Don’t let your aim ever stray

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2021 by efcontentment

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I was long overdue for a new wallet.

As I entered my local mega-chain retailer, I noticed a lady of the Hispanic persuasion at the customer service section. She looked to be in the hardest version of her late fifties, and she had a sizable assortment of pants and shirts on the counter. Behind the counter, were two employees; the male employee was translating what the lady said to the female employee, and all I caught was something about not having tags for the items. 

I continued my merry way, and picked up a wallet — one of those RFID-blocking jobs. Then I went to the self-checkout line, and I heard a commotion. It was the two employees politely-but-firmly telling the older lady that she could not take those shirts and pants back to the clothing department. She angrily shrugged them off and tried to make a beeline to her intended destination, but the male employee blocked her, and she tried to push the man out of the way. The female employee then got on a walkie-talkie and called for security, and I think she may have thought she was far enough from earshot or she just didn’t care, because I distinctly heard the employee refer to the lady as “this bitch”. 

The lady became increasingly unruly, her voice got louder, and this was now becoming A Scene. The security guard — all ninety-eight pounds of gangly shy teenager — arrived and politely-and-only-politely asked her to leave, or at least that’s what I could make out, over the lady’s much louder and angrier voice.  

I was only able to make out the occasional swear word from the lady’s mad invective, because despite being a Spanish-speaker myself, my Spanish is Mexican Spanish, which is to say, slow enough to be able to comprehend the fully-pronounced words being spoken. Her Spanish, on the other hand, was Non-Mexican Spanish aka Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Dominican, etc., a fast-paced onslaught of partially-completed dialogue which is where the stereotypical rat-a-tat-tat speech you hear in such funny movies come from.

There’s also a third kind of Spanish: Castilian, which is what you hear Gwyneth Paltrow speak impressively in interviews. It’s what they speak in Spain, but they speak it with a lisp. Imagine Ice T speaking Spanish, and that’s Castilian. 

Anyway, our Non-Mexican Spanish speaker was vocally motherfucking the employees, while slowly but surely inching closer to verboten clothing department. She, like everybody else, had her mask on, so I was grateful for that, but I kept expecting her to pull it off to do something stupid, like spit at people. Instead, she violently shoved the boy guard, nearly toppling him over a display stand containing discounted Blu-rays and DVDs.

Listen, I’m not really an anxious person, or at least, I only get anxiety when I have to go to parties or get-togethers or any other kind of otherwise friendly situation with friendly people. But as far as negative scenes go, I’m surprisingly chill. I’ve had firearms aimed at me by cops and non-cops alike — those are long stories for another time, preferably after you’ve bought me dinner — and I was either too calm and/or stupid to freak out about it. 

But this situation with the lady literally made my heart beat faster and harder with every passing second. I also began to sweat despite the excellent air-conditioning in the building. At that point, I just wanted to leave, and every cell in my being started to scream GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. But the lone stubborn cell located somewhere in my testicular area responded with “Nah, buy the wallet, then leave.” 

So I waited as the guy six feet ahead of me began to check out his various household products, all the while reasoning with my heart and my sweat glands to please — please! — keep it together for a couple more minutes. And that’s when I heard the unmistakable sound of the absolute worst thing for me to hear. It is the sound that had, has, and will drive me into Lovecraftian depths of insanity, if I hear it long enough. It is my vocal Kryptonite, this sound, and it makes me feel helpless, anguished, scared, and enraged all at once:

It was the sound of a crying baby.

A placid-looking Asian woman and her well-behaved daughter had just entered the store, pushing a baby cart containing a toddler who should know better. But the spoiled boy on the overworked cart was pitching the biggest of fits. 

I desperately scanned the vicinity for an available register elsewhere, and there certainly were some available, if one wanted to wait behind scores of other customers. I even thought about just leaving while tossing a random employee twice the amount of the wallet’s cost — after all, I’ve pulled similar moves at restaurants, leaving money on the table mid-meal because of inconsiderate parents bringing their screeching spawn — but I knew that would just cause more drama. 

Lady and gentleman, I had managed to make it for nearly a year-and-a-half of this goddamn pandemic without losing my shit, yet here I was, about to punch that clock. Because I don’t believe in God, I could not pray to Her. Because I don’t believe in people, I could not depend on anyone else doing the right thing. But I still believe in myself! And so, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, and I transported myself somewhere else — anywhere but that store.

I don’t know where I went, all I remember is that it was not unlike the darkness, quiet, and serenity I fantasize about taking myself everyday. It was nice. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder and I opened my eyes and my ears and the baby was still screaming and the lady was still angry. I turned around to see who the tapper was; a young Asian woman, holding a basket, smiling while motioning towards the now-available register.

So I stumbled over to checkout my item, and looked over to see the angry lady with the clothes, now being walked off the premises while screaming mashed-together way-too-fast Spanish, but I was able to make out the swear words, and she would end every sentence by pointing at each employee and screaming: “Corona-vee-ruuus! Corona-vee-ruuus!” They managed to get her out of the store, and as she angrily walked out with the clothes, she gave out one last gesture of defiance by slamming her fist twice against the front window. 

As soon as the register spat out my receipt, I grabbed that and ran out the store with my new wallet, while making sure I was going the opposite direction of wherever she was going. When I got home, I still felt kind of rattled, so I turned on the Roku and looked for something to watch, and that’s when I remembered: Oh my goodness! The Adorable Amy Adams had two films released on Netflix in the past year, and I’ve yet to watch them. Then it all made sense; the angry woman, the crying baby, the anxiety, the despair, all of that was the universe punishing me for ignoring our dear Triple A. 


Based on the memoirs of author/venture capitalist, J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy begins in 2011 with young Yale law student Vance burning the candle at both ends. In addition to doing the school thing, he’s working three jobs to make up for what financial aid won’t cover.

Money is definitely a big issue for the man, who in true modern-day American spirit, pays for things with multiple credit cards of varying limits and overextensions. It’s too bad I didn’t know him back then, otherwise I could’ve preached him the gospel of micropayments, but I’m sure he’d dismiss me on account of being a dirty ethnic and what do I know? 

Anyway, you’d think with his workload, Time is something of which Vance has little to no amount, and yet, he also has a girlfriend. I guess it wasn’t enough for this asshole to have his hands full, he just has to have them fuller, and just as he’s about to begin a week of interviews for a potential paid summer internship at one of the big law firms — RING RING goes the celly. It’s a call from his sister back home with the bad news that his mom has not only gone back to bootin’ up that damn heroin, the dumb bitch has gone and gotten herself OD’d.

And so Vance drives his fried baloney sandwich-lovin’ ass back home to Ohio in an attempt to get help for his absolute mess of a mother, and the film flashes back to Vance’s youth in 1997, a year that shall remain forever glorious because that was the year that Good Burger graced silver screens all across this great nation. Unfortunately, this movie never acknowledges the release of that film, but at one point they do play “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJs, so I’ll let it slide.

We watch as younger tubbier 1997 Vance lives with his mother Bev, played by The Adorable Amy Adams, but in the case of this film, I will have to refer to our Triple A as The Aggravating Amy Adams, because my word, what a goddamn trial! As we find out throughout the film, Bev wasn’t always a completely addled chore of a human being. Having graduated high school, she went on to have a respectable career as a nurse, but somewhere along the way she started sneaking away an extra pill or two from her patient’s prescriptions, and so on and so forth.

Faster than you can say Mommie Dearest, Bev displays magnificent feats of head-spinning manic-depression; she’ll start as a happy loving mom who will gleefully drive her son to go buy some baseball cards, then one wrong word about one of the latest in a long line of boyfriends later, she’ll stomp on the gas pedal and wonder aloud about just ending it for the both of them in the kind of fiery car wreck that would make Duane Hall jizz in his pants. 

I think it’s supposed to be frightening to watch, but as someone who hates kids — especially crying ones — I got a huge kick out of watching Amy Adams beat the shit of this child. She’s raining down thunder and calling him names and while I’m sure other viewers might be thinking “She’s a monster!”, I was like Go Amy Go! 

(By the way, the opening of the film features another adult punching another child, and that was also something I applauded during this film and will applaud in any other film.) 

Adams is pretty amped up throughout this movie, and that’s both a highlight and a lowlight. To clarify, I don’t think it’s Adams’ fault and I found it easy to find the truth in her portrayal of a boyfriend-hopping drug addict with emotional issues.

OK, I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “Well, of course you don’t think it’s her fault, it’s never your precious Amy Adams’ fault”. First off, get your fuckin’ head — get your fuckin’ head straight — she’s not my Amy Adams, she’s her own Amy Adams, thank you very much. And second, nobody’s perfect and everybody is fallible, even The Triple A.  

But I don’t think it’s a bad performance, it’s a lopsided one — and I don’t blame her so much as the filmmakers for that. See, the problem is that the movie doesn’t give us nearly enough of sober even-tempered Bev to compare & contrast with the drugged-out hotheaded Bev that we see, like, ninety percent of the time — and so, where are we to find any range, where are we to find the tragedy in what her character has become, if we don’t ever really get to see that much of the better angels of her nature?

When you look over at the comparatively subtle performance by Glenn Close as Vance’s grandmother Mamaw, I don’t think it’s a surprise that she ended up being nominated for an Academy Award while Adams wasn’t nominated at all. Of course, I use the word “subtle” for lack of a better one. Maybe “nuanced” would be a better one? Maybe not?

What I’m saying is that as Mamaw, Close plays a tough-but-fair granny with a cigarette practically fused to her hand. But she’s not just playing a one-note type, we get to see more of what makes her tick. For example, we find out that in her earlier years she ran away from a troubled home, only to have found herself in a brand-new version of the same thing.

On the other hand, we’re mostly told that Bev grew up observing some of this turmoil, and we’re told that she was particularly close to her father, despite the growing rift between the family. It would’ve been nice to actually see some of this, the way the film was eager to have us see Bev’s wild and crazy antics, giving us plenty of Effect but very little Cause.

I get that there’s only so much to get across in under two hours, so what I’m saying is maybe director Ron Howard and screenwriter Vanessa Taylor should’ve worked more on finding the right balance before committing anything to celluloid — ahem, I mean digital files.

It’s too bad because here and there we see hints of Howard and Taylor’s potential in making a very effective film; for example, the flashback format enhances the heartbreak because when we see a scene of Bev choosing to clean her act up, it only hurts more, because we know from the present day scenes that it didn’t work out that way for her. 

But overall I was left feeling as if I had watched an early rough cut for what could’ve been a really good movie. Instead, Hillbilly Elegy is kind of a mess that’s less a proper adaptation of the book and more like a haphazard dumping of all the book’s various threads into Thunderdome and forcing them all to fight each other for narrative supremacy: It’s a mother & daughter story, a mother & son story, it’s a fish out of water tale, a fish back in water tale, it’s a drama about dealing with an addict in the family, a comedy about cultural differences, and an overall lesson on how one must not fall into the same rut that previous generations fell into because of family trauma.  

Regarding that last part; I did feel that the running thread about characters being placed at the crossroads of doing the right thing, and sticking with family, right or wrong, was something Howard and Taylor did get 100-percent right.

Now I haven’t read the book and for all I know, it handles all the above-mentioned themes, topics, and plotlines a lot better. Not that I’ll ever find out, because I’m not gonna read that fuckin’ book. I mean, the only reason I watched this movie was because The Adorable Amy Adams starred in it. But I don’t give an inkling of an iota of a shit about J.D. Vance, and I know the ending already: He goes on to become an ardent chugger of Orange MAGA-cock. The End.

The second Amy Adams film I watched on Netflix is also an adaptation of a book by a morally questionable author, (and where she also plays an unstable character): The Woman in the Window, written by A.J. Finn — and I was about to do an entire bit about how that’s not even his real name, and what kind of cowardly douchebag would write under a pseudonym?

Uh…

While we’re talking similarities, I found myself way beyond flattered upon realizing that my favorite living actor is playing…me! I mean, look, Adams’ character, Anna, is a shut-in who keeps her human interactions to a minimum, preferring to plant herself on her comfy couch drinking and watching movies all day until she passes out. It’s like looking in a mirror, only not.

Obviously they changed many details, like the name, gender, and occupation — for the record, I am not a female child psychologist recently separated from her husband and child. I don’t live in a NYC brownstone, nor do I rent out the basement of my brownstone to some dude played by Kurt Russell’s son.

Speaking of that dude, there’s a scene between him and Adams that shows quite possibly the biggest difference between the movie’s version of me and the real me who is currently talking to you, and that is the way we celebrate my favorite holiday, Halloween. Let’s just say we wouldn’t see eye to eye on that issue.

Also, Anna suffers from genuine agoraphobia, whereas I am just insufferable. Anna’s attempts to step outside result in her getting overwhelmed by her phobia, whereas my attempts result in me getting overwhelmed by my hatred of humanity, then returning home to bitch about these people on various social media posts and blog/podcasts. 

By the way, my misanthropy is why I didn’t have as difficult a time as others during this pandemic, because as much as I enjoy going out to eat and going to movies, I enjoy not going out even more. If anything, the outside world completely showed me its whole ass during this past year-and-a-half, the outside world confirmed my worst suspicions about it, the outside world said “It’s OK to stay inside”. 

The plot begins a-brewin’ when Anna partakes in her other usual pastime: Being a fucking snoop, which is something that I would never do. But here she is, spying on her new neighbors across the street, played by Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore.

They have a son, played by somebody’s somebody, and he’s one of those shy awkward teens that make you either want to hug and tell them It’s OK, or you want to slap the shit out of them and order them to stand up straight and Speak Loud Enough So Everybody Can Hear You.

Anna gets friendly with the son, becomes wine buddies with the wife (who’s amusingly named Jane Russell, like the actress), and is the requisite minimum of polite with the husband.  But soon Anna finds herself in a Rear Window kinda situation, except in this case, it’s more like Front Window, because it appears that she spies with her little eyes the husband doing something really bad — maybe even permanent — to the wife. But good luck convincing everybody else, Anna. 

See, something happened in Anna’s recent past; it is the reason for her agoraphobia, the separation from her family, and the lovely prescription drugs that she washes down with vino. Anna is all kinds of all over the place, and even her shrink is kinda getting tired of her shit. The shrink, by the way, is played by Tracy Letts, best known for writing the plays “Bug” and “Killer Joe” and for writing the screenplay to this movie.
Director Joe Wright makes a pretty canny choice of having Anna’s everyday movie-watching consist of Alfred Hitchcock classics. Normally I’m against this sort of thing, because showing classic movies within your movie usually results in people wishing they were watching the classic instead. But I think it works here — regardless of how you feel about this movie — because it allows the viewer to consider the very real possibility that Anna is just seeing things.

Hell, I remember spending a three-day weekend at home fucked up on booze, weed, and shrooms, watching nothing but Shaw Brothers kung fu films all day and night. By Tuesday, I was convinced everybody around me had disgraced me and the Shaolin Temple. So why wouldn’t Anna think she’s in the middle of some real Hitchcockery?

Oh, that’s another difference between Me and Anna; you can straight up O.J. a bitch six feet in front of me, and as far I’m concerned, I didn’t see shit, I don’t know shit, I don’t want to know shit. I was busy tying my shoes the entire time, officer. But no, Anna’s calls the pigs over and digs herself an increasingly deeper hole with a She’s Imagining Things shovel. 

Now the movie is referencing Hitchcock, and it’s aping Hitchcock, but the end result actually felt more like Dario Argento. This felt kinda/sorta like an American giallo at times, with a wonderfully garish mix of colors and lighting, a pulpy plot that favors trash over class, and where emotion beats out logic — it just needed an extra on-screen murder or two or three. I don’t think it’s as good as early Argento joints like Deep Red or The Bird with the Crystal Plumage — this is an American distillation of an Italian genre, after all — but it’s still a fun watch, if watched in that context.

I understand the reviews for this are pretty terrible, and I kinda get it; with a prestige cast and crew of award-winners and nominees behind it, one might expect something a bit more hoity-toity, and this ain’t that. But I will not stand anybody who might have the audacity to say that Amy did not come to play.

She is excellent as Anna, and she manages to come off as both prickly and wounded — probably from being so prickly, she can’t help but hurt herself the most. She has a couple of certified emotional bangers late in the film; both are monologues, one given to a group of people, another to a camera, and either one would’ve made for a great Oscar clip in the category of Best Actress in a Fun Trashy American Sorta-Giallo. 

The film was delayed multiple times — much to my dismay — partially due to COVID-19 making a theatrical release not the most eligible option, and partially due to reshoots. I don’t know what came out of the reshoots, but if I had to guess, the climax of the film was one of the results, because it does feel the most out-of-place with the rest of the movie. I’ve nothing against the climax, but I wished the film would’ve slowly worked its way to that wildly different tone, rather than suddenly whiplashing the audience into it. 

Also, I wonder if the reshoots are the reason Jennifer Jason Leigh’s role seems so minor for someone so major; she doesn’t really get much to do with a role that could’ve been given to somebody cheaper for the same effect.

Actually, her role isn’t that much smaller from the rest of the supporting cast, who definitely live up to the “supporting” part, because this really is The Amy Adams Show. If Anna can’t leave her house, that means the movie doesn’t leave her house. She spends most of her time alone, and so the other characters are left to be occasional visitors or intruders. If I hadn’t known about the novel, I would’ve totally assumed that this was based on one of Tracy Letts’ plays, because this story could easily play out on a stage.

While the movie is expertly made and very well-acted, I couldn’t help but think that there was an even crazier and better version of this story begging to be told, just aching to let its freak flag fly, and I’m afraid Joe Wright was just a bit too buttoned up a filmmaker for the job. This needed someone like Brian De Palma or Paul Verhoeven or Julie Taymor — someone with a strong sense of the operatic, absurd, and theatrical. They also would’ve known how to make the climax and the rest of the film feel like one and the same.
Hell, why not give it to Argento himself? It could’ve been his best American work — or his worst movie ever, although I don’t know how the latter would be possible, unless he had Brian Tyree Henry’s character turn into a praying mantis somewhere along the way.

Minor complaints aside, I thought this nutty little ditty fit the bill, and it passes the test as actual entertainment and not simply an Amy Adams thirst watch, because I’m pretty sure I’d still dig this movie if it instead starred, uh, I don’t know, uh, maybe, uh someone like Isla Fisher, or Karen Gillan, or Jessica Chastain, or Emma Stone, or Christina Hendricks, or Bryce Dallas Howard — you know, any random actress would do. 

Well, it was nice while it lasted. I don’t mean the Amy Adams double feature, even though that was nice as well. I’m talking about my brief post-vaccinated return to the outside world. I got to eat in a couple of restaurants, went to see a couple movies in actual movie theaters. But I’m going back inside. Not because of a virus or its various variants, no way. My reason is something else, something that I feel was best expressed by one America’s last great poets of the late 20th century, Andrew Dice Clay, in his 1993 special No Apologies: “…’cause people are scumbags”. 

Touché.

Posted in douchebag, Femme Fatale, podcast, ramblings of a loser with tags , , , on March 19, 2021 by efcontentment


Click here to download the podcast version of this post.

I’m officially out of the movie rambling request business — or so I thought I was, until I remembered that I still had one request left, and it was from my friend Alec who asked if I would ramble about the 2002 Brian De Palma film Femme Fatale. I said “sure thing buddy”, because it would be a good one to go out on, and it was a film I had already seen and watched, having seen it twice on opening weekend in the Fall of 2002.

And as luck would have have it, the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Los Angeles was about to have a 35mm screening of the film, and I thought “perfect, just in time for my ramblings about the film”.

Except this was February 2020, and it was no longer Fear that was infectious, and what was Over There was now coming Over Here. Priorities changed fast, and I felt my time was better spent panic-stocking on food, water, and ammo, rather than jerking off about a movie for a friend. Wait, that didn’t sound right, I don’t mean I was literally jerking off for my friend, I mean — you know what, let’s just move on.

So, speaking from the relatively calmer waters of March 2021, I can say it’s been one hell of a year, even for those who weren’t personally affected by The Virus That Will Not Be Named, and while it’s certainly not over yet, at least…um, at least we can….um…

Ah, I know. At least I won’t have to shake anybody’s hand anymore. I was never a fan of handshakes to begin with, partially because of my existing germophobia, and because I hate having to squeeze the other person’s hand so hard, lest they think less of me. Silly me, I always thought you got to know somebody by how they treated people, and not by the strength of their grip.

Sometimes I’d get a person practically crushing my hand with their grip, and then I would have to respond by whipping out my dick to show him who’s boss. Which nine times out of ten, would mean they were boss. So I’m done with handshakes forever. From now on, it’s namaste & bowing and if you don’t like it, you can take that bigger cock of yours and go fuck yourself.

The film opens with Billy Wilder’s 1944 film noir classic Double Indemnity playing on the tee-vee, and I always felt that showing a classic film within your film is a move as dicey as Andrew Clay, and more often than not, the unintentional result is that the viewer is reminded that there are better films out there that he or she could be spending their time on, rather than the film on which they’re currently wasting their time.

In the case of Femme Fatale, it works. Not that I feel they’re equals, because I don’t — sorry Bri, but I gotta go Team Wilder on this one. But what De Palma is doing by showing you a scene from that film is making it very clear to the viewer that he knows damn well that he’s not reinventing the wheel, but rather, doing his own spin on a genre. And by introducing the main character of his film watching that film, he’s planting some seeds that will sprout big time by the end of Femme Fatale — and based on the constant liquid motif that runs throughout this picture, De Palma is watering the hell out of those seeds. 

And who is this main character, anyway? Well, she’s Laure Ash, played by Rebecca Romijn, who is credited as Rebecca Romijn-Stamos on account of her being married to John Stamos at the time. She has since divorced Stamos and is currently married to Jerry O’Connell, and so she now goes by the name Rebecca Romijn-Fat Kid-From-Stand By Me.

So Laure is introduced watching Double Indemnity in her hotel room, but is then interrupted by a dude who turns out to be her partner in a heist they are about to pull off at the Cannes Film Festival located conveniently across the street. What follows is a fifteen-minute sequence that I feel fits very comfortably among De Palma’s best set pieces; it takes place during a movie premiere and involves Laure, her partners-in-crime Racine and Black Tie, and a model named Veronica who is wearing a gold and diamond number that, uh, I don’t know if it qualifies as a top or is just a piece of jewelry, but whatever it is, it leaves very little to the imagination as far as tits go. It’s like, I guess I’m left to imagine what her nipples look like? But aside from that, I can draw this chick from memory; it would be a stick figure with long hair…

(I never said I was Bazille.)

The movie being screened at this premiere is the 1999 film East/West, directed by Régis Wargnier and starring Sandrine Bonnaire, and I guess De Palma is a fan of this movie about Russian expats returning to Soviet Russia only to realize you really can’t ever go home again. Whatever the case, both Bonnaire and Wargnier appear as themselves in the film, and I like to imagine De Palma telling Wargnier about his idea to include him in this movie where he’s going to play a dude who is unknowingly cucked by a tall blonde.

See, Veronica is Wargnier’s date at the premiere, and Laure’s part in the plan involves seducing her away from the director, so they can have some We Time in the ladies room. And so, Wargnier’s left in the screening room, watching his film play to a captivated audience — but what’s the point when you don’t have a sexy broad sitting next to you to impress with such an experience? This poor man was depending on the thunderous applause to get this chick wet, thereby doing half of the work for him, and thereby making it easier to slip in the saucisse later that night.

Instead, he can only politely smile at his leading lady Bonnaire — who he either already banged during the making of his movie, or he fucked it up and got friend-zoned somewhere along the way — and he can only sit impatiently while both Veronica and Laure are in the restroom, dyking out harder than a couple of Tegan and Sara fans hopped up on Ecstasy. And while Veronica is caught up in the rapture of lady love, Laure slowly strips the diamond-encrusted coils away from the model, and drops them to the floor, while Black Tie waits in the next stall to swipe it all away.

It is all hypnotically shot by Luc Besson’s regular cinematographer Thierry Arbogast, and it’s lushly scored by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto — who is doing a little bit of swiping of his own with a track that sounds very much like Ravel’s Bolero. While there is dialogue spoken during this sequence, the visuals are strong enough that one could watch this with the sound off and understand it 100-percent, as with most of De Palma’s best sequences. One would understand the various actions and reactions by the perpetrators and victims of this heist, and one would definitely understand that both Romijn and the actress playing Veronica (Rie Rasmussen) are absolute goddamn smoke shows here. 

By the way, let’s get this straight: With the constant fetishistic lensing of women and their gyrating bodies and lovingly filmed lips against other female lips, this movie is male gaze as fuck. And as a pig with a penis, I have no problem with it whatsoever. But if you have a problem with it, well, there are plenty of places on the Internet to go pitch a fit and bitch about it — as for me, I’m just gonna sit back and laugh and thank God I’m a part of the patriarchy because this is a maaaann’s world!

Suffice it to say, things don’t go as planned, blood is spilled, and even worse, names are called. It ends with Laure skipping off with the diamonds, while a bleeding Black Tie informs his partner about this betrayal over the radio mic, telling him something in French that the subtitles translate as “The bitched double-crossed us”. 

Now, that’s not a typo on my part, that’s how it’s spelled in the subtitles: B-I-T-C-H-E-D. As in someone having complained in the past tense. 

I wondered if De Palma meant “bitch”, B-I-T-C-H, but there was a mistake with the subtitle people. But then I thought, really? I mean, De Palma comes off as someone who’d be a bit of an exacting perfectionist in his work. Would he allow such an obvious error to slip by? Hell, it didn’t so much “slip” as it fuckin’ did a Michigan J. Frog “Hello My Baby!” dance across the stage. I’ve seen it spelled this way in the 35mm prints I’ve watched, it’s spelled this way in the Region 1 DVD from Warner Brothers, and it’s spelled this way on the version I watched last weekend on HBO Max.

No, it can’t be a mistake, it must be intentional, I thought. And so I looked up other uses and definitions for “bitched”, and here’s what I found as the top definition on Urban Dictionary: 

Uh, so maybe it was a mistake.
 
A lot of Femme Fatale’s fun comes from not knowing where it’s going, and tripping out when it gets there. Granted, this film came out in 2002 and that’s enough for me to recite my standard sarcastic asshole routine about how I don’t want to spoil a film that is now old enough to vote. But this certainly wasn’t some blockbuster movie that took the world by storm that everybody quotes from, nor was it spoofed in one of the Scary Movies or one of those Seltzer/Friedberg pieces of shit — this movie bombed and was pretty much forgotten except by film geeks and maybe Mr. Skin types. 

So I won’t get into it in any further detail that could potentially spoil it. But the funny thing is, there is an alternate trailer for it that rather cleverly spoils the entire film if you pay super close attention; it plays nearly the entire film from beginning to end in very fast motion, occasionally stopping for a moment at regular speed, before speeding up again, and it goes all the way to the end credits. It’s one of my favorite movie trailers and you can find it online

Anyway, skipping some plot developments here and there, we jump ahead seven years, and the men Laure double-crossed are back on the search for her, and more importantly, the diamonds. We are then introduced to a photographer played by Antonio Banderas; his name is Nicolas Bardo (no relation to Brick), and he’s not so much out-of-work as he’s just not really looking for it. After a phone call from his manager (voiced by an uncredited John Stamos), he takes a quick-cash gig where all he has to do is take a photo of an ambassador’s wife. 

This leads to Bardo making the acquaintance of Laure Ash, who is trying to lay low in an airport hotel. Bardo, thinking himself quite the slickster, barges into her room, taking on the guise of a very effeminate man. Some may find this portrayal offensive, and these same people may also find themselves unable to comfortably sit down for the rest of their lives, on account of the excruciating pain emanating from their backsides. 

Wait, I’m afraid that didn’t come out right. I was trying to say that these people are butt-hurt, but not like something caused them to have a sore ass, such as an uncomfortable chair or a leatherman’s fist. And I’m certainly not making the connection that the kind of people that would have a literally hurt butt would be the ones to get offended. I mean I’m talking about overly sensitive types, that’s what I — oh my god, first I quoted the N-word, now I’m implying that the homos can’t take a joke, oh geez — PLEASE DON’T CANCEL ME. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Antonio Banderas worked with Pedro Almodóvar before Femme Fatale, and he’s continued to work with him after Femme Fatale. So I’m sure it’s all good. 

As Bardo, Banderas plays someone who has probably gone through life being crafty in both the literal and figurative sense: as a part-time paparazzo, he knows all the tricks in getting the perfect shot from those who’d rather not have their picture taken, and he also has this giant collage of photos on his apartment wall, forming one giant landscape of the view outside his window.

But soon Bardo finds himself in over his head, as it becomes increasingly clear that he is going up against someone craftier and who looks a lot better in a pair of panties. Or so I assume. For all I know, that sexy Spanish stallion might rock a French cut like nobody’s business. But until I actually see that — and god knows I’ve tried — I will have to give the advantage to Laure. 

The second half of the film becomes a Parisian journey for Bardo in and out of sterile hotel rooms, standard police stations, and seedy night spots. I’m not kidding about those seedy night spots, by the way. I mean, one of the patrons at a scuzzy bar full of drunken, horned-up Frenchmen is none other than Le Tenia from Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible — so you know it’s gotta be bad.  

Despite not being given any moments of what my friend Alec and I refer to as Pure Unadulterated Banderas (basically moments where he hams it up), Antonio Banderas is very well-cast and game for a role that requires no trace of ego, as his character finds himself increasingly humbled. A role like Bardo could be ruined by some actors who would try to maintain too much strength throughout, plus, going back to ego, there are more than a few scenes where it’s very clear that Rebecca Romijn has a good three or four inches of height on the dude.

I love that; because more often than not, Hollywood does that thing where they always have to make the shorter male actor appear to be as tall as his female co-star, or worse, taller. Because I guess the average moviegoer isn’t ready for that idea, that women can possibly be taller than men. So points to Banderas and De Palma for not giving a fuck about Romijn looking like she could easily cradle Banderas and rock him to sleep. And I say this as someone who pays women to rock him to sleep. Don’t kink-shame me.

Of course, the tall woman/short man visual helps to further sell the idea that Banderas’ character is outmatched compared to Laure Ash, but I feel that’s more of an unintentional bonus that was realized after the leads were cast in these roles. 

Banderas is great as the schmuck, and Romijn is very good as the titular femme, doing a fine job with either being conniving or just simply not giving a fuck. Although to be honest with you, I actually thought she did a better job at playing hurt or fragile. And it left me wanting to give her a hug — and not the kind of hug that I already want to give her, you know, a hug that allows me to perv out while feeling her body against mine while smelling her and all that, no. I mean, like a genuine hug of compassion and warmth. Or so I’ve been told about such hugs, if such hugs actually exist.

Not that it matters, because if I’m not doing handshakes, that means hugs are out the window as well. Because while you motherfuckers are trying to go back to normal, I’m prepped for the new normal: I’m talking Demolition Man for real, which I knew was coming. I didn’t go around saying “be well” all this time for shits & giggles, you know.

I am not as well-versed in Rebecca Romijn’s roles as an actor; most of what I’ve seen her in is from the late 90s and early 00s. I know her as Mystique from the X-Men movies, and I know her as The Bearded Lady from Dirty Work, and I know her from that Rollerball remake and the audio commentary she did on said Rollerball remake. But this rewatch reminded me to search out any other movies where she shows a more vulnerable side, because I think that’s what she does best. 

Something staring me in the face this whole time that I’m just noticing now is that Romijn’s current husband Jerry O’Connell was in De Palma’s previous film to this one, Mission to Mars. And at the time, Banderas was married to Melanie Griffith, who had worked with De Palma in both Body Double and The Bonfire of the Vanities. I don’t know what my point is other than some random trivia with which to pad out these ramblings. But I’m sure they all at some time or another have compared Working With Brian De Palma stories at some time or another, I’m sure.  

Anyway, this is all just a long way to say that I’ve always really liked the film. It never tops its opening set-piece, but that’s because it’s really the only set-piece, and it’s kind of a ballsy move by De Palma, as if he were saying “OK, normally this is what a movie leads to, but I’m just gonna go ahead and start with it, and then you’re still gonna stick around to see what happens next because I’m gonna rock your world in a different kind of way”; and he does.

That opening heist precedes a fun, sexy, and twisty joint, complete with the usual audacious De Palma touches here and there — both in the screenplay and in the way he presents these scenes. There’s split screen, slow motion, hypnotic camera movements, giddy splashes of blood, tits, and ass, Gregg Henry, and just the general overall feeling that De Palma is gleefully fucking with you — the viewer — the entire time. And you either go with it and enjoy the ride, or you feel strongly negative about the experience.

In other words, it’s 100 percent pure Brian De Palma, in the same way that films like Blow Out and Raising Cain are 100 percent pure De Palma. Movies like The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible, as awesome as they are, are more like 70-80 percent pure De Palma. 

Femme Fatale is also probably the last solid film — pure or otherwise — that De Palma has made, as of this Foul Year of Our Lord 2021. I remember liking his following film The Black Dahlia in 2006, but I also remember making a lot of excuses for it. Then came his 2007 found footage Iraq War movie Redacted, which wasn’t my cup of tea. Then I saw his 2019 film, Domino, which felt less like a real movie and more like the pilot for an internationally produced television series, the kind that plays in syndication on weekend afternoons. I’ve yet to see his 2012 film, Passion, and so I hope that when I finally get around to that one, it will feel more like the De Palma I know and love. If not, well, you can’t have everything, right? 

Well, I don’t have anything else to say, so instead I’d like to close out by catching up on some comments and e-mail from my fans. I mean, I haven’t posted a real rambling since December 2019, I’m sure I have some people out there who have wanted to stay in touch.

So here’s the first comment: It’s regarding my post on the film Righteous Kill, starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Oh man, I posted that one back in 2009! Anyway, this comment was left on my WordPress site, which is the same as the Blogger site, it’s just a backup. Anyway, it’s from someone named “George” and he says: 

OK, cool. He’s clearly referencing the skater character in the film played by Rob Dyrdek, and he certainly was a moron, but I think he’s a few years too old to be considered a millennial. But I get where you’re coming from, George, and I appreciate the comment!

Next, I have a comment left on my Instagram, where I leave much shorter ramblings on movies, and you can find me there at “efcontentment“. And this comment is regarding my post on the Paul Thomas Anderson film Punch Drunk Love, starring Adam Sandler, and which came out the same year as Femme Fatale. 2002 was a good year for movies! Anyway, he says the following: 

Well, I don’t think Anderson was doing a review on Adam Sandler’s character, but more of a study, and I felt this was a very interesting study on an emotionally fragile human being who was able find a meaningful connection with a lady who was able to understand him. And what you call “personal life crap”, I call the intriguing drama that comes from Sandler’s day-to-day interactions with others as he tries not to get emotionally overwhelmed. Anyway, thanks for the comment, oh and I almost forgot, in regards to your opening question, the WTF podcast with Marc Maron has nothing to do with this blog — but I sure wish it did! 

And finally I have an e-mail sent to me by a “Jonathan Baker” and it’s titled “amyadamsismywaifu” and it says: 

And so I won’t. Anyway, thanks for reading — now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the bank! 

Not *too* bad.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2020 by efcontentment

This year for me has been about preparing for the worst during the first half, and then hunkering down and trying to distract myself from the worst during the second half. And while coming back to blog and podcast long-form style seems like the surest way to accomplish the latter, I find curling up into the fetal position and sleeping during every spare moment to be a lot easier. 

But I do intend to continue this in some manner, I really do. See, I have been posting mini-ramblings regularly on FacebookInstagram, and Letterboxd, and I’ve been thinking of intertwining them with the blog/podcast, if for no other reason than to stay in practice. Because I swear, every time I do a new episode, I have to learn the whole process all over again, having spent too much time between shows. I don’t know where I got this idea that every rambling has be a fuckin’ tome. If it’s short, it’s short, and if it’s long, it’s long — that’s what I tell the ladies and that’s what I’m telling you. 

We’ll see what happens. So long as things in the outside world remain shitty or get shittier, I’ll probably need something to occupy my mind between now and whenever I catch the ‘rona — or the ‘rona catches a loved one — and then I’ll either not want to do anything anymore, or I won’t be able to do anything anymore. 

And while I’m not back on my own podcast train yet, I did hop on to someone else’s for one night; I’ve been listening to the Trick or Treat Radio podcast for the past couple of years and really enjoy it. The program consists of four friends reviewing movies (generally horror and genre fare) and it’s lots of fun to listen to them discuss movies and get on each other’s nerves. Usually when a podcast starts up a Patreon, I book from the motherfucker, but not with these guys. In fact, I became a Patreon, uh, patron. 

As a member of the higher Patreon tier, I was invited to be a guest on the show and pick the films they were to review. Because I was able to pick any movie — not just relegated to the type of films they normally cover — and because I was genuinely interested to hear their opinions on this movie, I picked the 2017 Paul Thomas Anderson film Phantom Thread

For the second movie, I picked the 1984 Philip Yordan production Death Wish Club, which I have rambled about before on this blog years ago, under the title Gretta — one of many alternate titles for this film.  

You can listen or download the show by clicking this link. You can also watch me on the included YouTube archive of the live stream, if you feel the need to see me looking way too shiny — but be aware that due to tech issues on YouTube’s end, the three-hour podcast is a fifty-minute video with random skips along the way. (Naturally, seeing less of me makes it a better video.) 

Once the alcohol put my anxiety in a chokehold, I had a good time, and I’m sure I embarrassed myself enough during my ramblings to make it entertaining for others. I certainly insult many of you by calling you lazy bastards, but take comfort in knowing that as someone who has not posted a new blog/podcast entry in nearly a year, I am indeed the blackest pot among all you kettles. 

I also mistakingly confuse Peru for Uruguay somewhere during the show, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re just gonna have to go over and listen to the episode. See people, that’s called a teaser. 

I also suck at responding to e-mails.

Posted in Doctor Who: The Movie, douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 14, 2019 by efcontentment

 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this posting.

I’m a shitty friend when you get right down to it, specifically when friends request things of me, like, I don’t know, let’s just say, uh, ramblings about movies on this blog.

The way it goes is this: a friend will ask “Hey, I’d like to read you talk about this particular movie” and I’ll go “Sure thing, buddy” and my reaction should be “Holy cats, somebody actually reads this blog? I should show them my appreciation and get to work on this immediately!”

Instead, it’ll be about a year before I go, “Well, I guess I’ll blog about this movie now” and then I’ll watch the movie — which is the easiest part of the whole process — and right after the movie, I’ll sit down in front of the computer, open up the ol’ Blogger, stare at the blank white page on the screen for a few minutes, and then I’ll open up another window and spend the next few hours watching YouTube videos featuring cats or dogs or cats and dogs or videos about credit cards or videos about food reviews or videos about video game play-throughs and OK wait wait wait wait wait wait wait —

Don’t get me wrong. I know watching-other-people-play-video-games sounds kinda lame, but let me clarify myself — let me defend myself — and tell you that I don’t watch those stupid “Let’s Play” videos, you know, the ones where people talk through their play-through, as if I cared about what they have to say as they play? No way! I just want to see somebody beat a game I’ve had difficulty with in the past, just so I can see how to go about it if I were to play that game again.

As for the food review videos, I’m very selective; I don’t go in for those “mukbang” or gang bang or whatever they call those videos about people eating on camera. And I certainly don’t go in for any of those videos featuring stupid fat fucks making stupid fat fucking faces on the thumbnail next to a picture of a slice of pizza. I’m not gonna click on that thumbnail just to watch some stupid fat fuck shoving pizza in his face and go OMIGAAAWWWD THIS PIZZA BE SEX ON WHEELS DOWN MY TRRROAT, SON!

But while I’m in Unreasonable Hater mode, you know which YouTube videos I will never understand actually having an existence? The absolute worst kind? Reaction videos. These are the ones where someone or a group of someones will sit and watch a clip of a comedian or a movie trailer or something like that, and these are easy to spot because their thumbnails always consist of that person or persons sitting next to each other making some goofy-ass reaction face — maybe a couple with their hands up to their mouths while making the OMIGOD face, like people do in movies but never in real life — and usually on the lower right hand corner is the video to which they’re making said reactions.

Do you see what I’m doing here? Do you see? I’m procrastinating, I’m hesitating over here and that’s how I do when it comes to other people requesting things of me. It’s hard enough to sit my fat ass down to write about stuff I plan to write about, but it really comes down to the plain and simple fact that if I have a choice between spending my time talking about a movie I watched or using that time to just watch another movie? Well, sweetie, I don’t know how to tell you this — or actually, I do know: I’d rather use my time to watch more movies.

And by saying this, by confessing this — I realize that the true enemy is not my procrastination, it is not what I choose to do with my time, but it is time itself that is the bad guy. If I had more time to sit around and watch movies and eventually get around to doing something, that would be great. But instead time is what it is: the ultimate prison, where I’m held in this cage of hours, minutes, seconds, and the clock just keeps ticking ever so forward towards finality. I need more time! Then maybe I can fit in all the stuff I want to do.

But alas, time remains something linear and fleeting, for it is but a strict progression of cause to effect — it is not some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff in which I can hop back and forth and up and down and everywhere else. Because I’m not a Time Lord, and that lady and gentleman, is how you make a clumsy-ass segue.

Requested by my buddy Kris Wallace — at least I hope we’re still buddies — the 1996 made-for-television film Doctor Who: The Movie begins with a Time Lord known only as The Doctor, who is transporting the remains of The Master, who is an evil Time Lord and also the Big Bad of this entire series.

Maybe I should take it back a little bit, in case you’re too far from a phone to Google it; this is a show that’s been around since the 1960s and it’s about these beings known as Time Lords — they’re aliens or demi-gods or whatever, I don’t know — and they have the ability to do the hipping and the hopping around time and space. The series focuses on one particular Time Lord — that would be our boy The Doctor — going on many different adventures along with his Companion, which I guess is the proper English way to say “sidekick”.

They get around in a time & space craft called a TARDIS, which looks like a British police box because those were a common sight back during the show’s creation in the Jolly Old. Had the show been created today, he’d probably get around in a food truck.

Like James Bond, the Doctor has been played by various actors over the years, but unlike James Bond, they actually acknowledge the change by explaining that the Doctor has to regenerate into a new body whenever there’s too much mileage and wear & tear on the current one. Like the James Bond movies, the otherwise consistently released series took a hiatus between the late 80s and the mid-90s. Unlike the James Bond movies, the mid-90s return of Doctor Who resulted in another hiatus that ended up lasting nine years.

Also, unlike the James Bond movies, Doctor Who is a television series. I don’t know why I even compared the two when they are completely different things. Why did I do that? Because they’re both from the U.K.? That’s some embarrassing shit right there. That’s like welcoming your British friend to the United States with a boxed set of The Best of Benny Hill, assuming your Limey pal is gonna dig it because Hey, Benny Hill is from the U.K. too! And let’s go get some fish & chips too, because that’s what you people eat, right? That’s really fucking embarrassing and I apologize for that and so let’s move on.

So the film begins with The Doctor chilling out in his TARDIS, the remains of The Master stored in a box, but because the Master is literal slime, he (or it) manages to ooze out the box and fuck with the TARDIS so that it has to make an emergency landing on Earth — specifically San Francisco 1999 (as played by Vancouver 1996), where we are then introduced to some Asian-American bros having a shootout with other Asian-American bros. I assume they’re bros, because after shooting at some people, they all give each other high-fives.

The Doctor arrives, stepping out of his TARDIS just in time to get caught in the crossfire and take a couple slugs to the chest — that’s just the preferred way for Americans to greet visiting foreigners — and the sole surviving Asian-American bro on the scene, Chang Lee, gets him an ambulance.

Lee must’ve fallen out of bro-love with his bros, because despite his friends having just been killed in the shootout, he never even gives them a passing thought from this point forward. His priorities are on claiming The Doctor’s personal belongings from the hospital, which really, that’s just a shitty way to live your life, stealing the belongings from some dying Hobbit in an emergency room. Why does Lee not care about his dead friends? Who knows what had happened before we were introduced to his character? Maybe Lee’s bros had just admitted to running a train on his mom and they even had the photographed proof of it?

That would explain why this young man never goes home at all during the entire film, even though serious end-of-the-world stakes do get raised later. I don’t know about you, but even if I found out that my mom once let my closest friends give her the rotisserie chicken treatment — if I knew that all of existence was going to end tonight, I’d still want to stop by and say Goodbye to her. I just wouldn’t let her give me a kiss.

Anyway, The Doctor is taken to a hospital and he ends up dying in the emergency room, and this is where I tell you that up until this point, he’s been played by Sylvester McCoy, who was the Seventh incarnation of the Doctor in the television series. But after he goes tits up, the baton is passed to Doctor Number Eight, who is played by Paul McGann, who I thought was not only fine as the Doctor, I actually preferred him to McCoy, if for no other reason than that I prefer my Doctors to be less Bilbo Baggins and more Aragorn. His introduction has a very Resurrection of Christ feel to it; he steps out of the morgue, still wrapped in a sheet, with flowing shoulder length hair — but no Jesus beard — and the sight of this causes Young and Fat pre-Mad TV Will Sasso to pass out.

The Master, meanwhile, ends up possessing a paramedic played by Eric Roberts, and when you consider the fact that Eric Roberts really likes to work and will take on any job handed to him, including advertisements for motorcycle clubs and walk-in bathtubs, it’s not hard to imagine that maybe this paramedic is supposed to be the real Eric Roberts, making some extra dough between movies, commercials, television shows,  and music videos, by helping to save lives. This is made even more believable when Eric Roberts’ wife Eliza Roberts shows up later in the film in the role of Eric Roberts’ wife.

I’m not bagging on Eric Roberts, by the way. I’m just pointing out that it’s fairly obvious that if there’s a paycheck attached, he’ll take it. I think he’s awesome and based on his appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 film adaptation of Inherent Vice, he’s still got it. Now you can argue that his performance in this film might not fit what you define as the word “good”, but I dug, and you can tell he’s having a blast doing it — and typical of Mr. Roberts, he’s puts in 100-percent.

(UPDATE AFTER THE FACT DUE TO POOR RESEARCH: in 2019, Eric Roberts returned to the role of The Master for the Doctor Who audio story “Day of the Master”, also featuring Paul McGann as The Doctor.)

So The Doctor sets off to find Eric Roberts, who is now decked out in a leather jacket and sunglasses ensemble that made me wish I lived in an alternate universe where Eric Roberts played The Terminator. With the help of stupid gullible Lee, Roberts opens The Eye of Harmony, which I guess is to the TARDIS what the Flux Capacitor was to Doc Brown’s DeLorean. It also has the potential to mess with the fabric of time and space in the most severe manner possible.

Because this is all happening on New Year’s Eve, The Doctor has until the stroke of midnight to stop Eric Roberts before it all goes to shit, as I alluded to earlier while talking about my friends banging my mom. By the way, it hurt to even write about that, but sometimes you have to commit to the nasty shit that spills out of your head in an attempt to make these ramblings remotely entertaining. This is what I do for you and my hungry ego.

Because this film was intended to revive and continue the Doctor Who series, it was also made as a sort-of re-pilot in an effort to garner new fans — namely, the goddamn Yanks across the pond — and so as a convenient way to explain the going-ons to newbies while not boring the seasoned fans, the tellers behind this story give the newly regenerated Doctor amnesia. As the plot thickens, The Doctor realizes what his own deal and reason for being is, in turn helping Joe and Jane Murica, who are watching this at home on the Fox network realize Doctor Who’s whole deal and reason for being.

Oh, that Joe and Jane Murica, now that there is a couple made for each other. Love at first sight, it was — they both grew up in a small town with true American values, working for a living unlike these lazy goddamn millennials who expect to have everything handed to them, and now here they are, in the current year of 1996 as they sit back and eat freshly popped Pop Secret movie theater flavored microwave popcorn, watching this weird movie on the tee-vee about some guy from either England or Australia — it’s the same thing — and he’s chasing after Julia Roberts’ brother from Star 80, and hey, Jane, who’s the lady he’s with the whole time?

Well, Joe — that there is Doctor Grace Holloway, the cardiologist who figured something was up with this gunshot victim because his x-rays showed that he had two hearts, and her suspicions were confirmed after said gunshot victim came back to life. So now you have Doctor Holloway helping out The Doctor, which I guess makes her his new Companion.

But here’s my question, having only a passing knowledge of this television series: has the Doctor ever macked on one of his Companions before? Because that’s what happens here, he and she have themselves a little kissy smooch-smooch action and if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to shoot myself in the face for writing “kissy smooch-smooch action”.

Ladies, if you’re ever in the sad position of being my date and somewhere along the way I ask for a “little kissy smooch-smooch action”, you have every right to cancel my creepy ass on some old Louis C.K. shit, as if I had blocked the exit and asked you do that for me — not that I would ever have the balls to do something like that, cornering you and asking for a “little kissy smooch-smooch action”. Besides, it’s not like I’m in some position of power to help or hinder your career, I’m just me. So all a move like that would get me is a swift punch to the nose, and as I fall to the ground in a pathetic crumple, trying to stop the blood from gushing out my snout, you walk past me triumphantly to the strains of a Beyonce song, stepping out the door while calling me a “little-dick motherfucker”. And I just don’t need that kind of pain and humiliation in my life.

Not like Dr. Holloway is having any better luck on the dating circuit; early in the film, she gets paged during a night out with her boyfriend at the opera and has to leave to attend to her life-saving duties. This frustrates him and he ends up packing up his things from her place and walks out on her. This Val Kilmer’s stand-in-looking motherfucker is a real lame-ass; I mean, dude, you could’ve married that chick and eventually you would’ve had some of the sweet, sweet doctor cash coming your way.

Of course, that’s just what I think, and this is coming from a guy who would have no problem with my partner being the primary breadwinner in our relationship. The only time I’d have an issue with it would be knowing that every time we’d have a serious argument, she could always pull that card on me, and at any time she could be like “Then why don’t you go get a fucking job and stop leeching off of me, how about rather than writing those stupid ramblings about horror movie marathons, you go fucking get a job so I don’t have to support your lame ass. My father was right, I never should’ve dated outside of my race!”

Speaking of race, the two doctors race their way towards the film’s mid-90s television-budgeted computerized special effects extravaganza — aka the climax — but then a motorcycle cop gets in the way, stopping them, and so the Doctor pulls out a bag of jelly beans from his coat and offers it to the policeman in order to distract him. It’s a good thing the Doctor is as lily white as the cop; if the Doctor were a man of the darker persuasion and instead of Doctor Who it was Doctor Bho, I’d think there are about 41 ways — all of them the same — that it could’ve gone as soon as the Doctor reached for those jelly beans.

I’m going to go ahead and spoil a big part of this, so just skip ahead a paragraph or two, if it really makes a difference to you. But by the end of the film, a number of people have died during this adventure, including Lee and Doctor Holloway. After The Doctor defeats The Master, he then turns back time, and suddenly this golden mist comes out of the Eye of Harmony and goes into the dead bodies of Lee and Holloway and shazam! His friends are now alive again.

So wait a minute — what was that golden mist and why did it come out of the Eye? Was that mist supposed to be their souls? Is the Eye a gateway into the afterlife? Are Heaven and Hell just a big part of the whole timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly mess? Should I really just relax?

To add further confusion, The Doctor then sends them to the first day of the year 2000. So does that mean he only brought Lee and Holloway back, while all the other poor schmucks like the various security guards, the non-possessed version of Eric Roberts, and even Eric Roberts’ wife stay dead? That’s not fair, dude. Either change all of it or none of it, don’t just pick and choose what to fuck with — determining who gets to live and who has to die, I mean, who the fuck are you, Doctor Who? OK, enough of that.

So here’s the deal, folks. I am not what they call a “Whovian”, but I have seen a few episodes and like I said earlier, I have a passing knowledge of the program, at least enough to be able to sound like I know what I’m talking about, should I find myself in a conversation with real Whovians  — and I can always bullshit the rest. But what I’m about to say could possibly expose me as a fake to those people

— Doctor Who: The Movie doesn’t feel that much different from the series.

I can’t fault the film for not letting us get to know the characters beyond a basic surface level that is relevant to the plot at hand; had this Doctor Who reboot/continuation been picked up as a series, I’m sure they would’ve delved deeper into what makes the characters of Lee and Holloway tick — to say nothing of The Doctor himself. As for everything else, I don’t know what the general consensus among Whovians is when it comes to this movie, but I thought it was just fine. I mean, I’ve seen better episodes than this film, but they’re all about the same when comes to their overall entertainment value.

While I’m at it, let me piss off another group of hardcore fans of a popular science-fiction fantasy property: the Star Wars movies are all more or less equally good to me. I swear to you, I’m not trying to be a contrarian — if anything, it’s an opinion I’ve kept to myself up until now, because I’m not looking for a fight. I paid good money to see every one of those movies in the cinema and I always felt I got my money’s worth. Now please leave me alone, I don’t want trouble, just get out.

Anyway, I’m guessing one reason Doctor Who: The Movie might not be seen in as bright a light as everything else in the Who-verse — or whatever the hell you nerds call it —  is that the producers were not only intending to introduce Doctor Who to American audiences, but that it was also going to be an American-centric program (despite being shot in Canada) and the Brits could either love it or leave it and it wouldn’t mean a goddamn thing because what’s a little place like the United Kingdom compared to big bad America, right?

But, like soccer and the metric system, America rejected this television movie/backdoor pilot, because we had better things to watch on television like “Suddenly Susan”. But it did do well on the correct side of the pond, to which I’m sure these same producers then did a 180 and used the U.K. numbers as a selling point in a desperate attempt to have the show picked up. It wasn’t, and it took nearly a decade before it came back and stayed for good, currently featuring a female incarnation of The Doctor, which you know has to be pissing off somebody out there.

And that’s all well and good, I’m glad the show has a huge following and all, but when it comes to watching a time-traveling do-gooder on television, give me “Quantum Leap” any old day. That’s right, I said that shit: Quantum Leap, bitches! I lied about not wanting trouble — NOW FIGHT ME COWARDS

Comb your goddamn hair.

Posted in Body Snatchers, Cherry Falls, Demon Witch Child, Edge of the Axe, Quatermass and the Pit, The Mad Ghoul, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2019 by efcontentment

Click here to listen to the podcast version of these ramblings.

It was Saturday October 19th and I was at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for the 2019 All-Night Horror Show and I was worried that all the good seats would be taken by the time I got in. But considering that tickets to this event sold out in mere seconds, I thought to myself “Hey, at least I have a ticket, good seat or not”.

I define a good seat as one with quick access to the aisle, that way I wouldn’t have to inconvenience my fellow moviegoers by doing the whole “excuse me pardon me sorry excuse me pardon me” thing all night every time I needed to go to the restroom to snort a line or two. Luckily, I found a good seat despite having a guy with bedhead sit in front of me, which meant that every once in a while he would sit up straight, his wayward strands sticking up through the bottom of the screen every which way but loose, resulting in me watching the films as if I were viewing them through a creepy cornfield — which kinda added to the whole Halloween vibe, he said while trying to make a positive out of the overwhelmingly negative.

The night began with an intro by host/programmers Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship; they gave us a quick rundown of what to expect: six horror films — all secret surprise picks of which we would not know until they played — and as is the custom with the All-Night Horror Show, the movies would not be old or new favorites that are often seen around this time of year, they would all be films that were rarely screened in this neck of the woods, that is, if they were ever screened at all. Brian credited Phil for doing ninety percent of the work for the last couple All Nighters; Phil then said to us that if we loved any of the films shown tonight, they were his choices, if we hated any of the films, it was all Brian.

The lights went down, and we were treated to a Mighty Mouse cartoon called “The Witch’s Cat”, about a witch flying around town on a broomstick, looking for mice to feed to her cat, who is also along for the ride. They find a group of Halloween-celebrating mice, and the chase begins. Now it’s been nearly a month, so my memory is kinda hazy, but I think that at some point Mighty Mouse eventually came in to save the day.

Following that, we watched a trailer reel that included the films Meat Cleaver MassacreDeadly GamesHe Knows You’re AloneSilent Scream, and The Final Terror.

The first film turned out to be 1988’s Edge of the Axe directed by Joseph Braunstein, which is a funny way to spell Jose Ramon Larraz. Senor Braunstein helms this movie about a mask-wearing axe murderer going around axe-murdering all the ladies in a small woodsy town somewhere up there in the mountains — and good luck convincing the sheriff about these murders, by the way. He’s more concerned about keeping the pristine reputation of his town, so if, let’s say, a woman’s rotting corpse is discovered hanging upside down from the attic of a bar, well, that there is clean-cut case of suicide. Say, wasn’t that part-time hooker found dead near the train tracks with multiple wounds that look to have been done with an axe? Nope, that there is just another everyday case of someone walking onto the tracks and getting hit by a train.

But I can’t blame the sheriff. I can only blame the people who go along and enable his bullshit, like the owner of said bar and the conductor of said train and the deputy who picks up evidence with his bare hands before taking it to get dusted for fingerprints. Most of all, I blame the people who voted for this man to become sheriff in the first place. They should’ve seen this coming, but no, they liked him because to quote one of these assholes in an anecdote I just made up, “He speaks just like I speak”.

If you like giallo-ish movies that make little to no sense and feature laughable dialogue and performances, then give Edge of the Axe a try. It was a hit with the crowd, getting big reactions from scenes like the one where the hero’s love interest tries out his fancy computer — a computer that has the ability to speak in an echo-y voice that sounds like a bored narrator — and she types in a question. The hero asks her what question did she ask the computer, and she replies “I asked it if you were gay.”

A fair question to ask, because considering how shitty the women get treated in this film, all the men in this town must either be super gay or ultra hetero — that’s right, kids, here no penis resides in the middle.

The answer the computer gives to the love interest’s gay question, by the way, is “Data incomplete”, and that’s why I miss the 1980s. Because nowadays you don’t even have to ask your computer, it’s already volunteering those answers to you whether you want to know or not.

After a trailer reel that included Dracula: Prince of DarknessWhen Dinosaurs Ruled the EarthThe GorgonNight of the Blood MonsterFrankenstein Created WomanThe Mummy’s ShroudTwins of Evil, and Hands of the Ripper, the second film turned out to be a rare Technicolor print of the 1967 Hammer production, Quatermass and the Pit (or as it was known in the United States, Five Million Years to Earth), which takes place in the land of free healthcare and bad teeth and evidently worse public transportation, because a bunch of these Brits have to deal with the temporary closure of one of their subways.

You know how it is, it’s the same everywhere; every year these different city departments want to ensure they get the same (if not more) amount in their yearly budget, and if they haven’t spent it all, they won’t get it. So down they go, tearing up perfectly fine places while leaving the areas in need of fixing alone. Well, these clowns are in for a surprise, because they end up finding the skeletal remains of, get this, ape-men.

Yeah, right. I don’t know about you, I didn’t come from some ape. I came from the first two humans placed here on this planet by God — and their names were Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! Yeah, that’s right, I heard about you. I asked the computer and it told me everything I needed to know.

You know who would probably agree with me? (About the ape-men, not your sexual preference.), Professor Quatermass, who is pretty sure these supposed ape-men are actually aliens from five million years ago, and he’s probably right on account of the giant metallic vessel they end up digging up. Gradually, weird and crazy stuff happens, and at one point — if this is a spoiler, then you have clearly discovered the time travel and you need to go back 52 years to when this movie was new — Martians get mixed up in the plot, and when you see them during a sequence that involves recording someone’s deeply hidden psychic thoughts, well, it’s not quite the video log from the Event Horizon. Based on some audience members reactions, I wasn’t alone in thinking, how, uh, quaint these Martians looked.

OK, fine, they look like grasshoppers. I don’t mean the drink, either, I mean like the insect Johnny 5’s stupid ass crushed before realizing he couldn’t reassemble it. Hey, I mentioned the drink just a sentence ago and speaking of drinks, there’s a part where one dude working at the pit starts losing his shit, and so this lady pulls a flask out of her bag to give this guy a shot of Calm The Hell Down. I want to party with this chick, who’s more down with the spirits than Quatermass, who prefers not to drink before noon; he sounds like a man who’s never had the pleasure of a 7am beer, if you ask me. Ah, there’s nothing like a 7am beer — except a 7am beer while taking a shower ohhhhh

I had never seen the BBC serial this all originated from, but I have seen the previous Quatermass films, The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass II: Electric Boogaloo, and I got a kick out of them.  They’re all so properly British while everything around them gets increasingly nutty. I liked this film the most, and if you like ultra-serious, deliberately paced sci-fi films with touches of horror here and there, you might dig this too. Or check out the 1985 Tobe Hooper movie Lifeforce, which I see as an unofficial Quatermass film that’s doped up on cocaine, mescaline, and Ecstasy.

Before the third film, we were treated to an episode of The Beatles television cartoon series from the 1960s, which included a story about a mad scientist who tries to force Paul to marry a vampire bat woman, and another story where the Fab Four are messing around in a wax museum. I didn’t even know The Beatles had a television series, and I wish I could tell you that it was good, but aside from the use of actual Beatles songs on the soundtrack, it was really nothing to scream about, not unless you were a teenage girl in the 60s who would scream for anything Beatles related.

That was followed by a trailer reel that included The Beast with Five FingersAttack of the Giant LeechesI Was A Teenage Werewolf, the original Little Shop of HorrorsThe Thing from Another World, and White Zombie.

After the trailers, we watched a short subject titled “Intimate Interviews”, about a lady by the name of Dorothy West — not to be confused with the Harlem Renaissance writer of the same name — who goes to interview Bela Lugosi in his back yard. They discuss his Hungarian background, his study of American slang, and other things, before Bela suddenly stares off at the middle distance and says “I’m coming”, which creeps Miss West out and she runs away.

We all had a good laugh with that one, before settling in for 1943’s The Mad Ghoul, about a college professor named Morris who in between teaching pre-med students and future Big Pharma types about chemicals and their chemistry, likes to do things like kill innocent monkeys with nerve gas. This asshole didn’t even come up with the recipe for this gassy concoction himself, he took it from the ancient Mayans — as opposed to the modern Mayans — who would use the gas to kill their sacrificial victims, before taking the sacrificial victims’ heart out as part of some dumb ritual that is supposed to appease their stupid gods.

So Morris ends up using the gas on his big strapping lad of a student, Ted, on account of the good doctor having a thing for Ted’s girlfriend, Isabel. The way it works is, he gassed this dude, effectively killing him. But then he juices him up with fluid from the hearts of the recently deceased, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make yourself a mindless zombie who will do your bidding. By day, Ted — more like Dead, am I right, people? — is pretty much in regular person mode, still trying to work things out with Isabel, and by night, he is the titular Mad Ghoul, going on a killing tour with Dr. Morris, who instructs him to murder various people in order to continue with his experiments.

When he’s in Mad Ghoul mode, Ted reminded me of the mind controlled assassins from the first Naked Gun film; I know they were referencing The Manchurian Candidate with that movie, but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, there wasn’t a little subconscious pull from this movie as well? Or did the filmmakers behind The Manchurian Candidate take from The Mad Ghoul? Or maybe they didn’t see The Mad Ghoul, but maybe Richard Condon, the author of the novel “The Manchurian Candidate”, maybe he saw this film and stole from it, in between stealing from the Robert Graves novel “I, Claudius”? Or maybe I should just move on?

So, you hear Isabel sing a couple times during the film, and it reminded me of how lame music used to be until they invented black people. Don’t get me wrong, her singing is pretty, I’m just saying it’s the kind of singing that goes well with mayonnaise and watercress, washed down with a weak cup of tea. Is this the time period certain people refer to as to when America was Great? If so, are these the same people who talk about “taco trucks on every corner” as if that were a bad thing? Because that would make sense, I mean, what I’m saying is, I can see those same people growing up in New Hampshire or wherever the fuck they all come from, these Dartmouth attending fucks — the men in plaid suits and straw boater hats, the women in tennis dresses and saddle shoes — and they’re all strolling down the streets snacking on toasted cheese sandwiches while snapping their fingers because everything is Mighty Fine?  Is that what we are supposed to want to come back to?

I don’t know, man. I don’t even like watercress.

While no unforgettable classic, The Mad Ghoul is an entertaining “programmer” — to use the parlance of the times — and it’s good times in a second-half-of-a-double feature sort-of-way, and if you’re the kind of person who has Turner Classic Movies on all day in the background, you’ll probably like this movie. I am that kind of person, and so I did.

During the intro to the next film, Phil told us that with only three movies left, we would be watching the three best Ghoulies films, he then told us, all kidding aside, that the film we were about to watch would also be first ever repertory screening, and that it took some legal wrangling in order to pull it off. We watched a trailer reel featuring Scream 2I Know What You Did Last SummerDisturbing BehaviorUrban Legends: Final Cut, and Don’t Say a Word, followed by a U.K. print of the fourth feature of the night: The 2000 film Cherry Falls, and this is where I give out a long sigh because this stars the late Brittany Murphy, who honestly should still be here with us being goofy and adorable and talented as hell and all that, but she isn’t, what are you gonna do? Well, for starters you can remember her by watching some of the better movies she was in, such as this one. Murphy plays Jody, your typical small town teenager living your typical teenager small town life, except things are getting decidedly non-typical when someone starts murdering her fellow typical teens for the sin of not sinning. What I mean is that this wacko is killing virgins.

It’s such an inspired premise; usually these slashers are about the punishment of deviants who lay down with the demons of drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, but in this film, it’s the chaste who are getting chased and once the town sheriff played by Michael Biehn discovers this, he’s faced with quite the conundrum. I mean, how does one tell the entire town that a serial killer is targeting virgins, and if so, will you even get taken seriously, and if one is taken seriously, what then? Will this mean all the non-experienced are gonna running out the door in some kind of wanna-bang frenzy? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

Personally, I think you’d have to tell everybody this, not just to save lives but because as someone who owns stock in both Durex and Trojan, I would appreciate all the extra money I would make off of all these kids. In fact, I think if I had the wherewithal to do this, I’d fund some tactical assassinations in small towns all over this great country of ours. You’d find the virgins through Reddit and 4Chan and trick them into thinking they’re gonna get some, then you’d give ’em all Colombian neckties, and spraypaint the word VIRGIN on their chests so there’d be no mistake. No one would miss those kids except their fellow miscreants and maybe their parents. And how the money would flow.

As the trailers that preceded this alluded to us, Cherry Falls is very much of-and-from the glut of teen slashers that came out post-Scream in the late 90s to early 2000s, but it’s also one of the better post-Scream-ers. It’s closer to that Wes Craven joint in tone, in that there’s just as many laughs as there are scares. But while it’s very much a smart-ass satire at times, there are also very strong and sincere dramatic moments that might catch you off guard; for me, it was specifically an exceptionally acted scene between Murphy and Candy Clark taking place in a library that reminded me: Oh yeah, this is from the director of Romper Stomper.

But by the time of the — ahem — climax, the film pulls out all the stops and based on the reactions from the audience, they were digging it as much as I was digging it. It certainly seemed to wake them up from what I could sense was a bit of slumber time with the last couple deliberately paced films. I realized how lucky we were to get to see Cherry Falls in a movie theater, considering that it didn’t even get a theatrical release in the United States, where instead it premiered in an edited-for-television version on the basic cable USA network; reportedly, it was a toxic combination of a change of distributors plus the United States Senate shining an unwanted post-Columbine spotlight on teen violence in movies that sinked it. That’s too bad, because I think among all the Scream wannabes out there making tidy profits, Cherry Falls coulda been a contender.

We were then told that there were free doughnuts outside the theater, and I decided not to partake as a way to demonstrate to myself that I did indeed have willpower and that I was indeed a man of strength. That, and I also didn’t want to risk the sugar crash that would make it tougher to get through the night. It was a noble experiment that resulted in failure, when after holding out for the entire break, I went ahead and grabbed a delicious old fashioned before the next trailer reel began.

Before the lights dimmed, we were told by Brian and Phil that the last two films would play back to back, with no intermission between them, as there had been between the previous films. They then thanked the projection staff for keeping things running smoothly, as well as the audience for keeping up with all the craziness of the evening. Then we watched old previews for the films Mark of the WitchThe Witch’s CurseSimon King of the Witches, and The Exorcist, so it wasn’t too hard to guess that the next movie was going to involve witches and devil shit.

Sure enough, the fifth film of the marathon, the 1975 Spanish production Demon Witch Child, also known as The Possessed or La Endemoniada, involved both subjects. Man, this movie does not mess around; it lets you know how hard it intends to play right from the very beginning, as we watch an old lady walk into a church and proceed to knock things over as if she were a common house cat, then she steals a chalice and walks over to a statue of the Archangel Michael slaying the Devil, where she leaves a candle next to the dark lord, as if he needed any more fire in his life.

See, this old lady is an evil Satan-worshipping witch who is getting all set up for a good ol’ human sacrifice for her master, and she makes no bones about her intentions. The witch gets taken in by the police, they give her the third degree because said human sacrifice is a local baby she kidnapped! They even bring in the baby’s mother to beg and plead for her son’s return, and the witch calls her a bitch, straight out telling her that it ain’t gonna happen, and that baby’s as dead as my faith in humanity. And while the witch’s faith in her master is strong, it’s evidently not stronger than sodium pentathol, and upon finding out that the cops are gonna dope her up with truth serum in order to get the boy’s location out of her, she exits stage right  — right out the window and falls to her bloody death.

This news does not go well with the deceased’s fellow witches at the coven; after the sacrificing the baby — I told you this movie doesn’t mess around — they end up giving the police chief’s daughter Susan a necklace that allows the spirit of the dead witch to possess her, leading Susan to raise proverbial havoc. First she starts off nice and slow by talking back to her family, then she moves on to playing some of The Exorcist’s greatest hits like levitating and swearing up a storm — she’s particularly fond of using pejorative terms for people your computer would identify as gay — then she moves up to expert level tricks like changing her appearance so instead of looking like the Spanish version of Young Briony Tallis from Atonement, she looks more like the ugly balding witch who resides within, before chopping a dude’s penis off and sending it to his lady in a container.

There are a lot of surprisingly harsh moments in this film, and they all sound shocking when described, but the movie goes about them in such a goofy low-rent manner, I mostly laughed through all of it. On top of that, the English dubbing is just as goofy and low rent, and for all I know, watching it in the original language could improve the overall film. But really, I don’t think it could improve it by that much. But the important thing is that it’s never boring, and that’s all you can ask for when watching anything, really. By this point in the marathon, there were quite a few snorers in the audience, so maybe it wasn’t as entertaining for them as it was for me.

By the way: if you’re predisposed to be snoring, how about you just leave? That’s assuming you’re by yourself at this marathon — if you have a friend with you, and he or she is awake, then I’m even angrier that they didn’t wake your loud ass up. I usually go to these things with a buddy who does snore, and I am so on top of that shit it’s not even funny. I’ll start with a nudge, then a shove, then I’ll punch you in the arm if that’s what it takes, because you are not going to intrude upon the audience’s enjoyment — or mine, for that matter. The rest of you solo snorers and snore-enablers, on the other hand, I’ll punch in the fucking face if I had the money and the clout to get away with it.

That’s why I have to give it up to the gentleman who sat a couple seats down from me; he started with that snoring during this film and despite being a stranger, I got up and nudged, then shoved him awake. He was up for a while, then he started nodding off — but he caught himself. So he then got up and left for the rest of the film for what I can only assume was some fresh air, coffee, or a bump, because he came back before the next film and was back to being bright eyed & bushy tailed. At least until he nodded off again and then just took off for good. As he should.

After a sci-fi remake trailer reel that included John Carpenter’s The Thing, David Cronenberg’s The Fly, Jim Wynorski’s Not of This Earth, and Chuck Russell’s The Blob, the sixth and final film of the night turned out to be 1993’s Body Snatchers, the third adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel about humans being replaced with alien duplicates hatched from pods. This version of the story takes place in an Army base and focuses on teenage girl Marti (played by young adult Gabrielle Anwar), who along with her dad, her stepmom, and her half-brother, are new to the whole place.

While Dad’s out literally testing the waters on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, Marti’s doing the out-of-place youngster thing: not being cool with her stepmom (played by Meg Tilly), making friends with fellow teenage girl Jen and making googly eyes at dreamy helicopter pilot Tim, the entire time trying not to get too weirded out by the occasional odd sight and strange behavior among the soldiers. It’s already a creepy enough place knowing that Forest Whitaker is stumbling around the place.

The audience applauded quite a bit during the opening credits, because plenty of genre favorites were involved in the making of the film: among the screenwriters you have B-movie legends Larry Cohen, Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli, and frequent Abel Ferrara collaborator Nicolas St. John, which makes sense because Abel Ferrara directed this film. What doesn’t make sense is that Abel Ferrara directed this film.

If you’re not familiar with Mr. Ferrara, he is definitely someone I feel comfortable calling an auteur, because his films are very much in a class of their own and they always leave you wanting to take a shower after watching them. He’s probably best known for the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant and remains a legend in the independent filmmaking scene and so it’s very interesting that Warner Brothers hired the guy to make this mainstream horror movie for them. Based on accounts by Mr. Ferrara, it went about as well as expected, which is to say, not well at all. And in the end, it got thrown away by the studio and remains, in my opinion anyway, criminally underseen.

Of its many qualities, I feel the look of the film is one of them. The cinematographer was Bojan Bazelli, who had shot Ferrara’s previous films and this appears to have been their final collaboration, which is too bad because they made beautiful visual music together. It’s all creepy shadows mixed with shafts of lights coming in through window blinds or cracks in doors, and the widescreen compositions have this way of making me feel claustrophobic, where even wide open spaces leave one feeling like there’s nowhere to escape.

Which is the whole point, right? It’s like one pod person says to some humans attempting to escape: “Go where?” Body Snatchers has such an overwhelming sense of doom to it, where perhaps the aliens have a point and they’re not bullshitting when they tell you how screwed you are, because there’s nowhere to go because it’s happening everywhere, so why not just give up and let it happen, baby.

And the messed up part is, maybe they’re right? I mean, look at us. Really, look at us. We fight over everything. We fight over politics, we fight over parking spaces, we’re shooting each other at schools and stabbing each other for chicken sandwiches. Why not let the aliens take us over so we’ll all finally be one happy family! Well, minus the “happy” part, because these pod people don’t do emotions. But hey, I’m too emotional anyway, so let’s pod me up so I can be rid of these pesky feelings!

The film is deliberately paced (in other words, slow) and I can see that being tough on a sleepy audience around six in the morning. But that’s also kind of the fun part, trying not to fall asleep during a film where characters are warning others not to sleep, because that’s when the pod people take you over. It’s pretty much broken into two acts, with the first act being all creepy setup, then at the midpoint there’s a real banger of a scene featuring Meg Tilly’s character, and as that concluded, some of the audience couldn’t help but applaud because the scene is that good and Tilly knocks it right out the park! From that point on, the second act is quite the ride and it’s fun to watch what Ferrara is able to pull off with big studio money and big studio drugs.

I had seen this film once before on Cinemax back in ’94 or ’95, and I enjoyed it, but it was a lousy pan-and-scan transfer that really hurt the film, because a lot of the inherent creepiness of this movie comes from the way the shots are composed. Watching it in its full aspect ratio in a dark theatre during the transitional period between night and day, well, it really amped up the chills for me and it was like watching it for the first time, only better.

After the film, it was straight to a Disney cartoon short, “Trick or Treat”, starring Donald Duck as a miserable asshole who pranks his trick-or-treating nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, rather than give them candy. I get it — it’s a choice, right? It’s right there in the phrase, “trick or treat”. But who actually goes with the “trick” option? Miserable assholes, that’s who. Thankfully, there’s a witch who witnesses all of this and she decides to help the three little ducks out in doling out some much needed payback to that son-of-a-bitch.

Because nothing makes one feel more patriotic about the United States than watching a piece of shit named Donald get a well-deserved punishment, the marathon then concluded with a film of “The Star Spangled Banner” that included on-screen lyrics.

Then the lights came up, and another All-Night Horror Show had come to an end. Before stepping outside to the bright morning light, we were each given a special drink coaster for making it through the night. I grabbed yet another doughnut for the ride home, a glazed. It was now about seven on a Sunday morning, which meant that there was only one thing left for a God-fearing man such as myself to do on a Sunday morning.

It’s the only thing a God-fearing man could do on a Sunday morning, and the only thing a God-fearing man should do on a Sunday morning: I went home and slept.

An uncomfortable motif.

Posted in douchebag, mid90s, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 10, 2019 by efcontentment

Click here for the podcast version of these ramblings!

It was the Spring of 2017 and there I was at the family reunion talking to my cousin, and he asks me if I’ve heard anything about this skateboarding movie that Jonah Hill was going to make. I only knew what he knew, which was that Jonah Hill was planning to make a skateboarding movie — and that it took place in the 1990s.

That got both of us interested; as a child of both the 80s and 90s, I looked forward to looking back. As for my cousin, he not only shared the time period experience but was part of the skateboarding scene back then as well.

My cousin asked me if I had any idea when the movie would come out; I told him that usually these things come out about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half after they’re announced — so I figured sometime in 2018.

Allow me to give you some background about me and my cousin. He’s a few years younger than me, and because we lived no more than ten minutes away from each other back in the 1980s, we grew up together. We hung out, played with action figures, graduated to video games, watched the WWE back when it was the WWF, and cheered on the latest Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks. (My first viewings of The Karate KidBig Trouble in Little China, and Robocop were with him.)

Then he moved to Mexico in the early 90s, and from then on I’d only see him whenever I was visiting over there or he was visiting over here. We’d stay at each other’s places and catch up while taking in all the wonderful pop culture the glorious 90s had to offer us. As we got older, I saw him less and less because that’s what happens; I’d only see him at family functions or weddings or funerals or all that other fun stuff.

So back to 2017 — back to us talking about this Jonah Hill 1990s skateboarding movie. I can see how excited he was getting because of the subject matter and time period, and while I was only half interested, the half that I was interested in was a pretty big half. He knew this and I knew this, and so he said something like “It’d be cool to see it with you whenever it comes out” and I immediately jumped in with “So let’s do it. When it comes out, I’ll come down and see you and we’ll make a day of it.”

By this time, he and his family were now in San Diego, which from my Los Angeles County location is only a two hour drive. My cousin loved the idea and so I told him I’d hit him up the closer we got to the film’s release date, which was to be sometime in late 2018.

Now cut to early 2018, when my sister asked me if I had anything I wanted to say to my cousin for a special going-away message the rest of the family was putting together for him. It turned out that my cousin was moving out of San Diego, California and moving into San Antonio, Texas.

Which meant that he would go from being a two hour drive away to a twenty hour drive away.

After picking up the nearest pillow and screaming into it, I then wrote my cousin a message wishing him and his family all my best with San Antonio — and that I still planned on meeting up with him to see this goddamn movie called Mid90s.

A few months later — November 2018, to be exact, I flew to San Antonio. I checked into my hotel room, and yeah, I got a hotel room because I didn’t want to put my cousin out like that, plus he has kids and they’re young and I fuckin’ hate kids and I don’t want to be jerking off in the guest room while watching YouPorn and all of a sudden here comes my cousin’s six-year-old barging in catching me off guard just as I shoot and WHAP he gets nutted in the eye and great, now I’m a sex predator.

Fuck that shit, I like my privacy. I like to have a nice hotel room where I can comfortably walk around naked with the curtains open, just in case there’s a voyeuristic woman or man in the next building who’s looking for something to wish for.

Anyway, before unpacking I had DoorDash bring me a double cheeseburger and a Monterey Melt with an order of fries and an order of onion rings from Whataburger as a nightcap. The following day, I went to 2M Smokehouse BBQ where I had some incredible beef brisket and a side of “chicharoni macaroni” for breakfast, then I did the tourist thing by visiting The Alamo, got myself a hot towel shave and a haircut at a place where they served me Shiner Bock while I waited, and then I had dinner on a riverboat at Boudro’s over on the Riverwalk, where I had a lovely conversation with the only other single person on board, a woman who appeared to be in her 70s and who was there to watch her grandkids perform in a band for some function at the Alamo.

Somewhere during this conversation, I mentioned to her that I always wanted to eat on a riverboat on the Riverwalk ever since I saw Steve McQueen do it in the 1972 film The Getaway, and that’s where we both discovered we were both movie geeks. She was particularly fond of the works of Paul Schrader. I asked her if she had seen his latest film First Reformed.

She said she hadn’t. Neither had I.

And that’s when we locked eyes and I remembered earlier when she mentioned being divorced and I knew right then and there that we were only four glasses of wine between us from having a little May-December action in one of our hotel rooms later that night.

Having reached that ratio by the end of the meal, I waited for everybody else to exit the boat before hitting her with the big question: Would you like to join me for another drink or three? I hadn’t finished my proposition when I saw her slowly reach into her purse and pull out a whistle, to which I immediately said “Good evening, ma’am!” and stepped off the boat and walked straight to the Coyote Ugly Saloon next door. I ended up having a couple beers while watching girls stand on the bar while doing PG-13 dance routines and giving both men and women their version of “body shots” which consisted of one of the Coyote Ugly girls tying the lucky man’s hands behind his back while she put a shotglass of tequila into her mouth and tilt it so that the contents poured into the James Franco-in-Spring-Breakers lookalike’s mouth — again, that’s if the customer is a man.

For the female customers, the body shot consisted of the Coyote Ugly Girl bringing the lucky lady onto the bar, laying her down face up on said bar, and grinding her body against hers and somewhere along the way, the lady gets her drink and we’re all supposed to act like there isn’t a double standard going on and this is of course called “experimenting” because it’s OK for women to fuck around with other women all they want and it doesn’t mean they’re dykes but if I say something like “Hey, I have no problems sleeping with a transgender chick provided she doesn’t still have a dick — and if she does, OK fine, as long as it isn’t bigger than mine” NOOO, I’m the biggest homo this side of San Antonio!

You see, old single grandma on the riverboat? I wasn’t trying to sleep with you, you’re not customized with the proper add-ons! So put away the rape whistle, honey, and let’s get back to talking about that one movie where George C. Scott watches his daughter get banged in a porno!

The next day, I met up with my cousin at the AMC Rivercenter 11 and we spent a couple hours catching up, and then spent another ninety minutes watching the film we’d been talking about for the past couple years. So I guess I should talk a little about the film, huh?

Mid90s follows a young kid named Stevie somewhere in Southern California circa 1995 who has a typical lower middle class lifestyle, that is, if your lower middle class lifestyle included having a young single mother who has no problems discussing her love life in front of you, and having an older brother who regularly beats the ever-loving fuck out of you for sneaking into his room while he was out.

Me, I didn’t have to deal with that kind of bullshit back then, I realized way too late in retrospect that I had it really fucking good back then family-wise — my parents were straight arrows and the worst thing that ever happened between me and my sister was when we watched the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie Blown Away, which we thought would be good for a laugh but it turned out that the joke was on us when half of that movie consisted of watching fuckin’ Lucas over here bang Nicole Eggert over and over again, and I don’t know if my sister and I were trying to tough it out, figuring that watching The Lost Boy show Charles who really was In Charge would eventually give way to, you know, the fuckin’ story, but no, it didn’t.

Anyway, Stevie doesn’t have to watch Nicole Eggert get passed back and forth by the Coreys much like they used to pass needles and STDs to each other. Instead he takes his beatings, and one gets the sense that perhaps he feels he deserves it, because on occasion Stevie will do the self-harm thing with such lovely household items as a hair brush, the cord of a Super Nintendo controller, and his own fists. This is his life, he has to deal with it, he’s used to it, and maybe it’s because he doesn’t know any better, he just knows what he knows.

So one day, Stevie walks into the skate shop that had previously caught his eye and slowly ingratiates himself into the small tight-knit crew of skater boys that hang out there. It’s four guys and half are assholes and half are all right, which sounds about right. I’m glad they weren’t all assholes, because otherwise I’d have to say about skaters and this film what Quentin Tarantino said about surfers and the John Milius’ film Big Wednesday — that it’s a better movie than those assholes deserve.

But no, the few times I hung out with my cousin when he was with his skate-bros, half of them were decent dudes, while the other half I wanted nothing more than to see a fucking truck splatter them all over the pavement, followed by listening to the sweet screams of their worthless mothers wailing to their former sons/current street pizzas.

I can joke about that because I almost got hit by a truck when I was six years old. I was being a little fuck and I ran out of the house and into the street and a semi-truck almost Gage’d my ass. My mother nearly had a heart attack at the sight of this, but she recovered quickly enough to regain the power to inflect major damage on my hindquarters with her immortal chancla. Some of you fuckin’ hippies can call it child abuse if you want, but it was the only time my mother ever hit me and I feel I earned that beating, and you know what? I don’t run blindly into streets anymore.

Maybe Stevie could stand for some chancla action, rather than his usual brotherly beatdowns, because maybe that would’ve taught him not to scream at his mother to “shut the fuck up!” I shit you not, he actually does that, in one scene he goes off on her, repeatedly screaming that shit at his mom over and over again. That really is some white people shit, right there. I’ve never heard of any Hispanic or Black kids yelling at their moms like that, probably because those that did — if they ever did — never got more than two words into their tirade before every trace of their existence was immediately wiped off the face of the Earth by their moms.

I love my mom and I think she’s awesome, but I also respect the fact that inside that increasingly tiny old woman beats the heart of a lioness and I would never dream of screaming at her as if I were some spoiled ass white boy. You can point all the guns and knives in the world at me, but threaten me with telling my mom about something I did and I’ll drop to my knees faster than a 14-year-old boy auditioning for the next Bryan Singer production.

Stevie soon scores a skateboard of his own and discovers a new way to escape from the realities of his life via rolling down streets and sidewalks on a board that has a dinosaur saying “Cowabunga” on it. Rather than having movie night in the living room with his mom, Stevie enjoys the simple pleasures of finally pulling off a trick move at the end of a night full of failed attempts. This is an awesome new thing for the little dude, who is soon given the nickname “Sunburn”.

No longer alone or depending on the kindness of an abusive older sibling, Stevie has a second family to hang out with and now he also has access to cool things for little children like 40-ounce beers and cheap weed and older girls who are into you because you’re too young to ditch them for someone hotter later on.

About that last part, this girl — who looks Hispanic and I’m assuming is under 18 — ends up chatting Stevie up and eventually takes him to her room where she ends up kissing up on him. First off, I bet you that chick grew up to become one of those teachers you hear about on the news, the ones who hook up with one of their students, and me and my fellow men react with the same bullshit half-joking comments about how we wished we had a teacher bang us when we were kids because it would instill in us a confidence well beyond our years, and that this confidence would probably have made us into goddamn winners in life.

Second, this scene between Sunburn and the creeper chola feels kinda weird because she looks older than her age and he looks younger than his age, and it’s shot in a way that I didn’t find exploitative, but it does feel like you’re peeking into something that you shouldn’t be peeking into, like you’re hiding in the closet with Kyle MacLachlan’s character from Blue Velvet watching this scene go down.

Also, I had a bit of a debate with my cousin after the film about that scene, about whether it was some kind of weird wish fulfillment trip from Jonah Hill, like, maybe when he was that age he fantasized about some older chick preying upon his tubby little body, the way I fantasized about Mrs. Kennelly in my seventh grade science class telling me to stay after school so we can discuss what an impotent piece of shit her husband is, I don’t know. Or maybe that situation between Sunburn and the chick really happened, being that this is — well, I’m assuming, anyway — kinda autobiographical for Hill.

Whatever the case, the girl — and the other girls in the film — took me back to my junior high school days, or more specifically, my junior high school weekends. The way they were dressed and the way they wore their hair, wow, I was reminded of all the girls I was too chicken shit to talk to, as well as the ones that I managed to work up some balls to chat up but then fucked it up by being myself.

I would’ve been fine with the film being a time capsule dripping in Hey, Remember the 90s? if it were just that. But it’s not. Aside from the opening five minutes in which we’re inundated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedsheets, Street Fighter II t-shirts, and CDs by “Tha Alkaholiks”Mid90s creates nostalgia in more of a matter-of-fact manner — much like watching an old VHS home movie from that time period where things don’t look too much different except every once in a while you’ll notice things about a person’s clothes or the way somebody’s living room looks like every lower middle class living room from back then.

What adds to this rather casual presentation is that the film is presented in the 4×3 — or 1.33:1 — aspect ratio, or in other words, it’s a square box with black bars on the left and right sides of the screen, because you see, kids, in the good old days, we watched television from a square box that was front heavy as fuck and took at least two people to carry around if it was a big size. Mid90s was also shot in Super 16mm, giving a nice grainy image with the occasional scratch here and there, which combined with the 4×3 aspect ratio makes the film look like an independent film I would’ve rented from Blockbuster Video or Hollywood Video back in the 90s.

So in that context — as an independent film from the 90s — what would I have thought if I had rented this at a video store back then? Pretty much the same way I feel now, minus the nostalgia parts. It’s an interesting character study of the kind of person who would devote his free time to increasing his chances of getting harassed by security guards, running from cops, and breaking bones. My only real complaint is that it feels too bare bones for this kind of film; I got the impression that there was probably a lot more footage shot for every scene but Hill and his editor knew it was best to get to the point of a scene and make said point as quick as possible. Now that definitely works with some scenes in the film, but there are other scenes that I felt definitely could’ve used some more breathing room. Nevertheless, Jonah Hill makes an impressive debut as a filmmaker here.

With the exception of Lucas Hedges who plays Stevie’s dickhead brother Ian, and Katherine Waterston as Stevie’s hot mom, the majority of the cast appear to be real life professional skaters rather than real life professional actors — although the kid who plays Stevie, Sunny Suljic, is both a pro-skateboarder and an actor — and these non-actors do pretty well just being themselves rather than shooting for the actorial stars — which works for a film like this where just playing things natural enhances the verisimilitude.

I have to give props to Hill and his music supervisor for the eclectic mix of tunes that pop up throughout the film; you want to talk about taking me back, well, it seemed like every other song in this movie gave me serious I Remember Way Back When type of feels, stuff from Wu-Tang ClanPixiesJeru The DamajaMorrissey, and The Pharcyde among others.

After the film, my cousin and I walked around Downtown while discussing the movie; he gave me some good background on certain things in the movie that had flown over my head, on account of not being familiar with the skating scene back then. He talked about how the filmmakers did a great job with such details as the kind of clothing the characters wore; he said that one character wore stuff from a certain skate company that you’d only see people with money wear, which makes sense considering that this character did in fact come from money. My cousin loved the movie, by the way — he ended up watching it twice.

I also ended up watching the film twice during its theatrical run, but not so much for the same reasons as my cousin. While I liked the film enough to watch it again, it was really more because my first viewing did not go as well as it should’ve. For one thing, I can hear whatever bullshit blockbuster playing next door booming its bass through the walls. But even worse, a couple of rows behind us sat a mother who brought along her kids who happily walked up and down the theater and stomped around on the row behind us and did that fucking annoying mumbling thing that these little snots do and the whole time nobody else — not my cousin, not the people in front of us, not the lady in her Air Force blues — seemed fazed or bothered by it. I was the only one and it was driving me mad. And when I brought it up with my cousin after the movie, he said he didn’t notice. What the fuck? Am I the asshole? Am I losing my mind? Or is this how movie audiences in San Antonio get down? I don’t fucking know, man!

But it’s OK because I ended up seeing it again a few days later back home practically for free (thanks AMC Stubs A-List!) and this screening was especially peachy because I was the only one in the theater. Which is really the best of both worlds for me, to see a movie in an empty theater because that’s where I am in life, that’s the fuckin’ misanthropic piece of shit I grew up to be. I wasn’t always like this, but you know, fuckin’ people, man. Maybe if I spent my youth watching less movie rentals at home alone and more time hanging out with asshole skaters more I’d have a different outlook by now. But I didn’t, so I don’t.

But I guess Jonah Hill did and that’s how this movie came about. I think. I mean, I don’t know how much of is based on his life, and I really don’t care — because it doesn’t matter and because I don’t give two shits about that creepy fuck.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little detail — I fucking can’t stand Jonah Hill. He seems like he really is the characters he plays, or at least he is most convincing as an actor when he is playing fat scumbags, and I’m sure it’s a matter of time before it comes out in the news that he Cosbys chicks or something. I see him in The Wolf of Wall Street and I don’t see him playing a character, I feel I’m seeing the real him. I bet you this motherfucker has screamed at his mom to shut the fuck up too, and he’s probably graduated to yelling that shit to whatever desperate wannabe starlet is currently blowing her way up his casting couch. It wouldn’t be so bad were it not for him being in cast in movies that I want to see, because then he would be easily avoidable.

So think about the good laugh God is having at the fact that I dropped serious ducats to fly 1200 miles away from home just to see a movie written and directed by a probable piece of shit in an everyday multiplex occupied by rowdy roaming children who made sure I couldn’t even really enjoy the movie. Well, laugh all you want, ma’am, because in the end I got to hang out with my cousin and watch a movie with him, just like we did in the good old days — and that’s what really matters.

OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking after hearing my Jonah Hill rant. You’re probably thinking, “Ah, you’re just jealous because he’s rich and famous and working with people like Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino and he’s probably living an awesome life and you’re stuck in your dead-end existence and with each birthday you’re getting farther and further away from your dreams and let’s be real, your window of opportunity passed about ten years ago and you’re gonna probably die poor and miserable and full of regrets and bitterness, so all you can do now is talk shit about the goddamn winners in life while they continue to win and you remain stagnant in your pool of failure, you fucking pussy.”

ohmygod

The tin duck

Posted in A Christmas Carol (1999), douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , on December 29, 2018 by efcontentment

Click here to download the podcast version of these ramblings!

 

About a month ago, I was eating lunch in the park when this man who appeared to be in his sixties walked up to me with a notebook and a pen. I looked at him in his white button-down shirt and black pants and figured, oh great, what is this asshole gonna try to sell me.

The man was very apologetic and proceeded to give me this whole tale about how he needed to pay for a procedure he was going to have or already had, I don’t remember, because by that point I was too busy noticing that the man only had half a jaw and I’m guessing the procedure had something to do with that. I’m sure I also heard the word “cancer” somewhere during his spiel, but I couldn’t be too sure because I was too busy processing the overwhelming sight of a man with HALF A FUCKING JAW.

Now I don’t know if this was special effects, maybe it was. But it looked real. This guy was trying his best to talk and he did pretty well considering his condition. What he was asking for was a loan of any amount to help pay for the procedure. He needed something like $1500 and he already collected  about $1100. He showed me that he had the names and addresses of the people who loaned him money in his notebook, plus the amount they loaned him. It was a thick notebook and nearly all the pages had been filled out. He said he was going to make it his mission in life to pay everybody back as soon as he could.

For all I know this half-jawed gentleman was full of shit. I mean, he probably was, he probably got half his jaw shot off in a gang fight or something and now he was using this as a way to make some money off of people and he’ll probably then have one of his buddies break into these people’s houses and steal shit or kill them or rape them or all of the above.

But if there’s any possibility of his story checking out 100-percent, well, I’d rather err on the side of wanting to be helpful.

But there was something else — a nagging feeling somewhere within, and it always comes up when someone comes up to me and asks for help or charity of some kind. It’s a kind of fear, a fear of I don’t know what, maybe fear of some kind of karmic retribution or something. Maybe the person asking me is really a beautiful enchantress with the power to turn me into a beast or a gypsy with the power to curse me to keep losing weight until I’m nothing but skin and bones.

Or maybe I really am a sucker who wants to help. Whatever the case, I ended up giving him $20 but I didn’t give him my name or address. I told him there was no need to pay me back; he could pay me back by doing a kindness for somebody else who needed it. Also, I didn’t want to risk being home invaded by his friends.

Whether it was true or not, his story felt real enough and if it wasn’t, at least he put in some effort into the ruse, and that’s all I ask for. Just make the effort. Don’t just walk up and be like “Hey man, got some money?” This dude gave me a notebook, a story that worked on my emotions, and oh yeah, HALF A FUCKING JAW.

But I don’t think all the Greg Nicotero special effects makeup in the world could convince somebody like Ebenezer Scrooge to give any amount aside from the grand total of jack shit, based on how I saw him treat a couple of dudes taking up donations. But more on that a little later.

Well, thanks for the trailer, TNT, I guess nobody has to see this movie anymore, now that you’ve told the whole story. Don’t see any point in rambling about this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I’m kidding. Most of us know the story already, so it’s really about the telling, right? There are many film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, and in her second long-unfulfilled request, Karen from Florida has asked me to ramble about one of them. With her help, I narrowed it down to either the 1984 version starring George C. Scott or the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart.

I ended up going with the Stewart film because I’d never seen it, and also because if I went with the Scott version, the entire time I’d just be making references to that scene in the film Hardcore where he watches a porno starring his daughter. Trust me, I can make lots of references to that. I suppose I could do the same with Stewart by making “Star Trek” references, so I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum.

All right, so for those who came in late, I was saying earlier that the main character of this tale, Ebenezer Scrooge, is pretty harsh with a couple of dudes who are looking for donations to help supply food and warmth to the less fortunate in this cold and bleak 19th century London. They tell him how tough it is our there and that people can die from such poor conditions, and this piece of work responds with something like “Well, they should die as soon as possible, that way can stop suckling on the city’s titties.”

To be fair, these donation dudes kinda brought it onto themselves; when they visit Scrooge and give them the whole spiel about helping feed and shelter the poor and hungry, they end it by asking how much money he plans to give. That’s mighty presumptuous, guys. You can’t assume everybody is going to want to give, you gotta close it out by saying something like how appreciative you’d be and how helpful it would be if the person could donate any amount if possible. No matter what, you have to ask, just to be polite — kinda like the no-jaw dude who hit me up. He had no jaw and he still asked politely, he didn’t assume.

If I had to guess, I would say Scrooge is the kind of person who throws in the word “bootstraps” a lot. Usually, you can tell who is and isn’t a jerk is by whether or not they use the word “bootstraps” preceded by something like how a person should pick him or herself up by them. Not that I’m against working hard in an attempt to elevate yourself to a better station in life, I mean, I have no issues with the concept of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

It’s just that in my experience, the people who usually say that are people who didn’t actually have to do that. It’s usually those who were born into money or had more than a few other hands pulling their bootstraps for them. Now, I’m not saying that those who were born into privilege or were closer to achieving their goals should feel some kind of shame or guilt or should have to keep their mouths shut about how others should be working hard for what they want. I’m just saying there’s a way to say all of that without sounding and looking like an asshole.

Scrooge doesn’t say “bootstraps” but he does have a moment later on where he remarks on how a young girl already has a job, and he’s saying it like Wow, this girl is a real go-getter! and he doesn’t understand that this girl has no choice but to work because her family is dirt poor. Because there’s a big difference between getting a part-time job after school so you can buy sneakers, and having to get a full time job — forget school at this point — in order to help feed the rest of your family because your father’s employer is a lousy skinflint named Scrooge.

Yeah, Scrooge only has one employee at his money-lending firm, his clerk Bob Cratchit — played by his future antagonist in Logan, Richard E. Grant — and while it seems like this place does all right, you wouldn’t know it from how stingy he is when it comes to keeping the place warm; Cratchit wants to add a couple of measly chunks of coal to the fire and Scrooge is like, you better put some water on that damn shit — no, no, he says to just poke the current coals and keep what little fire there is barely burning.

It kills Scrooge to spend money, it just kills him that he has to give Cratchit a paid holiday on Christmas Day — and he has to say this poor old Bob, he can’t keep it to himself. Why do people do things like that? Let the poor guy enjoy his one paid day off, man.

On top of that, Scrooge has no use for Christmas. No, he’s not Jewish or a Jehovah’s Witness or Phoebe Cates in Gremlins, he’s just a miserable man; a group of Christmas carolers know better than to go sing in front of Scrooge’s place — except for one poor child who learns that to go sing to Scrooge is to invite a possible Singapore-style caning.

I love Christmas but I might be with Ebenezer when it comes to carolers. I figure back then carolers were like the flash mobs of their day, which is to say that it’s really more about themselves than in the people they’re purporting to be entertaining.

Anyway, Scrooge’s nephew Fred shows up all joyous and triumphant about the holiday and Scrooge doesn’t want to hear it, it’s like it irritates him that other people have hope and joy during this time of year. He apparently doesn’t know about the high suicide rate during this time, otherwise he’d probably dig Christmas a lot more.

I wondered why Scrooge was so cold towards his nephew, he seems to be upset that Fred is able to enjoy the holiday season despite not being as up on the monetary hustle as he’d like to be. Scrooge also seems to disapprove of Fred’s marriage. Like, why does it bother him so much that Fred is married? Does Scrooge have a bit of a thing for Fred, like some pervy forbidden taboo love between uncle and nephew, or is it more of a player hater kind of thing, because Scrooge messed up his chance at true love right around the same age that Fred found his? I’m thinking maybe the latter. But I won’t count out the former, because a very sick man like me loves the idea that Scrooge dreams of making his nephew cry uncle, if you know what I mean.

I mean he wants to bang his nephew, is what I mean.

Fred, by the way, is played by Dominic West, or as I prefer to call him, McNulty from the HBO series “The Wire”. Man, I’d been hearing about the show for years, and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally got around to seeing it, and you know what? It’s as good as everybody says it is. Although considering how things are going nowadays in this wonderful big blue world, I don’t think I will ever give a series as cynical and depressing and true to life like that one a rewatch ever again.

Speaking of depressing and true to life, you could’ve made a 19th century version of “The Wire” with this London setting. It’s very glum and there’s no chance of Christmas cheer in how things look, which I think is the idea — I mean, I think that’s the idea, you know, finding the ability to enjoy this time of year regardless of your surroundings. We see that in the way Bob Cratchit and his family are able to make the most of what little they have during their Christmas dinner, and how appreciative and happy for what they have, as meager as it is.

Then there’s a sequence where Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present watch as various people celebrate Christmas by singing “Silent Night”; the keepers of a lighthouse, the crew on a cargo ship, workers at a mining facility — not the most ideal of conditions to be in good cheer, and yet, they are able to have the Christmas spirit. Even if the conditions were better, these people are working on Christmas Eve, which has to be a little bit of a bummer — for those who celebrate the holiday anyway.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole Ghosts of Christmas deal. OK, for those who aren’t familiar with A Christmas Carol, what happens is that Scrooge gets visited by his old business partner Jacob Marley, which sounds all fine and dandy except for the fact that Jacob Marley has been dead for seven years. Marley tells Scrooge that the afterlife sucks because he’s forever tortured by his past actions — or more like his past inactions, because like Scrooge, Marley didn’t do shit for his fellow man and was just as much a tightwad as Ebenezer. Now he’s wearing heavy chains he can’t take off and walking around all morose and shit, being as much a drag as those heavy ass chains.

Scrooge tries to dismiss this as hallucinations brought on by indigestion or maybe someone dosed his stew, the same way somebody dosed James Cameron’s clam chowder on the set of Titanic in a possible attempt to Christmas Carol that Hollywood Scrooge. But Marley doesn’t let up, and he has some tricks to really get into the old man’s head that this is in fact The Real Deal.

Marley then gives Scrooge a peek into the lives of the dead, specifically those who like Jacob Marley, led selfish and uncaring lives. Now they have to spend the rest of forever watching the living who in need of help, and these sad specters are unable to do anything about it because they’re dead. Their opportunity to do something has passed. This is a lesson they’ve learned too late. But it’s not too late for Scrooge!

At least that’s the idea, and to help prevent Scrooge from getting fitted for his own chain ensemble, three ghosts will visit him: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Joel Grey, who looks like a pale transgender in mid-transition here. That’s not a knock against transgenders, by the way, I’ve met plenty of transgenders at functions and parties and they’ve all turned me down.

Anyway, GC Past shows Scrooge his, uh, past as a little Scrooge, taking him back to his old school — which Ebenezer seems pretty jazzed about. I don’t know, man, maybe you had a better time back then than I did. You take me back to my old school and I’d probably start going into convulsions before reaching towards the small of my back for a pistol that I’m not carrying. The fun ends for Scrooge, though, once he sees himself as a sad little boy all alone in class because his father is a piece of shit.

This is the second film in a row that I’ve rambled about featuring grown-up assholes who were raised that way by their asshole fathers. The first was both versions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast — which I guess makes this movie the third film in a row — and now this one. And both were requested by Karen from Florida. If you’re trying to tell me what I think you’re trying to tell me, well let me make it clear, ma’am: I wasn’t raised to be a douchebag, my father was great to me — as is my mother. No, ma’am, my high level achievements of being A-Prick-Number-One are a result of being a self made kind of shitheel. Now this could mean one of two things: the whole “bad father equals bad son” thing is bullshit, or maybe I, much like Michael Myers, was just born under a bad star.

I’m pure evil, is what I’m trying to tell you good people. It’s why I keep to myself. I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel. And you don’t want any of me. Unless you’re ready to give up the goods. And by goods, I mean sex and/or food, but not both at the same time.

GC Past then shows Scrooge an older younger version of himself, back when he was working for Mr. Fezziwig. Now that’s a cool boss, right there; Fezziwig is very cheerful — at least during his company’s Christmas party — and he insists that all employees who are still working to stop what they’re doing ’cause he’s about to ruin the image and the style that they’re used to: that is, if the image and style is of a Scrooge type who won’t take a break to enjoy life every once in a while. You see Fezziwig and his family getting down with their bad selves on the sing & dance floor, and even Ebenezer knows to have some fun because he hasn’t grown into old Scrooge yet.

Let me talk about office Christmas parties. I can do without those too. In fact, I have been doing without them for most of my work life, as well as any other social functions and gatherings at my places of employment. I’m polite to my co-workers and treat them with kindness and respect, but I don’t want to be reminded of work during my free time. It’s my time! It’s why I’ve turned down company softball games and work picnics and Christmas parties. I don’t want any of these assholes to see me drunk — hell, I don’t want anyone to see me drunk, and I certainly don’t want to see any of those assholes drunk, fuck those guys.

Old Scrooge gets to observe Young Scrooge fuck it up with the love of his life, but is it really his fault? I get where he’s coming from — he’s not ready to marry poor because he’s trying to make that fuckin’ money, bro. It’s like the great Tony Montana once said: First you make the money, then you get the power, and then you marry your sweetheart. Stewart is great in the film, but I really liked his performance during this scene, as he witnesses one of the biggest — perhaps the biggest mistake of his life — and starts talking back at his young self like some overly emotional housewife watching her “stories”.

After that, comes The Ghost of Christmas Present, who’s a big dude in a robe, looking like party animal from a frat house movie. He ends up showing Scrooge that whole deal with the various people having Christmas spirit, singing “Silent Night”, despite of or in spite of their situations, preceded by the whole Christmas dinner at the Cratchit crib, where the lovely family digs into their meal — Christmas goose with all the trimmings, followed by plum pudding. It all looks nice but it’s all too small for a family that big — which is what an overeater would say.

Because when you really look at the portions given to the Cratchit clan, that really is the ideal serving size. It’s how much we’re all supposed to eat — particularly we heavy Americans, who eat our food in way too large portions. Also, why so many kids? Great googily moogily, Bob, couldn’t you keep it in your pants a couple times here and there? You know what, I take that back, Bob — I can see why you and Mrs. Bob would do so much fucking. I mean you have to keep warm in that cold weather somehow.

Scrooge, this fuckin’ miser, he asks GC Present about the infirm Cratchit boy Tiny Tim, he wants to know if things will get better for him and GC Present responds with something like “I see an empty seat and a crutch without an owner….something something if the future doesn’t change, the child will die”. That line and the delivery of that line, left me thinking what a great public service announcement it would make, preferably played on digital over-the-air television.

Have you ever watched digital over-the-air television? I’m talking about those stations that have dashes between the numbers, the ones that show cool old programs and cool old game shows. They’re really cool but then come the commercial breaks and it’s always a horror show filled with injured old people, dead old people, mistreated animals, dead animals, and kids with cancer. So an ad for some kind of charity towards helping little gimpy kids would be great with that line about the empty chair and crutch.

GC Present then takes Scrooge over to Fred’s house where they’re all having a great time, friends and family alike. “It’s been so long” says Scrooge, regarding the old timey Christmas dinner party games being played. Man, it’s been so long for me as well. The last time I played a game at a Christmas party, it was 14 years ago and we played Jenga Truth or Dare.

It’s a good thing they didn’t have Jenga Truth or Dare back in Scrooge’s day, because one of the guests is this fuckin’ panty-sniffing creep named Topper, who should be thanking his lucky stars they hadn’t invented sex offender registries yet. Although considering how long ago this story takes place, they probably hadn’t invented the term “sex offender”, that was just how gentlemen rolled. You had to be Jack the Ripper to be considered doing something wrong to a lady back then. God, Topper made my skin crawl, talking to ladies about their “pretty little mouths” and making sure there’s mistletoe in the immediate vicinity of his most likely syphilitic johnson. Who knows what this bucket of unwanted sex would’ve done with something like Jenga Truth or Dare.

Following all that pervitude, Scrooge gets the ghost he fears the most: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, looking like a half-decent Halloween display outside one of those Halloween stores that only operates during September and October out of some recently closed business. The Ghost shows Ebenezer how his homies at the stock exchange will not really give much of a care about him after hearing news of his death. They’ll only attend the funeral if food is being served, which I kinda understand too, provided we’re talking about serving the food after the funeral. That would be weird to eat during the actual service.

It all bums Scrooge out, the way people react about his him going tits up. Some of the help from his house end up selling his silk shirts and bed curtains, and even the undertaker makes some money off of him. Nobody seems particularly bothered, save maybe Fred, but in most cases, people’s lives are improved, such as the couple who were in debt to Scrooge, but now that he’s merged with the infinite, they have time to save up and pay the new piper.

I think at this point, Scrooge would’ve been like “Fuck it, if these assholes are going to ditch my funeral and sell the fillings from my teeth, I might as well keep up the shitty attitude and really earn my postmortem disrespect!” but then of course, here comes Tiny Tim to gum up the works with his own death, and now Scrooge is super bummed. Then he catches the sight of his sad-ass tombstone and his cold-ass corpse in the coffin and for some reason he embraces his own corpse and off they go, swan-diving cheek-to-cheek into the black void like a couple of twin fruits.

But it was all a dream! Scrooge used to read Word Up magazine! And now he’s awake, back in the real world and he hasn’t missed Christmas! He’s so overjoyed at this, he tries to laugh but it’s such an alien reflex to him at this point, it takes him like half a minute of choke-filled attempts before he finally gets it right and laughs like a goddamn human being again. He then pays some street urchin to buy the biggest goose this side of Footloose and send it over to the Cratchit residence — but he makes sure that it’s done anonymously, so that Bob and company don’t know who the goose is from.

I like that, it shows real altruism, that move. Most people in Scrooge’s place would’ve made sure that Cratchit would know who got his goose, for the same reason I want the baristas at Starbucks to see me when I put a buck in the tip jar. Scrooge is so beyond that bullshit by this point, he doesn’t care and maybe it’ll have Cratchit believe it was some kind of Christmas miracle HAHAHAHAHAHA miracle.

Scrooge then goes to church because He is the reason for the season, you know. We gotta remember who put the Christ in Christmas, and that’s something you heathens don’t understand and will never understand unless you give yourself to the one true God. Instead, you try to make it secular for all the libtards who hate my Christ, love paying taxes, and want to take my guns away. Well to that third part, I quote my good boys from Gonzales, Texas: Come and take it.

The following day, Scrooge pulls one of those bullshit pranks where he acts like he’s pissed off at Bob for coming in late, and he talks all serious to him, until he pulls back the false dickhead facade and reveals himself to be the new and improved Scrooge by giving Cratchit a raise and allowing him to warm up the place with all the coal his heart desires. Then McNulty narrates over footage of the Cratchit family visiting Ebenezer — including Tiny Tim, who did not die — talking about how “ever afterwards, he knew how to keep Christmas well” and I start tearing up and getting choked up because that’s where I am in my life, I fuckin’ cry at everything, especially with stories like this, because the older I get and the more I experience in this life, the more these tales about people changing their negative ways to become better people increasingly feel like science fiction.

What they don’t show us is Scrooge visiting his supposed pals at the stock exchange, followed by giving them a solid thrashing with his cane for being fake people showing fake love to him, straight up to his face, straight up to his face. But I guess I’ll have to make that version myself, where I devote a good twenty minutes to Scrooge taking care of business with those stock exchange fucks by giving them a little stick time.

OK, well, I pretty much went through the whole movie but you already knew the story — so the question is: how does this 1999 adaptation of A Christmas Carol do in telling it?

Pretty damn well, I think. This has less of a Christmas-y feel to it compared to others, but I think in exchange for that, there’s a bit more of a, I don’t know — real tone to it? The setting is suitably bleak and a good part of that should be credited to the production designer, Roger Hall, who had previously worked on such classics as Chariots of Fire and Highlander II: The Quickening. One of those films won the Academy Award for Best Picture, by the way.

I haven’t read the Dickens story in nearly two decades, but based on what I remember of it, this adaptation is very close, including things like that “Silent Night” sequence, which I don’t remember ever being in other film versions of the Scrooge story.

The film was directed by David Jones, a stage director who went on to work on television shows like “Law & Order: SVU” and films like Jacknife starring Robert De Niro. He does a fine job telling the story, moving things along at a fine clip and getting good performances from his cast. Speaking of which, Patrick Stewart is solid as Ebenezer Scrooge, but I feel his doesn’t quite match up in comparison to previous Scrooges like Alastair Sim and George C. Scott. He doesn’t seem as particularly upset by the otherworldly sights he’s treated to, it’s a little too stiff upper lip compared to the way other Scrooges handle seeing ghosts and freaky mutated ghoulish children named Want and Ignorance and Tiny Tim. I think what he does best is show us the regret Scrooge feels over his past mistakes during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.

More than anything, I was left wishing I had seen one of Patrick Stewart’s one-man performances of A Christmas Carol, where he played over thirty characters without the use of props or costume changes. He’s performed the play on and off since the late 80s, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to do it again anytime soon, which is too bad because it sounds fascinating. I now kinda wish they filmed one of his shows rather than make yet another standard film version of the Dickens classic. But they did make another standard film version of the Dickens classic, but it’s a good one, so I’m not complaining. I can definitely see myself checking this one out again come next December.

OK, that’s it. I haven’t done a rundown like that in a while, where I pretty much just go through the movie from beginning to end, but I figure it’s no secret to most people how this story plays out, so why not.

Anyway, if you happen to be reading this during the holidays, have fun and be safe.

Also, this won’t mean anything to those who are listening to the podcast which is only a few episodes old at the time of this recording, but the day that I’m putting this out, December 25th, in this foul year of Our Lord 2018 also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Exiled from Contentment blog, from where these ramblings come from. I can’t help but feel it’s all been a colossal waste of time. But hey, it beats sitting on my ass and doing nothing, right?

Don’t answer that.

Not worth the wait.

Posted in Beauty and the Beast (1991), Beauty and the Beast (2017), douchebag, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 22, 2018 by efcontentment

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST VERSION OF THESE RAMBLINGS

There was an advertisement from one of those charities that help out wounded veterans, and I felt both sympathy and a great feeling of gratitude to all those brave men and women who served in the military and fought in the name of this great country that I was lucky enough to be born in — the United States of America.

They are the ones who were sent to fight, and while some were wounded physically, others came back with wounds of the soul, returning home only to find that the sunlight was no longer as bright as it used to be.

I knew a man like this. We weren’t close friends, but he lived in my neighborhood and I’d run into him from time to time. I never knew his name but everybody knew him by the nickname “Easy”, because he always took life that way. After high school, Easy joined the Marine Corps, and a year-and-a-half later he was sent Over There. I didn’t hear about him after that, having moved on from the neighborhood myself.

A few years later, I was back home for Thanksgiving, and before meeting the family I had stopped at a bar for some liquid fortification. As I exited the bar, I saw Easy standing by himself across the street, his head tilted upwards, staring out at something apparently only he could see. He was unshaven, wearing a stained shirt, wrinkled worn out cargo shorts, and was now about a hundred pounds heavier.

I called out to him but he did not respond. I called out again — louder this time — and he looked over in my direction, a medicinally glazed look in his eyes. He slowly nodded to me while giving me a weak open-mouthed smile. Easy did not recognize me but had done his best to give a polite acknowledgement.

“It’s no use, bro” said the man standing a few feet behind me, smoking a cigarette. “Easy hasn’t been the same since he came back from Afghanistan. Something there broke him.”

I looked back at Easy, who had gone back to staring at the invisible, and I nodded back to him before walking away.

Wow. This guy, Easy — he seemed so together and now he’s barely a shadow of his former self. The stuff he saw over there must’ve really messed him up, and if so — what a fuckin’ pussy.

Shit. It’s one thing to have experienced war back in the 1930s and 40s when all Johnny America knew was small towns and Daisy the high school sweetheart, who he was going to marry as soon as he came back home. It was so innocent back then, when American ingenuity and know-how were Number One.

Back then, America was great, Negroes knew their place, and all Our Boys knew before going to battle was apple pie and “Moonlight Serenade”. Back then everybody wanted to fight the Krauts and the Japs — and they had no idea what was in store for them, so of course it made sense that they came back with scarred souls after seeing their friends lose arms and legs and their dying buddies piss and shit themselves while crying for mommy. But c’mon, man. Since then, we’ve had countless films that have presented war in the most vividly graphic terms — exploding heads, severed limbs, miles of exposed guts, rape, murder, suicide, dehumanization, atrocity after atrocity, and the screaming OH MY GOD the screaming.

After all those movies and television shows and documentaries with old survivors, how can someone still come home all fucked in the head? You’ve been fuckin’ programmed to be desensitized to it by now, how the fuck can you come home all wacky in the cabeza?

Jesus Christ, Easy — you played hours and hours of “Mortal Kombat”, “Grand Theft Auto”, “Call of Duty”, you watched fake death on Faces of Death and real death on YouTube and yet somehow the sight of Private First Class Duggan shoving the barrel of his M4 up some Haji’s rectum is gonna give you nightmares?

Yo yo yo yo yo Easy Easy Easy — how is it that you, a fuckin’ failed cholo millennial who’s seen all those movies and actually trained for that madness still come back a shell of your former self, while a soldier in the 18th Century — a Frenchman, of all people — not only came back OK from his battles, but still had a thirst for killing that he satisfied by being a badass hunter? I’m talking about Gaston, you fuckin’ Hispanic Birdy, I’m talking about the motherfucker from the 2017 film Beauty and the Beast.

This is a request from Karen from Orlando, Florida and I will withhold her last name to save her from both public humiliation and possible loss of employment due to being associated with me. Karen has requested this film over a year ago and like everything else, it took forever but I finally got around to rambling about this film — thanks to it being available on Netflix, which I was able to easily access through my sister’s account.

Beauty and the Beast is a live action adaptation of Disney’s 1991 animated film of the same nameYes, I know about the 1946 version directed by Jean Cocteau, but that wasn’t part of the request, so you film geeks can quit your whining and go back to throwing yourselves off bridges because they got rid of Filmstruck. 

It’s directed by Bill Condon, who also directed the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Dreamgirls, the Oscar-nominated film Kinsey, and a movie that I’m sure someone with the name “Oscar” really liked, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. He also won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Gods and Monsters.

This is a tale about a strapping young beast of a man named Gaston, a former captain in the French army turned current animal hunter who has the whole town of stupid peasant proles wrapped around his strong finger. This man knows he’s the shit and everybody else agrees, as we see and hear during one of the film’s many musical sequences, this one focusing on the man himself.

Gaston has everything he needs: the admiration of an entire town, the company of his close gay friend Lefou, and all the single ladies are on his jock 24/7. But like most of us human beings, Gaston doesn’t know how to appreciate what he has and instead wastes his time and energy on going after what he doesn’t have — some weirdo bookworm named Belle.

She’s played by Emma Watson, who turned down the lead in La La Land to do this movie, which financially was a good move on her part; Beauty and the Beast didn’t get the Oscar attention of the other film, it ended up making about three times more at the box office — profits of which Miss Watson was contractually entitled a decent chunk.

Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling turned down this movie to do La La Land, and so he and Watson passed each other like two pretty ships in the night going opposite directions.

So yeah, this chick thinks she’s too good for my boy, she has this whole thing about wanting to leave the village she lives in because she thinks she’s too good for this town. I don’t get people like that, but maybe it’s because I never grew up in a small boring ass town either. I grew up in a decent suburban area with malls and mini-malls and plenty of chain restaurants and movie theaters and bars and that’s really all I needed. If I wanted to see a beautiful view from a mountain side, I could go the local library and rent Cliffhanger. Nowadays, I can just look that shit up online.

Eventually, I moved but I always remained in and around Southern California because I like the weather and I like the women. The women don’t like me — neither do the men, for that matter — but that doesn’t stop me from introducing myself to new ones at a friend’s baby shower and making a bigger ass than usual: Oh hi guys, I’m Princess Sparkle, oh hi I really appreciate how you would thank me by my name when I picked up my tickets at the booth, oh hi there, you go to the New Beverly Cinema too? Did you hear about how the owner Quentin Tarantino installed new cameras on the floor, that way  he can see everybody’s feet a-hyuk a-hyuk a-hyuk hey, where’s everybody going? Hey sir, can I borrow your gun, I just need it for a second *gunshot*

Then the pain ends.

Except it didn’t, because nobody had a gun — this is pussy ass Southern California, after all, the only thing these liberals carry concealed is their medical marijuana card.

Anyway, yeah, Belle — a name that sounds a lot like Bella, the name of the girl from the Twilight books and movies. No wonder they got Bill Condon to direct this — he also directed some of those Twilight movies. But don’t hold that against him, I mean, homeboy’s gotta make those mansion payments somehow.

So Belle is bored with her small town because they don’t have Applebees or a Sonic, and she’s not down with the same routine day in and day out, and reading all those books have infected her brain with the idea of a great big old world out there filled with so much to do. She wants a life like the ones in the books she reads, and well, guess what, honey — it is! This film and the 1991 animated joint are based on the French fairy tale La Belle et la Bête and if you only knew what was going to happen to you, girl!

And what does happen to her? She ends up in this spooky run-down castle somewhere out in the boondocks because that’s where her goofy-ass father ended up. The poor old man was trying to get some peace and quiet because he can’t even fix a goddamn clock at home without hearing his daughter sing all over town, so yeah, he took off with his horse and then some wolves try to eat him and now he’s locked up in a dungeon and his jailer is this big ugly beast named Beast.

We never know what Beast’s real name is but I’m guessing it’s Prince Douchebag, because the opening scene shows us that before he was the Beast we all know and fear, he was this young handsome wealthy prince, and like most handsome wealthy princes, this guy was a douchenozzle twatface asshole who wouldn’t know empathy if it came into his home on a dark and stormy night asking for shelter. Nope, he would look at this old lady and laugh in her face — this fucking human garbage who grew up with everything and yet that wasn’t enough for him, he’s taxing people and using the money to buy more stuff he doesn’t need. Yeah, not only does he laugh in her face, even his servants and employees laugh at her.

It fuckin’ figures it’d be that way; we all want to be the motherfucker, and if we can’t, we’ll settle for  riding the motherfucker’s coattails because even being on the motherfucker’s coattails is a higher level than the rest of the peons. And I’m like OK fine, if you want to be that way, then enjoy your slightly higher status in life, but don’t look down on those below you as if you were King Shit of Fuck Mountain, because you’re not. That’s the same kind of unearned asinine behavior exhibited by maitre d’s and house n’s.

But if you are gonna be that way and join your master in Ha Ha Ha-ing the poors, then you better be ready to take any possible punishment headed your boss’ way. Because this old lady? This old lady that the prince and his people are laughing at, well, she actually happens to be a beautiful enchantress — and these people are so fucked, it’s fucking beautiful, man.

The enchantress curses the prince and his servants and makes it so that the people who knew them don’t know them anymore, so basically these assholes won’t be missed. Prince Douchebag is turned into a beast and the servants are turned into walking/talking furniture, appliances, and various other housewares — even the dog gets it, which I’m fine with because I’m sure that dog ate human food everyday like a king and ran around biting beggars in the butt.

This prince tried to beg forgiveness from the enchantress, but when it comes to this chick once you’re fucked, you’re fucked and there’s no turning back, you can’t even offer an insincere apology the way most celebrities do on social media after they’ve been caught being scumbags.

I like that because that’s how I roll. I don’t believe in forgiving pieces of shit. Like the song says, it’s easy to be hard — and that’s why I use up so much energy everyday in not being an asshole. It’s why I get so exhausted at the end of the day and go to sleep after I get home from work, causing me to not work on this blog/podcast and next thing you know, I have a backlog of three or four of these goddamn things and I still haven’t written about the Aero Horrorthon back in October even though it’s just about Christmas right now. But as tired as I get, I still manage to say Please, Thank You, and Excuse Me to people — people who don’t even have the common courtesy to return the favor.

Everyday I have to see these people living awesome lives despite having zero empathy or sympathy or any pathys for their fellow human and very rarely do these amoebas get their comeuppance — so when I see or hear of actual justice being served to these people, well, lady and gentleman, to be as delicate as I can be with what I’m about to say:

It gets my dick hard.

So imagine how much Viagra I didn’t need seeing what happens to this dude — cursed to live as a Beast all alone in that castle — talking furniture doesn’t count, chief — and nobody from the outside world even remembers that he exists.

Later in the film, we find out that his assholishness wasn’t something he was born with, he was raised to be a shit by his shit father — much like our current president. But unlike *that* walking shit stain, Beast eventually shows himself later in the film to be a kinder and deeper person than we took him for — which I think is supposed to be a way to get the audience to be more sympathetic towards the guy, but I don’t buy it. I think that’s just what the curse did to him.

What I’m saying is, if you live an awesome life with zero consequences, you’re not going to change. If anything, you might actually start pushing it to see how much you can get away with, because that’s just human nature. But if something or someone knocks the wind out of your sails and your awesome life isn’t so awesome anymore, you’re going to eventually have to adapt to a new way of living, not out of a sudden realization that your fellow man deserves respect and kindness, no — but because you have no choice.

It’s like this: say you’re a hot chick, right? You’re a hot chick and so your life is pretty cool because everybody wants to bang you. But then somewhere along the way, you hit the wall and guess what? You don’t look like Ava Gardner anymore.

Suddenly your jokes aren’t so funny, you start getting called out on your lack of manners, and your questionable personal hygiene isn’t acceptable anymore. No longer fuckable, you have to adapt your way of life and be nice to people, and you better learn to juggle or play the piano or something because these bills aren’t gonna pay themselves either.

Well, the Prince was a hot dude and so there you go.

So Belle goes to the castle to free her father and ends up taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner, but ends up getting to know the Beast better in his adapted state and she starts digging the dude and he’s starts digging on her because she’s a nice person who appreciates his immense library — plus it’s been a long time since he banged a lady, and I’m sure he hasn’t even been able to get rid of the poison on his own, on account of all this sentient furniture in his castle.

I mean, I wouldn’t be able to jerk off knowing that my bed is alive and can see and hear what I’m doing. I can’t go the bathroom to do it because the sink, toilet, and shower can see what I’m doing. I can’t go outside because then one of those wolves will bite it off and even if they didn’t, I certainly can’t convince one of them to let me put it inside him, because I don’t know if you know but wolves are extremely homophobic.

In the meantime, my boy Gaston tries to help free Belle, but when her stupid father tells Gaston that she would never marry him, Gaston leaves his ungrateful ass out in the weeds where he belongs.

But I think the movie is trying to say that what Gaston did was wrong.

Once I got over the fact that the film was going to focus on Belle and the Beast and not on the awesome Gaston, I was able to enjoy what played out for the most part. The new songs didn’t really do it for me but the songs from the 1991 film still sound nice. Emma Watson does a fine job singing them but she was nothing spectacular, either. But hey, she doesn’t embarrass herself and I think the dude playing the Beast is a better singer overall but maybe I’m the last person you’d want an opinion on singing, considering that I thought Pierce Brosnan did OK in the Mamma Mia! movies.

Acting-wise, I thought Watson and the Beast were pretty good together, there’s nothing wrong there.

I also dug the interactions between all the items in the castle; they’re voiced by Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ian McKellan, and Emma Thompson. They were my favorite characters in the film, and I honestly would’ve preferred a lot more of them and less of Belle and the Beast because there scenes are a lot more fun to watch. What I’m saying is that I felt that in their attempt to make a more grown-up version of the animated film — specifically during the scenes between Belle and Beast — the filmmakers sometimes confused “grown-up” with “dull” and so I found myself checking the time more than I should.

It’s not like I had anywhere to go or something, but I kept checking my non-existent watch as if I did. This film is about forty minutes longer than the animated film, and I definitely felt the extra running time without feeling I got much out of it. It felt less like a deeper and more detailed version of the story and more like a simple story being padded out for reasons I don’t understand. If I did understand, I’d be making these goddamn movies rather than bitching about them.

Things get a lot more interesting in the final third, when things come to a climax with the stupid villagers storming the castle and getting their asses handed to them by a candelabra, a harpsichord, a feather duster, and a teapot and teacup. They’ll never be able to live that embarrassing shit down.

But a few of them will leave the experience wiser and happier; three of these assholes are Gaston’s friends, or as Cogsworth the walking/talking clock calls them, “third rate Musketeers”. And when they end up getting swallowed up by a walking/talking wardrobe, they are spat out dressed in women’s clothing. This freaks out two of the Musketeers, while one is left digging his new look — a moment that I’m sure left the more conservative members of the audience walking out in a huff over what they feel is Disney’s pro-perversion propaganda:

“How am I supposed to explain to my child why there are Men who like to dress up as women?!”

It’s easy, sir. In the same manner that you take your kid aside to tell him or her why the Chinese can’t be trusted or that the Jews control the media, you tell this fucking tyke that much like there are people who like Coke over Pepsi and vice versa, there are dudes who go out as dudettes and some of them still dig women while others dig on each other, and there are also chicks who dress like guys and some still dig guys and some dig on each other, and there are both guys and girls who don’t even dress like the opposite sex but they play for the home team, and that’s just the way of the world.

Then you can go back to telling your kid Obama almost turned the entire country into Muslims.

By the time the closing credits come up, things have ended happily ever after for the characters and if you think I’m spoiling the movie, then you need to go blame your parents for homeschooling your sheltered ass and leave me alone. Now I’m gonna spoil something else — the end credits look like the opening credits to a soap opera. OK, I’m done.

Between watching the film nearly a month ago and rambling about it today (thanks flu!), my opinion more or less remains the same — leaning towards the “less” section. The reason for that is because after watching the live action Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to make sure if this version did in fact suffer in comparison to the 1991 film or if I was just looking back at it with rose-colored contacts. Because it’s easy for me to say “oh, the original was better” when the last time I watched the original, it was 17 minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

And so, I immediately went to the movie site Vudu and plunked down twenty bucks on the 1991 version because Disney doesn’t believe in a Rental option when it comes to streaming, the greedy fucks.

Well guess what? Not counting the hooker in San Antonio last month, this was the best twenty dollars I spent in a long time. The 1991 version is the same story as the 2017 one, only before that one gained all that extra fat over the years. This one is lean, mean, and damn near obscene in how goddamn good it is. When you compare this one, the 1946 Cocteau joint — are you happy now, geeks? — and the 2017 version, what you’ll get is one that’s more fun, one that’s more dreamy, and one that’s more, well, uh, blah.

Holy cats, does this sucker move! Maybe it doesn’t feel that fast, but after watching the slower current version, the ’91 film feels like you’re riding shotgun in one of Dominic Toretto’s muscle cars and he just unleashed some NOS. It gets down to the nitty gritty — the brass tacks, as it were — and brings you up to speed in a couple minutes by telling you about the whole backstory between the Beast and the Old Lady; how he turned down her request for shelter, and how she cursed him and gave him a rose as a kind of countdown in which he’d have to find a woman who will love him for who he is before all the petals fall, otherwise he’s cursed forever.

We get our introduction to Belle which is similar to the live action version only this one is better; it’s a lot more energetic, a lot more entertaining, and Paige O’Hara is a far more talented singer than Emma Watson, who has a nice voice but is no Paige O’Hara. I turned on the subtitles and started singing along to the songs in this version, it was so infectious! My neighbor started shouting at me to keep it down but then I stepped out with the Sig Sauer P320 and continued singing while waving my piece around like a conductor’s baton, and that bitch went back inside to watch the rest of “America’s Got Talent” faster than you can say “justifiable homicide”.

Not only is Paige O’Hara a better singer, everybody’s a better singer in this version, like Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, and my man, muthafuckin’ Walk Proud himself, Robby Muthafuckin’ Benson as the Beast. I know, he was the bomb in City Limits, but you gotta see my Semitic brother Robby B play a Chicano gang member in Walk Proud. As far as I’m concerned, he’s got a permanent invitation to my Sunday afternoon carne asada backyard cookouts.

This Belle is a better Belle, that’s what I think. She just comes off more likable, while Watson carries too much of that snotty English girl vibe, which to be fair is probably closer to fitting the character of a French village girl than some All American type like O’Hara’s portrayal, but hey, this is merely my opinion. I like nice people or at least people who exude the illusion of being nice and 1991 Belle does a better job of that. I mean, look at how everybody seems to like her, despite being a weirdo bookworm.

In this version, Gaston comes off more — ahem — cartoonish, like some big dumb oaf who thinks he’s the shit, and he doesn’t seem particularly threatening, but that’s why his heel turn later on is far more effective than in the 2017 film. You look at the live action Gaston and you don’t have to had already seen the ’91 movie to know this guy is trouble, you just have to look at this guy’s face to know you don’t say No to him. Or you just had to have seen Fast & Furious 6.

There’s more humor in this, compared to the more recent film, which does feature the occasional gag but they all stand out like studio-mandated sore thumbs, whereas the older film does a better job segueing between the moments of levity and the stronger emotional scenes.  Plus, the jokes are better here, they hold up. The live action version has jokes but they already feel old seconds after they play out.

Look, I’m not bashing the newer film, I think it’s fine. But watching the older film immediately after, reminded me how much more lovely and magical it is in comparison. Your mileage may vary, but I feel this one goes a lot farther in a lot less time.

By the way, if you’re gonna watch the animated film, may I suggest you watch the Special Edition cut? After watching the movie, I looked at the accompanying special features and saw the Special Edition was one of the viewing options. Still under the film’s spell, I ended up watching it again for the first time and I found out that in addition to fixing some continuity issues and mistakes here and there, this cut also includes an extra musical number, adding some welcome character detail to the Beast’s cursed servants. This isn’t a George Lucas kind of Special Edition, it’s more like what Ridley Scott did when he released the Final Cut of Blade Runner, and I think it’s the one to check out — but it’s good times with either cut, either way.

Both films will appeal to most people; if you’re a comic book nerd, you can pretend that the castle in the film represents your house and that the rose the Beast keeps protected under glass is like your most prized issue of Spider-Man, that way when the scene comes up when Beast loses his shit over Belle fucking with it, you can nod your head and be like “I know what that’s like”.

I figure ugly people can also enjoy watching a beautiful woman learn to love this hideous smelly hairy fuck for the good person he supposedly is on the inside. And if you’re half a fuckin’ furry, I already know you love this movie. You probably dress up like the Beast all the time or have your significant other dress like the Beast before you guys get in on — doggy style, of course. AWOOOO!

In conclusion, grow some fucking balls, Easy.

Two weeks late and a dollar short

Posted in 30 Days of Night, douchebag, Friday the 13th Part III, From Dusk Till Dawn, Insidious, movie marathon, Poltergeist (1982), ramblings of a loser, Shaun of the Dead, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2018 by efcontentment

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My favorite time of year has begun. This is also my least favorite time of year because it’s when I begin to live my own personal version of every killer virus movie ever made as everybody around me gets Down With the Sickness. Out comes the hand sanitizer and down goes the Emergen-C powdered vitamin drinks and there’s me standing back from people from even greater distances than usual, as they tell me why they didn’t bother getting a flu shot because it’s only, like, two percent effective from this year’s model of influenza. Then they cough and sniffle while I try to keep my cool, when all I really want to do is point at them while screeching a la Donald Sutherland at the end of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Spoilers.)

I’m forced to walk a tightrope of good health that puts me at risk of missing out on the fun stuff if I get sick — stuff like Camp Frida, an all-night horror movie marathon being held at The Frida Cinema located in the city of Santa Ana. But thankfully, I was able to keep the evil viruses away long enough to attend on the rather crisp evening of October 7th.

Camp Frida is a summer camp-themed 12-hour marathon of horror films scheduled to run from 8pm to 8am, hosted by an 80s-era camp counselor named Aly; I did not attend the previous year but my friend Cathie did and she covered the inaugural event on her blog — I highly recommend that you give it a read.

I arrived just in time as the theater opened its doors and started letting the people in line inside, where we were greeted to a lobby that was done up with fog, cobwebs, and various other spooky decorations. My favorite was a large black curtain or shroud or blanket, whatever it was, it was covering a large part of a wall and there was a sign that read something like “Look under here if you want to see a dead body”; I watched as someone began to lift the curtain when all of a sudden a zombie hand popped out and swiped towards the victim’s leg causing her and her friends to scream and/or jump while I stood by looking all cool and stoic because I’m better than that and thank god I was wearing dark pants because then nobody could tell I had just pissed them.

There were also many cupcakes being offered to us, and there was nothing scary about that unless you’re diabetic; we had a choice of Camp Frida S’mores or Deep Red Velvet Braaaaains. I went with neither for the same reason I didn’t get snacks or bring a blanket and pillow or come dressed in ultra comfy pajamas. In my experience with marathons, comfort — too much comfort, in both what you wear and what you eat — is the enemy. That goes double for the popcorn and soft drinks available at the snack bar, and triple for the blood bag cocktails they were also serving at said snack bar.

This was my second time at the Frida; it’s a nice non-profit two-screen cinema that screens a good variety of films both classic and current. For Camp Frida, the auditorium on the left was called “The Graveyard” and the one on the right was called the “Main Lodge”. After being hand stamped, we were told to go to the Graveyard first, which had a spooky cemetery setup under the screen along with a tent. Waiting for us was a photographer who was taking pics of each of the attendees, who were then told to go to the Main Lodge.

A little before 9pm, the evening finally got under way with a little scene being performed on stage for us as a group of young campers gathered around the fake campfire and told a scary tale about the legend of camp counselor Aly, who had hosted the previous Camp Frida and met her unfortunate fate at the hands of Jason Voorhees. One of the kids pulled out her trusty Necronomicon and read from it, and so we didn’t have to wait long for the sudden appearance of the now undead Zombie Counselor Aly as she arrived, who despite obviously having been dead for a while, had not lost any attitudinal spark in her delivery. She told us that even though she was a zombie now, she was still a vegan, and so we shouldn’t be too worried about her feasting on us — but that she wasn’t above murdering anybody who didn’t behave either.

First up on the menu was the 1996 film From Dusk Till Dawn, written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez. This is the one where Tarantino and George Clooney play brothers — so you know this is a movie — who are on the lam and kidnap a family in order to hijack their RV so they can get across the Texas/Mexico border. Once they’re on the other side, they stop at the mother of all dirty biker & trucker bars called the Titty Twister, and that’s when things go from crime movie to vampire movie.

This was my third time seeing it on the big screen — the first was during its original release in 1996 and the second was at the New Beverly Cinema in 2015 — and this was the best crowd yet, with lots of laughs and cheers throughout. I think a big part of it was that the sold out event made for a packed house full of people who were already well into their blood bag cocktails. My only real complaint was that there were quite a few piece of shit cocksucking asshole scumbag douchebag fucks who started recording video and/or snapping photos with their phone — one award winner even used the goddamn flash on the camera!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a couple scenes early on with Tarantino’s rapey Richie Gecko felt a bit more uncomfortable to watch this time. I’m guessing it might have had something to do with the fact that mere hours earlier, a rapey piece of shit had been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. That might’ve painted an unfortunate shade to some of the proceedings.

But at least I wasn’t in full pearl-clutching mode, like the guy I stood next to outside the theater while getting some fresh air between films. I overheard him telling his friend something like “I forgot how racist and misogynistic it was…it was just so gleeful.” As far as the racist part, I can only say speaking as a filthy spic that I didn’t find anything particularly racist about the movie. I mean, yeah, they’re dealing with Mexican vampires in the movie, but I don’t know, was it the language being used by Seth and Richie Gecko that bugged him? Well, their characters aren’t exactly choir boys. And plus it helps that I just assume everybody talks like that in real life anyway, even the pansy liberals, they just do it behind my back — and that’s all I ask, is to keep your secret hatred of my people behind closed doors. Save it for your weekly poker game in the garage, you bitter honky fucks.

As far as the misogynistic claims, I can’t really speak to that because I’m a misogynist. But I have a legitimate reason to hate women — they won’t have sex with me.

I’m happy to report that between films a gentleman from the Frida whose name I can’t remember came out to kindly tell people to cut it the fuck out with the goddamn cameras and to also calm down with the conversations while the movie is playing or else he would feed them to Zombie Counselor Aly, even though she’s vegan.

A few minutes later, Zombie Counselor Aly returned with one of the young campers, Ethan, who was now a zombie himself. He seemed pretty bummed out because being undead at 16 years of age meant that he would forever be in puberty. Aly claimed to have only killed him but didn’t snack on him, instead having let other zombies take a bite out of him. Aly then told us that they were trying something new for this year’s marathon based on something they did last year; at one point, both the Main Lodge and Graveyard were showing a different movie and audience members were able to choose which one they wanted to see. It went so well, they decided to do that for this year’s marathon, only this time instead of one movie, they would give the audience a choice for the next four films.

After a guessing game where audience members were given an on-screen clue as to what the next set of films would be, the choice was revealed: those who wanted to see the 1989 adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary could stay in the Main Lodge while those who wanted to see the 2004 rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead would have to go to the Graveyard. I went with Shaun because I had already seen Pet Sematary in the past and have even rambled about it in a past blog entry, and to be honest I’m not a fan of the movie. So I went with the Edgar Wright-directed film which I had only seen once during its theatrical release.

Shaun of the Dead is the one about the dude who’s pushing 30 and is kinda stuck in that limbo between growing up and enjoying your goddamn life. I mean, I kinda get it; it’s that choice between hanging out with your friends and getting drunk and playing video games OR having a girlfriend and spending a whole day at fuckin’ Ikea or something and trying not to fall asleep as she gets all excited about a stupid table. It’s a table! I don’t give a fuck about it aside from Can It Hold My Keys, My Remote Controls, and My Dinner? If it can, then cool, let’s buy the fuckin’ thing.

That’s the conundrum that Shaun, played by Simon Pegg, is going through — and to be honest, it’s pretty clear that he’s better off becoming a fuckin’ responsible adult and living life with his special lady friend Liz. At least that’s how I see it. I mean, his friend Ed has his moments but goddamn he can be a real fuckin’ style-cramper, man. He means well but, I don’t know. I don’t have friends like Ed and I’m glad I don’t, to be real with you. Maybe it’s because in reality, I’m closer to someone like Peter Serafinowicz’s character in the movie, especially in that scene where Shaun and Ed are blasting that goddamn Electro in the middle of the night and out comes Peter’s character losing his shit about how he’s trying to get some goddamn sleep because he has work in the morning. That’s pretty much me everyday with this whole goddamn world.

And come on, Shaun, you had one job: make the reservations at the place that does all the fish. See what being friends with Ed does to you?

Anyway, it’s all very interesting, and it almost makes you forget that this is a zombie movie, and it almost kinda bummed me out when it got to that point because I would’ve been fine with a movie just about Shaun, Ed, and Liz that has nothing to do with the undead. But I was just as fine with what did happen, because once zombies come into play it becomes a most amusing tale about how to deal with these goddamn things and live through the day while trying to get from point A to point B. What really makes the film is all the details, though. I mean, not just visual setups and payoffs and quick little bits that are easily missed the first time because they go so fast — I mean, just all of the dialogue is a pleasure to listen to but not in a snappy comeback sort-of-way, it’s all very funny and there are just as many setups and payoffs in the things that they say.

That’s why I would’ve been cool with a non-zombie version of this movie, because the characters are so well-written and lived in. And as funny as it is, it also manages to have a serious moment or two — and it all blends together well, it never feels forced or tone deaf. I found myself actually caring about what happens to these people, although maybe not so much that douchebag David. Fuck that guy. It’s a good zombie movie from the Romero school of the undead — it gives you the goods while also being About Something, which I’m choosing to see Shaun as being about having to grow the fuck up and move on to the next stage of your life. Because as much as it pains me to say this, we can’t be kids forever, man. But you can still have fun, so long that you can keep your indulgences on a leash and visit them once in a while.

Edgar Wright’s direction has pretty much always been this way, hasn’t it? I forgot that he was already doing things like long takes and scenes synchronized to songs in this film, way before Baby Driver. It’s good stuff and the dude’s already had cinema running through his veins.

After another break, I went back to the Main Lodge where another visual guessing game was played; the next choice of films turned out to be either stay and watch the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead or go back to the Graveyard to watch the 2010 film Insidious. I had never seen the latter and had been meaning to see it, and so eight years after its release, I finally did.

Insidious is a tale about a well-moisturized married couple living in an old grandmother of a house with their two or three children — I say two or three because I swear they had another kid and somewhere along the way that motherfucker just disappeared not unlike Chuck Cunningham on the television series “Happy Days”.

What I know for sure is that there are at least two kids; one is a little boy and the other is a fuckin’ baby who never shuts the fuck up with her goddamn crying. I don’t know how you parents do it, or did it; I don’t know how you are able to take in the sound of that horrific crying without wanting to tear the nearest human being limb from limb. But the mom in this movie, played by Rose Byrne, seems to be used to it. The father, played by Patrick Wilson, has an easier way to deal with it: he leaves for work and stays out late so he doesn’t have to hear that shit.

The son, he deals with it even better than the others — he falls into a coma.

In addition to having a comatose child, this family has to deal with lots of spooky haunted house type of stuff going on in their grandma house. It’s all very effective because I jumped quite a bit every time some scary red faced demon thing popped up, along with the accompanying music sting. It wasn’t so much the idea of the house being possessed that got to me, no, I was afraid because every time a potential scare scene was coming up, it meant that the wife would scream, which would cause that goddamn baby to cry again and I don’t go to the goddamn movies to hear babies cry. If I wanted to hear babies cry, I’d be banging chicks without a condom and then wait nine months.

Insidious was director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell’s return to low budget independent filmmaking following the failure of their big studio fright flick Dead Silence back in 2007; I haven’t seen that movie but I did see Saw. I mean, I saw Saw. I mean — OK, you know that movie Saw? That was their first film and I watched it back in 2005 and I liked it. I liked Insidious even more. It has more of a classical horror film style compared to the MTV flashiness occasionally exhibited in their debut, and it manages to display that Wan and Whannell have the ability to supply the scares without having to get all NC-17 on us (this film is PG-13).

Halfway through the film, Insidious turns into the cinematic equivalent of Wan and Whannell asking the audience “Hey, did you ever see Poltergeist? Me too! Wasn’t it awesome?!” but that’s OK because they ask that question in an entertaining manner. It’s fun to watch Lin Shaye enter the film as the resident paranormal expert who is gonna Get Shit Done. Her underlings, played by Whannell and some other dude, are a little too goofy for my taste but at least they don’t raid the fridge like their equivalent characters in Poltergeist. In fact, one of them shows up having brought a Hot Pocket. That to me shows a person who is prepared and considerate.

The next guessing game revealed the choice of either Friday the 13th Part III in 3D or Beetlejuice. As much as I love me some Winona Ryder, I had already seen Beetlejuice on the big screen twice, but have seen Jason Voorhees in 3D zero — so I stayed at the Main Lodge and put on a pair of 3D glasses handed to me by one of the volunteers.

I guess this is as good a time as any to bring up the format of the films we watched that evening; they were all digital, which is not a dealbreaker for me. These marathons are more about staying up all night watching movies and less about the privilege of watching them in 35mm. Although that would be nice too.

I bring this up because I’m not 100-percent sure whether what we watched of Friday the 13th Part III was a DCP or Blu-ray; it looked fine but I had my suspicions. I don’t know what a 35mm print of this film is supposed to look like in 3D but we watched this one with the old school red and blue anaglyph glasses, so we weren’t getting modern quality three dimensions with full color, but like I said it was watchable. The color was kinda whack and there was occasional “ghosting” where some of the image would split into a slightly visible double, but if I’m grading it on the 3D scale where you have Captain EO on top and the Nintendo game “Rad Racer” at the bottom, this film would reside right in the middle.

As for the film itself, it’s pretty important to the series because in addition to being the one in 3D, it also introduces the hockey mask to Jason’s ensemble and gives us the theme song that makes me want to break out the cardboard and go Boogaloo Shrimp on all you motherfuckers. It’s also one of the better films in the Jason saga, which isn’t to say it’s one of the more intricately plotted sequels — far from it, it’s actually pretty simple even for a Friday the 13th film. But it’s the simplicity that makes for the film’s strength: people show up, drink, do drugs, have sex, then get killed by Jason. After a time-padding prologue that replays the climax of Friday the 13th Part II, the film gives us a good pace in between the kills so that we never get bored. Or at least I never got bored, I can’t speak for the rest of you jokers.

In this film, a girl named Chris and her friends go up to her family’s cabin in the woods where she had previously survived an attack by Jason — because that’s exactly what traumatized victims of violent attacks should do, I guess, return to the scene of the crime as way to own that shit? I don’t know. But what becomes bad news for these characters becomes good news for the audience because that means Jason gets to murder these morons for our entertainment.

I can’t say I was gonna miss most of these victims; early on, there’s a dude named Harold who owns a general store along with his wife and a bodega rabbit, and this piece of work has a habit of eating everything on the shelves. It’s disgusting, not just the fact that he’ll take a dirty backwashed swig of Sunny D and then put it back on the shelf for some unsuspecting customer to purchase, but the fact that he eats more like a stoner than the actual stoners in the film — stoners who look about ten years older than everybody else, by the way. So yeah, Harold eats peanuts, donuts, the aforementioned Sunny Delight, fish food, and god knows what else. So it’s no surprise that we’re then treated to the sights and sounds of him having a production session on the toilet.

I don’t know why we had to hear that in addition to seeing it — and I don’t know why we get two separate scenes of characters taking a shit in this film, and I *really* don’t know why both of these dudes get up and put their pants back on without wiping their asses. I mean, OK, fine, they heard a strange noise and they want to go check on it. But I’m telling you, if I’m in the middle of taking a dump and suddenly my firstborn starts screaming for help, I’m sorry, I have to clean house at least a little bit because going back out onto the field to make a play — and you bet your unwiped ass I’m washing my hands too, and not just a quick once-over, I’m singing Happy Birthday twice before drying them.

This also might be the first Friday the 13th film that introduces raza into the cast — poor pretty Vera Sanchez, and I don’t just mean “poor” as in her unfortunate fate in the film as one of Jason’s kills (Spoilers). I mean, she’s financially poor and she’s rocking food stamps, because of course you have to have the wetback on welfare. You find this out during a scene in a store, where she’s told by the cashier that they don’t take food stamps, even though Vera never mentions food stamps, she was just reaching into her shirt pocket.

OK fine, in this case, the cashier assumed correctly, but that still ain’t right. That would be like me assuming that the Asian lady driving in my opposite direction is going to make a sudden left turn in front of me without signaling. Just because every single Asian driver that I’ve come across in my life couldn’t drive for shit, I can’t assume that the next one is going to drive like shit as well. It’s wrong to think that way.

Anyway, Vera is saved by her fellow camper Shelly, who according to the Friday the 13th Wiki has the last name of Finkelstein. Bucking the trend of his heritage, Shelly eagerly gives Vera some of his money so she can pay for the groceries. Although when you consider that Shelly has been dreaming of dipping his kishka into her mole, maybe he wasn’t really giving the money away so much as he was paying for something he hoped to get in return.

Eh, I kid those two because I liked those two. I also liked the character of Debbie, because she was played by Tracie Savage; those who grew up in the L.A. area in the 90s might remember her as a reporter for KNBC-TV Los Angeles, because that’s what I knew her from and it’s funny how long it took me to make the connection that the attractive anchorwoman on the news was the same hot chick from this movie. After working on Friday the 13th Part III, Savage retired from acting and went on to have a successful career in journalism, where her previous experience with murderous slasher Jason Voorhees served her well when she covered the O.J. Simpson trial.

At one point, Savage herself was called to the witness stand at the trial, where she was asked to give up the identities of her confidential sources regarding some incorrect information about O.J.’s bloody socks. She refused to give up her sources, even though Judge Lance Ito had threatened her with jail time if she didn’t cooperate. But what Judge Ito got instead was confirmation that Tracie Savage would rather rot in jail than be a fuckin’ rat, because she sure as hell ain’t no stoolie. Jail? Fuck jail! What can jail do to her that fuckin’ Jason Voorhees didn’t already do?!

Today, Miss Savage teaches journalism in college, where I’m sure among the many things her students learn are the two most important things in life: Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.

Up until this point, the guessing games were hosted by Zombie Counselor Aly. But in the last round when it was revealed that a Jason movie was among the choices, she got upset because Jason was the reason she was now a zombie, having killed her during the last Camp Frida. Then the real Jason Voorhees showed up at the theater and followed after her as she ran away. After the film, when I walked back into the Main Lodge for the next guessing game, I did not see Zombie Counselor Aly but instead there was a bedsheet-clad ghost with a male voice. I asked the guy next to me who that was supposed to be and he said it was supposed to be the ghost of Zombie Counselor Aly, having been killed again by Jason. He was chuckling the entire time and he reeked of the blood bag cocktails, so I can’t be too sure if he was telling me the truth or just having me on. But that is what I was told.

Anyway, for the final choice of films we were given either Blade II or 30 Days of Night. I’ve always wanted to see 30 Days of Night and so it was back to the Graveyard for me.

This adaptation of Steve Niles’ graphic novel of the same name takes place in Barrow, Alaska where an extended month-long period of night is about to fall. For those who are night people, this sounds like a pretty cool time, but unfortunately vampires are also night people and they’re about to swoop in on this little sad town and have themselves a good ol’ time all month long with the bitin’ and the chompin’ and the drinking of the blood.

The town sheriff is played by Josh Hartnett, who based on his obvious youth must’ve graduated from the same police academy that Ben Affleck’s sheriff character from Phantoms attended. I’m not saying that there aren’t really young sheriffs out there in real life, but it’s hard for me to buy dudes in their 20s walking around these small towns acting like grizzled seen-it-all types. But I’m gonna give Hartnett a little bit of slack because maybe the pickings were slim as far qualified police officers who wanted to move up to the northernmost city of the United States. Nobody wanted to go up there, they wanted to patrol in the contiguous United States, baby. So maybe the best they could do was hire some kid fresh out of the academy who was willing to move out to the goddamn tundra if that’s what it took to move up the ranks.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with Barrow, Alaska, but based on what I saw and read about the place, it’s super cold and barren and there’s not much to do there as far as having fun. It’s also a dry town, where you’re only allowed to drink at a bar — which is bullshit for a solo drinker like me who prefers to stay home when it comes to getting fucked up. I mean, I’m not gonna get drunk alone in a bar and have the paranoia set in every time I have to stumble my way to the commode to take a fuckin’ piss while some assholes in a booth chuckle at my drunk ass, fuck that shit. It’s better to get drunk while home alone, that way no one laughs at me if I fall and crack my head on the nightstand and bleed out like William Holden. I deserve a little dignity.

So yeah, vampires. They’re led by Danny Huston and I’m guessing this film takes place in the Blade universe because they all look like nouveau riche Eurotrash who came out of some ultra elite VIP only nightclub at 2 in the morning and are looking for a place to eat — which in the case of this film is the town of Barrow, Alaska. They swoop in and start with the feeding and it’s very impressive and scary as fuck. There’s a great sequence where they’re attacking everybody in town and it employs overhead tracking shots of the carnage that look like they could’ve been done with drones but I’m not too sure about that, but whatever the case the filmmakers really give us an unforgettable mini-apocalypse to “enjoy”.

It’s a very well made film with style to spare; once night falls, the film takes on a nearly monochromatic look as nearly everything is dominated by the black of the night or the blueish white of the snow, punctuated by crimson red blood or yellow-orange flames. It brought to mind the 1954 film Track of the Cat, starring Robert Mitchum, another snowbound film with a similar visual color scheme.

Early on, I was sure I was watching a slept-on masterpiece. “Why don’t more people talk about this movie?” I thought to myself. The chilly setting, the shocking sudden moments of gore, and an overwhelming bleak sense of doom reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing — had that film been randomly hacked down by about forty-five minutes. And there’s the rub; the more 30 Days of Night continued, the more disjointed it felt, as if it were missing important scenes — and maybe it was, maybe the studio forced the filmmakers to cut stuff out so they can fit in more showings at the local cineplex. Because what I saw felt like it could’ve used a lot more meat on the bones, particularly the scenes involving the survivors of the initial attack as they wait out the rest of the month in an attic. I never got to know the supporting characters well enough — so as a result, I didn’t really give that much of a shit if anything happened to them.

These vampires speak another language and I thought it was interesting that the film didn’t have subtitles, or at least that’s what I thought until a random subtitle popped up here and there. It happened twice in the film and I even remember the lines: “The heads must be separated from the bodies” and “We cannot give them reason to suspect”.

I thought that was a strange choice by the filmmakers and it didn’t feel right to me, so the following day, I streamed the film from Starz On Demand — and it turns out that all the vampire dialogue is subtitled! Oh my God, is it subtitled. These vamps are subtitled up the wazoo, I gotta read subtitles three times a day, I got fucking subtitles coming out of my fucking ears, mang.

Anyway, the film started out as Great but eventually downgraded to Good Enough. I don’t know why the digital print at the Frida held out on us with those subtitles, but I wonder how many first timers in the audience were as confused as I was, and like me, how many of them would’ve had a higher opinion of the movie had the subtitles actually shown up for work that night.

Everybody gathered at the Main Lodge to watch the final film of the marathon: the 1982 Steven Spielberg production of Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper.

That’s right, motherfucker — directed by Tobe Hooper. The Frida volunteer who introduced the film made sure to let his movie douche flag fly by loudly stating that it was directed by Steven Spielberg and I held back on grabbing this motherfucker and showing him the life of the mind because I must remain pure. But I don’t get these people who seem to get giddy when spouting off their garbage that somehow Tobe Hooper was sitting in a corner on the set tripping out on mushrooms and playing Atari the whole time while Spielberg really directed the entire thing.

I harbor no delusions of Poltergeist being purely a Tobe Hooper film, but I feel it was indeed a collaboration between him and Spielberg, with Spielberg having the final creative say. The final product looks, sounds, and feels every bit as much a Tobe Hooper joint as it does a Spielberg flick. Maybe Hooper didn’t deal with the actors as much and maybe he wasn’t involved in the post-production process after turning in his cut of the film, but there’s still enough here visually for me to point out similar types of shot compositions and lighting set-ups and camera movements in his other films — not to mention a kind of coked-up hysteria that occasionally rears its long-haired sweaty-toothed head in all of his films. That in particular is a Tobe Hooper specialty.

So give the man his due.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you have seen this one or know about — and if you haven’t seen it but have seen the remake, I’m not gonna judge you but I’m going to politely yet firmly suggest that you remedy that shit most ricky-tick or I’m gonna have to show you the life of the mind.

As I mentioned earlier, the film Insidious is mostly running plays from Poltergeist’s playbook. Both are about suburban families dealing with spooky stuff happening in their nice house, and eventually both families have to deal with the spooky stuff snatching one of their kids. In the case of Insidious, it’s the kid’s consciousness that is taken, and in the case of Poltergeist, the supernatural forces literally take the child — body and soul — to the other side. And in both movies, the parents employ the help of paranormal investigators who try their best before finally bringing in the big guns: an older woman with an extraordinary ability to make contact with the otherworldly.

Insidious does a pretty good job at remaking Poltergeist — even better than the actual remake, I’ve heard — but there’s no beating the original, and it still holds up as a top notch haunted rollercoaster of a cinematic experience. You want quiet, you got quiet. You want loud, you get loud. You want a family that you actually like and care for, but most important of all, believe as real human beings? Poltergeist 1982, baby.

Part of why I buy these people as a real family is because there’s enough here — the way the house looks, the way they’re dressed, even the kind of cereal they eat — to remind me of my childhood in the 1980s. I don’t remember my parents ever smoking a joint in their bedroom like Coach and JoBeth Williams do here, but otherwise, this all feels familiar. Anyway, it’s one of the movies that brings up the most nostalgia in me.

Something that I’m not nostalgic for is anyone who thinks they can come to my house and eat whatever they want; I’m referring to that one scene where visiting paranormal investigator Marty looks at himself in the mirror and…well, you know (or don’t know, which is why I don’t want to spoil it). When talking about Poltergeist, people often bring up that scene as one that genuinely disturbed them, but I was more bothered by what preceded it; so Marty and his partner are staying over at the Freeling family house to record evidence of paranormal activity, and late at night Marty decides to raid the fridge for a snack. He takes out a leftover chicken drumstick, and that I can understand.

But then he pulls out a big raw steak from the fridge, and I’m like Wait a Minute, and then he puts a pan on the stove, and now I’m like WAIT A GODDAMN MINUTE.

The fucking balls on this guy!

Steak is, has been, and always will be expensive. It’s one thing to jack some cheaper stuff from someone else’s fridge, but a goddamn steak?! I didn’t see him ask for permission, or maybe that part was in Tobe Hooper’s original cut of the movie, I don’t know. Then he places that steak on the kitchen counter with nothing underneath it — no cutting board, plate, foil, paper towel, Fangoria magazine — just plop that raw bloody steak anywhere, chief. And don’t beat yourself up about not washing your hands at all during this.

He never gets around to cooking that steak. I bet you he didn’t even bother to put it back in the fridge either. Next time, bring a Hot Pocket, you inconsiderate fuck.

It was a little before 9 in the morning when the marathon ended. After the final film, the campers all gave a big round of applause to the volunteers and the projectionist, and then we all got up on stage together to pose for a picture.

Following the picture, we all stepped out into the lobby where we were greeted by the sounds of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and treated to one more cupcake for the road. We were also given a Camp Frida badge/lanyard, featuring the late Counselor Aly’s picture; the badge also served as a voucher good for one free drink at the Frida, but I figure I’m just gonna hold onto it because I’m sentimental like that.

I then went down the block to Eat Chow for my post-marathon breakfast; I had the “A.M. Burger” that consisted of two eggs, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, hollandaise sauce, applewood smoked bacon, chipotle aioli, tomato, and avocado, served between two brioche buns. I recommend that you get one and I highly recommend that you ask for extra napkins.

 

The disappointed optimist

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, Paulie, podcast, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 5, 2018 by efcontentment

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I have friends and coworkers who will bring up a movie and then tell me what Rotten Tomatoes has given it, as if I care. I’m far too nice to tell them that I don’t give two shakes of a lamb’s tail what Rotten Tomatoes has to say about a movie I want to watch. I have no use for that stupid critical barometer because I want to know as little as possible about a movie — aside from what I already know that got me interested in the first place.

Also, I really don’t care what other people think about a new movie that I want to see. At most, I’ll search out a couple reviews from critics I respect, but it’ll be after I see the movie. So I don’t waste my time with Rotten Tomatoes. Get out of my face with that garbage.

So I was on the Rotten Tomatoes website one day when I noticed a feature there called Five Favorite Films where whoever was promoting a movie on the site would give his or her list of, yup, you guessed it, their five favorite films. They had Amy Adams there promoting a film, and of the very few people in Hollywood that I can stand, number one with a polite bullet on that short list is the lovely and talented actress known here as The Adorable Amy Adams. Regular readers of the blog have known about my admiration of Ms. Adams for years, and new listeners of this podcast have known about it as of about five seconds ago.

As for her five favorite films, The Adorable Amy Adams gave the following: Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Vertigo, The Shawshank Redemption, and the 1998 family film Paulie directed by John Roberts. 

In the interview, Adams admitted that Paulie stood out like a sore thumb on that list but she wanted to be honest and include a film that she’s watched many times. She also brought up Paulie in another more recent interview on Leonard Maltin’s podcast “Maltin on Movies”; in that interview, both Maltin and his co-host Jessie Maltin gave Ms. Adams plenty of praise for her performances in her new films Arrival and Nocturnal Animals and they were sure Oscar was going to finally — finally! — give her her long overdue gold, Best Actress-style. Which of course, did not happen because Emma Stone won that year for La La Land.

But I don’t blame Emma Stone; she did a great job and I guess all pale redheads look the same to the racist Oscars. No, I blame the Academy for instead giving Our Amy’s nomination slot to the much-ignored Meryl Streep, finally giving that criminally underrated starlet some much-needed awards attention for some movie called Florence Foster Jenkins about an old lady who can’t sing and it’s funny funny funny oh ho ho she can’t sing! It’s com-e-dy!

While I had already seen the other films she mentioned on the list, I hadn’t seen Paulie, and so I put it on my watchlist along with the thousand other movies I’m sure I’ll get around to as soon as I win the lottery and then I can just stay home all day & night catching up to these movies and not have to worry about how I’m going to pay my rent.

Oh, it would be beautiful too, I would just sit there and watch movies and eat and watch movies and eat and occasionally use the bathroom and if there’s company coming over, I guess I could take a shower. Then I can become one of those fat hogs who are too big to leave the house, then my body will give and I’ll die and my fat 800-pound corpse will be somebody else’s problem. Ha ha ha, kiss my fat dead ass, you skinny necrophiliacs — and don’t forget, I want to be buried, so good luck recruiting six pallbearers with both the strength and disregard for the concept of hernias.

So I was reminded to watch Paulie when I saw my friend Cathie mention it on her Twitter timeline, and so I tossed away the movie I had intended to watch that night — take a hike, The Rules of the Game — and here we are.

The film begins with Tony Shalhoub as Misha, a Russian immigrant in the United States, beginning his new job as a night janitor at the kind of research laboratory where animals of all species are kept in cages that I’m sure in no way affects their well-being and therefore ensures that any research done to them is 100-percent accurate. I’m just saying, if you want to know what shoving an electric prod up a monkey’s ass will do to the monkey for the purposes of research, maybe you want to get a monkey who’s been living a comfortable life in something remotely resembling the monkey’s natural environment.

Because if you take a monkey that’s been living in a small cage in a strange room and shove an electric prod up its ass, I’m guessing at that point the monkey has already given up on life and is all like “eh, my life has been shit ever since they took me away from my family in the jungle, my confusion and fear of this new place has faded, and now I’m just resigned to this hellish existence of having different shampoos applied to my fur and being injected with various experimental vaccines until I’m embraced by sweet, sweet death and the rest of my eternity is in a black void because animals don’t get to go to Heaven or Hell because apparently only humans have souls. What’s another twelve inches up my ass?”

No monkeys get electric-prodded up the ass in this film, by the way. I’m just saying. And for the record, animals do have souls and they all go to Heaven. All of them. They’re too pure to ever end up in Hell. Fight me on this and I’ll make it so that you find out personally whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell.

Anyway, a couple of nights into the job, Misha is by himself and he’s busy Good Will Hunting the floors when he hears somebody singing from the basement. He goes downstairs to this dark dungeon and finds out that the singing is coming from a conure (or parakeet or parrot, if you want to be that way) who is all by himself in a cage that is chained with a padlock, as if it were resided by some kind of psycho Hannibal Lecter of birds.

Soon he finds out why the caged bird sings — courtesy of the bird himself, whose name is Paulie and he not only sings but he can talk, and I don’t mean the standard bird talk where they’re just mimicking what they hear, this bird is capable of having conversations and can even be a real smartass at times, or maybe that’s just a side effect of having Jay Mohr provide Paulie’s voice.

As Paulie proceeds to tell Misha his story, the film flashes back to when he was born and given to a little girl named Marie, played by Hallie Eisenberg, best known for a series of Pepsi commercials that ran in the late 90s. Everything is great between Marie and Paulie; they enjoy each other’s company and Paulie even helps her with her stutter as they both teach each other words and how to pronounce them.

The film never explains why Paulie has the gift of speech, or if they did, I missed it. He just can. The best I can come up with is that the power of pure unadulterated love can make the miraculous happen. Yeah, sure, whatever. Tell that to Nadia Sandoval. I loved her so much, that if you were to harness the positive energy I gave, you’d be able to power rockets with it — and yet all the e-mails and the letters and the songs in the world couldn’t convince her that I was the one. I even held up a boombox in front of her house like my man John Cusack in Say Anything but then a Chinese dude came out and he told me that not only did she move to Paris five years ago, but she also makes a six-figure salary and is married and has two kids and there’s no way I can compete with that, not unless I get a big raise at El Pollo Loco or Taco Bell or whatever taco truck I’m working at, like, right now.

I told him I couldn’t get a raise and that not only was that statement about me working in a Mexican fast food establishment racist, it was also the truth. Then I asked him if he wanted to go out for coffee and he told me that he was gay but not desperate. Or at least that’s what I think he said, I mean, he had both the Chinese accent and a homosexual lisp, so excuse me for not having the best ear in the world to be able decipher Gaysian.

Speaking of speaking, I told you that Paulie not only talks, but he can carry a tune. He and Marie even share a song together, the Randy Newman classic “Marie”. If you’ve never heard it, it’s a beautifully depressing tune about some neglectful asshole who doesn’t have the balls to express his deepest heartfelt emotions to the woman he loves unless he drinks enough liquid courage to do so.

What this has to do with the love between a girl and her bird, I don’t know. I never saw Paulie sip on bird-booze from a bird-flask nor did he ever ignore her. If anything, he couldn’t let her out of his sight, he loved her so much.

That leaves another disturbing possibility when you consider that the song was taught to Marie by her mother. So maybe the mom’s a drunk, like one of those secret boozer housewives that used to run rampant back in the day, because there was only so much one can do to keep from going mad staying home all day because they hadn’t yet invented the Internet or youth soccer organizations. There’s only so many dishes you can wash, and there’s only so many loads of laundry to launder, and there’s only so many pot roasts to make. Soon you’re gonna want more than just your common everyday Benzos to help you deal, you’re gonna want to wash those down with some white wine. And then some more white wine.

Eventually nothing matters in your numbed state anymore except for your little girl Marie. But even then, you know she’s not gonna stay little forever. Marie will eventually grow up. And then what? I’ll tell you then what — you keep drinking and you keep pilling, because the more you do, the easier it’ll be to push the thought of the inevitable to a far off foggy place in the back of your mind.

Or maybe they just sing the song because the girl’s name is Marie.

We soon find out that mom, Marie, and even Paulie have totally legitimate reasons to hit the bottle; one day, the father comes home and that’s when we find out that we have a goddamn Great Santini on our hands with this military motherfucker. Marie goes up to him and this piece of shit actually tells her to shake hands with him first, then eventually they’ll work up to kisses later. That left me immediately asking two questions: What the fuck? and Why the fuck?

Dad apparently was gone for a long time, because upon his return he’s upset that Marie still stutters. He can’t handle that, and after Mom puts Marie to bed, she then has to go downstairs and catch an ear-beating from him about Marie’s uncured speech impediment, as if that was an issue he set his wife to fix while he was out killing commies for his country. Poor Marie might have a stutter, but she’s not deaf, she has to hear all of this and the poor girl can only escape by dressing Paulie up as her fairy godmother and hoping he/she will grant her the ability to speak without stuttering, and it breaks my heart, man.

I don’t care how many yellow or brown throats you slit in the name of Freedom, don’t be like that with your daughter. Don’t be a distant fuck. All right, look, ladies & gentlemen, if you’re gonna have kids, please don’t. But if you still are, at least be good to those little fucks once they’re born. When I see shit like this in movies and especially in real life, it makes me thank God/Allah/Yahweh/Xenu/whoever-the-fuck for blessing me with the parents I ended up being life-saddled with.

I still remember this one time, way back in the day that I stopped at a friend’s house and I listened to the way his mom was saying some fucked-up passive aggressive shit to him about what a fuckin’ loser he was in her eyes. No wonder he had an underage drinking problem and seemed increasingly depressed with each passing day. I swear I wanted to run home to mommy and daddy and give them a big hug and apologize for whatever fuckin’ bullshit I might’ve bitched about that morning. I can’t handle seeing that shit, especially if its happening to the little girl from the Pepsi commercials. The fuck did she do? She never bothered me, she’s not her brother Jesse.

By the way, this movie was made in 1998 but I bet you if this were made today, you’d have “patriots” losing their shit about how this military dad was represented. God forbid if this dude wasn’t portrayed as a beautiful saint with red, white, and blue wings and an erect penis in the shape of the Holy Cross. I can see those diddle-faced twats on “Fox and Friends” bitching the live long day about how terrible it is that liberal Hollywood is making Our Boys looks like assholes.

Oh my god! Can you believe this? They’re disrespecting our troops in this talking parrot movie! Of course what else would you expect from Hollyweird!
 — wait, what? — another school shooting? Yeah, whatever, anyway, for our last story of the day, America haters are now saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas! Can you believe that? We’ve made three God’s Not Dead movies and they still don’t get it! 

Anyway, this piece of work father buys a cat and is somehow surprised that Paulie and the cat mix about as well as oil and water, and he has the gall and the balls to be upset by that. Next thing you know, Lieutenant Fuckface over here puts Paulie in a cage and takes him away to God-knows-where despite Marie’s crying and pleading for Paulie to come back to her.

What follows is a kind of bird version of Au Hasard Balthazar, in that we follow Paulie as he goes from owner to owner across the country — that is, if Balthazar the donkey talked and actually participated in the lives of his owners instead of being an overall passive lunk who observed things and let things happen to him.

Nah, Paulie doesn’t go out like that, he takes action — he talks, he sings, he kinda dances, and the only time people get the better of him is when he’s overpowered or as in one unsettling scene, he gets his wings clipped while he’s screaming in pain and I’m like “this is for kids?!”

Yes, it is for kids — there’s an unnecessary fart joke that comes out of nowhere to prove that. It feels like something that was added in post-production at the last minute because the studio got all cowardly about sending out a family film that didn’t satisfy every quotient including the scatological dollar.

Among the people he encounters on his travels: Jay Mohr in the flesh as a douchebag, Buddy Hackett as a pawn shop owner, Gena Rowlands as a widow, Cheech Marin as part of the problem in this great country, Jay Mohr again as a douchebag, and Bruce Davison as — holy shit, Bruce Davison? I just talked about you in the last blog entry, the one about Crazy/Beautiful! Welcome back, bro!

So how are you doing, Bruce? You’re playing the head of the research facility where Paulie ends up? That’s cool. Are you as understanding and compassionate as the guy you played in Crazy/Beautiful? No. Ah man, fuck you then. Nah, you’re cool with me Bruce, you were in Willard, bro. Remember that, when you were dealing with all those rats? And then they made a sequel without you and Michael Jackson sang a song about one of the rats? Now here you are dealing with birds, and unfortunately they didn’t get Michael Jackson to sing a song about Paulie. That’s kind of a missed opportunity, don’t you think?

But that’s OK because  — talk to you later, Bruce — that’s OK because they do have Cheech Marin sing “Cancion del Mariachi” from the film Desperado, which I thought was a great choice because it meant the filmmakers didn’t have to rack their brains too long while trying to look for a good Latin song for Cheech and Paulie to perform. That movie was probably playing on television in the background while they were having a script conference — it would’ve been a dead heat between that song and “Babalu” by Desi Arnaz, if it weren’t for that stupid intern accidentally changing the channel before “I Love Lucy” came on.

So let me talk about the Cheech stuff; he plays Ignacio (which they pronounce Anglo-style), the owner/operator of a taco truck that specializes in burritos. He and Paulie meet in East L.A. and become friendly business partners in performing song & dance routines for the patrons. I’m watching this and going, OK, this is cool — Cheech is just a good dude running a business, nothing too unusual or stereotypical about him aside from the fact that he’s played by Cheech. So I’m watching and I’m digging this, and then later it comes out that he’s an illegal alien. Because of course he is.

At one point, somebody tries to fuck him over by falsely reporting to the cops that his business is unsanitary and that he’s serving alcohol to minors — hey, I wonder if he sold any to my friend with the shitty mom? You’d think that should be enough. But no, they had to add the most important detail that he’s here without papers, and have that be the true part of the bogus police report.

Fine. Be that way, movie. At least Ignacio came off as a nice guy. I guess I should be grateful for that.

Speaking of nice immigrants, Misha the janitor is a really nice guy as well. Once he gets over the shock of meeting a talking parrot, he makes for a very patient and understanding person for Paulie to talk with. Everybody in this movie gives really good performances, including the 14 or so birds they used to portray Paulie before they threw them into an incinerator or wherever you put out of work birds. But Tony Shalhoub stands out in particular with his exceptional work here, especially during a monologue he gives Paulie about the regret he has for not talking to a girl from his past with whom he had fallen in love.

I want to give the writer of this film, Laurie Craig, extra points for the connection between Misha’s inability to tell a woman he loved her and Randy Newman’s song “Marie”, which if you remember what I said a few years earlier during this blog entry, is about being unable to tell someone you love them. Except of course, in the Marie song, that problem was solved via the miracle of alcohol, while apparently Misha is the one Russian on planet Earth who doesn’t drink. Let that be a lesson for you sober straight edge motherfuckers.

There are other examples throughout the film of characters who have hesitated in doing something they wanted to do, and how the passage of time ultimately fucked them in the ass for not going through with it:

Misha didn’t speak up to the woman he loved, and so she went on to marry his best friend.

Paulie was afraid to fly, which led to an accident that resulted in his separation from Marie.

Gena Rowlands’ character gave up on her dream of going to the Grand Canyon after the death of her husband, and ended up spending the rest of her golden years going nowhere.

Ignacio never fixed his pesky naturalization issues and is now back in the old country teaching OTMs how to say “Waas Sappening”.

And Marie’s mom hesitated in tying her piece of shit husband to a bed before setting that motherfucker on fire.

I was surprised by how Paulie was able to sneak in such serious internal struggles in a goofy family movie about a talking parrot. Yeah, I know, you’re right — it’s a stretch. Speaking of stretching, you should really limber up before you go fuck yourself.

Amy Adams has said that this movie makes her cry, and my friend Cathie on Twitter warned me that I would get teary-eyed while watching it. While I enjoyed the film and was touched by certain moments, I did all right in the Man Up department and was ready to call out both The Triple A and Cathie because not a single tear was shed — and then the ending happened. Upon watching the final revelation that hammered home the film’s running theme, my balls faded away as I gradually turned into Matthew McConaughey during those couple of scenes in Interstellar when everything was not alright alright alright.

Paulie is a sweet-natured film with the occasional laugh and a couple of tearjerker moments. It is truly a movie that the entire family can enjoy; the kids will like it and the adults won’t feel like hostages while watching it with them. And it’s good enough for grown-up solitary shut-ins like myself. It’s a nice movie. It put a smile on my face. And it makes such precious sense that who I perceive to be The Adorable Amy Adams would call Paulie one of her favorite films.

I’m happy that I finally saw the movie, but if there’s one thing that disappointed me about Paulie is that it failed to wipe away the memory of my old neighbor who had gotten a parrot of his own and took to having it perched on his shoulder. Everyday, I would arrive home after work and run to my door before the newly retired gentleman across the street noticed me. Because if he did, he would call me over for a little chit chat, which would mean I would have to talk to him and try my best to ignore that the man’s shoulder was always caked with bird shit. He had to know what he had going on there, he had just had to! And yet he did nothing about it, which meant that he didn’t care and he was consciously or subconsciously getting off on being nice to me in behavior while being incredibly hostile towards me in appearance.

In conclusion, I’m glad I called the cops on his drug-dealing son. That’s what the little fucker gets for not giving me a discount.