Archive for December, 2012

American Horror Story (2011-Present) Ryan Murphy (Cr.), Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Frances Conroy, Denis O’Hare

This show brought to you by Zero Gravity S&M! "You have to try smack harder, because of Newton's third law."

This show brought to you by Zero Gravity S&M! “You have to try smack harder, because of Newton’s third law.”

Now, I watch a lot of movies. As you may assume from this blog, I watch a metric shit ton of movies. And, like most people who’d rather crawl into their own imaginations and never deal with the world at large such as things like a ‘job’ and ‘groceries’ and ‘not the internet’ and ‘that one outstanding parking ticket that you know you should pay but can’t seem to get around to it’, I also happen to watch a good deal of television. Most of this ranges from the brilliant (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Parks and Recreation, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Louie, Arrested Development) to the silly (New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, 24, Doctor Who) to the abjectly fucking terrible (oh Lost, how I tried to love you and how unwilling you were to be loved). It was recently suggested by my friend, heir and hetero life-mate, Mr. Alex Huntsberger, that perhaps I branch out into the realm of writing for TV. There are many movies out there. Many that need to be hunted down and shat upon like the little squealing piggies they are. Many that need to be needlessly and hyperbolically praised as the next coming of Christ…only to be hunted down and shat upon like the aforementioned sty-hogs (looking at you, Prometheus. And, no, I’m still not over it). So, I don’t really have too much time to waste on more than two hours of turdery at a time.

Thus, I have bequeathed sections of this blog to the ever-hilarious and somehow-even-more-offensive Mr. Alex to review the shit I don’t want to watch. I shall be his editor! His liege! Orson Wells with terrible makeup chewing the scenery to his silhouetted Joe Cotton typing away (suck it, I actually HAVE seen Citizen Kane)! However, before he begins unleashing the world of obscure televisions upon your supple eye-testicles, we have decided to collaborate on an adventure into the heart of TV darkness itself…American Horror Story.

Let me say this, first and foremost. I hate Glee. I hate everything about Glee (except Jane Lynch, duh. Anyone who hates Jane Lynch is Hitler. And luckily, we killed that guy). It takes phenomenal music and ‘broadway-ifies’ it. It is the id of Ryan Murphy’s rampant and insatiable inner musical theater geek allowed to run unencumbered by taste, quality, colorblind casting, copyright law and actual talent through the annals of our rich musical history and transform greats (most egregiously, The Rocky Horror Picture Show…FUCKING WHY? WHY DID WE NEED YOU TO REMAKE ROCKY HORROR?) into auto-tuned slabs of sterile hormonal bullshit. Thus, when this gentleman, Mr. Murphy, a man who spells ‘subtlety’ ‘S-U-B-OMG-CRANESHOTS-GUYS!-T-L-EVERYBODY-YELL-ALL-THE-TIME-E-T-I’M-A-HACK-Y’, decided to turn his sights onto the genre of ‘horror’, I hung my head in shame and sprinted in the opposite direction. That was until Mr. Huntsberger said, “It’s the worst fucking writing on television. It’s amazing. You’re gonna hate it.” Well, how could I pass that up?

Honestly. How could I? I adore suckling on the teat of terrible cinema. Much like when a friend sticks his nose into a carton of milk that expired back in the days of Reagan, you have to smell it as well. No, it ain’t gonna waft roses at you…but the self-induced schoedenfreude is worth the price of admission alone. How can I watch The Room, which is only two hours of mind-numbing awfulness, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon, which is three hours of batshit incongruity, or THE ENTIRE TWILIGHT SAGA (not the whole thing, but I’m rounding up) when there is this gift to all that is terrible just waiting on Netflix? It is this pungent hanging fruit, beautiful on the outside, but one glance tells you there’s nothing other than putrid rancidity waiting for you. Twelve hours of awful in season one alone. How could I pass up something so shitty?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, after I informed my good friend Jesse that I watched The Faculty for the second time, his response was, “You do know that life is finite, right?” Am I really wasting myself? Are these countless hours of horrific cinematography, painful miscasting and cry-orgasms really running out my clock?

Who fucking cares! So, without further ado, this is an emailed conversation between myself and Mr. Alex Huntsberger about the pilot of this Turd Ferguson of a show. We set out to ask each other questions and, with our answers, offer more questions for discussion:

ALEX: First question. For the love of god, WHY?

No, this isn't a model shoot, it's in the actual show. Good job, abs!

No, this isn’t a model shoot, it’s in the actual show. Good job, abs!

ANDREW: A very good question, sir, and one I pondered for a good deal of this first hour. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the episode begins with two ginger kids walking past a child with down syndrome and saying ‘I hate trees’. And then they are murdered. It would seem the grossly untalented and horrendously over-paid Mr. Ryan Murphy has decided that horror really needs his touch. It would seem that horror, to him, has always been more subtle, more precise than it ever had any right to be. And so, like some kind of Baz Lurhman descending from the rafters, he has violated the sacred art of scary movies to stitch, no staple, NAY superglue together this pastiche of utter what-the-fuckery. Absolutely none of it makes sense. There are hum-on be-ings in this played ostensibly by the mom from Friday Night Lights and I think Jerry O’Connell’s stunt double. On the one hand, Miss Britton is doing everything she can to lend realism and depth to her lines while Mr. Dylan “Orgasm Weeping” McDermott stumbles about the show like an uncle who’s had too many strawberry champagnes at a wedding. He’s just embarrassing himself and everyone else. But this show isn’t dragged down by its acting. I mean, Jessica Lange is fucking hilariously terrible as the obvious evil-bitch character (which I’m sure comes from much practice having been with Sam Shepard for so many years. Great actor and writer, but I bet he’s a tough mutherfucker) and Frances Conroy as the sometimes-young-and-sexy-boobs-everywhere-maid-sometimes-oh-god-that’s-a-face-and-not-a-whale’s-vagina is delightful. Even Denis O’Hare is doing his best at not looking like an utter tit. Side note: I feel so sorry for that guy. Did he lose a bet? Did he murder orphans in his past life? Because he, though tremendously talented, has always been relegated to the shittiest of movies and TV. Poor man. If you see him on the street, give him a hug.

Back on track. Point is this: every actor in this could have been Meryl Fucking Streep and it still would have been worse than a badger with IBS due, in totality, to the complete and utter lack of competence of its creator. Ryan Murphy wouldn’t know how to direct his way out of a paper bag even if it had been pre-torn and inscribed with detailed directions to its plethora of exits. The guy is an idiot. It seems as though, in some kind of misguided attempt to get away from the cutesiness of Glee, he has simply waltzed through the minefield of the horror genre and picked up all the elements he thought were ‘FUN’. Ugh. None of it makes any fucking sense. There is no pacing. There is no tension. It’s just stuff. Stuff. Stuff and more stuff. Like, if you took all the Double Stuff Oreos in the world, scraped out the (oddly vegan?) cream filling, regurgitated it into a pile of hydrogenated oils and then threw it at the ‘Horror’ section of a Blockbuster…this is the clustercuss you get. I think he’s trying to make the new norm of horror, but what it becomes is something akin to a Boystown drag show on Halloween. It isn’t scary. It isn’t compelling. Actually…scratch that. It is compelling. I want to see the next episode because, honestly, I really only took a tiny whiff of the rotten innards this thing has to offer. I want to see how truly turdtackular the whole thing is in the end. So, my question to you, is:

Having seen all of season one, am I missing some essential information that would piece this all together; or is it the hot tranny mess I have preconceived?

She haunts my dreams

She haunts my dreams

ALEX: Okay, Mooney, you delicious little tit-mouse. First of all, I do not know if this is the truth, but I am going to say it anyway because it needs to be said: you have never watched Glee. Again, I have no idea if this is true, but knowing that you and I both have an astounding ability to be incredibly opinionated (i.e. we be haters y’all) about things that we have never actually seen but only hate on principal. (Like the Cheesecake Factory, cuz I don’t need to actually eat in one to hate it, I just fucking know that I will hate it and, besides, I’ve already made the same mistake with White Castle because I was in bumfuck Ohio doing summerstock theatre adult theatre camp and I had fucking all else to do and thin I ended up take a five-act fucking Shakespearean shit complete with atmospheric prologue, steadily rising action, thunderous climax and watery denouement.) You don’t hate Glee because you hate Glee. You hate the idea of Glee. Until now you have never actually experienced that outright ass-spraying mayhem that is Ryan Murphy and mygodman don’t you know that if you strike him down, he will become more powerful than you can ever imagine. (I for one have also never seen Glee. However, I have watched The Glee Project, which has all of the auto-tuned, back-of-the-house belting but with added crack-like addiction of a reality tv show. It’s terrible, it’s awful and I totally watched the first season and was soooooooo happy for Damien when he got to co-win because of course they had co-winners because it’s fucking Glee where everything is made of Unicorn sphincters, which, as everyone knows, are the most delicious part of the unicorn and is considered a delicacy in certain parts of the Ukraine.) You cannot stop Ryan Murphy, Mooney, because Ryan Murphy does not give a fuck. He doesn’t give any of the fucks, he keeps them all for himself, hoarding them in his bedazzled secret lair buried under the private mall that is itself buried under Barbara Steisand’s House. (Seriously, though, that’s a real thing.) I imagine that every morning Ryan Murphy awakens, dons his leopard print speedo and does laps through an entire Olympic-sized swimming pool filled of fucks, like he’s Scrooge McDuck. He’s impenetrable Mooney. And no matter what you do, no matter how many giant wooden horses you leave at his front gate, the kingdom of Ryan Murphy shall never, ever fall.

Anyway, what were we talking about again?

Oh yes, American Fucking Horror Story. Dear god, I love this show. It is the Anti-Wire. It is a show where they have literally taken every single rule of ‘Good Television Writing’, dumped whiskey down their throats, spun them around until they threw up and then used that throw-up to do finger painting. It has absolutely no recognizably hu-mon characters, despite the vein attempts of Connie Britton, Peter Evans and Tarisa ‘the Elizabeth to Vera’s Ashley/Mary Kate” Farmiga to approximate some vague semblance of emotional verisimilitude (with Dylan McDermott doing his damnedest impersonate an oak). It doesn’t so much have a plot, aka a series of causal events, so much as it has an agglomeration of fantastical occurrences, like one of those massive pile-ups from the Blues Brothers if all the cars were driven by wizards. It has no sense of pacing, which everyone can agree is pretty much the most important aspect of any horror (because tell me what is scarier: the kid from The Shining seeing those little girls or the minutes of lead-up that’s just him riding his big wheels through the Overlook?). Instead, it plunges ever forward like a Werner Herzog in a jetpack, careening from “boo” after “boo” after scene Dylan McDermott Tearfully Masturbating until the episode runs out of time and the audience granted a brief reprieve from “Into The Void” opening credits sequence that is the inside of Ryan Murphy’s mind. (Mooney, babe, can you hyperlink that? Thanks toots)

Watch this, nerds: THIS

This show takes every stride that television as a narrative form has made in the wake of The Sopranos and runs them backward towards the Pilocene of Nickelodeon spectaculars and music-hall minstrel shows, cackling and/or weepfully masturbating the whole way home.

And yet…

I think the show’s fantastic. And I think the show’s fantastic exactly because Ryan Murphy sits upon a throne of hoarded fucks. If this show were at all attempting to resemble reality, then its lack of characters and miscast actors (Connie Britton, you poor thing) and tin-eared dialogue would make the show totally awful. It would be the 2 1/2 Men of melodrama. It’s fast, it’s easy, you don’t feel good about it but it’s there and so you’ll eat it. But instead, American Horror Story is like if 2 1/2 Men cut out the 1 1/2 men who are clearly dead weight and jumped right into Charlie Sheen’s fevered head. This show is pure Tiger Blood baby. Its Grand Guignol ambitions are not what doom the show, they’re what make it special. if this show didn’t have rubber men and sexy ghosts and basement monsters and Jessica Lange, it wouldn’t be worth watching. Hell, if it only had 1 of those things, it would be terrible.

But instead it has all of them. And it has earth, fire, wind, water and heart. (And also Dylan McDermott, who really is just terrible.) You ask if there’s anything you’re missing, I say that what you’re missing is the whole. You have to step back, unfocus your eyes, and let the glorious sail boat at the center of this all pop off the page.

We’ll get to Jessica Lange later. You say she’s terrible, I say she’s perfect. And Denis O’Hare? Mooney, you ask why he is in so much terrible television. In return, I ask you to watch this and then I will await your apology on Mr. O’Hare’s behalf. The man is not only getting paid, he is getting to have the time of his life!

It's like a buddy cop comedy! Except one of them is a mutilated vegetable and the other one is the guy with a burned face!

It’s like a buddy cop comedy! Except one of them is a mindless, accident victim vegetable and the other one is the guy with a burned face!

I’m going to cut it short here, cuz I need to go to sleep. But before I go, I will ask you one simple question:

Oh yeah? What would you do differently?

ANDREW: Differently? What would I, Andrew Mooney, do differently for this show? Well, first of all, I’d take it out back, serenade it with a sweet song and then unload two barrels of taste in the back of its fucking head. Well, obviously, after your exceedingly convincing argument for the insanity of this thing’s underbelly, (along with some delightfully colorful metaphors), it’s clear it comes down to opinion (duh). Let me correct you, good sir, I have seen exactly half of one episode of Glee and it made me want to give myself a self-lobotomy. You are right though. It’s not so much the practice that I despise, but the belief. Ryan Murphy is simply yet another prophet to the religion of banality that has infected all commercial art since the juggernaut that is Disney anointed Zac Efron as the second coming (and, usually, after meeting him, most girls will have had a second coming). Now, I’m fine, to a certain extent, for Glee to stew in its own cesspit. Just don’t go in that fucking pit. But, no, Mr. Murphy couldn’t leave well alone. Like Hitler saying, “You know, Poland might be fun to own,” Ryan has over reached. Horror has a bad enough rap without this asshole coming and pooping all over it. I mean, seriously, Sinister? Hostel Part Two? Madea’s Witness Protection? Horror just can’t get a fucking break.

So, how would I fix this horrid mess? Well, I might shock and offend my readers if I fully admit here, in front of the universe, that I didn’t care for Firefly. (I’ll wait for the screams of fury/rage/sexual pleasure from complete disappointment die down…you done? Good). Much like I don’t care for a good deal of the works of one Mr. David Lynch. (I’ll wait again…still waiting…you done? Good.) It’s the presence of camp in a genre I love and take seriously that drives me absolutely nut-balls. While Lynch has several wonderfully talented actors shifting around space like decoratively painted planks of hardwood, our good friend Mr. Joss Whedon spends so much of his air time winking at the audience, chuckling under his breath and insatiably attempting to convince us of his cleverness. Mr. Murphy subscribes to the same sense of utterly preposterous bullshittery but in a different domain. Instead of intelligence, we are offered flamboyant over-the-top dick waggling. You know, with tassels and shit.

"They're behind you!" Worst. Pantomime. Ever.

“They’re behind you!” Worst. Pantomime. Ever.

Here’s the issue: he calls it a ‘horror’ story. You know what’s difficult to pull off? A horror story. It takes pacing, development, atmosphere, coherence and skill to actually creep out, chill and frighten before you can wrap it all up in a thematic bow. Yes, it’s fucking difficult. If you look through the history of the horror genre, you’ll find that the classics, the ‘rip your eyes out with fear’ greats were all directed by legitimate artists. Rosemary’s Baby? Polanski. The Shining? Kubrick. The Thing? Carpenter (he’s very good at what he does…not much else though). So, how would I do it differently? Well, we have two routes. One, get someone who understands that sometimes a shot lasts for longer THAN A FUCKING MILLISECOND and that NOT EVERY SHOT HAS TO BE FROM A FUCKING CRANE. Honestly, was the cinematographer constantly snorting meth? Next, I would pare it down. Actually make it a horror story with scary things, basic coherence, and characters that you wouldn’t constantly wish are going to be randomly eaten by bears. But, that takes intelligence, skill, money and time. Murphy probably has one of those things (I’ll give you a clue, it’s green, papery and is usually seen being wiped through Donald Trumps taint redneck runway).

The other option is pretty easy. Just call it something else. Now, I don’t think the network would go for American Rub Our Dicks in Your Face for an Hour Story, so how about Jeff?  Just call it Jeff. You know, the weird dude at the office who always strips at the holiday party. There is nothing ‘horror’ about it. It’s about as frightening as a slutty cat outfit. I mean, it fits with the theme, but giving it a coat of voluptuous breasts just doesn’t count. From now on, I’m calling it Jeff. Deal? Deal. Alright, my turn:

Is Ryan Murphy an artist? Or is he just a crazy person with too much money?

ALEX: Mooney, Mooney, Mooney, Mooney. Taste? Taste?!!! Why for the love of God would you ever want to give this show taste? That’s like saying you would improve upon the works of John Holmes by cutting his dick off. It certainly ain’t Ryan Murphy’s ability to capture the subtle shadings of the human condition that makes this thing work; it’s the fact that he is shoving a full foot of hot and throbbing manhood up inside you and punishing your insides like it’s fucking Nuremberg. The show is not weighed down by its excesses, it is defined by them.

And you wanna know why? It is because of something in the title that you have so conveniently chosen to overlook. (Please imagine that the word ‘conveniently‘ is uttered with a kind of Glenn-Beckian-level of sarcastic incredulity.) You were too focused on the words “Horror Story” to notice the word that preceded them. And that word is American, Mooney. American. As in, America. As in the country that invented the modern ideal of excess, the place that made a star out of Snookie. You mention Stanley Kubrick? An exile. You say Roman Polanski? A Polish guy. You say John Carpenter? I say…um…

…uh…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q44qwyHlMfk

Anyways, Mooney, America is not a place that subtle. And an American Horror Story is not gonna be a tale of winding passageways and ominous wainscotting. America was founded on bloody murder, an unhealthy obsession with sex, and a belief in our god-given-right to take whatever we damn well please. We literally fought an entire fucking war because half the country thought it was okay to own other human beings. We are not the kind of people who wait; we are the kind of people who smash, grab and shoot our way out. If someone is going to tell an American Horror Story, it is not going to be a slow and rising terror. It is going to be a nonstop battering ram of screaming, mutilation and ghost sex. Ryan Murphy has not given us the story we asked for, he has given us the story we deserve. This is America, goddamnit. If a shot lasted longer than two seconds or the camera wasn’t dangling from a crane like fucking Spiderman, we might lose interest and go back to our natural pursuits: hoarding gold, posting on conspiracy theorist message boards, and knitting cheerleader outfits for our dogs.

Um...The Crow called. He's suing you. Sorry, bro.

Um…The Crow called. He’s suing you. Sorry, bro.

This brings me to the question you have laid, so elegantly, like a freshly-pressed houndstouth suit, before me: Is Ryan Murphy an artist? Or is he just a crazy person with too much money?

Oh Mooney, why the false choice? Can’t he be both? Instead of stopping at two roads diverging in a wood, can we not look at a bifurcated, diamond-encrusted, technicolor echidna penis and say that this too is art? Let us remember the words of one Pablo Picasso, who said, “Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” (Oh what, did I just quote Picasso at you? Hells yeah, bitch!)

To get real for second (Real real, son) I think that for any narrative piece of art to truly be considered a success, it need only to establish and then adhere to its own internal logic. This is something that I think both David Lynch and Joss Whedon actually do quite well; they create self-sustaining worlds, Lynch’s surreal, Whedon’s self-deflating. One those grounds, I think that American Horror Story actually does a pretty good job, the one exception being the Harmons, which is, of course, a problem as they are, like, the protagonists and shit. Maybe Vivian would actually be better without an actress like Britton, who is just so goddamn committed to playing actual hu-mans that she can never achieve the kind of sharply defined (aka cartoonish, but not necessarily in a bad way) performance that Ryan’s writing requires and that Jessica Lange delivers in spades. And perhaps Dylan McDermott took Ben’s somnambulism to heart and decided that an element of “sleep walking” should be suffused throughout his entire performance. (Plus, I think the character would honestly be better if he was always wearing that fucking hat that he wears when they first arrive at the house. At least then I would know that I am never supposed to ever be taking him seriously.)

The Harmons fail as characters because Murphy is attempting to write them as hu-mans, as pretty much regular joes with regular problems who just happen to get stuck in this crazy fucking murder house where ghosts in rubber suits engage in surprisingly unkinky sex with you and scary monsters live in the basement and Jessica Lange just exists. They are what happens when Murphy tries to engage with real failures, and it’s just awful. They are the show’s one major failing, the single tether that prevents this blimp of Boschean cray-cray from ascending to the heavens. Because they are meant to act like hu-mans they contradict the shows internal logic, or really its complete illogic. They are not fantastical, just false.

I guess this is all my (surprisingly serious) way of saying that, yes, I think that Ryan Murphy is an artist. He is simply one who should deal only in absurd abstraction, and never try to fuck with verisimilitude.

Or to put it another way, don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining. Instead, just piss in my face while crying into the night:  BEHOLD MY GOLDEN STREAM ALL YE, AND DESPAIR!!! NOW ON WITH THE GHOST SEX!!!

Ever yours,

Huntsy

No words necessary.

No words necessary.

ANDREW: Well, this conversation must continue! All the way through the rest of this shit-show of a season and into the next! What will await for us next time on American Horror Story? More rubber suit sex? More terrible cinematography? More cry-masturbating? Tune in next time when we recap the next 3 episodes!

Les Miserables (2012) – Tom Hooper (Dir.), Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Samantha Barks

This poster brought to you by the monosyllabic factories of Stuttgart, our motto: "GOOD"

This poster brought to you by the monosyllabic factories of Stuttgart, our motto: “GOOD”

Alright, let’s get this out of the way. Deep breath…

OMGLESMISERABLESYOUGUYS!!!! SQUUUUUUEEEEEE. OMG JEANVALJEANVSJAVERT FANTINEDREAMEDADREAMALLOVERMYFACE

SUCKITSUSANBOYLEYOURFIFTEENMINUTESAREUP

BECAUSEANNEHATHAWAYISTHINNERTHANYOU

*pant, pant*

HOLY SHIT THE BARRICADE IS UP ANDGAVROSHISGOINGTOGETSHOTAND

EPONINELOVESHIMSOMUCHBUTHEJUSTDOESN’TSEE

ANDI’MTOTALLYTEAMEPONINENOT

TEAMCOSETTEBECAUSESHE’SBEENWITHHIMTHROUGHTHICKANDTHIN

*pant, pant*

AND…

*SLAP*

Hugh Jackman as Daniel Day Lewis as Hugh Jackman as Orson Wells as Valjean

Hugh Jackman as Daniel Day Lewis as Hugh Jackman as Orson Wells as Valjean

Holy fuck. Thank you, disembodied internet-hand. I needed that. Yes, it is true, I’m almost not ashamed to admit, that I am a Les Miserables fan-girl. From the moment the score swelled and the chain-gang took to their turntable on a lonely stage in New Haven, CT, like a fish too stupid to tell the difference between a worm and a piece of sparkly plastic on a string, I was hooked. My little highschool self became drunk on Thenardier’s bombast, Valjean’s strength, Javert’s straight-laced don’t-fuck-with-me-fuckery. The next year, we performed the show, fresh off of the touring stage. Our budget was nothing! Our talent was limited! Our cast was mainly boys who were too afraid to play sports and girls who were trying to sleep with all the hot gays! But what we lacked in pretty much every department required to put on one of the most over the top productions since Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Michael Bay’s Transformers! The Musical, we made up for in heart. And, you know what, we kicked ass. At least, that’s what my mother said. (But she’s british so it was more, ‘It was the dog’s bollocks!’)

So, now, years later, I am confronted once more with my deepest of demons, my darkest of secrets, my squealiest, most infuriating, most utterly weepy self: Les Mis Mooney. *Facepalm* Try as I did to stave it off, every fucking time that fucking trailer with Anne fucking Hathaway came on the fucking screen and sang I Dreamed a Fucking Dream I’d become a weeping sack of musical theater nerd mush. I was excited for this film. So excited that I did battle with my mother for a solid month before finally convincing her to make this our ‘Boxing Day Movie’ (Mooney Family Tradition, we don’t fuck around). So, the question is, did Tom Hooper pull it off? Did I spend 3 hours squirming with sappy glee in my theater seat? Was I launched back into post revolutionary France to stand atop the barricade and fight with all my might against the coming horde of the Parisian military?

Um…no.

Was the movie terrible? No. Was it good? No. Did I cry? Kinda. Was Russell Crowe a rotting sack of shit that rained over everyone’s parade and completely ruined every modicum of film that he marred? Abso-fruitly. But I’ll get to that.

"Come, my darling, let me eat your soul."

“Come, my darling, let me eat your soul.”

First, let me say, that when attempting to corral the Mooney clan towards a movie theater, grandmother in tow, on the day after a massive film release in the middle of Connecticut, buying tickets early isn’t enough to guarantee seats. When we arrived five minutes before show time, the entire place was literally bursting at the seams with autumnal-yeared bourgeoisie. My lady friend and I were relegated to the only seat in the house with ‘restricted view’ and the inability to hear any dialogue seeing as this craphouse hadn’t figure out how Dolby works. Finally, we conceded, after I decided to sit on the floor to get a semi-decent view, to sit in the second row aaaaaaall the way to the left. We were probably 10 feet from the screen so every frame, every second was a wash of dour color and beads of digitalized sweat. Bear that in mind; I’ll come back to it.

So, who has the brass balls, the iron-clad testicles, the Steely Dans, if you will, to take on the task of adapting this emotionally-rich and utterly over-the-top display of operatic theater-nerd crazy from the West End and adapt it for the silver screen? Enter Mr. Tom “Fish-Eye Lens” Hooper. You might remember him from the 2010 Oscar-Grabby Old-Man-Acty-Acty Royalty Porn that was The King’s Speech. Now, for months I staved off the horde from forcing me to sit down and indulge in all two hours of Mr. Darcy being taught by Bellatrix and Captain Barbossa to speak right. But, in the end, I broke down and scoffed on the mass of royal toe-sucking that makes up the highest grossing revenues of all British exports. And it was good. Like really, fucking good. Suddenly, all preconceived notions of its shrewd award begging evaporated and I was offered a heart-warming tale of small victories and family issues. Now, let’s transport that grimy and realistic view of Blitzed London to post revolutionary France. Mr. Hooper, during that import, seems to have loaded up on the HD close-up cameras, Steady-Cams and fish-eye lenses (OH THE FISH-EYES!). Because, honestly, how does one transmogrify a play that, beside the fact that everyone’s singing, attempts with its very core to convince you that it is anything other than a play, into something that is a movie that doesn’t want to be a movie but wants to be a movie? Apparently, the answer is close-ups. SO MANY CLOSE-UPS. Seriously, if I had a migraine for every close-up that happened…oh wait, I fucking did. It got to the point, only ten feet from the screen, that I almost attempted playing a game of ring toss with the fake wrinkles around Wolverine’s eyes. Yes, Hooper does an excellent job of fucking up peoples’ teeth, spreading the grease through their hair like they just returned from a New Orleans deep-fry off, and covering the extras in so many topical diseases you’d think they were all going to a Keith Richards costume party. In retrospect, that was my favorite aspect of the movie. Out of all the Les Mis adaptations, including the hilariously truncated but eminently watchable Liam Neeson/Geoffrey Rush Fugitive remake in the mid-Naughties, this is the only one that actually has shit in the Parisian sewer. It was gross. It was vile. And it was a delightful touch.

"COME, I WISH TO VIOLATE YOUR NOSTRILS WITH MY APERTURE," Tom Hooper, an actor's director.

“COME, I WISH TO VIOLATE YOUR NOSTRILS WITH MY APERTURE,” Tom Hooper, an actor’s director.

Here is the biggest issue. Film is a medium that avoids Suspension of Disbelief like the plague. It offers levels of realism unparalleled by any other form of artistic expression. And so, when you have this sprawling epic in vibrato forced into ultra-realistic cinematography, peppered with spoken lines to help fill in the blanks that the stage play just doesn’t give a fuck about, you have to ask yourself…why are you singing when you can talk? Surely that’s an easier form of communication? Thus, we have the patented Square-Peg Conundrum. Les Miserables is a wonderfully square peg, beautifully constructed and soaking in the loins of teenage fans in heat, but Mr. Hooper is attempting to force it into the round hole of cinema. No matter how hard you lean on it, it ain’t gonna fit, buddy. What you get is a higgedly-piggedly mish-mash of actors not knowing what movie they are in (is it an understated comedy? A romance movie? A jailbreak? A concert film where all you do is stand still and sing because you are contractually obligated to at least show up? (Fuck you, Russell Crowe)). Honestly, there are only three stage musicals that have been adapted into film that I think work. First, West Side Story because one, duh, it’s Sondheim and Bernstein and two, it knows it’s a play. It has the sets, it has the dancing, it has the everything. It defines its rules and it sticks to ’em. Second, is Reefer Madness because, well, it’s fucking ridiculous and I love it and never-say-anything-bad-about-it-ever-or-I-will-come-to-your-house-in-the-night-and-let-a-bear-loose-in-your-bedroom. Lastly, and probably leastly, Chicago. It’s not my favorite musical nor is it my favorite movie. BUT. It understands why the play is a musical and why it loves the format in which it was crafted. It’s about over-the-top sizzle, sazzle, jazz, pizzazz and other misuses of the letter z. When people sing, they are teleported to a disembodied stage in the middle of MUSICAL-TOPIA and it becomes clear that these songs are more inner-monologues, thus weaving it together in a sensical package. Sometimes it really works in Les Mis. Pretty much everything at the barricade and involving the lovers makes sense and is fucking great. Sometimes it really, really, really, really doesn’t (I’m looking at you everything-Hugh-Jackman-does). So…speaking of Wolverine…

Oh the cast. There is a wonderful paradox when it comes to casting a movie musical. Anyone who doesn’t really give a shit is waiting to see what Hollywood starlets believe they can belt and so they charge forth to witness either their edification onto the fast-track to Oscardom (Renee Zellweger has an Oscar Nomination. I ask you, is there no other greater affront to humanity than that?) or the complete and utter dismemberment by way of unrelenting ridicule. Those who do give a shit demand Broadway stars who only the most nerdy of the nerds might recognize. It’s naive and incorrect to think there is anyway a no name will be installed into the lead role of any massive budget shit show like this, so the argument never, ever holds water, disregarding talent altogether. So, here we have Catwoman, the enervating and delightful Anne Hathaway, with a widescreen camera almost lodged in her vocal cords, plugging away and sealing up an Oscar faster than Meryl Streep can say, “I think I’ll make another movie”. She hits her notes, she cries her tears, she dreams a dream of days gone by. Good job. Then we have the chilluns and the clowns. Amanda “Light of God Encapsulated in Human Form” Seyfried plays Cosette, the role she was literally concocted in a lab to play, and kills it. We even having the surprisingly buxom Samantha Barks trouncing those solos as Eponine because, well, she’s famous for singing things well. Next, Borat and Ms. Lovett create a love story that makes you question French dentistry with completely unexpectedly underplayed performances. Seriously, I played Thenardier in high school with a gusto that would have made Roger Ebert cry blood, but this is so absolutely opposite and hilarious that it provides something that you wouldn’t expect…a reason for this movie to exist. Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen, these dually-surnamed beasts of comedic timing, create characters you wouldn’t see on stage. Thank the Jesus. Finally, on the ‘good’ side of things, we have the otherwise blissfully unknown powerhouse that is Eddie Redmayne playing Marius. Where the fuck did he come from? Did he crawl out of some kind of secret lab where the Brits are trying to construct the perfect man but accidentally hit the ‘freckle-icious’ button? I have always hated Marius, the wimpy, whiny little sod. This is the first fucking time ever that he comes off as a warrior, believably smitten, and a PTSD survivor. Holy shit. When he sings ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’, redundancy of the title aside, he delivers a solo that would make Orpheus rethink

The Thenardiers, shockingly good hosts, if you don't mind Syphilis.

The Thenardiers, shockingly good hosts, if you don’t mind Syphilis.

his profession…and that’s even with a fucking steady cam assaulting his esophagus.

But then, oh man, then there’s the other half of the cast. Mr. Jackman, Wolverine, bubby, I love you. You’re the sweetest little stardust of a human being to ever flit its way out of Aussie-land. You’re a great singer, a charismatic actor, an uncompromising delight. Jean Valjean, you are not. You try, you try so hard…but there’s only so much a make-up artist can do to make you age from 30-something to 60-something with High Definition Dolby Digital Chromatic-Asshattery sucking on your flaring nostrils. You don’t have the voice, the presence, the age or the latter-day Orson Wells look to play this role. But it isn’t your fault…you’re just miscast. I feel like I should send you a card and beg you to continue what you’re doing. Be Wolverine. Be likable. Be the most charming host the Academy Awards has pulled out of its ass since Johnny Carson died and everyone got sick of Billy Crystal.

There is another card I wish to send. Well, it’s more of a package. It has no writing. Just poop. Stinky, stale, maggot-ridden, I-might-have-had-curry-last-night feces. And it will be addressed to Mr. Russell “Cell Phone in the Face” Crowe (yeah, no one has forgotten that one, bucko). Now, I’m fully aware that if I ever met Mr. Crowe, this next paragraph will earn me a punch in the face because, you know, he does that. I don’t give a fuck. So, here goes:

FUCK YOU

Good paragraph. But seriously, when I auditioned for this show, when I fell in love with it, when I sang it all alone in my room and my parents quietly questioned my sexuality, I wanted to play Javert. I don’t know what it is about his character, but he spoke to me. He’s a man who lives by a code, much like Batman. He fights bad guys, like Batman. Sometimes he talks about stars and jumps off of high things, like…Batman? His quest to destroy the virtuous Valjean is the emotional through-line that weaves this thousand-fucking-million page novel into something edible for the illiterate public. He is so stalwart in his view that bad is bad and will always be bad, while Valjean entirely undoes his basic understanding of existence. The only option? SPOILERS. Suicide. You know what I just described? A character arc. A tale of emotional growth and destruction that makes sense. Have you seen movies recently? You’ll be so lucky you get anything so worthy. Mr. Crowe, you stumble into this film a blank piece of wood. You sang badly. You look as though this was court-ordered community service. What the fuck? Do you not know what a musical is? What about singing? What about acting? I know you got your Oscar early so the rest of your career is just coasting on fumes, but come the fuck on. Don’t just piss on my favorite character! You are the worst. Just the worst. You know what? Hitler did a lot of bad things (Holocaust, World War II, painting, vegetarianism), you know what he didn’t do? RUIN LES MISERABLES. That’s right, in this specific case, you are WORSE THAN HITLER. You know what? From now on, everything will be judged on a Russell Crowe scale of terrible. Level 1 is Gladiator, where, yes you kill people good and make some speeches, but every scene of you talking to another human being is about as interesting as me scratching my balls for two days straight. Level 5 is Robin Hood. I went through the entire movie thinking you were Little John because, goddammit, lose some weight! Level 10 is going to be the probably terrible Superman remake because, let’s be real, it’s directed by Zack “DERR-I-LIEK-BOOBS” Snyder. Level fucking 50 is Les Mis.

And the award for best Keanu Reeves impersonation goes to..."GO FUCK YOURSELF."

And the award for best Keanu Reeves impersonation goes to…”GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

So, in conclusion, did I enjoy Les Mis? Yes and no. Was it agonizing to sit there for 3 hours? Yes. Will I buy it on DVD? Absolutely. Will it be in Blu-Ray so I can literally count every single pore on Hugh Jackman’s face? You fucking know it. The second it comes out I’m going to have a Whiskey and Swearing at Russell Crowe Party. You’re all invited.

Casablanca (1942) – Michael Curtis (Dir.), Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson

and

Troll 2 (1990) – Claudio Fragasso (Dir.), Michael Stevenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young

"Come, Ilsa. Let us smush faces!"

“Come, Ilsa. Let us smush faces!”

I haven’t updated in a while. For this I apologize. It’s not that I have stopped watching movies nor is it that the font of unending opinion that is my mouth has run dry. Quite the contrary. I have managed to watch a number of movies and my mouth is still running the gamut from complete nonsense to completer nonsensier. There’s a funny about the universe. There’s this one finite resource, so fleeting and yet essential to all activity, happiness and general ability to do things and yet, depending on the time of year, its availability and accessibility fluctuate more than Anne Heche’s Kinsey score (Yay late-90s jokes!) though its temperance and abundance is rigidly constant: time. Currently, I have none of it. You know, the opposite of some. As though some little holiday elf in the shape of some kind of fucking little hair-show, present-buying, salon-running Rumple-mutherfucking-stiltskin has snuck into my goddamn time vault and pulled a full on Ocean’s 11 with of all of my temporal reserves. All moments in between have shrunk into nothingness, reduced to a general amalgam of utter, unrelenting stress, a snowball of mental frazzilty (I just made that up. That is how my brain works with no time to take breaths. True story.) Thus, I remain timeless. In the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure to watch Skyfall twice because, well, apparently drinking your weight in bourbon (due to ‘panic attack’ becoming your general state of being) isn’t the most conducive activity when considering cohesive narrative. It was very good. See it. It turns into Home Alone starring Judi Dench at the end. It’s great. Just don’t drunkenly pass out in the front row. Sometimes you drool.

However, out of all of the ridiculous films I’ve witnessed, between all THREE FUCKING HOURS of The Great Escape, the entire 19,000 hour extended Lord of the Rings (Now with twelve endings instead of only nine!) and beginning American Horror Story, a television show so unsubtle, ridiculous and tasteless it could have been in Anna Nicole Smith’s entourage (too soon? Never too soon for late-90s jokes!) I’ve decided that my return to glory shall come in the least expected form. On two separate nights, I was encouraged, nay delighted to watch two movies that seemingly have nothing whatsoever in common. However, after a good deal of consideration, soul-searching and a lethal dose of holiday-season-insanity, I have found…no links at all. How can I write an article linking the two of them? Who fucking knows? I make it up as I go! This is my blog and who the fuck is going to stop me?

Look at that man, not giving a fuck.

Look at that man, not giving a fuck.

Two movies walk into a bar. She is one of the greatest movies ever made, a love story that manages to overcome the constraints of its time and become an immutable symbol of how love can blossom, die and rekindle the light even in the harshest of environments. He is the worst piece of turd milk ever squirted across a VHS player. On two entirely separate nights, two entirely separate audiences, I sat down with two entirely separate movies. On a cold, wine-filled evening, I settled into the couch, a symbol of modern urban safety, a land where you may travel to the very edges of the universe, emotion and the very depths of the human spirit without ever even breathing anything close to danger (unless you have a carbon monoxide leak…then you have other problems. I think you might die…but then again, I’m not a doctor. Who knows? It could be something that’s good for you but ‘Big Oxygen’ keeps spreading the lie that we ‘can’t’ ‘breathe’ ‘carbon monoxide’. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you! It goes all the way to Obama!), with my girlfriend and witnessed every beautiful moment of Casablanca’s 102 minute runtime. On another evening, sober as a bludgeoned badger (which is quite sober because badgers don’t drink. Idiot.) I took to another couch, my throne of snark, surrounded by lads and ladies, knights of the round bitchslap, a quorum of ridicule, a knitting circle of abject verbal brutality, and delighted in the agonizingly dilated hour and a half presented by the crap-a-licious Troll 2.

First of all, yes, scream it out: I had never seen Casablanca (Shock! Horror! Gore! Bush! Tipper! Gipper! Reagon! sdigfhbaigbafg ifg *&^*&^#()*#&@&R$@!&#…Sorry, I think I just blacked out. All this Christmas cheer is clogging my brain arteries. I think I’m going to wake up screaming bloody ‘Rudolph’ for months to come. The horror…the horror…) It is widely regarded as one of the greatest cinematic feats of all time; it’s included on almost every film critic’s ‘Best Of’ list; if Will Shortz doesn’t reference it at least twelve times in a week in the NYT crossword, the fucking apocalypse will come. Yes, it’s a cultural touchstone and icon of how fucking amazing 1940s romance-dramas can be. Yes, it has some of the most memorable lines of all time. Yes, it has Humphrey Bogart, a man made out of so much badass that a butcher took one look at him and declared, ‘Damn, that rump just can’t be served. It’s too fucking bad” (here played by Samuel L. Jackson). I’ve had this thing built up for years, people clamoring for me to watch, to witness it’s supposed greatness and, well, I can firmly say this, in my most eloquent, erudite, verbally agile critic voice: Casablanca is the tits. It seriously is. Just…beautiful, bouncy, life-giving, motorboat-ifiable tits. In all seriousness, it is so superbly acted, shot, written, crafted and woven into a tapestry of human heartache that you want to grab Claude Rains and just kiss him on that crazy French invisible-man mouth of his.

What’s Casablanca about? It’s about Casablanca. Good? Good. Moving on.

"Frankly my dear...wait... It's Chinatown, Jack... I mean, I'm Spartacus...SHIT." ~ Bogie, not the best with lines.

“Frankly my dear…wait… It’s Chinatown, Jack… I mean, I’m Spartacus…SHIT.” ~ Bogie, not the best with lines.

Okay fiiiiiiine, I’ll do a plot summary. So, there’s this place in 1942, Casablanca (I’m sure it still exists and existed before…or maybe it didn’t…who knows?). Pretty much everyone fleeing from the scourge of Nazism in Europe, instead of being vomited out of the mine-filled, Dunkirked mouth of Europe into the UK, has, like a bad Chinese dinner, flooded south. To Africa. Casablanca is the last place held by Nazi-occupied France before refugees can hope the pond over to the US. Rick owns a bar. Everyone ends up at Rick’s. Why, you ask? Because he’s the main character? Fuck no. It’s because he’s the only man in the history of time who would win in a gravel-off against Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones and George Mutherfucking Washington. Rick, by way of a child murderer (not really, but Peter Lorre is fucking terrifying), gets a hold of some exit papers that will allow any two people to escape Africa without question. Everyone wants them. Suddenly, Ilsa shows up with her hubby and enough soft focus to make a Barbara Walters interview jealous. Here’s the thing, Rick and Ilsa used to bang like a screen door in a hurricane while both were stuck in Paris…and then it turned out her husband wasn’t dead after all. Awkward! Will Rick and Ilsa get back together? Will he give her the pass and leave her revolutionary husband to die at the hands of the Nazis? Will Rick stay in this Beckett-ian purgatory in northern Africa and let his once-true-love leave with the man she married? Will the entire cast of the Maltese Falcon show up? Will Claude Rains have the time of his fucking life? Watch the damn movie.

"For you, free." ~ The great Mustache Ride deal of '42

“For you, free.” ~ The great Mustache Ride deal of ’42

I’m not sure that there is anything particular special about any one element of Casablanca that makes it so time-honored. Rick, Humprey “I Eat Nazis for Breakfast” Bogart, is at once callous and removed and at second vulnerable and heart-broken. Ilsa, Ingred “Not Ingmar, I Make That Mistake All the Time” Bergman, is beautiful, irresistible and caught between a rock and a hard place (INSERT DICK JOKE HERE). Renault, Claude “Long Live the Stache” Rains, is slippery, funny and utterly unpredictable. The dialogue is witty and heartfelt. The tale is soaked in longing and truly does encompass the entire gamut of feelings that come with meeting a paramour once more (yay internal rhyme! Oh shit, I just fucked it up. Whatever, I’m tired. Shut up.) after doing everything in your power to strike them from the record of your heart (“This whole arterial court is out of order!” ~ My Love Lawyers). What makes it so memorable is that the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. While other films might be more dramatic, more clever, more Werner-Herzog-Waggiling-His-Penis, none can quite find the glorious center that is Casablanca. It’s a cup of hot cocoa. It’s the the first snow of winter, the silent tumble of snowflakes touching virgin earth. It’s a wool sweater still warm after pulling it from the dryer. It’s the nestle of goosebumps that titter and tapper across your skin when you wake up next to someone you love. It is challenging, sad and life-affirming all at once. It is a tale that deserves its place in the forefront of the collective imagination, an immovable node that sets the harmonious movement of our fictional lives.

That is neither the child nor the monster in the film.

That is neither the child nor the monster in the film. This is made of win.

So…with that being said, let’s turn to Troll Mutherfucking 2. How to describe Troll 2? Perhaps how you would describe the innards of that one cooler you forgot to clean out in the middle of the summer after you went strawberry picking? Perhaps the same why you’d describe changing the diaper of a child with IBS? Perhaps the same way one would describe witnessing a train wreck in slow motion. You know, the second it begins, as that first wheel lifts from the track that it will only get worse and more agonizing with each passing second. The bloody corpses of passengers begin soaring through mangled metal and gore sprays in glorious arcs of horror across the nightfall. It is grotesque and gorgeous all at once. Troll 2 is one of the strongest candidates for ‘Worst Movie of All Time’ I have ever seen. If you take the baffling incompetency of Tommy Wiseau, mix in utterly misguided hatred of vegetarians, sprinkle a dose of Ewok, a dash of Willow, a whole lot of adolescent urination and the inexplicable passion of Italian crazy people, you get Troll 2. What’s it about? Well, it’s not about a Troll, I’ll tell you that. It’s about Goblins that live in Nilbog (See what they did there? Well, apparently none of the characters do until the halfway mark *HEADDESK*). They eat people…but only after the people eat stuff that turns them into plants. Here is the brilliant thing, no amount of description can convey how baffling this film is. While Casablanca creates something great from good components, Troll 2 makes some fucking awfully, ass-sprayingly brilliant from a whole bunch of terrible. It’s not just one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. It’s so bad it’s one of the greatest cult films of all time. There are rabid masses of fans who gather at midnight showings to celebrate the wonderfully unfortunate existence of this film.

Here is a platter of BS this film has to offer: inexplicable dance sequences, the worst reaction shot of all time, a popcorn orgy assassination, a ghost with selectively omnipotent powers, stonehenge, cheeseburgers as a climatic plot point, plant-vomit-sweat, a woman whose eyebrows deserve Oscar nominations, a general store owner more discomforting than your creepy uncle after two cognacs at Thanksgiving, and the line, “You can’t piss on hospitality! I won’t allow it!”. My friends and I couldn’t stop laughing for the entire length of this crap-tacular vegan-bash. It, like The Room, has tapped into the null space, the magical nothingness between ‘brilliance’ and ‘bullshit’. It’s the universe’s funny bone, a nerve cluster that has no right to be there and yet, every now and then, something just bad enough manages to lodge itself firm. However, again, it’s something that can’t be described (yes, even by me, a man who delights in explaining the inexplicable with broken, useless metaphors, supple peaches of explanation…shut up, I’m tired). Just gather a group of friends, a lot of alcohol, sit back and enjoy.

Apparently, one is never meant to urinate on hospitality. I urinate only on things without a tangible form.

Apparently, one is never meant to urinate on hospitality. I urinate only on things without a tangible form.

To be completely honest, I don’t want to discuss Troll 2 right now but rather its fascinating cinematic counterpart, Best Worst Movie. After the irrefutable tanking of this crud-meister of a movie hit VHS, pretty much every lead actor found themselves shit out of work. The son, who was slated to be a child star (though he spends a good deal of the run time with a face that looks halfway between breaking constipation and the worst orgasm anyone has ever had), found himself destroyed and his career over. Michael Stephenson, later in life, decided to make a documentary about making Troll 2 and what happened to the cast twenty years down the line. What ensues is a fascinating and fairly hands-off observation of the power of cult cinema, the incomparable zeal of bad-movie fans, and a critique of wash-up convention-attending celebrities. The father in Troll 2, a delightfully Alabaman man (you know, after you get past the familial abuse and all that), was played by a dentist who auditioned to be an extra. Thrust into the limelight, though magnetic in every way, the poor George Hardy can’t act his way out of paper bag with clearly marked exits. Pretty much the entire cast is just excited to be included in a cultural event, once again offered undeserved attention and adored by clamoring fans of the terrible. What is truly fascinating is the director of Troll 2. Claudio Fragasso, a man who could pass as Ron Jeremy’s European body double, is an artist who has completely detached himself from cognizant reality. When asked about the movie, he says, “It’s an important film. It’s about life, death, family.” As the runtime prattles on, you discover that Sig. Fragasso lives on a different plane of existence than the rest of us. His belief in his own work is so honest, passionate and unbreakable that it’s almost astonishing.

She looks like if Judi Dench was a stripper.

She looks like if Judi Dench was a stripper.

And I realized, while watching this man talk about the human spirit and, at the same time, remember the scene where the Goblin queen seduces the last of the boys with a popcorn explosion, that, in the end, it’s not about skill with the camera or talent. It’s about passion. We, as people, can sniff out cynicism like little truffle pigs wandering through fields of discarded film reel. So many directors for hire have pooped out films that they couldn’t have given a second shit about over the years. But Fragasso truly believes in his work. He wished to offer the world a gift, a gift of his artistic vigor. The only issue is that he has absolutely no talent. None. Like…negative talent, in that talent wanders in his direction and is gored into submission and returned from the dead, a husk of talent-flesh, a forte-zombie, the genius-undead. But it’s the passion. If this had been some kind of cynical pass at a money-making scam (*cough* Indiana Jones 4 – Kingdom of the Crystal MONEY PLEASE *cough*) it would have been a bland unwatchable piece of filmic detritus that would have long perished in the black hole of utter pointlessness. Instead, this is a man’s dream, his life goal, his soul bared plain to see. Instead, it is an eminently watchable unwatchable piece of glorious piece of filmic detritus that has crawled, puss-spewing from the maw of time-wasting to cheer, like some kind of shitty Rocky, arms high and proud, ready to wrastle its detractors one at a time.

I'll never look at grandmothers, raisins or Mickey Rourke the same way ever again.

I’ll never look at grandmothers, raisins or Mickey Rourke the same way ever again.

When my friend Jesse informed me that “life was finite”, it took a while to understand the terror of what that actually means. As my December minutes whittle away into nothingness I discover that, even though I have to find time to actually write, the activity I love most in the world (maybe second most), while at work (yes, so sue me. I work 60 hours a week. Deal with it), I have found time to watch movies. They are a constant in my life. It’s not that they’re escapes, tiny transitory bubbles of safety that pop after only an hour and a half. They’re more than that. When done correctly, they are glorious little glimpses into the giddy souls of people with more money than you. Artists of both infinite and infinitesimal ability. I don’t know what it is, but sharing in this genius is just as exciting, fulfilling and life-affirming as sharing in the absolute lack thereof. In the end, quality or not, we love passion. A gentleman like Mr. Wiseau, Mr. Fragasso, even the king of shittiness Mr. Ed Wood aren’t artists because they create works that reveal the greatness of the human spirit. But it’s their tenacity, their self-belief, their strength of character in the face of all critical adversity that moves us and reveals something else. In terms of drive, these men are on par with your Scorcesses, your Coppolas, your Wellses, your Curtises. But you don’t see them get flabby and old. You don’t get to see them break, them lose faith in humanity (Shutter Island? Transformers the Animated Movie? Everything after Godfather Part II?), they have these single sparks of brilliance, a stamp on our cultural history and nothing more.

Casablanca did something for me. It proved what a great film could be without ever knowing it was going to be. There is no doubt in my mind that this thing was going to be just another war film. But it became so much more. Troll 2 did something for me. It proved how fucking awful film can be on an almost anti-deistic level. Two ends of the spectrum that add to the same end. Once again, it goes to show that great films are to be loved, the worst films are to be loved. The art that is left by the wayside, the pointless annoying lackadaisical pieces of nothing, are those that lack any drive. The ‘meh’s. The ‘alrights’. The ‘fiiiiiiiines’. Make it big! Make it bold! And actually give a shit about what you do. Always.