Archive for August, 2013

So, hey. How’s it going? Yeah, it’s cool. It’s alright over here.

EXCEPT NOW I HAVE INSTAGRAM!

That is correct! I have fallen into the deep well of hipsterism that has threatened to consume me since the second I laid eyes on the hellish invention that is the skinny tie. And, finally, I can take pictures! Of stupid things! And put a shitty filter over it! And then write some nonsense about it!

It’s puuuuurrfect.

So, yes, I have social media. Check them out. Follow me and things. I’ve got the tweets! The pics! And now I have a Book of Face!

Huzzah! Let’s have a party! A cool kid party! On the internet…

The World’s End (2013) – Edgar Wright (Dir.), Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Pierce Brosnan, and everybody else ever

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

Has a beer every been so strong that it burns a hole in a fucking sign?

There are those people in high school. You know the guys. Their acne runs rampant and untamed across their goof-toothed faces, their dentures held tight with more metal than a steel mill, their hair perhaps yanked back into a slick oily ponytail, emphasizing each and every pore oozing shiny fluid in a constant stream of social awkwardness. They spend their days logging out the AV room to watch entire marathons of Tarantino films; they quote both Monty Python and Star Wars in their entireties; they own each and every one of the 151 Pokemon trading cards (NO, I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THAT THERE ARE ANY MORE THAN THAT, YOU WENCHES!). Their soporific disdain for general humanity reaches a level of sociopathy known only to the uni-bomber, thereby seemingly indicating intelligence where it might not perennially reside. They are the few. They are the brave. They are the nerds.

And I was one of them.

Now, usually, these fascinating creatures of obsessive delights and questionable hygiene tend to cultivate quality middle-management and the hellishly titled ‘IT Technician’ positions, their fetishes and dorkish fancies relegated to every other Friday night when crowded about a dimly lit Dungeon Master. But, once in a while, when the stars align just so, that bubbling and roiling pot of pop-culture primodial ooze creates something different…something genius. It was from this pit of eternal virginity and ridiculously bad Sci-Fi fan fiction that Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright did crawl, two gentlemen of specific and boundless expertise. Along with their hilarious lady friend Jessica Hynes-Stevenson, they crafted perhaps the greatest and most referential sitcom of all time, Spaced. Oh 1999, a simpler time. A time of a Spice Girls movie. A time before The Phantom Menace. This trio of comedic brilliance introduced us to friends, nay, televised soulmates of all humans lucky enough to watch it, Daisy, Tim, Mike (Nick Frost), an artist who paints with his penis (Brian, oh how I love thee), a drunk land lady (Julia Deakin), a woman named ‘Twist’ and the most perfect dog ever to grace God’s green earth. (Awww, Colin). This mania of a serial nonsense, spanning references to Resident Evil, Damien Hurst, Trainspotting and an impressively long homage to Empire Strikes Back, allowed both our writer (Pegg) and our director (Wright) to cut their teeth better than a fucking orthodontic surgeon with a penchant for vampires. Eventually, once both seasons of the criminally short show (twelve episodes in all) passed the world by, their ball-blazing brilliance lost to the universe, Pegg, Frost and Wright teamed up to create the world’s first feature comedy about zombies, Shaun of the Dead.

He looks like the magician you book you your kid's birthday party and arrives with his own heroin and enough STDs to share.

He looks like the magician you book you your kid’s birthday party and arrives with his own heroin and enough STDs to share.

Since then, the Cornetto Trilogy, as it is named for their barely-edible eponymous treats omnipresent throughout all three films, has exploded into an international phenomenon. While Shaun of the Dead was a goofy musing on how the British would deal with an onslaught from the living dead (Bill Nighy says after being bitten, “Oh don’t worry, Barbara, I’ve run it under a cold tap!”), it flirted with intelligence by way of it’s exploration of adult male arrested development. Shaun is a man who must grow to fit the adult universe and leave behind his dead weight pal, the noxious and obnoxious Ed, in order to get the girl and a freaking job. Of course, as the film melts into its referential source, devolving into a mostly by-the-numbers zombie chomp fest, all of the supporting characters becoming nothing more than a human stand-ins for an oinky pal in a Luau, the comedy subsides in favor of drama and message. It’s good; it’s funny; but the men are children and the girls are women. The thesis is simple and exhaustive, rarely providing any fascinating realization. You come for the zombies; you stay for the comedy; you suffer the point.

After that, we were treated with the gut-bustingly gigglicious Hot Fuzz. Once again, it was a titter-filled juxtaposition of British mentality and quaintness against the explosive bombast and brutal violence of Michael Bay movies. Unlike Dead, which gets to the funny without delay, Hot Fuzz simmers and matures, warming its subject to a metaphorically and literally incendiary climax, fully equipped with old women getting kicked in the face, a homicidal goose, and Timothy Dalton impaling his chin on a model church steeple. Once again, you came for the laughs, you stayed for the old men pulling uzis from their bicycle baskets, you waited to get through the ‘message’. Unfortunately, Fuzz lost itself. While the buddy cop dynamic of Pegg’s impossibly competent Nick Angel and Frost’s obsessive and regressive Danny Butterman holds the focus for a majority of the runtime, its interest in adult male bonding does little to progress their already stated premise from Dead, this time the roles reversed.

"What happens in the Gents, stays in the Gents, alright?" ~ Boys, experimenting.

“What happens in the Gents, stays in the Gents, alright?” ~ Boys, experimenting.

Ah, yes, so now we come to The World’s End. It’s pretty much safe to say, this is my favorite fucking movie of the summer. There is no way I’ll accept any bullshit involving flying zombies, half-baked Men of Very Hard Things or the steaming pile of smegma that was Star Trek Into Darkness. This doesn’t just take the cake, it walks into the fucking bakery and shoves its face into every fucking cake it can find declaring, “NA NA NA NA NAH, MY CAKES, ASSHOLES“. Dear Jesus. To say I laughed would be an understatement of such absurd proportions that it is only rivaled by “This Black Death thingy. It’s bad, isn’t it?” (Don’t worry, I would have been fine. I watch House). There are lines forever more ingrained into my sorry fanboy skull (“Fuck off, you big lamp!” and “Smashy, Smashy Egg People” are going on my goddamn gravestone). It’s good. No…maybe it’s great. Now, there are people who might charge into the theater expecting some sort of comedic holy grail. You know, the perfect comedy. And those people are just as stupid as that one Nazi at the end of Last Crusade who chose poorly and turned into what we all know Sharon Stone would become once you turn off her Youth Sucking Device. You know the guy (Side note: I once had an acting class with that man, Julian Glover. He’s fucking old. He prodded me. Not in a sexual way. At least…not that I was aware. Oh god…wait…OH GOD). Now, it probably isn’t quite as testicle-tickling as the previous two installments, but what it lacks in giggle, it makes up for in messageTHAT’S RIGHT. YOU DIDN’T EXPECT THAT, YOU BASTARDS. Yes, it seems that the boys have finally grown up, put on their big-boy pants and discovered that they don’t fit anymore. The World’s End is one of the more depressing treatises on bromance I’ve witnessed in the last few years. While Judd Apatow continues to perpetuate his infinite comedic circle jerk, constantly sucking brighter stars into his celestial festival of cyclic self-abuse, Wright and Pegg use this film to ask the question: what does it mean to get stuck in the past? And how do we survive a parasitic friendship?

We have Gary King (Pegg with a dye job worse than a that old woman at the supermarket with a head of purple), the once and future, well, you get it, of his high school cronies. After an innocent inquiry from a gentleman in his support group, King decides he needs to finish a pub crawl he failed to complete back in the nubile days of yore (meaning 1992). To do so, he gathers his court of middle-aged jesters. What seems like an exercise in mild lampooning in order to up the offerings on the ‘sacrificial lamb’ menu, ultimately encourages you to actually care about these sad-sacks. Of course, there’s King, whose indefatigable abstruseness is the cause of almost everybody’s woe, as well as Frost’s recovering alcoholic, Andy. Those two are a given. Who knew that Paddy Considine (Detective Andy from Fuzz, and that guy that gets shot in the face in the third Bourne movie) would turn into the romantic lead? Also, Eddie Marsan is perhaps the most adorable dollop of corporeal pathos ever to open an account at Barclays. Even John Watson joins the fun, on break from foiling cases while Khan blows up Starfleet, to sell real estate and talk on a bluetooth.

All were shocked whenhHis 'Stop in the Name of Love' routine suddenly took a dark and homicidal turn...

All were shocked whenhHis ‘Stop in the Name of Love’ routine suddenly took a dark and homicidal turn…

Yes, we’ve all seen the trailers. The crawl quickly devolves into a eery ode to Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a peculiarly LEGO twist. While logic would dictate that those idiots should get the fuck out of the infectious town, filled with siren-spouting, hand mangling, easily-offended, unkillable blue-raspberry robots, the boys don’t. King lives up to his name, charging the gauntlet one pint at a time, his entourage doing whatever they can to drag him back to safety. It’s been six years since the Wright/Pegg/Frost band played their last gig, all of them going their own way, from duets (Pegg and Frost’s Paul) to solo pieces (Wright’s hilariously misogynistic and delightful Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), they have finally reached their acme. Pegg is on fire as King, igniting every scene like a dad covered in silly string; Frost successfully navigates the descent from depressed family man to hulking brawler; and Wright couldn’t be more on top of his game. As I once heard in a Community DVD commentary (yes, I am that fucking nerdy, alright? And yes, losing my virginity was exceedingly difficult. DEAL WITH IT), a director making a joke is like “a llama spinning a web. It’s really cool when it happens but no one expects it”. If that’s true, then Edgar Wright is the fucking Spider-Llama. Every edit is a gag. Even his mis en scene is precise and perfect enough to make Trouffaut weep with inadequacy. Together, this trio isn’t just dynamite, they’re a nuclear core of pure hilarity.

It’s a shame Ms. Hynes-Stevenson didn’t join them after her cameo in Shaun of the Dead. All of their movies suffer a distinct lack of vaginal population. It’s pretty much the boyiest clubs of boys since Boy George opened a buoy shop on Boy Bay. (They are fabulous nautical directional devices. Also terrifying and completely useless). In fact, I’m fairly sure precisely none of their movies pass the Bechdel Test. It’s a shame that boys can only talk about boys in an absence of non-penises. Le sigh.

Oh, yes, and Rosamund Pike is in this. And she kicks  a lot of Robo-booty.

Oh, yes, and Rosamund Pike is in this. And she kicks a lot of Robo-booty.

Well, while the climax, compared to Hot Fuzz, is little more than a wordy discourse basically stolen from The Day the Earth Stood Still…just with more ‘cunts’ thrown in, the magic of The World’s End is truly in the characters. It gets dark. Like really dark. Nostalgia isn’t simply a way of life for those of us too emotionally screwed up to take a leap out of the shallow end of the pool, it can be lethal. King is perhaps the most pathetic protagonist of the Wright/Pegg universe. In fact, by all definitions, he is both protagonist and antagonist, never really able to earn the title of anti-hero because there is literally nothing heroic about the man. Every choice is an extension of his brutal self-pity and solipsism, each decision dragging his friends further into the liquor-lined rings of Tartarus. Over and over we are reminded he is the King, the pointman, the Jesus to their Apostles. But King of what? His court has diminished to a band of tired middle aged John’s, none of them interested in reliving the former glory. In aging and losing the spark of youth, they’re all invited into the Collective, a world where mediocrity and homogeny aren’t simply encouraged, but essential. Wright and Pegg fear the mass of middle-aged zombism that so easily subsumes the middle class, each of their Trilogy attacking collectivism on opposing fronts. Here the assault has been perfected. The World’s End’s eventual postulation is that imperfection is human and any eradication of those mild maladies would be to fundamentally change what we are. But those errs come at a cost. And that cost is a man such as Gary King.

Finally, we have a tale of male immaturity that doesn’t simply spout, “Women are terrible and we should be able to act like a stoned bags of dicks. Just flopping about. Like a bag of dicks” (full disclosure: this is the second time I’ve incorporated the image of a bag of dicks into my work. I don’t know why. That image is just so tickling. Like…a bag of dildos…that are actually penises. I wonder if there’s a psychological meaning behind that. Huh). This is about growing up. Granted, it ensures that we know immaturity and acting like drunken louts is a cornerstone of human society, but at its core, The World’s End is a goofy cautionary tale. Growing up is terrifying. To be young is to be labeled a courier of potential, a seed shot out into the dusty earth, assumed to blossom into the grand arbor we all expect. But what if we don’t? What if that potential becomes the scars of our personal failure? What then? The pressures of adulthood aren’t simply great, they’re intoxicatingly horrifying. Gary King is the grandest example of what failure looks, tastes, sounds and smells like.

"I wonder if I'm part toaster, part Cylon? Does that make me a Toaster Toaster?" ~Existential Murder Robot is Existential.

“I wonder if I’m part toaster, part Cylon? Does that make me a Toaster Toaster?” ~Existential Murder Robot is Existential.

Finally, someone understands that childishness isn’t simply a choice. It’s a shelter. And it’s one that will always, always collapse. The question is, will you get out and make your way in time?

How could something so beautiful end so horribly?

How could something so beautiful end so horribly?

Bats, it’s been a good run. We really need to look back over the years and understand where we started and where we have arrived. Back then…we were young, you only 50 and me only 2. I mean, I knew there was an age difference. People said we couldn’t be together, that I was ‘too young for you’. But that didn’t stop me stealing your VHS-card and spending a heavenly two hours cuddled up next to you in my basement. My love for you scared me. You also scared me. Literally scared me. No joke, that part where Jack Nicholson falls in the big vat of green stuff made me terrified of pea soup forever more. Fucking terrifying.

Now, I will admit, we’ve had our ups and downs. You had that weird period in the 90s where you experimented way too much. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to forget the atrocities of Bane and Poison Ivy. But…I forgave you. There was nothing you could do. I mean, with a man like Joel Schumacher forcing you to do things…unspeakable things. I’m sorry. At least…at least we had the Animated Series. That was a constant. A perfect, unending stream of adoration to which I could cling, my anchor in the storm, my kiss from a rose on the gray. We went through so much, you and I. I could never leave behind Batman Returns…how could I not love you for that? Clowns? Danny Devito? Michelle Pfiffer in a skin-tight suit? You gave me Christopher Walken in a bow-tie. What more could a girl wish for?

But then you were gone. I should have left you. They told me there was no way to return from George Clooney…no way to escape the gravitational force of Chris O’Donnell’s and Alicia Silverstone’s tanking careers. I let you go. I removed you from my life. Yes, I will admit, on stormy nights I’d curl up with the box sets of the Animated Series and cry for the days of yore. The days when we were happy. BEFORE Jim Carrey in a green lycra suit.

Then, one day, you came back, from outer space and you found me here with this sad look upon my face. Out of all the movieplex’s in all the world, you had to stroll into mine. You were different; you were new. You had a new man. Chris Nolan and Chris Bale were at your side and you had changed for the better. You seemed happy, in between the horrendously depressing storytelling. You showed me wonders…the Scarecrow, Heath Ledger, Bane’s stupid fucking voice. It was a beautiful dream from which I never wished to wake. And, with the ending of the trilogy, I knew it was over once more. It never could last. No matter how much I begged. So I cried. I let you go. I went through every stage of Bat-grief, from Bat-Denial (“they’ll make another!”) to Bat-Anger (“Fuck you! You can’t leave me!”) to Bat-Bargaining (“I’ll give you anything you want. I’ll even let JGL be Robin! Please!”) to Bat-pression (liquor bottles everywhere, “remember Batman and Robin? I want to die”) to finally Bat-ceptance (“At least Zack Snyder never made a Batman movie!”).

And now this. This. You come to me with this? Talk about the straw that broke the camel’s back. And by straw, I mean Ben Affleck (“Don’t put me on that camel, you quee-ah!”). You came back into my life, after I accepted you were gone…WITH THIS? Who the fuck do you think you are? Come on. I could handle Burton. I liked Nolan. I even forgave you for Joel “Phantom of My Anus-Opera” Schumacher. But ZACK SNYDER? Do you know how he’ll treat you? Did you even see Man of Steel? You don’t need me to tell you this is mistake. You think you’re happy with your $200 million dollar budget and your Frank Miller based script. But you’re not. Snyder will change you. He’ll make you a monster. Affleck is only the beginning. Sure, you think, “Argo was great!”. DID YOU EVER WATCH REINDEER GAMES?

This is your new man? What is wrong with you, Bats? Why do you hate yourself?

This is your new man? What is wrong with you, Bats? Why do you hate yourself?

So, my love, this is the end. It’s over. I can never expect to get you back. I’ll see your Batman vs. Superman: Big Swinging Dongs Edition. And I’ll hate myself for it. But, I suppose, I’ve let you go. It’s over. It’s time for you to move on and make your own choices. Who am I to accuse your new boyfriend of suffering from acute dick-in-the-ear? Who am I to say that Affleck is a flabby has-been who is only truly talented when behind the camera. People said the same thing about Keaton. Sort of.

I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Snyder. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that franchise leaves the ground and you’re not with him to make The Justice League, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.

We’ll always have The Animated Series. We didn’t have it, we’d lost it, until you came back to Batman Begins. We got it back last Dark Knight.

Batman, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of kryptonite in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.

Here’s looking at you, Bats.

It's over. For real this time.

It’s over. For reals this time.

[He takes off into the night, his iconic bat joining with Superman’s S, a symbol of hope and future. I watch him go in silence, knowing what I’ve lost. I turn to Joss Whedon and The Avengers at my side.]

Avengers, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

What Dreams May Come (1998) – Vincent Ward (Dir.), Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra, Max Von Sydow

Aka "Jesus Visits Atlantis!" starring Robin Williams and Wishbone.

Aka “Jesus Visits Atlantis!” starring Robin Williams and Wishbone.

Well, after my last post, which has probably already been labeled “The Rape Post” (EMMY PLEASE), let’s talk about something fun, shall we? That’s right, boys and girls, it’s time to discuss VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER!

(Children cheering)

Welcome to the world of the Nielsons. They are pretty much the unluckiest group of people in the world when it comes to cars (Unless I’m talking about Pontiac. Amirite?). Yes, whether it’s saying goodbye to their kids headed to school or just traveling home through a tunnel, flying cars seem to follow these people wherever they go. At first I thought this was a murder mystery, but it was ridiculously easy to tell who the killer was (IT’S A 1992 CHEVY!). After the two kids get bumped off (you can tell they died because the screen went to a dissolve) Papa Nielson, Chris, (a post-Patch Adams, pre-Why Can’t I Just Die Already? aka Old Dogs Robin Williams) gets to feel what its like to be an IHOP special after the 1992 Chevy leaps, and I mean it fucking SOARS through the Lincoln Tunnel and kersplats him into oblivion. All that’s left is the love of his life and mother to two passed children, Anne. As life goes on, you can tell her emotional mood by whatever horrendous 90s wig the director managed to screw into her skull. Long luscious fake locks? Happy! Anna Wintour blunt bob that makes her silhouette seem like a mushroom? Suicidal! Lori Petty ‘Look Mommy I Did it Myself!’ pixie cut? Committed! Poor, poor Annabella Sciorra. I half assumed that the second half of the movie would be the flying 1992 Chevy coming back to finish the job, flinging itself through their mansion, the lone survivor of its brutality doing anything to escape its careening wrath.

But then…she commits suicide. Because, with that hair, wouldn’t you? Well…and two dead kids. And you’re only stability gone. And your dead husband constantly whispering unintentionally creepy things into your ear…

Okay, okay. This movie isn’t about a killer car coming after a family of beaming, bouncing bourgeoisie. We’re offered the sweet beginnings to a love story between two completely unconnected people, Chris and Anne, and the beauty of a budding partnership. Of course, as with real life, tragedy cannot help but crash the party like some drunk uncle asking to sleep on the couch because he just needs time to get back on his feet and, seriously this time, he’s absolutely not going to waste his money on the Midget Tossing Championships and, yes, he knows that’s an offensive term and he knows he shouldn’t use it but it sounds so much better than ‘Small Person Tossing Championships’, the point is…wait…hello? Hello?

Mr. Williams danced in the bloodied corpse of Bubbles the Clown, his entrails a cruel reminder of his acute case of paint-ititis

Mr. Williams danced in the bloodied corpse of Bubbles the Clown, his entrails a cruel reminder of his acute case of paint-ititis

Where was I? Oh yes. In the initial act, we see Chris and Anne, so inexorably in love, dragged through the muck as obstacle after obstacle is tossed in their path. Every day is a struggle. She’s an artist. He’s a doctor. She’s a pessimist. He is an unabashed and undeterred optimist. She expresses her feelings. He hides them. They are a yin and yang of emotional torment simply waiting for the levees to break. However, Chris dies and is thrust into the land of the dead, leaving Anne cold, afraid and alone before their tale can conclude. On the other side, Chris is met by an old mentor (Cuba Gooding Junior in his post-Jerry Maguire high, and pre-Snow Dogs ‘What Am I Doing with My Life?’ depression) who shows him the ropes of his own personal heaven. This afterlife, for Chris, is a vibrant impressionist painting, its very molecules globules of acrylic paint. The script does a perfect job of making sure how obvious and deep Chris’s obsession is with Anne. She’s his everything. Even his afterlife is inspired by her artistry.

What Dreams May Come was adapted from a novel by one of my favorite authors, Richard Matheson. He’s the gentleman responsible for the genius novella I Am Legend, which, after passing through the putrid digestive tract of Hollywood idiocy, has been defecated into theaters under numerous failed attempts to realize what makes it great (Will Smith’s growl-a-thon I Am Legend and the laughably dumb Omega Man with Charlton “Cold Dead Hands” Heston). His works, though classed as either horror or fantasy, have always operated on a purely human basis. Anyone who might take the time to read Legend’s svelte 200 pages will discover the twist missing from both filmic adaptations. Matheson, who died only about two months ago, was raised a Christian Scientist, so his view of humanity is gently askew from the mainstream. In this tale, he offers a different conception of both Heaven and Hell. It not-too-subtly borrows from Dante’s Divine Comedy as it explores the personal rapture that is a self-crafted infinite playground as well as the horror of being stuck in between worlds. In his world view, the afterlife is whatever you wish it to be. Its an eternal toy box. It doesn’t judge good from bad; there is no corporeal deity overseeing the operation. In fact, it is so blissful to suggest that perhaps humanity needs no babysitter. We simply are. Forever.

"In heaven, we do sex astronaut-style"

“In heaven, we do sex astronaut-style”

However, because Matheson is a fantasy writer, there are rules. For the first fifteen minutes, we enjoy Chris leaping off of Angel Falls and hitting the ground with nothing more than a light thud, flying about a floating city stolen from the Romance artists of old, fully equipped with Peter Pan and Mary Poppins, even wandering through the grandest library of all time. But all this pales to what Chris actively yearns for. Of course, he wants to find his two used-to-be children in this Baron Von Munchausen fantasy-land, but he’s actually waiting for his wife to find him after taking her sweet time sucking up all the life in her Land of the Not-Dead. What a selfish B. Well, Miss Nielson finally cashes her Suicide Check (with a delicious looking bowl of pills in yogurt. New breakfast idea! We’ll call it Etern-o’s: Meet Your Maker with this Important Part of a Completely Lethal Breakfast!) and crosses over. Unfortunately, seeing as no one told her the freaking rules, she apparently is stuck in Hell, more an incarceration of uncertainty than a dungeon of infernal torture. With Mr. Gooding Jr. telling him to give up, Christy (his very gubernatorial pet name) charges head first into the dark side of eternity.

Mr. Williams realized he was in trouble after running afoul of the National Face-Orchestra of Prague.

Mr. Williams realized he was in trouble after running afoul of the National Face-Orchestra of Prague.

After hooking up with a ‘Tracker’ (I know, I know, fucking fantasy authors) named Mox Von ‘The Exorcist’ Sydow, who, apparently, is still alive after suffering not only a chess game with death, but also the Sylvester “AAAAADRIENNNNNE” Stallone testosterific shit show that was Judge Dredd, the trio dive (literally) into a sea of pallid bodies and are wrenched through the rings of damnation. Funnily enough, it’s all naval-themed. Does Matheson just hate boats? What is this? Finally Chris finds Anne, lost and afraid, unaware of her own demise, plodding through a life that has already run its course. A board game missing all the pieces and players. There are twists along the way, especially a few that make my racially sensitive eyebrow arch into an ‘Um…Really?’ fashion. While the visual majesty of this beast is almost overwhelming, running the lengthy span of western art history, from modernity to impressionistic to Romance to Medieval, the director attempted a near-impossible task. Beauty attempts to seep through every seam. And there are some truly chilly images on hand, none more visceral than a sea of faces peering out of the wintered ground, all of them talking with no one to talk to. Also, Werner “The Weiner” Herzog is there. That alone is enough to make you shit your pants. The broad strokes work. They make the heart palpate.

Even with the awkward mixtures of models and matte paintings, not quite perfected to the level of LOTR-ian brilliance, Mr. Ward crafts a fully realized and vibrant Elysium. Unfortunately, it’s most the other stuff that fails. His direction of actors, particularly of Mr. Williams, lacks specificity and too often is he allowed to shift into Patch Adams BS. Luckily, the piece holds together, even with the mangled and disjointed preamble to the car crashes. The script holds and, for once, we are offered a truly palpable conception of Soul Mates, two people so existentially conjoined that even until death they will not part. There is no way not to beg to the lords of all that is holy that Chris is successful in his search; and it’s all the more heartbreaking when he seems to have failed. What purports to be a musing on death, truly is a celebration of life and love. Matheson’s unabashed optimism surrounds, consumes and buoys this entire universe he offers. Upon being reunited (I mean, come on, you saw it coming), the pair of soul mates don’t decide to spend the rest of infinity hanging out like the good old days. They decide to return, to be reborn and find each other all over again.

"Chris, whatever you do, if they offer you the lead in Old Dogs...just say no. Think of the children..."

“Chris, whatever you do, if they offer you the lead in Old Dogs…just say no. Think of the children…”

Why? Why would they do that? Why would they give up this gift that forced them to brave Hell and high water (literally) to preserve? Why toss it to the wind and try again, allowing the fear of uncertainty to possibly rend them in two? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s the point. If, in death, all things are equal, all things are at peace, if there is no war, no fear, no unhappiness, then perhaps life is the experiment with which to ensure that eternal bliss. What’s happiness without trials and tribulation? What is paradise if paradise is all we know? It’s a terrifying concept, death. It’s something I have probably dwelled upon far too long for someone of my barely-legal status (okay, solidly legal). Matheson offers a dream rather than a reality. It’s an eternal present where time neither begins, nor ends, its passage merely an illusion. Mr. Ward attempted and mostly succeeded at thrusting this tale into the world of dreams, though such a task, as the surrealists would tell you if they weren’t passed out from ODing on heroin, is impossible. All I know is that this movie is basically Inception…but it’s everything Inception attempted to be and failed. Why? Because this story isn’t about dreams. It isn’t about death. It isn’t even about fantasy. It is only about love. Love is that fickle and brutal beast that forces us back into life to try it all again.

Rest in peace, Mr. Matheson. You were a brilliant author. I hope you are offered the eternity you deserve. And, who knows, maybe we’ll get to see you again one day. Until then…

House MD - David Shore (Cr.), Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer

NEWSFLASH: There have been reports of both women and men frantically making out with posters all over the tri-state area...and it's totally understandable.

NEWSFLASH: There have been reports of both women and men frantically making out with posters all over the tri-state area…and it’s totally understandable.

Season 3 – Episode 12 - One Day, One Room

This article is breaking almost every one of my formal rules and guidelines dealing with this site, but you’ll see why in a little bit.

Part of the reason I began writing this website over a year ago was to reeducate myself with a bevy of cinematic classics that I have missed by way of disinterest, lethargy, and uselessness. Too often, after a long day of work, I have decided to opt into the mind-numbing silliness of How I Met Your MotherBattleship or any number of meaningless mental diversions. Avoiding the big thoughts and emotions was simple. Of course I should engorge myself on a Haneke whenever I have a chance, a Von Trier perhaps, or even a sprinkling of Welles or a dash of Hitchcock (a dash of Hitchcock is about the size of one normal human being)…but that sounds like wooooooork (with the elongated vowels for Extra Whine (TM)). Just one more episode of Buffy and I swear I’ll try out something challenging, I promise…

Well, along with my time-wasting TV addiction, I recently began supping on the expansive feast that is House MD, David Shore’s modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with a whole lot less Cumberbatch and a whole lot more botulism. The series, a vehicle for the immensely talented and transformed wet-blanket fop of British televised myth, Hugh Laurie, runs the gamut of exceedingly excellent hospital television to utterly absurd medical nonsense. Its cases are near-impossible, between the ridiculous combinations of rare genetic diseases, to the improbable conflagrations of accidents and internal diagnostic nightmares, all perfectly timed in a weekly manner. It gives the sense that New Jersey is riddled with every uncommon defect known to man, usually shaken in a toxic cocktail of temporally precise downward symptomatic progression. God forbid if these patients don’t have an issue that causes them to puke blood after a meaningful conversation with a fellow, serendipitously placed just before an act-break.

House MD conquered the airways while Jack Bauer was still in his constitution-ignoring, counter-terrorism, testicle-electricuting infancy, becoming one of the forebears of the new golden age of hour-long cable dramas. Well-scripted, well-shot, brilliantly acted, it set the bar high, especially with shit-fests such as the boobie and genital-rubbing hilarity that is Grey’s Anatomy clogging its competitor’s primetime slots. At the center of it all is Gregory House, the not-too-subtly malformation of Holmes’ chosen appellation. He runs the Diagnostics department of Princeton Plainsboro, a teaching hospital, with the ever-sexualized and sharp Lisa Cuddy (Inspector Lestrade) as his water-treading wrangler, along with a not-eighteen-anymore Robert Sean Leonard, definitely not standing on desks or shooting himself in the head, as enabler and best friend James Wilson (get it? John Watson? You’ll get there).

"Is that a bottle of Vicoden in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

“Is that a bottle of Vicoden in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

House, like Holmes, is a genius and an asshole. Instead of foiling criminals with mind bending methods of deductive reasoning, he diagnoses diseases nobody has ever heard of (but it’s never Lupus…except when it is), all the while insulting everything with a pulse in his immediate surrounding. This includes, but is not limited to, his squadron of fellows consisting of a mostly-whimpering Jennifer Morrison, a ferocious Omar Epps, and a bemusingly Australian Jesse Spencer (with additions later on). House chastises, offends, bullies, and verbally brutalizes his way through every ‘case’ until he gets what he wants. No case is ever (so far at least) left unsolved. There’s always an answer and House just needs to find it. What gets him there might be an unethical test, an unproven method, a disregard for the patient’s wishes, or a hackneyed final act illumination of light bulb while engaging in an utterly unrelated conversation. It isn’t realistic, but it sure is good television.

Oh yes, and he’s addicted to Vicoden. That’s important too.

In their third season, as the three puppy doctors, or Scooby Gang, begin scraping the bottom of the ‘Character Arc’ barrel (I think George R.R. Martin co-opted most of the good stuff) Shore injects his series with an essential element: an enemy. David “I Will Fuck You Up Just By Staring At You” Moore shows up in a six-episode stretch as a cop with a House-shaped chip on his shoulder. He’s there to kick some House ass and chew Nicorette. And he’s all out of Nicorette. Well, SPOILERS, to escape jail, House attends rehab and narrowly avoids the big house (no pun intended. Wait, is that not a pun? WHAT THE FUCK IS A PUN?). It seems as though the asshole doctor has seen the error of his ways, cleaned himself up and altered his parasitic relationship with the ever-beleaguered Wilson. But then…a TWIST! He was faking! It was like watching the end of Alice and Wonderland and learning it was all a dream! (Where the Mad Hatter is a black doctor, the March Hare sounds like a drunk Hugh Jackman and the Cheshire Cat has an exceptional collection of push-up bras) All that character stuff? Yep, fabricated bullshit. He’s still an addict. He’s still using. He’s still a dickbag. An entire bag…of dicks. Like, just dicks. Nothing else in there. Just…dicks. That’s right. Dicks.

So, the next episode was pretty much the most brilliant thing the show could have ever conceived.

"I'm sorry, blonde lady. Test results show that you're probably going to be in a movie about you getting possessed. It's terminal." ~ House, predictor of career false-starts.

“I’m sorry, blonde lady. Test results show that you’re probably going to be in a movie about you getting possessed. It’s terminal.” ~ House, predictor of career false-starts.

In the immediate aftermath, having robbed the fans of any catharsis of merit, Shore tosses us probably the most curved ball of all. There is no ‘case’ this time. House gets stuck in a room with a rape victim. Now, the cynic in all of us immediately thinks, “Fuck, this is the ‘rape‘ episode. Get the Emmy pleading out of the way so we can get back to little black girls pooping out of their mouths!” And, I’m sure this was the episode handed to the voting committee that year…though it wasn’t nominated. That’s not the point. For a show that offers neat, tidy, everything-in-the-universe-has-its-place answers to every fucking riddle, suddenly, when House is at his most invulnerable, he’s tossed something he can’t answer and he can’t fix. In previous episodes, if there’s someone who’s paraplegic before he has a stroke, turns out it’s really a curable tumor in their brain! The dwarf teenager? Not a dwarf after House finds a curable tumor in her brain! That autistic kid? Well, actually, he’s still totally autistic. But you get the point. This fucking show stretches the realm of believability to the outer shores of fucking Neverland.

But then there’s One Day, One Room. One would expect, as with most television shows, that rape is the wonderful award-show word dropped into sweeps season to garner as much hollow praise as possible. The poor victims of this heinous crime are further exploited like some kind of former child-actress spewing botox-tears in a Lifetime movie about a dog biting off her face. Instead, this episode derails the show entirely. And not in a Matrix Revolutions thousands-of-people-died-in-the-crapitude-of-this-film sort of way. There is no case. There is no solution. House is stuck in a room with a rape victim and he is the only person to whom she’ll talk. For once, House doesn’t berate and belittle, but finds himself lost at sea, grasping for logic where it can’t be found. What begins as a hopeless case becomes a philosophical debate where he doesn’t already know the answer to his own rhetorical questions.

The reason I bring this up, while breaking all of my own rules, you know, by writing about TV and stuff, is because this episode actually made me think. What with the Daniel Toshes of the world, the Dane Cooks, and the [insert bland taint-scraping male comedian here] making rape joke after rape joke at the expense of the victim and humankind in general, it’s nice to see House, this bastion of logic and male domination, of intellectual and infallible pride, actually stumped with a riddle that has no answer. That riddle of course being: how do you cope with rape? It’s a question few people like to touch without exploitation and even fewer know how to explore without belittling. For the first time in the show’s history, House doesn’t call his patient a moron. Granted, his bedside manner is still as abrasive as usual, but that’s clearly due to his own self-sware short-comings, not his patient’s. The two discuss abortion (him for it, her against), the existence of God, eternal punishment, and reason in the universe.  They don’t talk about whose fault it was, what she was wearing, where she was, who it was, why it was, when it was or anything else that might try to explain this crime away. In the end, it comes down to: if there is a God, why would he let this happen? If there isn’t, how do you make this make sense?

I'm not kidding. There is so much damn talking in this episode. And it's GREAT.

I’m not kidding. There is so much damn talking in this episode. And it’s GREAT.

There is no answer. There is no final act revelation. There is no obligatory zoom-in realization. His eyes don’t pop while eating chicken nuggets with a leukemia patient before sprinting back to the OR insisting on a colonoscopy (no joke, shit like that actually happens. No pun intended. Wait…HELP. WHAT IS A PUN?). Rather, the episode puts emphasis on the fact that conversation is essential. Talking is the first step. Rape is not solely a female problem. Men can be allies. Even if an priggish solipsist like House, who flaunts his masculinity and misanthropy at every chance he gets, can be an ally, then so can we all.  Too often rape is written off as something that “just doesn’t happen here” (yeah, go fuck yourselves, Yale). It does. It’s happened to people I know. It’s happened, in a way, to me. Loss of power is fucking terrifying. It changes everything for the victim. It’s nice to see a show that doesn’t just discuss it, but immerses itself in the issue to the point that you cannot let this chapter of House pass you by without forcing yourself to consider its existential quandaries.

After being robbed of House’s humbling, this was the perfect next step. Bravo, House MD. You can be ridiculous, more outlandish than a Mad Max convention on meth, and as misanthropic as Howard Hughes after a healthy dose of crazy pills, but you did good. The conversation obviously isn’t over. But if shows like House can do it, so can the rest. Let’s see more of it, people.