Archive for November, 2012

The Twilight Saga Catherine “I’m Actually a Real Filmmaker” Hardwicke (Dir.), Chris “You Killed The Golden Compass” Weitz (Dir.), David “30 Days of Suck” Slade (Dir.), Bill “Awkward Last Name” Condon (Dir.), Kristen “Lip-bite Extraordinaire” Stewart, Robert “Herp Derp” Pattinson, Taylor “The Alpaca” Lautner, Peter “Sickle Cell Anemia Affects Millions of People” Facinelli, Billy “The Stache” Burke, Ashley “Nosejob” Greene, Michael “FUCK YES” Sheen, Dakota “SPOILERS – She Gets Decapitated” Fanning, Anna “She Was Nominated for an Oscar, Seriously” Kendrick, etc., etc.

This, my friends, is the end of an era. It is a happy day. As the world is about to come to an end on December 21st, as the flood waters rise over Manhattan, as Twinkies go the way of heavily preserved dodos, The Twilight Saga puts its final, indelible, grotesque mark on the greater collective consciousness of a generation. What would have happened if the world had ended and I didn’t find out if Bells and Eddie fucked like a pair of pallid bunnies? What if I hadn’t found out how many times Taylor Lautner takes off his shirt? What if I hadn’t learned how fucking stupid a name like ‘Renesme’ actually is? But now, humanity, I can go to my Mayan apocalypse happy because, and I am completely serious right here, I watched a CGI wolf rip Dakota Fanning’s head from her body.

As you might have guessed from everything I have ever written ever and the general tone of that last paragraph, I am not a fan of the Twilight Saga. That’s a slight understatement. Twilight is, for all intents and purposes, my greatest enemy. My kryptonite. My arch nemesis. The Dr. Evil to my Austin Powers, the skin to my soup, the hangnail to my finger, the cramp to my foot, the fat hand to my Pringle can, the eyelash stuck under my fucking eyelid for hours that refuses to remove itself no matter how many times I excuse myself for looking either tired or crying. Let’s get this out of the way. Put on your serious face. I am a true believer in gender equality in all aspects of life. I do not believe, in this modern world, that there are any reasons why women and men cannot have exactly the same career and life opportunities nor do I believe that fulfillment in life comes from falling hopelessly and desperately in love. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t and that it isn’t a beautiful and wonderful thing…but a woman serving a man in the home isn’t, to me, the ‘natural order of things’. I do not believe men should be placed on pedestals and admired. I don’t believe women should be either. I completely admonish any created work that reinforces such outdated and infuriating stereotypes and I especially despise ones that get every girl on the face of the fucking planet to swoon at the very sound of the name ‘Edward’ and incorporate a female main character with about as much agency in the plot as a piece of rotting roadkill.

*FACEPALM*

So, in honor of the end of Twilight, I have decided to do a mini retrospective culminating with my viewing of the final film. I warn you, very little of what I say is accurate. I don’t care. I could check my facts, but that would mean reading more about Twilight and, honestly, I would rather give myself a cesarian Prometheus-style than read another fucking thing about sparkling vampires. Therefore, without further ado…

Twilight (2008) – Catherine Hardwicke (Dir.), Robbert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Cam “The Prequel to Skynet” Giganet, Anna Kendrick, and some other people that I can’t be bothered to list

WORST. CREED. COVER. BAND. EVER.

Now, a good friend of mine had told me about this book series before the whole Sparkling Beaver Fever really turned into an epidemic. I respect this friend. She is intelligent. She is talented. However, she was also single, 18 and of the vaginal persuasion. Upon hearing that it was about vampires, my interest was piqued. Sure, it was a love story. But, then again, everything is a love story. Here’s the issue with Twilight. The WHOLE THING IS A LOVE STORY. There is literally nothing else going on. It’s not about anything other than a girl wanting to bone a dude and the dude wanting to hold off until marriage because…well…he might bite her? Because men are monsters? And can’t control themselves? And it is entirely in our nature and it will never change? Oh, right, and all of the vampires, instead of doing that one thing that is characteristic of ALL VAMPIRES, you know, exploding into fire in direct sunlight…these ones sparkle. Like…more so than RuPaul on a good night. It’s a series about waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And it’s written by a mormon. Have you guys seen those ads recently? About successful business women of the mormon faith saying that they gave up everything to start a family and all mormon women should do the same. Um…no…?

So, on one very sad, drunken night, I decided to give myself a few chuckles and view this first segment of this ‘SAGA’. I mean, if they are going to give it a moniker of such mythological importance, like some Beowulf-level shit, I had to at least give it a shot.  With a drink in hand and my loneliness hanging thick, I witnessed the first scene of this modern epic. Yes, it incorporates special effects of such shittery that even Ed Wood would have hung his head in shame. After that point, I was treated to a 90 minute show of bland colors, airbrushed actors, agonizing ‘running’ effects, the abject soiling of one of my favorite pieces of classical music (Claire De Lune – full disclosure, it’s because of the ending of Ocean’s 11. Don’t judge) and gender politics of such regressive and conservative nostalgia that even Jane Austen would have blushed. This movie is fucking terrible. Granted, vampire baseball was hilarious in the way that watching a cat attack its own tail is hilarious. It’s an idiot. And you are actively ridiculing its idiocy. But you don’t want it to stop because it reinforces that you, evolutionarily, are a more highly capable being and able to understand that trying to eat one’s tail is M.C. Escher-level insanity. And that is what we are, higher breeds than Twilight. Also, the part where the rogue vampire gets dismembered is fantastic.

We see a young Robert Pattinson, excited that he has a role where he doesn’t get murdered for no discernible reason (looking at you, Potter). He leaps into this movie, Cro-Magnon forehead first, and tears into it was his entirely mediocre acting chops. Ms. Stewart, on the other hand, who had actually been blessed with a previous career, has, over the years, discovered that her best way of conveying the complete blandness of a main character, who would give a bowl of soggy spaghetti a run for its money in a ‘Wet Noodle’ contest, has narrowed her only discernible talent to ‘Looking Pretty’, ‘Pushing a Hand Through Her Hair’ and ‘Lip Biting’. I swear to god, I was half-convinced she was some kind of mouth cannibal who was constantly tenderizing her own flesh. Turns out, while every vampire has special abilities (for no goddamn reason whatsoever), her human power is a COMPLETE LACK OF ANYTHING. This lack of stuff includes, but is not limited to: a personality, decisiveness, personal agency, passion, interestingness, not-terribleness, vocabulary, hair ties, not-angst, basic levels of human communication, a tan, not sleeping with her director on Snow White (too soon?) etc. What’s doubly frustrating is that the director, Catherine Hardwicke, is a legit filmmaker. She made Thirteen! Also, she has a vagina! Wasn’t she constantly affronted by her propagation of work that encourages obsession with bedazzled private parts? But, all in all, with some whiskey in hand, the whole thing was mildly amusing and not entirely like that machine in Saw V where you need to table saw into your own hand to fill the jar with blood to make the door open. It was a little like that, but not entirely. I give it two thumbs down…which isn’t terrible because I have A LOT more thumbs.

New Moon (2009) – Chris Weitz (Dir.) Robert Pattinson (again), Kristen Stewart (ugh-gain), Taylor Lautner (hmm-gain?), Michael Sheen (fucking finally)

WORST. BUDDY. CUP. MOVIE. EVER.

You know what was missing from the rampant misogyny of the first movie? Abhorrent racism. I believe Ms. Stephanie “I LIEK WORDS” Meyer sat down and really thought, “Well, I’ve inured an entire generation of girls to the concept of a career or safe sex practices, why not make them okay with other-fying Native Americans?” Well, she fucking succeeded. Completely missing from the first film was the information that Bella’s best friend, a long-maned gentleman who was previously of a Shark-Boy persuasion, was actually a fucking werewolf. And not one of the awesome werewolves that have conversation with their victims in a porno theater in London. No, this is the Native American kind that ‘imprint’ (read: pedophiliac obsess) on little girls (SPOILERS) and their entire ‘Tribe’ can turn into wolves at will. Also, his totally metal wig (read: as convincing as Tara Reid’s last boob job) is gone in favor of a super manly short cut along with a few more cuts in the Michaelangelo’s David department. Dude got ripped.

Anyhoo, apparently the Cullens have to go away because…I don’t really give a shit. Bella has to stay. She cries. And she cries. And she screams. And she tears her hair. I was half expecting Father Merin from The Exorcist to show up and punch her in the jaw before ordering her to calm her tits. Unfortunately, Max Von Sydow would never sully his awesome Judge Dredd-ilicious career with such a base piece of turdery as this. Bella tries to cope with the, I guess, loss? by making out with the hot brown dude with abs so ripped he needs a sewing kit to patch it up. Also, there’s a thing where she scares herself and gets to see Ed ‘Rhinestone’ Cull-dawg again. How? No fucking idea. Maybe love is that strong. Maybe Stephanie “DERP” Meyer is making this shit up as she goes. Maybe they needed to pad this movie BECAUSE NOTHING HAPPENS. Seriously, even Samuel Beckett, if he’d had the misfortune to watch this movie, would have been bored to tears. My roommates and I watched this thing with Rifftax (a wonderful venture from the makers of Mystery Science Theater 3000) while drinking. Heavily. So heavily, in fact, that I just about missed the AMAZING finale involving Michael Sheen and Pattinson’s chest, a substance so pale it literally emits photons. Full disclosure: I have no fucking idea what occurred at the end of this movie. And I don’t care. All I know is that an entirely sparklicious Michael Sheen lathered on the ham so thick, I wanted to fry him up for breakfast.

What happens every time Michael Sheen comes on screen.

Let us take a moment to discuss the wonderful Mr. Sheen. Having a name so close to the gravel-voiced father of all that is the immediate Apocalypse and the tiger-blood guru himself, you’d think that a pasty, slight Brit who seems as timid as a dormouse convention would get lost in the pop-culture mix. But he refuses. From his masterful performance in Underworld as Lucian the Lycan, to his turn as Wesley Snipes in 30 Rock to the head of the…I want to say Voluptuous? The Volturum? The Vulture? We’ll call them the Vagazzled, for the sake of ease. While the rest of this greener-than-a-really-shit-banana cast lip-bite and serious-face their way through this dirge of teenage angst, Sheen waltzes in, the belle of the ball, wags his acting dick about a little, maybe slapping a few unfortunates along the way, and then slips from the fray as nothing more than an extraordinarily fantabulous specter of pure ‘Day-um’-ness. He is, hands down, the most enjoyable aspect of this ENTIRE franchise. So, Chris Weitz, I shall forgive you this moment for murdering The Golden Compass. You chose…wisely.

Eclipse (2010) – David Slade (Dir.), Robert Pattinson (duh), Kristen Stewart (ugh), Taylor Lautner (double duh), Bryce Dallas Howard (Huh?), Dakota Fanning (Uh…what-the-wha?)

WORST. POWER. RANGERS. EVER.

Okay…this one I didn’t see. And, apparently, based on the beginning of the fourth movie, I didn’t need to. The entirety of the consequential dramatic action is: Bella ‘chooses’ Edward and a collective scream of every girl batting for ‘Team Jacob’ shook the core of the earth. So, seeing as I haven’t actually viewed what my good friend Alex called, ‘the dumbest use of the director of 30 Days of Night,’ I will rant about another major hangup I have about this ‘Epic’s place in society. This concept of ‘teams’ in works of fiction is utterly absurd. It’s about as sensical as having Team ‘The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow’ and Team ‘We’re All Going to Fucking Die at Sundown!’ The obvious choice is screaming you in the face, though there is a sliver of a chance that the latter option might occur. From a literary, an intelligence and a basic human point of view, there is no reason on the face of planet earth that the series of books about a girl falling in love with a vampire would suddenly be about her running off with a werewolf. Wow. I just wrote that sentence. Point is, fan girls, when you dichotomized Twilight, I was fine. This ‘Legend’ is dumb. When you turned your sights onto The Hunger Games, I called shenanigans (which is actually a legal term. Look it up. But don’t…because I might be wrong). There is no way in hell Katniss was going to ‘be’ with Gale. The whole fucking point is that she falls in love with Peeta. It’s how you tell a story. So, to employ sports partitions on the predetermined ends for fictional characters, my brain begins to hurt with such vibrate fury that I might go Scanners on you bitches.

Her best acting ever: looking like she enjoys working on these movies.

Also, I heard, from Alex, that when Bella chooses Edward (uh, duh), Jacob reads her mind (because wolves can do that…?) and then says, “I’m done. I’m just…done.” At which point, Alex laughed in the midnight showing and the weeping girls in front of him turned around and said, “Shut up. It’s not funny.” Actually, miladies, it’s fucking hilarious. MOVING ON.

Breaking Dawn Part One – (2011) – Bill Condon (Dir.), Robert Pattinson (Of course), Kristen Stewart (Of Snores), Taylor Lautner (Of horse?)

WORST. DAYS. OF. OUR. LIVES. EPISODE. EVER.

And here we have arrived. The finale of this Twilight Yarn. It was, of course, TOO BIG FOR ONE MOVIE! How could they have possibly fit all those awkward actor pauses into the length of one film? How could Taylor Lautner have taken off his shirt the maximum number of times on only a couple of reels? (The first happens at minute number 3. Seriously) How can we find out the utterly inconsequential and pointless end to this tale that, by it’s own admission, has no fucking end, in ONLY ONE SITTING? Well, the answer is: we can’t. And so, the geniuses back at the movie company decided to split their winnings and make two bloated, batshit, bullheaded, bastardy finale films. Man did they. I remember reading a synopsis of the events of this tale beforehand. For some reason, this bastion of non-events suddenly takes a dive into a deep pit of bizarre Croenenbergian darkness and body horror. I’m not sure if Stephanie “aefgyip (just so we’re clear, that was me hitting the keyboard with my head)” Meyer had some kind of traumatic birthing experience or if she watched Alien at far too young an age, but The Twilight Bedtime Story takes a bizarre turn for the grotesque all of a sudden.

After Bella begs for sex, Edward demands marriage first. You know, like all men. So, they get married. It’s…well, a wedding. There’s a lot of people smiling awkwardly and being all cutesy. Anyways, after the big deed, Mr. and Mrs. Sparkle Motion head to the tropics for a bonercation honeymoon. After a first night of raucous sparkle-p in the v, Edward decides against sex because he’s afraid of hurting her. So…no sex even when married. Man, Bella knows how to choose ’em. And seeing as her choice of what supernatural pork sword will be making home in her special temple is literally the only choice she makes in the entire series, she’s going on 0 for 1. So, instead of sex, they do the next best thing. Chess. Yes. You read that correctly. They play chess. On their honeymoon. I’m surprised Bella, who looks about as amped as a fucking French Pug having found a new leg, doesn’t suddenly turn into Austin Powers and start tweaking the bishops. It gets to the point where she literally begs for sex. And then they tear shit up, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee style. Of course, because this was written by someone who believes in abstinence and that Jesus, after he died, moved to the US to set up shop, Bella gets pregnant with, (reverb please) SUPER BABY. This super baby drinks blood, grows at a rate A THOUSAND TIMES FASTER THAN A REGULAR BABY…or something. Basically, Kristen Stewart starts turning into an approximation of her inevitable future mugshot. Her skin goes gray; she drinks blood from a Big Gulp cup; and, eventually, when the baby decides to explode from her uterus, it helps out by snapping her spine in half. And then there’s the cesarian…which is performed by Edward’s teeth.

I wish this were actually the plot of Prometheus. It would have helped both movies immeasurably.

Now, here’s the kicker…all that ripping babies from wombs with dentures and feeding blood and killing Bella (SPOILERS…who even fucking cares at this point?), I haven’t even reached the most absurd plot point in the entire movie. Jacob, the indian wolfy thingy, takes one look at the named-after-a-sneeze Renesme and ‘imprints’ on her or, as it’s called in the industry, ‘becomes a pedophile’. Yes, that’s right folks, the 18-year-old werewolf falls in love. With a baby. That actually happens. In this movie. I. Will keep. Putting. Random punc. Tuation. All ov. Er. Th. Is. Bitch.

They finally do it! But not in a tree. Because this series is never good.

I suppose the reason I had such a raucous time during this film, while neither drunk nor under the influence of any drugs other than caffeine, was due to the fact that something actually occurs. Now, let’s put this in perspective, I missed the entirety of The Twilight Thingy: Moon Reference and the only thing, literally, that changed between the end of movie 2 and the beginning of movie 4 was that Bella and Edward were engaged. Now, if I had skipped this addition to the franchise, I would have been beset with a vampire Bella and a CGI baby that grows super fast and has magical powers for some reason and a werewolf that’s in love with a toddler… That puts things in some perspective, I feel. Also, my stylist friend sitting next to me was both enraptured and offended by what was occurring on screen at all times. She both ridiculed and wept at the same time. It was utterly confusing to me. But, then again, I don’t understand a lot of people.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Bill Condon (Dir.), Robert Patterson (I’m so tired of writing that), Kristen Stewart (Even more tired of writing that), Taylor Lautner (I should be tired of writing that, but then I remember he was Shark Boy in the aptly named ‘Shark Boy and Lava Girl IN 3D!’), Michael Sheen (NEVER TIRED OF IT), Dakota Fanning (Seriously, what?), Maggie “I Am 35 And Still Play 18-Year-Olds” Grace, Joe “Real Actor” Anderson and a bunch of other people…

WORST. BOURNE. SEQUEL. EVER.

It has finally come. The creme de la phlegm. The coup de blah. The pick of the shitter. The finale to end all finales…of the Twilight S-oh-god-I-want-to-stop-writing-about-it. As the completely arbitrary partition might suggest, the ‘action’ of this ‘film’ ‘picks up’ where the last one ‘left off’. We have a wolf in love with a CGI, soulless demon baby (WHY MUST YOU FOLLOW ME EVERYWHERE, UNCANNY VALLEY? IT’S CREEEEPY), Bella is a vampire with the ability to punch boulders for no apparent reason and…I guess…not get hurt? She discovers she is a ‘shield’ and can project this onto friends and family. So, she just became exactly what the series has been trying to say the entire time: she’s the Invisible Woman. Apparently, there’s this law that prohibits people from making baby vampires and the Vagazzled or Voltron or Voltu-I-just-don’t-care-anymore want them all dead. So, the Cullen Crew, along with the smitten kitten, Jacob and friends, charge off to the corners of the earth to find ‘witnesses’. Yes, my friends, the Twilight Whatever will end like Twelve Angry Men. With talking. As the Vagazzled march on Forks (what a fucking stupid name. The only name that would be stupider would be ‘Sporks’ but at least that serves more than one functional purpose…unlike Bella. OH. DRAMATIC ACTION BURN!) the Cullens gather their vamp-bros. We got a lady with a penchant for electrocuting people and so much collagen that it seems like a magician glued a balloon animal over her mouth. There’s a bug-eyed Egyptian dude who can control elements. Also some crazy Russian bloodsuckers who dress like Eastern European Goth Leather Bondage…well, like Eastern Europeans. And last, and certainly least, we have the final button on Ms. Stephanie “Wait, what’s a semi colon?” Meyer’s rampant, radiant racism is the addition of two vampires from ‘The Amazon’ (and no, they don’t do online retailing) who seem to be able to make you see things by looking as though they really need to poop. *Slow clap* Bravo. Simply…bravo. 

This film is two hours long. Ninety percent of it involves people standing around awkwardly, getting angry about nothing and having arguments that even a beginning writer can tell lack even the most basic conflict. I was sitting there, stewing, agonizing, waiting for SOMETHING, ANYTHING to happen. Well, if you’ve read the books, you know that what occurs is a big fat bullshit nothing. It’s worse than Waiting For Godot, than My Dinner with Andre, than my interdisciplinary study at Oberlin College called “Watching Paint Dry 101: Activities to Do While Your Parents Fight in the Other Room”. An interesting thing occurs during this film, however. It seems as though the makers realized this was a dirge, their Hades and, like Orpheus trudging towards the surface, they could see the light ahead… So they decided to fuck around a bit. Condon knows what’s up. Even Pattinson does. Stewart is trying to keep her head down to avoid the rage of the rabid Robsessives and Michael Sheen is…well, if movie number 2 was Ham Factor 5, this is shit is a full on pork roast.

So, all the factions meet up in some random ice plane, the Motley Cullen Crue (I wish I could do umlauts, I’d put them everywhere) on one end and the Vagazzled Voltrons on the other (note to self: new band name/TV show idea). This time, Mr. Sheen shows up looking like Sgt. Pepper’s Goth nightmare and, well, this picture says it all:

Everyone in the audience is ready for the greatest narrative cockblock of all time…until, suddenly, they all start decapitating each other. I sat there fucking stunned. One by one, the main characters are all murdered in the same way you’d kill a squad of Lego men. Seriously. It turns into X-Men: Noggin Pop Edition. It’s brutal, it’s violent, it’s shocking and DAKOTA FANNING GETS HER HEAD RIPPED FROM HER WEEPING CORPSE BY A CGI WOLF. Holy. Fucking. Shit. I began giggling in the same way I did during that scene in Seven Psychopaths when everyone goes out guns blazing in Sam Rockwell’s demented imagination. The dad gets decapitated. The annoying blonde one. And then Bella and Edward team up, Scott Pilgrim style, and wreck Michael Sheen’s shit. It was hands down the most enjoyable, harrowing, ridiculous, hilarious, tense, crazy, wonderful, manic, pants-wettingly guffaw-o-licious thing I have seen in a very long time. And then…there’s a twist. A shockingly intelligent twist. Guess what? It wasn’t in the book (in a sense). So, let’s recap, the most brilliant part of the ENTIRE SERIES wasn’t actually even in The Twilight Chronicles. Mr. Condon, well fucking done. You have done the world a service. Those last fifteen minutes were a work of genius, some Citizen Kane level shit. It wasn’t actually, but in the context of the rest of this festering fecal filmic fellation, it was basically the greatest move in all of cinematic history.

So, to conclude. Twilight blows on every single level. But, you know what? Everything was worth it for those five minutes of brutal batshit bliss. Now, I can walk into my doom a contented man. Yes, Mr. Tarantino, I’m sure there will be some awesome moments in Django Unchained. Yes, I’m sure someone will one day come out with my brilliant idea for a film, Zombie Strippers (wait…they already did that? And it was bad? How bad? Oh…like Scary Movie 3 bad? Worse than Scary Movie 3? What about Epic Movie? Worse than that? Oh dear Jesus)…but, all that nonsense can go hang because I witnessed K-Stew serve Dakota Fanning to a mutherfucking wolf. Thank you, Bill Condon. You have restored my faith in humanity.

And so has this gif. You’re welcome.

Oh yes. And just because Renes-Bless-You grows super fast, that doesn’t make falling in love with her as a newborn not-pedophilia. I’m calling Dateline on you, Jacob Black. Also, Stephanie Meyer, please, for the love of everything that is holy on God’s green Earth, stop abusing the written word. When I open one of your books, it’s like witnessing Marcellus Wallace in the gimp basement at the end of Pulp Fiction. Just leave those poor, poor sentences alone. They never did anything to you.

Oh shit. She wrote another book? Which they made into a movie? JEEVES! Get my Fandango! I have more snark to give! TALLY HO!

(He rides off into the sunset, one man against an author and the destruction she has wrought across the literary hellscape that is modern fiction. Will he return? Find out…after Thanksgiving.)

Flight (2012) – Robert Zemeckis (Dir.), Denzel Washington, Barry Greenwood, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, John Goodman

I believe this is the face I made for the entirety of the 2 hour runtime.

So, do you remember there was that kid in school who, no matter what was going on in the world, whether it was a happy celebration, a sports game or just a bunch of people chilling out, they always needed to remind you that their father or their mother was a drunk/dead and that there was this whole story about it that they insisted on telling you, a story that is far too well-thought out to be necessarily true but the subject matter is so depressing you can’t stand up and outrightly call the kid a liar? And do you remember that this kid, whether or not the overwrought tale was true or not, would only play this little game of ‘pity me’ in order to garner attention from attractive girls/everyone in the room? Well, I do. This kid pulls on the heartstrings in so many manipulative ways that you have to just sit there and wait for them to stop talking, though you’ve heard the tale a thousand times and it is so riddled with cliches that you have to forcibly hold down your inner writer from calling out ‘BULLSHIT’, and, when they finish, whisper in the most convincing way possible, ‘I’m sorry’ (or, in the fashion of one of my more churlish friends, ‘That sucks’). Well, Flight is that kid.

I did not like this movie. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s not that it’s poorly acted or poorly directed. It’s none of those things. In fact, it’s a resounding ‘Fine’ in all departments. The issue is that you sit through this film, fully aware that director Robert Zemeckis is reaching directed into your chest, Kali-Mah style, and yanking on anything he can find. We get heavy-handed music cues (Sweet Mary Jane plays while the surprising tit-worthy Kelly “She Was in Sherlock Holmes, Man That Was Bugging Me For the Whole Movie” Reilly ODs on heroin, the opening line of Sympathy for the Devil, ‘Let me introduce myself’, plays as John Goodman enters the fray and With a Little Help from My Friends floods the audio after Denzel snorts coke and hangs out with a little girl in an elevator), we get close-ups so ham-fisted that they might as well have started their own fucking butcher shop (YES, MR. ZEMECKIS, WE CAN SEE HIM CRYING. WE DO NOT NEED A CLOSE UP OF HIM CRYING, THE TEAR IS GLISTENING, WE DON’T NEED TO SEE A REFLECTION OF THE DEAD FLIGHT ATTENDANT IN IT), and, of course, we have prostitutes, swelling scores and Denzel Mutherfuckin’ Washington. This thing is so emotionally manipulative, if it were a human being, it would be a Dexter-level sociopath. Of course it’s easy to get sucked in and cry a little when the Denzel Waterworks (TM) take off. But, if you have any emotional distance whatsoever, the hand is shown too fast and you just sit there, for two fucking hours, thinking to yourself “BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT”. And that, my friends, is what I did.

How I felt walking out of this movie without laughing too loudly.

What’s it about? Well, The Denz is a hotshot ex-Navy airline pilot with a penchant for tits, ass, coke and booze. After a night of partying with a rather shirtless stewardess, he snorts a line, makes a screwdriver and then flies an airliner. What can go wrong? Well, apparently, the plane it a certified POS and knocks itself into a nosedive halfway through the flight (see what they did there?). With the help of the annoying dude who gets shot in the leg in The Hurt Locker, Denz Dub manages to invert the plane, stabilize it, revert it and then fly it into a field losing only six lives (or four, legally, seeing as crew don’t count as living people). It is one of the most stressful, harrowing and totally absurd openings to a movie since the Roger Moore era of James Bond movies. It’s reminiscent of Captain Sully “Sully is Actually His Name” Sullenberger and his heroic saving of the Hudson flight. Here’s the problem, Sully isn’t an interesting topic for a movie. You know why? Coz he’s a good guy without any discernible skeletons in the closet. So, Mr. Zemeckis took this yarn of heroism and asked, “What if the guy is a drunken douchebag?” Um… okay. Here’s the thing with movies about drunks. Alcohol is a depressant. Usually, people drink until they die, which is very solitary, slow and quiet. You know what isn’t any of those things? A FUCKING PLANE CRASH. After the initial whiz-bang of the opening 30 minutes, we are treated to an agonizing slow burn of a man haunted by demons and just making bad choice after bad choice. It is, in essence, a tale of two films. On the one hand, we have a completely unrealistic story of a super-pilot and on the other we have a man trying to kill himself with every liquor known to man. Both are fine in isolation, but these two halves are so tonally incongruous you practically shit yourself with boredom for the latter section. It’s as though Mr. Zemeckis spent 30 minutes tickling your dramatic erogenous zones and, just as it gets hot and heavy, he pulls out a copy of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and begins reading all of the 12 steps over and over in monotone. Let me say: I have a lot of sober friends and I have great respect for the program and how it helps people with the disease of alcoholism. I believe it’s important to tell the stories of people struggling with addiction. BUT SOMETIMES IT ISN’T APPROPRIATE TO READ THE TWELVE STEPS TO MY AROUSED FILM-PENIS.

How I felt while trying to come up with an opening paragraph for this review.

Could this movie have been good? Yes. I believe so. Unfortunately, Zemeckis is a man personally trained by Steven “What the fuck is Subtlety? I Made Indiana Jones” Spielberg. He is from a school of cinematic thought where the music swells at every possible instant, silence is an audience’s worst enemy and CLOSE-UPS! OH LAWDY, THE CLOSE-UPS! Perhaps in the 80s, it was okay to make a movie about a white person going back in time and inventing rock and roll (we all know that’s what Back to the Future was reeeeally about). In the 90s it was okay to make a movie about a dullard getting AIDS and basically crafting the modern era of American politics. It was even okay in the early naughties to make a movie about a man in love with both facial hair and volley balls. But then…he did motion capture. Suddenly, Zemeckis crowned himself king of the Uncanny Valley with such horrifying and disgusting creations as The Polar Express, God-of-War-the-Movie: Beowulf and the final nail in the coffin for Jim Carrey’s holiday film career, A Christmas Carol. And when he was stuck jerking off in that realm of terror, film evolved. Suddenly, the Oscar norm isn’t Philadelphia, it’s No Country for Old Men. It doesn’t tell us when to cry, when to hold tight. It dares us not to. It challenges us. It leaves us questioning ourselves and our choices. It is a good move towards subtlety. Unfortunately, he missed it. Flight is Zemeckis’ first foray back into the land of real faces, but, unfortunately, they all still seem like those soulless pixelated monstrosities he so loves. Yes, they are human. Yes, they are acting well. But they seem shuffled about the story like hollowed-out meat puppets. It’s as though Zemeckis is attempting to craft his own filmic purgatory, a realm where audiences sometimes discover themselves trapped for 2 hours at a time. It is a place where a mirror is placed in front of their faces with the human essence, the core, the light at the center of consciousness, removed. It might be scary. It might not be. It is no hell. It is simply nothingness.

How I feel every time I am John Goodman.

Flight is nothingness. It has a message, yes. It tries extremely hard to be a story about alcoholism. And yet, it tries so hard to be more than that and that, my friends, is exactly why it fails. Perhaps Mr. Zemeckis needs to wander away from the computer for a moment and interact with this strange species we call ‘Hoomonity’. Maybe he can then turn his obvious skill as a director towards something a little less Oscar-grabby. Something quieter. Something without CGI of any kind. He wants it again. He wants that golden statuette so badly. But, Mr. Zemeckis, if Forrest Gump were released today, it would go the way of I Am Sam: in the words of Black Robert Downey Jr., it would go ‘full retard’. We aren’t retards, Mr. Zemeckis. We’re older and smarter. Get with the program.

Argo (2012) – Ben Affleck (Dir.), Ben Affleck (Narcissist), Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall, Victor Garber, the Smoke Monster from ‘Lost’

“The hair was real. The facial hair was unreal.”

The USA is a funny thing. Not ‘Ha ha’ funny. Though, in its elemental form it has offered up such greats as Sarah Palin and Honey Boo-Boo, but it’s more the ‘Oh, that’s funny,’ that escapes your lips when you return from a long weekend away to find your wife in bed with your proctologist. It’s an oddity with a sick, sarcastic edge. As a nation, we’re one of the youngest on the world stage. Yes, governmental overhauls have occurred in numerous states around the globe, but we were conceived in such a precise and direct manner that our birthdate is coined and minted (literally). And, like the youngest kid on the playground, we seem to have managed to piss off each and every one of the other mutherfuckers there at some point. Granted, our clashes with Europe tend to be of the passive aggressive, changing the name of a favorite fried food sort; and our beefs with a good deal of Asian nations have either become utterly parasitic (a remora fish hanging from the side of the Great White Shark that is China) or totally bemusing (but then again, everything about Japan is totally bemusing). It’s the Middle East that is our Magnum Opus of Douche. If the Middle East were a hornet’s nest, we have managed to stick our dick into it so many times that, now, we just kind of accept that our national penis should be covered in pussy sores and masturbation should be a practice in not passing out. From regime changes to backing only one horse in an epic equine knife fight to literally invading a country for no other reason than, “Eh. We needed to invade something and everywhere else could fight back!” we have certainly fucked this beehive good.

There is a chapter of our continued apoidean tassle-wag that was key to the downfall of Jimmy Carter’s presidency and yet it isn’t particularly in the forefront of this younger generations minds. Turns out, back in the day, the US murdered an elected official in Iran for a multitude of reasons (read: oil) and installed a little meat puppet in his stead. Well, this meat puppet wasn’t particularly loved (probably due to the death squads and things of that sort) and so a student revolution swept the nation turning what was a politically liberal nation into one of deep Islamic conservatism. In the brutal change-up, the US embassy and all but six of its employees were taken hostage and tried for being spies. They were held in Iran, even after a miserable attempt at a Delta Force extract, for 444 days. That’s fucking right. 444 days. Now, you may know this, but being a lowly Brit, this kinda stuff isn’t covered in regular curricula. Well, this is where Ben Affleck’s brilliant film Argo begins and proceeds telling one of the most batshit crazy exfiltration plans in the known history of the CIA. It turns out that 6 lower level visa clerks managed to just sort of step out of the embassy as it was being stormed and, of course, sought shelter with the Can-eh-dian ambassador (an always wonderful Victor “I Built the Titanic” Garber). There they were trapped for around 3 months, waiting for the Iranians to have their sweat shop kids piece together images of their faces from mounds of shredded documents. Mr. Affleck, a man who has now proven that his career behind the camera is about ten billion times more successful than that in front of it (Gone Baby Gone vs. Reindeer Games. You do the fucking math), plays Tony Mendez who, though sounding like a porn star forced to come up with a fake name in a split second, was one of the CIA’s top exfil operatives. He devises a scheme to head into Iran posing as a Canadian film crew on a location scout for a fake sic-fi film and then remove the lost employees one hilarious facial hair mistake after another.

“This movie isn’t a porno? EVERY MOVIE IN THE 70S WAS A PORNO” ~ Alan “Don’t Ask About the Trouser Snake” Arkin

Now, here’s the thing about historical dramas. You know how they end. We know how Argo will turn out. This is not the tale of how seven Americans were round up in Iran and shot in the head. They just don’t make movies like that (unless it’s The Great Escape). Yes, spoilers, they make it out. There is no illusion there. However, it’s a testament to Mr. Affleck’s storytelling ability that this was one of the most stressful fucking movies I have ever seen. The logical section of my brain kept soothing the rest of my squirming self with sweet whispers of, “It’s okay, crazy Mooney! They survive!” but this fucking movie. It is perfectly crafted to hook you in and drag you along. From the intense assault on the embassy itself to the nailbiting interrogation in the airport (Literally nailbiting. I must have almost chewed my fucking hands off) the better half of Bennifer straps you in, locks you up and throws you down the fucking gauntlet. I’m not talking about any wimpy glove gauntlet here. I’m talking about a First Knight Richard-Gere-almost-skewered-on-a-machinated-death-trial-in-front-of-Sean-Connery mutherfucker. I don’t care how cynical or aloof you think you are, this tale is harrowing. HARROWING, I SAY. From the repeated shots of terrible 70s hair with people attached just wallowing and stewing in polite captivity, to the second half of Jenjamin’s constantly humorless grimace, you are always aware of the stakes, the characters, the dangers and the goal. And though there are a few filmic flourishes, Mr. Affleck has made it clear to the world that he isn’t here to reinvent the wheel. He’s not about to Cloud Atlas this shit up. No. He just mades good, solid-as-Ryan-Gosling’s-abs movies. It also helps that he apparently knows everyone. So, we are treated to the likes of John “Line in the Sand” Goodman and Alan “Read This in My Voice” Arkin along with flashes of the ridiculously named Bob Gunton, Richard “Un” Kind, and Bryan Mutherfucking Cranston. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes! And by eyes, I mean, ‘Acting Fanboy Boner’.

“I’m glad you brought this to King of the Maple Leaves. His is a wise and generous man.” ~ Vizier to Grand Admiral Mapilicious

If I were to have any hangups with the film it would be it’s need to hang in the uncanny valley of historical accuracy. When offered a tale such as this, where many of the lead players are still alive and kicking, Hollywood has the task of trying to stick to the facts while also making it a movie. Affleck does well, for the most part. In fact, he even has shots of each of the cast members next to their real-life counterparts, proving that he did, indeed, recreate them fairly well (noted exceptions being Tate Donovan, that handsome man, and Clea Duvall vs. the homeliest woman I have ever seen). He goes so far as to recreate footage of the original assault on the embassy. There is one flaw in this plan. Ben Affleck looks nothing, NOTHING like Tony Mendez. In fact, the brilliant man with the plan or the ‘Latino James Bond’ looks more like an attractive version of Luis Guzman. All comparisons between the director and his character are conspicuously absent. They even worked in a shot of Affleck’s chiseled abs during the prep scene! Seriously, guys? Anyhoo, the other issue I take with it is that, though the ending is tenser than the only black man at a Georgian Civil War convention, it’s a complete fabrication. Of course it must have been stressful for those involved, but there was no chase, no interrogation and no battle of red tape at the White House. Affleck goes to such lengths to convince us of the tale’s factual basis, though he blatantly skews the action in favor of the  dramatic. This is fine, I guess, because this is a movie and it isn’t ‘A True Story’ but ‘Based on a True Story’. It purports itself as a higher level film, operating above the level of other more bullish approaches to historical tales and yet this is an absolutely Hollywoodized vision of this story. Case and point: Ben Affleck is the lead. He doesn’t need to be. He’s fine. He isn’t great. He’s good enough. Most of the scenes shows him with a facial expression equivalent of soured Mayonnaise (you don’t like it, but you ain’t got another option). Couldn’t we have at least cast someone vaguely hispanic? Ben Affleck is whiter than a Bon Iver concert. There are good actors who are also hispanic out there in the world. Couldn’t we have given this one to them? Please? I mean, even Ben Affleck the director knows that Ben Affleck the actor is about as palatable as a boiled turnip. He ain’t offensive, but he ain’t doing much either.

Spot the difference! (Answer: One of them is Tom Selleck and the other was in ‘Paycheck’)

But those are minor issues. If you are looking for a historical document, this isn’t it. If you are looking to hear Alan Arkin tell the dude from Scott Pilgrim to “Argo fuck yourself”, to shit bricks for about 30 minutes, to hear Bryan Cranston yell “Why can’t we find the Chief of Staff? We’re a fucking spy organization. FIND HIM” and to see the kid from Empire Records with a handlebar mustache that would make every pornstar ever very proud, then see this movie. It’s one of the best of the year. I just hope that, for future cinematic endeavors, Mr. Affleck can find better talent than the middle part of JeBennifer Affarner. Seriously, that guy hasn’t had a fucking career since Jersey Girl. Cut the fat, Affleck. There’s this really good actor out there. He’s been around a bit, but the guy is talented as fuck. He was in that one movie, Good Will Hunting, his name’s Matt Damon. I think you two would really get along. Anyway, that’s for another time. Everyone else. GO SEE ARGO RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Drew Goddard (Dir.), Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Kristen Connelly, Anna Hutchinson, Fran Kranz, Bradley Whitford

Ticket sales were bloated when fans believed this was the sequel to the finale of the David Bowie Opus: Labyrinth

Ah, a return to my roots. Yes, this was the ultimate choice for my Spooktacular Hallow-Mooney Watch-a-thon 2012. Like the prodigal son returning to his homestead, bearing the bounties which he has reaped after hours upon hours of watching both brilliant and turd-ilicious films, I came back to Cabin in the Woods. To those of you who read this blog with some regularity, you might know that this is the film that encouraged me to begin writing on the Interwebs in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s faint praise. When this movie, the brain child of Joss “King of Hollywood, Apparently” Whedon and Drew “That Other Guy” Goddard, appeared on my radar a couple of years ago, sporting several rather uninspired, blood-red posters, I looked at it. I mehed. I moved on. And then, my hetero-life-mate managed to steal himself a seat (perhaps at the demise of other unbeknownst theater-goers, I haven’t asked and he hasn’t told) at a preview of this glorious batshit experiment in meta-film. He returned declaring one thing, “YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE IMMEDIATELY” and whet my palette with only a single, nonsensical spoiler: “There is a scene where Richard Jenkins is staring at a TV showing a bunch of Japanese girls and yells, ‘Fuck you, fuck you and fuck YOU.'” Well. How could my critical testes not wet themselves with anticipation? And why do my balls get wet? Is that something I should see a doctor about? Is it just sweat or some kind of unhealthy discharge? Anybody who has an medical advice, please don’t share it because it is embarrassing. Moving along…

If this is a face for radio, I vote to burn all radios.

When it came out, I saw this movie twice in three days. That’s right, TWICE IN THREE DAYS. It was at that moment, on my return from the second viewing, that I realized I had seen nothing of substance in months and, thus, in my pitiful delightfully whimsical singlehood, I turned on Melancholia and have never looked back. How appropriate then, should this movie be for viewing on Halloween night, surrounded by my movie-junkies and other assorted nutcases friends? Like the old dude in the Seven Samurai, or Yul Brynner, or some other bald gentleman of gravitas, I marched from village to village, recruiting the greatest warriors this land had to offer! (Translation: I made a Facebook event). We had the original, Alex “Steve “The Hurricane” McQueen” Huntsberger; his companion, the Queen of Snark, the Surfer of Internets, the Uncomfortably Knowledgable about Game of Thrones Meg; Vanessa: The Bearded Lady;  Theora: Frida “Holy Unibrow Batman!” Kahlo; Alex “Stranded Because of a Hurricane” Lubischer; Zack: The English; Erin “Ladies Who Lunch” Coleman; and of course, my lady of Vanderbilt. It was a crew worthy of a motion picture! But, instead, we settled for snacks and copious amounts of wine. As the libations flowed, the popcorn was nommed, and the candy, OH THE CANDY, was stuffed into mouths, we pressed play on this modern classic, sat back, and watched.

The baseball game was going fine until Eli Roth showed up. Then it took a very sharp, very ‘Heart of Darkness’ turn for the worse.

Alright, there will be spoilers. But if you don’t know what this movie is about already, shut up. Cabin in the Woods follows a quintet of college pretties on a clandestine weekend in, that’s right! A CABIN IN THE WOODS. Of course nobody has been there before, nor does it show up on any maps, and it is blatantly guarded by a man who makes every creepy-Deliverance-obsessed uncle seem like a Corgi that farts candy and dreams. But they don’t care. They want to get high, hang out and have SEX. Shock! Horror! Well, he’s the twist. Apparently, the whole thing is being engineered from an underground super-sci-fi and white-collar-as-my-pale-butt facility. We are treated to the sweetest of candied cuckoos, Mr. Bradford “Yes I know He Was in the West Wing, Now Shut Up” Whitford and Richard Jennings: BAMF Extraordinaire. These two gentlemen herd the unsuspecting coeds into situations stickier than a jam explosion at a glue factory. After inadvertently raising a family of pain-worshipping zombies from the dead, the kids have to survive cliche after cliche, all the while being picked off in a terrifyingly specific order to appease the bosses down below. It’s a clever, hilarious and completely surface examination of the horror genre in general. Goddard and Whedon attempt to unravel horror storytelling from country to country by giving it a supernatural overtone, but, like my latest alibi for ‘Who Ate the Cookie in the Cookie Jar?’, it all falls apart under close scrutiny. It’s fun, it’s dumb in its witticisms. But, and this is a big ‘but’, it is ALWAYS entertaining. From making out with wolf heads, attack bongs, Chris Hemsworth’s speech before biting it, mermen, unicorns and dismemberment goblins, this is a movie that offers up more gems of pure enjoyment than a mine staffed by Christopher Walken impersonators. I believe, upon every viewing, I never cease giggling for the final twenty minutes. For some, it’s too much. For others it’s 20,000 Leagues up Whedon’s Asshole. For me, it is a wonderful simultaneous send-up and homage to a genre that I both adore and detest depending on the time of day.

As you may have read in my ‘review’ of Tommy Wiseau’s work of genius, The Room, there is an incredible sense of ritual, of snark-tastic community, of joined souls fighting against and for a greater good, in viewing a film with a group. This movie, on it’s own, is great. But, in a crowd, half of which have seen it and the other half haven’t, it is a fucking blast. Soon, catch-phrases are born, the squeamish ones hide during beheadings while those in the know chuckle with abandon. This is what I truly love about movies. With a thing such as this, everyone knows when to be quiet, when to joke, when to laugh and when to hide. It’s a roller coaster that doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but it sure has some amazing stops along the way. And, watching people who have never seen it trying to figure out what the fuck is going on during the opening scenes is a sport that reaps greater rewards than anything involving balls or bats or grown men piling on top of each other in a massive group hug in order to… Okay, side bar, I don’t get American football. I really don’t. What the fuck are they doing? Why are they doing it? And what about this sport involves feet?

‘Read ’em and weep’ has never had such a jovial connotation.

Knowing that Cabin in the Woods received a less than lackluster opening at the box office and that it’s fandom, though small, is fervent, I hope it lives on in the greater pantheon of cult films. It shall earn its place beside Nightmare Before Christmas, Troll 2, Rocky Horror Picture Show and all the rest of the motley crew. And, though it is neither as brilliant nor as revolutionary as it might think it is, it’s one fuck of a ride. Get friends. Get drinks. Get dumb. Let the bodies hit the floor and laugh when they do. Because, I don’t know about you, but I find grievous bodily harm fucking hilarious. Maybe I should talk to someone about that.

Oh! Also, I dressed up as Doctor Who with my lady as River Song. He is a picture of us being pretty and dorky in equal measures. Thank god High School is over and those two things are no longer mutually exclusive.

“I’ll sonic your screwdriver!”