Archive for May, 2012

Men in Black III (2012) – Barry Sonnenfeld (Dir.), Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg

Hey, remember when Will Smith used to sing the theme songs to every movie he was in? Nor do I. Let us agree to never remember.

Who the fuck is Barry Sonnenfeld? And who the fuck does he think he is? Who the hell has the audacity, nay, the wrecking-ball sized testicles, goolies of gold, the brass balls to create both Men in Black and Big Trouble, quite possibly two of the most underrated weird-ass comedies of the late nineties/early naughties, as well as Wild Wild West, RV and Men in Black II, a trio of such repugnancy that even the suggestion of a giant metal spider in my presence brings about blinding rages. But seriously, who is this guy? Who gets some of the best acting talent alive in America today, you know Oscar-nominated Will ‘He Was a Rapper Once?” Smith, Oscar-winner and professional modern-day cowboy Tommy Lee Jones, as well as Josh “The Iron Chin” Brolin and Oscar-winner Emma Fucking Thompson (That actually is her middle name. Google it) and has them running around blowing up aliens, squawking like freaks, jumping off of buildings, leaping onto space shuttles and chasing Jemaine Clement through 1969 Queens on that really homosexual device called ‘It’ Mr. Garrison develops in South Park. Who is this guy? God? A professional Hollywood blackmailer who has them all by the ovaries? A demon of such deviousness that early in their careers he offered each of the aforementioned infinite talent and success in exchange for one day having goop spat up on them by CGI Chinese space fish? It’s a conundrum.

Men in Black III is the entirely unnecessary, bizarro, timey-wimey third and final (? Yeah, let’s be real. There’ll be another) installment of the only still living remnants of Will Smith’s 90’s movie career. As he has delved into the pretentious depths of Oscar-bating bullshit like Seven Pounds and the poorly advised remake of I Am Legend,  Mr. Smith has all but evaporated from the Hollywood scene. Well, now he’s back in the suit, back in the smile and filling little chilluns hearts with joy, employing that special blend of street-wise smarts and non-threatening blackness that Chris Tucker never seemed to manage. It’s charming as fuck, just like that Roguish Han-Solo smile Mr. Smith so effortlessly busts out every thirty seconds. It’s goofy. It doesn’t make a lick of sense. It’s the perfect piece of summer fluff, a puff of cotton candy that lasts in the mind as long as that saccharine pink sweetness lasts on the tongue before dissolving into a fleeting memory of childishness.

Jemaine…I think you have some H.P. Lovecraft on your face…

It has a plot, in theory. Apparently, back in 1969 Agent K, the chisel-faced (in that his face looks both like a chisel and the craggy piece of rock out of which someone attempted to carve him) put away Boris the Animal (a superbly miscast and utterly mind-blogglingly odd Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame. All joking aside, watch that show. Jerks) Well, using a cake and a pair of boobs attached to a woman, Boris escapes from a maximum security moon-prison to exact his revenge on Mr. Jones. How does he do it? By going back in time and killing K in the past. Sure. Why not? In the process, his hetero-life mate and proof that he isn’t racist, Agent J (William Huntington Smith III) suddenly gets chocolate-milk craving headaches and is the only person in the world who remembers his time-erased pal. How? Who knows. True love. Maybe. They certainly hint at it. It’s like a new-age sci-fi Driving Miss Daisy. So…J literally jumps back in time, running into young Agent K (Mr. Josh Brolin, of course), Andy Warhol and a whole lot of racism. That was amusing. Especially when he gets pulled over for being a black man in a suit. Comedic genius.

There is so much oddity packed into this thing, it’s like a furry sex party (google it). You almost need a safe word. In between Chinese slug-aliens with a dozen arms and a dude that looks like if a Vietnam vet. raped Cthulhu, you really will spend a good deal of the film going ‘Huh?’ And this not new for the series. In fact, remember back to the first one. For a summer blockbuster, it had giant space cockroaches regurgitating Tommy Lee Jones and the living Picasso that is Vincent D’Onofrio’s face. Both of which are primally horrifying. Perhaps in the vein of The Fifth Element there’s a certain degree of bat-shit that works its way into the time-tested formula of money-making turdery. Sonnenfeld, I suppose, attempted this again in my white-whale-of-my-film-criticism-career Wild Wild West. In place of a giant cockroach wearing man-skin, we have a double amputee Shakespearean actor using a giant spider to take over America in the 1800s. Fuck that movie.

One Eyed Willy will rue the day the Goonies came to steal his treasure. Tommy Lee Jones will murder you all.

Perhaps the true codification of this peculiarity is Mr. Stuhlbarg as Griffin, a fifth dimensional being capable of seeing every single possible outcome of the universe as well as the pathways of causality leading us to each one. It’s frighteningly genius. That character in this film is like unearthing a Rembrandt in a 2nd grade art class. You see it and you must burn the place down because such beauty and intelligence could have only ended up in this montage of adolescent uselessness by way of nefarious means. Not only that, but Stuhlbarg performs the awkward, nebbish being to such perfection you just want to hug him and take him to meet your mother. He’s just so damn cute.

I saw Stuhlbarg as Hamlet onstage once. Not much to that story. I just did. After the show, I saw Philip Seymour Hoffman congratulate him while looking like a fucking hobo. That guy is a badass. A hobo, Oscar-winning badass.

Even with the inspired and completely unintentional exploration of the nature of causality (Etan Cohen, the writer, is an alumnus of Beevis and Butthead. Yeah, that’s fucking pedigree), there are notable glaring issues. Mr. Brolin, who plays an eerily perfect Lee Jones, plays a 29 year old. In real life, he is 44 fucking years old. Not sure if my math is correct, but those are not the same thing. At all. However, the impersonation is spot-on, leading me to believe that there is a market for retro-fitting Jones’ classics with Brolin. Also, vice versa. Who wouldn’t wish to see Josh Brolin tell Harrison Ford he doesn’t care if he killed his wife. Conversely, I think Mr. Jones would bring a level of gritty gravitas sorely lacking from The Goonies. Get on it, someone. The other big problem: the time travel is bullshit. Like…a herd of steers with IBS after raiding a chili cook-off levels of bullshit. There’s a part (spoilers) where Will Smith gets shot like four times and then turns time back to before he gets hit and is totally fine. Wait…so, by that logic, when he goes back in time to 1969 initially (in exactly the same fashion) he should regress to a fucking nine year old. I call shenanigans. SHENANIGANS! Nobody gets time travel right.

Um…does anyone else feel uncomfortable about this?

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed this movie, perhaps way than I had any right to. It was a blast. However, back to intelligence and whatnot, if there is one, the final thought would be this: there is no thought. None. Yes, they attempt to inject this bizarro-fest with some human emotion near the end and they fail miserably. It just doesn’t make sense. Like a dog walking on its back legs, it’s cute…but attempting to be something its not. Eventually it will have to fall on all fours and start licking its balls again. This movie famously began shooting without a script. What the hell were they doing? Just filming Mr. Smith wandering around NYC cracking wise while Tommy Lee imitated a gravel garden? How can you expect to find a deeper layer of the human condition if you’re going to leap to the sex without beginning with a kiss? Come now. But it is fun. It’s candy. Pure, uncut Costa Rican white gold. Glucose of such divine emptiness that it’s sweet on the lips and you never need to worry about it ever again. It’s a perfectly enjoyable blockbuster. A relic of the summer that won’t make it into anyone’s scrapbooks. No one will look back on 2012 and think “holy shit! That was the time I saw MIB III! Good times.” They’ll just remember having fun, a couple of laughs and enjoying themselves.

And that’s the point right? I hope so. Otherwise we’re all wasting our fucking time.

Contagion (2011) – Steven Soderbergh (Dir.), Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, that guy from Just Shoot Me, John Hawkes, Dmitry Martin… pretty much everyone ever

Notice how everyone looks normal except for G-Palt who has on possessed-fucked-up face.

What is a horror film? What constitutes terror on the silver screen? Is it some large-breasted sophomore screaming something between bloody murder and a regular night at the frat house while, instead of prime Ivy League sausage, she’s being impaled with a knife, or a hook, or a machete or a pick axe or a tire iron…I guess. Or is it something else? There’s frightening and there’s scary. There are things that make you feel uneasy as the music swells, as the camera dips into a darkness only reserved for back-alley senatorial meetings in a public restroom. You know death and pain is coming, the only question is when. It does, inevitably. You jump a little. Maybe it’s a little more grotesque than you were expecting, sure. Maybe you wander from the movie theater and double check your Minnie Mouse night light before heading to bed. That’s ‘horror’.

And there are movies like this. They pray on intellect, on the human nature of taking civilization for granted. There are no vampires, no werewolves, no teenage girls biting her lip and trying to decide between the two. There are no hockey masks. There are no girls crawling out of movie screens and creating the surrealist movement across some poor schmuck filmmaker’s face (go see The Ring. It’s great). No, there is simply an idea. A virus. We’ve never seen it before and it spreads. Everywhere. The scenario put forth by this film cuts under the skin, burrowing into the grey matter, planting as Leo DiCaprio would say “an idea, something that can’t be killed”. And even he can’t leap into your brain and stop the top from spinning.

Here she is making the “Hey, I just remembered, I’m Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow” face.

This is true horror. This is the kind of film that undercuts everything you’ve ever assumed about your existence. Now I question my safety whenever someone sneezes, shakes my hand, touches my face, makes out with me, rubs my thigh, starts to unbutton…wait, wrong movie. Point is: everything will kill you.

You’ve heard of Steven Soderbergh. Even if you haven’t, you have. The guy is everywhere and yet nowhere. Like a ghost. Sometimes he’s a good one like in Harry Potter or that movie with the ghost played by Patrick Swayze in it that gropes Demi Moore in the middle of a perfectly good pot-making session and gets Whoopi Goldberg a fucking oscar. It’s all about ghosts. You know, The Exorcist. Sometimes Mr. Soderbergh makes Ocean’s 11 and Sex, Lies and Videotape. And then, sometimes, he makes Full Frontal and Ocean’s 12. Sometimes he’s a different kind of ghost, the one that reaches into your body and rips out your soul while you’re in the bath or makes clowns come alive or steals your children through televisions. Like in that one movie, Babe: Pig in the City.

Well, we lucked out here. Apparently he called EVERYONE he knew and told them, “Hey assholes, be in my movie.” Who do we have? We have the bad lady from Inception taking a break from haunting Leo DiCaprio and instead helping children in China. We have that lady who hogged that last piece of broken boat at the end of Titanic before knocking frozen popsicle-Leo into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. She’s doing a serviceable American accent, which is nice. We have Dr. Watson being a douchebag with an Aussie accent. We have Morpheus basically playing black-scientist Jesus, a man so impervious to bad things that he NEVER does anything wrong EVER. Like…seriously, it’s ridiculous. He’s just a nice dude. The list continues…even the meth dealer from Breaking Bad shows up, having entered the military to simply spout exposition.
Finally, we have the arguable star: Mr. Matt Damon. Taking time away from saying ‘MATT DAMON’ and being an all around stand-up guy, he becomes that character who’s immune. Sporting a pedo-stache and a shotgun, he goes around protecting his daughter and crying over his dead wife. He’s excellent in this film and yet, for his wonderful chops (and good acting skills too…see what I did there? I’m saying he’s a pretty dude, people. And look at him…he’s adorable) he is entirely upstaged by Mrs. Coldplay herself, G-Palt.

Here she is making the, “I dated Ben Affleck? Really?” face.

Oh Gwyneth. Did you lose a bet? Owe Soderbergh money for some high-stakes murder challenge that you rich people inevitably enjoy between ridiculing the poor and causing legal disputes with your children’s names? She’s in the film alive for all of ten minutes. We see her with a fever. And then have seizures. Then puke everywhere. Then, after a doctor nonchalantly divulges that she fucking died, you think the pretty-woman-puke-fest is over. Oh kids, strap in, the fun has only just begun. We get to see them OPEN HER HEAD. She’s sitting right there with her head fucking open. I imagine Mr. Soderbergh resting in his director’s chair, supping on the blood of the innocent while chasing it with holy water (man is a dichotomy, it’s mind-boggling) ordering “More pus. Also, when you crack open her skull I want to see more disgust. Like when you heard Coldplay’s last album for the first time. Yep, that’s it! ACTION.”

This film is good. Not great. It never quite elevated itself above “disease-porn”, a subgenre only really applicable to this and Outbreak. At least we didn’t have fucking monkeys and Dustin Hoffman set to ‘crazy rant-speak mode’. At least there was no ‘WE HAVE TO FIND THE MONKEY THAT STARTED IT ALL’ bullshit and then miraculously manufacture a cure within THREE HOURS. My dad is a pharmacist. I call bullshit. This movie really set out to deal with the real-world implications of how this kind of epidemic might manifest in the times of international travel and massive city congestion. Even more appropriate that I watched it on a plane (making it actually 27% worse than it is in reality. Not bad, right?). Yes, there are some absurd sequences. No, a researcher wouldn’t simply inject herself with a vaccine the second she sees it work on a monkey. No, Dmitry Martin is not allowed to do anything other than smug twee comedy after hours on Comedy Central. I don’t want that man anywhere near an infectious disease.

This is the face she makes every time she remembers she was in “Shallow Hal”.

It fulfilled its purpose. Mr. Soderbergh, as he so often does, defined his thesis and then proved it to the best of his ability. Of course the ending is trite shite. At least it begs thoughtfulness, actually considering the effects of such an outbreak on a global scale rather than keeping it entirely USA-centric. Granted…we didn’t really see anything from the other countries other than about twenty seconds of London and the Chinese guys who kidnap Cotillard in exchange for a vaccine. Still…they get points for trying, right? Right? The World Health Organization was mentioned a couple of times. And the bad guy had an Australian accent.

Good job, guys. Your multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-national attempt burned and sank to the bottom of the xenophobic sea, settling next to wonders such as Deep Impact (not the porn, the one with Morgan Freeman as president) and Independence Day. At least you tried. Maybe next time.

The Room (2003) – Tommy Wiseau (Dir.), Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, TOMMY WISEAU

That’s Tommy’s sex face. Also, coincidentally, his mug shot. Killed two birds with one stone that night.

Throughout the tempered history of cinema, we have seen some bumps in the road of objective quality. We’ve been blessed with the hills and mountains containing the caliber of such works as Citizen Kane, Chariots of Fire and Breathless. We’ve even had some valleys, some deeper than others, crevasses containing such reviled greats as Heaven’s GateWaterworld, Transformers, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon and (one can only assume) Battleship. And then, beyond those Mariana’s Trenches of films we are sometimes bequeathed, nay, blessed with movies so catastrophically, categorically, scatologically agonizing that we can only stare into the abyss of awful and applaud.

The Room is such a film.

The word ‘film’ is difficult to apply in a situation such as this. Perhaps the word ‘experience’ would suffice, modified by the words ‘life’ and ‘changing’. Perhaps the word ‘torture’ would be more appropriate. It entirely depends on your point of view. I know that the moment I witnessed the trailer for this movie, touted for having the ‘passion of Tennesse Williams’ (note to self: sequel to Passion of the Christ idea…gayer, obviously. A lot, lot gayer), I couldn’t look away from the screen. It was a compilation of the worst things I have ever seen, each piece flittering across the screen in a performance of such scrotum-shrinking tastelessness, like a motor accident that begins with one car filled with nuns running into a motorbike carrying Gandhi, who’s head smashes into a bus filled with orphans, forcing it to jackknife into a gas station filled with the last remaining survivors of WWII. You know that watching this is about a morally acceptable as kicking Mother Theresa in the nuts…but you can’t look away. It’s mesmerizing.

So…who is this man, Tommy Wiseau? Why did he make this movie? How? For what purpose? Where is he from? Why does he talk as though he were Albert Einstein after suffering a stroke? The answer is simple: nobody knows. Not even Tommy. Funded by, “selling leather jackets from Korea”, Mr. Wiseau (a veteran of the Stella Adler acting school…WTF?) wrote, produced, directed and starred in this…I want to say ‘drama’ but it’s almost impossible to tell.

What makes this movie bad? Well, ‘bad’ is just a word, while the concept is something that can only be witnessed. Everything makes this movie bad. Literally everything. But this is no Manos Hands of Fate, this is no monkey with a camcorder production, a lackluster affair sprinkled with spare moments of inept hilarity. Every single scene in this movie is almost perfectly constructed to be the worst piece of shit anyone could have ever hoped to have produced. Of course, Wiseau will tell his fans, through a bluster of constant-drunkeness, an undoubtedly essential haze of inebriation required to stop himself from reminding his brain that he is, in fact, still Tommy Wiseau, that this is a ‘comedy’. This has as much comedic intent as Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidential campaign. Filmmakers like Michael Bay have the tendency to simply shit on celluloid and pass it to the projectionist, hoping he won’t smell the feces. Somehow, Wiseau took a shit and missed the reel, instead sinking his turd into some kind of artistic ley-line, spreading the excrement through the living veins of the earth, allowing fountains of ordure to erupt through television screens across the nation. Everything is so unfathomably incorrect, and yet at the same time, just competent enough in order to generate a perfect storm, to create the World Series of Shit, the Superbowl of Bollocks, the Holy Grail of “Holy God That Was Terrible”.

Moment #293 of inappropriate laughter. Most likely at the expense of women.

Here is a list of things wrong with this movie, in no particular order: 1) The phrase ‘Johnny is my Best Friend” is repeated over and over again, 2) People play ‘football’ without ever straying 4 feet from each other, 3) Sideplots involving breast cancer and a drugs deal pop up, make themselves known and are never referenced again, 4) characters enter and exit the scene for no reason, 5) in the numerous sex scenes, shots are blatantly recycled (a few of them of Wiseau’s leathery muppet-ass thrusting his manhood into…gross) 6) characters blatantly disregard the reality of the scene (“Lisa, the music…” there is no music “…the candles…” there are no candles “…the sexy dress…” there is no sexy dress) 7) characters are recast with absolutely no explanation, allowing random people to simply appear in the final scenes with no logical preamble… The list goes on and on and on. It does. Again, it’s not something that can be explained…only witnessed.

Worst. Prom. Ever.

Why did I watch this movie? Again? I’ve seen it perhaps a dozen times now. In fact, hundreds of people across the nation pack themselves into midnight showings, plastic cutlery in hand, to witness the divine train wreck that is The Room. That is the level of popularity it has gained. People cheer as the titles begin, we laugh, we cry with laughter, we yell at the screen, we throw spoons, we pass footballs…we celebrate the awful. Why? What part of the human experience has cultivated a need to reward the infallibly inept? This movie is a monument to a man so psychotic that he believes he is from America where it is obvious he’s from…well…France? Maybe Austria? It’s a mystery. Rules have emerged for watching the film. There is a scene where the audience yells out “because you’re a woman!” as Lisa’s mother lists the reasons she can’t live without Johnny. We throw spoons at the screen every time a painting of a spoon appears… an inexplicable piece of set dressing left around the main character’s room. You throw a football around the theater whenever people ‘play football’.

Those rules are great, but the excitement emerges as viewers generate their own callbacks, blurting them out during momentary silences and sending the rest of the audience into a guffawing ruckus. There are movies in the world that require absolute silence. This is not such a film. It’s a communal activity, a place we can join together and revel in the ineptitude of the new century, a party in the honor of schadenfreude. Wiseau himself sometime attends, allowing his ironic fans to bow down to his mess of life he so publicly displays. It’s cruel. It’s sick. It’s one of the most fun things anyone could ever do. Never have I felt as connected to other human beings in a movie theater than I have at the screening of these movies. It’s a rush, a blast of exhilaration. It’s an infinitely giving canvas for the sarcastic, a medium for the sardonic and a refuge for the boorish. It is everything I have ever wanted in a theater-going experience.

“I definitely have breast cancer.” Best. Diagnosis. Ever.

This is a gladiatorial match of the new century, a battle between Taste and Tastelessness and we are the thronging crowds begging for blood. We gnash our teeth. We stamp our feet. As Tastelessness traps Taste in its net, readying the trident to strike down into the jugular, we applaud, screaming to see the blade sever the lifeline, to see the highbrow shaved and whittled down to awfulness. As Wiseau screams “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”, as Sestero shaves his beard and begins wearing denim, as Lisa pouts and lies about being pregnant, as a Harry Potter-look-alike gets fired from the set, as Johnny buys flowers from a woman in the most bizarrely unsynched scene of dialogue ever created, we, the public, lower our thumbs. Tastelessness raises the trident, drinking in Taste’s fear, its pleas for salvation. Tastelessness laughs and announces, “You hope to be spared? This is for Uwe Boll!”

The three-pronged weapon falls. The crowd is silent. Taste bleeds out, a stuck pig. We see its last grasp on life trickle away. We see ‘subtlety’ soak into the sand. We see ‘pathos’ evaporate. We see the final breath drift from its lips, the last ounce of thoughtfulness left.

Tastelessness raises its hand. We cheer once more. Taste is dead. Long live the terrible.

The Lady Vanishes (1938) – Alfred Hitchcock (Dir.), Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave

She didn’t vanish…she’s above the train. She’s right there, guys…

There’s a gentleman who existed once. Many years ago. He entered filmmaking, a hidden specter, pumping out films as though they were Irish babies (that’s three a year), subtly and gently redefining how we understand tension and visual storytelling. Part silhouetted shadow of night, part Winston Churchill impersonator, this man is a master of thrillers, a godfather of horror and a delight of British sensibility. I am, of course, talking about Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

We all know Hitchcock as the man who brought us Norman Bates, a fear of biplanes flying over our heads in corn fields, and James Stewart watching us get dressed from his rear window. Hitchcock’s name is synonymous with cinematic excellence and class (as well as ‘ornithophobia’, but that’s because ‘ornithophobia’ is recklessly difficult to say.). However, what you might not have known is that Hitchcock’s career spanned about forty years. Watching a movie from his earlier years (i.e. The Lady Vanishes) and one from 1960 (Psycho) would be like comparing Oliver Stone’s Platoon, a grim, well-shot, brilliantly scripted Vietnam thriller, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a movie that thinks it’s better than the numeral ‘2’…and that Shia Lebeouf isn’t completely fucking terrible. It would be like comparing Scorcesse’s Goodfella’s to Hugo. Both good, but occupying opposing beds in the overnight train of Marty’s long career. A train fraught with gunfights, Jack Nicholson wearing a strap-on, and people demanding to know if you think they’re funny, like a fucking clown.

Speaking of trains: This movie. Hitchcock loves his trains. We have strangers meeting on them, we have people taking them North by Northwest. I’m not sure what about these locomotives endlessly fascinated the man, but every chance he gets, he cuts to a vehicle rolling by, pounding and steaming its way along. Inadequacy issues, perhaps?

Tell me I’m wrong. I dare you. Alright, that’s it, outside, after school. Gloves off.

Well, in a nutshell, this thing is about a spoiled spark-plug Iris (Margaret Lockwood, doing her best to confuse the shit out of me with a half-English/half-American garble of an accent. Which was it? IT DROVE ME CRAZY) befriending an old woman, Mrs. Froy (Dame May Witty – not sure if she was a dame or she was just badass enough to demand that it was put in the credits) on a train going through the Eastern European country of *muffled cough and change subject*. After getting hit on the head, she passes out and Mrs. Froy is gone. Nobody on the train remembers her. Everyone thinks can’t-decide-what-side-of-the-fucking-pond-she-came-from Iris is crazy. Except for famed parent of everyone famous, and Petyr Baelish look-a-like, Michael Redgrave. He had a character…I guess he played music and was writing a book…or reading a book…point is, he looks like Petyr Baelish and he is dashing as all hell. It seems that Mrs. Froy was just a pigment of Iris’ imagination, but, remember, this is Hitchcock…

While watching this classic, I decided that this was the same plot I’d seen before with a woman on a train going missing and whatnot. And then I remembered that I HAD seen it before…on stage when I was a wee little shit. About the point when they discover the magic cabinet, I had a moment of “Eureka!” And stripped down naked. My roommates don’t appreciate when I do this and I don’t appreciate them stifling me, both emotionally and artistically, so they can shut their whore mouths. Anyhoo…When I was about ten, my parents dragged my brother and myself to see a campy adaptation of this movie made for the London stage. If I remember correctly…it sucked. I never saw the second half because either I A) Fell asleep (extremely plausible) B) left in a huff because the two old women in front of us complained that my brother and I were “Eating our sweets too loudly.” Well, missies, you’re lucky you can still hear anything. As your bodies break down and the last wisps of youth flitter away into oblivion, you’ll be glad you could hear my damn sweets. Enjoy eternal nothingness. Jerks.

It was an apt translation to the stage, I discovered as the plot unfurled and the characters grew ever-more ridiculous. It’s about as campy as Ru Paul starting a musical theater company. Is this the same Hitchcock that made me fear tennis matches? That pushed Jimmy Stewart to the brink of madness? It’s almost easy to forget that Hitchcock isn’t just British, he’s as British as the bloody leg-before-wicket rule enacted at the third test match of the Ashes after a fortnight of raining cats and dogs. Or, simply, ‘British as fuck’, in American. We have these two men, Caldicott and Charters who wander from scene to scene, complaining about foreigners (their food, their language, their lack of up-to-date cricket information and their not-being-british). Now, I like to think I’m an enlightened person, an ally to the LGBTQ community…but these guys were about as gay and a sausage eating contest in a Nazi all-boys school. Like…prep school gay. Like…St. Paul airport bathroom gay. In summation: these two ‘hetero-life mates’ and their discussion of ‘cricket’ was nothing more than a prelude to good old, weepy, shameful, don’t-tell-your-mother penis-to-penis. And yet…it never comes up. Ever. Nobody mentions a word. They just accept these two confirmed bachelors climbing into bed together shirtless and don’t blink an eye. Oh the English.

“No, that’s preposterous, there’s no nob-gobbling here! We’re simply discussing the trade routes of the the Dutch-East India company’s…Caldicott, stop nibbling my earlobe!”

That aside, the whole ordeal waffled between taught political thriller and a damn pantomime. When the doctor (so obviously, gloriously malicious and yet NO ONE SUSPECTS HIM) tells Iris that Mrs. Froy “Never existed,” I had half a mind to yell “Oh, yes she did!” And he’d have turned to the camera and stated flatly, “Oh. No, she didn’t.” And I’d yell back, “Oh, yes she…” The point I’m trying to make is that pantos are fucking insufferable. They’re like strapping two toddlers to your head and dousing them in pepper. Entertaining for about six seconds until you have the sensation of a miniature foot kicking you in the temples from both sides for two hours. There was NO TENSION in the entire film. For about 20 minutes you question if Iris is just suffering from ‘crazy bitch-itis’ and this whole thing is just playing out in her head in some mental institution on the outskirts of *cough and mumble, change the subject*. But then you find out what’s going on. The second you question a motive, the motive is made clear. There is no suspense.

And then the fights scenes…oh lordy. There are two. And they are amazing. Both brilliant and horribly terrible that you stare on in utter shock. First, the fist fight. It’s like two virgins who decided they were both subs, thereby both of them are tied up, trying to dry hump each other into oblivion. And Iris stands to the side, gently kicking their bottoms. It reminded me why I’m so glad virginity is not a permanent affliction. Next: a gunfight so nonchalant, you’d think it was cucumber that was simply too cool for academics, thus it lies there, not giving a fuck. People are shooting, sort of. It’s the most painfully British shoot-out since the Queen decided that she didn’t want to go to the royal wedding and capped a few guards. I think that happened. I heard about it.

This movie didn’t seem to care. An overwhelming sense of distance hung in the air, forcing any connection with the characters into the sidelines, leaving these oddballs of British sensibilities to flounce further down the road of absurdity. This was codified for me when Charters (the tweedly named Basil Radford – I know, right? People actually have names like that) walks out of the train and gets shot in the hand. He doesn’t react. He doesn’t do anything. He just glances down and walks back inside. After getting shot. In the hand. WHAT? What’s confusing about the entire ordeal is that sometimes it exemplifies Hitchcock’s strengths: his ability to visually advance the plot, his sense of wit and character, his complex plotting…and yet the rest is a floundering mess of Anglican hilarity.

Is he shooting? Or just pointing out that there are people trying to murder them in that general direction?

It’s difficult to tell if this was intentionally a comedy or simply so soaked in goofiness that Goofie would have asked them to “cool on that shit.” (And then Goofie would knock down his sunglasses, rev his engine, look into the camera one last time and declare ‘Derrrrr. See ya later!’ He’d ride off into the night, just a light dwindling into the mountains, a ghost drifting from our lives as quickly as he had entered. We’ll miss you, Goofie. God rest his soul.) Excuse me. Sorry. To the point: Hitchcock  is a master, a genius even. Perhaps this absurdity was simply an extended piece of satire, singling out the British as completely disconnected from the international community, people who emulate their island dwelling, repelling all invaders attempting to broaden their world view. The central plot point is that there is a message that needs to get back to the Foreign Office about two major European powers joining forces. Since this was made in ’38, Hitchcock couldn’t say who it was…but let’s assume it rhymes with Shmermany and Shmussia. Perhaps he was kicking the Brits where the sun don’t shine, a very naughty place no one should mention in polite company, in order to force them into the international community on the brink of world war.

Or, perhaps, it was just really silly. Like…really, really, really silly. It’s a fascinating relic, a milestone on a career so prolific it would make Joyce Carol Oates say ‘Damn, son.’ See this movie. I laughed more during the length of its run-time than I have in a long while.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) – Renny Harlin (Dir.), Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, L.L. Cool J

No, guys, it’s “Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.” Daft Punk is rolling over in their robot-graves.

There was a period of time. It came just after shoulder pads, perms and cocaine and just before Y2K, 9/11 and cocaine. It was a simpler time. A time of Jurassic Park. Of Independence Day. And also of Waterworld. Of The Postman and the rest of the end of Kevin Costner’s career. We call these the ’90s’. Deep Blue Sea is one of the most untampered, beautifully awful pieces of this deplorably colorful era left to excavate. It was never particularly famous when it came out nor was it particularly memorable. It was a B-Movie dressed as a blockbuster immediately relegated to the “Wait, is this a porno?” section of the movie store (remember when we had those…oh the 90s. How quaint.) It is so stupidly by-the-numbers, yet, at the same time, so mentally crippled that the plot defies conventional logic, that it spirals in on itself, a self-consuming snake whittling itself down to its core: Die Hard, but with sharks.

You know, at some point in 1998, some executive, as he wiped the coke from his nose along with the scent of hooker-ass, announced, “Dudes, you know what would be totally wicked awesome? We make Jaws…but it’s like Jurassic Park…but, like, like, it’s fucking retarded. We could put rappers in it!” And so they did. They put hella rappers in it. Well, they put one, and, as my black/not-at-all-black friend Donnie put it “LL Cool J is a better actor than rapper.” I believed this to be impossible. How sorely incorrect I was. He’s a terrible rapper.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Andrew, you haven’t done the game in a while now? Are you backing out?” Well, read my article on Up, you bastards. It’s been a hard week. I needed a pick-me-up. So, on a fateful Friday night, my roomies declared that we were going to begin a drinking game. After shredding the Flix of Net, scrutinizing every single option, we settled on either Deep Blue Sea or Fern Gully. I didn’t rip the flesh from my face, so it’s safe to say we didn’t watch Fern “Hey, it’s a bus ride in the mid-nineties, let’s watch this. OVER AND OVER AGAIN” Gully. Same goes for Outbreak. Fuck that movie.

The rules of the game were simple. Drink every time someone says ‘shark’ or ‘research’. Drink twice every time someone dies. Things got…stupid. But, through the haze of alcoholic bliss, a few bizarrely enlightening nuggets presented themselves, like a peacock readying to mate. And, like the wooed female, I turned around, bent over and… Wait. Let’s change the subject. Firstly, this movie is a graveyard of failed careers. LL Cool J? Other than those damn Are We There Yet movies and Friday, he hasn’t done…any…well…wait…I’m sorry, my editor is informing me that I am thinking of Ice Cube and that I am, in fact, a dirty whorish racist. My apologies to the african-american community. In that case, fuck LL Cool J. He can continue playing a cop on that one Law and Order: SVU (read: rape show) and leave his action movies to…wait…I’m sorry again, I’ve been informed that I am in fact thinking of Ice T. Well…shit. Toys. He was in Toys. Fuck all of you.

Samuel L. Jackson as Malcolm X…I mean, a ‘scientist’.

Who else graces this tombstone of artistic talent with their presence? We have Thomas “If They Ask You to Play the Punisher, Say No, Kids” Jane, sporting what can only be described as a pubic bleach job for a hairdo. Next we have Michael Rapaport, a man who has made a career of portraying douchey Brooklyn cops, known for their brute force and lack of wits, playing the math nerd. It was like hearing Tony Soprano yelling, “It’s da fuckin’ NEUTRONS. Da NEUTRONS, you cocksucker. They’re interacting ‘n’ shit.” Literally every word that tumbles forth from that frothy spit bucket of a gritty accent-generator he calls a mouth is laughably unbearable. Like hearing a two year old giving the weather…you just want to give them a medal for trying. They’re so goddamn precious you want to eat them. But you can’t. Because it isn’t legal. Yet…

Who else? Saffron “Who the fuck?” Burrows, her only non-bland quality being the hilarious misnomer that is her first name. She apparently attended the ‘Block of Wood’ Acting School, London branch, which includes such greats as David Carradine, Orlando Bloom and, of course, Keanu Reeves, the Marlon Brando of Pine, the Laurence Olivier of Oak, the Sidney Poitier of Larch. Point is: she’s terrible. In fact, the only two people in this movie who ever went on to make anything of their careers were Samuel L. Jackson (fucking duh) and Stellan “Really?” Skarsgaard. That guy is in everything. He’s like a cinematic ninja, in that he moves his mouth and incorrect sounds come out. Who would have known the dude who gets his arm bitten off by a shark, then dropped from a helicopter into the water, then grabbed by a shark and, for some sadistic, unknown reason, smashes his still-screaming body into the observation room, cracking glass two-feet thick as though it’s nothing more than cling film, would make it as far as The Avengers? Good on him.

Dude, I loved you in ‘8-Mile’…wait, shit, that was Eminem. Sorry, Mr. J.

So, you might ask, what is the plot of this hot mess? Well, apparently the cure for Alzheimer’s has been discovered: shark brains. So, what do they do? Breed sharks with ‘enlarged crania’ to harvest said miracle BS. Well, super-smart sharks are apparently fucking supermen. Not only do they figure out how to systematically destroy all of the cameras in their pen in a perfectly coordinated attack (even though it’s actually impossible for them to comprehend what a camera is because there is no way for them to see the video screen and…ugh…ah…blood pressure…rising…), but they also discover how to overcome their fucking physiology. In a vain, penis-in-the-ear attempt to emulate the holy grail of “Why Did We Try To Play God?” movies Jurassic Park, they declare “they’ve learned how to swim backwards!” No. They fucking haven’t. Sharks. Cannot. Swim. Backwards. It’s fucking impossible. As in: not possible. They can’t do it. They don’t have the muscles, the fins, the fucking WHATEVER. THEY CANNOT SWIM BACKWARDS.

I don’t want to hear another word about it.

However, in between the bouts of complete refusal to understand how small things like ‘reality’ work, this movie has a couple of incredibly surprising moments. First, LL Cool J, as the token actor-cum-rapper-with-a-pet-parrot-and-a-street-wise-attitude-that-comes-in-handy, you know, like in every movie, is left almost completely alone. All those other assholes are running around sinking the damn facility while Mr. J is constantly making desserts. Why only desserts? Fuck you, that’s why. And then he fights a shark. In his kitchen. And then he blows it up. With fire. How does he escape the blast? By diving underwater. You know…where the shark is…but the shark gets killed by the fire…but LL Cool J doesn’t…because he’s underwater…like the shark…but the shark gets killed by the fire…and he doesn’t because he’s underwater…

Sorry. I have to take a moment to mop up the blood that just shot out of my nose. I believe, if we’re keeping count, that’s aneurism number 2. Anyway, structurally, that is rarely done. Usually all the survivors are together, but Mr. J is the odd one out. And he’s black. And he doesn’t die. Innovative. I guess. Also, there’s the moment of Samuel L. Jackson’s death. I will not ruin it for you because it is a moment of such cinematic brilliance that it deserves to be sat next to such greats as ‘That Dude That Gets Shot in the Head In the Car” in Pulp Fiction and “Brad Pitt Gets Shot in the Face” in Burn After Reading. It’s that level of brilliance. Along those lines, the british bitch gets ate in the climax of the film. Her plan? Jump in the water with a cut to lure the shark towards her with no discernible escape route. Yes. It is as stupid as it sounds.

This movie is painfully ignorant of taste, of quality, of advanced intelligence. Sometimes you need that, in direct contrast to weep-fests like Up. Yes, I should have watched something challenging instead. But, you know what, sometimes you’re not in the mood to watch Willem Dafoe rape Charlotte Gainsborg with devil wolves and whatnot. So…in conclusion…shut up and drink.

Now, my favorite section of summer film. And I use the term ‘film’ loosely. This is the intersection of terrible and so-terrible-you-can-joyously-yell-at-the-screen. These are the films destined for cult status. These are the films that, down the line, will clutter the bottom of Wal-Mart $5 bins, waiting for a perfectly inebriated pack of college sophomores searching for a good, cheap time. Greats have fallen into this category, year after year. Sometimes, I’m surprised…though I’m usually too far down drunky-lane to really understand that it’s an epiphany and not me just falling asleep. It doesn’t take a brain. Hell, it doesn’t even take a pulse. These are moving images of such camp and dumbness that you can just sit back, relax and laugh.

Yes, there are sometimes turds in the basket. In fact, by rational definition, pretty much everything on this list is almost entirely turdish. However, they shall be seen. Perhaps they will be glorious fun. Perhaps they will incite a rant of such saucy bluster that my friends will have to excuse my actions to the public wandering by. But I will see them with a fervor that I cannot explain. It is a passion that leaves those around me bewildered. Maybe it’s my latent British need to inflict constant self-pain. Maybe it’s spiritual karma to remind myself that, no matter how bad my own work, it will never be as bad as this…and look they’re making money! Maybe it’s just that see people try and fail with such spectacular terribleness is a not only a well-studied mental condition, but a spectator sport born from base primal needs. Maybe.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the:

MOVIES I WILL SEE WHILE DRUNK

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Silly Lincoln. Your chair is outside. It should be inside. You’ll catch cold.

Read that title. Read it again. You are not high on ether (maybe you are…then I apologize) That is real. It, alone, is reason enough to sneak a fifth of Jack into the theater. Now, from what I gather, the book is a hilarious mash-up of horror cliches and tropes, mixed in with the tone of historical fiction. That is amusing to me. Seth Grahame-Smith found fame first and foremost with his absurd retelling of Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Again, hilarious. So, our greatest president against vampires, funny stuff right?

Well, “fuck you” says Timur “Say it Five Times Fast” Bekmambetov. “You want historical irony? NO. NO LAUGHS SHALL BE HAD!” Or, at least I imagine him saying that while petting a Siberian Tiger and sipping Lemur urine (because, with a last name like that, it’s pretty much assumed). So, taking time off from being a bond villain, Bekmammarytosspot has directed a few films. After getting the utterly nonsensical Nightwatch series under his belt, he penetrated Hollywood with his bullet-curving-anorexic-Angelina-exploding-mouse-James-McAvoy-shooting-a-guy-in-the-face-and-then-shooting-the-guys-behind-him-while-keeping-the-gun-in-the-guy’s-skull masterpiece Wanted. Did I say masterpiece? I meant a piece of…well, never mind. Needless to say, between the ‘Loom of Fate’ and fun times with physics, that movie was messier than a guy lost in Logan Square at 3am wondering what he’s doing with his life and convincing himself that maybe, maybe he’ll find love at the other 4am bar and…well, ahem. Moving on.

This film looks dumb. Not only does it look utterly moronic, but it looks super serious. Like, super-super-cereal. It has dark lighting and broody acting and Lincoln cutting logs and…a stampede into battle and…well…what? I have no idea what’s going on. This one could have easily landed on the ‘Movies I will See and Hate Myself’, but good old buddy old friend Jack D will shift this from Blade-fan-fiction into bona-fide vampiric insanity.

On the drunk-o-meter this gets: two old-fashioneds (keep it classy, boys) followed by a shot of bourbon. Sloshy enough to numb the pain, but not so far to impede the seizure of perfect ‘yell at the screen moments’.

Chernobyl Diaries

I like the the tagline is actually two lines. And tells you the plot of the entire film. This thing is just made of winning.

There’s this guy. His name is Oren Peli and he made a movie called Paranormal Activity. With its meteoric rise into the lexicon of classic horror, it swept across the nation, wetting pants and making bros cry a little before them telling their dates that ‘they were cutting onions, no big deal’. Inopportune movie cooking aside, this film scared a lot of people. I watched it. I switched it on, waiting for things to happen. My friends had all told me “Dude, it’s like…so scary, like…like so scary.” Well. Challenge accepted. I was prepared to jump. To get freaked out. However, when it turned out that this was just the tale of two filmmakers taking the American public for a fucking ride by pulling together a derivative, predictable, cheap-as-dirt movie and then selling it to everyone as ‘the next Exorcist’ I yawned. And then I shrugged. And then I went to bed. And I never thought of it again.

They made a second one. Which was like the first…in that it was the first…just more boring and less scary. If the first was about as frightening as a puppy with a Chucky mask (say that 3 times fast), this was the equivalent of a cat sitting on wrapping paper covered in pumpkins. In theory, it recalls something related to unnerving activity…but really it’s just lazy fucking cat that does nothing but lie in inopportune places every damn day and it can’t even feed itself and yet it expects you to work to his schedule, but seriously what schedule does he have? What essential things does he have to do? Scratch your legs? Stare into space? He’s a fucking CAT!

Well, Mr. Peli has created a beast. After Paranormal Activity, we had Apollo 18, The Last Exorcism, The Devil Inside, Porky’s 3D and Girls Gone Wild Mumbai 19. The last two might have been made up. Now, instead of taught, intense, well-made, well-shot, well-scripted horror (sorry, I just made myself laugh. When was the last time any of that shit ever happened?) we have these sorry excuses for the deleted scenes from an elaborate Paris Hilton sex tape. What’s almost the worst thing is that the endings of each of these is the fucking same. They all die. It’s like a Goosebumps novel except without my teenage-wet-panties being involved. Did I say teenage? I meant grade school. That’s what I meant, guys. Seriously. I was super young and not at all in 10th grade.

Now we have the one about Chernobyl. Yes, Chernobyl is fucking fascinating. Radiation is fascinating. Its effect on the human body is fascinating. A bunch of large-breasted, mentally deficient, testicularly-oversized American teenagers exploring these themes is not. From the opening shot of that one girl (pulling down her shirt so you get a go view of the milk twins, we all know why she was hired) saying something about radiation is about as convincing as Denise “Wild Things” Richards pretending to be a nuclear physicist named, I shit you not, Christmas Jones.

It has jumps. It has ‘scares’. It has crazy irradiated Russians, who are 34.2% more hilarious than irradiated hillbillies (that’s science. Look it up). It has Eastern Europeans being poor which, for some reason, always tickles my fancy. And it will be terrible. I mean it. Absolutely, positively, Whore-of-Babylon-ironically-riding-Ted-Nugent bad. I’ll be there at the midnight opening.

So, what does this terror-legend-to-be score on the gold-standard dunk-o-meter? I give it 5 PBRs and splash of scotch. Because, let’s be honest, after that much hipster shit gets into your system, you have to purge it with a little 50-year-old-man and a dousing of pungent aftershave. This will also preferably include hidden beverages in the movie theater to encourage drinking-game-generation on the fly. Drink every time they do something stupid.

You’d be dead in 20 minutes.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Total Recall

You’d think one of them might notice that their pants are on fire.

Well, what do we have here? Looks like the nonsensical sequel to a movie that nobody wanted and a remake of a 80s action movie so crazy, Nic Cage asked it to ‘dial it back’. Neither of these movies have any right to exist. A few years back, I had the singular, life-altering pleasure of witnessing G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, a film so bursting with not-giving-a-fuckness that it could not be contained by its series title alone. Director Stephen Sommers attempted to tame it to simply G.I. Joe, but the film, supplying the world with such pivotal performances as Joseph Gordon Levitt attempting career suicide and Channing Tatum attempting the English language, expanded into the wonderfully needless moniker: Rise of Cobra. Were they worried we’d mix this up with the other G.I. Joe films? Were they concerned that the world would watch the film and then demand “WILL THERE BE ANOTHER? PLEASE TELL ME NOW!!!” Well, G.I. Joe: Retaliation shudders its way into theaters this summer. Apparently, they decided to axe the entire original cast save for the Asian dude and the inexplicably British President of the United States. Now they have Dwayne “The Rock “Smiles Like A Cherub”” Johnson and Bruce “I Really Thought I’d Be Dead At This Point in My Career…Oh Well” Willis. Somehow Channing Tatum has a scar increasing his evil score to “Eh. He’s probably just German.” Joe Levitt is gone (my heart is broken) as is The Doctor  Christopher Eccelston and his metal fucking head. I’m going to miss that metal fucking head. It was one of my favorite parts of the first movie, that metal fucking head. Oh well. Maybe I should simply watch Man in the Iron Mask a dozen times and laugh at Leonardo Dicaprio because in real life he gets fat. Poetic justice.

The original film’s director (‘original’ is an incredibly loose term) is one of my personal heroes. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of Stephen Sommers, but he’s the auteur responsible for inflicting, nay, bequeathing such pieces of cinematic excellence as The MummyThe Mummy ReturnsVan Helsing and the criminally unseen Deep Rising. He has launched the careers of both Rachel Weisz (THANK YOU GOD ALMIGHTY) and Famke “Goldeneye” Janssen (legs…watch out for the legs!) as well as the continued existence of Treat “Who the Fuck is that?” Williams and Brendon “I Remember When He Was Famous…Kinda” Frasier. Sommers is basically Michael Bay with a sense of humor and without his penis constantly stuck in his ear. His movies don’t give a gleeful fuck. The one liners are so agonizing, you need anesthesia. His conflation of myths, legends, popular figures and currently existing intellectual properties is so perplexingly incorrect you can only admire his balls. Literally. He’s like if Roland Emmerich and Luc Besson had a gayby. Watch all of his movies immediately.

G.I. Joe: Returning Bullshit will be bad. And it’ll probably be boring. Only one of those things is egregious. When the first film in a series had Joe Levitt declaring “Call me COMMANDER” and walking around like he had taken his ‘stroke’ pills, there’s a lot to live up to. This one looks ‘gritty’ and ‘dark’, two words most appropriately applied to fungus. So, to survive, let’s play a game. Drink every time something batshit could have happened if it was an ACTUAL sequel to the first film. Just to be clear…you will be constantly drinking.

Hey Colin…is that dandruff or your existence flaking away? Because Head and Shoulders really works… Colin? Where did you go?

Next we have the admittedly gorgeous and yet entirely soulless remake of Total Recall. If you have not seen the Arnold Schwarzenegger original, directed by Paul “Starship Troopers, Showgirls, Robocop, Total Recall, Fuck With Me I Dare You” Verhooven, watch it right now. Like right now. I fucking mean it. Stop reading right the fuck now and witness that deplorable-violence-Sharon-Stone-Three-Tits-Michael-Ironside crazy fest that is that orgasmic work of ‘art’. It’s as though Verhooven said “I want to make a movie like Jackson Pollock makes paintings”. When someone returned, “you mean using a fascinating deconstruction of shape and form to explore emotion and expression itself?” he stared them in the face and slapped them. “No, because there will be blood EVERYWHERE.” Everyone gets shot. Main characters. Not main characters. Completely innocent bystanders. EVERYONE. It is one of the most hilarious examples of excess one could possibly have the please to witness.

And now there’s this one. Colin Farrell, a man who is about as artistically consistent as a waterbed on a cruise ship, and directed by Len Weisman, a gentleman whose greatest career achievement was banging Kate Beckinsale. Again, it will be boring. Again it’s ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ like that thing I found under my toenail last week, which is really weird, because I didn’t stub it or anything, it was just there…but it didn’t seem like a growth because it wasn’t exactly attached…just some sort of anomalous interloper (if anyone has any thoughts about what it was, please share in the comments section below).

The issue with these movies isn’t that they are bad. Bad movies can be amazing. Have you seen The Room? (More on that later). The problem is that people substitute slick action scenes with decent graphics and a growly main character for ‘edge’, perhaps even ‘depth’. But, unfortunately, we know that these films have about as much ‘edge’ as a fucking peanut butter sandwich and about as much depth as another peanut butter sandwich (sorry, my metaphors are a little one note, I haven’t eaten much today.) Who cares if the movie can’t be good? Just make it insane! Stop trying to convince yourselves that you’re something you’re not. Don’t hide what’s really within. We can see you all acting butch, like you really do care about your muscles and your flash…when really you want to break out the tassels and that sequined thong that you’ve just been dying to wear out. Be yourself. Be crazy. Let it out. Because, seriously,  a massive boner party is only really palatable when thrown in conjunction with a sequined glitterfest.

How many drinks? G.I. Joe: Resident Evil: Retributaliexctinctelations will require a pitcher of Margaritas. Just enough tequila to get you wasted, just enough flavor without being a ‘girl’s drink’ (boys: manhood in tact). While Total Recall will require liquified Paul Verhooven (read: Four Loco) pumped directly into my blood stream with an IV. It’ll be one hell of a night.

Battleship

“I’m King of the Wor-…Um…did someone leave a Transformers knockoff in front of our boat?”

There is a movie out there, lost in the wilds of the great American film-scape, fighting for its relevance day-in and day-out, struggling to be remembered as one of the silliest comedies of all time. That movie is, of course, Clue. Not Clueless, the piece de resistance of Alicia Silverstone’s…I want to say ‘career’, is that what we call it? Clue. Based, that’s right ladies and gents, on a board game. I remember witnessing the words “Based on the Parker Board Game” for the first time, before the movie descended into Tim Curry-esque madness and a quagmire of such verbal punnery it would make Oscar Wilde facepalm in his grave, I threw back my head and uttered “We’ll never see that again!”

How wrong I was.

Battleship is ‘based on a board game’. In that, it has the same name as a board game. When was the last time you replaced your battleship pieces with flying fucking robots from outer space? So, alright, let’s call a spade a spade. What do we have here? Well it looks like Transformers 4: Liam Neeson Continues Career Suicide Battleship is attempting to cash in on every possible franchise it can. I believe this is the third in the trilogy of Tim Riggins Films, joining such classics as Tim Riggins in Space (John Carter…eesh) and Tim Riggins has a Mullet and Mutant Powers (X-Men Origins: Wolverine…okay, side note. When I saw the midnight showing of that film – yes, you read that correctly – it was in this amazingly shitty little one-screen movie theater in my college town. When Will.I.Am (sp?) enters the scene, an African-American gentleman in front of me bellowed the words “Oh look! It’s Will.I.Am! I love him!” And then Will.I.Am spoke two lines. A second later, the same gentleman declared “Oh shit. Will.I.Am can’t act.” True story. It was amazing.) Okay, back to Tim Riggins on a Boat. We’ve got a panoply of b-list actors, ranging from Erik from True Blood making dumb faces when glass blows up in his face, to Brooklyn “Double” Decker, to Rihanna. I refuse to make any jokes about her. That would be tasteless. Moving on swiftly…

This movie has Liam Neeson, supplementing his recent string of cinematic excellence beginning with kill-everybody Taken, then Bradley-Cooper-Shut-The-Fuck-Up-No-One-Thinks-You’re-Funny The A Team, to I-Was-Hoping-It-Was-Taken-But-With-Wolves-Instead-of-Human-Traffickers-I-Was-So-So-Wrong The Grey. And, of course, he’s going to die immediately, releasing him from this franchise forever. Lucky bastard. It has Taylor “Please let me be a movie star!” Kitsch. We might even be serenaded by Rihanna’s…um…talent? Let’s go with that.

It’s going to be awful. Like…if Transformers was somehow stupider. Who knows? Maybe it’ll surprise me and actually be a nuanced discussion of the US Navy’s brutality in war, the ethics of invading another culture for profitable gain and what it truly means to serve in a branch of…

Sorry. Couldn’t keep a straight face. This movie requires beer. Lots and lots of beer. Perhaps a few of those ‘craft’ beers that just turn out to be Blue Moon in a different bottle. Whatever you drink, it’s going to make you shit razorblades the next morning. I find that an apt metaphor for the viewing of this film.

Piranha 3DD

Classy as hell. You did it!

Alright, boys and girls. Strap in. It’s gonna be a boobalicious ride.

One might describe film as ‘high-art’. One might describe it as a ‘glimpse into our fleeting existence, a chance to view life uninterrupted’. One might describe it as ‘life-changing’. Every single one of those phrases left my mouth as I witnessed the film Piranha 3D. This was not because I believed any of them. It was because, over the course of that film, I ran out of expletives to scream at the screen and instead my mouth was filled with randomized phonemes. I think I might have bellowed the entirety of Moby Dick at one point. Some films understand what they are, yet subtly mask their sensibilities for public consumption. They understand they are smut, yet drench themselves in gore and dark lighting and tout it as ‘the new generation of horror’. Not Piranha 3D. It had tits. A lot of tits. It had Ving Rhames mutilate flesh-gobbling piranhas with a boat motor as they stripped his legs to the bone. It had tazered, exploding fish. It had Jerry O’Connell’s penis regurgitated in 3D. It had all this…and that dude from Parks and Recreation get bitten in half. It was like seeing god…if god had a really nice rack.

What do we have now? Double the terror? Ha. Nope. Double the gore? Maybe. That would be difficult. Double the D’s. Yep, pretty much. This is the only logical conclusion posited by the predicate of movie one. Lifeguard strippers? Sure. Why not? Piranhas that live inside you Alien-style? Points for hackneyed creativity, I suppose. David Hasselhoff? He’s gotta do something when he isn’t making millions in Germany. Gary Busey? Oh hells yes. As the Bible says “Crazy begets crazy.”

Just in watching the trailer to this film, I can feel the humanity leaking from my bones, trickling out in a mass of empathy that sizzles away its existence into nothingness. If this is just a modicum more insane than the first, I will be nothing but a steaming sack of flesh, pooled on the cinema floor. For we will have done it. We will have found the bottom of the abyss. As the Mayans predicted, it would come in 2012. The end-times of taste. The lowest of the brows. The chamberpot of artistic excrement. Congratulations, guys, you did it. And I will be drinking whiskey all the way down.

Here’s to the end, folks!

Up (2009) – Pete Doctor (Dir.), Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer

There is a badass in that house. A badass coming to a Paradise Falls near you.

I’ve seen Up before. A dozen times. Maybe a million. Somewhere in that realm. I know it back to front. I know almost every line, every shot. I own the soundtrack. I saw it in theaters twice. But this is no relapse. This is no Fifth Element. This is no mindless crap. This is Pixar. This is the most creative commercial institution currently working today. These boys, singlehandedly, are bringing back our childhoods one color-soaked laugh-fest at a time. Or they make Cars. Nobody’s perfect.

It’s been a while since I’ve flicked this bad boy into life. I remember the first time I witnessed that opening montage, the adorable children meeting for the first time and their descent into the deepest love. I remember watching them wish for children, the build up and then the loss. I remember seeing Ellie stumble as she takes a few steps towards Carl’s great surprise, the moment they’d been saving for their entire lives. I remember him sitting at the funeral, holding the balloon. Alone. Lost. His entire routine shattered and his one true happiness snuffed out.

That happens in eight minutes. Eight fucking minutes. More nuance and human emotion than in the entirety of the Twilight Saga. Yes, I have seen the Facebook posts but it is so true it hurts.

You sit there, witnessing these two people blossom and bloom. You see two lives intertwined. And then you see them shattered. I don’t care who you are, Voldemort, Darth Vader or even Mike “Ear Nibbler” Tyson. You cry. You cry like a fucking baby. You tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/dog/cat/turtle/imaginary Aunt Mildred that you were cutting onions beforehand. You wipe them away but it only makes it worse, the flood of human sorrow spewing from your face. And then, as you weep into your bag of Sour Patch Kids, hoping the sour will take away the pain, that these gummy children will remember you after you’re gone and please, god, don’t let me die alone… the movie actually begins.

“I hid under the porch because I love you.” Best. Line-reading. Ever.

This movie is a fairly odd thing. Throughout the thing it employs fridge logic…meaning, you accept it long enough, until you walk to get another drink and you think ‘Hey…wait a sec’. Por example: Muntz begins the film at around age, let’s say, 25. And that’s being generous. He leaves and explores the wilderness to be confronted, let’s say, fifty years later…and he’s still able to swing a fucking claymore and stop himself from falling off a blimp with one hand. Did he discover the fountain of fucking youth? At age sixty? And, if so, why the fuck does he still care about a bird?

Also! The bird has babies…doesn’t that entail a male bird to be present? You know, recently in order to impregnate said bird? Also! The dogs yell ‘squirrel’. There are no squirrels in the rainforest! How the fuck do they know what a squirrel is? Unless, Muntz has been training them Clockwork Orange-style to despise the little nut-gobbling bastards.

But…it doesn’t matter. I know, that’s hard to swallow, like a butter-covered cue ball (I’ve tried with moderate success), but it’s true. It doesn’t matter. This is a kid’s story where the central plot point is that a man flies his house to South America (it’s like America, but South!). Realism doesn’t really hold any traction in this world of whimsey and prune-juice. I could write to the folks at Pixar, listing my complaints in an orderly fashion. I know their response: “Get a soul, dickbag. Sincerely, Us.” And they would be right. These are the fantasies that dragged us through Elementary School, Middle School, High School…come to think of it, just school in general. These were the tales that, as we dreaded heading back in because we know Mary-Ellen will be there, you know the girl who laughed at you when you asked her out that one time and then told everyone about it, you could hide within, folding back the crayon-scraped walls and protect yourself with layers of illusion and fantasy. These are the tales that, no matter how dark they dip, they will always find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes we don’t need movies to challenge us. Sometimes we don’t need movies to drag us into an intellectual pit of despair, a cranial hell-scape where emotion is pitted against humanity and Tina Turner screams ‘Two parts of your soul enter, one part leaves“. Sometimes we need these movies. They’re a blanket we can slip into at night, warm and safe, the prelude to a dream. Sometimes we need the movies that put their arms around us and tell us that it gets better. Sometimes we don’t need Mr. Herzog blathering about the inevitability of nothingness but rather that sometimes good things happen to good people.

 

Commence sobbing in t-minus…now.

Up is a movie that brings such bounteous joy upon every viewing. As those balloons break forth from the confines of the house, dragging Carl out of his worn and tired existence, tossing him headfirst into the adventure he’d been waiting his life to taste, you can’t help but smile. And when he finally reaches his end, the house perched atop the waterfall, and discovers that perhaps its not as sweet as he thought, that Ellie isn’t coming back, the tears come again. They tumble and spray, they trickle and explode. As the music swells and his fingers trip across the pages of the life he’d lost… he discovers his wife’s final words telling him exactly what he needed at the end… You can call it trite. You can call it cliche. Or you can shut the fuck up and watch. You can be a little kid again, dragged through the magical world of blissful impossibility you’ve been searching for and haven’t even witnessed in years.

I know a man who would say those things. A guy who would probably read this, scoff and go, “You’re fucking mental.” A man who berated me when I declared The Departed better than the people-pointing-guns-at-each-other-on-rooftops-while-yelling-in-Japanese original Infernal Affairs. A man who screamed in my face on the car ride to my sister’s wedding because I declared 300 a misogynistic piece of shit.

I knew a man.

I think he liked Up. I think. I don’t remember. I don’t think we ever discussed it. He loved movies as much as I did. Perhaps more, if you can believe it. He was a writer, a reader, a thinker, a dreamer, a berater, a yeller and one hell of an arguer. English as fuck. He was a man who had more passion in his fucking fingertip than most people our age have in their entire body.

Sometimes you don’t need Herzog. Or Von Trier. Or Bergman. Sometimes you just need a blanket, wrapped tight. Warm. Safe.

I hope somewhere you have a phone and you can read this, Mike. And I hope you have Bovril. Lord help the bastard who tries to take either away. And I hope they have Dolby Surround and a widescreen as well, because The Avengers is amazing.

Mike Clode (1988 – 2012) He’s bigger than a fucking castle. Are you?