Friday, December 23, 2011

Unoccupied forest

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol stars Tom Cruise as a megastar whose last couple of films have been disappointments at the box office in the United States, where it matters -- AMERICANS! YEEEAH WOOOO! -- so off he goes, back into another IMF adventure in an effort to ensure that he doesn't become the Soccer of movie stars. (Besides, Rowan Atkinson wouldn't appreciate someone else muscling in on his position.)

From what I can recall from my increasingly hazy memory of an awesome childhood, back when I watched some of the old series on KDOC back in the day, the Impossible Mission Force was kind of its own thing, kinda like a world government A-Team. But in the movies, they're more or less a United States-only deal; and yet, the films still managed to feel asexual in the patriotism/jingoism department. I guess because the IMF isn't about that, they're just about making sure the goddamn world isn't gonna fall apart (and by world, I mean United States primarily, followed by the other countries). They (and by They, I mean Cruise) accomplish an Impossible Mission and rather than America Fuck Yeah, the overall feeling is Great, the world will survive another week. It's the same thing with James Bond, but Skyfall doesn't come out until next year, so I'm not writing about that shit.

So Mr. Cruise plays Ethan Hunt, who I thought was gonna retire in the last joint, but he's back in action for reasons that are more fun to find out when you watch the movie, rather than having some piece-of-shit spoil it for you in a blog. Eventually, Hunt goes on the job with his team (played by guy from Spaced and the hot teacher from Precious) over in the Kremlin, and of course, because this is a Mission: Impossible joint, something fucked up happens and next thing you know, this mission, it just got a hell of a lot more impossible-r. In fact, it actually becomes an impossible mission, one that cannot be completed successfully -- which Hunt and company prove by failing to complete it, you know, successfully.

Ghost Protocol is not just a cool name created by the screenwriters or a movie about Goldie Hawn's spirit haunting Capitol Hill, it's the save-ass move pulled by the government that disavows the entire IMF after the Kremlin operation went tits-up; so now Hunt is faced with the shadowy under-the-table task of clearing the IMF's name in this royal screw-job, and it involves doing crazy shit like dodging bullets, zip-lining across former Communist streets, running through sandstorms, climbing up impossibly tall buildings with electro-sticky gloves, and getting the shit beat out of him. But, you see, Hunt realizes that all this is better than his other option -- finding a new job. Shit, in this economy? Talk about mission impossible!

Let me talk about that building-climbing madness, by way of typing it on my keyboard; Hunt straps on these gloves that allow him to stick to the windows of skyscrapers located in a desert city devoted to excess and Fuck You America, You Need Us And This Is What Your Money Buys Us -- and me, I don't do heights very well, so this was quite possibly the most exciting/terrifying shit I've seen in a movie this year.

What totally added to my sweat-soaked palms was watching all of this in IMAX -- the real IMAX, not that digital slightly-bigger-than-a-regular-screen shit -- and I'm telling you, man, super-crisp images shot from nearly 3,000 feet off the ground, looking straight down in some shots, well I hate to admit that I was fearing that sadistic asshole God would suddenly decide right then and there to grant my Purple Rose of Cairo/Last Action Hero wishes and throw me right into the movie at that exact moment. Of all the fuckin' scenes in the film, He chooses that one for me to go into.

He couldn't have tossed me into a Paula Patton scene? That would've been awesome. I don't really get the I Want A Hot Chick To Kick My Ass thing that some guys are into (and Vincent Vega mentioned in a deleted scene from the Pulp Fiction screenplay), but having said that, I kinda understand it in the case of the lovely Ms. Patton. There's a moment in the movie where her character kicks off her shoes and immediately bolts out of the room, having transformed into a freight train that is shipping nothing but Absolute Ownage -- and if I was that particular train's destination, the sight of her headed towards me with daggers in her eyes, hate in her heart, and Revenge in her mind, well that would render me incapable of running. I would be too enamored with the sight of this beautiful woman getting closer and closer towards me -- enamored? no, hypnotized! -- to realize that I'm about one second away from having my orbital bone shattered.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that she's awesome, this chick. This lady, she's the kind of gal who can inspire fat monsters to learn to read and make ATF agents travel through time to prevent her death by explosion. She's a keeper and it's too bad my father (or your father) isn't Alan Thicke, otherwise you can be part of that equation -- the equation of looooove.

There's also a hot assassin chick in this flick, as they tend to be in these movies, and it made me think of how cruel and unforgiving the movie world is. I mean, you have Paula Patton and this French blonde gal, both of them as easy on the eyes as a large print book -- and you figure their characters could make a lot more money for a lot less work, had they chosen a different field, like modeling or acting. Whatever, at least I'll justify French Blonde Chick's choice in life because she gets paid for her services in diamonds. Think about that; somewhere along the way in this poor deluded girl's life, she realized two things: One, she loves diamonds, and Two, she's pretty good with the killing. And it was at that moment, whenever it was, that she put 2 and 2 together and it equaled Kill People For Diamonds.

That makes a lot of sense actually, because in one way or another, women are vicious bloodthirsty people when it comes to those former lumps of coal; fuckin' Blood Diamond starred Leonardo DiCaprio at his arguably hottest, but the shit bombed anyway because ladies don't want to watch a movie that tells them that there's a very good chance that a fuck-ton of innocent people were maimed and/or murdered (and let's throw some good ol' Rape while were at it) during the process of creating those lovely rocks on their fingers. Even the nicest women in the world seem OK with this; I've noticed some get chillingly rational about it, after being told. Worst of all, I'm sure even The Adorable Amy Adams is probably OK with it.

I suppose Simon Pegg is like the Amy Adams for geeks, and while I appreciate the dude and his contributions, I just can't get a nerd boner for him like the rest of the internet does. His films are pretty cool and he's good in the film, and funny when he needs to be, what else can I say.

The Hurt Locker shows up in this joint too, playing an analyst (the secret agent kind, not the Tell Me Your Problems kind) who eventually gets involved in Cruise and company's shenaniganeries; I remember for a while there were rumors that the Bourne series would continue Damon-free, and that Hurt Locker would take his place. After seeing him handle his business in Ghost Protocol, I can see that; he's got that mix of suave and don't-fuck-with-him, and in some instances, he's even more impressive than Cruise in the badass department.

Perhaps Cruise noticed that Hurt Locker was stealing his thunder and was all like Hell No and declared he would actually perform his own stunts during the skyscraper sequence, because if you're the kind of guy who's willing to believe in aliens being thrown into volcanoes, you're probably gonna believe that a 3,000 foot drop is just not gonna happen to you because you're Untouchable. Sure, you can try to convince him otherwise, but home-cruise is just gonna flash his pearly whites and call you glib. Motherfucker doesn't even know what that word means. Or maybe he did know what he was getting himself into, but sometimes you just gotta say What The Fuck and just fuckin' do that shit.

You know, I look at Hurt Locker and Tom Cruise together, and my first thought is man, it's too bad Cruise is already married. I mean, he and Hurt Locker look so good together, it would make perfect sense if they were to pair off and go out for a night on the town and pick up some hot chicks. They would be unstoppable, creating a black hole of pussy-getting from which no vagina can escape, once it crosses the event horizon -- their hotel room. These dudes can go years as a bachelor couple, but alas, Cruise is already married and true to his other half.

The first two Missions were directed by seasoned pros picking up a paycheck while giving us a sampler platter on why they're so awesome; the last two Missions were directed by first-time feature directors who had something to prove. Together, they all proved that the Mission: Impossible series is like the Alien series, in that they all reflect the motherfucker running shit behind the camera, for better or worse. Whoever they pick for the 5th one, I hope he or she has the good sense to cast Tig Notaro as Ethan Hunt's sister or something, because that would amuse me (and only me, I'm sure).

But for the 4th flick they got Brad Bird, who had already made some pretty top-notch joints like Ratatouille and The Incredibles; but you know how it is, there are assholes out there who won't acknowledge those flicks as real films, on account of being animated. So maybe Bird had enough of that shit and was willing to put his untarnished reputation on the line by venturing into flesh & blood characters in front of the camera. The result of that move is that Bird has fuckin' thrown the goddamn gauntlet on the expensive designer table, and then just stood back with his arms out, like What, muthafucka, what!

I'm not saying he reinvented the wheel, but he did something almost as good (and increasingly rare, nowadays) -- he made a very well crafted action-thriller, some downright old-school style Hollywood entertainment garnished with a twist of Modern. I'm talking action scenes that make sense, edits that serve the purpose of telling the story in the most exciting yet audience-friendly way (as opposed to showing off what can be done with an AVID), and scenes that are cool/exciting to watch because the situations are cool/exciting, not because the music and flashy filmmaking are insisting that you should be gripping to the edge of your seat and all that other bullshit. There's also a pretty cool end scuffle/scramble that is damn-near Spielbergian in its combination of clever, frustrating, and overall Good Times -- it's the kind of fight that you usually see Harrison Ford and Pat Roach take part in, in any of the first 3 Indiana Jones flicks.

There's a chase sequence in a sandstorm (no Deep Hurting with this one), and I swear Bird did it that way to destroy any possible argument that the situation would dictate the style. What I mean is that the screen is covered with all of this sand, and you can barely see the characters, and yet, the shit is easy to follow. Lesser filmmakers would use it as an excuse to continue with the Cloverfield-cam and then defend it with "Well, hey -- it was a sandstorm, sandstorms should be as confusing to the audience as they are to the characters!" Good for you, Bird; keep shoving this sequence in anyone's face that says otherwise.

What I also really liked about this entry in the series is that this actually feels like a caper where the entire team is involved; the first two joints were pretty much All Cruise, All The Time and the third one flirted with the idea of playing with others, but in this one, the IMF guys all get their moment to shine. I mean, shit, there are actual gaps in the film that don't involve The Cruise. Supposedly, Martin Landau and a couple of the other OG IMF-ers were pissed off with the first flick, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out if they dug on this one because, you know, there's actual teamwork involved this time, as opposed to Everyone Stand Back And Watch Me Rock This Joint action from Mr. Mapother.

In fact, the one scene that actually involves Hunt doing his thing while everyone stands back and watches him rock this joint happens because everyone else is busy doing another important part of the task at hand. Better yet, it's obvious Hunt does not want to do this; if I recall correctly, I think it's Hunt who brings up a couple of alternatives in hope of not having to do what he eventually does.

The bad guy makes the least sense out of everything in this entire movie (not to mention the entire series); I think he just wants to end the world because, I don't know, it's time that the world ended or something. Sad part is, while it makes very little sense in the film, it does make sense to me personally -- that is, if home-bad feels the same way about the world that I do: We've fucked up so badly, perhaps it's best to reboot that shit and hope the new tenants are classier people. (For the record, these are just passing thoughts that are overcome by my main thought which is It's Better To Be Alive, Period. As far as I'm concerned, I don't care how much damage we're doing to the room, if you want us out, you're gonna have to drag us out. I don't want some fuckin' Russian Swede facilitating that long process.)

That "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" asshole from Slumdog Millionaire shows up, and for some reason, I was reminded of Wayne Newton's character from Licence to Kill; all the blood in his brain rushed down to his darkened appendage, after having spotted the hotness that is Paula Patton, and he's therefore unable to make a single intelligent choice. Maybe I have to watch Slumdog again to confirm, but this actor looks damn near elfin in Ghost Protocol, in comparison to his host character in the Danny Boyle flick; maybe Boyle's better at making dudes look harder than they really are. That's probably what it is: how you film someone. I bet if Tom Cruise showed up in a Salman Khan movie, he'd probably look just as underwhelming.

It's a good flick, a fun flick. I'd recommend the extra cash for IMAX, that is, if it's a real IMAX; if you can't see it that way, just watch it on the biggest screen you can find. It's good times, made better with decent popcorn and maybe, just maybe, an audience that came to enjoy a film and not show off their cell phones and other displayed acts of douchebag jackasseries. Me, I went to an early AM show, so it worked out well with the audience. All the assholes sleep in, I guess. That's why I had to wake up early for a change to catch this one.

Well, that's it, folks. As I mentioned in the last post, I'm done with the whole posting ramblings on a regular basis thing (well, a relatively regular basis, anyway). I'll post every once in a while, to maintain LAMB status and if I feel like I just absolutely cannot keep my thoughts to myself about a particular movie. Also, I'll be happy to take any requests, so hit me up if for whatever weird reason you like to read my embarrassing thoughts on a flick. Having said that, I'll most likely cave in a month or so and act like I never typed this paragraph (or the last post) and come back with some bullshit on a regular-style tip.

Once again, thanks to those who read my shit and shared it with others. It's not bullshit when I tell you how much I appreciated that. Now's as good a time as any to have written that. Take care and gut yontif, you crazy kids.

Monday, December 19, 2011

In which our blogger disappears up his own ass and makes a stupid decision

Hi guys. I just wanted to clear out my drafts folder in Blogger, to get a better count of how many of these fuckin' things I actually bothered to write. So I figured it would be amusing to post them here, for anyone who's interested to take a gander at. Keep in mind, I just quit while writing them, so some might just end mid-sentence, kinda like

Anyway, I've had some super-awesome people (and even an awesome movie theater) go as far as to retweet, link and share my stuff, and for that I am very, very, very grateful. But when you write like me -- that is, in what I suspect is a badly-written, off-putting, and antagonizing manner, you're gonna be even more of an acquired taste than fuckin' key lime pie; maybe that's why the hit counts never really changed. The few friends I made through this blog, well, I managed to fuck it up with half of them, so I get part of how this happened.

And what happened? I'm not burned out (even though my recent ramblings might say otherwise), because I enjoy writing these ramblings for the most part. It's just that I have a slight case of the Bummers realizing (from evidence real or imagined, I'm not even sure anymore) that I'm basically writing for a Void nowadays. Sure, I mainly write for myself, but it was always nice to know that someone -- for whatever reason -- was reading this and actually getting some kind of amusement out of it. But not a void, man; voids don't get amused by shit. Trust me, I've tried; I've juggled, sang songs, told racist jokes -- and not a single reaction from these fuckin' voids. It's like trying to make Joan Baez laugh, fuckin' with these voids. Me, I prefer people.

So I'm probably going to lessen my output by, like, a lot. So hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail if there's a particular flick you'd like me to write about, because I don't think I'm gonna write much anymore, aside from whatever Movie Of The Month they have over at The LAMB. Anyway, take care and keep warm. I'm gonna go back to the fetal position on the floor, sucking my thumb and crying for mama, because I'm a fuckin' crybaby little bitch boy because Waaah, I'm a douchebag and want attention, waaah.


You touch-a my car, I break-a you face (GONE WITH THE POPE, 7/27/10)

The job gives me a paycheck to pay bills with and medical/dental so I can get root canals & fondled testicles, but the schedule makes it hard to occasionally go check something out during the week. When I found out that the New Beverly Cinema was to going screen a Duke Mitchell double-feature (Eric Caiden and Brian Quinn of the Grindhouse Film Festival put it together, as they do twice a month for their, uh, Grindhouse Film Festival) of Gone with the Pope and Massacre Mafia Style, I was like whoa baby. So of course it was going to be held on a Tuesday night, the 2nd busiest night at my place of employment.

This Tuesday night conundrum came up the month before when the New Bev had a double-bill of De Palma flicks which also happened to be 2 of my favorite all-time movies. But I guess I was able to justify not going because at least one of those films was going to eventually get screened again somewhere. And while I'm sure Gone with the Pope would get screened again, I just didn't have the patience to wait. So I bullshitted my boss (who incidentally, I had yelled at the week before) and told him something about having to pick up my infirm grandmother from the hospital and that no one else was available for whatever bullshit emergency reason. He wasn't happy about it, but what could he do, say No Fuck Your Grandma? So off I went.

After making a stop at the new Rocket Video location nearby (Yay for browsing before waiting in line!), I got in line and looked at the different people waiting for tonight's entertainment -- many in geek-style shirts; I saw a Badass Cinema/Alamo Drafthouse shirt (best worn by Jordan Ladd in Death Proof), an I Got A Fever shirt with Walken's face on it, a Death Wish 3 shirt, a Hobo With A Shotgun shirt, a Hawaiian shirt which in this crowd is probably some kind of ironic statement, and a shirt with a glasses-wearing baseball player on it with Chinese writing on the top AKA one of The Dude's shirts from The Big Lebowski. There was a girl in the front, part of the Grindhouse crew; she had dark red hair in long pigtails, fingerless gloves that went to her wrist, tall boots and fishnets. I designated her as my imaginary girlfriend for the night. I imagined me and her geeking out to the on-screen proceedings, and I could see having a couple of drinks with her, and I could see her protecting my fragile ass against some rough ruffians picking a fight with me at the bar -- Little Miss Badass.

I saw my main dude (relatively speaking, I've only spoken to him once and it was something like "Hey, that was a pretty cool movie, huh?" and he looked like he wanted to get away from my creepy ass) Clu Gulager talking up a couple ladies near the front. At one point he made a sweeping arm gesture, probably telling a story, but I liked to think he was telling the chicks to get the fuck out of his seating area. Marc Heuck was talking to some people, and he always seems in a better mood when he's not at the Nuart, probably for the same reason I'm in a better mood whenever I'm not at work. He was telling some people about the film Acts of Violence, an awesome movie in the same way that Dangerous Men and The Room are awesome. I caught it back in May, and like most movies I watch nowadays, was too tired to write about. But that shit's playing the New Bev in August, so I might second chance that bitch. Anyway, I think he was telling someone that he caught it with only 4 or 5 people in the entire theater, including Max Landis' girlfriend, or something like that, and something about Junior High School Musical? I don't know. It's all random snippets and words coming from different directions, and I'm like Kevin Bacon in Stir of Echoes, my motherfucker's on Receive and I can't stop the voices, yet if you're standing 2 feet away from me and ask me something, I'm all like "Que? Como?". Oh, you're gonna be in a coma, all right.

The show sold out, and people were desperately trying to find seats to the point that some couples and friends had no choice but to separate and take whatever empty seats they could find, no matter how far apart they'd end up. It was some sad Titanic life-boating shit going on. But either Brian or Eric, the guy in the striped shirt and glasses, he would go around trying to help roaming seat-scavengers find a place to sit. Lots of seats were taped over, reserved for special guests, I guess. A couple in the back had cameras set up over them, ready to record the Q&A for posterity? Or a DVD? Whatever the reason, it was interesting to watch the people in the reserved areas stand around freely in their areas, chatting with friends and having a good time while everyone around them tried their best to find a spot for themselves to sit.

The movie started and there were some trailers that I can remember

Untitled (TRON: LEGACY, 12/17/10)

The thing that sucks about the IMAX (the real one, not that fake shit they have at the AMC Theaters) is that it's even more difficult to try to get good seats on opening weekend. It's not like the Arclight where you can reserve your seats and show up a minute before the lights go down with no problem -- you have show up early and wait in line, and while there used to be a time when I dug waiting in line for a movie (getting all hyped up), I think my increasingly alarming sense of my own mortality is making me more antsy about time spent doing nothing. Plus, I have a decreasingly alarming amount of friends (about 3 now, I reckon) so that means more often than not, I'm by myself, so it's not like I have people to talk to while waiting. I guess what I'm trying to say is that waiting in line sucks dick -- a dick you have to suck after waiting 90 minutes in line.

Which is why I love it when my local IMAX will occasionally add an extra 2:30 am showing following the opening Thursday midnight screening. I saw Star Trek like this, and boy oh boy, was it awesome to watch an IMAX movie at an ungodly hour with, like, 8 other people, knowing that in about 12 hours or so, this same practically empty auditorium is going to be packed with motherfuckers. See, this is completely different than the time when I went to see Speed Racer at the IMAX on opening weekend at an 8pm show and found myself to be the only person in attendance. That was simultaneously awesome and sad. True story. But in the case of the movie I watched a few hours ago, Tron: Legacy, there were more people than you'd expect at 3am on a Friday morning (Christmas break, I'd guess). I still got a good seat, though.

I went to the restroom so I can relieve the ol' bladder and noticed the urinal was one of those waterless no-flush deals which are cool for 2 reasons -- one, they save water; and two, you can gaze at the collection of various pubic hairs that would normally be washed away but instead remain in the urinal. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, terrorist -- this group of short & curlies is the closest thing to united racial harmony the human race will ever get to (next to a graveyard, of course). As I washed my hands, a group of guys came in and one of them said to his friend "That was disappointing" and his friend asked "Yeah?" and the disappointed guy confirmed it with a "Uh-huh". Then another guy came in and said in a surprised manner, "It smells like pee in here".

My pistola and chili-cheese omelets (HEREAFTER, 3/25/11)

In his review of Hereafter, some critic called Clint Eastwood "overrated" as a director and I didn't hold it against the guy because I was in his house, so to speak; I clicked on the link, I knew what I was getting into. Nothing wrong with sharing an opinion, even if it's the lone dissenting one (as long as the shit's genuine and you're not getting your rocks off being a fuckin' contrarian). It's the same thing here, if you're reading my ramblings, you're looking to see what I thought of a movie and for the most part, I like everything, but if I don't like it, I'll fuckin' say so.

But sometimes, in a non-forum forum, I don't know, sometimes I think it's best to keep your fuckin' mouth shut if you're looking to be the Debbie Downer in a room full of happy motherfuckers. I mean, if I'm talking to a friend or stranger and they bring up a movie they like but I think it's a piece of shit, I prefer to err on the side of not raining on the parade by focusing on something I did like about that garbage or I'll just change the subject. But more often than not, I just let the person go on, because I like hearing people go on about stuff they dig. Never got what you get out of jumping in and being all Well I Thought It Sucked. What was it Tarantino once said, "don't talk to me about what you don't like, talk to me about what you DO like"?

So yeah, this guy was reviewing Hereafter and that's what got me started on that shit. Me, I really liked this movie. Usually, I'm pretty good about catching a Clint Eastwood joint in the cinema but I don't know what the fuck happened that caused me to miss that shit, I have no excuse, really. But I'm glad I finally got around to it. The reviews weren't the best on this one, but maybe it's because they expected this movie to be about Life and Death and were disappointed it was really about life and death, the lowercase version.

I mean, I don't know how Eastwood and writer Peter Morgan managed to pull this off, but they took a story that involves 3 different countries, 1 federal republic, a tsunami, a terrorist bombing, the White Light people go to when they die, Jay Mohr looking old and made it feel small and personal. From what I understand, the promotions for this movie made it seem like The Sixth Sense II and that's what disappointed many a moviegoer -- they did not expect a relatively quiet and somber (something Eastwood's been specializing in for a while in his old age) character study on the human need to believe in an afterlife.

I always try to catch a non-DTV Amy Adams movie on the big screen, and it's the same thing when it comes to Clint Eastwood, that guy's one of my favorite directors. Even when I don't totally dig on his movies, I still dig his simple but effective style, especially in the last decade when he got all moody and somber with his shafts of light and pools of darkness with that motherfucker Tom Stern. I ended up missing Hereafter in the theater because I'm lame, but I remember the reviews not being so hot for the most part.

Untitled (SCREAM 4, 4/18/11)

(This one, I didn't even get to the movie. I just lost interest. - EFC)

So I was reading an interview with Reese Witherspoon -- I mean she was the interview subject, not that she was reading it beside me -- and she was talking about her new movie with Robert Pattinson and I was like Right On, because Reese is like 35 and Twilight's like 24 and I'm sure they're supposed to be banging. Between that and The Adorable Amy Adams playing Lois Lane to some other younger Superman, I like seeing the paradigm shift a bit when it comes to May-December coupling in movies and that it's not treated like She's Old And He's Young And They're In LOOOOVE. I mean, we've seen guys like Sean Connery and Michael Douglas embarrass themselves by hooking up with chicks young enough to be their daughters and I think it's about time the ladies get some of that young stuff in movies. I guess it was going to happen sooner or later after all the Cougar bullshit in our culture, plus you have Punk'd and Demi Moore shopping for lube in real life. Anyway, that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about a bunch of people trying to prove their relevancy in Scream 4.

He pronounces "Homicide" as "Homocide", that's why (BLACK COBRA, 3/6/11)

My ex-con friend has been out of the clink for over a year now and thankfully our interaction has been minimal; we went to the gym a couple times and a couple times he'd invite me over and I'd smoke a fat one before going over, that way I can withstand the crushing boredom of hanging with a man who lives for the gym and not much else. Me, I live for doughnuts.

So this guy, he invited me over for some carne asada this past weekend and to see his latest proof of I Don't Use Condoms aka his newest newborn son (kid #5 from baby mama #3, I believe) and the problem is that while he managed to luck himself into finding a house, he's also sharing said house with others -- others with 3 punkass pugs who shit all over the floor and going to the backyard doesn't help because the pugs go out there too. That's where the grill was, the backyard aka the China Of Flies because there's gotta be about a billion of those sons-of-bitches out there. Then one of my buddies' sons jumps into the pool and splashes water on the pugs, and here they come, jumping all over me, getting smelly wet dog on my fresh clothes. It was like having a barbecue at Critical Bill's place, and the worst part was that I was absolutely, painfully sober for it all.

Terrible -- both the place for being what it is, and me for writing about this shit behind a motherfucker's back. I am scum, I know this so don't act like you're dropping heavy knowledge on me, I've wasted nearly three years of my life rambling about my various scum-baggeries on this here blog, a blog I mostly write from my own place, a place that reeks of feet, weed, pizza and jism -- but you don't see me kindly forcing my preciously few friends over to my abode to suffer through that shit. I know all this, trust me -- I know.

Hey, if I use your full name and you have issues with it, let me know and I will correct it but do me a favor and don't be a dick about it. I was reading someone else's blog and he namechecked the person who inspired him to make that particular entry, and in the comment section she basically made this guy look an asshole with her words, fuckin' chiding him like some kid pulling some shit he wasn't supposed to pull. At least put a fuckin' smiley face or something at the end, that way that shit can't be misconstrued by overly sensitive cunts like Yours Truly -- the most overly sensitive cunt in the world (but I do try -- Lord, do I try -- not to be, which is even harder now that I've dramatically cut down my pot-smokage).

Man, the 80's were fuckin' awesome and I kinda wish I could've been Of Age back then, but then again, maybe not -- knowing me, I'd probably be spending that time speeding down the freeway in the middle of the night, blasting "Tonight, Tonight" by Genesis on my brand new Blaupunkt tape deck while pounding bottles of Michelob in between doing bumps of Pure Bolivian Flake off my dashboard in my fuckin' Honda Civic hatchback, headed for yet another party where I wouldn't go home with a girl (hence my saving some of the coke for showing off later).

Untitled (CLIFFHANGER in 70mm, 12/16/11)

Renny Harlin came up on stage, looking trim and very director-ish (expensive leather jacket over a t-shirt & jeans ensemble) to introduce the second film of the evening at the Aero (following Last Action Hero and also in 70mm), Cliffhanger. First he wanted to give a shout-out/props to the director of the previous film, one badass muthafucker named John McTiernan. He mentioned how his film came out in May 1993 from Tri-Star and McTiernan's came out the following month from Columbia -- and today, they are both owned under the umbrella of the Sony people.

Mr. Harlin then called us all nuts for being here at 10pm on a cold Sunday night to watch an 18-year-old film. Thankfully, he was not one of those directors who find it hard to put two words together (and yet somehow are able to command a crew of hundreds on a film); Harlin had plenty to say and was also very aware of his garrulous nature, because he kept apologizing to the audience for constantly having "one last anecdote" about working on the film. He was actually a pretty funny dude, made even funnier with his deadpan monotone-ish delivery; that voice, by the way, lent itself to a pretty impressive Stallone impersonation (which he did quite often, to the audience's approval).

Here's some of the stories I remember:

-- Janine Turner has a phobia of helicopters. This became an issue after she brought this up on location, where her character has a couple scenes in and around helicopters.

-- Stallone is afraid of heights. Again, something he brought up rather late in the game, which is also an issue when the movie is called Cliffhanger. Harlin ended up doing some macho head-games to convince to do stunt scenes like the opening sequence, where he's hanging 8,000 feet over the ground; Harlin went out himself on one of those harnesses and basically did one of those "See, it's very simple and easy" and Stallone figured if this fuckin' Fin can do it....

-- Michelle Joyner (playing the chick who ends up hanging for dear life in the opening sequence), gave such an incredible audition that both Harlin and the casting director were in tears by the end of it. The second audition was with Stallone, who also ended up teary-eyed. Harlin didn't want a stuntwoman to play the part, because in his opinion, stuntmen don't make the best actors (I hope Zoe Bell isn't reading this). In the end, Joyner performed her own stunt, hooked up to a rig that would drop her 20 yards down the 8,000 foot length. This means that Michelle Joyner has bigger balls than I can ever hope to grow.

-- Harlin convinced the studio to purchase about $300,000 of weather insurance, given how unpredictable the weather was over in the Italian Alps (where they shot most of this flick). In the end, after all the lost shooting days were totalled up, the studio ended up saving $8 million (which the insurance company had to pay).

-- One of the head muckety-mucks at Tri-Star (Harlin: "I'm not going to tell you that it was Mike Medavoy") strongly suggested that the best way to close the film would be to cue the Motown hit "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" over the end credits. Harlin was able to successfully forget to take that suggestion.

He told a story about the premiere of Cliffhanger at the Cannes Film Festival; he was nervous because he felt a Stallone action joint felt out of place at this supposedly classy location, but by the end of the film, the entire audience gave the flick a standing ovation. As he exited the theater with his mother, fake snow was being pumped out onto the steps of the massive theater and Trevor Jones' majestic score blared through the outside speakers -- it was one of those I'm King Of The World (woo) moments, like something out of a movie.  Stallone then leaned into Harlin and said something to the effect like "Remember this moment, Renny. Because it'll never happen like this again." Harlin then told us, that yes, he was right -- nothing like this ever happened for him since.

I dug that he mentioned how this was his last feature to be shot with anamorphic lenses; even though he's continued to shoot in the 2:35.1 format, he's gone on to using Super 35. He does admit that the anamorphic lenses did have a "classic" quality to them that the Super 35 lenses did not, because the latter has great depth of field while the former's depth of field is shallower than Jerry Seinfeld and Brett Ratner chilling out at the kiddie pool. Whatever. Nowadays all I see is shallow depth of field, because everything on the street's being shot with those fuckin' HDLSR's.

I liked that Harlin was both friendly and talkative, with just the right wicked amount of passive-aggressiveness -- he said that he would take questions, if they were "genius" questions, which basically to me sounded like "Don't ask me something lame and waste both our time". One guy asked Harlin why the film was rated NC-17, which confused the Finn because he was pretty sure Cliffhanger was rated R. Well, they're both right, actually: the film had a lot of juicy squibs cut out to get the R-rating.


OK, that's it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sticking your tongue out at the recently deceased is really douchey, even for me, King Douche.

Continued from this shit right here

After watching a Sunday afternoon matinee of Hook in 70mm at the Aero, I took a dinner break, then returned to that theater for an evening double-feature of Last Action Hero and Cliffhanger (both in 70mm). Both films were released in the summer of 1993, which was a time in my life that I look back on fondly, so now you know why it was important that I attend this screening: that evil motherfucker Nostalgia, trying to throw me for a melancholy loop again (and again and again and again...)

My friend, the petulant Goth-y girl, gave the intro and I guess the guy she traded phone numbers with last night must have called her back finally, because she was in a more cheerful mood this time out. She even did one of those cute girl-squeal/yelps when she accidentally created some feedback on the P.A. system, as she placed the microphone down.

I've already written about Cliffhanger before -- plus I intend to write about it again (along with notes on director Renny Harlin's introduction at this particular screening), after watching my recently acquired pre-test screening/MPAA workprint of it - (12/18: Cancelled due to nobody giving a shit) so I'll just focus on the Arnold joint for this posting.

The 70mm print for Last Action Hero was stunningly beautiful (as was Cliffhanger's print). It was awesome; thanks to the movie magic that can only be conjured by watching a film presented in the format of the times, I felt like I was watching this flick on opening night at a theater presenting it in 70mm. Time travel, baby; I was in Santa Monica, but I might as well have been in Westwood or Hollywood circa June 1993, watching it in the best non-IMAX format available, in brand-new SDDS sound. It felt even more real, because the theater was only filled to 20% capacity -- just like it played in theaters back then! The guys at Sony must've taken very good care of this print, either that, or it just never got that much play to begin with. Because it's Last Action Hero.

The presumably non-SDDS sound was turned up to the Kick-Ass level, which is A-OK with me, but apparently not to the fatter-than-me nerd sitting a few rows behind me who yelled out his sarcastic comment on the sound not being loud enough or something. I'm a fat nerd, but it's always awesome to point out those in worse shape in order to make myself feel better for being a hopeless piece-of-shit -- although to be fair, he spoke with, like, 5 or 6 friends before and after the movie, and I showed up by myself and had no friends to speak to (par for the course, in my case), so I'm totally, unequivocally, the bigger loser in this equation. In any equation, really. I don't know why I brought this up. Neither do you.

The movie opens with Alice in Chains' "What the Hell Have I", a fuckin' bad jam from a soundtrack full of them. I didn't even see the film until it was on video, yet you bet your sweet ass I made fuckin' sure to buy the soundtrack after listening to it at my cousin's house one afternoon. It's mostly comprised of tunes from 80's metal bands and early 90's alternative (and Cypress Hill, to throw the ethnics a bone); the film's way of sonically bridging the gap between old and new. Come to think of it, there was a lot of gap-bridging back in the early 90's; the badass Judgment Night soundtrack was basically White Boy Music Meets Black Man Music, and then you had guys like Public Enemy hooking up with Anthrax for "Bring the Noise". Yeah, man, the early 90's -- back when it was still cool to have hope in that kind of bullshit.

The film itself is kind of like that too, combining heavy Hollywood silverbacks of the 1980's (from both sides of the camera) with the increasingly meta-saracasto storytelling of the 1990's. You have Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Muthafuckin' Badass Cinematic Action Master Even Though His Better Days Are Behind Him The Man Directed DIE HARD so Don't-Fuck-With-Me-On-This McTiernan hooking up for a second time, both of them riding in on a wave of hits (McT's wave was beginning to ebb after Medicine Man, though). Only this time, they would be entering unknown territory; sure, it's an action film, but it's also very much supposed to be a comedy, and a family film, and a feel-good magical romp, and a satiric look at the cliches and stereotypes imbued in the usual kind of joint that features an Austrian shooting gaping holes into people.

And perhaps that's the problem with this flick -- they didn't know what kind of film they were supposed to make. At least that's what McTiernan has said, in that wonderful state of way-after-the-fact retrospection (of course). He said the studio never made up its mind about what exactly Last Action Hero was supposed to *feel* like and that left McT with no clue whatsoever as to what tone to go with, so he basically ended up shooting a different movie with each scene, which I guess explains why the final product feels like such a fuckin' mess. 

What do you blame that shit on, the script? Or the lack of one? Maybe it's both. From what I understand, a couple of dudes sold a script titled Extremely Violent, and in typical Hollywood fashion, the Powers That Be loved it so much, that they hired a battalion of writers to completely change the fuckin' thing until it vaguely resembled the child everyone doted on at the beginning of this caper. Fuckin' Awesome Shane Black got most of the credit, and while there are many funny lines mixed in with the lame ones (Arnold mostly fucks up the latter with his accent), it still didn't help the flick enough. Perhaps they thought that since Last Action Hero didn't know the Good Movie song, maybe they can help fake it by hiring someone like Black or uncredited William Goldman to hum a few bars.

I don't know. Maybe McTiernan figured it would all work out in the end, since from what I understand, he started shooting Die Hard with something like 30 or 40 pages of script, while the rest was written and rewritten as they went along -- and that joint ended up playing like some precision-crafted Swiss clockwork. Many good movies are made that way -- but many bad ones are made that way too. This film, for example.

All I know is that Last Action Hero has a great premise -- movie geek pre-teen Danny Madigan joins his cinematic hero Jack Slater (played by my former governor) on-screen, with the help of a magical movie ticket that creates a portal allowing the Real World to connect with the Movie World -- and teases you for 130 minutes on how awesome this idea is going to be when it plays out. Except it never does, it just teases you, and not even a good kind of teasing, it's a lame kind of teasing, like a chick bragging about the new slut shoes she bought and how sexy she looks in them, yet never wears them in front of you. Don't think I forgot about that shit, Nadia. 

So Madigan finds himself getting into adventures with Slater; I found it interesting that the kid is more enamored with the character of Slater, rather than the actor who plays him. He doesn't give a shit about the actor. Speaking of actors, the supporting cast consists of an impressive line-up that would've been more impressive had this movie been made in 1986 -- F. Murray Abraham, Anthony Quinn, Art Carney, Michael V. Gazzo, Robert Prosky, Joan Plowright.

But there's also awesome motherfuckers like Tom Muthafuckin' Noonan as the axe-wielding Ripper, Charles Dance as the one-eyed sharpshooter Benedict, and Frank McRae as the angry, screaming Lieutenant (not to be confused with his performance from that same year's Loaded Weapon 1, where he played the angry, screaming Captain). Mercedes Ruehl plays Madigan's mom, and while she's a respected Oscar-winning/Tony-winning/Obie-winning actor, it still makes the hair on the back of my sweaty blubber neck stand up with the way she says " YOU cangotothemovies?"

Also, I think this was Bridgette Wilson-Tennis Pro's first film (playing Slater's daughter), and 13-year-old me was surely grateful for the introduction. I also dug how they did that bullshit overdone DADDY! welcoming shit, where Wilson's squealing and regressing into childhood (like she overdosed on puppies & rainbows) upon the sight of her father -- way too many movie daughters pull that shit on movie fathers, so that was cool that they were making fun of that oft-repeated moment in films. Or at least I hope they were making fun of it, and not partaking in that garbage. Calm down, girl -- all he did was bang your mom.

The main problem I had with this film was with the character of Madigan (the actor behind the role is good and non-annoying for a child actor); here's this kid who doesn't have the greatest life (Dad's dead, Mom's too busy putting food on the table, drug addicted creeps are breaking in to the apartment), and BOOM, now he's in the movie he was watching, partnered up with Jack Slater. Fuckin' awesome, right? Right. So then WHY OH WHY does he spend most of his time trying to convince everyone around him that this is all a movie? What does he fuckin' get out of that, or from weirding Slater out by constantly bringing up the magic ticket and how they're always on the verge of jumping through a movie screen into the real world? I mean, wouldn't you just go with the fuckin' flow and use your movie knowledge to your advantage in this situation?

Shit man, if I ended up with the magic ticket and found myself inside a Jason Statham movie, I'd be all like "OK, Jason -- you go own those motherfuckers, and I'll go bang Amy Smart!" and then we'd give each other one of those manly high-fives before taking off to complete our separate tasks. Or better yet, maybe go into a hot chick movie and hope they're into depressed overweight assholes. Most likely though, I'd jump into Dinner Rush or Big Night.

But I guess whoever was re-writing the pages that day was more interested in that whole Story Is Conflict deal, and wrongheadedly figured Hey, let's make the conflict about this kid trying to get the Action Hero to understand that this entire scenario is fictional. So instead, there's only the occasional hint of the kind of movie it could've been, like whenever Madigan geeks out on something cool Slater's about to do (or just did). But no, mostly it's just him trying to wet-blanket a dream situation that could've been the key to muthafuckin' paradise for a boy who loves movies.

It's frustrating because as big a failure as this film is, it still features glimmers of hope to torture you, like it really wanted to be a good movie but the evil movie god had already damned it to hell, Lamia-style. I mean, the action is still pretty fuckin' sweet -- exaggerated, baroque sequences that are both funny and Pretty Fuckin' Cool (and personally would be even cooler in a movie that takes it all dead serious) -- because this is John McTiernan directing, and he really was in my opinion one of the absolute best action filmmakers in the muthafuckin' world, people. I may not have faith in the human race or a Higher Power, but goddammit I still have faith that McT will come back Born Again Hard.

Watch Die Hard again, watch how he slyly uses the non-action moments as ways to introduce the geography of the location, that way when the shit eventually goes down, you know exactly where you are, where the good guy is, and where the bad guys are coming from. Notice how this bad muthafucka will even occasionally manage to make super badass exciting action sequences employing long, wide takes and minimal cuts (using quick whip-pans instead). Well, he still pulls off that sweet style here, while spicing it up with a freak-flag-flying technique of zooming the fuck into a shot -- regardless of whether that shit is still gonna be in focus or not -- and then cutting to a clear-crisp close-up of the subject in question. Although I did notice that Fuckin' Awesome Dean Semler was the cinematographer, and he used the same technique in The Three Musketeers starring The MaSheen, so maybe that was all him, I don't know.

If Last Action Hero was a 30-minute film comprised of only the action scenes, I'd say it was pretty fuckin' good. But instead we have 100 more minutes of missed opportunities, wasted time on bullshit, and poor excuses for lip service on things that are genuinely awesome. Instead we have a heartbreaking, frustrating-as-fuck failure as a motion picture. I will admit that it does have its amusing moments sprinkled in between long protracted gaps of Lame and the mercilessly few action scenes -- like the Rottweiler pyramid and the alternate Terminator 2: Judgment Day poster. It is not an entirely painful experience.

One of the silly-in-a-cool-way action sequences ends with Slater falling into the La Brea Tar Pits in slow-motion; in the foreground of the frame is an animatronic dinosaur, looming over the presumably Owned-By-Tar main character. It's like they knew, man, it's like the filmmakers fuckin' knew that they were composing the most representative image of what would become of Last Action Hero shortly after its release (a week after Jurassic Park, presumably to give the Spielberg flick one weekend of glory before finally stepping in and stomping its snakeskin boots all over the competition and taking its rightful place on the box office throne), and sure enough, it was like a self-fulfilling prophecy: Last or First, it didn't matter, this Action Hero was just another jabroni who missed his mark and drowned in sticky liquid death -- only in reality, it was red ink -- while the dinosaurs remained standing tall, proud, and very, very, very profitable.

I remember being super-hyped for this movie, and at school, I was more than happy to name this film alongside Jurassic Park, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and yes, Cliffhanger, as my Can't Wait To See 'Em summer movies for 1993 to my friends and teachers (even though they never asked, I told them anyway, stupid little chatterbox that I am). But even at that young age I inhaled as many movie publications as I could, and the reviews were all telling me that Last Action Hero was, like, the absolute worst fucking movie ever made. Word of mouth didn't help either; both a friend and a neighbor had told me how they walked out of it halfway through. Fuck, I thought, I guess I'm not gonna bother with this one, I'll just wait for pan-and-scan VHS. (I was still about 12 months away from saving enough cash for a Laserdisc player.)

When I finally went to rent the movie in January '94, I looked at the box and noticed that instead of using the awesome Struzan-esque poster art from the theatrical release, they used a lame close-up of Arnold Schwarzenegger holding up a gun that he never used in the actual movie, with some stupid nondescript explosion behind him. Man, you can tell Columbia Pictures was done with this fuckin' movie, after it failed to become the biggest movie of the summer, let alone the biggest movie of its opening weekend. Then I took the movie home, saw the fuckin' thing, and got very depressed when it was over. I didn't give it another chance until a couple years later on widescreen Laserdisc, hoping my opinion would change. It didn't.

Yet such is my sad life, that I bought a ticket to see this in 70mm -- and I can say now without any reservation, having seen it in the best possible format of its time, that this movie isn't good or OK. It's just fuckin' sad, that's the best way I can describe.

In addition to the action sequences, this joint also has the slight value of Shits & Giggles because it's very much an early 90's time capsule, not only in some of the song choices, but in the way this flick features cameos from celebrities who were not long for the megastar world -- Chevy Chase pre-talk show, Damon Wayans pre-Blankman, Jean-Claude Van Damme pre-the rest of the world turning into fuckin' snobs, and (M.C.) Hammer pre-banana hammock. This was definitely a fitting movie for them to appear in.

In conclusion, the entire audience tittered during the movie premiere scene, where the real Arnold Schwarzenegger was portrayed as a harmless boob under the over-control of his then-wife, Maria Shriver. Unfortunately, this print was missing the 90-second sequence where Arnold sneaks off to fuck the help -- because it added nothing to the plot, and besides, it's not like you can feature dueling accents grunting and moaning in ecstasy, that shit's too strong for a PG-13 movie.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where there was no love to be found

Hook was playing at the Aero Theatre in 70mm; I've never seen it, and 70mm FILM is an awesome thing, so I went.

The slightly-Goth gal at the ticket counter must've had a really good night or a bad morning or both, because she was soooo not in the mood to have some fat sweaty Latino stick out his debt-ridden credit card to her and ask for 1 ticket (please). It didn't matter if this fat fuck was using his Be Nice At The DMV-voice to assure her that he was, indeed, one of the good guys, one who understood. As far as she was concerned, I deserved the dagger-eyes and Go Fuck Yourself body language. She made this all very clear after handing me my ticket and immediately looking back down at nothing, without even a "Thank you" or fake job-smile. The older lady who took my ticket, on the other hand, was very nice. Because with advanced age, comes an understanding of Life -- not to mention a worldly confirmation to your soul that says You Are Not The Most Important Person In The World (Nobody Is, Except The Rich And Famous), so quit acting like a cunt who's been wronged by everyone and Be Decent to your fellow man, for Christ's sake.

So this flick, Hook, it's a Spielberg joint and I remember back in '91 this was, like, a huge fuckin' mega-extravaganza of stars and movie-magic. At least that's what I gathered from the never-ending onslaught of advertising for it. Anyway, for whatever reason, it never grabbed my fancy, let alone tickle it. It stars Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, and back then, those guys were money-making mega-stars; nowadays, they're still big names, only now they're the kind of big names that do better at the box office when matched up with other big names in an ensemble cast.

Williams plays one of those white-collar characters of High Position who is so busy being a fuckin' Boss, that he ends up fucking it up in the Family department. Hollywood loves making movies about guys like these -- successful suits who make big deals, working their asses off for the Corporation, treating the lowly underlings as human beings (meaning he's a Cool Boss) -- because the studio execs who read these scripts (well, they read the coverage from the lackey who read it for them, anyway) see themselves as that person, the best-case scenario of what they could only hope to be, rather than what they really are.

But rather than making themselves better people in real life, they greenlight these fuckin' movies and demand rewrites upon rewrites (to justify their position), and they believe that by having the character go through a grueling 3-act redemption, that somehow wipes the slate clean of both the sins of the main character AND them. As if watching Rich White Guys learning to become better people in a movie serves as a bona-fide act of self-flagellation for these motherfuckers: Ah yes, now everything is right again! Johnson, bring me a coffee with two sugars, a Sweet & Low, and half-a-Equal, served at slightly below scalding temperature. In a French demitasse from Tangiers. With a plastic spoon. From Target, not the 99 Cent store. And reschedule my sauna/cocaine session with Michael Bay for 2:34. Oh, and re-write my speech for the Hollywood Democratic Fundraiser I'm giving tonight, because I'm all about the working man. I was a working man, once -- I interned one summer at Orion, rather than stay with my folks in Martha's Vineyard. Go! Now, Johnson, now! GO NOW OR IT'S YOUR ASS!!!! I'LL THROW YOU AND YOUR FAMILY INTO THE FUCKIN' STREET!!!!!

So yeah, this movie. Williams was too busy showing off his cell phone holstering skills at the office to make it to his son's baseball game in time. The son (played by The Kid from Dick Tracy) is understandably upset by this, and demonstrates it by drawing a picture (during a flight to see his grandmother-in-law) of his father falling to his death in an ocean teeming with Mork-hungry sharks. After they arrive in England (where grandma Wendy lives), the old bird is disappointed to see that Williams is acting like some big-time studio executive; always on the cell phone, barely acknowledging his kids (except to scream at them).

It turns out that this Wendy broad is THE Wendy, as in, the Wendy from the Peter Pan story -- and not only is the story real, but it's none other than Robin Williams who was the real Pan. But you know how it is; first you spend your youth having fun with your boys, having food fights, experimenting with your sexuality by crossdressing in tights, and never growing old. But next thing you know, you fall in love with a chick and forget about your boys and suddenly it's 25 years later and you're rich & miserable, you got two kids, a wife who's keeping in better shape than your fat hairy ass, and you're like What Happened To My Life, I Used To Be Cool.

Meanwhile, in Never Never Land, Captain Hook (played by Rain Man) is still keeping it real. Sure, it's not so cool to be older and still playing the I'm Young game with your crew, but whatever, he's living his life the way he wants to live it. I guess Spielberg is using all this shit as a metaphor or whatever you'd fuckin' call this shit: You become an adult, do adult things, and accept adult responsibility -- or -- you stay single and immature and fuck around with your buddies, playing pirate, and hitting the nightclubs with your old ass (wearing an unconvincing wig to disguise your gray balding pate).

I guess Hook is missing his old nemesis and wants to relive the old times, so he has his boys break into grandma's house and jack the children while the rest of the family is out at some ceremony/function, where they're dedicating an orphanage wing or something to Wendy. After getting Detective Inspector Phil Collins on the case, Williams tries to chill out with some booze, but along comes Tinkerbell to try to convince him to become The Pan again, because the hooooooooook brings you baaaaaaaaack....

You know, that ceremony sequence I mentioned in the last paragraph? It's actually my favorite scene in the entire film; Williams is giving a treacly (yet sincere) speech about how awesome Wendy was for taking in so many orphans (himself included) and raising them, teaching them well, letting them lead the way and showing them all the beauty they possess inside, gimme some more crack Bobby, etc. It ends with all the orphans in the audience standing up and applauding their love for this old broad; most of them are pretty old themselves, and I'm sure they all live pretty respectable lives, which is why it's so touching to think that it all came out of this lady taking care of them, when no one else would. Biologically, she may not be their mother, but while they were in her care, she put most moms to shame. In any other film, this would've been the ending, some Mr. Holland's Opus kind-of shit, but in this joint, this happens in the first 30 minutes or so.

Which is why it's kind of a drag that the majority of the first act feels kinda....draggy. That scene is so awesome, but what preceded it and what follows it feels pretty lame. In fact, it's kinda funny that this film ultimately mirrors the Peter Banning character (that's Robin Williams to you); the more he finds out about who he used to be, the more fun the movie gets. Until he finally becomes The Pan (spoiler for a 20-year-old movie about Peter Fucking Pan) and the movie finally gets off the ground with some medium-level Good Times. But that also means that for the first half, this shit's almost as boring as the main character's non-Pan self.

Supposedly, Spielberg publically admitted defeat on the cinematic battleground with this joint, saying that he failed with Hook and that one of his mistakes was not allowing Robin Williams to get all Robin Williams in the movie. I don't know, man. I mean, the point of Banning not being funny for the first half (and some may argue the second half as well) is that he isn't the awesome fun-loving Peter Pan anymore. Shit, if you ask me, they should've just done what they've been doing with so many Peter Pan productions and had some chick play him. That would've been entertaining; get Meryl Streep or whoever was big in '91 to play Banning. Then when Banning goes all Pan again later in the film, it wouldn't look so fuckin' gay when he/she is prancing around in tights.

Calm down, people; by "gay", I mean no offense. I'm clearly referring to men having sex with other men.

I wouldn't say Spielberg failed, because from the second half on, Hook becomes a pleasant family adventure joint. You have amusing sequences like when the Lost Boys (and Ruf-i-ooooo!) fuckin' Eye Of The Tiger Banning back into prime Pan shape, or when Banning falls into the ocean and is saved by 3 hot mermaids who give him the Kiss of Life (the film cuts away before they take turns blowing him; being mermaids and all, that's pretty much all they can do sexually, aside from using their hands). The final battle on the pirate ship was fun to watch too, with the egg cannons and fat black kids who double as their own pirate-smooshing weapons (no pirate can withstand the power of the Rolling Fat Black Kid, except for the pirate known as Captain D.I.A. Betes).

You also have awesome old-school soundstage production design, old-school effects, and magical Dean Cundey anamorphic cinematography (this was a couple years before Spielberg's joints started getting Kaminski'd). John Williams' score is beautiful, which is a waste of a sentence because, c'mon, it's John Williams, of course that shit's gonna be tight. I also like that it's one of his scores that have a holiday feel to them, even though I don't think Hook takes place during Christmas, I'm not sure.

I also liked watching Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, all cute & pixie-like, back when she was the new girl in town, not the seasoned seen-it-all Lady Of A Certain Age that she is now. Apparently, her direction on this film was to just act like Julia Roberts With Wings, so here she's all cackles and smiles. Meanwhile, Eric Roberts was like, Muthafucka, I hooked her up with her first gig and now she won't return my fuckin' phone calls? (Then he'd take a hit of some sweet stress-relieving cheeba.)

Gwyneth Paltrow has a cameo in this, well, actually, no. It's not a cameo when you're not famous yet; at the time of Hook's production, she was just a girl struggling to make it in the business, working hard and starving while waiting for that One Big Break...and then she got it when Steven Spielberg picked her out of a sea of thousands of aspiring actresses -- haha, just kidding.


(I'm sorry, give me a second here to get over what I just wrote there about her.)


OK, where was I?

I saw this on a Sunday afternoon, and that's really the kind of flick it is: a Sunday afternoon adventure. Sure, it's no great shakes, but I guess decent Spielberg is like bad sex & pizza -- still pretty good (unless combined). But you can tell he was shooting for Classic status with this one, and when you're Steven Spielberg, anything less than Oscar-caliber is an outright disappointment (unless it makes record-breaking ducats like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, because taking a celluloid dump will always be justified/excused if said 35mm fecal matter makes boffo box-office. If decent Spielberg is like bad pizza, then bad Spielberg is like awesome pepperoni, yet no pizza to put it on. It really IS always about food for me).

Someone behind me was crying towards the end, and I figured that person was one of the many who grew up on this flick and had nothing but pleasant thoughts towards this movie over the past 20 years. I'm not hating, good for them, I wish I felt the same way; I'm sure if I caught this flick back when I should've caught it, I'd like it a whole lot more. But alas, I waited until now, in my bitter old age during a bitter old time on this bitter old planet and -- Jesus Christ, it's been 20 years?! TWENTY YEARS!

The print was good; there was the occasional scratch, grease-pencil mark, and skipped frame -- but it was still impressive in its overall seventy-millimeter-ness. See, this is part of why I'll miss Film when it's eventually liquidated by the studio Nazis from the Krakow Ghetto that is the revival circuit; sometimes, with the best prints, I'll lose myself for a second as I fall under a movie's spell and briefly -- too brief! -- I'll imagine that this is what it looked like/felt like to watch this film at the time of its release. Because it's in the same format it was presented in back in the day, right? So it might as well be 1991 when I saw this film, in a 70mm theater in Los Angeles, on a crisp December afternoon. Look, I don't know what the death clock is on 70mm, or if it's even ticking for it at all, the way it's currently ticking for 35mm, but who's to say that shit won't be next?

Anyway, the film ended and I ambled my pear-shaped mess of a body down the street over to Father's Office, where I gorged on sweet potato fries and their titular burger, while some English broad in the next seat stared at me, probably thinking to herself "Typical American". You shut your limey mouth, lady. Or I'll eat it. Because I'm hungry, you see -- I eat the burger, I eat the mouth, I eat every muthafuckin' thing.

Click here for the follow-up, if you're not already bored out of your fuckin' mind by this shit

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hiking with an attractive woman for weeks is tough, especially if she's not interested in you. Then you're just begging for some occasional privacy so you can let the poison out, otherwise you'll be too distracted by blue balls to enjoy nature.

I have a headache and should be getting some more sleep in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner a few hours from now, and I'll be damned if that's not a run-on sentence. But hey, pointing out a run-on sentence in this blog is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500, right Willard?

Anyway, for whatever reason, I'm not gonna get a few extra hours of hangover-killing rest, I'm gonna ramble about The Way, which is one of those low-budget labor-of-love deals -- this time it's Emilio Estevez doing things his own damn self -- but unlike other joints of its ilk, this one looks a hell of a lot more expensive because it was shot in the countrysides of France and Spain, and when you're dealing with God as a production designer, chances are that you're gonna get some quality settings. I've seen other flicks over the past couple days, but this was the first, and I only have time to ramble about one joint, so yeah, here you go.

Martin Sheen plays an ophthalmologist from Los Angeles, and one day he gets a phone call regarding his son (played by Emiliooooooo), and let's just say that Sheen's gonna have one less person to leave shit to in his will. Yeah, turns out his boy died in an accident over in the Pyrenees. What was he doing there? Oh, you know, pilgrimage and all that. He was walking the Camino de Santiago, and the route chosen for this film is a long hike from the land of rude people and great coffee, all the way over to the place where people speak Spanish with a lisp that is cute on women and odd on men. People go on this pilgrimage for various reasons (spiritual, travel, bragging); Emilio's was mostly good ol' There Are So Many Places Out There I Haven't Seen wanderlust.

So off goes Mr. Sheen, off to pick up his dead son -- and after a good night's sleep (or at least as good a night's sleep one can get while mourning the recent death of a loved one), he decides that he's gonna finish the Camino trek in his boy's place, while spreading recently-cremated Emilio ashes along the way -- I mean, The Way -- because if Emilio Estevez is gonna walk five hundred miles, then goddammit, Martin Sheen will walk five hundred more.

It's a road movie, but instead of burning rubber, the characters are beating feet; Sheen eventually groups up with 3 fellow travelers played by Deborah Kara Unger, some fat Dutchman, and the dad from Millions. The fat Dutchman is pulling a Dewey Oxburger, thinking this walk (which can take weeks to complete) will make him a lean, mean, pot-smoking machine in time for his brother's wedding; Dad-from-Millions is just some douchebag writer who thinks he can jot down his observations and make a book from it (unlike me, who just puts it in a blog), and Unger's character proves that even Canadians can be surly, sarcastic assholes. Surprisingly, they never run into Gwyneth Paltrow or the Harry Knowles of television chefs during this journey, which is weird, because I thought Paltrow was like Queen White Girl of Spain or something. 

This is seriously, to me, one of Martin Sheen's best performances, bar fuckin' none. The Academy most likely won't recognize it because they pay more attention to higher-profile fare featuring lots of drama queening and hamming up, which is too bad, because homeboy's performance is one of those awesomely understated deals that still manages to pack a punch. Whatever. I'm sure he'll get a Lifetime Achievement award. He better.

There's a scene about halfway through the film where his character has a bit too much to drink, and he fucks up by choosing that particular time to air his grievances regarding his Camino crew; it's a slow burn that eventually turns into a goddamn blaze, and the way Sheen plays it feels way too fuckin' real, as opposed to just some actor using the moment to turn it into an excuse for overacting. Considering Sheen's past with alcohol use (hell, just watch Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse to see it in real-life effect), his acting in that scene has more than a ring of truth to it -- it's a fuckin' gong of truth. The manner in which the Camino crew handle his outburst also felt realistic; with both body language and minimal dialogue they manage to tell this dude "You know, we understand that you're hurting, and you don't mean what you said, but for the next few hours, go fuck yourself, asshole."

The film itself is also surprisingly subtle as well, for the most part; Estevez's last couple of joints, The War at Home and Bobby were more Sirk-sian in how they were more than happy to tell you how you were supposed to feel during any particular scene, thanks to things like slow-motion montages set to classic tunes/dramatic compositions. The Way, on the other hand, is told in more of an objective -- rather than subjective -- style; I don't recall any dolly shots or tracking setups, and I'm pretty sure it was all handheld, even the static shots. The lighting is all natural (from either the sun or candlelight) and that, combined with the Super 16mm format, gives this joint more of a raw, documentary feel. I think half of the cast is comprised of non-actors who really live in the areas our heroes visit, which adds to the docu-feel of the proceedings.

The music score feels less emotional and more psychological, serving more to put you in the mindset of any particular character, and leaving how to feel about it up to your lazy ass. The songs are OK; I was never the biggest fan of Alanis Morissette's "Thank U", but considering that she did play God in a movie, maybe she's God in this movie too and the song is kinda like her narrating this shit -- a God who once sucked Dave Coulier's cock in a movie theater. I wonder what movie they were watching. Something Canadian, I bet.

It's a nice movie that gets its point across about spirituality and our inherent need to strengthen our virtues (while eliminating our flaws), without getting emotionally overwrought about it all. (For the record, I'm all for sappy shit, but only when it's done right.) Sure, there is drama, but it's never some overly done Movie kind of drama; like I mentioned before, it's that matter-of-fact style that still manages to keep a motherfucker very interested. I mean, shit man, it's about how a dude chooses to handle the death of his only son -- you really don't need to ladle extra syrup on these pancakes, you dig? You're watching a group of people walking this long journey, they meet some interesting people along the way, get to their destination, and that's it. Whether or not their lives turn for the better, well, that's not what the movie is interested in telling you.

In movies, people come out of these experiences with their worlds completely rocked, and it changes the way they live their lives. In real life, that's not always the case -- shit, it's rarely the case -- sometimes we just go back to living the way we've always lived. But hopefully, we've come out of it a little wiser about something -- anything -- maybe that's what the movie is saying. The ending kinda annoyed me at first, it felt a little movie-fake, but then a few hours later I managed to pull my head out of my ass, and on second thought, it makes plenty of sense for the character to uh, go that way.

Anyway, I dug this flick, it's a nice and thoughtful way to spend two hours, and it's definitely got me considering going on one of these pilgrimages. Backpacking's the shit, and I'd like to go once more into the European breach, where I can once again take in some nice sights, meet interesting people, and learn just how precious a hot shower and bed can become to a motherfucker. The only thing that would've made this movie better is maybe an appearance by Keith David and Dean Cameron, with their rent-a-cop hating, pizza delivering, french fry-protecting tomfooleries.

But, hey man -- Tcheky Karyo is in this mutha! That guy's awesome. That's how I'll close these thoughts on The Way, talking about Tcheky Muthafuckin' Karyo; so, this guy? Like I said, he's awesome. Took notice of him in La Femme Nikita, and have been taking notice of him since. One of my closest friends became even closer when I found out we shared a fondness for that French mofo; and nothing gets us happier than being given the opportunity to do our Tcheky Karyo impressions, well, aside from a pair of titties. But if you're ever hanging with us, be warned, folks: Never mention anything regarding the roasting of foods, lest we end up freaking you out by suddenly going "You know, the Chinese have the best roasting methods in the world -- BUT I PREFER THE FRENCH ONE!"

OK, I'm off. Happy Thanksgiving, lady and gentleman. Hug your loved ones. Eat. Watch movies. Enjoy life. And don't be a dick -- besides, that's my gig.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A fifth of that Black Jack, a 16 oz Coke

"What movie is this line for?" asked the older lady who had just walked up to me, and I told her it was for The Muppets, to which she responded "Huh?", and not in that I Didn't Hear You sort-of-way, but in that "Aren't you an adult?" kind of way. That's OK, though; I was not the only adult, in fact, the majority of this particular queue was old enough to buy alcohol legally. We were here because of a love for Jim Henson's creations -- and because we managed to get on the guest list.

You see, Jeremy Smith (aka Mr Beaks of AICN and Internet fame) set this screening up at The Grove in Los Angeles -- a nice place where you can look at people who most likely make more money than you -- and once inside the Pacific Theatres auditorium, Mr. Smith-Beaks asked us to indulge him as he led us in a Mahna-Mahna singalong, which reminded me of what I saw 20 minutes earlier: 3 men in the restroom singing a couple verses from Wham's "Last Christmas" while taking a piss (1 at the urinal, the other 2 in separate stalls). Because singing was involved in both instances, obviously. I didn't notice any dudes in the audience holding their dicks while singing Mahna-Mahna (and it wasn't for lack of looking, either).

Preceding the feature was a Toy Story Toon titled "Small Fry" and I don't know why I had the stones to doubt Pixar about this one, but I did; I figured this would be a cute time-filler and they probably got Tom Hanks' brother from Acts of Violence to do Woody's voice, as well as the relatives of all the other famous actors who worked on the trilogy to take over. But no, they got the whole fuckin' cast back together, they got Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, and even the guy who played Patricia Richardson's douchebag husband from that Tool Time show.

Because this was a Pixar joint, the motherfuckers behind-the-scenes put their usual 220% into telling this brief tale about Buzz Lightyear's visit to a fast-food joint. It's good stuff, and considering how goddamn perfect the last film ended, I'd prefer that the Toy Story adventures continue like this, rather than with another film; in addition to giving us a few minutes of Good Times, these shorts also serve as postcards informing the rest of us about how our guys are doing. They're doing well, by the way, thanks for asking.

So then The Muppets started, and in the opening scene we're introduced to a new Muppet named Walter. I once worked with a guy named Walter and he always felt a need to tell me stories of his many sexual conquests, each disgusting verbal image punctuated with "I was piping her, dawg! Piping her!" Anyway, the non-piping Walter is the younger brother of Jason Segel's character, and I guess Segel is a real mensch, because he doesn't give a shit that his mother obviously slept around one drunken night with a Muppet behind her husband's back, instead he treats Walter with the kind of love and respect that only a kind-hearted sibling can give. They do way too much stuff together, though, and if you disagree with me, then you're disagreeing with The Adorable Amy Adams.

Yeah man, she's in this movie too, and I think she may have gone a tad Method in going for the Miss Piggy parallels because she appears a tad bit heavier here, or maybe she was channeling her inner Cookie Monster before someone told her this was a Muppet movie, not Sesame Street. The extra weight is most likely a result of having given birth before production, and besides, this is The Adorable Amy Adams we're talking about, this only means that there's even more of her adorable self to find adorable. C'mon, this is Amy Adams, people. She's been in Leap Year and that Ben Stiller museum bullshit and I still haven't found her doing anything I'd put in the neighborhood of Wrong. She looks wonderfully fine, whether that's baby weight or nachos weight.

So yeah, Adams' character is also Segel's love interest and she's been incredibly accommodating, patient and gracious about his brother tagging along with them on every goddamn thing they do. Most recently, she's given the OK to Walter going with them on a 10-year-anniversary trip to Los Angeles, even though privately she wishes the fuckin' guy can take a solo trip while she and the Segs can have some two-way fun times. Well, she's in luck because shortly after they arrive in the city of shitty traffic and shittier parking, Walter does take a breather in Kermit the Frog's old office at the now rundown Muppet Studios -- where he fortunately overhears that bad Chris Cooper's plan to demolish the old Muppet Theater (because he's an evil oil magnate named Tex Richman and the location happens to be located on top of some prime vehicular go-juice).

What to do? I'll tell you what to do -- you go Electric Boogaloo on the motherfuckers and try to raise enough money (ten million dollars) to buy the theater back. So off they go -- Walter, The Adorable Amy Adams, and that Segal guy -- to convince Kermit to get the ol' Muppet gang together and stage a telethon with the singing and the dancing and the twisting and the kung-fu fiiiiiiighting. Deedle-deedle-dee-dee-do.

Let me talk about this Segel dude (who also co-wrote the screenplay); I've never seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall or that TV show where Neil Patrick Harris bangs women, so I'm not that up on the guy and his business and his talent or lack thereof. But I've seen him on Craig Ferguson and I've also seen him on Craig Ferguson's show, and he came off as very likable and funny. He seemed like a good dude, and fuck it, I'm saying he is a good dude, because in the end, he shepherded this project out of the Good Idea Barn and into the Pasture of Motherfuckin' Fruition -- and I apologize for writing such a stupid sentence in a blog already full of them.

When Segel and the Muppets try pitching the telethon to a high-powered TV exec (ah, Rashida Jones, the things you do to me), she counters back with charts showing them how irrelevant they are nowadays, telling them how Cynicism sells, not some fruity Muppets who are all about good feelings (one of the hit shows is something called "Punch Teacher", and that clip ends with a hilariously fucked-up off-screen line of dialogue).

That made me wonder how much of the studio exec dialogue came out of Segel's real-life pitch meetings, as he tried to get a new Muppet movie off the ground. The exec tells them that they need a big star to headline the telethon, and I'm sure that was the same shit Segel was told when it came to making The Muppets; in the film's case they got Amy Adams and some celebrity cameos (I was particularly fond of seeing Alan Arkin and Emily Blunt -- it's a Sunshine Cleaning reunion!), but for the telethon, I was less impressed and more amused by who they managed to get -- especially when you consider that there's someone in the Muppet Theater audience who can arguably be considered a bigger star at this particular point in time.

Some of the original Muppet crew (including that contentious muthafucka Frank Oz) have been vocal about not digging on this movie, and I guess the "fart shoes" gag might be part of the problem. Perhaps that kind of humor never made it to the Muppets back in the day, but I can't be too sure. Listen man, I haven't seen any of the other Muppet movies since I was in elementary school, so I can't compare this joint with The Muppet Movie or The Muppets Take Manhattan, because I honestly don't remember them all too well plot-wise.

But I must have part Robocop in me though, because while I can't really remember them, I can still *feel* them and this new one left me feeling just as happy -- if not more -- as the previous Muppet flicks made me feel, so that sounds like a class-A success to me. Even Walter felt like an old friend, even though this is his first barbecue. Also, the fart shoes gag is the only bathroom joke I can recall from the film, and it's not even that bad, it's really just an old-fashioned whoopie cushion gag, not twenty-seven Eddie Murphys in various stages of latex make-up and fat suits, unable to control themselves (to diminishing returns).

Anyway, the end result -- directed by some dude from Flight of the Conchords and featuring songs written by another dude from Flight of the Conchords -- is both a highly-entertaining family film (a family film that sneakily manages to feature a certain hit song by Cee Lo Green -- yes, I know they credit the clean version in the soundtrack, but you Just Fucking Know that Segel and company meant the other one) and a love letter to these goddamn Muppets, and it's absolutely brimming with Neo-Sincerity (while still having a sense-of-humor about certain accepted cliches, getting all meta on us). This is a film that wears its heart on its sleeve, one that embraces the ever-fading ideals of Kindness and Compassion, while insisting to the audience that the most important thing is to just fuckin' Try.

Man, to take that proud stance in a time where cynicism runs rampant and mean-spiritedness is disguised as being "cool", well that makes The Muppets pretty goddamn punk, if you ask me.

That tea & crumpet-eating mofo Martin Amis once wrote about the first time he saw E.T. The Extra Terrestrial; he said he was fuckin' bawling his British-novelist eyes out by the end of it. Then he noticed that the conveniently well-rounded group of people sitting to the left and right of him (Japanese businessman, black guy, punk rocker, mother -- they were only a construction worker away from singing YMCA) were also crying. He said that they weren't so much crying for the on-screen characters, as they were crying for their "lost selves". I was thinking of that while pulling an Amis by glancing for tears in the audience (there were a few). Me, I didn't cry; I was feeling the film, but not that deeply. Besides, I don't cry at movies, I'm a man -- I wait until I'm alone in the privacy of my own home to let that shit flow.

But yeah man, those E.T. tears, I believe, are the same kind of tears that also rolled down many a moviegoers' chubby cheeks during the first 15 minutes of Up and the last 15 minutes of Toy Story 3 -- the dreaded Growing Up Sucks A Dick But We Have To tears (aka Pixar Tears). An old man wakes up in bed without his wife, a teenager sighs as he sits alone in his car, a boy says goodbye to his alien father/brother surrogate -- sure, we know these are fictional characters in a fictional setting in a goddamn movie, but while the on-screen events are not real, the fuckin' brutal emotions they stir up in us (not to mention related past memories) are way too fuckin' real. Fuck you, Wistfulness! Goddamn you to Hell, Nostalgia! That's why we cry at fuckin' "cartoons", asshole hack comedian whose name I can't remember but will probably be famous someday on a sitcom that will last 10 years. That's why.

All right, fine -- that's why *I* cry at the fuckin' things.

So on that tip, you have The Muppets: a bunch of these cloth-skinned creatures philosophizing in song about the lovers and dreamers (and me!) who believe in dreams and illusions, despite the general factual consensus proving otherwise -- But you know what, man? Perhaps you're not alone in having these thoughts. Maybe we ALL have 'em! -- which is the kind of thing some of us want to hear in our old age, long after we reached the end of our formative years and had the curtain lifted, introducing us to the ugly, horrifying, crippling machine of despair, anguish, and hatred that is commonly referred to as The Real World (not to be confused with that MTV show featuring some nasty dude who shot snot rockets out of his nose and grossed out some raza dude with HIV by eating peanut butter with his nasty booger hands. Man, if I was Pedro, I'd have spit in that peanut butter and say "Try eating that shit now, ya fuckin' disgusting no-shower-taking, nose-picking, bike-riding, born insecure, rat-soup-eating MUTHAFUCKA!" ).

So on the tip of *that* tip, I will be very surprised if I find out that I was the only one in that theater who knew that men & women were really controlling and voicing the Muppets, and yet still chose to believe Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, Kristen Schaal, Animal, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, non-piping Walter, etc., were real. Because they sure as fuck were real when I was a kid. It's still real to me, dammit! I STILL BELIEVE!

It's a sweet film, and a very funny one at that; maybe not Pixar-quality, but fuck man, nobody's perfect. Besides, I'd have to see it again to make that judgment. As it is, it's definitely one of the better examples of the kind of family film that both the kids and adults will enjoy, and no one will feel like a complete schmo for buying a ticket to -- unless you are in fact, a schmo who refuses to enjoy awesome shit. Me, I couldn't stop smiling during it.

In conclusion, Amy Adams gets to eat a Pink's chili dog in the movie and that to me, is oceans of awesome to watch, and not in some sexual way, either. Don't get it twisted, peeps. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have another Me Party.


Hey man, let me tell you something that happens in the movie, and how fucked up it was to me. So the Muppets find Gonzo and try to convince him to do the show. He (it?) says no, because he has a successful business distributing bathroom fixtures and he's on his way to 1% Land, so off they go, disappointed. Because this is a movie, he changes his mind by the next scene, and to show his commitment, he blows up the warehouse containing his entire business. Which is fine for him, but what about the hundreds of loyal workers he just fucked out of a job? In this economy, no less. What a fuckin' asshole. WHAT A FUCKIN' ASSHOLE. That piece of shit, I never liked him, I never trusted him. For all I know, he had me set up and had my friend Angel Fernandez killed. But that's history. I'm here, he's not.

Oh, and they sing Starship's "We Built This City", which made me really uncomfortable because it reminded me of a rather unfortunate (and NSFW) soundalike I once caught on Sirius/XM. You've been warned.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chances of me not embarrassing myself yet again are...remote.

Click here for the first part of this badly-written bullshit.

People gathered in the lobby and were told once again by Aero volunteers about the present situation; the Aero people were told this street work was supposed to happen last weekend, so they complied and made sure to have everything done at the theater by the proper time. Except it wasn't supposed to be for last weekend, it's supposed to be this weekend -- and apparently while we were enjoying the first two films, things got pretty heated between The City & SoCal Edison and Grant & the Aeronauts, as each side fought, one to close the Aero down for the night, the other to keep it running; the police were contacted and even legal action (like, lawsuits & lawyers) was brought up. But unfortunately, nothing could be done because the Aero people were dealing with "cocksuckers". Someone in the crowd yelled "Occupy Aero!" and we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.

We were then told that we could return the following Saturday at 11pm (following their Verbinski'd screening of Rango) with our ticket stubs and catch the rest of the movies -- and perhaps because of Daylight Savings Time ending, we might even get an extra movie out of the deal. Just then, a man entered with a stack of pizzas, like he was delivering for the McCallisters or something; Feel free to help yourself to the rest of the snacks and coffee before leaving, they told us. The pizza was gone in a couple of minutes, and even those who scored had to survive a Japanese subway crush of people to get to it.

I went to my car and just as I was about to turn the ignition, I was hit with yet another pre-Beetis urge to take a piss, so I went back to the Aero to use their facilities. That move saved me some gas money and a follow-up trip to the Aero, because it turns out that the Horrorthon was going to continue as planned. I don't know what happened, but in the end, They were gonna let us have our movie marathon. One of the volunteers ran out into the sidewalk to try to get people back in and tell them everything was all good again.

I decided to grab a snack before going back to my seat, so I went to the lobby, and it was there that I spotted Phoebe the Dog's human, Ms. Lauren P. Henderson (of "New Adventures of Wonder Woman" fame). She's one of the 2 or 3 people who read this blog, and I foolishly decided to go up and give her my thanks -- because I'm genuinely appreciative of that kind of thing, and because I needed to remind myself why I shouldn't talk to new people. Sometimes you have to show people that you are indeed a badass motherfucker who is not to be trifled with, you gotta show these muthas that you are indeed Hard and a tough guy, and that is why I made sure to hold my chocolate chip mini-muffin in her direct sight as we talked (speaking of mini-muffins...). Because that's how gangstas roll -- clutching a chocolate chip mini-muffin like a fuckin' BOSS.

Considering how I handled myself during our brief chat, it was only fitting that the third movie of the night was The Pit, about a douchebag creepy creep creep who creeps out everyone else with his creepy douchebaggery and probably smells bad too. It was projected from a DVD, and at first, the movie's soundtrack consisted of some depressed Russian guy doing the dialogue for all the characters, but then someone switched it back to the original English audio.

Our main character, Creepy McCreeperson, has just entered puberty, adding to the fresh Clearasil, dirty socks, and sticky jism vibe. I'm perfectly fine judging him because we see enough of this dude to know he's off in a bad way; I'm usually sympathetic to characters with no friends, but not this one. He's just a fuckin' weirdo who stares at librarians through windows, doing some pre-Photoshop picture work by putting pictures of women he knows on top of photos of naked women, and various other pre-jerkoff-session shenanigans, and his parents are just putting up blinders to it all, probably because they're drunks (at least the mother gave me that vibe, like she had a shot or two before every scene). That's probably why they make the dumb choice of hiring a young shapely college student to babysit him, rather than some old bag he can't get all stiff in the pants over (and even then, who knows). You'd think they would know better.

The only friend Creepy has is a stuffed teddy bear (as opposed to an empty one), and fuck, I guess I can't fault him for that. Back when I was about 6 or 7, I was such a little girl that I asked my parents for a Teddy Ruxpin doll, because I saw some fuckin' commercial where a boy took it to school and all the kids were like OH WOW THIS GUY'S THE FUCKIN' MAN. Because my father is such a good person, rather than beat the fuck out of me until I started liking football (LIKE A MAN), he actually bought the doll for me and then I took the Teddy Ruxpin doll to school. God must've been giving half-a-shit that day, because in a gracious moment of mercy, He did not damn me to a long, sadistic day of mocking and alienation from my fellow classmates. Believe it or not, they were tripping out on the fuckin' thing.

But Creepy isn't so lucky; he gets shit on by the cool kid in his class and some Lucy from Peanuts/Harriet from Small Wonder type in his neighborhood. Even an old lady in a wheelchair is like Fuck You, Creepy, Outta My Face. They want nothing to do with him and whenever he gets too close, they either yell at him for being his creepy-ass self or punch him in his greasy face. Then he goes home and talks to his doll and writes loving messages on the bathroom mirror while his babysitter is trying to take a shower. Oh, and he also heads out to this fuckin' scary pit in the middle of the woods and talks to whatever is in there. He says they're "trolologs" or something, and every time he mentions them, a couple people in the audience would start to sing that Trololo song, and that was certainly a lot funnier than the fart sounds coming from the back corner of the theater during every film AND THEY ALWAYS GOT A LAUGH. ALWAYS. Evidently, you'll never go wrong with making haphazardly-placed fart sounds with your mouth during a film, never. I bet you that the guy responsible for those comic nuggets of gold went home content and satisfied with himself. Then he shat himself. Because I believe in happy endings.

Anyway, half of this movie would've made a good psycho-mystery about whether or not those creatures living in the pit are real, and not just a figment of his lonely, sexually-frustrated imagination -- except the filmmakers kinda give up their tell with the opening scene. I'm guessing it wasn't meant to open that way, with a scene we're gonna watch pretty much in its entirety later on anyway: Creepy shoving a bully into the pit to get promptly eaten by the Trololololololols. Oh yeah, didn't I tell you? They eat meat; at least that's what Creepy finds out after noticing how fussy they are with the chocolates he's been feeding them. Yup, homecreep eventually finds out that these creatures aren't godless vegan liberals, they love some good ol' red meat, and after trying to satisfy them with stew cuts from the local butcher shop, he's out of cash. Lucky for him, he does have a steady line of Bad People in the neighborhood, and if he can somehow get them to follow him to the woods....

This was such a weird and creepy movie, even the sense of humor is creepy. It's as if the movie was written and directed by the main character himself, like maybe he's telling his life story, and that's why we have such an askew sense of humor and a point-of-view that appears to favor the unsympathetic lead. In that way, it's very much like a Victor Salva film, only, you know, the director of this movie merely fed people to man-eating monsters, while Salva did...that other thing.

Having said that, The Pit was very entertaining; you just can't help but laugh at it all -- and the fucked up thing is that sometimes I found myself laughing with it. Also, I was very unnerved by the fact that not only did I not see the victims get eaten after falling in the pit with the Trolologs, I didn't hear them screaming either -- but you certainly heard some OM NOM NOM-ing going on. It's different from hearing people scream bloody murder as they're bloodily murdered and chomped on in other movies; perhaps the victims were in complete shock during that, and that's why they didn't make any noise. It certainly wasn't because the director didn't give a shit, he knew what he was pulling.

Later on in the film, after a particular character gets The Pit treatment, the film treats us to shock-cut inserts of jagged teeth clamping down on twitchy, bloody flesh and limbs. It's already bad enough that we're shocked by this sudden R-rated shit happening in what previously felt like a PG-rated joint -- it's even worse because it was happening to someone I certainly didn't want to see get treated like one of my daily Wendy's double combos. And to think, all of this shit could've been avoided if the fuckin' Internet was easily available back then -- Creepy would've been too busy spanking it to his Photoshopped porn, rambling in his movie blog, or chatting with like-minded creeps online to be fuckin' with some Trolologs.

The fourth film of the evening was Videodrome, directed by David Cronenberg (definitely on my list of Filmmakers Who Own The Fuck Out Of The Cinematic Arts). Man, what can I say about this film that hasn't already been said many times over! Goddamn, what a fuckin' movie. I'd like to think that the lack of asshole fart noises by the Panama Hat Group in the back corner was a sign of how much they were getting straight up Owned by this 87-minute exercise in 35mm Awesome. Or maybe they were too bored to bother and thought it sucked. Well, they're wrong -- it is they who are the sucky ones. 

James Woods is too badass to play a Canadian, but whatever, there he is, playing Toronto-residing motherfucker Max Renn; he runs a small-time television station that specializes in big-time titties. I guess those Canadians are too hardcore to be fazed by the programming, so Renn's out looking for some harder-core softcore. Well, he finds it in the form of a pirated broadcast called "Videodrome" that consists of people getting whipped, beaten and killed. Soon, Renn finds himself really getting into all this staged snuff that is obviously fake -- or is it? DUN DUN DUN.

Deborah Harry plays this chick who hosts a radio show, and after appearing on a talk show with Renn, they hit it off and BAM -- she's cutting herself and putting out cigarettes on her tit in front of him. She didn't even wait until the third date to introduce that shit. She's into the rough stuff, and after watching Videodrome, she decides that she has to be on that fuckin' show. She knows what she wants, this one; if she wants to get on a television show where people get whipped to shit and strangled to death, fine. If she wants to have James Woods stick needles through her earlobes, okay. But I draw the line at her only using one side of her headphones while working the radio show -- it's a call-in show, not some fuckin' DJ turntable-spinner hour. Use both of the motherfuckers.

There's this other character named Brian O'Blivion, and I'm assuming he's kinda based on that Canuck fuck from Annie Hall who told that asshole in the movie theater to stop acting like he knows him. Because some of the stuff they talk about in Videodrome is similar to the stuff he wrote about in real life. Anyway, it's kinda cool to watch this guy (and that McLuhan motherfucker) talk all this mad shit about television being the retina to the mind's eye, like it's part of our fuckin' being. Because it's not so far off from what ended up happening in real life -- only it wasn't the television screen that we fuckin' melded with, it's computers. We're practically 24/7 hooked into our laptops, iPads, and iPhones. It's gotten to the point that we get all fucked up and discombobulated if we leave home without any of that shit. You'd think we left the house without our pants on -- no motherfucker, it's just a phone, you'll get by.

We've created avatars and new identities online ("O'Blivion was not the name I was born with...soon all of us will have special names"); and some poor bastards even find themselves pulling a total fuckin' O'Blivion by only communicating through the Interwebs -- where it really matters, as opposed to human interaction. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook. OK fine, some of them create blogs too.

The shit's Criterion status, so like I said, EVERYONE has written/spoken about this tight flick. I feel I can't add anything to this, I can't continue beating a dead horse in honor of this fuckin' awesome movie. Plus, part of the fun is in just watching this story unfold and boggle your shit up something awful while you pretty much experience the same mindfuckery that Woods' character is going through. Cronenberg's relentless and downright cruel in the way he Just Doesn't Give A Fuck about how you're taking this all in, because you're taking it, bitch -- all of it.

It would be interesting to see how you'd update this film in remake-happy Hollywood nowadays (please don't, though); VHS and Betamax would have to be replaced by...DVD and Blu-rays? Shit, those are physical mediums, even those motherfuckers are halfway out the fuckin' door in 2011. It'd be tough to go digital with Videodrome. Would it even work out without the twisted sight of a slimy, fleshy, pulsating cassette being jammed into a dude's chest vagina? Yeah, you heard me: Chest Vagina. And that shit pales in comparison to the fuckin' skin-covered bionic gun that fires CANCER BULLETS at people. Just typing those words gives me the shivers. I'd rather get shot by Wildey any fuckin' day of the week.

I take it back; Canadians are too hardcore sometimes -- Cronenberg, specifically. I guess when you live in a country where basic health care is free, you don't worry as much about how you're gonna pay for that shit. So, as a result of having nothing to worry about, you find yourself with plenty of time to entertain crazy thoughts of guns that fire bullets that create instant tumors in your body. Goddamn, Canada. Fuck you and your poutine. 

Oh, and that Jamaican eye doctor is, like, one of the best movie characters ever -- and he's only in the movie for ten seconds. He's got that strange foreign-tinged way of speaking that leaves a motherfucker confused whether this guy is being laid-back & funny or straight-up passive-aggressive towards your ass.

Film number five was Alice Sweet Alice (originally titled Communion, but the Aero's print was titled Holy Terror), starring Brooke Shields, or at least that's how they've always sold it, when in reality she's only in the first 15 minutes or so. Our Brooke plays a sweet girl named Karen, and life isn't so easy for her because she has a terrible sister played by that rhythm box chick from Liquid Sky. So it's Karen's First Communion, or at least that was the idea, because instead Karen ends up getting murdered by someone in a raincoat and mask, and since Rhythm Box Chick also happens to enjoy wearing a raincoat and mask while being a douche, well, I guess that narrows it down for us, suspect-wise.

God, there are so many punchable faces in this flick -- or maybe it's not so much the faces as it's the extreme angles used when framing the faces. It's probably a little of both; I mean, they cast this painfully obese gentleman in the role of a disgusting piece-of-shit kid-toucher type. Motherfucker is plopped down on his bed or couch, eating what is either tuna or cat food from the can, and he has huge stains on the crotch of his pants. Such is his grossness, that piss stains would the best case scenario as to what's going on down there. But it's not just that, it's also the voices and whining and screaming all throughout. They don't necessarily do anything particularly annoying, they just fuckin' are -- they have the Annoying aura about them.

Which is too bad, because this is, for the most part, a well-made film (albeit a little too slow at times) with some definite Hitchcock influences in the camera work; My favorite scene takes place in an abandoned building, it's suspenseful and all that, and it ends with an inventive angle that makes me wonder if Sam Raimi ever caught this flick back in the day. The overall giallo-ish feel reminded me of something like Don't Torture A Duckling, only this distant cousin of a film would be titled Don't Act Like A Whore or something, only with way too much dumb crying by yentas and ineffectual men who might as well toss their balls into the collection plate next Sunday.

Because of shit like that, I couldn't help but laugh most of the time. Or who knows, maybe it was just the early morning hour and free M&M-induced sugar crash getting to me. Perhaps I'll give it another day in court sometime in the future, I don't know. All I know is that a scene where someone gets stabbed a bunch of times -- with scary Stabby Stab Stab music -- probably shouldn't be as hilarious as it came off here. Hey, maybe that's why the director went on to make the slasher spoof Pandemonium; some executive watched bits & pieces of this movie and figured Alfred Sole was the guy for the job, having already made a pretty funny murder joint. 

As the sun began to rise, we watched our final film of this year's horrorthon: Just Before Dawn (the extended U.K. cut), directed by Jeff Lieberman, the guy behind Blue Sunshine (which I really dug) and Squirm (one of the rare MST3K'd movies that was actually pretty good). Here you have that bad Gregg Henry driving into the mountains with his bud Jack Lemmon's Son, a couple of special lady-friends, and a fifth wheel dork (the kind of guy the other ladies probably call "harmless"). Henry's character owns some land up there and they're gonna go camping, which again makes me bring up the fifth wheel guy; WHY would you go on a camping trip with two couples, and WHY would two couples want to invite a single dude? Sounds pretty sadistic, if you ask me. They just want to torture the poor guy while they get hot & heavy in front of him. Man, I thought you were his friends.

It's cool though, because in comes Chattanooga Choo Choo's own George Kennedy with his burly borderline-albino ass. He's the park ranger in these here parts, and he pretty much tells them to go back to fuckin' Starbucks -- oh wait, they didn't have Starbucks back in 1981 -- I mean, go back to fuckin' Chock Full o'Nuts and forget all about camping out here, because the wilderness is an arena for Men, not a group of high-school characters with post-collegiate haircuts. They don't listen.

See, maybe if Gregg Henry and Jack Lemmon's Son watched the first five minutes of this film, they'd understand. But they didn't, so they have no image of some poor hunter getting a machete through the dick to use as a frame of reference for what they're dealing with. And what are they dealing with? Some guy who looks like an evil, mutated version of Damon Packard's character from Reflections of Evil and acts like a crazed, inbred mountain man with a thirst for blood. Probably because he *is* a crazed, inbred mountain man with a thirst for blood.

You know, I just realized that of all the films to pick from George Kennedy's wide body of work a couple paragraphs ago, the first one that popped into my head was fuckin' Chattanooga Choo Choo. What the fuck.

Anyway, I liked this one. It's considered a slasher movie, but it felt a lot more like Deliverance or Southern Comfort to me, making this joint a solid entry in the Stay Away From The Green Ghetto sub-genre. It's got a couple of good scares mixed in with all the tense shit going on, and I liked how Brad Fiedel's score was hardly used; instead the filmmakers went with the psychological approach by having the majority of the soundtrack taken up by the sounds of nature, rather than the expected emotion-manipulating Run Run Run Kill Kill Kill music. It's been almost a week, so my memory is hazy, but I don't remember there being much blood in the entire film, with the obvious exception of the opening scene crotch-stab. I also dug how even though the characters are the usual slasher movie types -- Alpha Male, Party Guy, Easy Chick, Demure Final Girl, Nerd -- they're not as paper-thin as their labels might suggest.

You have these city kids showing up with their RV and their loud music, and one of them thinks it's all good because he has a piece of paper that says he owns the land, but that doesn't mean a goddamn thing. Ownership or not, this place ain't their backyard; they're just visitors, and they're not only dealing with Crazy Inbred Mountain Man, but with your usual nutty backwoods family as well -- I'm talking a family comprised of cousin/wives and daughter/cousins -- and they don't give a shit what that document says. Probably because they can't even read what the fuck it says. But I bet that even if they could read it, they still wouldn't give a fuck.

And so, the 6th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon came to a close. We got up, stretched, and stuffed our pockets with what remained of the mini-muffins and Worx Energy shots on the table in the lobby -- and by We, I mean Me, of course. Then I went home and talked to my Teddy Ruxpin had sex with a bunch of chicks. Yeah, that's it.

By the way, the Aero went on to re-schedule the last 3 films of the Horrorthon, along with Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Those with ticket stubs from last Saturday can return on 11/5 (that's today!) and enjoy the flicks they missed out on (or re-watch them); those who don't have stubs will only need to pony up $10 to attend the 4-movie event. Me, I'm too busy with the aforementioned Teddy Ruxpin chicks.