Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Muthafucka I'm hungrier than a muthafucka

When I was a wee small little boy of a wee small little age, I grew up with two teenage girls in the house; my sister and my cousin. So that meant I got to watch a lot of horror and teen flicks with them. The latest VHS rental of the day was a movie called Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness but since my parents were in the house, Sis and Cuz had to pretend to be responsible and told me that I couldn't watch it. At one point I sneaked into the den and managed to catch a quick scene where a dude was about to slice his own chest with a combat knife, but I was caught and shooed away.

I forgot about that movie until much later, in my own teen years when I started getting back into the horror and gore flicks hard. I watched or revisited a lot of stuff from that wonderful mom-and-pop era of video, but could never find a copy of Truth or Dare?. It wasn't until fairly recently that I happened to come across the movie once again. I finally watched it last night, and, uh, hmm...the best way I could describe my feelings about it is to just shrug. But before I get further into my thoughts about the movie, I'll just go ahead and tell you the whole movie since you're not going to watch it anyway.

Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness (really, man -- just pick a fuckin' name and save the subtitles for the sequel) opens with a average looking white dude named Mike arriving home from work in his Trans-Am. Some guys (usually married with kids) tend to wait in their car for a while before getting inside the house. It's too bad Mike didn't do the same, because then maybe he would've been spared the sight of watching his wife gettin' it on with his best friend, Jerry. Through the use of flashbacks, we find out that Mike has been taking crap as far back as childhood. We see him play Truth or Dare with a bunch of kids and they dare him to slice his arm open with a razor blade. He does so (in the hope of winning their approval, I suppose) and when he comes running to mommy with a bleeding arm, she just sighs and tells him he needs to hang out with better friends.

Back to the adult Mike. Finding out about his wife's infidelity sets him off and he takes off in his Trans-Am to who the fuck knows where. Along the way, he picks up a busty hitchhiker and off they go to live a new life or something. Actually, he ends up taking her to a campsite where they set up a fire. The hitchhiker gets Mike to play Truth or Dare, and it starts out rather tame but then takes a turn for the WTF? when she dares him to pull his own eyeball out. Of course, Mike says no. I guess to prove that she's a happy camper, the hitchhiker grabs a corkscrew, pulls her OWN eyeball out and hands it to him.

She then dares Mike to cut his own finger off, and since at this point Mike appears to be unable to control himself or tell the bitch to go fuck herself, he goes ahead and chops that sucker off. But that's not good enough for the lady, because she then makes him slice his chest open with his Rambo knife. Once again, he complies. I guess it would be no surprise to you if I told you at this point that the hitchhiker is just a figment of his imagination and that he's gone completely nuts. By the time a park ranger shows up to cite Mike for setting up a campfire after hours, Mike has managed to rip his own tongue out of his mouth.

Mike is taken to a mental hospital and we then jump forward to 13 months later. Mike has since had his tongue reattached and his speech restored, and the doctors in charge believe he's now fully rehabilitated. Well, maybe not "fully" rehabilitated, but budget cuts have forced them to make room by letting loose some of the lesser nuts from the joint.

Mike picks up his Trans-Am and heads straight for his old place, where his ex-wife is still living at along with her new man, Jerry. Mike doesn't waste time fucking around; he fillets that motherfucker Jerry and makes a move for the ex-wife, but she manages to shank his ass. Now Mike's stumbling out of the house, bleeding profusely and just looking assed-out in general. We get this long take where he falls onto the sidewalk, a couple drives up to him and one of them goes to call the police, we then WAIT for the police to show up until finally an old man in a suit arrives. I first thought the old man was just some nosy dude, but it turns out he's a cop. It's just that this shit is so low-budget we didn't see or hear sirens when he arrived.

We then jump forward 13 days, with Mike fully recovered and back at the mental hospital. He's wheelchaired into a waiting room and left all by himself. We cut back and forth between him alone in the room and a couple of the doctors feeling sorry for themselves for being the kind of dumbasses that let a psycho killer out on the streets.

Mike can't have too much time alone, it seems, because next thing you know, he's hallucinating two other inmates inside the room with him. He ends up playing a game of Truth or Dare with his imaginary playmates, and he plays just as hard as the imaginary hitchhiker. He pulls out a combat knife and dares one of them (an old man) to slice his arm and leg off. Mike then pulls out a fucking GRENADE and dares the silent inmate to put it in his mouth and blow his head off. Both comply, and we now have one inmate bleeding all over the place and another inmate minus a head.

By the time the orderlies come back to the room, Mike has sliced half of his own face off, and it's there that you just have to accept the fact that this murdering loon wasn't searched properly and was able to sneak a big combat knife inside. Mike maniacally laughs as blood runs down his face and we go "Ooohhh, scary", or at least that's the idea. I think it's safe to say most of us are laughing our ass off.

Five months pass. Mike has since gone completely mute and taken to wearing a copper mask he made himself. One of the orderlies, a big former wrestler type, shows the nice black orderly a gift he intends to give to Mike; it's a framed photo of his ex-wife. That's a real dick thing to do, and also an incredibly stupid thing to do, considering Mike is a noted murderer who also practices self-mutilation. Plus, he can lose his job if his bosses' find out, and that's not good. But it doesn't stop the wrestler orderly, and he leaves it in Mike's room.

The nice black orderly talks to a nerdy white orderly, telling him how much Mike gives him the creeps. The white nerd angrily responds to the black dude with "Will you STOP runnin' your MOUTH? That's all you could do is FLAP your lips all night long! Give me a break, why don't you listen to your JIVE-ASS MUSIC!" and rather than grabbing this fuckin' cracker and giving him the business, the nice black orderly calmly takes a Walkman out and puts on the headphones. He then begins to bob his head to what I'm guessing is that "jive-ass music" Honky the Nerd was talking about.

Mike looks over the framed photo of his ex-wife, and that sets him off again. He starts trashing his room and beating up the wall. Honky the Nerd hears this and angrily demands that the nice black orderly go and check it out. Seriously, man -- there's being a strict boss and there's being straight-out disrespectful, and Honky is totally playing the latter. Punk ass motherfucker. You figure maybe the movie is setting us up and Honky will get his, but nope that never happens. Honky never gets his and neither does the wrestler who had the dumbass idea of bringing the photo. But you know who DOES get brutally murderized? The Nice Black Orderly, that's who. Mike sticks a pencil into homeboy's eyeball and I guess that's the filmmaker's way of saying to expect the unexpected and that life is unfair. Either that, or HA HA WE KILLED DA BLACK GUY! WHITEY RULES! TAKE DAT, DARKIE! THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!

So Mike escapes from the nuthouse, jacks a ride, and begins a killing spree:

-- He runs over a baby carriage with a baby in it, then backs up and runs over the mother. I guess that's his way of sparing her the suffering of living without her child.

-- He gets into a car chase with some angry drunk asshole, ending with the angry drunk asshole's car exploding and the angry drunk asshole running around on fire. Mike then PULLS OUT A FUCKIN' HECKLER & KOCH MP5 (where the fuck did he get THAT?!) and shoots the burning body with it.

-- He pulls up to a bus stop bench and shoots up the innocent people that were waiting there with his submachine gun.

-- He drives up to a little boy and does a drive-by with a CHAINSAW, ending the poor boy's dreams of becoming a baseball player.

There's this cop; a man with a huge gut and what looks to be a real hunch on his back, and he thinks he's found Mike hiding out in a shack. So the cop ends up shooting up the shack and then setting it on fire. This motherfucker must really like his job, because he's cheering and hooting and hollering at the sight of the flaming shack. Oh, I forgot to mention, this cop is wearing a cap on his head and a floral-patterned shirt that's about three sizes too small.

The chief of police or head detective or whatever the fuck he is, shows up at the scene and gives Hunchy shit about burning up the shack. Hunchy doesn't care; as long as this psycho is dead, that's all that matters. Except it turns out that the charred body inside isn't Mike's -- it's the town drunk. Whoops! There's a lot more "comic relief" like this in the entire movie, by the way.

Mike ends up going to his old house again, with the intention of taking care of the ex-wife once and for all. He must really want this chick dead, because along with his trusty chainsaw he also takes a handgun, nunchucks, a grenade, machete and an old-fashioned mace. His neighbor is some dumb old broad who must suffer from cataracts because she's giving him shit the whole time when he gets there, and doesn't seem to notice all the weapons he's got on him. Eventually he shuts that old crow up with a mace to the face. Nice!

He then chainsaws the front door open and steps inside. The shower is on, so Mike figures he can take his ex-wife out Psycho-style. But alas, it was all a ruse -- there's a cop behind that shower curtain, and Mike ends up taking three shots to the chest. (It's here that I noticed that Mike's copper mask kept moving with every breath he took. Must've been that really soft type of copper.) So Mike is down for the count, and all appears to be well. The cop goes to the bedroom closet and tells Mike's ex-wife that it's all over and that she can come out now. Only problem is, she isn't coming out. The cop opens up the closet door, and the little lady's body lifelessly flops down onto the floor. Why, that crafty Mike! He took care of business before taking care of business!

Before the cop has any time to react, Mike shows up with a gun and gives the pig one straight to the dome. Mike then stumbles into the hallway and runs into the main detective or chief of police or whatever the fuck that dude is supposed to be. Rather than finish the murdering psycho off, this cop decides to play Truth or Dare with him. He dares Mike to put the gun down, and sure enough, Mike does it. He's a slave to that fuckin' game, this Mike.

Mike is then taken away in a stretcher and we're left with a shot of his next stop, once he recovers: the mental hospital! The credits roll and we're then treated to an awesome song by a gospel choir that's all about our main character and how life fucked him up AND it plays with audioclips of Mike freaking out in the background! The End.

Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness is filled with everything that makes for an awesome trash movie; low-budget gore, terrible overacting, cheesy synthesizer music, bad taste, and the occasional titty. There's just one big problem, and it nearly sinks the whole experience -- it's way too protracted and filled with the worst kind of padding. This is a thirty-to-forty minute short film mercilessly stretched out to ninety, making it a chore to get through sometimes. Maybe it's because I saw it by myself, and this flick would probably play a hell of a lot better with someone to chat with during the boring parts. If you don't have company, booze, or both, get comfortable with the fast-forward button on the remote.

But I'll definitely give props to the writer and director of this flick. His name is Tim Ritter and at 18-fuckin-years-old he not only managed to get a movie made, he also got it distributed to video stores, where it later became a cult favorite to many a gorehound and trash movie enthusiast. You know what my biggest accomplishment was at 18? Getting hired and then fired from a convenience store in the same week.

Monday, March 30, 2009

You need to get fuckin' laid, bro.

As I was walking toward the movie theater this past Saturday, I passed by a poster for a movie starring Alexis Bledel. My reaction to the poster was an angry "Fuck! Now I have to see this fucking movie!", because while I know nothing about this movie, I can just tell that it's going to be a piece-of-shit that I'm going to have to see anyway because I'm fond of the actress in it. I call it the Anna Faris Quandary, named after another actress I like and who has caused me to blithely toss away so much money just to see her in another bad movie.

I've already admitted to my schoolboy crush on Amy Adams, although unlike the other actresses I'm into, my thoughts about her are far less carnal and far more innocent. Like milkshake-and-two-straws innocent. Another difference between her and the others is that I've liked all the movies she's appeared in, and I've never had that reaction of "Fuck! Now I have to see this fucking movie!" with her. Well, I did see her in the poster for Night at the Museum 2, but I'm going to have to pretend that never happened until the day that terrible movie comes out and I'll have no choice but to purchase a ticket.

You know who I also like? Emily Blunt. I first saw her in a movie back in the summer of 2005 called My Summer of Love. That's a pretty apt title in more ways than one, because summer '05 was also when my crush on Amy Adams was reignited after watching her in Junebug. You have Adams, who is all cuteness and sincerity, and then you have Blunt, who radiated a kind of dangerous sex appeal. Sweet and salty, good and bad, Mary Ann and Ginger. Incidentally, the summer of '05 was also when I began my celibacy (my way of telling the opposite sex "You can't fire me, I quit!"). So I'm ALL fucked up.

A couple of years later, both Blunt and Adams appeared in Charlie Wilson's War and all I remember about that movie is how smoking hot Blunt looked in her underwear. That scene would've been even hotter if it wasn't for Tom Hanks' drunk ass stepping into the scene. It was a cool movie, but what really sucked was that Blunt and Adams didn't appear together in it. Someone must've been listening to me bitching about it to myself, because shortly afterwards some incredibly nice lady decided to make a movie where both actresses star as siblings. The movie is called Sunshine Cleaning and that's what I saw last Saturday.

In the opening scene, a man in a suit sprays Binaca into his mouth and puts a shotgun shell into his pocket. He then enters a sporting goods store and heads for the gun section. He asks the guy behind the counter for a particular kind of 12 gauge rifle. When the counter guy hands it to him, the man in a suit takes the shell out of his pocket, loads it into the shotgun and puts the barrel up against his chin. At this point the entire audience I was with gasped, and it's a good thing everything cuts to black when he pulls the trigger, because otherwise I think half of the audience would've gone running for the exits and head back home where they could watch Enchanted in the comfort of knowing nobody blows their fucking head off in it.

The credits sequence follows, and that's where we're introduced to Amy Adams' single mother character, Rose. She's a maid for a cleaning service, and in her first scene, she's cleaning up a client's kitchen while watching a bunch of high school kids have a fun time drinking and swimming by the pool. You can totally tell that she's watching it in a kind of "man, I miss my youth" sort of way. Holy shit, do I know the fuckin' feeling. Even if it wasn't Amy Adams playing this role, I would already have given my complete empathy to the character based on this moment alone. Then we're introduced to Emily Blunt's character, Norah, fast asleep while her father tries to wake her lazy ass up to go to work. Norah and Rose's father is played by Alan Arkin, so you already know he's going to be great in this. I'm trying to think of a movie he was bad in. Hmm. Nope, always good. Even in that Jerky Boys movie, he ruled.

Steve Zahn is in this too, he plays a police detective who cheats on his wife by meeting up with Rose for quickies at a roadside motel. He also happens to be the detective sent to the sporting goods store after that guy in a suit killed himself. While taking statements from the witnesses, he overhears a crime-scene cleanup crew talking about how much money they're going to make for wiping all the brain and blood off the floors and ceiling. He tells Rose about this, figuring since she already has experience cleaning places up, maybe she could go into business for herself in this particular niche industry. She dismisses it at first, but changes her mind later after deciding that all the money she could make can go to sending her son to private school. So with Norah as her partner, they go to work cleaning up blood and various other bodily fluids from crime scenes.

Adams and Blunt are really good here together, they have a chemistry and I completely believed them as sisters. I've since looked it up, and I guess part of their success in this flick comes from the fact that they really do like each other in real life. The story goes that when they were casting the movie Doubt, they wanted Natalie Portman for the role of Sister James, and either Portman turned it down or wasn't available. Blunt heard about this and rather than try to get the role herself, she told Adams about it. When you factor in the fact that actors can be highly competitive in addition to the hard truth that women secretly hate each other, this comes off as a genuine Hollywood miracle. Or maybe Blunt was trying to set Adams up for major embarrassment and the shit backfired. You never know.

The supporting cast features other actors I like, like this one dude named Clifton Collins Jr.. I remember seeing this dude in movies as far back as Fortress and 187. Hell, the motherfucker was Tack from The Stoned Age! If you don't know about Tack, then you just don't fuckin' know, bro. He's also going to be in the sequel to The Boondock Saints, which believe it or not is finally going to happen, ten years after the first one. Troy Duffy's been talking it up for years, and the next thing I know, that shit's already in post-production. Right on. Now all I need is a sequel to Free Enterprise and I will feel slightly less exiled from contentment. Also in this flick is Mary Lynn Rajskub, or as most people probably know her as, Chloe from 24. I remember when she used to perform on Mr. Show with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. She was also Cross' girlfriend at the time, and after they broke up, she was not only out of his life but out of the fuckin' show too. Goddamn, I never knew Tobias F√ľnke could be a cold motherfucker like that.

The crime scenes in the movie aren't too gross or disgusting, in case that kinda shit bothers you. They don't show much, aside from the occasional bloody wall or stained mattress. Oh, and maggots too. It could've definitely been worse, but the filmmakers held back from it. It's not like this is a clinical study about crime scenes, anyway. You want that shit, just click on any cable channel for Forensic Files or New Detectives or whatever the fuck else features the remains of some 9-year old boy prostitute who was strangled in Indiana and the killer was found by following a trail of M&M's and semen or whatever the fuck it is. I don't know how you guys (or my mother, for that matter) can watch hours of that shit, but god bless you if that's what you dig. You're stronger than me, that's for sure. I prefer my horrible crime scenes in works of fiction. I don't care if crime scene cleanup people don't act like Adams and Blunt do in the movie. I remember watching an episode of Insomniac with Dave Attell, and Attell followed along a dude who actually did that shit for a living, and this motherfucker was Creepy with a capital C. Fuck that shit.

Supposedly this movie came out at Sundance over a year ago and no one picked it up for a long time, which usually means that the movie's a tough sell, either because it's too weird or it just plain sucks. Neither is the case with Sunshine Cleaning. It's an above-average movie, no great shakes, but still well worth a watch. It has such a low-key approach that when it finally ended I wasn't expecting it at all. It kinda reminded me of the ending to Traffic, a kind of "life goes on" deal that could infuriate some people but I was cool with. It doesn't leave you hanging, it just tells you that we're done watching this particular section of the characters' lives. That's too bad, because I wouldn't mind seeing another movie following all of these characters.

I dug this flick, it's got an overall sweetness and charm that makes it hard to dislike. Unless you're some incredibly jaded and cynical motherfucker, then in that case you'll just make gagging noises the whole time, because you're just too cool for the room. Take that shit somewhere else, if that's your deal. As for me, this seems like one of those movies that if I ever run into while watching cable, I'll end up watching the rest of it. It just has that comfortable feeling to it. There's genuine heart to this movie, and that goes a long way for me. That's the best way I can explain it, sorry. I'm not a smart man and I'm not articulate. I'm a stupid no-good dummy moron who once saw a cartoon where a rooster sipped some water from a pond to gargle with it and believed that roosters really did that shit. I wish I was joking, but I'm not. Because I'm stupid.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

All right, Cena. You've done action films, now you gotta hit the drama circuit and play Matt Damon's steroid-abusing brother. It's gold, Cena, gold!

Hulk Hogan may be one of the most popular wrestlers ever, but his movies were complete garbage, except for No Holds Barred, which was at least very entertaining garbage. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper wasn't as popular, but when he took a shot at the movie biz, he came out with a damn good movie (and certainly the best movie starring a wrestler) called They Live. Neither wrestler had much success in their movie careers, though. It wasn't until Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson came out and started having hit after hit with movies like The Scorpion King and The Rundown, that the idea of a wrestler becoming a Hollywood movie star became more possible. Based on that, I guess Vince McMahon figured to strike while the iron was hot and set up his own movie production company, WWE Films, where he could produce his own flicks featuring other wrestlers from his stable.

The latest is a flick starring John Cena called 12 Rounds, which I didn't know existed until I saw a listing for it at my local movie theater's website last Friday. I was ready to blow it off because Cena's last movie was The Marine, which could've been a cool trashy action movie, and it managed to be one for the first 20 minutes and the last 10, but too much of the movie was taken up with dull run-of-the-mill bullshit and lame-ass attempts at humor.

But then I noticed that 12 Rounds was directed by Renny Harlin, and if there's anyone who could bring both "trash" and "action" to the proceedings, it's that dude. The movie poster for 12 Rounds advertise it as being "From the director of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger", which is kinda fucked-up, because it's basically telling you that homeboy hasn't made a flick that was worth a damn since 1993. But don't worry Renny, I still give a damn. I've bought a ticket to all of your flicks and whether they were genuinely good movies or awful pieces-of-shit, I still found them entertaining all the same and that's how you got me to spend 5 bucks for a matinee showing of your latest.

So in this flick, Cena plays a New Orleans beat cop, who along with his hip & funny & black Dead Meat partner, takes down an international terrorist/arms dealer from Ireland. Because what's threatening our national security right now are those damn Irish terrorists, right? Anyway, while this shit was going down, the terrorist's hot girlfriend gets her stupid fine ass run over by an SUV, so now O'Sama McLaden blames Cena for it. He vows revenge before being hauled off to the clink and the movie then jumps forward to one year later. Cena and his partner Dead Meat have since been promoted to plainclothes detectives and everything's fine and dandy in their world. They kick back at the local bar and play pool. Dead Meat is doing the usual black comic relief thing and trying to pick up as many chicks as he can, while Cena has this troubled look on his face that tells us that He Still Remembers. Dead Meat's like "Forget about that shit and live life" and Cena's like "I don't know, man...". Well, he'll know all too well pretty soon.

He wakes up for work the next day, and since he works the night shift, his alarm clock sounds off at 4:58 pm. I liked seeing that. Maybe it's because you don't see too many movies where people have to work the night shift, except for maybe Night Shift. I remember I used to work nights back in the day, and I'd always flash back to that Michael Keaton/Henry Winkler flick to calm me down whenever I started feeling like some kind of outcast freak for working those hours. I'd also think about John Larroquette and Markie Post and that fucking magician in Night Court too.

We also find out that Cena's cute wife works night hours as well, as a MedEVAC pilot for the hospital, and you wonder if her helicopter flying skills will somehow work itself into the movie. If so, then Wow! What a surprise! She gives him some shit because of a leaky faucet and then takes off for work. Shortly after that, a plumber shows up to fix the faucet and Cena gets a call on his cell phone. It's O'Sama McLaden, telling him that he's broken out of prison and is going to take away from Cena what Cena took away from him (he's talking about the woman in their lives, by the way). If Cena wants to save his wife's life, he has to complete 12 challenges throughout the city and that's how we have our title.

Back in my Benjamin Button "review", I mentioned that the movie appeared to have been written using the Forrest Gump template. I understand they've since made YouTube videos demonstrating this, which obviously means I started all of that, with my blog that no one reads. Well, the same shit happens here in 12 Rounds, the writer must've used the Speed template when writing this. But he tried to be crafty and throw us off by tossing in some Die Hard with a Vengeance in there as well. Someone at the IMDB commented on this by calling 12 Rounds "Speed with a Vengeance" and that's sounds about right to me.

In both Speed and 12 Rounds, the hero is in a fucked-up situation with the bad guy because he foiled the bad guy's previous plan. In Speed, the bad guy shows the hero he means business by blowing up another bus, killing an innocent driver in the process. In 12 Rounds, the bad guy shows the hero he means business by blowing up the hero's house, killing an innocent plumber in the process. Speed has a sacrificial lamb in the form of some older lady who gets killed while trying to get off the bus. 12 Rounds' sacrificial lamb is a poor fat Samoan security guard who gets mixed up in Cena's business. The hero in Speed has a partner who is obvious Dead Meat. The hero in 12 Rounds has a partner who is obvious Dead Meat. Both Dead Meat partners will meet their ends after breaking into the bad guy's hideout. Both Dead Meats are done in by explosives. And so on.

The Die Hard with a Vengeance comparisons all have to do with the hero having to run his ass all over the city to complete certain tasks and challenges. Also, the final twist in the movie where we find out what the bad guy was really up to with all this madness, yeah, that's a big rip of DHWAV, too. I don't even have to tell you, you probably already know if you've seen that shit.

So I think I've made my point and hammered it in all the way about how this movie is derivative. And yet, in spite of knowing where all this shit was going and having seen it done before, I still had a good time. It's kinda like when I saw the first Resident Evil movie, the whole time I'm recognizing scenes from Aliens, the original Dawn of the Dead and even a deathtrap from Cube. But it was still fun to watch.

Harlin keeps everything going fast to keep your interest and the action is well-done, which is expected when you have the director of The Long Kiss Goodnight calling the shots. Cena's not the greatest actor, but he does all right with this movie. I actually found the dude likable. Plus, the poor guy is always going on about what a fuckup he is and how he fucked up the latest challenge, and I can't help but root for the guy and tell him not to be so hard on himself. At least twice he says out loud that his wife is as good as dead. That's pretty funny, but it also works to have your hero act so openly helpless in front of others like that.

I was with it until the final reveal, then it starts to get kinda lame and a little more ridiculous than the movie already was. I was comfortable with the level of ridiculousness this movie was on, then it changes into Transporter-levels of ridiculousness and that was a little too jarring. Nothing wrong with going over-the-top Transporter style, just let a brotha know ahead of time, you know what I'm sayin'? I was drinking Diet Coke then all of a sudden you switched cups on me and now I've got fuckin' Mountain Dew in my mouth and while I love both, I wasn't ready for that shit so now I've got coughed up fuckin' Dew all over my shirt. Thanks a lot, dick.

Aside from the climax, 12 Rounds knows what it is, it does its job and it does it well. The action scenes are cool, you root for the hero to succeed and you root for the bad guy to fail. Is it original? Fuck no. Is it a good time? I thought so. But it bombed this weekend anyway so who gives a fuck, aside from me? Well, there's one guy out there who probably isn't happy about this at all, and I bet you he's cleaning house over at WWE Films right now as we speak:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

While we're at it, take those stupid fuckin' Confederate flags down. You LOST, shitheads.

There's an ice cream truck parked outside and for the past ten minutes I've been hearing a neverending loop of Yankee Doodle, London Bridge Is Falling Down, Oh My Darling Clementine, and the fuckin' Lambada song, among other tunes. It's distracting me but if I don't write this blog now, I never will.

Back in the 60's, there were these two Italian documentary filmmakers named Jacopetti and Prosperi, and they made some sleazy flicks about crazy motherfuckers and their crazy motherfuckin' cultures; shit like Mondo Cane and Africa Addio. Some of it was real, and quite a bit of it was staged, and the only intent was to shock people. They got a lot of attention, both good and bad, and they wanted to take it to the next level, so they decided to make a "documentary" about the slavery period in the good ol' USA. That's how their 1971 flick Goodbye Uncle Tom (aka Addio Zio Tom) came to be.

I wasn't alive yet, but from what I understand this was a pretty controversial flick wherever it managed to get shown. Roger Ebert fuckin' hated this movie, calling it racist and sadistic. I wish I could've been there to see the look on his face when homeboy saw this movie. He must've been watching with his jaw dropped to the floor -- which come to think of it, is exactly how he's been watching movies for the past couple of years.

For this movie, Jacopetti and Prosperi took written documents and recollections from the time and recreated the way everything was done back then. If that's the case, then godDAMN, the shit back then was even worse than you could ever imagine. You have scenes of slaves shitting themselves from dysentery on the ship, and the way the fuckin' fat slave traders dealt with it was by shoving wooden corks up their buttholes. Then they force a slave to eat by hammer & chiseling the poor dude's teeth off and sticking a funnel into his bloody mouth, which they proceed to pour some kind of cornmeal slop down through. You get over two hours of this kind of happy shit to watch. I know it's a really hack thing for a critic to say a particular movie makes a similar movie look like something tame in comparison, but I'm not a critic, I'm a douchebag, so I'm going to say it: Goodbye Uncle Tom makes Roots look like Sesame Street. A-hyuk, a-hyuk, a-hyuk.

This flick was made by Italians, and they're not known for being subtle about anything in their movies. They don't pussyfoot around. I'm reminded of an anecdote in the laserdisc commentary of Il Postino, where the director (an Englishman) talked about wanting to get the great Italian composer Ennio Morricone to score his movie, so a meeting was set up and they had a chat about the movie. The director told Morricone he wanted some subtle tunes for the more quiet moments and Morricone's response via his translator was: "I don't do subtle". That pretty much says it all right there, I think. But I'm going to continue about it anyway.

When Michael Bay made Pearl Harbor, I figured he was going to dial it down a tad to tell a serious story, but that sure as fuck wasn't the case. He went for the awesome CGI point-of-view shots of bombs being dropped onto ships, close-ups of fake bloody heads on the ground (in the R-rated cut, anyway), and worst of all, a cute dog that survives the attack. Bay made the flick the same way he made Bad Boys & Armageddon, and it trivialized the whole thing, keeping you from taking any of it seriously. That's kinda the problem with Goodbye Uncle Tom -- you have a subject that would already fuck a moviegoer up if treated with some restraint, but Jacopetti & Prosperi apparently told Restraint to go fuck itself a long, long time ago. They used the same circus-freakshow approach from their previous "mondo" documentaries, filling the frame with wide-angle distorted closeups of people's faces and playing peppy marching band-style music over it. You have slaves howling and growling like dumb animals and you have long lingering shots of young naked slave women, which is certainly not done in a National Geographic sorta way, but more like DAYUM LOOKIT DOZE TITTAYS!!! Good taste does not exist in this dojo.

What doesn't help either is that this movie was shot in Haiti, which at the time was run by a dictator named Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. If you don't know anything about Papa Doc, well I'll just say that he, uh, wasn't a nice guy to his people, let's just put it that way. The flick was made with his blessing and cooperation, meaning all the slaves in the movie are played by Haitian citizens. So when you watch all these naked Haitians getting pushed around, kicked around, herded up like cattle and being treated EXACTLY like the slaves of the Old South, you start to wonder just how pure Jacopetti and Prosperi's intentions with this flick really were. I mean, this ain't fuckin' Central Casting being used, there's a good chance these motherfuckers were forced to be in this movie. Shit, they probably didn't even get paid. The incentive plan for working on this flick was probably that you wouldn't have to worry about finding your sister's raped & mutilated corpse on your doorstep.

There's an interesting approach to this flick. The idea here is that our two filmmakers have somehow time-traveled back to the antebellum South (in a helicopter!) and are filming everything you see. Everyone knows that they are being filmed and interviewed, and have no problem with it (or in the slaves' case, don't have a choice in the matter). We never see Jacopetti or Prosperi, but we do hear their voices off-camera. They mostly just observe all the shit going on, but at one point, one of them is offered an underage slave girl to BOW-CHICKA-WOW-WOW with -- and he does! I think this was the same dude who earlier in the flick went off on one of the Uncle Toms, sounding all outraged and shit. I wished I could've seen either of the filmmakers, that way I could've found out if their balls were as huge as I thought they were.

In the last fifteen minutes of the flick, a sudden change is made and the documentary approach and narration from the filmmakers is abandoned. The film jumps forward to the 1970's and follows a black dude (who I think is supposed to be a doctor but is dressed like a priest -- maybe he's both) around as he strolls through the city while reading The Confessions of Nat Turner. He sits under a tree at the beach, reading his book and imagining the white people around him getting brutally murdered. It's pretty funny, which I don't think was the intention of the movie, but there you go.

I saw Goodbye Uncle Tom back in 2004 and knew there was a director's cut around, but I didn't get around to watching it until last night. It's called Addio Zio Tom and it's in Italian with English subtitles (Goodbye was English dubbed). Some of the scenes from Goodbye have been deleted from this cut, but since there's new footage added, this version actually comes out about twelve minutes longer. The new footage is stuff from the 60's, like riots and civil rights marches. It gives this version a whole different feel from Goodbye, intercutting the slavery scenes with stuff about modern-day race relations.

Supposedly, the filmmakers had to cut all this modern-day stuff out for the English-speaking release because the distributors didn't want to release something so incendiary. I'm not sure I buy that, because if anything, the shorter version felt harder to me with its relentless non-stop scenes of slaves going through all that dehumanizing and humiliating shit. Plus, the longer version actually feels more disjointed, like Jacopetti & Prosperi had shot the new stuff AFTER the fact, to deflect accusations of racism.

Maybe it's because my copy had dodgy subtitles or maybe it's just because I'm a dumb motherfucker, but it seems like the narrator of this version is upset that modern-day black people have not taken up arms to kill Whitey yet. The beginning of this version begins with a intriguing scene of black dudes using modern machinery to pick cotton, which I guess is the movie's way of saying that things don't ever really change. Then one of them hears a news bulletin on the radio that Martin Luther King Jr. has been shot. Then we cut to the sounds of what I'm guessing is a black militant on a loudspeaker declaring MLK as an Uncle Tom and that the time has come for bloody revolution.

Later on, in another modern-day scene, the narrator chastises upscale wealthy black people for not telling Whitey to go fuck himself, but since it's all in Italian, it comes off like some foreigner is telling American blacks what to do -- which is exactly what it is! That bothered me. Not the idea that black people should rebel against white society, but by Jacopetti & Prosperi's gigantic balls. You mean to tell me that these European motherfuckers are telling American blacks what's best for them? The same high & mighty motherfuckers who had no problem doing business with a murderous dictator just to get their stupid movie made? Nigga please!

Questionable filmmakers aside, you can't deny the horrible fucked up shit that happened back then and as far as recreating that period, Goodbye Uncle Tom/Addio Zio Tom works. You'll see shit here that you can't unsee. Depending on your point of view, you might cry, you might laugh, but you'll definitely feel something.

I don't feel like making a Not-So-Random Moments video out of this, since I save that for movies that are more fun or goofy. Also, I'm just lazy. Besides, if you know where to look, you can find Goodbye Uncle Tom to watch online or you can just borrow it from me.

But I will post up a scene from another movie. You see, for whatever reason, Jacopetti & Prosperi went their separate ways after this flick. I think Jacopetti made one more movie on his own, but Prosperi made a few afterwards. One of them is called Wild Beasts, and it's a horror film about escaped zoo animals on PCP. For reals, yo. Enjoy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Don't even read this shit, I lost interest halfway through writing it. Shit, the truth is I give up halfway on all of these entries anyway.

When you have kids, you enter a bigger world of shit than the one you're currently residing in. There's many things that you now have to do, and one of them is buy tickets for whatever young pop boy band your daughter is creaming herself over. That's the situation with my sister and her daughter (aka my niece); the niece is really into these Jonas Brothers, so now there's this big to-do about them coming to the Staples Center. It's funny because all of this pain and anguish about getting tickets isn't going to mean shit in about uh, um, I don't know, two years maybe? My niece will not only outgrow them by then, she'll refuse to believe that she was even into these little queers in the first place. I understand, as long she's happy, right?

She's a great student, but she's still young enough for that shit to change quickly when she gets with the wrong crowd or she puts being cool over doing well in school. Maybe my sister shouldn't be so awesome to her; my parents spoiled the shit out of me as a kid and I grew up to become a complete failure. I think the key is to beat the fuck out of your child and deny him or her everything -- then watch the fuckin' accolades and cash roll in when the motherfucker makes something of him or herself just to spite you. I think what I'm trying to say here ladies and gentleman is: DON'T HAVE KIDS. Save yourself the time and just pay someone to cut open your belly that way your intestines can come spilling out and you can suffer a painful death. That should give you the same effect as raising children, but in way shorter a time period.

Anyway, I went to the drive-in to watch a double feature of Last House on the Left and Friday the 13th. Sounds awesome, right? Well, not really because these are the remakes, not the originals. But I went in some weird way hoping that maybe I could will myself into thinking that I was actually watching the old movies. I don't know, I'm a fuckin' weirdo scumbag creep, what the fuck do I know? Besides, it was a cheap ticket price and I could bring my own food, so there you go.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned anything in the way of company, and that's because I didn't have any. I went to the drive-in alone. Before I would go with family, friends and the rare occasional date with a person of the opposite sex who didn't know any better or maybe just hated herself. But then I remember hearing about guys like Quentin Tarantino and John Waters having no qualms about driving themselves to the drive-in and I figured, Shit if it's good enough for them...

I live close enough to both the Vineland Drive-In and the Mission Tiki, which is cool because drive-ins are not exactly blanketing the country like Starbucks circa 2001. The Tiki is much preferred because the Vineland is pretty ghetto; this may have something to do with the Tiki being right next to lovely predominately-White Claremont and the Vineland being located near the heart of Aztlan aka El Monte. You know what the fuck I'm talking about, do not try and delude yourself that we are living in Candyland where everything is sweet and perfect. You go to the bathroom at the Tiki and it's remarkably clean and spotless. Go to the shitters at the Vineland and you'll find yourself in a jungle of graffiti and childlike drawings of ejaculating penises (penii?), toilets filled to the brim with feces excreted from poverty-ridden anuses, and urinals flecked with 20 varieties of pubic hair. The Tiki's bathroom: "See You in September". The Vineland's bathroom: "Low Rider". I'm of Mexican descent, so I'm allowed to say this shit. The rest of you can shut your fucking mouths, otherwise I'll call out the homies by doing the first few bars of "Eighteen with a Bullet" and we'll roll up and stomp on your racist ass. Double standard, bitches!

I'm in a bad mood, by the way. So what else is new? Fuck you, that's what's new.

The Last House/Friday double-bill was at the Vineland, so there I went. Because I was by myself, an armed guard had to check my trunk to make sure I wasn't sneaking fools in. Then I parked and watched the first film of the night.

Last House is a remake of Wes Craven's 1972 film, a pretty harsh tale about some pretty harsh shit being done by a group of pretty harsh people. So when talk of a remake surfaced, there were quite a few motherfuckers crying foul about doing over a masterpiece. I don't know if I would call it a masterpiece, but it's definitely a good movie and a strong piece of work. But god DAMN are there some flaws in it. It was Craven's first movie, I think, and before that he was a college professor who got bit by the film bug while on campus. It kinda shows in the finished product, looking pretty amateurish in the filmmaking department. There was also some horrible comic relief in the form of two bumbling police officers that jarred with the overall tone of the movie. If anything, it's a very flawed masterpiece and I was hoping that if anything, maybe the remake could address those flaws.

The fact that Wes Craven himself was overseeing it also made things easier to swallow. He wasn't going to direct it, but he had a strong hand in the behind-the-scenes, hand-picking the director himself and making sure they were on the right path when writing the new screenplay. He did the same thing with The Hills Have Eyes remake and that worked out really well. So I wasn't too freaked out, and as it turns out, there was no reason to be. Because the remake is a damn fine piece of work.

The basic storyline is the same: A group of criminals are on the run, after having broken out one of their own. As they try to escape from the woods to find the nearest highway out, they run into two innocent teenage girls. Being the scumbags that they are, they kidnap the girls and proceed to do horrible shit that you unfortunately read or hear about everyday on the news. That's only half the story, too. But in case you've never seen either flick, it's best to only know so much.

But then maybe you won't want to know anything about this flick at all, and maybe would prefer to skip it altogether. This would be understandable, because like the original, Last House features scenes of stuff that will probably make the average moviegoer uncomfortable, to say the least. Rape is among the things we watch happen here, and I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I've got a strong stomach and have seen a lot of crazy shit and can pretty much take whatever you got, but I've always had problems getting through rape scenes. I was able to make it through this time, but here's a little heads-up for the rest of you.

I went over to the IMDB to read all the complaints from people about the rape and all I could think is "Wow, good thing you didn't see the original", because that shit was even worse and featured added humiliations like a girl being forced to pee her pants. I've also heard a couple different reviewers call it Torture Porn, and that's bullshit. The idea here is to get you to feel so much for the victims while working you up to cheer for the bad guys' eventual comeuppance. Whether it's a hooligan kicking an old lady's dog or a rapist stabbing someone in the gut, the basic idea is the same and all that changes is what level you wanna take it to. It's simple audience manipulation, working on the most base audience instinct and emotions; it's been around since the beginning of movies and it will remain a part of movies forever.

And what an audience manipulator this flick is! If you decide to watch Last House and you can stay with it, the dividends will pay off handsomely in the currency of Motherfuckers Getting Owned. Mmm, sweet sweet comeuppance. If that's what you like, then that's what you'll get. People in the drive-in were honking their horns in approval. Or maybe they were honking their horns in disapproval because they couldn't see anything. You see, like most current movies of the past 20 years, Last House plays it kinda low in the lighting department. Everything is now moody and dim, and that shit means DEATH at the drive-in, where the surrounding ambient lights of next-door businesses can make darkly-lit scenes frustratingly unwatchable. I guess it's a testament to the movie that I still really liked it despite the last third of the movie playing in Jose Feliciano-vision. Or maybe it was just my screen, because I looked over at my neighboring screens and both Watchmen and Sassy Fat Black Woman Gets Locked Up looked nice and bright.

It's weird that I can be such a hopeless pessimist when it comes to humanity but I'm such a faggoty lemonade-from-lemons optimist when it comes to movies. Even though I was squinting and trying to make out the events on-screen, I wasn't upset. I thought to myself, "Hey, this is like watching an old badly-transferred 80's horror movie on VHS with a dark print and tracking problems". It's like whenever I would go to the Rialto or the New Beverly Cinema, and sometimes there would be a homeless guy in one of the far ends of the aisle, loudly grumbling or knocking over his bottle of hooch, and rather than get up and complain, I would get all giddy and sit back and imagine I'm watching a movie in some 42nd Street grindhouse. Ladies and gentlemen, I am an idiot.

Overall, this flick is about even with the original. That's awesome when you consider the fact that most remakes can't even manage to make themselves worthy of shining the original's shoes. It's missing those awesome David Hess tunes and the documentary-like grittiness of the original, but what the remake has going for it is a kind of Straw Dogs and Deliverance tone. While it may not be as good as those flicks, it has no reason to hang its head down and can proudly eat at the table next to them, where they will look over and nod back in acknowledgement. You're not quite us but you'll do fine, kid.

Meanwhile, sitting next to the kiddie's table on a high chair, face covered with food, bib wet with drool, and fingers smudged with pudding is the Friday the 13th remake. You know what? That's too much credit. That's assuming the kid will grow up to be something. No, the Friday the 13th remake is the mongoloid baby that was left buried half-alive in a shoebox somewhere in the park. Yeah, that sounds about right.

I actually love Michael Bay's flicks and will defend that overcompensating motherfucker till the day I die (or until he makes a movie too shitty for even me to defend), but I just can't get behind his need to remake movies for no good reason other than "Hey, this old movie needs to look shinier". He had his boys redo The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was surprisingly decent, but "surprisingly decent" shouldn't be the fucking result when you remake a Genuine Classic. Then he had his minions remake The Hitcher, which I don't need to see because I have a pretty damn good flick already called The Hitcher over here to my left on my movie shelf. But when I heard he was getting Friday the 13th redone, I shrugged and gave it a pass for the same reasons I gave the Ocean's 11 remake a pass when I heard about it -- the original wasn't that great to begin with.

Well the original may have not been great, but it's still a shitload better than the load of shit Bay's Boys came out with. You know when you watch a movie, or television show or cartoon, and the characters are watching a shitty horror movie? That's THIS movie. That's exactly how this shit feels and plays. The first two minutes are decent, pretty much remaking the climax of the first movie. But that's it. After that, we're introduced to some lame "characters" with their fuckin' lame-ass dialogue and horrible fuckin' attempts at humor. Who knows, maybe Bay and his bros purposely made these douches as vacuous as possible because they knew we just wanted to watch them die anyway. Maybe?

No -- bullshit.

I'll tell you why that can't be the case, because it's the same kind of douchey humor that was in Bay's last flick, Transformers. I liked that movie simply for working as a BIG THING GO BOOM spectacle, but goddamn, some of those punchlines were flatter than Keira Knightley sunbathing in Atonement. Okay, you see that last joke I made? It's THAT kind of unfunny. I couldn't wait for these assholes to die, and I didn't have to, because within 20 minutes they all get sliced and diced, THEN the title comes up. No joke, nearly a half-hour goes by before the title Friday the 13th comes up on the screen. That's pretty funny, I'm sitting there thinking this movie is moving awfully fast but it turns out the movie hasn't even started yet.

We're then introduced to a whole new group of insufferable douchebags. They're all college students, and based on their behavior, I would guess they all attend St. Broseph's University. There's also a rebel on a motorcycle who is putting up flyers all over and looking for his sister. Then Jason shows up and kills all of them, and it's all lame. The End.

The only thing these two flicks have in common is that they are remakes of horror classics. Otherwise, one is awesome and the other one sucks. Oh, there's one other thing. Both Last House and Friday the 13th feature marijuana as a catalyst for all the fucked up shit that happens to the victims. In Last House, the two girls end up in their predicament after following a guy who tells them about some "grade-A shit" he has in his motel room. In Friday the 13th, the first batch of victims are out looking for some hidden weed crops to poach from. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess. In the past 15 years or so of Postmodern Horror, we've seen innocent virgins slain and bitchy whores survive, obvious Dead Meat side-characters make it through and leading lady Final Girls killed off in the first five minutes. But no matter what, it seems those devil vices of Smoke & Drink will always remain as sins worthy of punishment.

After both movies, I drove over to the next lot and caught the second hour of Yes Man with Jim Carrey. It was pretty decent, and they worked in a few Eels songs in there, which was unexpected but welcome. Zooey Deschanel was the love interest, and that made things so much nicer. As the end credits rolled and the cars took off, the last Eels song came up but a few seconds later the screen cut to black and the song started getting slower and slower and s l o w e r and s...l...o...o...w...w...w...w...e...e...e...r...r...r...r...r...r
until all that was left was this long bass-filled growl that scared the fuck out of me. I turned the ignition, hit the gas and got the fuck out of there. Jesus Christ, that shit freaked me out. I thought the Cucuy was going to get me -- I'm talking about the D.J. on Spanish radio, not the Mexican boogeyman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Holy shit, are those his dentures? Oh sorry, nope. That was just chewing gum he was sticking out of his mouth.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have given us years of great performances in great films, but now they're getting old and perhaps they've seen better days talent-wise, and maybe they've accomplished as much as they ever will. So now it's time to get CRAZY PAID, baby! They figured maybe one way to get a nice chunk of change is to finally work on a film together. Sure they were both in Heat, but only for one scene. This time they could team up for the entire running time and since they're just doing shit movies for the cash anyway, they should just pick something remotely interesting, which I guess is how Righteous Kill came to be.

The reviews for this flick were yeeesh, and I remember Jim Norton on the Opie and Anthony show trashing it mercilessly, so I decided to wait for it on DVD. But thanks to a friend who had it, I didn't have to pay any rental fees to see what the big deal about this movie was. Permanently borrowed, bitch!

The opening credits are the best thing in the entire movie. The whole point doesn't seem to be so much on selling you what an interesting movie you are about to watch, but more like getting you to go "Wow! Can you believe it?! Pacino and De Niro are together again and kicking some fuckin' ass, baby!". It's a title sequence that consists of our two leads doing some target practice while hard-pounding music blares over the soundtrack and the credits come WHOOSH-ing in between shots. This is also intercut with quick scenes of each character in their after-work environments; you have De Niro coaching softball and you have Pacino schooling dudes at chess. At one point, the room starts strobing red & blue police lights and our boys start going to work on the paper targets with submachine guns. They also yell to each other what kind of shots they're about to make before doing so while smiling and laughing and being all "Yeah Baby!" about it. The only thing missing is a shot of them popping open some brews and chuckling afterwards.

So Pacino and De Niro are detectives for the NYPD, and I guess they do such a good job that nobody ever notices that these two are way past retirement age. I'm sure they're supposed to be playing younger, but goddamn, it's way too obvious that these guys shouldn't be playing these guys. Don't hold me to this, but I think the last time they both played active law-enforcers was in 2002, when Pacino did Insomnia and De Niro did Showtime. That's also the last time they looked believable doing that shit. It doesn't help that the parts are written in such a way that I'm sure they were never intended to be played by senior citizens. There are a couple of references about them being old, but it comes off like those lines were shoehorned into the script somewhere along the way, like the filmmakers watched the dailies and realized just how fucking OLD the two leads looked and had to do something to soften the blow from the Ridiculous Hammer.

But a few last-minute lines don't help at all. There's a scene where De Niro's character is coaching a little league game (the most believable thing he does in this flick, by the way), and watching on the sidelines FROM HIS MOTORCYCLE is Pacino. That's some shit I can see someone like Colin Farrell pulling off. But all I'm thinking while watching Pacino pulling that shit is "I hope that old man doesn't fall off, he might break his hip". Then after the game, you see Pacino chilling out by his chopper with a couple of college-age girls, and I'm like Really? I'm supposed to believe that? Or maybe the girls are going "Awww, look at Grandpa on his bike". This movie was directed by the same guy who directed 88 Minutes, also with Pacino. In that one, we're treated to the sad sight of homeboy getting his groove on to some hip-hop in a nightclub along with some girls in their twenties. You know what, Mr. Pacino? Maybe you should stop working with Jon Avnet, because I don't think he likes you. In fact, he might be having fun at your expense by setting you up in scenes that only make you look incredibly goofy at your age.

Yeah, Jon Avnet. This dude also directed Fried Green Tomatoes, which I liked, and an awesome made-for-television flick called Uprising. Now he's making flicks where Al Pacino looks too old for this shit. I don't know what the fuck happened to this motherfucker, maybe he's serious and thinks it doesn't look wrong. I say that because even his filmmaking has changed in the same way that a guy going through a midlife crisis has changed. Maybe this guy likes going out at nightclubs with girls young enough to be his granddaughters, and finds nothing odd about Pacino doing the same. I know most filmmakers gradually change their styles, so I'll give homes the benefit of the doubt and say he's just trying to have some fun and shake it up. I just don't fucking think it works.

Anyway, there's someone out there killing criminals who walked away free for shit they obviously were guilty from, and for some odd reason, this is considered a crime, so our two leads are trying to find out who it is. Along for the ride are two younger detectives, played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg. The funny thing is that I think this movie would've played much better and certainly a hell of a lot more believable if Leguizamo and Wahlberg had played the two main characters. They look to be somewhere in their late 30's or early 40's -- old enough that you can buy them as guys who have been on the job long enough to see some shit, but not fucking ancient relics who should be well into collecting Social Security, either. The problem is that if this movie was cast with them as the leads, this shit would've most likely gone straight-to-video, where a movie with a script of this quality belongs.

Carla Gugino is here as Officer Slutty McWhore, she's a CSI-type or something and if you're both a fan of Ms. Gugino and of watching a woman get sexually assaulted, then the past six months must have been great for you, between this movie and Watchmen. Seek help, by the way. You have some issues in need of working out. Her character is interesting in that she not only seems to have slept with every swinging dick on the force, but is very much into the rough stuff. She likes getting her hair pulled and getting treated like the whore she apparently is. You figure she's already getting her share of punishment by having an old and fat Bobby De Niro giving her the high Viagra'd one nightly.

There's also this blonde chick that caught my eye. She plays the kind of very young and incredibly attractive lawyer that only exists in shitty movies (and the occasional good one). I was so into her, I even looked her up in the IMDB. It's there that I found she was also in 88 Minutes and a television show called The Starter Wife -- both Jon Avnet projects. So you know he probably made a move or jerked it to her a couple of times at least, using his sense memory to bring up her face and remember her scent, at least if Avnet is anything like me. Her character ultimately doesn't add much to the movie. You think the movie is going somewhere with her, but nope it really doesn't. I'm a bit smitten with this lady, and I look forward to seeing her in Avnet's next piece-of-shit.

Some dude named Curtis Jackson is in this flick too, and he's okay, but I wonder why they didn't just cast 50 Cent, since he looks a lot like this motherfucker. Probably a better actor too.

Finally you have Brian Dennehy as the Lieutenant. I figure they picked him out for the role not only because he's a good actor, but because thankfully he's older than our two leads. I bet it was hard to find someone to play the authority figure for these two who wasn't already dead. Listen, I'm not saying you can't do it this way, but it's just obvious based on the dialogue and the way Pacino and De Niro are acting that this shit was written to go with much younger loose-cannon detectives and the Lieutenant being the older, wiser cop to set them straight.

I'm reminded of the man, the legend, Muthafuckin' Clint Eastwood. Clint's older than all of these guys, but he's all too fuckin' aware of it, and his age has been a running theme in his flicks for the past twenty years. When they gave him the script for Space Cowboys, he turned it down. He told the studio that he thought it was a good story, but the idea of someone his age going through the NASA program was fucking ridiculous. It was only after John Glenn went back up into space at the age of 77 that Eastwood changed his mind. You can't argue with real life, I guess. He's also said that another Dirty Harry movie is highly unlikely for the same reason; motherfucker would've been well into retirement by now. This dude at least wants to make sure that the audience could believe him in whatever role he chooses to play, and I think that's one of my main problems with Righteous Kill -- the leads are about ten years too late for me to believe them.

The other problem is that it's just a lame movie. But I didn't feel it was nearly as bad as I heard it was -- at first. For the first two-thirds, I felt I was overhyped of the film's badness, and instead of watching slack-jawed at a cinematic trainwreck, I merely found it depressingly mediocre. But then somewhere along the way, rather than decide to slowly chug-a-lug its way to a feh conclusion, the movie decides to take a stand and change things...for the worse. Holy shit, does this movie take a turn for the worse. It was at this point that Righteous Kill became the so-bad-it's-good flick I've been hearing about. Too little too late, though. It's like the filmmakers were more concerned about putting one over you, that they didn't seem to care if the shit made any sense.

By the climax of the film (which appears to have been shot on the leftover set of some mid-80's rock video, complete with rock video lighting), every weak-assed cliche from every fucking low-budget straight-to-video Skinamax crime drama is trotted out. My favorite bit is when the villain takes advantage of another person's weak moment by running away. The next shot that follows has the villain yelling "Bye-bye!" as he jumps down a stairwell. It is some funny shit. The only thing missing was having the villain wear a cape and mask and maybe drop a smoke bomb too when he did it. Or maybe he could carry an umbrella that allows him to fly away and he can go "Gotta fly!". Oh wait, I think that last one was already done. I'm just saying it wouldn't look out of place.

The guy who wrote this movie also wrote Inside Man. Now I really liked Inside Man, but unless this shit was rewritten by other motherfuckers, I'm going to now give Spike Lee all the credit for the success of that movie. Because this was a terrible fucking script, man. It doesn't help when there's the occasional line of dialogue that reeks of the writer being proud of himself for having written it either, like "She's got my sperm level so low, I've got to sit down to take a piss." Plus it's De Niro in his late 60's saying that line, so now you're figuring that motherfucker is probably sitting down three or four times a night to take a piss. You know, because he's old. Tap tap tap, is this thing on?

De Niro and Pacino only share one actual scene together in Heat, but that movie was so good, people didn't care. Now with Righteous Kill, you finally have them acting opposite each other for the entire running time, and guess what? People won't care about that shit either. But it sure won't be because they liked the movie. This movie is crap and so is my review, so I'm just going to end it by calling myself a douchebag.

Hey me, you're a douchebag.

P.S. Pacino doesn't even yell in this flick. That's some bullshit right there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Milk does a body good (but only if the body includes a penis)

I swear, when the guy behind the counter realized I was renting the film Milk, he gave me a smug look, like "Hold your horses, sweetheart. I'll get your precious movie. Don't get your panties in a bunch". But then I remembered that the guy was just being your average garden variety early-20's douchebag video clerk, and that look he gave was just his standard air of mockery & superiority coming out to stink up the joint. I wanted to stare him down and tell him, "You think you're hot shit now, but I was once like you. Look at me now, sad and pathetic and brimming with failure. I'm your future, and it's only 3-5 years away. So enjoy these fun moments, because they will be lost in time, like tears in rain" and maybe he would slightly appreciate the Blade Runner reference thrown in there, but then he probably hasn't even seen Blade Runner, so fuck yo mama.

I'll be honest, when I first heard about this movie, I figured Penn was just going to go for the gold and turn that shit up to 11, like he did with Mystic River ("IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THEREEEEE???!!!") or The Assassination of Richard Nixon ("IT'S ABOUT MONEY, DICK!!! IT'S ABOUT MONEY, DICK!!!!"). The low-point had to have been his performance in the remake of All the King's Men, which might as well have been called Serious Film with Serious Acting: The Movie. Holy shit, that was quite a spectacle. It's actually a very entertaining movie to watch in a so-bad-it's-good sort of way, because it allows you to enjoy the sight of a film and the people involved in it slowly disappear up into their own asses. Speaking of which, I'll get to writing about the movie Milk pretty soon, so bear with me.

I had just about enough of this overacting motherfucker, this self-serious prick who reacted to Trey Parker and Matt Stone's portrayal of him in Team America: World Police by sending them a letter telling them that they should visit Iraq and see if that'll change their mocking ways, the douchebag not fucking getting it that they are satirists who make fun of everything. This is the same "ACTOR!!!" who couldn't just let Chris Rock's jokes at the Oscars about wanting to know who the fuck Jude Law is slide. No, he had to go up when it was his time to present and inform Mr. Rock that Law is in fact a very well-respected actor. This barrel of laughs is also the same fun dude who can't fucking take it whenever someone mentions his Spicoli character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, never mind that if it wasn't for that role -- in an awesome movie, mind you -- he wouldn't have had a fucking career enabling him to act like the fucking Serious Douche that he is. GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF!

Well, I don't know if he'll ever get over himself, but he at least showed signs of chilling out a bit during the Oscars. He seemed to take it well when Robert DeNiro brought up Spicoli, but then again, DeNiro happens to be a close friend of Penn's, and he also appears to share the same lack of humor as he does, so I guess that makes it cool. But when Penn got up to make his acceptance speech, he surprised the fuck out of me (and I'm sure most of Hollywood) by not taking the time to curse us Evil Americans for not being nice to some country of Derka Derks or for not saving the trees or some shit or how Acting Makes The Sun Come Up and the World Spin Around. No, he had a humorous opening line and also made a couple of self-effacing comments, as well as giving Mickey Rourke some major props too. That last bit was especially cool because I was really bummed that Rourke didn't win for his great performance in The Wrestler, and that kinda made up for it. To be honest, what also made up for it was that I had bet against him, pretty certain Penn was going to take it -- because c'mon, an actor nominated for playing a gay martyr? That's money in the bank, baby! And it was!

I figured I should finally get around to watching Milk, to see if Penn deserved his win. And you know what? He definitely deserved it. I loved Rourke's performance in The Wrestler, LOVED it, but shit man, even I said in my "review" of The Wrestler that we're basically watching The Mickey Rourke Story, and if you're playing the title role in The Mickey Rourke Story, then I guess that means you're playing Mickey Rourke, right? And if you happen BE Mickey Rourke and you're playing the role of Mickey Rourke, then I guess that means you're kinda playing yourself.

A couple months back, I talked about how much I really liked Benicio Del Toro's performance in Che because he wasn't so much "acting" as he was just being that dude. Penn does the same here. In the same freaky way that I got lost in the Che character so much that I forgot about Del Toro, I honestly forgot about Sean Penn being in this movie. I wasn't watching Sean Penn 'batin all over himself for an Oscar, no way, the motherfucker BECAME Harvey Milk in this movie. It's great acting, and he even keeps it pretty dialed down. He cries a few times, but none of that howling for an Oscar type of theatrics, this is some serious kinda shit here.

So Milk's the true story about this gay dude, Harvey Milk, who lived most of his life in the closet but one day decides to take off with his lover to San Francisco. Why San Francisco? I have no idea. Maybe they're big fans of the Golden Gate bridge? Once there, they set up shop in the Castro District and slowly but surely, Milk starts getting fed up with the bullshit (prejudiced treatment from local businesses and beatdowns by the fucking pigs) and starts getting involved in local civic matters. He goes on to help make the gay community an important voice worth being heard, at first by displaying their value as consumers; the businesses that don't treat them respectfully get boycotted to closure, and eventually even the Teamsters recognized what an important ally the homosexuals are when they helped protest against Coors by not serving it in gay bars. Apparently, there are a lot of gay bars in San Francisco, because there's a large homosexual community in that city, which I would've never guessed.

After becoming the "Mayor of Castro Street", Milk decides to take it a step further and enter politics, running for Supervisor. The rest of the film focuses on his various campaigns and his eventual win, among other things. I'm not ruining shit here, man. This is one of those flicks that works whether or not you already know the outcome of this story, like Apollo 13 or Good Night and Good Luck. So I don't want to hear any shit about how I gave away the movie and spoiled it and said that Milk eventually wins and becomes Supervisor, making him the first openly gay man to become elected to office, and that later on in his career, another Supervisor named Dan White breaks into City Hall with a revolver and shoots both Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone dead. I don't want to hear about it.

Gus Van Sant directed this movie, and I consider him kinda like Steven Soderbergh in that he also seems to jump back and forth between Hollywood mainstream and the arthouse crowd. The dude started out with flicks like Drugstore Cowboy and then went on to do Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester, but then spend the next few years making films like Elephant and Gerry. The motherfucker even had time to do a useless remake of Psycho. He also seems to have a sense-of-humor about himself, showing up in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back playing himself on the set of Good Will Hunting 2, directing the movie while counting up a big bag of money. His last few films he's been working with the same cinematographer, and goddamn, it's an awesome partnership; the flicks have a cool 70's style look to them in the lighting and texture of the visuals. It's kinda soft and not too sharp, but it's beautiful photography all the same. With Milk, the cinematography works so well that I was lost in how awesome a shot looks for a couple a seconds before realizing HOLY SHIT THAT'S TWO GUYS FUCKING AND SMACKING EACH OTHER ON THE ASS!!! AIIIEEE!!! I'M GAY NOW!!!

Yeah, let's get that out of the way. Because this is a movie about a gay man in the gay community, there is the occasional moment of Man Love. If that kinda shit worries you, I'll just say that it's more of a quantity-over-quality deal here. It's like every ten minutes two dudes will make out, but there was only one actual scene of Bowm-Chicka-Wow-Wow, and even then, Brokeback Mountain was far harsher in that respect. If you could handle Brokeback, you could definitely handle Milk, big boy. If you think this shit is too gay and don't wanna watch it, that's cool. You can take off and go back to watching guys getting up on other guys asses' during football or a bunch of naked dudes sticking things up each others' asses in either of the Jackass movies. It's okay to laugh though, I'm making that decision. I'm okay with dudes making out in movies, but don't tell me I can't laugh at that shit. I'm sorry. I'm sure there are some gay people out there who think two straights macking on each other is pretty funny too, and I'm cool with that. I'm all about equality.

Sean Penn's Oscar win was richly deserved, and the rest of the performances are all ace too, especially Josh Brolin as Dan White. Goddamn, was this motherfucker troubled. But Van Sant and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, these two are pretty sensitive about how White's character was portrayed. In lesser filmmakers' hands, this dude would've been fuckin' demonized, and considering what the real-life man did, you couldn't completely blame them if they did. But Van Sant and Black take the high road and along with Brolin's performance, White comes off as a unfortunately paranoid and hurt man. I don't know if this is based on something Milk actually said, or if the movie made this up for dramatic purposes, but there's a part where Milk believes that part of why White is probably so messed up -- and why Milk stayed friendly with him -- was that he believed that White might be in the closet. For his performance Brolin was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but since he didn't overdose on prescription medication in real life, he didn't win. There's always next time, Bro...lin.

There's one performance that I still haven't made up about, and that's Diego Luna as Jack, one of Milk's last lovers. Basically Luna is playing the male version of the crazy Penelope Cruz characters in Blow and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It got to a point that I was waiting for him to say actual lines from one of those flicks. I like Diego Luna but in this flick, I couldn't fucking stand him and every time he appeared on-screen I groaned. Shit, here we go again. I'm taking the positive approach and saying that he was supposed to be annoying, and if that was the case, boy did he do an ace job on accomplishing that. I hope the filmmakers weren't trying to get me to feel sorry for him, because I never did. Sorry. I certainly felt really fucking bad for Harvey Milk in his final scene with Jack though, that did fucking crush me, but that was because at this point in the movie, Milk became my bro and I don't like to see my bros in pain like that, you know? I just couldn't give two shits about the insufferable basket case he was in love with. It's like maybe some of you out there have had a friend of yours who has broken up with someone that you and everyone else you know couldn't fucking stand, and while you're happy that this soul-sucking cunt or prick is out of the picture, you still feel horrible for your friend's loss, because he or she obviously saw a different person than everyone else and maybe, just maybe, he or she truly loved the unpleasant creature. Wow, that sounded fuckin' cold. But I'm sure you know what I mean.

James Franco is in this movie too, but fuck that guy.

Milk was a good movie, and I'm glad I got around to watching it. Sean Penn definitely deserved his Oscar and maybe, just maybe, he won't be such a humorless asshole from now on. I know that's asking for too much, but shit man, I'm really trying to look for reasons not to hate a motherfucker, you know? I'm already looking to beat the fuck out of the video store clerk along with some other bitch I'll talk about some other time. See?

Monday, March 9, 2009

You can't call yo' self no playa unless you rollin' wit a Bubastis in yo' crib, son

Jesus Christ, please help me. I'm not sure if you even exist, but I certainly don't deny the possibility, so maybe you can help a brotha out. I've just been so mad today, and the rage continues to ebb and flow, and shows no signs of going away. It's hard to even sit down long enough to write a review. I just want to punch certain motherfuckers in the face and it's fucking scaring the shit out of me how I'm feeling. Please help me. Please. You or your father. If the both of you can double-team against my anger, that would be super awesome. But I understand if you're busy with all those people praying for your help in certain areas, like certain occupied areas of the Middle East. Or people on the verge of becoming newly homeless and watching their lives turn from a pursuit of happiness to The Pursuit of Happyness. I know. But then again, those people still wind up coming home in pieces or begging for change in the streets, so maybe you guys are just assholes. Everyone's an asshole -- including me. Fuck.

So yeah, Watchmen. I didn't expect to see it so soon, especially on opening weekend, but I got a call from a friend and next thing you know, I'm watching it at the IMAX with him and his wife. There was over an hour delay before the movie finally came on at about 11:25 in the evening, but the staff had kept us occupied with trivia contests for posters and movie tickets. Plus it allowed all the anonymous cowards in the audience to yell out "jokes" for the entertainment-starved audience to laugh at desperately. "Just pooosh play!" yelled the shaven-head person of raza. About eight times he made that "joke". We got to make temporary friends with the people sitting around us, though. That was nice and unexpected.

The flick takes place in an alternate 1985 New York, where term limits have been removed and Nixon is still the prez, since that Watergate shit either never happened or he got away with it. In this alternate world, costumed crimefighters existed since the 40's, but eventually Tricky Dick passed a law that made it illegal to run around the streets like Batman and busting crime. We start the flick with the second generation of masked vigilantes, now a few years into their forced retirement -- with the exception of one, a dude in an inkblotted mask named Rorshach. He still goes around putting the big hurt on law-breakers and he's currently investigating the recent murder of a former "minuteman" who called himself The Comedian. This dude was part of the first generation of vigilantes, and while chilling out in his penthouse, some motherfucker Chris Brown'd his ass then threw him out the window.

Rorshach thinks this might be the beginning of an attack on all former crimefighters -- there's Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, second generation updates on previous avengers; Ozymandias, the world's smartest man and one of the world's richest entrepreneurs; and Doctor Manhattan, a blue-skinned being who likes to live every day like he's Matthew McConaughey in bongo-playing mode. In other words, he's naked most of the time. Apparently, if you show a chick's face in close-up while she's having an orgasm in your flick, you get an NC-17, but you can show a blue dude's wiener as often as you like and still get your R-rating.

Out of all of them, Doc Manhattan probably doesn't have to worry about getting attacked, since he's the only "superhero" with actual superpowers. Besides, he's got enough to worry about at the moment. You see, the United States and the Soviet Union have been butting heads and the possibility of nuclear fuckin' war is becoming more and more real and immediate. Manhattan has the power to explode a motherfucker and he can take things apart and change their molecules into something different and all that other superpower shit, but there's just way too many nuclear missiles out there for him to deflect and even if he stops 99% percent of them from detonating, the remaining 1% will still end the world. It's like Lucy trying to pack all those chocolates from the speedy conveyor belt, if the chocolates were thermonuclear missiles and the conveyor belt was Russia. Huh? Whatever, I'm not erasing that shit.

You probably already know all this shit, because you've either read everything about it on the internet or you've read the comic book it's based on. So I'll just get into what I thought of it. It's good, the end.

Okay, I'll get a bit more detailed. I've read the comic book and I liked it very much, but I'm sorry to admit that I didn't jizz all over myself in ecstasy after reading it, like all the other fanboys. I did not come out worshipping the comic book as some sacred tome, nor did I find it to be the greatest thing since sliced bread or it's sequel, sliced sourdough bread. Hence, I did not lose my shit and curse Hollywood when I heard that they were making this into a movie. I just hoped for the best, because paying $5-10 to spend 2-3 hours on a shitty movie can ruin a motherfucker's day, but that's about it. So now after finally seeing it, I can say that I like it almost as much as the book. Like the source material, Watchmen is an involving story, containing interesting characters and the occasional cool action moment. Of course, the theatrical cut is missing quite a bit of extra goodness, but that's what special edition DVD and Bluray's are for. The movie looks great; the production design, the special effects, they're all nice to look at, especially on the huge IMAX screen. I bet you thought the blue dong was nice to look at in IMAX too, right? Fuckin' homo. Calm down, you.

It's over two-and-a-half hours long, and it moves well. But I was already familiar with the comic book, so maybe that helped me out since I pretty much knew the story structure and where it was going. I don't know if the length might be more of an issue to someone who's coming into Watchmen completely cold. It's about as long as The Dark Knight, (although technically it might be longer because the credits for this flick are only about three minutes or so, only long enough for one song, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" by My Chemical Romance) but DK has a lot more action in it.

There's a lot of motherfuckers out there that seem to have problems with some particular liberties taken in the flick, like some of the extra violence and action added in. One bit that I've heard a lot of bitching about is a long Oldboy-style fight scene late in the film which wasn't in the comic at all, that seemed to rile them up. I just want to grab these stinky fatter-than-me douchebags by their Star Wars t-shirt and tell them to chill the fuck out. The comic book didn't have that much action in it, because it really wasn't about POW! or WHAM! or CRASH!, it was a dark mystery filled with many many detailed events and characters. But I understand that might not be enough for Joe Moviegoer. He or she might want a little extra ass-kicking here and there. A good example of this is another fight scene that I remember as a brief scuffle in the comic, but in the movie comes off as some hardcore Steven Seagal shit, complete with broken bones jutting out of arms and knives in motherfuckers' throats. But I'm digressing, back to the Oldboy-style fight.

After the fight scene, the characters still do what they did in the comics, they just extended the moment, so to speak. They didn't take away here, they only added. The end result is the same. Plus -- holy shit -- didn't you guys notice that this was a fight scene where you could actually tell what was going on? I mean, you can actually make out the choreography involved in it, and nowadays that's worthy of being considered a cinematic miracle. It wasn't just flashes of an arm here and a foot there. The slow-mo/sped-up combo shit it was shot in might be grating to some, but it honestly didn't bother me. I'll take a well-choreographed, well-shot, and well-edited fight scene done with slow-mo/speeded-up vision over CUTCUTCUTCUTEXTREMECLOSEUPEXTREMECLOSEUPCUTCUTCUTCUT in regular speed any day of the fuckin' week.

The only thing that I would really bitch about is the music. Nothing wrong with the songs themselves, but it's shit you've heard in twenty other movies. The best thing a movie can do when it comes to music is make me want to buy (or illegally download) the soundtrack. When Scorsese or Wes Anderson -- to name a couple -- come out with a flick, that shit happens. I hear some shit I never heard before and now I have to hear it again and again. In Watchmen, I don't ever wanna hear any of this shit again. But here's the quandary; they really work with the scenes they're featured in. The opening credits montage with Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are-A Changin'" is a beautiful example of image and music working perfectly together, and later on, watching two characters finally get around to fucking while Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" plays on the soundtrack is a fucking brilliant bit as well. But goddamn, I've heard that song and its many covers EVERYWHERE. It's in motherfuckin' Shrek, for Christ's sake.

Late in the film "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix comes on and ugggghhh I've heard that shit in every fucking movie, it seems -- yet I can see why it was picked, because the lyrics to the Hendrix song (among other songs) are featured in the comic itself. The filmmakers were just being true to the source material, but the problem I guess is that the comic made that song choice about twenty years ago, when "Watchtower" was merely played out and not beaten to the fuckin' ground, stepped on, sat upon and finally pissed all over, like it is now. But then when the director decides to get another band to do a cover of a song to at least bring something new and different to something we've heard many times before, he gets shat upon, like all the shit I'm hearing the fanboys give about My Chemical Romance doing a Bob Dylan song. Motherfuckers, it could be worse, he could've gotten fuckin' T-Pain with his AutoTune to do that shit. Think about it. Anyway, it's a fucked up predicament, some "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kinda shit, and I don't envy the moviemakers at all when it comes to those kind of choices.

Listen man, this shit is two-and-a-half hours long and they tried to put all the shit they could fit into it. What didn't make it will make it in the director's cut. You can even get a DVD with an animated version of "Tales from the Black Freighter", a comic book within the Watchmen comic book that had to be cut from the theatrical version (and which will be reinstated into the director's cut, as it should) right now if you want. I think it's pretty fuckin' faithful, and it was definitely done by someone who loves the material. Sure, there's a couple of moments I wish weren't changed, like a certain line at the end that should've been said by someone else instead of who ends up saying it in the movie, and the flick has a lot more gory violence than the comic (curiously the most gory moment in the comic -- a crucial use of gore, I think -- was cleaned up in the film, WTF?) but I'll go as far as to say that any plot/story problems with this movie stem from the source material.

There's also quite a bit of the "everyday human" element missing from the film. The book really showed you how the events were affecting regular people on the street, but again, you just can't fit all that shit in a two-and-a-half hour running time, and remember there's a director's cut coming anyway. I just don't want to hear anymore shit about how they changed a certain particular part of the climax, because I think how they handled it in the movie was a major improvement over the comic. It may have worked on the page, but you had to change it for the flick, you had to. I can't get into specifics, but those who know, you know what I'm talking about. Tell me, you think that shit would've played on the screen? Shit, motherfuckers were already laughing at the sex scene in the theater I was in, I could only imagine how they'd react to the original plan in the comic.

My friends and I liked it. They never read the comic book, but their stand-alone experience was still a positive one. Of the recent slate of comic book adaptations on the big screen of the past year, I think The Dark Knight is the better film and Iron Man was more fun, but Watchmen is still an overall solid flick. If I was to grade this shit, and I guess I am, I'd give the comic 3 1/2 stars and the movie 3 stars. That's good, man. But I guess to the fanboys, three stars is shit when you're adapting the Bible. It's either the greatest thing ever or the biggest piece of shit in the world with some of these people. Fuck 'em.

Last but not least, the dude who plays Rorshach is fuckin' ace. Jackie Earle Haley plays him, and it's good to see homeboy kicking ass both literally and figuratively. The motherfucker came out of obscurity a couple of years ago and came back hard, getting an Oscar nomination for his role in Little Children, a flick in which he co-starred with his fellow Watchmen crimefighter, Patrick Wilson. Here's a link to an EW article about the dude, back when he was promoting that flick. It's a good read, and besides, I wanted to end this blog on a positive note, since I started it so angry. I'm still angry, but you know...

Also I want to apologize to any Star Wars t-shirt wearing motherfuckers out there for some earlier comments I made. You're not all bad, in fact, some of you are actually more than all right with me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bros before hos! Bitches ain't shit! I'm going to die a sad, pathetic, lonely old man!

Some time ago at the Oscars, the Lifetime Achievement Award was being given to filmmaker Elia Kazan, a dude just as famous for his great work with actors as for his great work as a stoolie. When Kazan came up to accept the award, the audience reaction was divided; it seemed like a third gave him a standing ovation, a third made a respectful compromise by applauding for him while still in their seats and the last third remained seated and didn't clap for shit. Among the silent protesters were Ed Harris and his wife Amy Madigan, both equally mad-faced and flashing the fuckin' Zoolander Blue Steel toward the old man. I don't know enough about Ms. Madigan, but Harris definitely seems like an intense motherfucker. I wonder if he's as intense a film director as he is an actor. Whatever the answer is, it works, because so far he's directed a damn good film with Pollock and made a pretty good flick with Appaloosa.

Appaloosa is a Western starring Harris and his homeboy from A History of Violence, Viggo Mortensen. In that movie, Harris was the villain and Mortensen was the hero, but in this one they're partners in peacekeeping. They go around traveling the Old West, setting up shop in towns in need of straightening up. If you want Harris and Mortensen as your town's marshal & deputy, you have to sign a contract that basically means that you won't question how they work and stay out of their way. Luckily, our guys are not looking to rip people off or take advantage, they really do have an interest in bringing law to the lawless and cleaning up the streets. The only people who have to worry are the guilty.

And playing the guilty party in Appaloosa is Jeremy Irons. He's this asshole rancher named Bragg who has moved in with his gang of assholes and brags (or is that "Braggs") about being bros with President Chester A. Arthur. His employees have a tendency to go into town and do such lovely things like raping and killing, so when the town marshal and his two deputies go over to arrest a couple of them, Bragg kills all three. You have to give it up to him for at least protecting his employees, you certainly don't see the heads of modern businesses doing that shit; "Wait. You mean I can save fifty more cents an hour if I fire 20,000 of my workers without benefits or severance? Just a second..."

Most "buddy movies" are annoying in that all the buddies do is yell at each other, and somehow we're supposed to think this shit is funny because Volume = Laughs. But in the end, you don't buy that they would be friends in real life. But in Appaloosa, you really do get the sense that Harris and Mortensen's characters have known each other for a long time, long enough to know what makes the other person tick and long enough to kinda know what the other dude is about to say. There's a lot of details and quirks to the characters in this flick that I found really charming. I doubt there will be a follow-up to this flick, which is too bad, because I would've loved to watch these dudes in other situations. Meanwhile, we'll probably get three more Rush Hour sequels because people can't get enough of Black Guy Different Than Chinese Guy, apparently.

Mortensen is kinda like Dr. Watson to Harris' Sherlock Holmes, and has learned quite a bit from the dude, but you realize that if anything, Mortensen is the stronger and smarter person. But he doesn't want to fuck shit up or rock the boat, and smarter or not, he knows when it comes down to it, Harris is the boss and he's the right arm. In the meantime, he'll just wait for whenever Harris asks him how to pronounce certain words.

So while Harris and Mortensen try to lay down the law, another kind of trouble arrives, the kind of trouble that wears heels and a corset. She's played by Renee Zellweger and I'm trying to remember the last time I found her attractive, if at all. Let's see -- she was cute in Love and a .45 and Jerry Maguire, but, uh, that's about it really. I was never into her, sorry. But I'd still hit it. One thing has nothing to do with the other. Zellweger looks right in this movie, she looks like the kind of woman a guy might want to marry in the 1800's. Supposedly Diane Lane was going to play this role but she dropped out before shooting for whatever reason, and it's best that she did anyway, because even in her mid-forties Lane's way too pretty for the role. Have you ever seen old pictures of women from that time period? Exactly. Not a Scarlett or Jessica in the bunch.

Zellweger catches Harris' eye and even though he's a badass tough guy, he's still a man, so it was only a matter of time before he fell in Stupid -- I mean, fell in Love. I really like the dynamic between Zellweger, Harris and Mortensen; you might think this flick is setting up as a love triangle, but that's not the case at all. Harris falls in love with Zellweger and Mortensen watches all of this, tripping out on his friend, this guy he's known for 12 years acting differently now that he's with this chick. And he's not pissed at him for it, it's more of a slightly amused reaction he gets to all of this shit, and you know he wishes nothing but the best for his bro with this girl, but for god's sake don't be so fuckin' dumb about it either!

You may have noticed I haven't written about much in the way of action, and that's because to be honest, this isn't really an action movie. This is a character piece with moments of action in it, and not the other way around. It's definitely a genre piece, but that genre is Western, and who's to say you have to have wall-to-wall gunfire in a Western? As long as one dude shoots at another dude with his six-gun, you've pretty much satisfied the genre requirements. The main thing is to never be boring, and Appaloosa isn't boring at all. After the big main shootout, there's still another 25 minutes or so of movie left, and that could be death in another flick -- DEATH -- but not in this one. Because there's still other shit you're caught up in, and you want to see where they go with it.

It's all very old-school, too. The look, the style, even the few scenes of gunfire have an old-fashioned feel to them. And that's all right with me, because it works. You can tell Ed Harris was aping the Westerns that he grew up watching, wanting to make something that wouldn't look out of place with films of that time. But if you've been spoiled by action-packed 21st-Century Westerns like the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, then maybe you should look elsewhere. We don't fuckin' need you. But I got a kick out of this flick. I found all the stuff going on between the characters incredibly entertaining and if someone along the way pulled out a gun and fired it, well that was just the cherry on top of this already delicious sundae. Christ, what a faggy statement.

Okay, you want a complaint? The gunshots could've been way better. They're pretty much the kind of lame pops a gun with blanks would make on the film set, which would normally be replaced on the soundtrack with more manly BLAMS and BOOMS, but I guess they forgot, or maybe Ed Harris just wasn't having any of that shit.

Appaloosa didn't make great shakes at the box office, but I'm certain it will find its audience eventually, if not on DVD then definitely on cable, where you just fucking KNOW it's going to end up playing every other day on TNT. As long as one of those days is a Sunday, it's all good, because this feels like the kind of movie that would play best on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Anyway, going back to what I was talking about at the beginning, here's the link to the vid of Elia Kazan receiving his award. I would've embedded it on this page, but the Oscar douches disabled that option. Take it over to the 1:30 mark for some laughs.