Archive for the ‘Narcoleptic Society of Film Watchers’ Category

Quills (2000) – Philip Kaufman (Dir.), Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Michael Caine, Joaquin Phoenix

and

Mystery Men (1999) – Kinka Usher (Dir.), Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Reubens, Claire Forlani, Tom Waits, Eddie Izzard

"Girl With the Pearl Earring" this is not.

“Girl With the Pearl Earring” this is not.

Welcome back, y’all! Some of you might remember, but most of you won’t…in fact I’ll be amazed if you do, but my girlfriend and I began a new film watching club back in the day. The concept was that she would show me a movie I’d never seen and I’d show her something new in return. A “I’ll show you Geoffrey Rush’s peen, if you show me more G-Rush dick” situation, if you will. Due to our inescapable penchant for PTOFing like champions during even the most exciting of films, we named this little group the Narcoleptic Society of Film Watchers…or NSFW for short. Our first outing was a leap into Some Like it Hot and Die Hard. This time, however, the lady Vanderbilt took the reigns and got me to sit down and watch Quills with three words with such gravitas that they have their own solar system: Geoffrey Rush’s Penis. Well, what do more do you need? If one could only review movies based on the presence of aged thespian peen, I would. That’s the only reason I went to see McKellan’s Lear (fun fact: that man is PACKING. They had to give a disclaimer to the audience “First three rows will get wet”. No joke). Well, there was some mention of Kate Winslet’s boobs, but, I mean, when has Kate Winslet not shown her boobs? A movie with Ms. Winslet but without nip as like a one-handed clap, or a tree falling in an empty forest, or McKellan’s 16-foot trouser snake without a salivating audience.

Before we get into the article proper, yes, this article’s title is massively misleading. Much like Quills. Ever since I was a wee theatre major (yes, that’s ‘re’ not ‘er’ because I need to hold onto my dissolving dream of theatrical pretension with the last ounces of rigor mortis left in that corpse of a career-future), I had heard tell of the infamous Quills. It is, of course, the tale of the Marquis De Sade, France’s dirtiest, most outspoken bastard until Nicolas Sarkozy took office. The Marquis, after hopping from prison to prison, was famous for his sexual deviancy and obsession with scatological pursuits. Eventually, he was committed to the Charenton mental asylum…which is odd to me because, in France, I assumed obscene sexual deviancy was synonymous with ‘breakfast’. But I suppose he violated one sensibility too many. Quills is the utterly fictionalized and not-nearly-as-dirty-as-it-thinks-it-is film charting the last days of the loony libertine portrayed by an unbelievably extraordinary G-Rush. After the Marquis manages to sneak out a particularly grotesque tale of female pleasure, innocuously entitled Justine, France’s most eponymously complex monarch, Napoleon, sends Austin Power’s father (Michael “My name is Michael Caine” Caine) to sort the man out. Armed with torture devices and a rather posh top-hat, Caine takes over the asylum currently run by softy mc-loves-a-lot Joaquin “I Used to Be a Decent Actor” Phoenix. De Sade apparently is allergic to not being published (I know his pain) and goes to every length to set his sullied thoughts on the page…or on his bed sheets, or clothing, or walls… Eventually, you guessed it, he bites it. Literally. But you have to see the movie to know why that’s funny.

No, this doesn't end in an orgy. And for that, I am upset.

It’s like if the Mad Hatter was a dildo specialist.

Now, My thespian cohorts in college told me myths about this movie, larger-than-life fables charting the horrifyingly subversive insanity of this iconic shit-shoveler. This included, but was not limited to: anal sex, flopping dongs, boobies everywhere, Michael Caine, feces…and, well, lots and lots of feces. Thusly, when I sat down with my girlfriend to drink in these horrifying extremities, I was sorely disappointed. I mean, readying for this review, I charted my mental thesaurus for as many fecal references as I could muster…and trust me, I came up with some good ones…only to have my dreams dashed by cinematic prudishness. Poop? You say your movie has poop? IT’S IN ONE SCENE. THAT’S IT! AND IT’S ONLY ON THE WALLS! Guys, I’ve hung out with two-year-olds. Poop-covered walls is bush league. When I see a grown many urinate into his own mouth, I might wince…might. You say this man is sexually deviant? The most grotesque act in this film is watching a 17 year old bride wipe her mouth after performing an off-screen blow job. Where are the threesomes? The S&M? The awkward, wig-based cosplay (which, back then, was known as ‘sex’)?

"Is it me, or can you smell someone who is going to destroy their career with a mis-informed documentary by Casey Affleck?" ~ Winslet, shockingly prescient.

“Is it me, or can you smell someone who is going to destroy their career with a mis-informed documentary by Casey Affleck?” ~ Winslet, shockingly prescient.

This dashing of expectation was only the beginning. Mr. Philip Kaufman, the film’s director, worked from a script by Doug Wright, a writer who is a subtle as he is a fucking mongoose. In fact, he is more of a mongoose than subtle because mongoose (mongeese? Mongooses?) are shockingly apt at dredging up crap. It is a testament to Mr. Rush’s impressively seasoned chops (category: metaphors that work for actors and sides of pork) that he can carry off a role of such rikonkulous flamboyance with even a modicum of believability. I think at one point he screeches ‘MY CONSTANT ERECTION!’ Oh yes? If it’s so fucking ‘constant’ why didn’t we see some erect Rush peen instead of a sad and cold flaccid thespenis? Unfortunately, none of this movie is actually as good as it thinks it is. Kaufman channels every director he can get his hands on to emulate any chance of bringing home a golden statuette. We have impressionistic matte sunsets falsely framing the few panoramas we’re offered, ala Polanski circa 1975. We have the natural lighting of Milos Forman’s excessively superior Amadeus attempting to give the world an ’19th Century feel’. We even have Kate Winslet’s boobs (ala Cameron, Eyre, Field, Lee, well, let’s be honest, everyone). However, this is a tale you have seen perhaps more often than a pair of Winslet nips (okay, I’ll stop, I promise). We have the inmate fighting against the system and the system fighting back. In the end he wins but dies, driving his captors to madness or self-reflection. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s basically One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest but with more hairpieces and mentions of labia.

It's as though everyone was given the direction to think about Geoffrey Rush's penis.

It’s as though everyone was given the direction to think about Geoffrey Rush’s penis.

Well, with such a disappointment under our belts, we followed up with a movie synonymous with “career-crushing flops”. With the help of Netflix’s insufferably upbeat and loquacious Siri rip-off, ‘Max’, we were offered Ben Stiller’s pre-Zoolander, post-There’s Something About Mary parody of superhero flicks, Mystery Men. What we discovered was one of the most nonsensical, bizarre, flamboyant, eerily prescient and absurdly esoteric movies I’ve ever fucking seen. I mean, what the hell? I sat on the couch, agog, witnessing this glorious mess of a shit storm. Mystery Men tells the story of three completely incompetent ‘superheroes’, Stiller’s ‘Mr. Furious’ with the power to get really mad; Macy’s ‘The Shoveler’, a man with exceptional abilities in the realm of moving dirt from place to place; and Hank Azaria’s bemusing ‘Blue Raja’, a pseudo-Indian, British-accented man who flings silverware. These three attempt to foil crimes in the shadow of Greg Kinnear’s unstoppable Captain Amazing, a Superman send-up decked out with endorsements and, like a groom’s penis on wedding night, the crushing need to perform. Bored with the paucity of adversarial quality, Amazing frees Geoffrey Rush from an asylum…and his name? CASANOVA FRANKENSTEIN. I shit you not. That is his actual name. Rush struts onto screen, decked in the finest disco-era nonsense, a sharpened pinky knife, and an accent that would make Bram Stoker’s Dracula blush. Within minutes of release, he goes about blowing up buildings and capturing Captain Amazing. It is up to the Mystery Men to save the man and the city. Along the way, they pick up Janeane Garofalo as a hipster girl equipped with a haunted bowling ball; a native American man called the Sphinx who only speaks in mantras; Pee Wee Herman as The Spleen, a man capable to knocking out even the most constitutional of stomachs with a carefully fired fart; and the Invisible Boy (Kel from Keenan et al) who has the ability to turn invisible only if nobody is looking at him.

"When I make this face, the ladies know I'm going to write on the walls in poop." ~ G-Rush is totes method.

“When I make this face, the ladies know I’m going to write on the walls in poop.” ~ G-Rush is totes method.

What seemed like it was going to be a nonsense romp through a slew of outdated references, proved to be something far more incredible. It seems as though Mystery Men was released a decade too soon. With the prevalence of superhero movies saturating the market, now would be the perfect time to lampoon the il-logic of these mega-blockbusters. Right now, all we get to rely on are the misfortunate slew of Kick-Ass movies. Usher’s film attacks specifically Schumacher’s Batman movies, mimicking camera moves, shots, lighting and going so far as to even film on some of Batman Forever’s sets. The satire is so perfectly crafted that it would be easy to mistake it for incompetence. And don’t get me wrong, this movie is largely incompetent. Usher seems to have stumbled onto genius by accident. I mean, what intellectual merit can a movie aspire to with a scene where a skunk humps the leg of a man who’s magical power is flatulence? Based on a Dark Horse comic, there is a good chance that the truly subversive aspects of the script are due to the source material. Firstly, H. Macy’s family is black. When was the last time you saw a biracial family in a movie? Think about it! On top of that, the entire inciting incident comes about due to pressure to provide companies with advertising opportunities. How can you not see the link between this movie and the questionable morals of the news media conglomerates, idiots subsisting on the constant flow of international tragedy for ratings? Without even trying, this movie has made the same thematic point as The Dark Knight without even trying…heroes create their own villains.

Ultimately, after Tom Waits shows up with an arsenal of non-lethal weaponry, Greg Kinnear turns into a human representation of an Munch painting, and Eddie Izzard attacks Garofalo with self-igniting hair spray, we are left with a tale of outsiders and underdogs fighting the status quo and succeeding despite themselves. There are references upon references upon references, some obvious (Captain Amazing’s alter ego hides behind glasses a la Superman) to the utterly bemusing (Garofalo makes fun of how William Shatner once argued with a director about the way he says ‘sabotage’…WTF?)  Granted, this thing is horribly made. If I had a seizure for every time there was a close up with a fish-eye lens…oh wait, I did. Now I’m dead. Seriously, though. As Mel Brooks once said, “comedy is tragedy in a long shot”. There is precisely ONE long shot in the entire film. Guess what? It’s the best joke in the movie. The rest of it is an exercise in nausea and chromatic dissidence. And not in a fun way. It’s like a one-eye trip through a Rob Zombie fun-house. But with more neon.

There is no caption necessary for this picture. Just drink it in. DRINK IT.

There is no caption necessary for this picture. Just drink it in. DRINK IT.

So, where are the connections between these two bizarre little ditties of cinema? Well, Geoffrey Rush and his member aside, it’s really about the expectation of subversion. Quills set out to be an Oscar movie. It has every ingredient: a tour de force performance by an old white man, Kate Winslet, Kate Winslet’s boobs (okay, okay, one more), fighting the system, accents, wigs, shocking material handled ‘tastefully’, biography etcetera ad infinitum. Unfortunately, the parts surpass the quality of the whole; what could have been a truly eye-opening examination of deviant sexuality and its relationship to literature turns into a dandy of a smut-fest with extremely problematic examples of mental health issues. On the other hand, Mystery Men is the strangest cobbling together of disparate elements that somehow coalesce into a mild stroke of brilliance. Rush’s ridiculous Casanova Frankenstein is perhaps the most hilarious of all his characters and a damn-side more devious than De Sade. What’s more terrifying? A French author with slightly distressed views on ink quality, or an insane madman with a sharpened pinky knife and an obsession with disco. I think we can all agree that The Beegees trump all things in the ‘horror’ department.

I will leave off with a final thought: originally I was going to link Quills to Children of Men, a movie known for its graphic violence and bleak views of humanity. In the UK, Children of Men is the equivalent of an ‘R’ rating, soaked in blood and swearing. On the other hand, Quills, with its tepid showings of actor schlong, is rated ‘X’. What is so horrifying about penises that even the presence of a flaccid dong is considered an unviewable travesty? I think this video says it all.

Chocolat (2000) – Lasse Hallstrom (Dir.), Juliet Binoche, Alfred Molina, Judy Dench, Lena Olin, Johnny Depp, Peter Stormare, Carrie-Anne Moss

What is with that patch of hair on Depp's face? What is that? A sideburn? Beard? PICK A SIDE; WE'RE AT WAR.

What is with that patch of hair on Depp’s face? What is that? A sideburn? Beard? PICK A SIDE; WE’RE AT WAR.

Alright guys, here’e the fucking deal. I’m in a bad mood. I’m not going to tell you why, but I am. I’m really frustrated and angry and I can’t remember a fucking password for a tumblr blog and this dude sitting across from me KEEPS HITTING MY FOOT AND NEVER APOLOGIZES.

*Deep Breath*

If I could write this article in all caps, I would. But that wouldn’t allow for nuance and I FUCKING LOVE NUANCE. Now, before we get into this, people, I need you to know a few things. I write books. I’m working on a book. At least I have been for the last year…and it’s THIS CLOSE to being done. Can I work on it? Well, every time I sit down, with even a modest modicum of time at my hands, perhaps enough to get my fickle and distracted mind into the creative flow required to put something at least mildly cogent on the electronic page, I ask the universe, “Please, sir, can I write some more?” And the universe looks at me and says, “NO, YOU LITTLE TURD.” And this makes me mad. Like furious. More furious than Fast 9 Furiouserserserser 9. Like, I want to burn this city to the ground and dance on its corpse in the fashion of a demented Betty the Cow or Bessy or WHATEVER I’M TOO ANGRY TO GOOGLE RIGHT NOW.

What am I going to do? I’m going to write about fucking chocolate. That’s right! The brown stuff. That sugary sliver of heaven we dump into our slack jaws with fistfulls of cocoa. I fucking love the stuff. When I’m in a bad mood, just pull out the goddamn Snow Cap AR15 and semi-automatic that sweet shit right through my stomach lining. It doesn’t even need to pass my mouth. Just hook me up to an IV of Cadbury’s and this murderous rage will transform me into tranquilized kitten. GIMME GIMME GIMME CHOCOLATE!

*Six bars of Dark Chocolate later…*

Phew. Let’s all take a step back. Now, I know some things were said. Let’s not point fingers with ‘you said this’ and ‘you swore about this’ and ‘you threatened to burn down a major metropolitan area’. That’s all in the past. Let’s talk about the future. Better yet, let’s talk about chocolate. Oh that glorious divine barrage of calories and seratonin. I would look up whether or not eating chocolate even encourages the body to release seratonin…or whether or not that’s the correct way to spell the word ‘seratonin’. But I’m really tired. Because of chocolate. Did you know, in France, chocolate is called ‘Chocolat’? It’s true. Because they’re too good for silent e’s and hard t’s. They don’t have any issues with slews of silent consonants like, you know, s’s added for pluralization. But, I mean, they are French, so whadda ya gonna do? The correct answer is: get into a 100 year war with them, lose to a prepubescent crazy girl, let her get burned at the stake, then bide your time until a dude called Napoleon comes along, and then have the Duke of Rainboots spank him into submission at a London Underground station. That sounds about right.

"HE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" ~ Catholics didn't appreciate my introduction of pantomime call-backs during communion.

“HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!” ~ Catholics didn’t appreciate my introduction of pantomime call-backs during communion.

Well, this movie, Chocolate without the E, has been sitting on my DVD rack since my ladyfriend moved in about a year ago. Ever since then, it has been a battle of attrition, a siege of epic emotional stakes, a Stalingrad of stubbornness, if you will, to get me to watch this movie. Every time I say, “Let’s watch a movie!” she would say, “Chocolat!” and I would say, “No!” Why? Did I not think I would enjoy this, a multiple Oscar-nominee, this sweet-filled modern French fairy tale, this Judi Dench curmudgeon-a-thon? No. I’m just stubborn. I am the grandest pain in the ass ever since King Edward II succumbed to the awkward end of a hot poker (true story). I don’t care if it’s the holy grail of holy grails (the mythical Holy “Holy Grail” Grail that makes an awkward debut in Indiana Jones 5). If you suggest it excitedly and willingly, my British genes flare, like a pair of 1970s hip huggers, and I am consumed by antagonistic malaise. Well, finally, I don’t know how…but Amelia managed to convince me to finally watch this movie. And I tell ya…it was pretty darn good. So…I’m an asshole. Moving on!

Chocolat tells the tale of the lovely and delicious Juliet Binoche traveling to a tiny French town in the mid 1950s…though it’s difficult to discern any chronological definition in the span from 1750 to 1950 when a movie is filmed in Europe because, well, everything is old. She and her adorably insane daughter (she has an imaginary pet kangaroo) set up shop (literally) in the center of town. Here’s the twist: it’s a chocolate shop in, wait for it…LENT! (Ladies swoon. Gentlemen vomit. Children defecate – though, I’m pretty sure that’s because children just do that). Alfred “Mole” Molina, the mayor and close-minded patriarch of the town, enjoys keeping the plebs under his religiously inclined thumb, though he has obvious issues at home and doesn’t quite have a handle on the Anton Yelchin look-alike new priest. Binoche goes about doing business, handing out candies to all the townsfolk, predicting their favorite taste by way of a mystical pseudo-psychological device. The people are almost instantly entranced, including the secretly diabetic and seriously badass Judi Dench (before the Dame, bitches). Binoche hands out candy like it’s, well, candy, some of her earliest disciples a couple who manage to rekindle their sex lives by way of cacao beans. Because that’s what the French need. More sex.

I don't know how to photoshop! YAY!

I don’t know how to photoshop! YAY!

The movie sets itself up as a fairy tale, the mystical interloper finding her way into a small town community and then upending it from the inside out. There is little newness to the premise, its plot reminiscent of Edward ScissorhandsOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Pleasantville etc. etc. It opens with ‘Once Upon a Time…’ and relies heavily on some insanely under-budgeted CGI wind effects before Binoche arrives on the scene and starts her sexualized treat revolution during the dog days of the Catholic period of “Remember that Jesus walked through a fucking desert, so lets lay off very specific items of food…because obviously Jesus wants us to suffer like he did. But not EXACTLY like he did. Just a little bit.” Anyhoo, Binoche will have none of it and turns her chocolaterie into the ground zero of the War on Lent, handing out hot chocolate to anyone lucky enough to stop by. Throughout the film, she helps Judi “Breakfast of Nails” Dench reconnect with her morbidly-inclined yet intensely talented grandson; she saves a battered kleptomaniac from that one dude who murders everyone in every Coen Brother’s movie ever (he will cut off your yon-son); and she helps two old Frenchies bang like a screen door in a hurricane.

Thematically, everything about the tale is fairly by-the-numbers. It even employs a cleverly adapted ‘magical negro’ trope, though masks it so well you might not even notice. Quick background: “Magical Negro” is not me being horrifically racist, but rather it’s a termed coined by maddeningly inconsistent director Spike Lee to describe every role Morgan Freeman has ever played. You know, the black guy who is outside all this crazy white people crap and somehow can explain the essence of all existence to those protagonists who need to know. Here, instead of being black or Native American, as most ‘Magical Negroes’ tend to be, the lovely Miss Binoche is apparently, if her story is true, descended from a French gentleman and a woman ‘from Central America’ or, as we call them over here, ‘Mexicans’. It is by way of this tribal link, and the chocolate recipes derived from her lineage, that she is able to mystically entrance the god-fearing townies. It’s funny because, if this were in the US, she’d have to be from Peru, or Chile, or even Asia. I suppose a half-Mexican woman is a wonder in Europe. If she’d waltzed into Birmingham, AL with a Fist-Full of Non-Pareils (the least well-known of the Clint Eastwood westerns) instead of patronage, they would have handed her a shovel and told her to start landscaping. The tale Binoche tells is that of a wandering woman who must go with the northern wind, never remaining in one place for long. She brings with her treats in order to spread the wealth, but she is doomed to a life of a nomad. I spent a good deal of the first half of this movie dreading that it would be nothing more than a sappy “Sexual Awakening in a Sleepy Town” tale, perhaps sprinting down the delightful, yet sometimes bemusing path of Pleasantville a few years before. Binoche seems like nothing more than a manic pixie dream girl, impervious to the drama she swirls into a torrent, always offering a treat to calm the nerves and managing to save everyone from themselves. It makes a healthy change that a good deal of her gambits aim to save women from an overbearing patriarchy, all symbolized by a very not-Spiderman Alfred Molina, but the structure is hackneyed, to say the least.

I didn't know Irish Gypsies knew how to highlight their own hair. Nice guy-lights, Depp.

I didn’t know Irish Gypsies knew how to highlight their own hair. Nice guy-lights, Depp.

The movie, however, takes a random and refreshing turn. Out of fucking nowhere, Captain Jack Sparrow’s great great great grandson (Johnny “I Bet He Smells Terrible But I Don’t Care I Still Wanna Lick Him” Depp) materializes on a boat of Irish gypsies. This is the sort of side plot that emerges from the aether and returns with little impact whatsoever. Usually this is the shoe-horned love story, forced in there because, fuck it, can’t call it a love story if Binoche don’t get no action. But something subtler occurs. With Depp’s arrival and shockingly convincing Irish accent (he sounds drunk…but that isn’t unrealistic), the emotional life of the tale moves from Binoche fixing the lives of others to finally buckling under the pressure of not taking care of her own. We get to see the vulnerability coursing under the magical veneer she has constructed for herself. And so, piece by piece, as the movie rolls to its sad and fulfilling conclusion, the layers of mysticism are pulled back for what they actually are. There is no magic to her chocolate. It’s just really fucking good. She is offering these people a sense of pleasure, something they are meant to despise on all fronts, though they beg for it with every primal need. She doesn’t ‘follow the Northern Wind’ because of any ancient curse. She does it because she’s scared of making and fortifying emotional connections. What began as a fairy tale matures and blossoms into the truly enjoyable story of a woman coming to terms with her age, emotional life, love, needs and her own stability. Forcing a crew of gypsies to steamroll through the story is the deftest choice possible, juxtaposing her illusions against the grander mysticism of a traveling band of charming drunken layabouts. Suddenly, the magician is entranced herself, allowing us to see her for what it is. Allowing us to see the magic for what it really is.

It’s loneliness. These people look for the magic because perhaps there’s some undulating hidden energy simmering below the Earth’s crust simply awaiting its turn to sprout and pluck them from their emotional desolation. Ms. Binoche gets caught in throes of impressing the charming Depp, never able to satiate him with her impossible treats, always deterred when he always says, “these are good, but not my favorite”. She eventually sees the magic for what it is after a fire charges through her ecstasy and almost strips her of what she values most. After that, she settles, not into the life of the scared nomad sprinting in the opposite direction of anything resembling commitment, but into a community of love, which, in turn, accepts her. The capstone on this cautionary tale is, after Depp is chased out of town, he eventually returns and joins Ms. Binoche for a simple hot chocolate. No magic. No entrapment. Nothing. Just two people who have realized that all you get from running away is tired. She’s even rewarded when he says, “Hot chocolate, that’s my favorite”. It isn’t some divine truffle or perfect praline, just the basic of all basics. Sometimes, stripping away the magic reveals the best part of the illusion: the truth you’re trying to hide.

Wow. I feel a lot better. I don’t at all want to burn anything down. Well, maybe something French.

Goddamnit. Now I really want s’mores.

That’s my s’mores face

Some Like it Hot (1959) – Billy Wilder (Dir.), Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

and

Die Hard (1988) – John McTiernan (Dir.), Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

There are worse places to put your head.

And so, as chaotic systems eventually come to rest, livers collapse like supernovas and I get sick of spending all of my money buying drinks for girls I’m only half-convinced exist due to paralytic inebriation, so did my Summer of Singlehood. Yes, it’s kind of exciting. I am no longer single and everyone I work with is really glad I’m being less of an asshole. So, you’re welcome. However, with meeting a new partner/lovely lady and delving into her deepest and darkest truths, discovering her most well-kept secrets, needs and desires, analyzing hopes and dreams and generally putting one another through the Emotional Spanish Inquisition that comes with the first month of a relationship, I discovered something that made me squeal with horror.

She. Had. Never. Seen. DIE. HARD.

Let that sink in. I inquired further. “Some Like it Hot?” “No.” “The Big Lebowski?” “No.” “Aliens?” “No.” “Children of Men? The Hurt Locker? Seven? Being John Malkovich?” “No. No and No.” I KNOW, RIGHT? Turns out this chick was taught to ‘read.’ You know every time I watch a movie? She reads a book. Like an entire book. I’m not joking. I have witnessed it. She’s like the insatiable reading queen. Well I must reeducate her! Let’s get rid of that ‘intellectual’ nonsense and in with some explosions! Some drama! Some crossdressing! And so, I have decided to cop out of the whole ‘watching random difficult movies that can be a little rapey’ for the moment (like I haven’t been doing that for months) to return to some of my beloved classics with a new eye. Now, the lady, as she is known (she shares a name with a famous family. See if you can guess which one! And no, it’s not ‘Hitler’) gets to choose which movies we view. I’ve decided, based on her complete ignorance of these films, we shall view the randomly paired tales and I shall do whatever I can to conflate the disparate pieces, attempting to use great art to dig deeper into the creative crust that Hollywood has so buried itself under for years. It shall be a new segment! And, due to the fact that both of us practically race to fall asleep during movies first, it shall be the greatest Narcoleptic Society of Film Watchers this world has ever known! We shall watch great movies and I will cross-examine them! We will have to do it over about four days at a time because we keep falling asleep! Huzzah! So, what do we have first…?

The inspiring tale of a man born with a burning building as half of his head.

Some Like it Hot? A cross-dressing comedy set during 1929 in Chicago? And Die Hard? The baddest of badasses with a yippee-ki-yay-mutherfucker here and a yippee-ki-yay-mutherfucker there, here a yip, there a yip, everywhere a yippee-ki-yay-mutherfucker? Well…shit. I’m a smart lad, I can do something.

To those of you not in the know, Some Like it Hot is the tale of two musicians, Tony “What Did You Do To Your Face?” Curtis and Jack “When God Gives You” Lemon, down on their luck in prohibition era Chicago. Like the dullards they are, they witness the brutal and, honestly, bemusingly bloodless murder of the totally-based-on-a-real-person’s-name Toothpick Charlie. They have to get out of town and do so by masquerading as female players in an all-vagina band led by the titillating, titalicious and severely drunk Marilyn Monroe. Well, Curtis falls in love while doing an impersonation of Cary Grant, Lemon almost gets mounted by a randy millionaire and all of the mobsters get ruthlessly massacred. Fun for the whole family!

No, nobody mentions that these two broads have Adams apples the size of Lake Manitoba nor do they notice that they both look about as comfortable in dresses as a that one cup does in that video about two girls loving it so (And chocolate ice cream). And no, Marilyn Monroe doesn’t mind that Curtis was lying to her about everything. And no, the randy thousand-year-old doesn’t give a flying fuck that Lemon isn’t a woman. But that shit is hilarious, continue please.

If I have to tell you what Die Hard is about, I will come to your home and person push you out of a 97 story building while looking like my hair is trying to sprint away from my scalp in fear of my deafening manliness. Don’t fuck around. This shit is serious. Game faces people. Suffice to say, it is Alan Rickman at his best, Bruce Willis at his most exasperated (except for every time someone brings up Ashton Kutcher) and Bonnie Bedelia at her most permed. This movie will rock your cock, fry your face, badger your vagger. It is awesomeness incarnate.

Worst. Tango. Album. Ever.

Now, there aren’t too many literal links between the two films. Both are perfect personifications of their respective genres. Both hit every single beat precisely and pristinely, never missing a single step. Hot gives us set up, punchline, set up, set up, punchline, punchline. Die Hard, on the other hand, is the epitome of what an action movie should be. We have a villain (the inaccurately titled ‘Terrorist’, Hans “Sounds Like a Sausage Company. Is that Racist? I Don’t Think That’s Racist” Gruber), the damsel in distress, the crazy ballerina dude with a massive machine gun and the black guy from Family Matters. The plot builds with the exact intensity and pace required and indicates the percent completed by way of intelligently projecting itself upon McClane’s physical appearance and bodily deterioration. His shirt becomes bloodier and bloodier with each lethal skirmish, terrorist head squished and Twinkie mishandled, whittling him to a pulp of flesh and bullets by the final showdown. It’s fucking exhilarating and I won’t hear another word about it.

All that said, what caught my eyes was a single item. Both have an interesting take on gender roles (shocker, I know). While Hot deals directly with two men having to sacrifice their masculinity in order to infiltrate panties as stealthily as Seal Team Sex (see what I did there?), constantly subverting their usual roles in order to find a new lot and direction in life, Die Hard is about alpha males standing their ground, whipping out their dicks and flapping it in everyone’s faces. Fascinatingly, though Curtis’ character never particularly changes throughout the film, we see a marked difference in Jack Lemon before the credits roll. While his regular male form is horny as hell and ready to hump the desk lamp given half the chance, his female half slowly and steadily is weened away from that teat and convinced into a life of marriage with a man of wealth. We see this stallion dragged from predation to obedience, willingly giving up his life as a bachelor to take the role of housewife, thereby providing stability, both financial and emotional. What is totally wonderful and peculiar is that Lemon’s Daphne is entirely pleased with the concept to the point that both Lemon and Wilder convince the audience that, with the caveat of having a penis, this is the perfect choice for his life. At first, you laugh at the absurdity, but the more you analyze, the more you can understand the true gravitas of this choice. Jack Lemon and the randy millionaire are in love. Purely and unabashedly. No matter what Lemon does to convince Osgood otherwise, even revealing that he’s one clam short of a bake, the man’s mind can’t be changed. Is this love? Stockholm Syndrome (which, hilariously, is mislabeled in Die Hard as Helsinki Syndrome’. Seriously guys? It’s called research. I do it all the time – INSERT LACK OF RESEARCH HERE)?

Ah, true tucked-back love.

Or perhaps this is the first instance of Hollywood actively endorsing an alternative lifestyle. Perhaps, beyond the jokes and the nonsense, this was actually about two human souls connecting, societal norms be damned! Let their love be free of judgement! Let it blossom like a flower! Let it live long against the tyranny of ignorance and bigotry, let it persevere through hate and horror, let it DIE HARD!

(And the award for best segue goes to Andrew Mooney)

Let’s check out this bad boy. Well, between falling down ventilation shafts, blowing up SWAT teams, Ode to Joy, Mr. Takagi’s head exploding and the one really awkward black hacker in a group of Aryan Fabio impersonators (with Genghis Khan thrown into the mix), there is a deeper and more affecting tale at the center of this awesomemess (it’s a mess that’s awesome). This yarn is, most primally, about a man protecting his wife and his kids and this couple rediscovering why, all those years ago, they said ‘I do.’ McClane is a man with gender issues of his own, once the breadwinner while his clan was back in New York, now reduced to the weakened, weekend visitor to his kids while his wife becomes a major executive down in Los Angeles. Early on, we’re explicitly told that he had no intention of following Holly’s aspirations because he assumed they’d fail. He was wrong and now he’s an asshole. And he acts like one two. Granted…the fact that he’s being a shit means that he’s moping in the bathroom and doesn’t get captured due to the clever use of DISTRACTION TITTIES, but he’s still clearly in the wrong. And, though she gets about a minute fraction of the screen time of Willis, Bedelia is given scene after scene where she is standing strong against Snape’s I, uh, mean Rickman’s vitriol and brutality.

Bruce Willis re-enacting his own birth.

Is it a feminist film? Fuck no. There are metaphorical penis flying every which way. We even get two dicks by the name of Johnson shooting REALLY BIG GUNS from motorboats (they’re actually helicopters, but there is nothing sexual about helicopters.) In fact, very little of what John McClane does would be the choice of any sane gentleman and, if you were fucking stupid enough to try anything he does, you would have been dead at least thirty times over. In the end, it’s about fighting for his wife and realizing why he was in the building in the first place. Yes, she makes the money. Yes, she owns the house. Yes, she…well… does everything. But he knows how to shoot people in the head with a gun taped to his back. That’s, like, really useful and stuff! This is a movie about subverted gender roles finding their “natural” fit (those are “irony” bunny ears. Those second ones are not. They’re just bunny ears to make sure you knew I was naming something. Fuck me, English is complicated). Though Holly is the successful one, she is reduced to the damsel in distress once physicality enters the mix. John is given a place in her life once again. He becomes the hero, forced to return and murder the shit out of some Germans.

But, as we all know from the second movie, it doesn’t last. And it’s because, you know what? People aren’t attacked by terrorists and forced to protect your family with a gun every day. If you’re John McClane, it only happens once a year. And apparently that isn’t enough to keep a successful woman with a real career married to a suffocating, arrogant, chauvinist pig.

Is that offensive? Sorry. Chauvinist pork-based mammal. At least now I know that all I need in my burgeoning relationship is to either lie about everything or to save her from a illustrious career by ruthlessly murdering Germans. But then again, that’s how all Brits start relationships.

Alan Rickman giving the world’s smallest and flattest ghost-blowjob.