Sunday, March 2, 2014

No Oscar for Pale Redheads

Fuck the dark -- Character is what you are on the Internet. Which is probably why you find yourself so moody, disliking human beings more and more each passing day with every new Tweet, comment, or blog post (including this one). Especially the celebrities. It gets to where you consider becoming a cannibal just for the possibility of meeting one of these jerks followed by the eventual pleasure of flushing him or her down the toilet.

You wonder if you are becoming a Hater but that can't really be the case, especially on the eve of the Oscar ceremony. By your watch, it's only a few minutes to the Oscar telecast, yet you're not exactly excited for it. You used to get excited, though. You used to love the Oscars in all its masturbatory glory, but somewhere along the way, it stopped being the Super Bowl for you (or Gay Super Bowl as the truly humorous like to call it). You knew fairly early that it's all politics and ass-kissing and who went to the most Academy old folks homes to brighten some dying day players afternoon with the most fake sincerity, rather than, you know, being the best at your job. But you were a sucker for it. For a while, anyway.

Other factors began to factor into your not-so-much-enjoying-it anymore. Along with cynicism and age, came a creeping ever-growing fear -- the fear that if you stop running/stop hustling, and take even a millisecond to look over your shoulder, you will find the immense dark spectre known as Quiet Desperation literally an inch away from you, practically hovering over you now, like a tidal wave of Fail ready to crash down. You know not to acknowledge it, because that's all the darkness needs to swallow you whole and do to your inner soul what The Blob or the Sarlaac do to flesh and bone, only it will do it for a much longer period of time -- as in the rest of your fucking life (or a thousand years, whichever comes first).

Plus, half of the people they choose to host the fuckin' thing, you just want to judo chop their throats.

But on the other hand, Amy Adams is nominated again! Yay! Hello, sir. Hello, ma'am. Thanks for stopping by. I'm going to ramble about a couple Oscar-nominated films The Adorable Amy Adams recently appeared in while kinda/sorta watching the Oscars. I'm going to ramble about them because once I start on a running gag based on a sincere appreciation of someone, I see it through to the end, baby. Plus, I watched them again recently thanks to a couple of borrowed screeners and I can't do the Oscars with my 100-percent attention and/or sober anymore.

I'll start off with Her, the latest Spike Jonze joint. The film takes place in the not-too-distant future (next Sunday, A.D.) where the world is heavily populated but technology has made it so that we don't really have to reach out and make connections with our fellow humans. Shit, you don't even have to write directly to people you already know, you can have someone else write letters or birthday cards or anything else stationary related and send them out.

That's the job of Joaquin Phoenix's character, playing a high-pants-wearing motherfucker named Theodore, who actually makes a living taking the simple act of writing to a loved one and turning it into a more complicated deal; he dictates the message to a computer, which then prints out the words in the client's handwriting, and it looks like the message gets printed out and mailed out old-school style, even though I'm sure the recipient has to be a little suspicious that it was someone else who wrote it. I'm sure this service is fairly popular, taking what Hallmark does and moving it up to the next level.

It's really how it is nowadays, isn't it? Simple stuff taken for granted has been improved yet made more fragile and complicated. It used to be that I could take a book off a shelf and read it. Now I have to keep up with the techno-Joneses by having all my literature on a fuckin' tablet. Sure I save space but God forbid my shit's not charged up. And if I spill my booze on it, oops, I better dry that shit up quick, lest I lose all my shit and then I have to go make a bigger ass of myself at the fuckin' Genius Bar where the guy behind the counter acts friendly but I know he's really thinking "Listen, you fuckin' Mexican..."

Speaking of which -- donde estan mi gente? This film takes place in a future filled with so many buildings and people, yet very clean and positive, like a Canadian version of a Mega City. But Latinos apparently don't exist here. "Then who occupies this wonderful utopia?", you ask. Well, it's all clean hard-working Anglos with the occasional sprinkle of those wily Asians. What is this, fuckin' Blade Runner? No, it's Shanghai, where quite a bit of the film was shot. But it was also shot in Los Angeles, so you know fuckin' Jonze could've thrown in a few busboys or cholos or whatever passes muster with Hollywood casting agents, but chose not to. Why? I don't know. He probably got knocked off his skateboard as a child by raza once and won't let it go, fuckin' rich boy asshole.

I know to most of you a future with no brown around sounds awesome, but get this, it's even more awesome because like I mentioned earlier, no one really needs human contact anymore. You need an assistant/best friend/lover? Hook your shit up with the newest OS that features some badass artificial intelligence that among many settings includes the former Mrs. Ryan Reynolds as your Girl Friday. That's what Phoenix chooses, and because our lead is currently recovering from a failed marriage and hasn't had the best of luck in the dating scene, soon he and his super-Siri "Samantha" fall in looooove and that's what the movie's about.

I liked Her; it's a sweet movie and has a lot to say about the fragility of relationships and using technology to overcome loneliness (or at least the hint of a threat of loneliness). If it's not those fuckin' dictated letters or cyber sex with chicks into freaky shit that doesn't get you off, it's people having hands-free conversations with their OS in public and no one bats an eye at 'em because the concept of crazy people talking to themselves is practically a quaint memory now, along with milkmen and quality American-made products. I mean, it's really no different from today with people Tweeting/Facebook status updating everything just so they can ensure that the experience has been shared with someone else, like enjoying something by yourself doesn't count or something. Which, I will agree, can really fuckin' feel that way sometimes. I once made an even bigger ass of myself than usual about it.


What I dug most about it (aside from You Know Who) was that Jonze, for all his rich-boy Jackass-playing visual smart-asseries, has a very sincere and non-snarky/non-cynical view about it all. It's like he cares about everyone in this film in one way or another and isn't judgmental about them in any way -- which I guess gives him an extra point over ex-wife Sofia Coppola, if you were to believe what she denies. I mean, she can say otherwise all she wants, but there seems to be at least a little ax-grinding with at least a couple of the characters in Lost in Translation, not to mention a minute scosche of Tee Hee Hee Japs Be Funnay. Meanwhile in Her-ville, the hidden subtext running throughout could be interpreted as I'm Sorry I Wasn't A Better Husband And I Hope We Find Happiness In Our Separate Lives, Also I Liked The Bling Ring.

My favorite moment of the film, and probably the most telling of the inner workings of Adam Spiegel is far into the running time: Phoenix puts on his little earpiece so he can start talking to his artificial sweetheart, only he can't find her. She's offline or out of range or some shit. He freaks out, trying again and again, to no avail. Eventually, he dashes out of the building, and through the Hispanic-less streets of future L.A. trying to find a signal somewhere, anywhere. As he runs around like a cyber chicken with its head disconnected from its main frame, he ends tripping over himself and falls down right there on the pavement. Immediately, the people around him, who up until then were ear/eye deep into their own earpieces and smartphones, or just minding their own business, run up to help him. Jonze has a positive attitude on human beings, I thought to myself. Tech'd out or not, the human connection will always be there, somewhere.

That kind of sentiment is heartwarming, especially nowadays with my faith in humans now neck-and-neck with my faith in a higher power. I would've sooner believed that at least one of those guys would start recording that shit, his cock rock-hard at the possibility of a major view count on his YouTube channel or massive Likes & LOLs on his Facebook account. I'm reminded of something Paul Thomas Anderson once said somewhere, about walking out of a donut shop early one morning and finding a woman sitting in her car, crying while singing out loud. The way he talked about it, it sounded like he was worried for her and hoped she felt better. Lucky for her it was him and it was the mid-to-late 90s and not some other asshole in the 21st Century because her weak moment would've Mos Def become many others' highlight of their workday, know what I mean?

I don't get it. Like the other day I saw a prank video on television where these cunts would fool people into thinking a baby just got crushed in its carriage. They all freaked out and ran over to help and then these sadistic pieces of shit would laugh in their face all HAW HAW MADE YOU CARE. Some of these people looked really fucked up about it, like borderline heart attack bad. Had I been one of the fooled, I know how I'd react. Knowing me, after the confusion goes away and the prank revealed, I'd probably get a little choked up by the overwhelming mix of emotions within me. Then, because I'm a man, I'd stuff the tears back inside before they go public and laugh along with the prankster. Then I'd grab something large and bash the fuck's head open Irreversible style until the prankster's death spasms ceased and the urine/fecal tinged scent of Finality filled the air, then I'd take this asshole's iPhone and take a snapshot of the cherry pie/broken candles mixture that used to be his head and forward it to his parents along with a caption reading "Do a better job the next time you decide to shit another one of these out."

This is why I rarely leave the house, by the way.

So. The Adorable Amy Adams plays Theodore's best friend, The Adorable Amy. We never get her last name, but she might as well be Alternate Universe Amy Adams here. Instead of charming audiences everywhere with her awesomeness, in this universe she makes video games for a living but her real passion is in documentary filmmaking. She lives in the same building as Theodore and she pops up in the film every once in a while, usually with her husband. Amy does a great job as Amy, inhabiting her character with a lived-in quality that made me recognize various elements and behaviors that I've seen in other people, rather than the usual overly quirky or overly quippy bullshit you see come from Female Best Friends In Film and thank the fuck Christ that she has nothing resembling Manic or Pixie.

I liked the interplay between her and Phoenix, especially after seeing them in a completely different relationship between them in The Master. I totally bought them as good friends, and I liked how the dynamic between them is that he's always a bit more serious than her and she'll occasionally bust his balls in the way that friends do to each other, even though behind her side of the conversation is an undercurrent of genuine concern for the emotional well-being of her buddy. And while she is but a side character in this Joaquin-centric story, you get the sense that she has own shit to deal with -- like we all have our own shit to deal with -- and she can't always be checking in on the homie, you know?

Another break, another 2nd glass of wine, another bathroom break. OK, I'm back. The magic of the written word, ya'll. Jonah Hill didn't win. The Oscars are A-OK with me as of now.

Anyway, I've heard people call Adams' character "dowdy" or "plain" or even "ugly" but I honestly feel she just looks real (more like real adorable -- AWWW). She's a busy working gal who dresses (and hair dresses) for comfort, not to make all the other men and lesbian woman go I WANT THAT. So quiet down about that shit, gang. Who's to say that she doesn't clean up spectacularly when she goes out, hell she'd probably look not too dissimilar from her character in the next film...

I wonder if Martin Scorsese has seen American Hustle. If he has, I bet you his reaction was probably like that scene in Single White Female where Bridget Fonda gets creeped the fuck out by Jennifer Jason Leigh's attempt to look like her. It would make a pretty good double-feature with fellow bizarro Scorsese flick Blow, is what I'm saying. I've seen the names Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder thrown around as well, but I didn't get that vibe at all. To me, the camera work, editing, sound design, soundtrack, use of voiceover, the angry/awkward arguments between competent husband and harpy wife, all of that shit screams I Heart Scorsese. But it's not directed by Marty S., it's David O. with another one of his films filled with loud and mostly unpleasant characters. Fortunately, I like his films, even if I think the director's a twat. I liked this film too.

The film starts out with Christian Bale doing a great impression of me, with his fat fuckin' gut squeezed into a dress shirt and spending forever making his bald-ass head look like it still has hair. You in-shape hair-having motherfuckers don't know how easy you have it, with your thick hair and thin stomachs. But Bale's character is like the better version of me because despite his visual inadequacies, ol' Light Trasher here still managed to score not only an Amy Adams-looking lady, but one in prime hotness. More on that later.

So Bale is a scumbag con artist named Irving, and we're supposed to be cool with his ripoff games because his father was a hard worker who got screwed. Come to think of it, that's actually a pretty good reason to go the dishonest way. If the news -- and I mean the news for the past 50-100 years -- is any indication, dishonesty is the way to go, bro. Make that fuckin' money and if you have to betray the confidence of your fellow man to do it...well....what's the problem here? I don't see a problem, unless the problem is that you're not making any money. Then that's a big fuckin' problem.

Adams plays his chick, Sydney, who tried making bucks the straight & narrow way before reinventing herself as some English bird with a Kevin Costner-style British accent. Yeah, it wavers but that's OK because her accent is supposed to be shaky, or at least that's what I will tell you while slapping you senseless for even entertaining the idea that maybe Ms. Adams' strengths in acting do not include foreign accents. *slap, backhand slap* How DARE you, sir!

Anyway, she hooks up with Irving and everything is going great -- or as great as things can go for a dude who's still married with a kid -- until Bradley Cooper shows up, which sounds about right because Bradley Cooper always ruins everything with his handsome face and charming personality, the bastard. With his perm, Cooper's character Richie looks like some vaguely Middle Eastern ethnic you'd find at a discotheque wearing tight pants to enhance his bulge, but he's really an eye-tie FBI agent in search of a career-making bust.

Because The Wolf of Wall Street is too harsh and Gravity is too Mexican, this flick has a good chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture, which wouldn't bother me except I don't think American Hustle is worthy of it. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid joint that's never less than entertaining and featuring great performances by literally everyone in the fuckin' cast. Everyone, even the extras are fucking killing it. There are no small roles here, just brief running times for certain parts. Off the top of my head, I thought whoever played Cooper's mom had a borderline heartbreaking moment where she just has these sad-as-sad-can-be eyes while he's assuring her (but really assuring himself) that he's gonna go places.

It just doesn't give me the Best Picture vibe, that's all. But what do I know? I thought Inside Llewyn Davis, Leo Snorts Off/Blows Into A Girl's Asshole, and the 90-Minute Panic Attack Starring Sandra Bullock were far more worthy of the golden statue, and one of them wasn't even fuckin' nominated for the big prize. I also think this photo here is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. See, people, these are my tastes. Different strokes and all that, you know? It's still a while before they announce the winner. Eh, they'll probably give it to 12 Years a Slave, because it's a strong film about an incredibly important subject. And because Obama.

I've read some comments online from people who feel the same way I do the Hustle, except then they knock on O. Russell, saying that his Scorsese-ish direction exposes our fearless Clooney fighter as some kind of hack to which I say Bullshit. Sure, he may have approached the visual/aurals on this bitch that way, but all the back-and-forth between all the characters here scream Russell. I understand his style -- at least for his last couple films -- is to do a lot of rewriting and improv on the set, even throwing new lines at the actors during scenes. So you can say what you want about the style of the film, but the content is all David O., baby, and while the story may be kinda/sorta based on a true story that happened here on Planet Earth, the characters in the film are all from the Planet David O. Russell.

I think Cooper's character is the most D.O.R.-ish of the crowd, because he's a pushy bully who apparently doesn't really understand that he's a pushy bully, especially the way he fucks with his superior, played by talented fuck Louis CK. It reminds me of the story about O. Russell going up to Christopher Nolan and putting him in a serious headlock because Nolan wanted to use one of his actors for The Prestige. Just because Nolan made Batman doesn't make him Batman, so he was helpless against rager Russell's violence.

I bet he apologized to Nolan immediately after fucking his shit up, just like Cooper does to a couple people during this flick. This is not how normal people act, David. Crazy people act like that. Which I guess explains why O. Russell was trying so hard with Silver Linings Playbook to tell us that crazies are people too (ESPECIALLY MY SON, YOU BASTARDS!!!), so rather than act with alarm, we should be charmed by obnoxious behavior caused by mixed wires in the head. Ah phooey, you fuck! Quit trying to justify your fucked up behavior by having the characters in your film act the same way. Got it? Now go tell Nolan you're sorry.

So obviously, O. Russell has lots of sympathy and empathy for the main characters, even if they're kinda like assholes -- but he does a good job at convincing the audience (me) that they're deserving of it. I mean, for all of Cooper's assholishness, I can totally feel where he's coming from, as well as Adams' character. They're not content with their current square in the game of life, they want more. In the case of Cooper, accomplishing this goal involves pulling off this big Abscam bust he's working on. In the case of Adams, it involves reinventing herself completely and always pretending she's someone else. I liked that shared dynamic, probably because when it comes to not being happy with who you are while trying to be someone else, not only have I heard that song before but I can sing it to you note-for-note perfect.

Speaking of sympathy and empathy, my favorite character not played by Amy Adams is Mayor Carmine Something-or-other, portrayed by Jeremy Renner from Dahmer. Did you ever see that film? It's pretty good, but thinking of that movie reminds me of a girl I once knew who told me that she saw it something like 4 or 5 times at the movie theater, this film about a serial killer who brought dudes home to kill/rape/eat them. (I guess that makes me the Jeffrey Dahmer of fast food.)

At this moment, I'm one wine bottle down and an hour into the Oscar telecast and I have three things to say about it -- one, Ellen Degeneres is officially an Oscar host I do not wish to judo chop in the throat, and two, Amy Adams was caught looking down at something (her phone is my best guess) while Tyler Perry droned on and on and on about how the Best Picture nominees will change the world and all that shit. Our gal Amy does not give a shit about that Madea bullshit. I further approve of our lady.

Anyway, Carmine is the mayor of Camden, NJ and he seems like a cool dude to hang out with, singing popular guido tunes all night and then taking you out for breakfast, but he's not some asshole either, which you would assume because of his being in office. Carmine really believes in his town and wants the best for his people. That's why he gets mixed up in all the Irving/Sydney/Richie shenanigans, causing me to shake my head and wish for his character to get the fuck out of this movie because he's such a good dude with good intentions. Watching his particular tale unfold was like watching a car crash in slow-mo with someone you really like sitting in the death seat.

But on the complete opposite end of the Sympathy/Empathy scale, you have Jennifer Lawrence's character as Bale's killer shrew of a wife. If this broad hooked up with Sharon Stone's character from Casino, they'd leave behind a trail of broken-hearted/stupid moronic asshole men from here to Timbuk-fuckin-tu. I gotta tell you, man, I've never been one for wife beating, especially in real life, but at one point in this movie, I used all my mind energy trying to conjure up Lawrence Fishburne as Ike Turner into the proceedings so he could give Katniss the boot treatment. Man oh man, it got to where I wanted to scream out loud while punching every wall in the world -- and I say this as someone who is rather fond of Ms. Lawrence.

But enough of that unpleasantness, let's talk about something absolutely pleasant, like how without warning The Adorable Amy Adams turned into The Incredibly Fuckable Amy Adams all of a sudden. I feel like Marty McFly's brother post-car wreck: When the hell did this happen?! I am not complaining, good sir and madam. No, not at all. She looks very good here, and the 70s fashion is quite becoming on our gal. It's just that there are scenes here where our dear Princess Giselle from Enchanted gets all sexed out with her fellow man, causing my crush on her to battle it out with my newfound lust. It's like my heart was saying NO AMY NO while my poor abused manhood happily declared YES AMY YES. Based on some of the shots of her character in the film, I'd say both O. Russell and cinematographer Linus Sandgren's physical emotions went with the latter.

By the way, I'm spending all this time on how good she looks because it's way past an undeniable fact that she is excellent in the role, like she is in everything else, including life. (And because I'm a sexist pig who only sees the ladies as sex objects.) Since 2006, she's been nominated like 3 or 4 times already, which shows to go you how fuckin' talented our gal Amy is. It would be so sweet to see Ms. Adams win Best Actress for her performance, but I can't say with total conviction that she deserves it, because I haven't seen Blue Jasmine yet and I keep hearing Cate Blanchett is the one to beat. If she doesn't win, that's cool, she's proven herself time and time again and more than held her own with the likes of Streep, Day-Lewis, Seymour Hoffman, and Kermit the Frog.

But you know who did just win? Muthafuckin' Mexican and Kenyan citizen Ms. Lupita Nyong'o. Classy acceptance speech too. I approve of these Oscars. And now the double shot of awesome that was Amy Adams and Bill Murray presenting becomes a triple shot of awesome with his Harold Ramis shout-out -- nay, quadruple shot because muthafuckin' goddamn badass cinematographer Emmanuel FTMW Lubezki just took the statue for Gravity. How can this be better -- holy shit Alfonso Cuaron was one of the winners for Best Editing and I'm so -- oops, they cut him off when he was about to accept: Shut up and get going Cuaron, these leaves ain't gonna blow themselves. 

I think I'm gonna hold off on ending this until I find out whether our gal Amy wins or not. And now that I'm all Mex'd up, I need to know if Cuaron will take it as well. And then I'll know whether or not to begin writing my buddy cop movie/secret Miss Congeniality sequel starring Adams, Sandra Bullock, and Bill Murray. Emmanuel Lubezki will shoot it, and Alfonso Cuaron will direct.


8:44pm: Awww, you'll get them next time, Amy. I can't hate on Cate because they say her performance in Blue Jasmine was all kinds of perfect, and because she held open the door for me at a screening of Notes on a Scandal and gave me a warm smile, proving that she is indeed a great actress. For another year, The Adorable Amy Adams will have to settle for being the Roger Deakins of acting. And that ain't bad, if you ask me. You know what? I actually kinda liked this year's Oscars. Keep running, ya'll.

Fuck it, I'm writing that Miss Congeniality script anyway. Because Hollywood is a land where dreams come true and blah blah blah blabbity blah blah bullshit blah blah my ass.

* - I wrote that part after he won, obviously.