Friday, October 16, 2009

Then we ate at Zankou Chicken and watched Inglourious Basterds at the $2 theater, and all was well again

The weather is a cruel fucking cunt who likes to play with you, toy with you. It makes it gloomy and cold and rainy, and then when you get accustomed to that, nearly getting sick in the process, along comes to the goddamn heat. So you open the window, try to get some air in. Then the neighbor's kid decides to start bawling because it didn't get the toy that he wanted or the chocolate ice cream he craved or most likely, he's just being an asshole, like most kids. So you close the window, bake inside, and try writing...this.


You're going to be seeing a lot of that in the coming weeks, and I wish I could be amongst that misspelling choir, I really do. Unfortunately, I came out of Paranormal Activity not feeling that way at all.

So we follow a young couple in San Diego, Micah and Katie, and they seem to be having a pretty decent life going; nice house, Katie goes to school (which means she doesn't have a job), Micah is a day trader (which means he doesn't have a job), they live in a good neighborhood and they have a big screen HDTV. In other words, I can't relate to them in any way and there goes any chance for sympathy.

When the movie begins, our lovely couple have been dealing with some weird noises and shit coming from the house, and Micah figures it's time to invest in a new video camera and some sound equipment to further investigate this activity of the paranormal variety. It's almost like Micah knew that this footage would one day end up transferred to 35mm, so he bought a big fuckin' high-end camera with a big mic and light attached to it. This cam looks like the kind of shit they probably filmed the last Robert Rodriguez or George Lucas film with, even though the image quality isn't as good as theirs.

In the bedroom, he puts up the camera and sets up the hard drive and his sound recorder, so off he and Katie go, off to slumberland. And that's when all the scary shit starts to happen -- or at least, the supposedly scary shit. Mostly sounds and doors opening of their own accord --

OK, just as I was typing that shit about scary noises, my cell phone BEEPED and VIBRATED and it scared the shit out of me, because things were really quiet for a while, aside from the clickety-clack of the keyboard. What just happened was 10 times scarier than anything in this goddamn movie. And that's the problem.

So yeah, our couple slowly starts picking up evidence of there being Something In The House, so they call up some psychic dude who actually comes off as the real deal. Just like a doctor, he senses something is wrong and rather than doing anything about it, he writes them a recommendation to see a specialist in the field and probably charged a shitload of money for it. The psychic tells them that his specialty is ghosts and shit, and what seems to be haunting their crib is a motherfucking Demon, and he isn't equipped to deal with that shit. He's like Dan Aykroyd's cameo in Casper; "Who you gonna call? Someone else!" and then he waddles his fat ass away in that ill-fitting Ghostbusters uniform and goes off to make another shitty movie.

Katie's like Fuckin' call that Demonlogist! but her husband's like Fuck That and I think part of his refusal to call for help is because of that unfortunate affliction most men suffer from, known as Inflated Testicles. Men usually suffer from a smaller case of IT in the form of not wanting to pull over and ask for directions, or refusing to call the plumber and instead wanting to fix the sink themselves, but Micah has a much more advanced and dangerous case.

He thinks he can deal with this Demon situation himself, a fuckin' day trader who loves to record everything -- banal conversations that mean nothing to anyone who isn't sleeping with either of them, brushing teeth, using the toilet, arts & crafts, dinner, more banal conversation, arguments, feet, stock portfolios -- everything EXCEPT sex, for which he grows sudden consideration about. Or maybe he knew if anyone else watched this footage, that shit was gonna look low-budget sex-wise and figured it was better to not record it, so then afterwards he can brag about what he and Katie just did was illegal in 13 states. What, necrophilia?

Another part of his refusal to call the Demonologist comes from being a Genuine Stupid Dumbass. Half the shit that his wife begs him not to do, he fucking does, and then he pulls that "You told me not to X, but you didn't say I couldn't Y" kind of bullshit. This guy is a douche, and looks like one too. If his wife wasn't such a drama queen nag, I'd hate the motherfucker.

I'm not fond of either one of these award-winners. I know her name's Katie, but I wouldn't be surprised if her full name was Katie Plus 8, because that's the kind of insufferable wench she is. She looks like Rachel Dratch shoved into the Telepod with Pam from The Office and later on, we discover that the Demon has a thing for the (not-so) little lady, and sometimes it comes off like she really likes the attention because it gives her the opportunity to piss and moan and be all ME ME ME even more than fuckin' usual.

Jesus Christ, lady -- that chick from The Entity was getting ghost-raped on, like, a daily basis and she handled that shit like a fuckin' saint and she was getting GHOST RAPED. Fuckin' Christine Brown kept her shit together better compared to you and that chick fuckin' KNEW she was getting dragged to Hell in three days. You're just dealing with the otherworldly equivalent of that perverted touchy-feely uncle everyone keeps the kids away from every Thanksgiving. Calm The Fuck Down and get yourself a reality series.

At one point, the Demon appears to fondle Katie's bare foot a bit while she's asleep, which convinced me that she was being haunted by, in fact, the spirit of Stuntman Mike from the extended print of Death Proof.

Listen, man, I'm not a hater (for the most part) and I'm actually a pretty positive guy when it comes to movies. I don't go into a movie expecting to dislike it, no matter if the trailers or reviews tell me otherwise. I want to like a fuckin' flick, and I'll give it all the chances I can give, all the benefits that doubt has to offer. Having said that, fuck this piece of shit.

This goddamn movie is getting hyped up like a mutha, and I dialed that shit down to avoid lofty expectations. I went in and asked for two simple things: 1) Scare me. 2) Entertain me. And I was more than willing to accept one out of two. See, I'm easy to please. But Paranormal Activity accomplished neither of those two tasks I so politely asked for. I was bored for the most part, and I couldn't give a shit about the characters involved. That's like Strike 6, if there was such a thing as six strikes in baseball.

It wasn't until the last ten minutes or so that things started remotely resembling the movie I paid $8.75 (EIGHT SEVENTY-FIVE! And that was a matinee discount!) to see. It wasn't until then that things got a little creepy, but you know what? Too fuckin' little, too goddamn late, Oren Peli. I'll give you this -- I'm proud that this shit put you on the fuckin' map and now you're the Big Man in Hollywood and Spielberg wants to produce your flicks and all that. Congrats, dude, I hope you kick ass in the biz and make some serious money. But it ain't coming from me no more, that's for fuckin' sure. I'll wait for your next flick on DVD, IF that.

Afterwards, I found out that the stuff I almost kinda liked at the end was spoiled in the trailers, so I'm glad I didn't see those beforehand, otherwise I'd have no positives left. Oh wait, I'm sorry, there is one other thing I did kind of dig -- the end credits, or should I say, the lack of end credits. The movie ends with some bullshit "So and So did this. So and So did that. This, That, and The Other were never this and that", followed by the 2009 Paramount Pictures All Rights Reserved screen, and following that, about a couple of minutes of Black Screen with creepy rumbling Paranormal Activity In The Hizzy sound. It made everyone slowly get creeped the fuck out, expecting something to happen. That was the best part of the movie. The only part.

Some people in the audience seemed honestly scared by this movie, a couple of them telling each other they would have problems sleeping that night. Wow. I hate being Larry David at the beach, but that's how I felt after watching this -- increasingly upset at not getting what other people are apparently getting out of it. Your Mileage May Vary is the saying, right? I don't know, man.

There's some shakycam cinematography, and while it's not that bad, it can still be taxing on some, like one of my friends. He eventually left halfway to get some air. We told him afterwards that he didn't miss much, and the more I think about it, the more I think he probably had a more entertaining time watching the people outside. Couples, people by themselves, families, cute girls, douchebag guys, fat ugly assholes like me. Probably overheard interesting things being said by passersby. That's what I think, anyway.

It's pretty apt to call this flick the Blair Witch Project of the 00's, in more ways than one. First off, it uses the same "found footage" approach in telling the story; in Blair Witch, we're supposed to be watching the film and videotapes left behind by the missing film crew and in Paranormal, there's an opening disclaimer thanking the families of the main characters for allowing them to present this video footage (and make a shitload of cash from). Also, it's a lot like Blair Witch in that motherfuckers are hyping the shit out of this as being the Scariest Movie You'll Ever See. I kinda liked Blair Witch, and never understood the hatred from people who didn't. After watching Paranormal Activity, I now understand more than ever.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The New Beverly popcorn is so cheap, it makes me get down on my knees, cry, and thank God/Allah/Yahweh for allowing such reasonable prices in 2009

My current financial situation demands constant denial of things that once brought me joy, but God Damn It All if I'm going to deny myself a trip to the New Beverly Cinema for their 2nd annual All Night Horror Show. So yeah, I went. Seven flicks, one of which was a "secret movie" we wouldn't find out the name of until the moment it projected onto the screen. You've probably seen most of these movies, so don't expect me to really get into them. I'm probably just gonna tangent this fuckin' thing every which fuckin' way. Advanced warning.

I know a lot of people were saving seats for their friends, because I was one of them, but there had to have been a few motherfuckers in there who were full of shit, trying to give themselves buffer zones; quite a few people were left standing in the aisle during the first movie. Usually, I'm all about the buffer zone, but in these kind of occasions, you gotta give that shit up.

So Phil Blankenship comes out and does his intro, and was it me or did he seem a bit down? Is it some rose-colored lenses shit making me remember him being a bit more energetic in last year's Horror Show? Or am I confusing him with that one guy from the Aero whose name I can't remember because it's been a goddamn eternity since I went to THAT place too. Anyway, I hope Phil wasn't too bummed out or anything and maybe his mind was just elsewhere because he and the other New Bev staff were busy busting their asses just to give us motherfuckers a good time.

That's why I will never host a party -- because you can never completely partake in the fun when you're too occupied running back and forth making sure the booze doesn't run out or that there's enough chips or that no one throws tissue in the toilet and Goddammit, who put tissue in the toilet, now it's clogged! What? You want to use the bathroom? Sorry, it's clogged. I don't know, some asshole who didn't know how to read because I put a goddamn sign on the door saying not to put motherfucking toilet tissue in the goddamn motherfucking toilet! Go piss outside. What? Well, fine, DON'T come back! Yeah, you too, asshole.

The first movie, Dog Soldiers, I caught on DVD in '03 by myself, and while I enjoyed the movie, it's definitely a much more fun experience to see it with a packed crowd. Soldiers versus werewolves, lots of splatter, occasional movie references, what's not to like? The tone reminded me a lot of Marshall's most recent film, Doomsday, which didn't get much love when it came out. People gotta understand that The Descent might just be an anomaly in his oeuvre; that one was a tad more serious and deeper compared to Dog and Doomsday and it sounds like the fanboys will never forgive him for it if he doesn't make something in that vein again. Fucked up, yes, but I can't hate on the fanboys for feeling that way either, because I'm guilty of the same shit when it comes to Joe Carnahan; he's either the director of Smokin' Aces and Blood Guts Bullets and Octane or he's the director of Narc, and I would be a lot happier for the latter filmmaker to return ASAP and the former to take a nice long break.

Halfway through the movie, an older gentleman came in and like 20% of the attendees at the beginning, stood in the aisle. He then started having a silent conversation with no one but the empty space in front of him; he was gesticulating like crazy and his mouth would open real wide like he was yelling, but no sound came out. I looked for a Bluetooth earpiece on him, but couldn't see one. That occupied my mind for a good 10 minutes. Then he walked over to the front row and sat down.

Intermission. There was a couple sitting in the row ahead of me and they brought pillows. To me, that's a very dangerous decision to make. I mean, pillows mean comfort and comfort means sleep and sleep means BAD BAD BAD when you're at a movie marathon. I'm sure they didn't care if they nodded off during a flick or two, but still, you might as well be reading Playboy in church, as far as I'm concerned. People brought in food from the outside, mostly Papa John's and Domino's and for that, I say, thanks New Bev for turning a blind eye to that. Very cool. Having said that, I really wish quite a few of these motherfuckers would throw their goddamn trash away. Phil would come in with a bag asking people to throw their shit away, and you still had people leaving their shit behind. What the fuck. You need a weepy Native American tomahawking a few of these jerks to get the point across.

The next movie was called The Burning, a story about one man's struggles with gonorrhea *rimshot*. No, it's Bob & Harvey Weinstein's attempt to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th with their own summer camp slasher. I saw the uncut version of this once and thought it was kind of dull, save the occasional kill scene, in particular one taking place on a raft. Thankfully, it plays a hell of a lot better (read: unintentionally funny) with an audience, and this viewing felt a lot faster because of it. It's a trip to watch some of these actors before they became famous (or at least established) like Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, Ratner from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Strozzi from Last Man Standing and Holly Hunter (whose character shoulda been named Blink, because that's how long she appears on-screen, it seems).

Turns out this print (the only surviving one, according to Phil) was missing the raft scene, which is tantamount to watching a print of The Untouchables without the train station sequence. Basically, a bunch of campers get owned by Cropsy the killer while they're on a raft. Later on, one of the characters finds the bodies and the aftermath now comes off like No Country for Young Campers since we never saw them get murdered. But I guess what you don't know won't hurt you, because the film still worked (relatively speaking) without it; the discovery of the victims, along with quick flashcuts of the raft murders during the climax, could make it feel like an intentional holding-back-information type of deal to anyone with no idea of what was supposed to happen in the movie, like my friends.

Speaking of whom, one of my buddies turned to me -- after noticing not only the Weinsteins' name but Brad Grey's as well -- and asked if all it took to become a major Hollywood player was to make a shitty Friday the 13th clone? It certainly doesn't hurt. Anyway, I found one of the Weinsteins' credits at the end as "Editorial Consultant" frighteningly prophetic, considering how in another ten years, these sensitive souls were going to be infamous for going Cropsy on many a filmmaker's final cut.

Another intermission, more trailers, and then the 3rd film, House by the Cemetery. This is the third time I've seen it, first time projected in 35mm, and I'm going out and calling this my favorite of Fulci's horror flicks. Some people prefer The Beyond or The One Where The Chick Pukes Her Intestines Out, but this is the only one that has genuinely creeped me out. In addition to taking place in a nightmare world where Fulci long ago told Logic and Sanity vaffanculo, all the other elements come in and work together beautifully; the English dubbing of people already speaking English, the little boy who sounds like a little girl, red herrings like that spooky babysitter with the Brooke Shields eyebrows -- it's already unsettling, and you haven't even been introduced to Dr. Freudstein yet.

We were told that the print for this movie was "interesting", which is another way of saying that it's got a lot of wear and tear, lines, scratches, jump cuts, purple specks, a kind of flapping sound during one of the reels, quick snippets of unrelated moments in between scenes, and the main title credits use an alternate theme. At least it was still in its proper color and hadn't turned into that pinkish hue. It was all good though, because it added a welcome grindhouse vibe.

You can always count on Fulci to give you at least one Holy Shit moment, and my fave would have to be little Bob's head being held against a door while his father is trying to hatchet through on the other side. Nice. In addition to a Holy Shit moment, you have a decent amount of WTF's as well, and I think the majority of them were taken up with extreme close-ups of eyes. Boy, does Fulci love him some eyeballs, and if he can't show them to you, then he'll sure as shit have someone go on about them, like that dude in The Beyond; "The eyes, the eyes!". Motherfucker loves eyeballs like Dario Argento loves...uh, eyeballs.

There's a trailer for House and I want to offer a virtual pat on the back for the person who decided to get the late, GREAT Brother Theodore to do the voiceover. If you don't know who that is, then you just don't fuckin' know. Go Google that guy for some awesome times, he did a lot of interviews on Letterman and made that gap-toothed staff-fucker look like Craig Kilborn and by that, I mean he made him look like a giant douche who fancies himself funny. If there was ever a movie of my life, I'd have wanted him to play me -- either him or the actress who played the drunk, rich lady on Will & Grace, for no reason other than it would be so goddamn random. Anyway, EVERY horror trailer should've had Brother Theodore narrating them, and here's why:

The scheduled "secret movie" turned out to be HBO's Tales from the Crypt Vol. II, featuring three episodes from the first season. It was cool to see something that I was used to seeing on television projected onto the big screen, in a nice 35mm print, no less. Too bad the episodes weren't so hot. My favorite of the three was called Lover Come Hack to Me, because it was kinda funny but mostly because someone had the balls to say Hey, you know who we should get to do some steamy soft-core Skinamax-style sex scenes? Amanda Plummer. Normally filmmakers use the She's All That technique by casting a hot piece of ass and just putting her hair up in a bun and giving her glasses to wear to come off as plain jane, mousy or even ugly, but here they actually made the admirable move of finding someone who isn't known (at least not in my galaxy) for being sexy and tried their absolute goddamned hardest to turn Mono into Dolby Digital, looks-wise.

The second story was called Collection Completed, starring M. Emmet Walsh (who got some cheers in the audience when his name came up) and Mrs. Roper from Three's Company (who didn't). I remember seeing this one as a kid, and it depressed me then and it depressed me here as well. But that's me, I'm strange. Mary Lambert directed this episode, she also directed Pet Semetary but I will always remember her as the director of a Sega CD video game called Double Switch which was basically a PG version of Night Trap starring Corey Haim and R. Lee Ermey, and if you don't know what I'm talking about then that probably means you were getting laid at the time. Speak for yourself, man. I was able to get laid AND get my video games on. Fine, fine.

The last one (written by Fred Dekker, who got applause during the credits as well) was something about Lea Thompson being a whore (the character she plays, I mean) and selling her looks to a pawnbroker. Then I got up and did a typical Fat Fuck move by going to buy popcorn when I wasn't really that hungry to begin with. I was kinda done with the Tales from the Crypt "movie" at this point and just waited for it to end.

When Phil came up afterwards and asked the audience if they enjoyed what they just watched, someone in the audience made the comment "Thanks for sharing your DVD collection" to which Phil responded with "That was a film print, you asshole." I laughed so hard at that. Look, if anything, I was probably as disappointed in the "movie" as he was, but it was obviously a film print we were watching, and apparantly that wasn't going to stop Snarky McSnarksnark from saying what he had to say for the sake of saying SOMETHING. The way Phil responded was also hilarious because he never raised his voice and remained as low key and deadpan as he had been all night, but you just fuckin' know that every syllable of his comeback was completely drenched in Go Fuck Your Mother. Shit, for all I know, he could've been Phil's friend, and they were just fucking with each other. But it still made me laugh whenever I thought of it.

During the intermission, one of my friends decided to take his leave and get some sleep. I stood up in the aisle to see him off and to avoid butt-numbing. There I was, comfortably talking to my friend and just then it hit me -- I had asked for lots of butter on my popcorn (because I'm disgusting and have no shame). I had placed the bag on my lap during Tales from the Crypt, and I'm usually very careful about that because eleven years ago I did the same thing and ended up getting butter on my lap and -- FUCK, NOT AGAIN! I looked down at my lap, and right there, directly on my crotch was a nice big round stain. So in case any of you happened to see a fat, ugly asshole who was nonchalantly standing in the aisle and jawing away having apparently pissed himself and seeming OK with it, yeah, that was me. My buddy had a great time the rest of the night not believing it was butter.

I wasn't tired at all during the marathon, but I'm sure getting tired writing about it. Gonna have to half-ass the rest of this one.

We were going straight on till morning without intermissions from here on out. Superstition followed and it was around this time that I noticed Marc Heuck in the house, and he appeared to have spent most of the time in the aisle, and I swear I thought I saw him fixing or cleaning something near one of the seats. Helpful guy. Anyway, yeah, a couple of clergymen are trying to get an old house in the woods fixed up so a reverend's family can stay there, never mind that the place has been the site for a few freak accidents and deaths in the past. It all comes down to an evil witch's revenge for having been drowned in a nearby lake in the 1600's or something, because that's what people did to witches back then.

Ms. Witch had a vibe to her that reminded me of the kind of evil lady you normally see in a Sam Raimi joint; she wouldn't look too out of place threatening to swallow your soul, is what I'm saying. Superstition started off strong, as movies tend to do when they include a severed head getting microwaved, but it slowed down massively in the middle. First third and last third are best, because that's where the cool kill scenes and the majority of ridiculous dialogue reside ("Shut your bitchy mouth!"). It was worth it, though and would make a fun trash movie viewing at home.

The guys who produced this movie went on to produce the Rambo and Terminator flicks, but they also produced Showgirls and Cutthroat Island (which still makes them awesome, if you ask me). Supposedly this was a Canadian production, which really threw me off because usually I can spot a Canuck flick a mile away; this one looked like it was shot in California, and maybe it was, maybe that's why I never caught that Great White North vibe. Plus, I didn't find any last names that ended in UX or RE or EE or ON in the end credits and that's usually the last giveaway.

Fight for Your Life was the next flick, and I've seen this movie already, in fact I own the DVD (although in reality, the movie owns *me*), but it is definitely something else to experience with unsuspecting audience members watching this for the first time. If you take two parts The Desperate Hours, four parts 70's Grindhouse, one part Seediness and half a bottle of 100 proof Hatred, throw them in a blender and hit Frappé, you end up with this tasty concoction. I never knew J.F. Sebastian could be this big a piece of shit to his fellow man, but he is, taking an African-American family hostage with the help of his two fellow prison escapees and letting loose with the most fucked up racial invective not heard since the last Klan meeting in Alabama or the last New England Patriots game.

People were laughing throughout, probably a mixture of uncomfortable Did He Just Say THAT? and unapologetic I'm Sorry, Racist or Not, That Shit Was Fucking Funny. Perhaps people were getting out of it what William H. Macy said he got out of reciting so much offensive dialogue in the film version of David Mamet's Edmond -- a "wicked pleasure".

It's an unabashed audience manipulator, getting you so worked up that you can't wait to see these assholes get theirs, and when they do, it is as pure a goddamn movie high as one could get. I wouldn't call this a fun movie, but it's worth a watch for sure. The print we saw was titled Stayin' Alive, which according to the DVD was the "black" version. There's no difference between the "white" and "black" version, except that the trailer for the latter features a black dude's voiceover saying things like " will make you get down and shout 'I am PROUD to be a black man!", "Get 'em Mama!", "Yeeeeah!" and "Now let's all stand up and cheer the brotha who taught America the meaning of the word Courage!".

So far the Last Man Standing alumni have been doing a good job representing tonight, between J.F. Sebastian in this movie and Strozzi in The Burning.

By now, the couple in front of me had fallen victim to their comfortable pillows (they would eventually leave halfway through the next movie).

Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror was the name of the final movie, but it turns out that is just the alternate title on this print of Galaxy of Terror. For a second I thought they were switching flicks on us and giving us the Bruce Campbell movie of the same name. This was my first viewing, and for a while I thought we were getting a straight-up Alien rip, but instead it's a nice little crossbreed between that movie and Solaris, making it a proto Event Horizon. A group of astronauts go to some planet and end up getting attacked by their manifested fears. The best/worst example of this is when a poor girl who is afraid of worms ends up getting raped by a giant one. I want to know who the fuck came up with THAT idea, and when that happened, did at least one person turn and go "What are you, fuckin' high?" or did they start snickering and maybe one boisterous lad said RIGHT FUCKIN' ON and gave the idea man a high-five? Maybe the writer was once made fun of by a chick he slept with, and she went around telling everyone else that he was hung like a worm and ever since he's been like I'll Show Her...

This flick's got a cool cast; Joanie Minus Chachi, Robert Englund, the guy from Blue Sunshine who ended up creating Red Shoe Diaries, and muthafuckin' Sid Goddamn Haig. Wow, Mr. Hand is also in this movie, so now between him in Galaxy of Terror and Ratner in The Burning, Fast Times at Ridgemont High is also getting repped tonight at the New Bev. The ship's captain is played by Grace Zabriskie, who I've always been a fan of ever since she scared the shit out of me in Wild at Heart. She's like a female Harry Dean Stanton, and like Stanton, she has the ability of infecting her performances with just a slight amount of odd, whether or not the role calls for it. Like House by the Cemetery and Superstition, Galaxy of Terror is indiscriminate about who gets killed and how badly they get got. It's pretty goddamn relentless, and I gotta give it some serious points for that. I liked it.

James Cameron worked on this movie as 2nd unit director, and he impressed a couple of Italian producers enough that they decided he was the sucker to direct their Piranha sequel. So there you go, if it wasn't for Galaxy of Terror and that insert shot of maggots crawling on a severed arm, we wouldn't have Titanic. Take that as you will.

They showed a Tom and Jerry cartoon after the last movie, and then it was all over. Phil gave us "I Survived the All Night Horror Show" pins, we thanked him, and went outside. It was around eight o'clock and completely overcast and gloomy. What better way to end a fun night than with a shitty morning; Sunday Morning Coming Down in-fucking-deed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crows are assholes

I mentioned in my last rambling that Willem Dafoe is among the group of actors that I'm always happy to see whenever they pop up in a movie. If you can't give me titties, then give me an actor I'm fond of, that's what I say. Well, here's his latest role in a flick called Antichrist. My bro Dafoe stars alongside actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg as "He" and "She", not to be confused with the music duo She and Him featuring actress/singer Zooey Deschanel.

This is a film written and directed from Lars von Trier, and if you've never seen any of his films or have any idea what kind of dude he is, well, he's the kind of guy who is born with the name Lars Trier and then somewhere along the way decided to add "Von" to it. That should tell you everything about the kind of motherfucker he is. But I have to admit it, I've liked all of his flicks so far. Half of them I expected to hate, and they ended up winning me over. It's the man behind the movies that kind of puts me off, I guess. Whatever. At least he backs up all of his shit talk.

The movie starts off with the characters He and She getting it on in the shower, and because the entire sequence is shot in ultra-stylish black & white slow-motion, it looks like some kind of a perfume ad -- only I don't know of any perfume ads that feature penetration shots of a penis entering a woman's vagina (as opposed to a man's vagina?). Anyway, if you happen to know such a perfume ad, make with the YouTube link NOW.

So it's all good in the monochromatic hood, except that they also have an infant son. If that wasn't enough to spoil the proceedings, the little tyke has managed to open the baby gate and is roaming free in their apartment while Mom and Dad continue to bang away. And if that wasn't bad enough, the little bastard decides to get the ball rolling on his parents writing a Grammy winning song based on him by opening the window and falling to his death. You see him hit the ground, but to the filmmaker's credit/debit, the kid lands on heavily snowed-up pavement, meaning no splatter, so you can open your eyes now.

The black & white prologue ends and the first chapter (yup, we got chapter headings up in here) begins in color. After passing out at the funeral, She wakes up at a hospital and finds out that she's been more or less out of it for the past month. She's been beating herself up over her son's death, and while He tries to tell her that it wasn't her fault, she reveals that she's known about her boy's habit of opening up the baby gate for a while now, and she did nothing about it. So she's all fucked up.

Against her doctor's wishes, He decides to put his therapeutic skills to the test (he's a therapist) and help his lady get through/over her pain -- whether she likes it or not, it seems -- and the next half-hour or so of this movie is him treating her less like the mother of his son and more like some fuckin' 10:30 appointment by talk talk talking the shit out of her and taking notes and whatnot. For a therapist, this motherfucker likes to get all Scientology about shit, making his wife flush all her prescriptions down the toilet, and I swear early on he makes some kind of comment about how he's grateful that he isn't a medical doctor. He's got his ways.

Well, whatever they are, they don't seem to be working, because when She isn't crying her eyes out, she's banging her head against the rim of a toilet bowl and then jumping in bed, begging He (Him? Whatever.) to fuck her. I forgot how or why, but He gets the idea to take his wife on a trip to a cabin somewhere in a forest called Eden, and while I'm sure this flick takes place in the state of Washington, this is a Lars von Trier movie, so they must've shot this shit in Denmark or somewhere that isn't the good ol' USA and tried to pass it off as such. The filmmakers almost get away with it too, except the trains are too nice and everyone's driving the kind of compact cars that scream Mentos Commercial.

So, yeah, they're in the woods now and he does some more therapy shit with her and she's like No, the ground is burning my feet and he's like Whatever, now tell me what scares you the most so I can write it down on top of this pyramid I drew. This kinda stuff goes on for another twenty minutes or so, but you're still with it because you know somewhere along the way the other shoe's gonna drop, and when it does, it's going to fall from the wrong foot (that's a little inside joke for those of us who've seen the movie. It's not a funny joke, come to think of it, so my apologies).

Willem Dafoe's "He" character is hearing his lady out and taking it all down on paper but not really taking into consideration all the shit she's been telling him, for example, the thesis she was working on last summer about "gynocide" and how maybe men were right to kill women because, well, because they're women. Sure, none of that stuff should concern him. But during one of his nature walks, He finds a deer running around with a baby deer hanging dead from its pooper, and I think it's safe to say that the shit just got real -- real fucked up. And just when he doesn't think it's gonna get even weirder or more fucked up, he runs into a fox chilling out under some tall grass, chewing on its own fuckin' stomach. Okay, that's enough fucked up weirdness, he figures. Nope, it doesn't end there. The fox then looks at Dafoe, opens its mouth and says -- SAYS! -- "Chaos reigns", which is either the fox's way of telling Dafoe that the world is fucked up and evil (well, duh) or it's just bragging about having been to Fantastic Fest this year and being in on some inside joke those motherfuckers been sharing.

I've pretty much given away the first half of the movie, and the reason I don't feel bad about it is because 1) I'm an asshole, and 2) There's even more fucked up places this movie goes to that I haven't talked about. This is a movie that should be seen with your significant other, or your special lady friend, or better yet, a blind date (as long as they are of the vaginerial persuasion) and I say this because they're precisely the LAST people you should be seeing this fuckin' movie with. Because I'm all about the awkwardness, you see.

This movie has been getting strong responses (both good and bad) from critics like Roger Ebert. Ol' No Jaw has been going on about how Antichrist has been sticking to his sleep like a 12-year-old's nocturnal emission, but I would suggest taking that kind of talk with a grain of salt, because I remember his review of M. Night Shyamalan's The Embarrassing Disappointment (aka The Happening) where he went on about how it reminded him about how we're doomed to destroy each other or something. If it had been a good movie about killer wind rather than a shitty one, who knows how strongly he would've taken it. Methinks the gentleman is getting a touch too sensitive in his old age, and this is coming from one of the most overly sensitive motherfuckers on the planet (when I'm sober).

Perhaps I'm the wrong guy to hear from when it comes to a movie like this. I'm sure most people would come out of this movie completely fuckin' shaken, based on the reports I've read about people fainting at Cannes or walking out in disgust. Me, I was mildly disturbed, and even then, it was narrowed down to two physical acts committed late in the film. Maybe that's all it takes for most people to lose their shit, but unfortunately I've become too jaded to that sort of thing, due to being the kind of asshole who didn't say No whenever I was asked "Hey, do you want to see something REALLY fucked up?" as he or she clicked on Favorites.

Dafoe is awesome as always, but I really have to give it up to Gainsbourg for putting herself out there in the role of She. This is one of those "nakedly emotional" performances you always read about, and that's already above and beyond for homegirl, but then she goes even further and takes the "naked" part literally for a few scenes as well. It's one thing for a filmmaker to come up with some really nutty situations and actions in a script, and it's another for that filmmaker to direct an actor into performing said actions, but it's a whole other fucking ballpark when it comes to the actor actually agreeing to do that shit in front of a camera and crew. I've never met Charlotte Gainsbourg, but based on this movie I can tell you she's got bigger balls than me, that's for fuckin' sure.

Some people are accusing this film as being misogynistic, and I can see how and why they would think that, but I can't agree. Personally, I figure Antichrist is not being negative on any one particular sex but is instead calling out the fatal flaws with both. Whether you're a man who tends to work things out on the rational level or if you're a woman who's coming from an emotional standpoint, you're still a human being and therefore, you're both fucked because it's in your nature to be douchebags and there's nothing that can be done about it. Or something like that. There's also the whole religious and spiritual implications that I won't even begin to try to figure out, but that has more to do with me being dumb than anything else. Either way, von Trier comes off as a cheery motherfucker, doesn't he?

Lars (we're on a first name basis) seemed to have been on a "make the image as ugly as possible" trip for close to two decades now, but Antichrist is his best looking flick since way back in the day. Even when it's not shot in Perfume Ad Vision, it's got a nice look to it, even though some scenes do suffer from the blurriness that seems to be the downside of shooting in HD. I hate when that happens; one moment you're watching crystal clear images of Antonio Banderas owning motherfuckers with a machine gun or Kevin Spacey teaching young assholes how to cheat at blackjack, and the next moment it looks like you're watching PBS circa 1982. What the fuck, HD people, isn't this supposed to be the future of movies? Fix that shit.

Overall? I dug it. Sure, it gets draggy in the middle section, but the first and (especially) the last third make up for it. Here is yet another Lars von Trier flick that I ended up liking. What the fuck, Trier? Why must you continually disappoint me with your triumphs? For once, I want to see a movie from you that will justify me wanting to punch your incredibly punchable face.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

One of the characters is named "Rick Rape", and as a fan of alliteration, I'll give 'em that, but that's about it.

Fuck. I've been going through the songs on my iPod and I can't listen to half of them now because they remind me too much of better times. Shouldn't that be the reason why I SHOULD be listening to them? Anyway, three well-reviewed movies opened this weekend: Zombieland, The Invention of Lying, and Whip It, but because I only had $3 on me, I went to the discount house and watched Gamer instead.

Gamer is the second film of the year from the tag team duo Neveldine/Taylor (Crank: High Voltage being the first) and stars Gerard Butler with the Quagmire shaped head as a guy serving time on Death Row for something we will all know he was either framed for or had a good reason for doing. In the meantime, he's volunteered himself for a game called Slayers where he and other Death Row inmates give up control of their bodies so they can act as living, breathing avatars for rich asshole kids to play them online, involving them in real-life Call of Duty type scenarios. If the Slayer can survive 30 missions, he or she can go free, and it happens to be that Butler's character (named Kable) is a couple missions away from the Promised Land.

Dexter from Dexter is the villain of the piece, a sort of cooler and more douched-up combination of Bill Gates and the motherfuckers who created Grand Theft Auto. You're supposed to figure that he's an odd duck because he does things like smell everything he comes into contact with; he sniffs a potato chip before eating it, or he'll sniff a woman's hand before kissing it. Of course, he gives up this little quirk halfway through the movie, I suppose because the filmmakers were too busy making everything XXXTRREEEMMEE that they forgot to give a fuck about shit like character continuity. Personally, I knew this guy was an asshole when I noticed he wasn't wearing socks with his expensive suit.

So while Kable is stuck fragging fuckers for freedom, his wife on the outside is trying to make ends meet by volunteering herself in one of Dexter's other online inventions, Society. Like Slayers, Society involves human beings letting other human beings control them like a video game, only here it's in a real-life Second Life environment. That means that fat, disgusting, sweaty, dirty motherfuckers in power chairs turn on their computers, log in, take control of people like Mrs. Kable and dress her up in crazy outfits (no matter the style, it all screams Slut) and try to pick up other Society members. I really liked the idea of this and it had potential, but because this isn't being made by filmmakers interested in anything more than People Suck as a theme, it doesn't go anywhere other than, you know, People Suck.

Of course, there is an underground gathering of people who hate the idea of being controlled by others, and they call themselves the Humanz, and they are led by Ludacris, which makes perfect sense. They try jamming into the television and computer signalz to give warningz about what Dexter and his programz are doing to people and that they should stand up, unplug and fight the power, but no one seems to care. Mr. Cris and the Humanz obviously have never seen The Running Man, otherwise they'd know that people will only revolt if they are shown a video that incriminates the person they are following and exonerates the man they thought was guilty. Luckily, Neveldine/Taylor *have* seen The Running Man, so I guess you can guess how the movie's gonna end now.

It's a shame when you see a movie with potential for a kick-ass time completely shite it, and it's even worse when you consider the wasted talent. Like, I've never seen Dexter, but I understand that it's The Greatest Show Ever Made (alongside Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire) so it's kind of a head-scratcher that this is the movie he decides to make during hiatus. I noticed that shit happens with big stars from the small screen; fuckin' Tony Soprano never came close to matching his Sopranos work doing flicks like The Last Castle and The Mexican. The guys from Nip/Tuck get Fantastic Four and The Stepfather Remake as their rewards. The only actor who got a movie worthy of his talents is Jeremy Piven with that shitty comedy The Goods.

Now you have Dexter in Gamer. I'm sure it's a money thing. Or maybe he did this movie because he liked the idea of having a genuine song-and-dance routine late in the film. What's that, you ask? Yup, there's a full-blown number with Dexter crooning "I've Got You Under My Skin" while Kable owns a bunch of his henchmen, and that should have been yet another WTF Moment in a film full of WTF Moments, but no, I'm still yawning over here. And that's fucking sad.

Alison Lohmann also shows up, looking like she was dragged out of hell (See what I did there? Komedy!) and straight to the set. I wish I could say more about her, but there's really not much to her role, so that's it. Kevin Bacon's wife plays a kind of Barbara Walters type, John Leguizamo is doing his character actor thing, Ludacris is damn lucky to have been cast in Crash, Keith David appears in one scene just to remind you how awesome this movie ISN'T being, Lloyd Kaufman has a quick cameo (this motherfucker could probably produce a far more entertaining version of this flick with a far smaller budget) and then you got Ms. Zoe Bell, appearing long enough for you to go "Is that Zoe Bell in cornrows?" before her head gets exploded.

Terry Crews is also in this movie, and every time I see him in a movie, I smile. Some website once had an article about actors who make a movie something like 20% better simply by appearing in it. To be a Twenty-Percenter, you can be well known and you can star in a movie, but you can't be a Movie Star. They're either very talented or very likable or both -- Willem Dafoe, Jane Lynch, and the aforementioned Keith David, for example, are Twenty-Percenters (to me, anyway). I'd have to add Terry Crews to that list, and I guess his role in Idiocracy might have a lot to do with that. Anyway, he has the best goddamn role in the movie, playing a psycho ringer thrown in to fuck up Kable's shit. It's so over-the-top and go-for-broke, that it's just too bad the filmmakers were not making the same movie Crews was acting in.

The teens/young adults sitting behind me seemed to dig it all; a lot of WOW and KEWL and OH SHIT was exclaimed at the explosions and blood and sparks, and I'm glad they were having a good time, because I honestly found it boring. This kind of shit worked in Crank: High Voltage because the content and style were never more made for each other, but it does nothing for Gamer. All the XXXTRREEEMMEE filmmaking reeks of desperation here, and so do the rampant attempts at bad taste. Like with the Crank movies, it seems to come from more of a "Ha ha, I bet this will really piss people off" type of assholery which I guess is fine if you know what the fuck you're doing, but it just comes off like some lame-ass poseur shit when Neveldine/Taylor try to pull it off here. You have a scene where the snarky dipshit video gamer in charge of Kable is dealing with all these girl fans online, and they all have screen names like "Kumdumpstaz" and I guess you're supposed to be like That Shit's Fuckin' Hilarious Bro WOOOOOOOO or something, and yet I'm just trying not to yawn over here, you dig what I'm saying?

So why'd you buy a ticket then, asshole? I know, I know, but I thought I'd get a fun, brainless action movie at the very least. But not only is it surprisingly joyless, it then tries to have it both ways by wallowing in severed limbs, blood-spattered lenses and juvenile humor and then suddenly throwing in some super slow-motion and dramatic music in an attempt to fool you into thinking that this is About Something. Don't you get it man, why do we do this to ourselves? The violence, the controlling of weaker people, why? We watch and cheer as these monsters destroy each other...but doesn't that mean WE are the monsters? ask Neveldine/Taylor before they take another hit of ecstacy and high-five each other while laughing their asses off at the sight of their high-priced hooker eating cocktail franks from a doggy bowl because they paid her to do so.

When the occasional moment of emotion that isn't tainted in Hate creeps into the frame, it feels fake as fuck coming from these filmmakers. You can tell they're as uncomfortable with it as Major Payne was when that little kid gave him a hug. These motherfuckers only work in the area of Fuck You and that's why the Crank movies worked and not this one -- shit, the second one literally ends with a Fuck You to the audience. They seemed to embrace their true soul, the Inner Asshole with that movie, but here they're flirting with shit they should have nothing to do with because they are incapable of pulling it off; concepts like Love and Sympathy are totally alien to these guys so they shouldn't even fucking bother.

You have a movie full of cool shots but all the flashy visuals in the world won't mean a fucking thing when the audience can't give one iota of a fuck about the subjects within the well-composed frame. There's a Blade Runner reference when we see Mrs. Kable being made up exactly as Daryl Hannah's Pris character, so I guess that means they're BR fans? But if that's the case, they must only be fans of the atmospheric cinematography and the vast futuristic production design and not of the themes and characterizations.

The discount house was also playing Ponyo, and I should have just bought a ticket to that one again.

Enough of my rambling, let's move on to some ranting. I was reading a review for the latest volume of 42nd Street Forever, a DVD compilation of old trailers from the 70's and 80's, mostly grindhouse fare. The reviewer spent most of the piece talking about how In His Day people took chances going to see these movies in seedy, rat/homeless infested grindhouse theaters and that the kids today are watching these movies in clean, safe environments like the Alamo Drafthouse and you'll never get it kids, you'll never get it, and that's why you're all a bunch of irony drenched hipsters who act like you're all above these films. I guess it's no surprise that he manages to put down Tarantino for this as well. Ugh.

While he has a point about how the element of danger is gone, and that I never knew the experience of smelling urine and watching drug deals go down at the other end of the aisle, I hate the way he generalized the young grindhouse fans of today. Basically, we're all snarky douchebag kids who go out to see these movies to laugh at (rather than laugh with). Now, sure, there's a healthy number of people like that who go to see these movies, but I also know a lot of people who watch these flicks hoping to like them. We don't always want to see The Room, you know.

First and foremost, I want my grindhouse flick to be an honest-to-goodness cool movie. If it turns out to be shitty, well then, fine, I'm going to try to have some laughs with it, because if it's a bad movie, at least be entertaining about it. My last rambling was about a movie called Massacre Mafia Style, and as cheaply made and rough as it may have been, I thought it was a genuinely good flick. Of course, I have to season my review of it with lots of Dick and Asshole, but that's because I'm not a good writer, so I have to snark it up even when I'm being complementary.

I'm all over the place here (and hungover like a mutha, which is why I'm out of Sobieski) so my sudden anecdote here shouldn't come as a surprise, but here goes: I remember when I went to the New Beverly last year for their first horror movie marathon. People were into the flicks, giving mad respect to the U.S. cut of Argento's Phenomena, Fulci's Zombie, and The House on Sorority Row (the original, bitch!). When we laughed, it was because something funny happened and when we applauded, it was because we totally dug what was going on, not because we were being ironic about some shit.

Well, then they put on a movie from the 60's called Teenage Mother, and I'm sorry, but that movie was TERRIBLE and it seems like most of us in the audience agreed on that. Slowly, but surely, the joint turned into an R-rated, not nearly as cleverly written version of MST3k as people started yelling stuff at the screen and laughing at the on-screen proceedings. We had our fun at its expense, and then the movie had the last laugh by climaxing with graphic footage of an actual birth. The movie that followed was called The Power, and I guess a few people still thought we were in Teenage Mother mode, because they would yell out stuff during the first 5 minutes. And do you know what happened? They were shushed by the rest of us. That's right, the people in the New Bev were telling the others to shut the fuck up because Goddammit, We're Giving This Movie A Chance To Prove Itself. The Power turned out to be kinda lame, but we gave it a shot, we didn't come in wanting to mock it and as it turns out, none of us did (or maybe we were too tired by then). I don't know what my fucking point is, with this anecdote and my ramblings in general. I just keep going and going like some fuckin' asshole. I'm sorry.