Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life is Hot in Robberytown

These bastards, they want me to know what Catfish is about; the trailer came up as I waited for the feature to start and I've no idea what the film is about except that I shouldn't have any idea of what the film is about. I decided right then and there that I didn't want to know. Usually, I'll sit through trailers but if it's something I don't want to have spoiled, the best I can do is turn away and tune out the dialogue. A friend of mine takes more extreme measures; he covers his ears or if there's someone with him to save his seat, he'll get up and leave for a few minutes. Anyway, I decided to pull one of his moves; I had popcorn and soda saving my seat (I hoped) and got up and left. 2-and-a-half minutes later, I returned to see the green band for another trailer up on the screen, so I started walking up the aisle.

It was the Catfish trailer. Again.

Fuck, I said to myself, and I walked back out of the theater for another 2 and-a-half minutes. When I returned, I had a good news/bad news scenario to greet me. Good news? It wasn't the Catfish trailer for a third time. Bad news? It was a trailer for something with that piece-of-shit Katherine Heigl and that guy from the Transformers movies about two mismatched people who don't like each other but under circumstances are now under the care of a recently orphaned baby, I guess because the baby's now-dead parents watched way too many shitty rom-coms. Christ. Sweet Christ. How many future break-ups and eventual divorces are gonna sit through that goddamn thing? Thankfully, that ended and the movie I used my "Free Night at the Movies" (admission, soda and popcorn!) AMC ticket on, The Town began.

Ben Affleck not only co-wrote and directed, but also decided to star his fine ass in this picture, playing a recovering alcoholic/druggie but unrecovered criminal hardass, doing jobs with his 3 buddies. One of them is played by The Hurt Locker and Mr. Locker is the wild card of the bunch, in this group of professionals he's the one most likely to go "Let's kill these bitches" (to reference a bit from the greatest comedian in the world, one Sir Danish Cook, O.B.E.). At the start of the movie, Affleck and company just pulled a bank job and aside from a couple unexpected violent improvs from Mr. Locker, everything went well -- until they find out after the job that the bank assistant manager they had taken hostage during their getaway (and dropped off at a beach), well, she lives near these dudes. Affleck decides to do a little spywork by paying her a little visit as just some random dude, just to make sure that she's busy trying to move on with her life, rather than moving on to the nearest FBI office.

People love that show Mad Men, and maybe I'd love it as well but I'll never know because I won't watch the motherfucker. Too many movies out there and I'm already watching 2 programs (by which my count, is 2 too many). But anyway, the guy from that show, Jon Hamm is here playing an FBI agent and what I liked about his character was that he wasn't particularly likable. His job doesn't require him to be, in fact, it probably helps big time that he's a colossal prick because all his job requires him to do is put away the bad guy. Period. And he loves putting away the bad guy because he sure as fuck doesn't like the bad guy. There is no "my heart bleeds for him" Manhunter duality in this mofo, he will talk crazy shit to your face about how he's gonna fuck your future if he thinks you're the bad guy, and I swear he gets as much enjoyment trying to fuck people who are merely associated with the bad guy. 

Because Affleck is the main character, Jon Hamm is the antagonist here. Same people that are cheering Affleck to get away with it, would be cheering Hamm on if the film was re-edited so that *he* was the star. It's weird how that works with us audiences; tell us who the star is, devote your screen time to him or her and unless he or she is a complete animal, that's the side we're gonna be on. I mean, I want Affleck to get away with it but it's not like he's a criminal with a soft side in this movie. It seems that way in the beginning, when he doesn't call out the assistant bank manager on some shit she pulls during the robbery, but that's more because she's a pretty girl. I'm sure if that was a dude, he'd have tuned him up a bit.

It's like this interview I read with Jada Pinkett before she got Big Willie into her life; she talked about how when she was 18 or 19, she got robbed at gunpoint. It was some serious shit, harsh and violent and it got to the point that she pissed herself, she was so scared, she admitted this in print. Me, I'd do some revisionism on that story. Well, some time later, this dude got caught and it turns out he had a history of killing all the people he jacked. This got to Ms. Pinkett-Not-Smith-Yet, so she visited him in jail and asked him something to the effect of "Why did you let me live, when you killed so many others" and his response was that he thought she was cute. That was it; it wasn't a question of morality or this sudden change-of-heart about how he was doing these things, it was simply that if she was ugly or a guy, she'd be dead.

I was reminded of that story with Affleck's character here, and why he tries to protect the Chick from That One Woody Allen Movie I Haven't Seen. Because when it comes down to it, he doesn't have a heart of gold, he's a fuckin' gangster and will throw down into some gangster shit if need be. This guy is a Professional in the same way that Mr. White and Mr. Pink were professionals -- a choice between doing 10 years and taking out some stupid motherfucker, ain't no choice at all. There's a job in the film he doesn't want to take, and it's kinda left out there whether it's because of his official reason (it would involve dealing with hardcore gung-ho do-or-die young armed guards, rather than older dudes who just want to make it to retirement) or because he really wants out. Enough is put out there for you to take it either way. But just because he doesn't have a heart of gold, doesn't mean he doesn't have a heart at all, it's just that it only extends to the those he's close to, or wants to be close to, as in the case of Ms. Assistant Manager.

There are questionable actions Affleck's character pulls in this flick but since we're focusing on his life and his problems, and since all we see of Jon Hamm is that he's an asshole who works for a good cause, then that pretty much decides who you want to take the ride with, know what I mean? No, you don't -- I'm not that articulate. Hmm. Let me put it this way -- I guess it shows to go you how much of a master Michael The Fuckin' Mann is because he managed to put a dude like me in a real audience's quandary when I watched Heat. By the climax of the film, I was torn because I wanted both DeNiro and Pacino's character to succeed even though I knew that wasn't going to be possible, so I was left with this unsettling feeling wondering who was going to win/lose. But with The Town, I was totally on Team Affleck by default. And just to make sure you don't completely hate on Jon Hamm (he is trying to bust these guilty-as-sin robbers for you know, breaking the law, it's not like he's some corrupt murderer), the film gives us this scary Irish gangster dude who runs shit from a flower shop with this big white-haired dude who reminded me of King Cotton (aka Roscoe of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles from Tapeheads) with shorter hair.

For a while, I thought they were gonna set up The Hurt Locker's character as some piece of shit who would be better off dead rather than fucking up my boy Affleck's game, but sometimes I'd listen to what this dude was saying and think, Shit he has a point, you know? Mr. Locker has a problem knowing when to say when as far as pulling the Ownage card goes, but as the movie goes on you kinda get the feeling this dude is even more of a stand-up guy than Affleck is, when the chips are down. He's a loyal motherfucker, I'll put it that way, especially when you start thinking more about how Affleck's treated/treating the other people in his life. And then there's this other scene where Affleck calls The Hurt Locker to help him do something that didn't really need to be done, and it involves doing some damage and the whole time I'm thinking, Wait a minute, wasn't Affleck getting all up in Hurt Locker's grill about hurting people 10 minutes ago? What the fuck, I guess as long as it serves *your* purpose, it's OK, right?

What you have here is a solid entry into the book of crime movies under the Heat chapter; the movie is far more interested in the characters but doesn't skimp out when it comes time to do some crime. In addition to bringing the goods in the acting department (the supporting cast is great, Affleck does fine with his slightly Parker-esque character), it brings the goods in the action department. There's a pretty tricky car chase through some narrow streets and there's also one of those automatic weapon shootouts I like so much, the ones with crazy thump and bass with every burst of rapid fire coming from multi-magazine clips. I can watch that kind of shit for hours. The movie gets better as it goes along, in thirds; it was a decent flick for the first third, a good flick during the second third, and a very good flick by the last third. Then it kills some of that goodwill with the ending, but I'm not gonna hate on Affleck for it because I think he was put in a really tough damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation as far as how to finish this fucker. His first film, Gone Baby Gone, had a better ending but despite that and a great Ed Harris performance, I think I'll give the edge to this one.

Oh yeah, forgot about this. The movie starts with some quotes and a title card telling you that the setting of the film, Charlestown, might as well be called Robberytown on account of all the bank robberies that occur there, then halfway through the end credits there's a disclaimer that tells you that it's still a great place because there's lots of hard-working law-abiding citizens who live a life of decency. It's great that they waited to put that bit up until when they were certain most of the audience would be halfway to the parking lot by then. It's kinda like the very end of the end credits of De Palma's Scarface, when at the last possible moment they put up a disclaimer that basically says "By the way, not ALL Cuban immigrants are drug-dealing criminals, FYI. Wink wink" or the very last 10 seconds of the 10 minute end credit scroll for Blood In, Blood Out: Bound by Honor that tells you "Oh, yeah. Those shankings and riots and rapes at San Quentin? Uh, they don't happen anymore" and might as well end with snickering and maybe a "Not!".

That's called responsibility, people. One day I'm gonna make a movie called All The Asian People In My City Know Martial Arts And Want To Kill You and it's going to be about sweet, innocent Amy Adams making a wrong turn on her way to a birthday party and having to escape from a city where all the Asian people know martial arts and are kung-fu'ing the fuck out of all the non-Asians for about 90 minutes, then they all go after her because she's, like, super White. It's going to have a 20-minute long end credit reel, and at the very end for about 0.5 seconds before the reel ends and the lights go up, I'll cover my ass with this:

Disclaimer: All Asian people do not know martial arts and will not look to kill you. The Asian community is filled with hard-working, non-violent, peaceful people who have love and respect for all others. Everything you just watched was a lie and I apologize. Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For Tanya Livingston and Gwen Meighen

Airport is a movie about an evil old hag named Ada Quonsett who thinks she can get away with being a fuckin’ criminal because she’s old. Fuck this bitch. Everyone else falls for it, and even Burt Lancaster is won over by this piece of shit but you know who won’t play her fuckin’ game? Jean Seberg, that’s who. She plays the character of Tanya Livingston, and as far as I’m concerned, I owe this fictional broad a drink, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The titular airport is the fictional Lincoln International and we cut between different characters and their various going-ons during one particularly rough snowstorm. Burt Lancaster runs the show, because when you look like Burt Lancaster, you don’t need credentials, they just give you the fuckin’ airport manager position because you obviously know how to run shit. At the beginning of the movie, some hotshot pilot tried to pull some shit on the runway during landing and ends up getting his plane stuck in the snow, so Lancaster calls up George Kennedy (who was busy macking on his wife, proving that some people, you just don’t ever want to see getting remotely intimate) and tells him to get his ass over to the airport to find a way to move that fuckin’ plane so it’s not hogging up all that precious landing space.

Dean Martin plays a pilot who also happens to be Lancaster’s brother-in-law and is it me or will there never be bona-fide 100% cool motherfuckers like Dean Martin anymore? Like super cool. I don’t think it’s possible, you have all these perpetrators and wannabes who call themselves cool but they’re not. They made human beings different back then, we’re all pussies now, even the supposedly cool people of today are fuckin’ douchebags compared to the cool people of Yesterday. Anyway, Dino is married but this is 1969/70 we’re talking about so he’s got a hot little stewardess on the side played by Jacqueline Bisset. They have a nice little moment where he’s trying to get some from her at her apartment even though they have to be on a plane in 15 minutes; they’re using some of the most awesome/lame/obvious double entendres and I love them for it.

I don’t remember seeing a single male stewardess in this movie, probably because they didn’t invent the term “flight attendant" yet. Goddamn, the past was a beautiful thing at least in the fantasized romanticized version of the past I have playing in my head; pretty young ladies in their short skirts walking up and down the aisle asking you politely -- politely! -- if they can get you something to drink, or if you’d like a pillow and a blanket (which means they want to go to bed with you, of course).  Now I get nothing but the Steven Slater types on my flights. Here’s something sad -- every time it looks like I’m going to get some dude bank teller at the bank, I always pretend I forgot something in my wallet and let the person behind me pass through. Then guess what has two thumbs, suddenly found his bank card, and is now walking up to the anonymous pretty girl bank teller? This guy!

Jean Seberg plays Lancaster’s assistant, and I want to Purple Rose of Cairo/Last Action Hero my way into her life and ask for her hand in marriage for the way she dealt with that Quonsett bitch. OK, so this is where I started, right? The old lady was caught trying to stowaway on a flight, and they bring her down to talk to Seberg and get a well-deserved shaming and dressing down. Mrs. Quonsett then happily -- happily! -- admits to always pulling this kinda shit, not just on this airline, but others as well.

Quonsett thinks she has an excuse, talking about how she wants to see her daughter but can’t afford the ticket because she only has social security and her late husband’s small pension to live on, and for a second my heart was slightly bleeding for her. But then she goes on about how she pulls this breaking-the-law shit and will continue to do so because she knows she can get away with it. It wouldn’t look good for the public relations if they prosecuted a little old lady for trying to see her daughter. I swear, she even fuckin’ smiles and looks all proud-like about it. The balls on this fuckin’ lady. The BALLS.

I love when people use poverty as an excuse to pull some shit. I have a friend who I think the world of, but this fuckin’ guy has happily admitted to never tipping at bars or clubs because he can barely afford to get in the clubs/bars and drink. He figures, Hey, at least I’m paying for the drinks and cover charge and they should be happy that I’m bringing some kind of business to the establishment. I bet you he would be among the people cheering and laughing along with Ada Quonsett. Well, you know what bro? Go hang with your old broad friend. I’m going to be hanging here with the lovely Tanya Livingston, played by the chick from Breathless.

There is an annoyance/borderline-anger in Mrs. Livingston as she’s dealing with Quonsett, and I loved her for it, because it showed that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way, especially since the movie is obviously on the old lady’s side. They play goofy “She’s incorrigible!” music every time she’s around and even the movie trailer calls her “huggable” and I guess they’re right because I want to hug Mrs. Quonsett around the neck with my hands. Why are we supposed to cheer this bitch? Her sociopathic ability to not give a fuck about STEALING is shared by the kind of con artists who make their livings ripping off little old ladies who resemble Quonsett.

I also never got into the whole Ain’t-It-Cute-When-Old-People-Do-Crazy-Things? deal you see in movies; it’s seems like a lame way to get laughs when they show an old lady swearing or kicking ass or being super-horny. This, by the way, is why a show like The Golden Girls is a goddamn miracle, because that shit managed to always be funny even though it had all the old lady shit I hate in movies. Maybe it’s because it was a sitcom and not a relatively serious movie and in some hidden discriminatory way I hold movies to a higher standard? I hope not, that's an asshole stance. Speaking of The Golden Girls, I’m a Betty White fan and while I’m aware of her resurgence in pop-culture, I haven’t seen The Proposal or the SNL episode or that television show she’s on, so all I can say is Good For Her and if they’re giving her lame shit to do, fine, as long as she’s making some cash and people are digging on her. Meanwhile, the only thing I want to dig for Ada Quonsett is a fuckin’ grave.

Airport was based on a best-selling book, and this was back at a time when the majority of people still read, so we’re talking a shitload of books were sold the world over. I looked up a review that pointed out a big problem with the film adaptation was that there was no surprise since you knew what was going to happen. I don’t get that, because that’s the case with most adaptations and besides, I never read the book, so most of this movie came as a surprise to me anyway. The only thing I could see coming was part of the subplot about a dude trying to sneak an attache case bomb onto the plane (ah, remember when 9/11 was just 3 numbers used to dial for emergencies?), and that was because I saw Airplane II: The Sequel, where they were poking fun at that.

Of course, the guy trying to sneak a bomb onto a flight is named Guerrero; these assholes are always trying to give raza the short end of the stick. Even worse/weirder is that the guy who plays him, Van Heflin, looks about as much a Guerrero as Cameron looks about as much a Diaz. Wait. Ah, I see. I take it all back. In fact, there’s a scene where that evil Quonsett points out that this fat Irishman looks like a fat Irishman, not a Guerrero. He explains that it’s an ancestral thing from long ago, the same way Johnny Rico and Dizzy Flores from Starship Troopers look like clean-cut all-Americans. By the way, “all-American” is just a nice way of saying Absolutely White With No Traces Of Race Contamination. When people go on about how some dude grew up with an all-American upbringing or some shit like that, it means he’s clean and white and untainted by the savagery that has already infected the coasts. Word.

Maureen Stapleton plays Guerrero’s wife and gives my favorite performance in the movie. She has a scene where she’s watching a plane take off and you can see just about the entire world go out from under her, yet she does her best to keep a lid on it. She cries and tears roll down her face, but I got the sense that she absolutely wasn't going to lose her shit completely in public, even though she absolutely wanted to. It takes her all the strength she has left just to remain standing up, and maybe it would’ve been better for her to just let it the fuck out, then maybe all that pain and anguish wouldn’t have had the chance to eat her up from the inside. I felt bad for her character, really bad.

I also feel bad for Tanya Livingston because she was so alone in how she felt about that fuckin’ Quonsett. If only I was able to be there for her; I’d show up in my fuckin’ late 60’s business wear, smoking my 32nd cigarette of the evening. I know how you feel, baby, I know. I’d ask her if she wanted to talk about it at the Commander’s Club, over cocktails and steak dinners, because that’s how people rolled back then. Cocktails and steak every fuckin’ night, people! In my dreams, at least! In my dreams when I sleep!

I guess compared to today’s standards, one could call this movie slow, but I didn’t find that the case at all. I mean, yeah, nothing serious happens until an hour in or so, but I was always into it. The soap-opera melodrama between characters was fun to watch, and at the very least it was just a trip to watch how different shit was in ‘69/‘70; the fashions, the interior design of the airport and the airplane, people smoking wherever the fuck they wanted, every man is wearing a suit and tie, and every woman is wearing a skirt and stockings. Think about that -- people dressed up to go on a flight. If I could get away with it, I’d wear a fuckin’ suit everyday and the only reason I don’t is because I hardly leave the house, I’ve no reason to wear a suit alone at home, I’m not that sad. But I really enjoyed this movie, I was entertained for all 136 minutes and maybe it was a good idea to watch a movie that takes place during a snowstorm on such a warm night.

Some people consider this the first “disaster” movie because it was made in ‘69, came out in ‘70, it features an all-star cast, and George Kennedy is in it telling people what to do, so I can see why they’d lump it in with stuff like Earthquake and The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure (with Ernest Borgnine as George Kennedy) and all those other movies, but I can’t quite agree. It’s more like the proto-model for what would become the disaster movie of the 70’s, it’s more of a “crisis” movie, or better yet, a “headache” movie because it’s all about these different headaches being brought Lancaster’s way on just another night on the job.

Yup, Lancaster's got a lot of shit to deal with and if it’s not the plane stuck on the runway, it’s the protestors picketing for the closing of a runway that is too close to their homes, or it’s the constant phone calls from his socialite wife giving him shit for working a job with crazy hours and not having time for her or especially his children, or it’s dealing with this stowaway bitch, or (the biggest headache of all) it’s the possibility that there’s a guy on a plane with a bomb. It’s a good thing his assistant is easy on the eyes. Have I mentioned that I was a tad smitten with the Tanya Livingston character, partially because of her refusal to fall for some old lady’s shenanigans and partially because she’s played by Jean Seberg (who I like with either super-short hair or super big hair)? Well, I am. I’m also smitten with the Jacqueline Bisset stewardess character and I wish there was another Airport that focused on both ladies where they’d tell all the old lady grifters to go fuck themselves.  Case in point, this beautiful scene:

Not so much about a movie, but I did see one that day

My grandmother (on my father's side) is approaching 100, will probably live to 120, and no one really likes her. That is expected when you act like a cold bitch to the kids you raise; my father never heard "I love you" from her ever or got a hug or anything resembling warmth and it's no surprise that he (and most of his siblings) left home before the age of 17. On the opposite end of the Mutha scale, my aunt (on my mother's side) is an incredibly nice and loving person, probably never went without telling her kids how much she loved them or giving them a hug, and she's in her 60's, so it makes perfect sense in a God's-A-Mean-Asshole-With-A-Fucked-Up-Sense-Of-Humor sort of way that she now has terminal cancer.

I went to see her and came out admiring her fearlessness about dying; a religious woman, she believes in an afterlife, so I guess she has faith in being taken care of on the other side. Me, I'm not so sure what happens but I certainly hope there's somewhere we go to after we die. Watching her children at her side, taking care of her, it made me think of the difference between how quick and easy it was for my cousins to take care of their mother whereas my dad and his siblings are basically playing hot potato with their mother, trying to find a place for her to stay (she got kicked out of a nursing home for hitting someone there) and I wonder if this reflects on how they were raised. My cousins had a sitcom mom and my dad and his sibs had Livia Soprano.

Thoughts started flooding my head (for a change); thinking not just about my aunt's mortality, but my own parents' as well. It didn't faze me too much because it's always been something I've been -- for lack of a better word -- *prepared* for. I know that day will come, unless God decides to have another one of his pranks and decides to have me die before them (he's a vindictive fuck who hasn't gotten over the ownage his son received) but while I'm prepared for the day they shuffle off this mortal coil, I'm not prepared for the process of watching them die. But then again, who IS ready for that shit? Who is ready to watch someone they love slowly die? Aside from those who are preparing to kill them slowly, of course. But I'm pretty sure the rest of us want it to be quick for them, painless, but chances are when the time comes for our parents to hop the Death Train, they're gonna end up taking the scenic route.

Anyway, the day that happens is the day that happens and I guess the best you can do is always let them know how you feel. I don't regret always telling my parents (and my sister's family) whenever I see them that I love them, and I won't regret it. I am such a fag. You wanna hear something pathetic on top of the sadness pile I've just plopped down on you? I actually cried while writing this, somewhere around the second paragraph. Took a break and then continued. It's not the first time I've cried while writing these ramblings, usually I cry while writing these ramblings because I know how badly written they are and how they're ultimately a waste of everyone's time. These are the jokes, folks. OK, fine, here's an actual joke, then:

It's a guy's first day in prison and he's crying. His cellmate has had enough of it and turns to him and says "Buddy, relax. Enough of that. Prison's not so bad. For instance, do you like movies?" 

New fish is like "Yeah, I love movies." 

"Every Monday, they show us first-run movies on the big screen." says the Lifer.

"That's great!" responds the new fish.

Lifer continues. "Do you like baseball?"

"Yeah, I love baseball." says new fish.

"Every Tuesday, we arrange a baseball game" says the Lifer.

"That's terrific!" says the new fish.

Lifer continues. "Do you like Italian food?"

"Yeah, I love Italian food." says the new fish.

"Every Wednesday, in the cafeteria, it's all Italian food." says the Lifer.

"Wow" the new fish says with a smile.

Lifer continues. "Let me ask you one more thing, are you a homosexual?"

"No way!" the new fish responds.

Lifer shakes his head. "Oh, you're not gonna like Thursday."

I can't take credit for that one.

After I left, I didn't feel like going home, I knew my mind would continue to be occupied by these nonstop thoughts and I wanted at least a couple hours of sensory distraction. So I stopped by a dispensary and bought some medicated cookies and then I went to my neighborhood theater and I asked the girl behind the counter what was the next IMAX or 3D showing of whatever, and she said there was a RealD presentation of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole that started 5 minutes ago and I was like "Yeah sure, whatever". How's that for a goddamn segue? I should win a fuckin' award for that segue. Oh yeah, the guy who owns Segway is dead now. It happened fast, his death. Lucky son-of-a-bitch.

So in case you didn't know that Zack Snyder directed it, he lets you know by having the opening shot be one of those regular-motion-now-super-slow-motion-back-to-regular-motion deals while a feather comes off a flying owl. Some mouse is chilling out on a branch, then the owl swoops in and clutches the motherfucker. That owl is the mother to some English-accented motherfucker, who with his older asshole brother ends up falling off a tree and then they get swooped away by a couple other asshole birds and taken to Asshole Bird Island where the Helen Mirren bird runs shit by mind-wiping kidnapped birds (with the help of the moon) and turning them into either soldiers or slaves in the mission to rule the world or something.

The older brother ends up doing the soldier thing and our lead owl ends up escaping with some elf owl and they end up hooking up with the Good birds and train for battle while some laaaaaame-ass Disney Channel style song plays over them. I guess because the band/singer calls themselves/himself "Owl City" that got him the job. They didn't think to hear the music, the producers probably just said "Hey, with a name like Owl City, that's gonna blow like dynamite and sell like hotcakes!" or something. Somewhere along the way, the cookies took hold and I don't remember much else aside from creepy 3D owls looking at me and the use of that "Seraphim" song by Dead Can Dance that was used in The Mist, proving once again that Zack Snyder is like the Quentin Tarantino of taking songs/music tracks from other movies and using them in his own movies. He used Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" on his Dawn of the Dead remake a year after William Friedkin used it in The Hunted, he used a Philip Glass track from that Godfrey Reggio flick called Bunchoffastmotionslowmotionimagesqatsi for Watchmen, and he used one of those This Is Sparta songs that you see all over YouTube, took out the music, and had Gerard Butler lipsync over the vocal for 300.

I guess it was an OK movie, I was way past being able to make sense of it (or anything else for that matter), having purposely taken enough pot cookie to ensure that I might possibly be the first guy to die from it (to steal a line from a comedian whose name I can't remember), and even then I would occasionally have flashes of visiting my aunt earlier that afternoon. Also, I was listening to the little girl a couple rows back who kept talking out loud to her family, only taking breaks from disrupting the movie with her mouth so she could then disrupt the movie by walking around the other rows and hopping over seats. It was so awesome to be completely fucking insanely baked at the time, because otherwise I would've been livid and swinging Little Miss Girl by her ankles, playing xylophone with the handrails in the aisles by using her head. Instead, I was absolutely fine with it. I even went to sit at the very back of the theater during the movie, so I can observe this considerate kid (oxymoron) and the movie at the same time. It's like her mother (didn't see a male in the group, so I figure it was all sisters and cousins and aunts with her) was just so tired from raising her excess number of kids that were most likely never planned (but hey, no plans are needed when you use the never-fail method of pulling out, right?) to do anything about it. I guess I shouldn't talk because I don't have kids, therefore, I have no right.

I imagined what would happen if I complained to her. I'd go up to the mother, tell her "That's it, lady. Take your kid home, because it's over. It's over!" and she'd get all pissed and stand up and point at me and go "Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my fault! He asked me to get off the pill, I didn't ask him! And I did what I had to do to not have the kid! But somebody wouldn't let me abort! And I come back to my neighborhood and I see all those maggots at Planned Parenthood, protesting me, spitting. Calling me attempted baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me? Who are they? Unless they've been me and been there and know what the hell they're yelling about!" and then I realized that I'm completely lost in this blog and I haven't even had a drink or a smoke. I'm completely sober now and it doesn't make a difference. 

The comic relief was bullshit in this movie. Fucking lame. Two of the bad guy birds are comparing intimidating looks and I guess we're supposed to find that funny but instead we found it a miserable failure, and by we, I mean the royal We. It was pretty cool to watch the birds go into battle because it was some straight-up cockfighting (rather than dogfighting); they either have blades attached to their talons or they're actually carrying the fuckin' blades and swinging them around. Of course, it's still got to be kid-friendly, so there's no actual blood. I think one bird gets impaled, though. That was pretty awesome.

I looked up this whole Guardians of Ga'Hoole deal on Witwickypedia and there's a bunch of books in this series. All I could think about was how long it would take to make them all. Harry Potter's what, like 7 books and it took 10 years to make movies out of those. Ga'Hoole's got 16. But since the shit's animated, they don't have to worry about aging actors like with Harry Potter; The Simpsons has been on the air long enough to have kids and drop out of school and the actors supplying the voices sound the same. I'm sure the filmmakers expect to make more, considering that there are more books out there, not to mention the open ending. That's kinda risky, though, because I'm sure the guys who made The Golden Compass expected to make follow-up flicks as well.

For the record, I pronounce "Ga'Hoole" in a manner similar to what this guy does at the 0:33 mark of this video. Shit, I don't know what else to say other than Hooray for 3D or something.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bubbles like a mutha

Scroll scroll scroll. That's what the woman a couple rows down from me was doing on her iPhone during the movie. It looked like she was looking up her Facebook page, but she put it away before I could go down and tell her nicely to put that shit away, which was probably for the best because she had her boyfriend with her and basically if it went down THAT way he'd have kicked my ass, but I'd get a few shots in, that's for sure. It made me wonder if I should even bother going to the movies anymore, at least in neighborhood theaters. Maybe just narrow it down to revival houses like the New Beverly, but even then, that same kind of shit has happened there. Shit man, someone punched a dude at that place. There is no safe haven from the majority of the human race. I don't know, every few years I reach this movie-watching nadir (the last time was in '02), I get bummed out and consider pretty much giving up on movie theaters altogether and just going All In on waiting a few more months to catch it at home on my rather decent setup.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which I caught a few hours ago. So Oliver Stone's last couple flicks didn't get the attention or box office they were expected to receive, and Michael Douglas' career has seen better days, so I figure the existence of this sequel has absolutely nothing to do with what I just mentioned, forget I brought it up. But it is great timing, though, considering all the shit that's been going on with the economy for the past few years. Didn't the last movie come out around the time that the stock market crashed back in '87? I'm too lazy to look it up.

So Douglas' character, Gordon Gekko gets out of the slammer with his Zack Morris cell phone and is looking pretty assed out. It's kinda sad seeing him like that; back in the day, this dude owned everybody -- literally owned, in some cases -- and he was living the big pimpin' lifestyle until he made the mistake of hooking up with the fuckin' Ma-Sheen. Now he's out of jail, 9/11 just happened, the world's changed and he doesn't even have anyone waiting to pick him up from prison. Cut to 8 years after his release and he's doing OK for himself doing the lecture circuit and writing books and warning people that pretty soon there's gonna be a big financial shitstorm and we better be ready for it. Even then, shit's not the same as it used to be for him. The guy lives in a nice apartment, but this was a guy who used to own a seaside estate -- plus, the apartment's a rental. Here's a guy who had his own private jet, and now he takes the subway to get around. This is a man, a fucking MAN who once said something along the lines of "So I'll only make 10 million instead of 70" and today he's unable to afford the $10,000 donation fee to attend some big-deal charity dinner.

As in the last movie, Michael Douglas is the biggest name in the flick but is not the main character, that would be Shia "Ow My Hand" LeBeouf. The Beef plays a trader who's also trying to get some action going for an alternative energy plant, which to his credit, he totally believes in. I mean, he wants to make some money but the idea of solving some world energy problems sounds pretty fuckin' awesome to him. He's engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter and after someone close to him gets royally fucked over, he decides to pay Eventual Father-In-Law a visit for some lessons in the fine art of Payback.

Early in the film, there's an extreme close-up of Michael Douglas while his character lectures a bunch of college students, and all I could think about while looking at most of his mug taking up the Scope frame is that the motherfucker looks just like his father Kirk now. When I was a kid, Kirk Douglas was already old, and now Michael Douglas looks like that version of his father. If they remade The Fury and cast him in his father's role, you'd be like "Goddamn, that actor looks just like he did the last time they made this movie". Speaking of old people, Eli Wallach is in the movie. It's great to see the dude, he's been in a lot of cool shit and he's pretty good in the 3 scenes they give him. His character has a tendency to make noises with his mouth, combined with hand gestures and whistles, which left me wondering if that shit was scripted or if Wallach was ad-libbing or if that's just the kind of shit one does when he or she gets to an age where most of their idle time is spent trying not to die.

Back to Douglas. There's a scene where Gekko goes into detail about what happened to his son (who died of a drug overdose while he was in prison) and it's kinda painful to watch because it's hard not to think that the actor playing him wasn't thinking of his real-life son's drug troubles and where that shit lead him. Not only that, but his brother died from an overdose as well. They tell some actors to use their own life experiences and put them into a performance but in this case, I wonder if Douglas was trying not to do that, I mean, it's some painful shit to bring up, especially since it's happening Right Fucking Now. I don't know what I'm trying to say, all I'm saying is that I don't think you're watching Gordon Gekko get emotional during that particular scene, you're watching Michael Douglas get emotional.

To be honest, I like Shia LeBeouf. I understand he's kinda up there with pieces-of-shit like Ashton Kutcher, who could do the whole world a favor by shoving a nail gun up his nose and pulling the trigger until it goes Click and yet would manage to find a way to still annoy us, but The Beef, I ain't got no beef with. I didn't find him annoying in Eagle Eye and I didn't find him annoying here. His character comes off like someone who wants to be the best at his job -- making a ton of fuckin' money -- but he also wants to maintain some human fuckin' decency as well. There's a moment where he goes up to his mentor (played by Frank Langella) and gives him a kiss on top of the head and reading that you're probably all WTF but I'm telling you, it's a touching moment. I was totally with the dude from that moment on, because really, who the fuck is going to do something like that in the cutthroat dog-eat-dog-then-a-fuckin-shark-eats-you world of Wall Street and be completely sincere about it? The Beef, that's fuckin' who. I am on Team LeBeouf.

The chick from An Education is here, playing The Beef's fiancee/Gordon Gekko's daughter. As far as love interests in the Wall Street movies go, Daryl Hannah's hotter but this chick gives the better performance. Faint praise, I suppose, since the electronic stock ticker in Wall Street gave a better performance than Daryl Hannah, but to be fair, she was great in Kill Bill. Josh Brolin plays the villain (his character is more of a villain here than Gekko was in the first flick), and while he's worked previously with Oliver Stone in W., in this one you'd think he was up for the lead in the Ronald Reagan story because that's how he looks here. And you know how in the first film, there was a mini-Blade Runner reunion with Daryl Hannah and Sean Young, well in this one, you have a little Grindhouse get-together between Brolin representing Planet Terror and Vanessa Ferlito (playing one of Lebeouf's fellow traders) representing Death Proof.

Oliver Stone loves to cameo in his own shit, so I guess here he's reprising his role from the last Wall Street as some fuckin' random trader. That makes me wonder why Tarantino gets so much crap for appearing in his own movies, when guys like Stone, Scorsese and Spike Lee get away scot-free for fecalizing the frame with their fuckin' faces. The best I could come up with is that Tarantino was on the Accepted list until he started playing bigger parts than cameos -- I mean, I guess it's fine if you want to show up for 5 minutes doing "Don't fucking Jimmie me, Jules, don't fuckin' Jim-ma-me" but once you start trying to play lead roles with George Clooney, you're crossing a line.

The movie looks great, which is expected when you get a great cinematographer of raza like Rodrigo Prieto, who not only shot Brokeback Mountain, but played a male hustler in it as well. For reals, yo. What's up with that? I mean, the cinematographer for MacGruber had a role in the movie, uh, MacGruber where he made out with some muscle-bound dude. Are cinematographers a bunch of closet-cases or is that a way for the director to show everyone who the real boss is? Better yet, why do I take notice of whenever a D.P. plays a potential DP? I don't know, but I wonder about me sometimes. But yeah, the movie looks great visually, not so much composition-wise (which it had going on in spades, don't get me wrong) but color-wise, lighting-wise. There's also a lot of the usual Stone flashiness, mostly in the form of split-screens and Crimson Tide-style computer screen projections onto people's faces. There's also a pretty nifty shot where the camera cranes up from the street and then starts going up a high-rise building, and then starts to pan in circles while still going up up up, making a motherfucker go dizzy. It's obvious they did the CGI thing to pull that shot off, but I liked it.

In addition to Gordon Gekko, there are a few more things that pop up along the way to remind you of the first film, and I still haven't decided whether or not the movie would work better without them. They felt a little too cute for the most part, and there's one in particular that I appreciated but again, not sure if we really needed to see that. I'm being vague because everybody's so touchy about how much you know about a fuckin' movie before seeing it. There are a bunch of songs by David Byrne and Brian Eno throughout the movie, I'm not sure if they're old songs or original tunes made specifically for the movie -- yup, that one song from the last movie is here as well. They didn't bring back Stewart Copeland to do the score though, which is kind of a bummer but not too much of one because Craig Armstrong does a pretty good job here.

I dug this movie, and was surprised that I was more into the LeBeouf stuff than the Douglas stuff. I was more intrigued with the idea of a guy trying to remain at least a half-decent dude in a world where decency is a liability. It was also cool to then watch him put that part of him aside while putting on his Payback hat. Also, the chick from An Education was cute, so there's that. Of the movies he's made in the past 10 years, this is Oliver Stone's strongest work, which you can take the way you want to take it; Alexander is the only Stone film I didn't like (saw the theatrical cut, will not waste my time with the "director's cut" but I might give his "final cut" a day in court), World Trade Center was a solid flick but it felt like a film anyone else could've made, and W. was decent. I don't know if Stone is ever bringing back his A game but it's nice to see that he can still bring his B+ game for this one. The first Wall Street is the better of the two, but Money Never Sleeps ain't no slouch, it's a good follow-up for the most part. The biggest problem I had with it was....


...the odd Wayne's World-style mega-happy-ending during the end credits. Don't take my advice, but if you watch the movie, take my advice and get the fuck out of the theater as soon as the end credits roll. Do not stick around for what happens during the credits because it feels and looks like some wacky dream sequence. Maybe that's what Stone was going for? I don't know. It's like the end credits bit at the end of Natural Born Killers, seeing Mickey and Mallory in an RV with kids. The ending before the credits is happy enough, it's realistic enough, I don't know why Stone felt he had to give us what he gave us during the credits. Maybe he's just getting soft in his old age, or maybe he just wanted to balance things out. I mean, the movie pretty much ends by telling the audience that shit will never change with the greedy motherfuckers in charge of everything and you're powerless to change it, so this is probably Stone's way of saying "The world is ugly and mean and awful and full of people who will eventually fuck you hard, but as long as you have love in your life, well, uh, at least the fucking won't feel so lonely".

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I like how Lou Diamond Phillips slips into a cholo-esque accent when dealing with the main Hispanic rapist

So they got this EpixHD channel that I wouldn't know about because I have DirectTv and I got rid of HBO a long time ago and the Showtime channels I used to get for free are done with but it's ok, since it's not like I watch that much television to begin with (in the past 12 months I've only watched 3 television shows; Community, Modern Family and Louie). The only reason I know about EpixHD is because that's where you'd go if you wanted to see Louis CK's stand-up film, Hilarious. I went online, got the invite code, watched the film (which was very funny, by the way) and that was that.

I then looked up the on-demand list of movies available on the EpixHD site and it was pretty cool to see so many different flicks. In the end, I decided to watch one that I caught back in the summer of '93 on HBO. It was a movie that was supposed to go to the theaters (I remember catching the trailer earlier that year when I went to see National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1) but for whatever reason, it didn't. The movie, Extreme Justice, starred Silverado and La Bamba (aka Scott Glenn and Lou Diamond Phillips) and I remember digging the hell out of all the ownage. Now, at my bitter adult age, I decided to give it another look to see if I still felt that way.

The movie is about a real-life unit of the LAPD called the S.I.S., an elite group of badass motherfuckers who target the worst repeat offenders and take them down hard. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. But the problem is that according to the movie, the S.I.S. does this by following the criminals and allowing them to do the crime, that way the shit's air-tight and it's no question that the bad guys are going away for a long time -- that is, if they live through the apprehension because the S.I.S. guys love nothing more than to fill motherfuckers who are 100% Guilty with as many hollow-points as a human body is capable of taking.

Now, you might be thinking "What's the problem with wiping the scum off the earth?" and I'm in agreement with you, because while I'm not some fuckin' tea-partying Obama-hating J.O., I'm not some fuckin' pansy liberal either. Ultimately, my problem with the tactics of the S.I.S. is that allowing the criminals to do the crime usually ends up with traumatized, wounded and dead civilians, because, you know, that tends to happen when a criminal does his thing. The S.I.S guys accept it as a necessary loss if it means the bad guy in question is never going to commit crime ever again.

The first example of this is in the opening scene, when Scott Glenn's character and his fellow S.I.S'ers are waiting outside a liquor store while their target is inside robbing it. They're waiting, guns in hand (or submachine gun, in Glenn's case) and they do nothing, even when the robber pumps 3 bullets into the unfortunate store clerk. It's not stated, but I think it's pretty clear; in the off chance that this guy surrenders, they have him on straight-up fuckin' murder and whether it's life or the death penalty, he's as good as done in the real world. As for the dead liquor store guy? Well, hey, I guess his family will understand that it won't happen again, right? Either way, it doesn't matter much because the robber doesn't give up and is rewarded with hot blankets of nine-millimeter bullets to warm up his cold-blooded ass.

My imaginary friend and I had a bit of an argument about the S.I.S.; she didn't have a problem with the result if it meant putting away a bad guy forever and I gave her a scenario to think over. I asked her to imagine if someone close to her was raped, and right after the rape, a couple cops came to the rescue and put a bullet in that motherfuckin' rapist's head. You'd probably be all like "Good!", right? But what if you were to find out that the cops had been across the street the entire time, WATCHING this go down and just waiting for the rapist to finish so they can take his ass down with extreme prejudice, wouldn't that kinda sour you on these knights in shining armor?

On the one hand, the world is one less rapist now and the victim has been avenged, but on the other hand, the victim could've happily gone through her life without ever knowing what it feels like to be sexually violated. But on the third hand (this is a mutant I'm counting hands from), the girl is safe but the scumbag doesn't get taken down (or blown away) for rape, they only got his ass on Attempted. Who knows how much time he has to serve, if any? By the way, that scenario is in the movie and it's the toughest to watch. I'm pretty jaded and can take nearly everything in a movie except a chick getting raped. I had to fast-forward the rape scene in Irreversible, so if that makes me a pussy, then fuck it, I'm a pussy.

During the opening scene takedown, one of the S.I.S. guys is wounded, so a replacement is needed. Scott Glenn's character suggests a former partner of his, played by muthafuckin' La Bamba himself. When we're introduced to Lou Diamond Phillips, he's doing that Cop Who Plays By His Own Rules routine, chasing and beating the shit out of some child molester/killer, so by the looks of things he was made for this detail.

I mean, even Phillips is like Fuckin' A after Glenn tells him how awesome it is to work S.I.S.; you don't have to identify yourself when you pull out your gat and the kind of excessive force that would normally get a cop suspended and/or fired will "get you a round of beers with S.I.S.". Sure enough, he starts getting second thoughts after his first S.I.S. firefight; you find out he's Excessive, but not Extreme in his form of justice. He's not above beating the shit out of some fuckin' asshole, but that kinda action takes a backseat to making sure no civilians get hurt in the process.

In a weird way, the filmmakers managed to be both politically incorrect and politically correct with the criminals in this movie; rather than go the Rainbow Coalition route, each group they target is a particular race/ethnicity -- black bank robbers, Hispanic rapists, and white thieves. It does make a motherfucker wonder how they settled on which race for a particular crime. Did they go, "Ah, you know those blacks! Always knocking off banks! And those Mexicans obviously can't keep their chorizos in their pants, even the law-abiding ones!" The white thieves happen to be the least despicable and yet the most in need of having their chests introduced to the concept of gaping holes, it's weird how that works. Maybe the filmmakers still felt a little nervous about not enough bad white people, so they gave the black bank robbers a couple of white girl accomplices.

They cast some cool motherfuckers in this flick all around; I already mentioned Silverado and La Bamba, but the fellow S.I.S. guys are played by Yaphet Kotto (who sees himself as a lawman of the Old West, always dressed in country western attire and even carrying a six-gun on his hip), Andrew Divoff (aka the bad guy in Toy Soldiers and the Wishmaster in Wishmaster), a couple other dudes, and the captain is played by Ed Lauter (always playing cops or military, worked with Charles Motherfuckin' Bronson at least twice, has a cool interview here). There are a couple other recognizable faces like Chelsea Field (aka Mrs. Joe Hallenbeck in the movies and Mrs. Scott Bakula in real life), the "wop" from True Romance, and Stephen Root from a bunch of other cool shit.

The movie was written by a couple guys I don't know and directed by Mark L. Lester, who gave us Class of 1984, Firestarter, and goddamn motherfucking Commando, fuck yeah. But that's not all, he also made Class of 1999 and Showdown in Little Tokyo and I don't give a Good God Damn what you think of those movies, because they were all good times for me. And you're probably all "I'm not convinced" and I'm now like To Hell With Your Fuckin' Convincing because this fuckin' guy, he also directed Armed and Dangerous, starring John Fuckin' Candy and Eugene Muthafuckin' Levy. The only way that movie could've been more full of Win is if Candy and Levy's characters actually went by the names "Armed" and "Dangerous". Anyway, I would give the credit to him for the well-done, old-school action in Extreme Justice, not to mention the freight train pace and absolute lack of cinematic fat. This movie is trimmed down to the bone.

And yet oddly enough, that quality could also be a liability against this movie. What I mean is this; the S.I.S. is such an intriguing subject for a movie, I think another film, a better film could come out of it. This is Sidney Lumet territory, William Friedkin territory, muthafuckin' Michael Mann territory, this is some shit that should take 2 1/2 hours to breathe, know what I mean? I like Extreme Justice and all, it's a good action flick, and for what it is, it's fuckin' aces, but because of the subject matter, it feels like some 3 hour shit that was re-cut to 90 minutes to turn it into the bullets & blood fest that it is. It feels like there was more but it got chopped the fuck out. I know that most likely wasn't the case, I'll bet dollars to bearclaws this was more or less the movie they intended to make, I'm just saying that I think it's the kind of shit you could probably dig deeper with, if you wanted to, rather than the quick Roger Corman version of the story.

Which is not to say that it doesn't work in any other capacity other than as a movie with guys shooting the shit out of other guys or punching the fuck out of other guys' faces. I'm sure some dude probably rented Extreme Justice at the video store after looking at the cover (Glenn and Phillips running down an alley, guns in hand, ready to bring down some fuckin' pain on an unseen motherfucker), and he figured "Right on, I'm gonna see the Silverado and La Bamba shoot some bad guys". Then he takes it home, invites his bud, pops open a beer, takes a bite of pizza, and has good times watching motherfuckers fly through glass doors while bloody squibs explode all over their chests. And by the end of the movie (following Scott Glenn's awesome final angry/mocking/defiant/desperate spiel), he turns to his bud and says "That's fucked up", to which his bud responds "You know what? Cops are fucking assholes, man". So there you go.