think that's very likely". MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Outside, he jams the lock to the only door in the loft and then rigs the phone lines so that only he can contact her and she can't make any outgoing calls. He gets into his SUV parked across the street and takes out his heavy duty briefcase and opens it, revealing a heavy duty computer setup like the portable computer in Spies Like Us, but that shit controlled nuclear missiles. He turns it on and activates a program called "Fair Game", which consists of an entire floor plan of Eva's loft with two flashing icons moving around within, a blue snake representing the Mamba and an apple representing Eva. An apple and a snake? Oh, I get it. "Ladies, do you have to eat everything?" Anyway, thanks to the transmitter he planted on Eva and the snake, he can track their movements around the loft. There's also a timer in the game, counting down from 60 minutes. Why, you ask? You see, Gene wasn't happy with setting a highly venomous and eager-to-bite snake in an enclosed area loose with his ex-wife. So he ended up injecting a shitload of sex hormones into the snake, making the mamba REALLY hard up now. The downside to this is that the snake will die if it doesn't bite within the hour. Don't I know the feeling. Anyway, it's Eva vs. The Mamba, the clock is ticking, and it's on like Donkey Kong. Or Fair Game.

We get Snake-Cam whenever we cut to Mamba's point-of-view, as it slowly slithers it way throughout the huge loft. There are some near-misses as Eva walks around in her bare feet (says Quentin Tarantino: "Oh yeeeeaaaahhhh!") and talks to herself. A lot. Look, I spend as much time alone as Eva and I hardly talk to myself. Oh yeah, I'll whistle and maybe even sing a tune. But the most that I ever do as far as talking is maybe repeating something funny I heard, like some dumb line or impersonation. There's one in particular I've been doing variations on for a while. But even then, it's very rare that I do so. This chick, on the other hand, talks non-stop. She talks while treating a cut on her finger, she talks while watching television, she talks while taking a bath. Fucking conversations, too. This ain't I Am Legend, ma'am, there's people outside that loft of yours that you can talk with. But then again, she lives in L.A., so I could understand why she wouldn't want to deal with those assholes.

Eva comes up with the idea of videotaping a message to Gene, to tell him everything she wants to say to him without having to deal with actually having to go face-to-face with the scary motherfucker and freezing up again. By the end of her message, she remembers she left a kettle of tea on the stove and bolts up to go get it. When she comes back, she plays the tape to watch herself, and even though she shot the video and was on-camera the whole time, there's a surprise ending that she didn't see coming. That's because at the moment she jumped up in the video, the muthafuckin' Mamba made a bite for the booty and missed, and the whole thing was caught on tape. AIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!!

So our girl Eva knows what's up and immediately heads to the door. But of course, the lock has been jammed, so she can't get it open. Bunch of savages in this town. If you didn't get it through the visual representation of Eva unable to open the door, she says out loud "Why won't it open? The door won't open!". That's our Eva, always looking out for the dim bulbs in the audience. She tries to calm herself down, telling herself that it's probably a garter snake. Eva eventually realizes that she's up against a mamba, though, and freaks the fuck out.

Meanwhile, Gene is watching all of this in his SUV, watching as the video game snake chases the video game apple, and the whole time he's munching on a sandwich and drinking coffee from a thermos. This shit is only supposed to last an hour, but the motherfucker still thought to pack a lunch. That's a little bit of awesome. It's human nature, really. Set me up in a stakeout-type of situation in my car, and it won't matter if it's supposed to last eight hours or eighty minutes, I'd still wanna bring coffee and donuts to the motherfucker.

Eva keeps moving and getting away from Mamba in her loft, but Mamba is part-zombie or part-Jason or something, because no matter how fast she runs, the snake is always there waiting. Mamba will make the occasional bad choice, though. It's like he knows she's going to eventually want to protect her feet, so he finds a pair of boots to hide in and wait, and she ends up putting on the other pair of boots right next to him. Ha ha, Mamba. Don't you feel like the fucking asshole. Eva, on the other hand, ends up looking like an asshole, after she puts on layers after layers of clothing from her closet. But since it's being done for her own survival, it's excusable. She now has on all these tacky and soon-to-be outdated clothes all over her body, and given her already nutty predisposition, she looks like a brand new crazy women ready to hit the streets with her shopping cart full of cans. She's already got the Talking To Herself part down.

The lights conveniently go out, so Eva heads over to the fuse box to fix that. Sure enough, Mamba's there waiting for her. But he doesn't strike, because the fire from Eva's lighter scares him. Eva realizes this and gets all happy about it, or at least that's supposed to be the idea, because she displays this wide-eyed look that one usually gets when they've been ignoring their meds for about a week. Eva ends up setting a small fire between her and the snake, and again, she comes off more psychotic than triumphant. She then starts running laps around the loft, I guess to throw Mamba off or frustrate him or something. I'm surprised Mamba hasn't starting chomping on a couch or something by now, with his blue balls wracking him out.

Later she ends up covering the whole kitchen floor with flour, and waits on top of a refrigerator for the snake to come in. This scene is so full of Win; you have Eva propped up on this refrigerator, dressed up in layers of mismatched clothes and a scarf wrapped around her neck, face partially covered in flour, all sweaty and giving out that psycho look of hers as she darts her eyes in all directions. She looks like an older version of Kirsten Dunst in Crazy/Beautiful after a three-day crystal meth and LSD bender. Then Mamba arrives and she starts pelting him with deadly weapons like eggs, apples and Moby Dick all the while screaming "Filthy! Filthy!".

There's a bit of a close call for Gene when some Rastafarian dude on a bike shows up with a boombox hanging from his neck. Goddamn, the things some people went through before the iPod. The Rasta Man has come to drop off a package for Eva, and when he rings the doorbell and the film cuts to Eva's frenzied reaction, anyone coming in late to this movie would assume they were watching a flick about drug abuse. Rasta Man leaves the package on the doorstep and heads back to his bike. By the time Eva gets to the door and starts banging away at it, he's already taking off, plus his loud boombox makes it impossible for him to hear her. But at least he left the package for her. I hate when the opposite happens, when you're waiting for something you ordered on or something. You're like a little kid waiting for that shit, and then you come home one day to find that note on your door, the one from the UPS that says that they came to deliver your package but since you weren't home, they will come back on the next business day, but today's Saturday and Monday's a holiday. Then you're all like "Nooooo!!!! I was waiting all week for that!".

Eva finally loses it and starts whacking away at her indoor tropical garden with her hatchet, screaming at the Mamba to come on out and finish this once and for all. I guess this really freaks the Mamba out, because he slithers back toward Gene's blueprint container. Eva catches all of this and puts two and two together.

The hour is nearly up, so Gene calls the loft again. There's no answer, so it looks like it's all over. Gene gets out of his SUV with a golf club, heads back to the loft, unjams the lock and makes his way in. He looks around and finds the mess that's become of the loft, and then discovers Eva sprawled out on the floor with a motionless snake beside her. He chops the snake in half with the golf club, then goes over to the dying Eva. This asshole is such a sore winner, the way he just goes on and on about how the snake was only minutes away from dying anyway, and how she belonged to him and blah blah I'm better than you blah blah everyone is for sale blah blah the game is over blah blah. He then goes over to the container and opens it up to put the dead snake inside, but upon closer inspection he notices something. The dead snake isn't a snake at all, but a sculpture of one. And if that's not the snake, then that could only mean...CHOMP, baby! The Mamba pops out of the container and gives The Bite to the son-of-a-bitch.

Gene freaks out and starts running around the loft like a chicken with its head cut off, bouncing off the walls and tripping over furniture while Eva follows him. When he finally falls to the ground, she goes down to gently hold his head as he passes. She's not there to spit in the motherfucker's face or kick him and tell him to burn in hell. I'm taking it as one more example of how fucking opposite they are to each other. Whereas Gene stood over Eva and acted an asshole to her in what he thought were her final moments, Eva's too decent a human being for that kind of shit. There's no anger or excitement in her eyes, nor is there that psycho look she had for the past ten minutes. It's a passive, nonjudgmental look that she seems to be displaying here. It's like she's saying "Gene, you're a fucking murderous prick who tried to kill me with a motherfucking mamba, and you reap what you sow. But no matter who you are, death is a real bitch to have to go through, and I'm sorry this is how it's going to end for you." That's how I took it anyway.

You know what, Eva? You're a wacky broad and not my type, but when push came to shove, you held your own, you made it through and when you came out a winner, you stayed classy about it. That makes you better than me and a whole lot of other motherfuckers out there. You're certainly leagues above that prick diddler Gene. I tip my hat to you, Eva. You're all right. Now go put on some decent socks. You're not 12 years old, you're pushing 40 and that kind of shit ain't cute anymore.

So Eva goes outside her loft and finds the package on her doorstep. She opens it up, and finds that it's female octopus for her mean octopus sculpture. It's a smiling lady octopus, painted pink and wearing a bow on its head. She's supposed to change it to be as mean as the male counterpart, remember? Eva begins to tear up. Aww. Roll credits and cue late-80's love song.

This is about 80 minutes long, and there's definitely some heavy padding all over, but I dug Fair Game. It kept me interested. It's really a 45-minute movie stretched out, but even with the padding it moves fairly quickly. Like Curfew, it's something you'd watch at two in the morning and chill out with. There's only three actors in the entire movie (Yo what about Rasta Man, you fuckin' racist?) and they all do well with their roles, even Trudie Styler, who I don't think is bad, but just very inconsistent. Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, we weren't given much difference between regular Eva and crazy Eva. Instead you have nutty Eva and even nuttier Eva. But because Styler has since gone on to produce both Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, I'm gonna give her the benefit of the doubt and blame the director for that shit. That's the kind of slack I cut a motherfucker if they were involved in something I liked.

But the real hero of this flick is my main ace, the Mamba. There wouldn't be a movie if it wasn't for homesnake. You can't call the Mamba a villain either, it's just doing what nature put him out there to do. You might as well hate the fucking sun for shining. Mamba. I like to say that, I've noticed. Mamba mamba mamba. MAMBA. As you can see, I like writing it too. I also like to say the word "snake", except I like to pronounce it "snaw-kee" or "snaw-kay" or "snack". The last one I got from my father, a good man from Mexico who speaks English as a second language. He has a strong grasp of the language and speaks it fluently, but every once in a while, he'll take a word that he's prononced correctly many many times before and come out with a brand new pronounciation of it, like he forgot momentarily or he just got lazy. And boy, is it glorious when that rare moment occurs. "Tienes la pelicula con el 'snack'?" he asked me, wondering if I had Anaconda in my collection. Oh, how I loffed and loffed behind his back. In case my father ever reads this, I Love You Dad. Please don't hit me with the belt.