One, definitely. Two, maybe.

Posted in douchebag, ramblings of a loser, Scarface (1983), The Rocketeer, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 19, 2016 by efcontentment

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Vista Theatre in this here blog, probably because I haven’t gone to it nearly enough times. It’s in Los Feliz, technically closer to me than the other cool theaters in Los Angeles, and yet here I am counting on one hand the amount of times I’ve gone there.

But now I can use two hands because I went there back-to-back over the weekend and I think I’ll go over there more now. What happened, dear reader, was that I was scared away by the parking situation; you’re looking for parking on side streets in a residential neighborhood and Parking Enforcement is ever-roving so you can’t even pull some slick shit or you’ll get a piece of paper on your windshield wiper and there you’ll be, approaching your car with dread while a part of you still hopes that what you’ve got there under the wiper is a flyer or menu — anything!

Did I ever tell you one of my greatest accomplishments in fucking up was going to Beverly Hills to throw myself at the mercy of the court over a ticket only to come out and realize my street sign reading comprehension was not strong that day and now I had a parking ticket to contend with? People walking past me had no idea why the chubby Mexican-American was applauding himself in the middle of the sidewalk, but he sure did.

So yes, parking fright. But now I know what to do — show up for the latest showing possible. Which come to think of it makes total fucking sense considering the only time I feel comfortable driving in that city — or any city! or any town! anywhere! — is late at night. Driving in Los Angeles during the day is a genuine waking nightmare for me while driving in L.A. late night style is one of my favorite things to do.

And thanks to these fuckin’ Nerds, I was able to arrive at the Vista around 11pm and find parking and get in line for a 25th Anniversary screening of The Rocketeer, the latest monthly midnight show by Nerds Like Us. Yeah, this is the one about the guy Cliff Secord who finds the jet pack (created by Howard Hughes — and I’m still upset that The Aviator skips over this whole chapter of his life) that enables him to take to the sky without burning his ass, dealing with mobsters and Nazis and a sorta/kinda Errol Flynn. Yup, 2016 is the 25th Anniversary of its release, and it’s also the 25th Anniversary of Me Wondering When Is The Sequel Gonna Come Out.

Yeah, The Rocketeer was my shit then and it’s my shit now but it ain’t no shit movie and if you think that then you, my non-friend are shit. OK, that was too much. I don’t get that upset about someone not sharing my love for a film, I just feel sorry for them. Because while they complain about there not being Rocketeer action, they’re inadvertently forest/tree-ing themselves out of so much more to enjoy.

They’re unable to take in, say, the 1938 Los Angeles settings and enjoy this sorta-idealized universe with the classic cars and where people listened to the radio instead of watching television and you dressed to the nines to take your lady over to the South Seas Club where Jan from The Office sang sadly from out of a giant clam shell and everything was Art Deco as fuck (the Art Deco movie poster for this film is among my favorite things evaaaaarrrr) and it’s a world that one gentleman may kinda secretly want to transport yourself to, were it not for the fact that as an oily Latin he would have to change his name to Eric Franklin Carson and try to Anglo that shit up and hope they give a shit about the suspiciously brown-skinned gentleman so long as he can keep playing that bass while giving us that swing! Wait! Where was I? Oh yes, these poor unfortunates who cannot enjoy The Rocketeer for what it is, and instead only concentrate on what it isn’t.

What it is is a throwback to serials of the 1930s and 40s without ever having to duplicate them — in other words, this isn’t some Grindhouse type deal (not that there’s anything wrong with that), this is more of a Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars game being played here, where the filmmakers were clearly inspired by entertainment from the good ol’ days, took that retro sensibility and made something modern out of it — albeit a modern film that takes place in the past. Huh? Wha? I don’t…OK.

I’m trying to be the one posting about The Rocketeer that doesn’t use the term “gee-whiz” and would you look at that? I failed. But I’ll throw in this instead and pretend the previous sentence doesn’t exist: Sincerity. Fuckin’ film is sincere as fuck. No snark and only small traces of irony in this smooth rolled cigarette of a film,  you can take a puff and not worry about any of those additives and instead enjoy the pure richness of the smoke.

I was originally going to use a marijuana simile up there but I want to keep in spirit of the time period, and back then there were many more who believed the cheeba would turn you into a piano-playing werewolf or at the very least, made you associate with Negroes. Speaking of which, I hate when this happens but I do sometimes wonder about Secord and his hot girlfriend Jenny Blake and Peevy his mechanic/best bud and his buddies at the awesome Bulldog Cafe (it’s awesome!) and I wonder how many of them were not fans of my Black brothers and sisters. I mean, I don’t think there’s a single African-American in this film, or I wasn’t looking hard enough.

Remember, this was back when America was great and you didn’t need the Internet to hide behind, you were allowed to be open about hating on anything non-White or Christian or whatever with your fellow Joes, Jims, Janes, and Jennys (oh no, not you too, Jenny!) Whoever runs the Bulldog Cafe at least seems to be OK enough with mi gente because that place proudly proclaims tamales as one of its specialties (and besides, someone has to wash the dishes, am I right?) but I won’t eat Tamale One in that motherfucker unless my colored friend over here can join in.

So I’m cool with this sequel I’ve heard talked about, where the new Rocketeer would be a Black woman. It would at the very least, piss off all the assholes out there — but I like to imagine that my fellow Rocketeer fans carry ourselves a far more civilized about that kind of thing, rather than your average foam-mouthed rabid Ghostbusters fanatic who just couldn’t stand vaginas rubbing against the crotches of those jumpsuits.

The special effects are not embarrassingly dated, more like impressively dated; the flying effects are nice and I’m particularly a fan of some of the model work here, like everything involving that Nazi zeppelin — no, not for what it stands for, I’m just saying watching it blimp around over the L.A. skyline still looks impressive, and watching that Nazi aircraft go up in flames is pretty awesome too. Speaking of flaming Nazi blimps, I’m still trying to figure that one shot where Cliff and Jenny are standing on top of it and in the background the blimp is beginning to explode section by section, causing the giant walls of flame to get closer and closer to our hero and heroine; it doesn’t look like two different shots blended together, it looks like they set up those blasts for real and even if they told me that those charges were only set up so far, I’d still be nervous about standing anywhere in the vicinity.

(Of course, the greatest special effect in the film is Jennifer Connelly as Jenny Blake, who has one of my favorite filmic introductions ever with that wolf-whistle-worthy shot of a stocking being pulled up one of her lovely gams before finally ending on a close-up of her face. And I can wolf-whistle here because this is 1938, back when women knew their place and weren’t all about wanting to be treated equal — HA! Equal? As in the same as Men! HA HA! The kitchen is *that* way, honey!)

Before the screening they had a costume contest; the winners were a couple dressed like Cliff and Jenny, and a dude dressed like Dick Tracy — and that’s a double feature for your ass right there! I sat a few seats down from a lady who had a Rocketeer helmet and she was cool with me taking a photo of her, as were Cliff and Jenny.

They either showed us a DCP or Blu-ray at this screening (I’m betting on the latter), and while I’ve would’ve loved to see a 35mm print of this again, I was just happy to see it on a big screen in a packed house of fellow Rocketeer fans. There was even more cheering and laughter here than when I saw it back in June ’91; I hoped/expected the crowd to cheer when mobster Eddie Valentine says that “I may not make an honest dime…” line and sure enough they did — as did I — and it felt so good. It’s such an awesome moment in a film full of them, this film with such an innocence and hope to it that watching it now in these dark and hopeless times it gave me a little jolt of Hey, Maybe We’ll Be OK and I know that’s bullshit but I love those little moments in life. 

That line, which I won’t totally give out in case you haven’t seen it, is a patriotic line and it’s a fictional character in a movie about flying jet packs and giant Aryan assassins and yet I find more sincerity in it that all all the campaign rallies and speeches from the past year. I wonder how many people cheered so loudly in that theater when he says it for more than one reason; not just because we see a character make a turn not expected, but because it’s said with a kind of unabashed justified pride and it doesn’t come off like FUCK OFF YA’LL THIS IS MURICA but more like, shit, man, we ain’t fuckin’ Nazis, bro — they’re the bad guys! Shit, I don’t even believe in Good Guys or Bad Guys anymore except in movies. It’s all a matter of perspective and what side of the ocean you happen to have been born in, I’m afraid. What’s that line in Zero Effect? “There are no good guys or bad guys. It’s all just a bunch of guys”? I used to think that was a stupid line.

I noticed a small poster at the box office for a midnight screening of the 1983 Scarface and I thought Hmm…and so I went back to the Vista the following night to catch Scarface on the big screen — no, not the original Howard Hawks joint, this is the one with Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee who comes to Miami, U.S.A. and rises up to the top of the cocaine mountain and proceeds to snort All The Cocaine.

This screening was being held by the 35mm Secret Movie Club, and I’m sorry that I just blew the secret but there you go. It’s pretty cool; monthly midnight screenings of a classic film on 35mm. The ticket prices are higher than your average cineplex stub — $20 general, with student discounts and you can also get a discounted price if you use the Venmo site — but that all goes to help cover the cost of renting the print. This screening of Scarface left many an empty seat in comparison to their other screenings (which based on these videos, had far better attendance), so charging extra probably helped make that nut.

So you RSVP the Club via e-mail, and I figured it was similar to a midnight screening of The Room — just so the people behind the screening know how many to expect. But you’re actually put on a list, and since I didn’t put my name on the list but rather the name of the blog, that’s who I had to ask for upon seeing said list. The gentleman in the blue suit outside the theater manning the table and hosting the screening (I’m sure he’s the dude in charge of this) asked for my name and I had to point it out on the paper, this “Exiled from Contentment” bullshit, and he said it was “an intense name”.

When he said that, he was being friendly but I detected maybe a bit of worry in the voice? I wanted to assure him with an energetic upbeat response like: “Oh, it’s not meant to be intense, it’s the name of my blog. I came up with the name and the blog during a down period in my life, and even then, I was kinda poking fun at my situation. But out of context, yeah, I’m sure it does sound intense and yes I’m by myself on a Saturday night and yes I’ve been told I have an angry face which probably adds to it and being alone + angry face + intense e-mail name = Brooding Loner, but I’m actually OK, and I’m more of a solitary guy anyway and I’m happy to be here and I’m sure it’s going to be a good time tonight thanks for having this!”

But what I heard myself saying in response was: “Uh-huh.”

He asked me for my actual name and I gave it to him and he was very nice, as I’m sure you would be when faced with a Brooding Loner because most B.L.s own guns and you know how *those* assholes do. So I found myself overcompensating with smiles and cheer to convince him I wasn’t one of them — was I trying to convince myself DUN DUN DUN

So before the film, the gentleman in the blue suit comes out, welcomes us, tells us about some upcoming films, asks us to vote on which potential films should be the next ones screened, and then he tells us about knowing someone who worked on Scarface as an assistant editor. According to this guy, Brian De Palma shot everything with 5 cameras and ended up exposing over a million feet of film, and this guy knows because he had to sync all 1 million feet of film for the editors. The way this guy told it to him, he still sounded exhausted from the experience.

That’s very interesting to me because in interviews De Palma always seemed like he was big on Hitchcock’s approach to filmmaking, which is to say, have every shot in the film planned out and composed to get a certain effect. And I remember in Julie Salomon’s book “The Devil’s Candy”, it was brought up that because De Palma shot that way, there was very little one could do with that footage other than change the pacing.

My best guess is that De Palma does shoot that way but he also doesn’t find anything wrong with covering his ass, and I’m sure even if he is pretty sure he only wants a scene shot a certain way, who’s to say he doesn’t shoot it in various different paces or tempos — and who’s to say he doesn’t shoot a bunch of takes either?

So the film begins, and I can tell by the soundtrack (and the Focus Features logo) that this is the 2003 re-release version, which is the same movie only the sound has been remixed and some of the sound effects have been replaced or edited differently. Personally, I prefer this mix; I’m usually a purist (see my Facebook complaint about the new sound mix on the Sorcerer Blu-ray) but I always felt the only thing not over-the-top about this over-the-top movie was the sound. I remember watching this for the first time on VHS; we had just purchased a surround sound system and I was getting spoiled on watching movies with thundering bass and crisp dialogue and sounds coming from behind. And here comes Scarface with Giorgio Moroder’s awesome synth music setting me up for something awesome, and it was — until that tension-filled sequence early on in the Sun Ray Motel, as Manny sneaks up to the door with that MAC-10 submachine gun while a few feet away in the bathroom Hector the Chainsaw Wielding Colombian is about to give Tony Montana the Angel Hernandez treatment and I’m on the edge of my seat ready for some fucking retaliatory ownage about to happen.

“AHORA TU!” shouts Hector the Chainsaw-Wielding Colombian.

And then we see the glass-shuttered door to the motel room split in half by Manny’s MAC-10, only, uh, only I’m not hearing any serious rat-a-tat coming from that weapon. I’m hearing something akin to a sheet of paper being torn right beside my ear while someone drop dishes on the floor a few feet away. This is gunfire? I asked myself as this happened — and I would ask myself again anytime someone fired a weapon during this film. OK, sure, I acknowledged. It was always kind of a secret bummer for me, even though I was a fan of the movie. Even my first time watching it on the big screen (December ’02 at the Egyptian Theater with a Steven Bauer Q&A) in a 35mm print featuring an impressive four-track stereo mix, it would bring the enjoyment down a tad when they busted out that sub-1960s sound effect library for the gunshots.

But they fixed it with the new (well new in ’03) mix, so now when Manny gives that door a 9mm knock-knock, it sounds like it should: Fucking Awesome. The first time I heard it, I was like “Wha…?” and I wasn’t sure until a couple seconds later when Manny then ventilates Grace Zabriskie’s Cracked-Out Colombian Cousin aka “Marta” and I was like Hell Yeah That’s What I’m Talking About!

I’ll be honest, they did fix some things I would’ve preferred unfixed — like that weird moment during the final shootout when they cut to a close-up of a long-haired assassin who has just been shot up by Tony and he’s clearly dead as he slides down the barrier, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed and yet he gives out this loud “AUUUUUUGGGHHHH!!!” That’s gone in the new mix, but hey, it’s a fair trade for some awesome gunfire and an opened-up more detailed-sounding music score. That’s the peace I’ve had to make after I tried and failed to make Fetch happen by having Dead Guy Goes AUUUUUUGGGHHHH become the new Han Shot First.

(They also took out the funny “AYYYY!” yelp Tony makes after he’s hit in the shoulder by a bullet during the same shootout, replacing it with a more theatrical “AAAAH-AHHH”)

You want to hear something fucked up? Well, you can’t — because this is a blog with written words, not a podcast with me saying shit. Anyway, I’ve never seen the original 1932 Scarface starring Paul Muni. I will fix that someday. No, really, I will. I have, like, 50 movies on my DVR, 200 DVDs, and 800 DVD-Rs, and dozens of movie files on various flash and hard drives — but I’m sure I’ll get to that movie soon.

But I’ve seen this on VHS twice; the first time in ’95. It was one of the first films I bought on laserdisc and suddenly friends were coming out of the woodwork asking me to dub it on tape for them. I’ve seen it on the big screen about, let’s see — Egyptian, New Beverly, Magic Johnson, Arclight, Brea Plaza, Vista — six times, at least six times if I’m missing any other screenings. It’s good times, dude — an over-the-top glorious three-hour spectacle of foulmouthed excess full of “chicas, champagne, flash”, early 80s pre-Miami Vice style (the role of Miami played by Los Angeles), endlessly quotable dialogue by a recently sober Oliver Stone who still had plenty of residual coked-up vibes to spare, Brian De Palma’s pitch-perfect operatic direction, and lots and lots of beautiful fine white COOOO-FUCKIN-CAINE! and it never got boring for me. I’m beyond/beneath being able to tell you if a movie is good or bad — I can’t tell you if Al Pacino’s performance is genuinely good or not, for example — just that I got entertainment value out of it, and holy shit am I always entertained by this film. The history of my Scarface viewing, by E.F.C., lady and gentleman!

Something that never fails to amuse me is whenever Tony goes to visit his mother. She’s played by Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon and she’s definitely better at the accent than Pacino; everything she says is tinged with Cubano but her words are as clear as Crystal Geyser. On the other side of the accent spectrum, Tony Montana’s all EY FAH KJOO MANG JOO FAHK WEETH MEE JOOR FAHKEENG WEE D BESS and I’m thinking maybe that garblespeak is a result of his mixed-up upbringing with his American dad taking him to Bogart movies? Or maybe it’s because Colon’s character Mama Montana has been alive longer so then she had more time to improve her English over the years? But that’s assuming that when they’re speaking English to each other, De Palma’s not pulling a Red October for the audience so in reality they’re speaking in their native tongues — which would then mean that when she says “Five years. Cinco anos.” she’s really saying “Cinco anos. Five years.” and now I’m even more tired now than when I started this shit.

Mama Montana tells Tony that it’s Cubans like him who make their people look bad, those who work hard and obey the laws and speak English without sounding like half-a-stroke-victim. There’s also another part in the film where a Cuban-American fed angrily tells Tony something like “You make a real Cuban throw up” and I guess stuff like that is the filmmakers trying to cover their asses so people don’t walk away thinking this is a representation of your average Cuban in the United States. But my favorite example of Ass-Covering is the disclaimer that they wait until after nearly all the end credits have rolled up and you know the name of every one of those awesome songs they blasted at the Babylon Club and even then it’s like ten seconds. It’s cool because that means the many ushers around the world came away from that movie knowing #NotAllCubanAmericans when it comes to cocaine and chainsaws.

And that’s because it was Colombians that were rocking the ‘saws.

I have no idea what you mean by “Facebook ramblings”, sir. You are mistaken.

Posted in Captain America: Civil War, Central Intelligence, Free State of Jones, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Independence Day: Resurgence, Jason Bourne, MST3k, MST3k reunion, Rifftrax, Star Trek Beyond, The Legend of Tarzan, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2016 by efcontentment

It’s been a miserable fucking summer during a miserable fucking year if you’re into hope and faith in your fellow human being, but enough of that, no one wants to hear that. Hi lady and gentleman. I hope you are doing well. Here are my ramblings on some of the non-Nice Guys movies I watched this summer. Because I watched The Nice Guys four times this summer, meaning this summer was the summer of The Nice Guys. The Mad Max: Fury Road Holy Shit You Saw It How Many Times?! award goes to…The Nice Guys.

Hey wait a minute! You know what kind of took me by surprise (the way I just took you by surprise by not talking about movies like I just said I would)? The school year beginning earlier than I expected. I mean, I’ve been out of school for the longest and so I wasn’t aware of how much changed between back then and right now. In my day, the school year ended in early June and began again after Labor Day. College was similar, with summer break beginning mid-June and ending mid-September. (By the way, I’m speaking of school in the United States of Soon To Be Great Again Murica, I don’t know nor give a shit how other countries do it because that’s how Murican I is.)

Now kids are going to school in mid-to-late August, which kinda bummed me out until I thought of how these kids don’t even know about how shit used to be, this is normal for them. This is their paradigm. You deal with the bullshit until mid-May, I guess, and then it’s summertime and the livin’s easy until mid-August. It appears Hollywood has made this easier for them by releasing summer movies earlier than ever, because I remember in my day summer movies didn’t come out until Memorial Day at the earliest.

But then you have something like Captain America: Civil War out in early May and here we go. I enjoyed CA:CW (as we in the know call it, I’m sure), and at this point Marvel has their assembly line working tip-top top-of-the-line A-number-one and you get what you want from these films. What really stood out for me was how this movie felt like a big Fuck You to the DC Cinematic Snyderverse — with a middle finger stretched out to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

I’m sure it’s all a coincidence, given how both films came out a few months of each other, but who knows, bros? Who’s to say that Marvel’s spies weren’t scanning script pages of that film during production and they made sure to do the opposite of whatever the fuck DC was doing. (Don’t Do What Donny “DC” Don’t Does.) It’s like they read this script about a superhero who wasn’t sure whether or not he should intervene in big time situations that could benefit from his help, whether or not he should step in and save lives — and they answered back with a movie filled with characters that would give you a look, smack the shit out of you, followed by another look for even entertaining those kinds of thoughts.

Fuckin’ Supes is all mopey on a mountain with Kevin Costner’s ghost crying about “Oh woe is Me with these superpowers”, while Tony Stark and Captain Muthafuckin’ America are way past that shit — they’re like “We have the powers and the tools and we know what we gotta do” — and instead they’re about to throw down with each other about whether the Avengers should be allowed to get involved in Worldly Bad Shit free agent-style or should they have some fuckin’ middlemen giving them the go-ahead. (And they give good arguments for both arguments; ultimately I’m on Captain America’s side but the movie gave me totally understandable reasons as to why Tony Stark would feel the opposite way.)

I’ll be honest, I still am not totally convinced about Cap’s love affair with Bucky the Winter Soldier being so strong that he’s willing to overlook all the previous murders that motherfucker’s committed. I mean, even Winter himself says something to the effect of “Yeah, I know I was being mind-controlled, but I still killed all those people” but hey, that’s me and my belief in paying what you owe and making things square with the house again — in movies, anyway.

It’s good stuff, fun stuff, this Civil War stuff. My only problem is that the first half’s action scenes are shot in that bullshit high shutter stutter style which does not lend itself well to the quicky-quick-quick editing, nor does some of the bullshit “let’s film this awesome shit in close-ups rather than pull back and let us see what’s going on” camerawork. The filmmakers finally snap out of it by the midway point, thankfully before we have the centerpiece rumble between Team Cap and Team Stark. It’s also by that point where it really gets fun, because that’s when they bring back Ant-Man and introduce the latest model of Spider-Man, adding a welcome helping of Funny and Gee Whiz to the going-ons.

I like how some people were giving shit about Marisa Tomei as Aunt May being too hot and too young for the part — in this universe protected by hotness such as Black Widow and Peggy Carter — even though in reality she’s actually closer age-wise to your usual aunt and might even still be on the older spectrum of Parent’s Siblings but that’s OK with me because age ain’t nothing but a number AM I RIGHT, FELLAS? — unless the number is under 18, then you’re dealing with a new number, like Prisoner Number 9428441 or something. Say hi to Woody and Roman for me, cuz.

My current abode had to have its air conditioning fixed in June, and it was still being fixed when I came home one Friday afternoon after work so I left and used the time to go check out whatever was playing at the local cineplex. Whatever turned out to be Central Intelligence, starring walking Alpha Dwayne Johnson and current It Funny Black Guy Kevin Hart.

It started off pretty strong with a flashback to the 90s introducing us to our main characters in high school where Hart was the super-popular jock and Johnson was an overweight nerd and the principal was played by the principal from Election. But what started as promisingly funny/dark in an almost lighter Heathers sort-of-way then downgrades to harmless and forgettable, which kinda stung a bit because this really could’ve been so much more — especially once the premise gets established (Hart is bummed out about being 20 years past the best years of his life, while Johnson is now a badass-yet-still-socially-awkward CIA agent who needs his help). It felt like the kind of movie that probably had a stronger and sharper and darker script when it was greenlit but then got studio’d down many hack rewrites later into a nice easy-to-swallow bland foodstuff for the masses, like Soylent Green except instead of people this shit was made out of dead high concepts.

It has its moments, though; Johnson’s character has a thing for the film Sixteen Candles, and there are occasional references to it that gave me some chuckles. There are also a couple of uncredited cameos I wasn’t expecting, and those appearances were among the few and far between moments when the movie felt like it was amping up to get better. In retrospect, I’m getting kinda pissed off because Hart and Johnson were so obviously up to the fuckin’ task but the movie let them down — fuck it, it let ME down. I told a friend around the time that I saw this that I thought it was entertaining in an “I need to kill two hours in an air-conditioned theater” sort-of-way, but now I’m thinking fuck this movie.

I also watched Matthew McConaissance in Free State of Jones, which was a lot bleaker and non-summer-ish than I expected — I guess this was that “counter-programming” I hear so much about in the movie biz lexicon. The movie takes place during the Civil War, but we ain’t talking some Iron Man and Captain America bullshit, this is the real one, the one that I was taught about in school and was told ended with the Union winning over the Confederacy. And it was back then, in my young book-learnin’ years that I had this strong, so very strong belief that because it was so long ago, clearly everyone moved on for the greater good. We moved forward. We became better people. Smarter people. More compassionate. Willing to learn from our mistakes. We improved. We grew stronger. We became united. We evolved.

My man McC plays a dude named Newton who was a medic for Johnny Reb, but after losing a brother or cousin or whoever that guy was, and seeing how the Confederacy is fucking over his fellow peeps with taxes and what not, he lickety splits and eventually finds himself hiding out in the swamps with some runaway slaves. The main slave is this dude with a fuckin’ Goodbye Uncle Tom-style cage on his head, that’s how I know he must be the main slave. I could only imagine how much more horrifying it could be for that guy if someone decided to put a covering over that cage and then dump some bees inside that thing to turn this poor brotha from Luke Cage to Nic Cage.

Newton and his new slave friends hook up with other Rebs who don’t want to fight anymore and end up going Wolverines! on any Confederate troops who try to break up their little slice of Freedomtown they call Jones County. Every once in a while, the movie flashes forward to the 1950s where some White dude is on trial for wanting to marry his White girlfriend, because it turns out he might actually have enough African-American blood in his ancestry to qualify him as Black enough for prison, because once upon a time we were assholes like that about race and it’s a good thing we don’t have any of that racist residue left on our souls.

It’s a good film, but like I said it’s as bleak and ugly as life itself — which makes sense considering this is some real life shit we’re watching here. It’s the kind of movie where nice Black people get hung from trees and the next morning Matthew McConaughey finds the body and weeps below the dangling legs and the White people responsible probably grow old and die loved by many and I’m filled with rage and sadness walking out of the theater at all the injustice while the people most in need of seeing a movie like this won’t ever bother.

Matty M is great in the film, as is everyone else, but this deliberately paced drama with the occasional moment of gunfire probably had a better shot coming out around Oscar season, rather in the summer where it would probably bewilder audiences who were expecting something more like The Patriot (the Roland Emmerich one, not that Seagal bullshit) because honestly, that’s what the trailer makes it look like. This movie isn’t even loud, it’s so quiet you can hunt rabbit while watching it and not fuck up your game. So guess who felt like quite the douchebagga in the audience with his popcorn and nachos? What can I say? Tasty snacks help the racism go down easier.

Speaking of war and racial strife, I also caught the Rifftrax/MST3K reunion that was being broadcast live in theaters. The Rifftrax trio of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett were joined by their former MST homies Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Mary Jo Pehl, and Bridget Jones-Nelson. They also brought in the host of the new incarnation of MST3K, Jonah Ray.

They riffed various shorts in pairings; Hodgson & Ray, Beaulieu & Conniff, Pehl & Jones-Nelson, and the Rifftrax trio. Their riff quality ranged from Cute to Very Funny, with Beaulieu/Conniff being my faves. Then at the end, they all joined together to riff two more shorts: an old Superman one starring that one guy who shot himself, and one about the many uses of grass (the kind from your lawn, not the kind that makes you forget you’re living in a real life cartoon populated by one-dimensional characters).

Now I’m a fan of Rifftrax but I do admit it’s not as funny as MST3K and this reunion was an unintentional example with contrasts and comparison to help you make this conclusion. From what I understand, Rifftrax’s riff tracks are written by Nelson, Corbett, and Murphy and a few more writers who are new blood/younger generation types that weren’t involved with MST3K. Which is all fine and dandy but you can tell it’s not quite the same. There is this mistaken belief that because Mike Nelson was the credited head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that meant that he wrote the bulk of the jokes and that is as wrong as the thoughts that go through my head when I look at my female boss because I’m telling you, I’m getting vibes from her, I think she fuckin’ wants it, bro, I knew she wanted this dick the second she caught a whiff of my AXE Body Spray. Oh, so yeah, Mike Nelson as head writer would compile the best riffs for the movie, that is my understanding.

I don’t know who does the head writing for Rifftrax now, but the fact that so many of the MST writers are no longer involved, you don’t get the same kinds of jokes being thrown a movies way. I also notice that your average Rifftrax riff can get a little long-winded. But it’s still good, I’m just saying, you know, it’s a solid B compared to the A game MST3K was usually pulling off. This reunion was some A game stuff, though, and it was clearly because you had the old gang adding in their style of riffs to the movie-mocking bouillabaisse. Rifftrax needs Beaulieu and Conniff to join in, at least as writers if not fellow riffers. They already have Pehl and Jones-Nelson riffing shorts for Rifftrax, but they do it on their own, not with the trio; I’m assuming this is a scheduling thing, otherwise I think having Pehl & Jones-Nelson join the guys would make it even better AND let’s get Beaulieu & Conniff while we’re at it! OK, that’s it, I either made sense or I didn’t, I’m moving on.

The Biggest Disappointment of the Summer award (aka The Spawn) definitely goes to fuckin’ Independence Day: Resurgence, which rarely felt as fun and goofy as the O.G. ID4. Really, the only time I got that old lame magic back was when Judd Hirsch’s character showed up and even then, the Komedy didn’t go Full Borscht Belt until Hirsch and Goldblum’s characters were reunited. By then it was too little too late as I had to deal with a far more glum and listless film (yet barely clocking at two hours!) focusing mostly on a bunch of young generic good-looking twenty-somethings and all I could think about was the litany of Young Adult Dystopia Movies they probably worked on and would go back to after this movie, and how I wouldn’t recognize any of them if I even bothered watching any of those fucking movies.

And yeah yeah, I know what you’re gonna say: “This was intended to be the second film in a planned trilogy and what’s wrong with the second film in a trilogy being the darker one, I mean, fuckin’ Empire Strikes Back, motherfucker?!” Well, first off, have you seen the box office tally for this? I wouldn’t hold my breath for Independence Day: Re-Resurgence anytime fuckin’ soon. (But then again, they made a sequel to the remake of The Mechanic, so who knows?) And second, The Empire Strikes Back was dark in a good way, the way a good movie can be dark. This was dark in the way that a really shitty Syfy movie with no sense of humor tries to be dark.

I really wanted to have a good time with this flick. I went all out on snacks. I was gonna get all sugar’d up, all carb’d up. OK fine, what else is new? Only this time I was doing more of that shit.

You know what? I’m gonna give this movie a break. I’m thinking about it, and I still don’t like it, but it’s probably not that dark or terrible. I think it was seeing Robert Loggia’s weird silent barely standing-up cameo in the film that fucked up my mood, because I knew that in order to pull that off meant they either CGI’d Robert Loggia into the film or they got the real Robert Loggia who was at death’s door rockin’ full-on Alzheimer’s and probably thought the cameras were giant cannons and he was surrounded by the Japanese demanding he surrender to Tojo or something. Either choice equals A Case of the Sads for me.

The screenplay is credited to five writers which I feel is three writers too many because when it comes to Independence Day, the only names that fucking matter to me are Roland Emmerich and most important of all, my man, muthafuckin’ Master of the Dad Joke Mr. Dean Devlin. And maybe that’s what happened, that with the three other writers this movie wasn’t getting full-on Devlin’d. Whatever. In conclusion, I sincerely no-bullshit believe that their version of Godzilla was a better sequel to Independence Day than this sequel to Independence Day.

So then came July, and I got to celebrate my birthday by catching a midnight showing of Inglorious Basterds at the New Beverly Cinema. The last time I got to see a midnight show on my birthday was in 2011 with a screening of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Good times then, good times now. Basterds holds up, man, it’s really really good; I actually came out of it thinking I cut Tarantino too much slack on The Hateful Eight as a result.

Christoph Waltz was such a terrific villain in Basterds, and he’s no baddie slouch in The Legend of Tarzan either. His character looks like he might be one of those weak types who needs bigger stronger men to do his fighting for him, but looks are deceiving because he handles himself pretty well. Watching him in any movie is good times, and this movie? The Tarzan movie? It’s good times too, man, a good old fashioned example of summer movie entertainment. Fun, respectful of its audience, well-made with cinematography that let you take in the sights and editing that let you register the sights you just took. I felt like I was watching a good summer movie from the mid-90s or something. It would make a good double bill with The Phantom, and if you didn’t like that movie then you better duck before I slam the evil out of your ass.

Wow, that was quite the Tobias Funke sentence I wrote up there, wasn’t it?

I don’t know who this Skarsgard is, all I know is that my coworker has the hots for him which is why she saw the movie, and that he was good in this movie as Tarzan. He didn’t annoy me by being douchey, and neither did the film, for that matter. This movie wasn’t some overly long two-and-half-hour commercial that openly hated its audience and shat out pure contempt and smugness with a look that said “See you in two years when we throw more of this slop at you!” It was no Transformers, this flick. But this movie? The Tarzan movie? I would totally line up to see if they made another one.

You know who else I liked in the film, aside from everyone else? Margot Robbie. Like Skarsgard, I wasn’t left thinking “I’m supposed to like this jerk?”, no way Jose, I was totally with her and not only that, her Jane can handle her own — for the most part, because this is still a Tarzan movie. I mean, yeah, she gets jacked by that bad Christoph Waltz, but she certainly doesn’t make it easy on him. No, she doesn’t do that struggling “let me go, you creep” thing, she’s looking at every angle, exercising every option on either Getting The Fuck Outta Here or Fucking This Dude Up. She’s not so much scared by the situation — she’s biding her time. Also, she’s very pretty. Please don’t hashtag me out of existence for that, people. I’m merely a man with needs and wants and the ability to have physiological reactions to elements that please me.

I didn’t know Samuel L. Jackson was in this, which is a foolish thing to say because he’s in every movie, right? He also does those credit card commercials. I can’t help but think of an interview he did where he said something like how he was paid a big salary for the Shaft remake, which meant that his wife started spending more money. The problem, he said, was that because he likes to work he would also do lower budgeted non-studio-backed films that interested him but paid less, and yet his wife kept spending like he was still making Shaft money on every one of those films.

I dug that they didn’t go full origin story with this Tarzan, the filmmakers assume you know his deal, and even if you don’t, they do cool flashbacks that don’t take away from the story or the pacing. They pick the right moments to take a break and give you piece by piece on how the legend began. But if that’s still not enough for you, I don’t know, go watch Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and just change the ending in your mind and treat it like a prequel. That might work well enough, and besides, we all need some more Christophe(r) Lambert in our lives. Isn’t that right, Chris?

Near the end of the month, I had myself a double feature — that’s two movies for the price of two! — beginning with Star Trek Beyond, which I hoped wasn’t going to be too confusing for me, on account of my not really having seen the previous Trek, Into Darkness, where I instead had it on in the background while I was cleaning my place. But this new one holds up on its own without any knowledge aside from what was gathered from the ’09 film. You have your main crew and they’re pretty much the same as the Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov we’ve known from the old television and film series with only minor variations and then you have Sulu who doesn’t come off very much like the Hikaru we’ve seen back in the day — and that’s because you can’t duplicate The Takei, nor should you ever try.

Speaking of trying, I guess the filmmakers tried to make the Trek universe more openly diverse by giving Sulu a husband or boyfriend or baby papa, because that’s what they did. You see Sulu happily greet his man but I don’t recall seeing them smooch or anything like that, I think one put his arm around the other, which is kinda playing it safe, isn’t it? That way your more conservative haters can interpret as the two men just being really good bros or something. Anyway, I guess George Takei was disappointed by it because he preferred to see a new gay character be introduced into the series. I get where he’s coming from but at least they didn’t queen Sulu up all of a sudden and now he’s mincing about like he’s onboard the U.S.S. Birdcage or something.

I’ll tell you what, if I were a nameless small fry crew member, I would be praying to every God — human or alien — that I end up on the U.S.S. Birdcage instead of the Enterprise, because based on the last couple films, that ship must have the highest mortality rate in all of Starfleet. The last couple Treks, man, you have lots of red shirts being blown up, shot up, sucked out into the merciless void of space, etc. In Beyond, they also get their life forces sucked out or disintegrated by some kind of fuckin’ nano-bees, because that’s how the Big Bad in this movie gets down.

Anyway, it was good, man. If you liked the ’09 Trek, you’ll probably like this one. If the last one was Wrath of Khan All Over Again, then I guess this one is Search for Spock Except Spock Is Already With Us So Let’s Get The Fuck Outta Here. Two things bummed me out, though:

1) seeing the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov


2) watching this alternate future world populated with human beings who have moved past The Bullshit long long ago and instead are out on spaceships and doing far off galaxy exploring and what not — something that I used to believe as a kid would happen sometime during the existence of our species but now I’m slowly feeling that we never will, and we sure as shit won’t live to see a hint of that possibility so if you ever want to see what wonders our species is capable of accomplishing, then you can go see that shit in a movie, along with the rest of the fake ass fairy tales. But hey, I guess Hooray for Movies, right?

Because, really, what’s the point of evolving when we have bigger fish to fry — like these fucking bitches thinking they can rape my childhood by taking my Ghostbusters away. Don’t these slits understand that Rape is a man’s sport?

Seriously though, the idea of a Ghostbusters reboot not only didn’t bother me, I thought it was the right move. Harold Ramis is gone. Bill Murray wasn’t interested in doing another one, he didn’t even really want to do part II. Sure, Dan Aykroyd was excited about making a part three but why wouldn’t he be excited with some more of that shining spotlight plus millions of dollars more in the bank to share space with those House of Blues and Crystal Skull Vodka ducats? Then you have my man Ernie Hudson who likes to work, so why not? And Sigourney Weaver’s like Whatever, I’m probably gonna be in the next Alien film and they’ll probably Obi-Wan Kenobi me into the Avatar sequels, so I’m good either way.

Meanwhile, Rick Moranis is too busy living life and not giving a single solitary fuck about some fuckin’ movie.

But here we have Paul Feig and company busting out with Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, trying something new with it and holy shit here come the haters. I’ve never seen any of Feig’s films because Melissa McCarthy was in them, but I understand they’re all very funny, so I figured this joint was in good hands. But my hatred for dickheads getting pissy over some bullshit is stronger than my dislike of McCarthy, so I went to go see it.

All this bitching and moaning and no one ever brought up the real crime committed by this film: associating with Papa John’s Pizza. Yup, our ladies are munching on that bullshit pizza in the movie and I even caught an advertisement on television featuring the company’s founder/spokesman, John Schnatter playing a Ghostbuster, and no one batted a goddamn eyelash. This is the dude who shows up in all the commercials for that joint, and back when Obamacare was going into full effect, he made some comment about how in order to cover his employees health care he was going to have to raise the cost of pizza something like 15 cents. Paying an extra 15 cents so someone making minimum wage can go to the fuckin’ doctor doesn’t bother me a bit, what bothers me is Shithead McCuntface saying that shit like it was a negative, like he thought customers would get pissed about it and stand behind him, when in reality you can tell it was just him being annoyed that he had to pay for someone else’s health insurance. Why, that money should be going to buying me a bigger boat! he probably thought, this walking shit stain. Because Left or Right, it doesn’t matter — it’s your money, it’s your business, do whatever the fuck you want — but if you own a popular chain of eateries and you’re the public face of the chain whether we like it or not, have the decency to be a private cunt, don’t be open and proud about your cunt-ery.

Look, for all I know, the late Wendy’s founder/spokesman Dave Thomas hated the concept of a living wage and he probably dreamed nightly of building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. made out of petrified burger patties bonded together with gallons of leftover Frosty to keep the mojados out but you’d never know because he never talked about that shit in public.  Sony and Feig, you fucked up — you can cast any lady you want to bust ghosts in your movie, but when you pick a business headed by some attention-seeking anal wart of a man as a sponsor, you’re crossing a fucking line that you cannot come back from nor erase. That and there’s like one too many fart jokes in your movie.

But aside from that bullshit, I dug it. It’s fun. It’s Ghostbusters. To be real with you, I never worshipped the original GB joints the way many do. The original was an above-average Bill Murray joint, one of his better ones, but it was never my childhood. I mean, if we’re talking mid-80s comedies with dashes of the fantastic that reek of My Childhood, I’m more of a Back to the Future dude, yeah that’s what I’m talking about! And you know what? I wouldn’t have Problem One if they ever remake that with women so long as they have good peeps on both sides of the camera. Shit, let’s really get some knickers in a twist and cast a Black actress as Marty McFly. Hell yeah! (Except I fear a film where a young black person is doing nutty shit in the 1950s would have a much briefer running time and a much sadder ending.)

I liked Ghostbusters: Answer the Call and if they make another one, I’ll check it out. But honestly, I’d much rather see a spinoff featuring the characters played by Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, or pull a G.I. Joe: Retaliation and kill off Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy and make it about Jones/McKinnon only, or fuck it, forget Ghostbusters entirely and just make a buddy movie with those two because they were awesome. Jones has this way of just being naturally funny — you know, just being herself — that had me laughing at the way she reacted to all the supernatural weirdness going on. It always felt, I don’t know…true. Everyone else is kinda playing it as a Character but she comes off like a relatively normal person in this universe except Normal doesn’t equal Boring. McKinnon had a touch of the chaotic agent in her, throwing things off kilter the way fellow Agents of Chaos like Harpo Marx in the pre-MGM Marx Brothers films, Johnny from Airplane!, and Wakko Warner from “Animaniacs” — to name a few — did in their worlds. She came off to me like a character from a Buckaroo Banzai movie we never got to see or even knew existed, like she would’ve felt right at home as a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blaze Irregular or HOLY SHIT — as Buckaroo Banzai herself.

Haha, it’s too bad The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the 8th Dimension wasn’t a blockbuster smash, because it would’ve been worth remaking just to see all those sensitive-assed Reddit-types beating their heads against a wall (while beating their meat) over remaking that shit with a girl.

OK, maybe I went too far there. Peter Weller is the man and I’d love to see him come back as Banzai, so maybe they can bring in McKinnon as his daughter or one of the other aforementioned roles or a villain! Just put her in a Buckaroo Banzai movie, is what I’m saying. Make another Buckaroo Banzai movie is what I’m also saying. And Leslie Jones needs to be in this Buckaroo Banzai film too! But keep McCarthy away. I don’t like her.

But I do like Jason Bourne, both the character and the movie. My viewing of this film was preceded by a steak lunch and bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. I was going to have a couple glasses, but I looked at the price per glass versus the price of the bottle and it was just better savings to go all the way — that is to say, savings in the wallet if not savings on my liver. And so I stumbled down the block to the movie theater and I bought a Cherry Coke for a little caffeine jolt to keep me from going into a red wine slumber or getting a red wine headache.

That was a long way of saying I was a bit (a bit?) tipsy when I watched this film, this film that I liked but not as much as the other three Jason Bourne flicks. It didn’t feel like it went up another level, it’s really just more of the same. Now that’s fine because that means it’s a solid Bourne film, which I guess are probably going to be like Bond movies or Fast & Furious joints now if they keep this up; some will be awesome, some will be shit, and some will be fine. Jason Bourne is fine. And Matt Damon is fiiiiiiinnnneee!

OK, that’s kind of a joke (or is it?). But he does look good and I actually think a little more age on the face makes him look more badass. I haven’t seen the first Bourne in over ten years but I bet if I put it on it’ll be like watching a baby play spy, in comparison to the bad motherfucker in this film. But then again, in this film they’ll cut occasionally to Tommy Lee Jones’ weathered-as-fuck visage and Damon’s back to looking goo-goo-gaga again.

Paul Greengrass has to stop with his shaky camerawork and edit-whatever-you-want style, it’s actually coming off more lazy than planned out. Fuckin’ Captain America: Civil War looks like fuckin’ Ozu’s best compared to this shit. I’m sure the previous Bournes didn’t look this bad, or maybe they did and it didn’t bother me as much. But it bothers me now. There are fight scenes that are expertly choreographed — at least that’s what I read in the making-of articles, because I certainly can’t tell in the movie. It’s all close-up-close-up-medium-close-up-close-up-extreme-close-up with the sounds of kicks and punches to help you put it together. There’s what I’m guessing is an awesome car chase through the Las Vegas strip but again, I’ll just have to assume based on the snippets Greengrass and his ACADEMY AWARD WINNING EDITOR allow us to glimpse at. No joke, watching the action scenes made me wish I was some kind of Howard Hughes type holding the purse strings on this production so I could fire the director and editor and hire someone else to reshoot those scenes.

So this is a movie where I was more into the lead-up to the action than the actual action itself, because the lead-up is that fucking good and the action is that fucking bad. I’m not kidding when I say the Vegas Strip airplane crash landing sequence in Con Air made more visual sense than this shit.

I dug the story, if not necessarily the action. If I recall correctly, his character was believed to be dead at the end of the last movie (I haven’t seen The Bourne Legacy, so for all I know JB pops up in that one after the credits to tell Jeremy Renner about the S.H.I.E.L.D. initiative), so based on what he’s doing here at the start of the film, then I guess you can say that the afterlife for the now deceased Jason Bourne is to be stuck in a purgatory consisting of your average 90s direct-to-video kick-puncher about underground fights for money where the rules are There Are No Rules. Thankfully, Julia Stiles is busy being involved in some Snowden-esque fuckery and she ends up having to call on Bourne for help, otherwise we’d have no film.

And it was when I saw Julia Stiles show up that I remembered she and I are both the same age, and when I first saw her in a film she was a teenager which meant that I was teenager. But I see Julia Stiles today and it hits me that she is no longer 10 Things I Hate About You Julia Stiles, she’s Old Enough To Run For President Julia Stiles. She’s looks like a 35-year-old woman — which is not a bad thing nor some kind of negative comment. I’m saying that it reminded me that I am 35 too, at least in age, if not behavior or intelligence. I’m impervious to seeing people like Matt Damon get older because Damon’s 10 years older than me, which might as well be 50 years away. But Julia Stiles is MY age. And seeing similarly aged friends or relatives or anyone else I grew up watching in movies & television and actually noticing that they look older, well shit, that’s getting a good long look at my own personal Dorian Gray painting right there.

Then I go back to what I said about Damon being 10 years older and I remember that just yesterday it was 10 years ago and Children of Men had just come out and in a few months Grindhouse would be hitting theaters and fuck yeah it’s going to be so awesome!

2006 was last night. I’m sure it was.

My God. The time. It’s going faster.

35 years old.

My father was 72 when he passed.

He never did drugs and wasn’t a super-boozer.

I had already earned master degrees in both by my 20s.

So let’s say I have until 70, tops. And that’s if Crom doesn’t go extra cruel and take me earlier.

That means I’m already halfway through my life. It’s halfway over. But it only feels like I’m a quarter into it. And what have I accomplished? There’s so much to do! I’m just getting warmed up! It can’t be halfway done!

My God — if there even is one.

Shit, if this fear keeps up I know I’ll end up running arms wide open into religion or I’ll go mad in another way.

What does that song say? “If I live too long, I’m afraid I’ll die”.

Too fucking right, chief!

It’s feeling warm in here. I’m sweating. Now it’s humid. So much green.

Jesus Christ.

Where am I?

Facebook ramblings – May 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2016 by efcontentment

In which our blogger posts his mini-ramblings from Facebook on some of the films he watched that particular month.

The Specialist (Rewatch. DVR.)

This was during that ’94-’95 period of movies about bombs going off. When I finally caught it on VHS, I thought it was OK. Today, I liked it more. I think my problem back then was that there really wasn’t much action in this Stallone flick, practically non-existent compared to Demolition Man and Cliffhanger before it.

But I get it, Stallone was probably trying to wean us off the macho shoot-em-up/beat-em-ups with stuff like this and Assassins, but he overestimated his audience, who complained about the lack of action and so that’s why there are two scenes in this film that were added way after the fact in order to beef up the beat up.

The first is the scene on the bus where he kicks a motherfucker out the window, and the second is a hotel kitchen scrap where he kicks a motherfucker into a vat of boiling water that was just there, just standing there and boiling, waiting for some poor soul to fall into it — and then, oh man, and then it was time to boil a motherfucker. Evil Boiling Water Vat. It is coming to get all of us. Turn your back on it long enough, and that’s your ass.

It’s never boring, that’s for sure, getting goofier as it goes on, and getting awesome whenever James Woods popped up. Oh man, that scene with him on the phone with Stallone while trying to get a trace on him while trying not to lose his shit is in and of itself Good Times. Even if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to, I highly recommend finding his scenes on YouTube, because sure enough, there are clips of his performance there.

Man, that Sharon Stone, huh? Believe it or not, she did nothing for me back then, probably on account of that I was gay. But since then Jesus Christ has shown me the way and I now drink the gay away and try not to take it out on my wife and kids during our picnics on the way to see Joel Osteen live.

(Just don’t tell anyone that once I’m at the Osteen event, I excuse myself to the bathroom for a little foot-tapping action.)

Watching her now, though, wow. I still don’t quite agree with her and Stallone banging on a hotel shower floor, I don’t care how nice that hotel is, even nice hotels are dirty. I once lost my good judgment one late night in Ensenada during Spring Break, after I stumbled into the hotel room we were all staying at and crashed on the floor because I was hammered. When I woke up and realized I was cheek to cheek with the carpet with nothing between us, I reacted as if I were the girl in Creepshow 2 who was laying on the raft when that oil blob thing got her.

Whatever, Stone looked great and so did the whole film. I really liked the look of the movie, particularly the night scenes with Miami done up with neon lights. The music is fucking great too; you got some good John Barry shit here (sounding like some 70s/80s Bond work) as well as a great soundtrack produced by/featuring the Estefans. I didn’t care for the cover of “Turn the Beat Around” but that might have to do with me not liking that song in its original version either. Not an active dislike, it just didn’t do much for me, like Sharon Stone back when I was gay — OK, that’s a joke that I’m about to run into the ground; what it really was was that Winona Ryder was more my speed back then. Hell, she’s my speed now.

Holy shit, David Fincher at one point was going to direct this but the studio couldn’t stand the stench of Alien 3 on him. So they hired Luis Llosa instead, and I guess hiring him was as brown as it was going to get for this production because they got Eric Roberts and Rod Steiger to play Cubans, but it’s cool because Eric Roberts is my dude and Steiger apparently thought he was in Pawnbroker 2: Still Brokin’ which means he’s fun to watch. I dug his Cuban accent, particularly when he tells Woods to “take the bitch” except it comes out “take de beeessssssssh”. His final scene is Good Times x 2 too.

Anyway, this would’ve played better as one of those made-for-cable movies starring Pierce Brosnan, during that time in his career when he was keeping himself limber for his eventual call to James Bond duty.

Thief (Rewatch. Blu-ray.)

Man, that Mann was sure something. Still is, but I’m just saying his last couple films weren’t OMG SO GOOD quality but I dug ’em all the same. Anyway, this mofo came out fuckin’ blazing with his first theatrical film. It holds up, man(n). Stylish as all get-out, and if you ever here anyone tell you that it’s kinda cold and methodical, then Anyone clearly wasn’t paying attention to that incredible scene in the diner between James Caan and Tuesday Weld.

Hey, so that postcard Caan’s character carries with him, that would qualify as a “vision board”, wouldn’t it? I never heard of a vision board until I heard the comedian Maria Bamford talk about them. I guess you create a collage from pasted pictures out of magazines and other stuff of what you want in your life and I guess that manifests itself eventually. Which sounds a little like that “The Secret” bullshit.

I keep calling stuff like The Secret and vision boards “bullshit” but then I look at the last ten years of my life and I think, shit, maybe I’m the asshole here. At least Caan’s character had the excuse of being in prison. What did *I* fuckin’ do?! So excuse me while I go out and make myself a vision board. And if you haven’t seen this film yet, go manifest yourself a copy of Thief with a vision board before I turn your whole family into Wimpy Burgers.

The Quick and the Dead (Rewatch. DVR.)

I saw this back during my “I Don’t Get Sharon Stone” days, but I saw it because I sure as hell got the fuck out of Sam Goddamn Raimi.

I think I know why I wasn’t that big on Stone back then; I remember reading on some AOL movie message board about how she wasn’t the easiest person to get along with on a movie set, and the guy who posted on the message board admitted to pissing into a bathtub on the set of Allan Quatermain and the City of Gold (along other members of the crew) before she got in it for her scene. Stuff like that and other shit in the news made her basically like the Anti-Triple A for me, so maybe that’s why she wasn’t jangling my chain, regardless of her looks.

Of course, nowadays one wonders if in fact she was really that difficult or if it was a case of a woman being judged on some shit that a guy would be excused for. Or maybe not. I mean, the crew pissed into the scotch bottle of one of the male directors of His Kind of Woman and that was back in the 50s. I guess the lesson here is don’t piss off the crew members or you’ll get pissed back. (Or worse, if you act shitty to them.)

Anyway, Stone watched Army of Darkness and said “That’s who I want to direct my Western” so that makes her cool enough in my book. She also paid Leonardo DiCaprio’s salary to be in the movie because the studio didn’t want him, so that’s pretty stand up of her. Nowadays I bet you those same studio guys (if they even still have jobs) are kissing Leo’s ass and I don’t remember Leo thanking her — or the female director of his real first film Critters 3 — in his Oscar speech so I guess you can’t take the posse out of the pussy, eh?

I hadn’t seen this movie in about 16 years and I liked it even more this time. It’s got that awesome Raimi style to it but he also tones it down by keeping most of the Evil Dead-ing to the duel sequences. He held his own and proved that he could do Acting as well as Action, getting a top-notch Boo-Hiss performance from Gene Motherfucking Hackman, who reportedly didn’t make easy on the Raimster. But then again, Hackman’s never been known to make it easy on anyone.

By the way, has anyone seen this supposed episode of “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” where Gene Hackman pops up as a patron of one of the diners human-Smash Mouth-band Guy Fieri was douching up? I can’t fucking find it, so clearly this means it doesn’t exist.

Whatever. I dig this flick. I’ll admit that it’s one of those movies where all the elements are A-level (acting, directing, cinematography, editing, production design, music, etc) but the script is more like B-level — but it still makes for a fun watch. It’s great gun-porn too, with all those beautiful revolvers. Goddamn, those were beauties — particularly that Schofield. It’s enough to make a motherfucker wanna jizz all over his NRA towel.

You know what, I was hard on Smash Mouth.

The Place Beyond the Pines (First time. DVR.)

I forgot to take a pic of the movie so here’s an unrelated photo of a vampire cat rising from its slumber, ready to feed for the night.

This was the follow-up for the director of Blue Valentine and in my opinion he didn’t disappoint. It’s a film that feels like a novel, and I’d explain more if I were not afraid of spoiling it. That’s why I won’t. I’ll just say that like a novel it’s long. But there ain’t no chapter titles either, because this isn’t a Tarantino joint.

If you haven’t seen this film and you’re going to, know as little as possible going in. Don’t even read the synopsis, not even the capsule one they have on cable/satellite because even that one gives away too much.

What I will say is that I dug how most of the characters are presented as human in that they are neither entirely bad or entirely good. And those in the film who look at people in those black & white terms, well they tend to be the ones who really are All Good or All Bad. I guess it’s that whole thing about how usually people who are the least trusting or assume the worst of others are also the ones who do others dirty.

This is a movie about — among other things — the guilt that follows a motherfucker after the actions he or she takes and how that shit can affect said motherfuckers, even for years.

I didn’t know half of the actors in this movie were going to be in this movie. I just knew Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes were in it but many more familiar faces pop up and they’re all excellent in their roles. I also dug the music by Mike Patton who proves that he can score more serious-minded films and not just Neveldine/Taylor joints. It’s a shame he hasn’t scored more films and I wonder if that’s a result of his schedule or that most filmmakers don’t know a good composer if it hit ’em in the throat with a timpani stick.

If I had any problems with the film they came in the last 40 minutes and they all came in the form of a character who I just wanted to get punched and punched and punched all the way until the end credits rolled, and then following the end credits I wanted a Marvel-style post-credits stinger of the character getting punched one more time followed by Nick Fury stepping in to tell the puncher about a new initiative devoted to punching this annoying douche-twat for time immemorial.

I honestly considered stopping the movie because of this character. I knew guys like this. Guys like this were the reason why I almost got kicked out of school, on account of them getting the better of my temper — followed by the worst of my punches.

But I hit Pause, gave myself 30 seconds to breathe, and then I unpaused, followed by muting the movie and reading the closed-captioning as a sort of compromise. That way at least I didn’t have to listen to his voice.

By the last 15 minutes or so I put the sound back on and everything was OK. I made it out. And I’m glad I did, because I was rewarded with a satisfying ending to a well-told tale.

Rob Roy (First time. DVR.)

I missed this in theaters, then I missed it at home because this was around the time we got a laserdisc player and the only video store that stocked laserdiscs only had this movie on Pan & Scan. I never understood that. This place stocked laserdiscs, but if a movie came out in both letterboxed and pan & scan, they chose the latter. It was frustrating. And in my young youth, I had principles about that. So I never rented it, and I soon forgot it.

All I remembered was that this was seen as the cooler, better alternative to Braveheart, which came out around the same time. I haven’t seen that one in over a decade, so I couldn’t tell you how they hold up against one another, in kilts, enjoying the warmth of each other. I couldn’t.

All I know is that this was Good Times. The first 20 minutes is pretty much Liam Neeson stabbing fools and then lecturing the fools he didn’t stab. Then they introduce a walking cunt named Cunningham (played by Tim Roth) whose all about fucking and killing — so naturally I hate him for living my life. But I’d like to think I’d treat people better than he did, and I certainly would use protection when it came time to bang a chamber maid or two.

Neeson’s Rob Roy MacGregor though, that there is a Man. A man of principles, which according to this film, was just as lacking in most men back then as it is today. So of course, this means that he is going to get royally fucked as a result of having principles because Human Beings are garbage people and guys like Rob Roy are the exception, not the rule.

This was one of those movies that I could practically smell, and that’s unfortunate because this takes place in the 1700s, so you know how people back then got down with bathing. I mean, this is a fucking dirty-ass smelly movie full of bodily fluids and functions and excretions and where you Just Fucking Know that even the cleanest people in this movie smell terrible.

So when the movie was over, I took another shower, but it was a victorious shower. I was fucking walking on air in that shower because I watched Rob Roy take it to The Man and I got to watch the occasional moment of Ownage too. Even Jessica Lange (who’s great here) was like “hey don’t Bogart that Ownage, Liam, let mama dole some out!”. It’s really funny at times too, which I didn’t expect.

The director of the film is Michael Caton-Jones, and up until Rob Roy, homeboy was consistent with quality. Before that he made This Boy’s Life and before that he made Doc Hollywood and before that he made Memphis Belle. Good flicks, all of them. Then he followed this one up with The Jackal and I guess that’s when the consistency stopped. He eventually ended up directing Basic Instinct 2 starring, yup, you guessed it — Sharon Stone.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (First time. DVR.)

All the Eastwood joints I’ve seen, and yet I never got around to this one. I gotta give him the Big Balls award for taking the story where the main character — the good guy — joins a guerilla army of Confererate-loving Bushwackers and the bad guys are Union soldiers. But never do you get the sense that the filmmakers are some South Will Rise Again assholes, nah, Eastwood was looking to make something more complicated.

What you get is a man who loses everything — his wife, his son, his shitty farm — and wants something that sounds like revenge but really seems more like a reckoning he wants to give out to anyone unlucky enough to be wearing the same colors worn by the men responsible for his current state.

So what you get throughout this film is Eastwood shooting, shooting, and shooting some more. He’s either shooting bullets at his enemies or he’s shooting chaw at the ground, insects, shirts, even a dog. Josey Wales is cooooold-blooooded!

What surprised me is that what starts as a pretty grim movie slowly loosens up as it goes along, and as the film does, so does Eastwood’s character, and what starts out as a revenge tale ends as something kinda deeper and touching as Josey Wales finds a more meaningful endgame for his life — while still giving us plenty of Eastwood owning motherfuckers as if he carried receipts on all of them in his back pocket.

It’s good stuff, man. This is the one where Eastwood says “Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy” and you bet your ass I was jumping on my couch like goddamn Tom Cruise when he said that shit.

The Outfit (Rewatch. DVR.)

Saw this back in ’10 at the New Beverly along with Point Blank and that my friend was Good Times. Here’s another adaptation of a “Richard Stark”/Donald E. Westlake book, and like all the other cine-adapts this one changes the name of the Parker character. Here, Robert Duvall plays “Macklin” and he’s out of the joint and out for revenge in the form of $$$ because The Outfit killed his brudda.

Here’s some good ‘ol old-school tough guy crime shit that feels just like the Parker books, even with the changes made between page and screen. This is a cold environment where even the warmer characters are quick to do wrong shit like knocking a woman out just because she’s in the way. This is the kind of movie that devotes large chunks of time to the characters purchasing firearms and automobiles for their jobs (with the option to sell them back after the job is done) and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

The old school feel is made older with the casting of classic genre actors like Robert Ryan and Jane Greer. There’s also a bit of a The Killing reunion with Marie Windsor, Timothy Carey, and Elisha Cook Jr.; unfortunately none share any scenes together.

Another sign of being made from Another Time is that the lead is Robert Duvall, who you completely buy as someone who could be from that world, Crime World. His crime partner is Joe Don Baker, who was almost ruined for me by MST3K on account of all those jokes about him in Mitchell and Final Justice. There’s a part where Baker holds a rib-chopping cook at gunpoint, then tells him “Go on back and chop them ribs” which I found myself completing out loud with “…because I want some to go” — damn you MST3K!

Karen Black is the main dame here and like the rest of the cast, she’s a Great Face who probably wouldn’t have much play had she came of actress age nowadays. Young Karen Black in the Year 2016 would probably play a lot of wacky best friend roles today.

Joanna Cassidy is the head crime honcho’s moll in the film, and yet despite that role or her iconic role as Zhora in Blade Runner or any other role in her long career, all I want to do when I see her is yell “I’m right on top of that, Rose!”

The late great John Flynn wrote and directed this, and man oh man, there are not enough articles written about this dude. He made this, followed by Rolling Thunder and Defiance. Right on. He also made my favorite Steven Seagal movie with Out for Justice. He’s worked with Sly Stallone, James Woods, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, William Devane, Brian Dennehy — all of them real Guys. Then he made Brainscan starring pretty boy (at the time) Edward Furlong and I don’t think he ever recovered from that. To make things worse, he met me at a screening and signed my Lock Up dvd. Then he died.

London Has Fallen (First time. Theater.)

Caught this yesterday at the discount theater, where there were stains splattered on the lower right side of the screen and a crazy witchy woman in the front row making comments. This plus popcorn plus M&Ms plus Cherry Coke only added to my enjoyment of this film — and I’m sure my Diabetes-in-progress got a kick out of it too.

Despite being distributed by Gramercy Films (remember them? yeah, they’re back!) this is a Millennium Films production all the way and you know these MF’rs might as well be Cannon Reborn and this movie may well be their most Cannon-y joint yet.

Shit, this might actually out-Cannon Cannon because at least Golan & Globus shelled out enough ducats on quality visual effects for big-budget fare like Lifeforce. Here, someone must’ve taken the money for convincing blood hits and explosions and had themselves the mother of all parties over in Dubai or somewhere.

Gerard Butler has to be — I mean he just has to be! — in on some kind of joke with his performance here, like I think he knows this is a silly movie. Some of his line deliveries feel like something you’d see in a spoof about overblown actioners such as this one, or like something you’d see in the spoof trailers at the beginning of Tropic Thunder. Whatever the case, I’m glad he’s doing it that way because his is absolutely the only way one should act in this movie.

Every time a new character pops up, their name and job appears on-screen (example: “Lynne Jacobs – Secret Service Director”) despite most of them being characters from the first film — and that’s when I realized that this movie was playing the Stand Alone Film game. The events of Olympus Has Fallen are never mentioned or even alluded to, I mean, it gets to the point that I left convinced this movie takes place in an alternate universe where Olympus always stood proud with nary a stumble. Every once in a while President Harvey Dent clutches his pearls whenever Secret Service Agent Spaaaaaartaaaaa! gets down with a little sado-murderiffic ownage on the baddies, which made me almost yell out loud “Dude, don’t you remember what he did in the last one!?”

I sure remember — and I loved it. Killing people with such an evil glee, that guy. And I’m happy to report that Agent Spaaaaartaaa! is still a sadistic fuck in the sequel. My favorite kill might be when he sloooooowly sticks his Rambo knife into a wounded terrorist, almost as slow as that German soldier did to the Semitic homie in Saving Private Ryan — only in that film it was an evil Nazi trooper and here it’s the hero of the film. I actually could’ve used some more of Butler killing bad guys with the psychotic glee and zeal usually exhibited by Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees.

And yeah, he does actually tell a bad guy over the walkie talkie to go “back to Fuckheadistan or wherever it is you come from”, after which I almost stood up and did that dramatic slow clap in the audience with a tear rolling down my face, because I have to applaud a movie that gives us the winning combo of Culturally Tone Deaf and Painfully Enlarged Testicles. We’ve sure come a long way from John McClane saying “Yippee Ki Yay Mother Fucker” to Hans, that’s for sure.

The first act introduces a whole bunch of other characters at various locations in a way that made me feel that I was watching a 70s-style disaster movie. Half of them are played by people I’m not familiar with, so I felt it was a lost opportunity to get whoever the 2016 version of George Kennedy or Richard Chamberlain or Stella Stevens to play those roles. But the other half consist of names like Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett and my man, Mr. Robert Forster, who I’m always happy to see in any movie (even if he barely has any lines).

At least Forster has lines. Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo hardly says a word, but she looks happy to be there, so they must’ve paid her very well to be silent. Oh, and Jackie Earle Haley is picking up a Shut Up and Cash The Check part here too, which reminds me — he and Forster were in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence, which would make a decent double bill with this movie.

I say that because MC3 was a direct-to-cable genre film from the 90s, and London Has Fallen is in spirit a direct-to-cable genre film from the 90s working from a script left over from Cannon Films in the 80s. Chuck Norris would’ve jizzed all over his camo pants had he been given the script back then, because London isn’t so much a pro-Murica film as it’s pro-Western World & anti-Derka-Derka and you know the Chuckster’s down with that.

They throw in a chick MI6 badass and some SAS commandos into the mix so it doesn’t seem all about America Saving The Muthafuckin’ Day. Maybe that’s why this one actually did a lot better overseas than the first one.

In conclusion, some dude texts the name “Aamir Barkawi” on his phone and it wasn’t corrected by spell-check, so that was nice. I wish my phone was that chill about spelling.


Listen to Me Marlon (First time. DVR.)

So what we have here is a failure to communicate between a genuine Game Changer in the art of playing pretend, but thankfully Mr. Brando was far more open with himself and his tape recorder — and that’s what this documentary is all about. Dude left hundreds of hours of confessionals and ramblings and selected bits play out over home movies and on-set footage and archival clips spanning most of his life. Sometimes you also see a weird monochromatic digi-Brando head reading along to the recordings, looking assed out because he wasn’t invited to kick it with Hologram Tupac or Hologram Whitney Houston.

It’s a bit of a cheat that at least a third — if not half — of this stuff is actually from interviews he did, so you’re not listening to purely his audio bloggings, and this film was approved by his estate so you know you’re not gonna get all of the goods. And you know it ain’t gonna get darker if the estate is approving what gets used and what gets put aside in the Destroy pile. As weird as he might’ve been, the film has to ultimately paint him in a more positive shade. Shit man, who knows? Maybe that’s closer to the truth than what a cynical fuck like moi assumes about him — and everyone else on this planet, for that matter.

But as it is you get plenty, man. I felt I got a decent sense of him — at least more than just the weirdo who loved giving film sets a hard time. I didn’t leave thinking his behavior justified, I just saw his side of it and got an idea of why he would be the way he was.

Of course a success like Marlon Brando came from shitty parenting, and he claimed that that is what made him forever search for happiness in the arms of as many women as he could embrace and between the legs of as many fried chickens as he could wolf down. I can make the fat jokes because I’m kinda like Marlon Brando when it comes to food. (It’s in the Women department that I’m trying to be more like him.)

Say what you will, but I felt that even when he was pulling that cue card bullshit that he was committed to his craft — or specifically, he’s the only one I would excuse/believe his idea that it added to the spontaneity of his performance. And even if it really didn’t, the guy earned the right to pull that off. I think you have to be an actor of Brando’s caliber to do that, especially when you’ve already had a long career preceding you. Some actors today — and I’ve witnessed some of this myself — want to immediately riff and You Just Fucking Know it’s because they didn’t really learn their lines.

This wasn’t in the movie but I remember Sidney Lumet (in his book “Making Movies”, I think) saying that Brando knew when he was working with a director who knew his shit. He would give the director two different line readings that were damn near indistinguishable from each other — but there was a difference. And that difference could only be picked up by someone who truly not only understood the material they were working from, but who also had true knowledge on acting. If the director picked the “correct” reading, Brando felt he was in good hands and put in 110-percent. If not, he’d just sleepwalk through it because why bother pouring out your heart and soul into every line and movement? It’s not like the director would even notice!

One last food thing: Brando claimed that as a kid he’d open the fridge at night and it would feel as if the food were talking to him like “Hi Marlon, it’s me, Mr. Cheese!” or something like that. He felt food was his friend, but really, who does that to their friends? Who chews their friends up, swallows them, digests every good part, then shits out their remains? (Aside from show business, of course.)

Facebook ramblings – April 2016

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2016 by efcontentment
I’ve been posting mini-ramblings on my Facebook page along with an accompanying snapshot of the films I’m mini-reviewing (not pro screenshots, I’m just snapping them off the wall they’re being projected on with my cheap phone). For those who don’t have me as a Facebook friend, no sweat, I get it — Facebook is the Devil. So I’ll gather them up at the end of the month and post ’em here. If you thought my regular ramblings were incoherent, try ramblings with little to no explanation of what the movies about!

Trancers II: The Return of Jack Deth (Rewatch. Blu-ray.)

Filmed in 1991, hence the mom jeans and high-waisted pants.

Not as good as the first one, and sometimes it’s outright terrible. For some reason, director Charles Band films nearly all the close-ups damn-near Jonathan Demme style, with the actor thisclose to looking directly at the camera. But at least it feels like a Trancers movie and they got most of the original cast back, so it’s fun enough to almost make you forget about the wack-ass script — I’ll give points to the wack-ass script for making the villains environmentalists and having a really old-school insenstive attitude towards homeless people and the mentally ill.

The audio commentary with stars Tim Thomerson and Megan Ward is fun too. Too bad the director is taking part as well. He’s never as funny as he thinks he is, or anywhere approaching funny (he continues the tradition from the first Trancers commentary of pointing out random actors and situations as “gay” — my sense of humor isn’t politically correct, I’m just saying put some thought into your gay jokes, my fellow bros) and he’s fond of interrupting Ward & Thomerson’s genuinely entertaining interactions usually to have them be quiet for a line he finds funny. Except he hasn’t seen the film since completing post, which means that they have to be quiet for about a minute or so before the line finally happens — or in one case, before realizing that the line isn’t even in this particular scene.

One day I’ll get married to Megan Ellison or someone like that and after the divorce I’m gonna use my half of the money to create my own boutique label. I’ll buy the rights to some of these movies with the intention of having do-over commentaries recorded for them. For Trancers II, I’ll only invite Thomerson & Ward and I’ll sit in to pester Thomerson about everything he’s worked on and most likely I’ll creep out the lovely Ms. Ward. And if you don’t like it, then you can find your own money and create your boutique label.

Artists and Models (First time. DVR.)

The first film Martin & Lewis made with director Frank Tashlin and the second-to-last they made together (they were pretty much done with each other by the follow-up, Hollywood or Bust). I’m gonna be honest with you, I never really got into Jerry Lewis except for the films he directed himself and his work with Tashlin. It’s like Tashlin was the only one who operated on the same level with him and I guess it’s because his experience animating/directing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck helped him understand a human cartoon like Lewis.

It’s top notch Martin & Lewis; the songs are catchy (Martin crooning the bejesus out of “Innamorata”, Lewis hey-ladying the fuck out of whatever the fuck he was singing) and the gags are a-plenty, only this time with Tashlin it mostly feels like a live-action cartoon.

It looks beautiful too! It’s photographed in VistaVision with candy Technicolor and the production design is old-school studio work that I am always a sucker for. You can tell they put some serious money into this. There’s also plenty of eye candy with attractive women all about the proceedings (Dorothy Malone! Anita Ekberg!) and hey, Dean Martin ain’t a bad looker either. See, this was back when guys looked like men, none of this skinny tight pants wearing six-pack abs-having motherfuckers who can’t fight worth a shit, says the guy with a big gut and a violent temper.

Tashlin might be the earliest example I can think of a director putting up what gets him off on-screen. Shameless leg shots and sexy costumes everywhere! Even one shot of a bound and gagged 21-year-old Shirley MacLaine wearing a tight fitting costume and hosiery made me feel funny/weird, in a Quentin Tarantino foot fetish kinda way. Shit, I think I had a similar kinky spider sense tingling when a similarly-clad Scarlett Johansson was tied up in Marvel’s The Avengers. Jesus Christ. I thought I knew myself already. Thanks a lot, Tashlin, for giving me yet another feather to stick in my Sick Fuck cap.

This was my first time watching it, so maybe it’s too early to tell, but in comparison to Hollywood or Bust, this one doesn’t quite match up, maybe because Hollywood had a giant Great Dane in it and this one doesn’t. You give me hot chicks and an awesome dog and I’ll give you a happy man.

By the way, to my fellow heteros and lesbians and animal lovers (but not in that way); do you ever find yourself walking or driving and suddenly you see an attractive woman walking a dog? And because you only have about two seconds to enjoy this, you have to make the Sophie’s Choice of ogling the sexy lady girl or going AWWWW over the doggy dog dog bow-wow? Or is it just me?

Anyway, Artists and Models is good times if you can stand Jerry Lewis’ style of comedy and plus he calls himself “retarded” at one point, so there’s that too.

House of Games
(Rewatch. DVD.)

The plays and films of David Mamet are like tuna fish sandwiches: you either like them or you don’t. Me, I love tuna fish sandwiches. I’d eat one right now except I’m under the weather (thanks to the constantly changing weather! one day it’s 90 degrees, the next it’s cold and rainy!) and therefore I wouldn’t completely enjoy it.

But I enjoy David Mamet’s work, sick or no sick. So I revisited this one and had a good time with it, even though the surprises are no longer surprises. To be honest with you, the surprises weren’t really that surprising even when I first saw this in the late 90s, because by then I’d seen enough rug-pullers inspired by this one to be kind of savvy to them.

It’s a trip to watch the different styles of reciting Mamet’s dialogue. There’s a spectrum at work in his films; in this one, you have Lindsay Crouse on one end of the Mamet spectrum, giving herself over completely to the Mametspeak, its rhythms, and all that that entails (the character is defined by words and actions at the moment PERIOD; no character history or anything like that). This has been confused for bad acting but if you see her in other joints she does all right. (This goes for Rebecca Pidgeon as well.)

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Joe Mantegna who is able to do justice to the Mamet style while still being Joe Mantegna. He’s able to bring his own personality to the proceedings while doing the rhythm thing. Plus it makes sense that his con artist character is a bit more loose while Crouse’s psychiatrist is more uptight in comparison.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses because I dig this motherfucker Mamet.

This movie was made in 1987 and it definitely has a late 80s feel, but not in the usual pop flashy way. I mean, this movie feels like it takes place in a world occupied by, well, think of what your average middle-to-upper-middle class person who enjoys PBS and NPR would look like, dress like, circa 1987 and there you go, if that makes any goddamn sense.

In conclusion, there’s an actress who says “A Waldorf salad” and it’s one of the best line readings, like, ever.

Riding with Death
Agent for H.A.R.M.
Prince of Space
Horror at Party Beach

(MST3K versions. Rewatch.)

And so, what I hoped on Friday were mere allergies having their way with me has since turned into a full-blown badass Cold of All Colds. I missed out on seeing my sister and having a little Siblings Day hugfest with her as a result. But that’s OK, because I texted her and we’re on for next weekend and I can ride this cold thing out with my usual chicken soup for the soul, MST3K episodes. See, I have this thing about not watching new films when I’m sick, because I feel I have to be 100-percent, says the guy who went to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Half-Naked Amy stoned to the gills.

Anyway, because of that weird sorta principle I created somewhere along the way, MST3k reruns are my go-to sick viewings. So I had a little marathon that will probably continue tomorrow because I’m calling in sick to work.

You might have noticed the old Sci-Fi Channel logo on the lower left corner. That is because I have damn near all the episodes collected from the Digital Archive Project and burned onto DVD. This was back in the late 90s/early 00s when very few episodes were available. Since then, I’ve bought the new stuff from Shout! and some of the old stuff too — because it’s better quality than my old DAP discs, not because I’m trying to Make Things Right. That would mean I have some kind of a conscience. HA!

I might have to change my No New Movies When Sick rule, though. I mean, one of my favorite movie-views was catching a late-night R-rated pan-and-scan showing of Dario Argento’s Trauma on Cinemax when I was 14 years old and getting my ass kicked by the flu. I had just woken up from a fever dream only to end up watching another one on television. Or at least it felt that way; I’ve never seen the film since because I’m sure it won’t match up to that sweaty, doped-up-on-Theraflu experience and I probably never will. But it got me to look up what this Dario Argento dude was up to. So I don’t know where the hell I got this idea of not watching new shit when I feel like shit.

Maybe I should just downgrade it to movies I wasn’t particularly looking to watch, but hey, it’s on Lifetime and that chick from that show is on it, know what I mean?

In conclusion, achoo.

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (Rewatch. DVD.)

I think it was Quentin Tarantino who said that Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter was a “character study shot like an epic” or something like that, and that’s kinda what Cimino did here as well with his first film.

You spend something like an hour watching these two driving from small scenic town to small scenic town before the plot actually kicks in, but it’s time well spent because you get to watch Clint’s character pretty much fall in Like with his new friend without ever saying it. It’s all small gestures and actions and it’s some of Clint’s best understated work. People don’t give my man Clint enough props for this kind of acting, which is its own kind of difficult to pull off. Jeff Bridges is great here but it’s kinda like how Hoffman got all the attention forRain Man while The Cruiser was knocking it the fuck out as the, uh, straight man.

Funny thing is, Bridges would do something like that again in John Carpenter’s Starman, which I would consider a good double-feature with this one. That one is also a road movie with a great showy Jeff Bridges performance that overshadows an even greater subtle performance by his co-star, Karen Allen

Man, that’s a movie right there for you, isn’t it? A movie about Clint’s awesome glare and Karen Allen’s heartwarming smile.

This is definitely a Cimino film, filled with big skies and beautiful widescreen landscapes and dashes of macho cine-energy thrown in here and there. It also has many visual/character/location elements that you’ll see pop up in his later works, like speeding cars leaving trails of dust, attractive women with legs that go all the way up, shitkicker bars, pool tables, diners, John Holmes-sized firearms, war veterans, and various other things I’m in too much of a hurry to write out.

There’s also something else that pops out at me, given recent stories about M-Cim; so I guess he’s spent the last 20 years or so going under the knife and losing weight, and it’s gotten to the point that he’s been looking rather femme nowadays and there are rumors of him getting or going for a little bit of the Caitlyn Jenner action.

Well, I couldn’t help but think of that when later in the film one character has to dress in drag, so maybe that was always something Cimino was into or at least considering, I don’t know.

The story goes that Clint kept Cimino in check, limiting him mostly to three takes max and speeding him up if he was taking too long setting a shot up. The climax of the film was supposed to take like a week or something to shoot but Clint last-minute gave Cimino only two days and they pulled it off.

Anyway, I like the movie and come back to it every couple years or so. It’s very much a Sunday afternoon kind of joint, so of course I watched it Saturday morning.

South Central (Rewatch. DVR.)

This one came out back in ’92, between Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society. Some of the acting is really good (particularly the star, Glenn Plummer aka Tuneman from Speed) and some of it reminded me a bit of that English chap in the beginning of Black Dynamitegoing on about how he has to go “back to the streets, where I come from suckas”, and maybe that’s not too much of a coincidence since the co-writer of that movie is the co-star of this one.

I liked it back in ’93 on VHS and I liked it now in HD, but nowadays it does feel a bit more artificial and theatrical in comparison to the more natural Boyz and Menace, but if you can get past that then you’ll probably be OK with this film. What this movie has in, uh, spades over the other ones is a stronger humane message — and yeah, I know, it was this kind of stuff that the parody DON’T BE A MENACE… poked fun of, but that’s to be expected from a bunch of genuine assholes like the Wayans Bros.

I mean, I think DBAM is funny but when you really get down to it, the idea of making fun of movies about real violence going down in South Central L.A. is up there with, I don’t know, making a parody of Holocaust films. Call it Holocaust Movie and get Friedberg/Seltzer on it and have them make fun of scenes like the Nazi gun jamming inSchindler’s List only this time the gun shoots out that Bang! flag or something.

Anyway, at times South Central can feel like a Christian film with the porn cut out, so to speak. Or actually it’s more like a Muslim equivalent to those kind of films, but like I’ve said before, even the most obvious and well-meaning preached-out messages don’t make them any less true.

So in a way it makes sense that Oliver Stone, a man who shotgunned Subtlety in the dick a long time ago, helped get this film made.

Plus, they shoot fools using guns with potato suppressors on the barrels, so you gotta give ’em points for that.

In conclusion, to quote home-Muslim in the film: Bless yourself by helping someone else.

Owning Mahowny (First time. DVR.)

The last time I gambled, I mean, with money, like, in a casino was back in 2012 at an Indian casino on my way home from a road trip. I played a few hands of Blackjack, playing with only $20 and making small bets, and got up to $120 before finally losing $20. It only made sense to walk away at that point while I was still ahead, and I thank the Maker that I’m wired that way, as opposed to people like Dan Mahowny (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who unfortunately did not quit while he was ahead on sobriety).

Mahowny is unfortunately one of those people who, to paraphrase what one character says about him, wants to win in order to have more money to lose. This poor schmuck is a degenerate whose bookie will even cut him off from time to time because he feels bad taking bets from someone who is clearly not well.

Hoffman is great here as a guy who can be quietly charming and likable so long as he’s not gambling. But when he’s in bettin’ mode, he gets cold and shuts the world around him off, and the only other emotions that might come out of him are muted annoyance or douchey petulance if you’re in the way of his robotic card-playing.

This is based on a true story and the way the movie plays this out is as if the film itself were a stranger at the casino lightly nudging your shoulder then whispering to you “Hey, check out the guy over there at the craps table. Can you believe that guy?”, as opposed to some bro shoving you and going “FUCKIN’ A, DUDE! LOOKIT DAT GUY! HE’S GONNA FUCK HIS SHIT UP, MAN!” the way I would if I saw some shit like that going down. This is probably because this is a Canadian film directed by a Brit, rather than some all-American razzmatazz-ery

Everyone else in this movie is just as good as The Hoff-Man, like John Hurt as the casino boss who is amused by Mahowny but is still angling to take this motherfucker for all he’s worth, and Minnie Driver as Mahowny’s long-suffering girlfriend. You’ll also see a few familiar poutine-eating faces, like Bianca O’Blivion from Videodrome and the late great Maury Chaykin as the bookie.

Part of the ending kinda annoyed me, but what can you do? Aside from that, it’s a good flick, you should check it out. Oh, and at one point Mahowny asks for a plate of ribs (no sauce) and a Coke, so guess who’s now in the mood for both? Fat fuck.

The Deer Hunter (Rewatch. Blu-ray.)

It says a lot about the power of cinema to focus on a bunch of loud-mouthed, beer-drinking, reckless driving assholes who are basically the 60s/70s version of Extreme Bros Who Go WOOOO! At Everything for three hours and leave you caring for them (or most of them, anyway).

Or maybe it’s because you only get that Bro shit for the first hour or so, and then you watch the Bros get PWNED by Vietnam, to which a harder man would say “Serves them right. They went in there wanting the whole blood & guts experience, and that, by God, is what they got” but I’m not gonna be that guy at this moment and instead I’ll defend them by saying that this was back when people still believed in the idea of Going To War For God And Country because most people hadn’t realized yet that we had been sold a bill of goods by The Powers That Be and that Eisenhower was right about warning us about the Military Industrial Complex, but like most warnings given to us precious humans, we just chose to ignore that shit and now the Big MIC happily feeds on the poor and naive and BOY OH BOY is this a tall soapbox! I better get off of it carefully before I fall off and land on my giant ignorant ass.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, watching these guys get fleshed out while their souls are flayed alive by Real Life In The Shit followed by Real Life In What Used To Be Our Playground is what makes this movie the masterpiece that it is. As mentioned in my ramblings aboutThunderbolt & Lightfoot, this film is a character study dressed in Epic Cinema clothing, and despite spending some time over in The Nam, this is not at all a war movie.

It’s been said that this could’ve easily have been about the characters going through some other major violent ordeal but Vietnam was the most recent, so it made sense to make it *that*. This unfortunately has led to criticisms about the portrayal of Non-Muricans as bloodthirsty Russian Roulette-betting assholes, which I understand but, hey, what are you gonna do? I mean, maybe if this was about the fictional Mexican Border War and it was Javier doing this shit then maybe I’d be like FUCK THIS MOVIE, but it isn’t, so I’m not.

But if I can be George Lopez for a second: Latinos, we wouldn’t do that to others — Russian Roulette was something we played at home with our friends when we were drunk and bored AYYYY CHOOOOOOOWWWWW *cue Jarabe Tapatio*

But you also have some of the Whites back home talking shit like “Kill some for me!” and stuff like that when talking about these dudes going to war, and I doubt statements like that are meant to be taken lightly, right?

All movies are flawed in one way or another, and The Deer Huntercertainly carries its fair share of Huge Gaping Maw flaws, but if you’re lucky enough to be like me and see the forest for the tree, then whaddya know, you’re a poet and didn’t know it OHHHHHHHH

This was Michael Cimino’s second film and because he didn’t have Clint Muthafuckin’ Eastwood pulling on his leash, homeboy was already doing the overbudget/overschedule thing here — only it worked out for him because the movie was a hit and Oscars were passed out to the production like candy.

It wouldn’t be until his next movie that his extravagant filmmaking style would finally reach Cimino’s buttcheeks, open its jaws big and wide, and chomp down hard on the motherfucker.

Purple Rain (Rewatch. Theater.)
Because I wasn’t going to use my phone’s camera smack-dab in the middle of the theater (or the movie), that’s why.

I hadn’t seen this one since the early 90s and so I was seeing it again for the first time, to use the tagline of the Molested Trilogy. You bet your sweet seat-warmer that I blasted my Prince mix CD (circa 2003) on the way to the theater, and blasted it on the way back — but don’t get me wrong, I had my windows rolled up, I’m not a complete savage who needs to share his tunes with the world.

My feelings on the film are the same, only stronger; what Purple Rainreally has going for it is the music and the presence of His Purple Majesty at his most Publicly Majestic. And Apollonia Kotero’s outfit during “Sex Shooter”. And Morris Day, my spirit animal. And intense-ass Clarence Williams III. And poor ignored Jill Jones. And Olga “Chick Who Got The Wood Splinter In Her Eye In Zombie” Karlatos’ dubbed performance. And Bobby Z.’s sad attempt at looking like a Prince impersonator. And Wendy and Lisa giving off a Sapphic vibe the whole time. And Billy Sparks with those sunglasses. And that vaguely European sedated club announcer.

Prince could’ve tried to make his “character” in the film Mr. Misunderstood and have the story be about how everyone else needs to operate on his wavelength and put up with his shitty behavior. But no, for the most part he and the filmmakers avoid that trap; this dude has issues and it’s an everyday battle for him not to become like his father — or worse, some new crossbreed of Douchebag that has new Dickhead elements added to the original Father model. And I like that the movie basically ends with him beginning to improve, rather than completely turning into a new man. Or at least that’s how I prefer to interpret it, because there are signs here that maybe I’m supposed to be A-OK with him at the very end and I’m not.

I’d call this a Style Over Substance film if the Substance we’re referring to is the screenplay. But if the Substance in question is made of Prince’s songs and Michel Colombier’s score, then no, it is a Substance Over Style deal.

But I gotta give points to director Albert Magnoli for putting in 110-percent on the visual side of this joint (with the help of d.p. Donald Thorin) and he did a great job editing this flick too. I remember reading somewhere that Magnoli was brought in to complete Tango & Cash after the original director was Creative Difference’d off the project, and after watching this again, I can totally watch that movie now and point out which scenes are his with total-fucking-confidence.

Anyway, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to watch this movie again and be taken back to a time when the worst thing he did was take a guitar and jerk it off until it jizzed all over a worshipping audience, rather than today, when the worst thing he did was die.

In conclusion, Prince in Purple Rain is to pacing back & forth in a room as Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls is to putting ketchup on french fries.

Trancers III (Rewatch. Blu-ray.)

That dude in the picture just watched a violent bar brawl that ended with a man impaling another man with a pool cue stick then flinging the impaled man across the room. At least the woman next to him registers *some* kind of concern on her face. Man, had I been there to witness that, I’d have run halfway to Buenos Aires by the time the impaled man hit the floor.

Anyway, it was a wise move on Charles Band’s part to let writer/director C. Courtney Joyner step in and new blood this third (and final, in my opinion) chapter in the series. 

Joyner took a page from the Halloween/Highlander series playbook in making a sequel that more-or-less pretends the previous one didn’t happen (but could still work in series continuity if you want to be that way) and he flashes his Not Fucking Around credentials damn near immediately, right after he flashes his I Don’t Give A Fuck credentials upon introducing us to a Latino “scumbag” holding up a Chinese store owner — and when it returns later to that scene, throwing an unsympathetic asshole White police officer into the mix.

This is a better shot film than the last one too; more moving camera and less Jonathan Demme-style close-ups. This feels more like a comic book come to life than the other films; some of the compositions could pass for splash pages (albeit low-budget splash pages) and some of the dialogue could’ve/maybe should’ve been posted as thought bubbles above characters’ heads.

Since the last Trancers, Helen Hunt’s star had begun to rise, appearing in critically acclaimed films like The Waterdance, Bob Roberts, and Mr. Saturday Night and at the time was co-starring in the NBC show “Mad About You”. Some actors would’ve pretended Trancers never happened as soon as they got the seventh lead in some low-rent sitcom on a wannabe network, thinking themselves too big for that bullshit. Hunt, on the other hand not only said yes, she gave up her free time while working on the latter to go work on this film AND she did her own hair. And, if star Tim Thomerson is to be believed on the last film’s commentary, she doesn’t mind that he calls her “Dolphina” because of her forehead. Ladies and gentlemen, Helen Hunt is a motherfucking soldier.

Speaking of soldiers, Andrew Robinson is lots of fun as the Colonel/Creator of All Things Trancer. I’d say he’s the best villain in the series and I would’ve liked to have seen more of him — I would’ve liked to have seen more of everything in this film, to be real with you.

I dug this film and my only real issue is that this story needed a little more breathing room both in scope and budget to really work the way it should, but you know that shit wasn’t gonna happen in a Full Moon production. Whatever, I should just be happy they got that much to spend at all, compared to what passes for a Full Moon budget nowadays.

Oh yeah — some of the shootouts are The Naked Gun/Police Squad! ridiculous, with the sedated bad guys about five feet away from Jack Deth as they fire and miss. But that’s its own kind of fun.

Thankfully, Joyner also replaces Band on the audio commentary with Thomerson. While it’s not as goofy/jokey as the last two commentaries, its still fun to listen to because clearly these two are more in sync with each other than Thomerson was with Band.

In conclusion, there are no mom jeans here, no sirree bob — Lieutenant Helen Hunt is rocking stirrup pants instead.

Suddenly you need Oil of Olay

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 27, 2016 by efcontentment

I was going to see this but then I wasn’t going to see this. Then I was. Or I wasn’t.

As I was going to tell the gentleman on Facebook in my comment when asked if I was serious about not seeing this film, before I realized this was better off posted on my blog: I’m afraid, Kris. So very afraid. Afraid to sit there after paying for the ticket, the popcorn, the soda, the candy — all that to make the experience easier to sit through — all that time and money and end up with the feeling that I’ve been had.

Because of the reviews, oh man, those reviews. I wasn’t surprised, because in the comic book movie family, compared to goody-two-shoes Marvel Films, DC Comics is more like the fuck-up brother with moments of potential but mostly he needs a boot in the ass to help get his shit straight. But wow, these are particularly toxic, these reviews. If there were ever road signs telling me that there’s rocky terrain and an unfinished bridge up ahead, the reviews for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were it.

I kinda liked the last one, Man of Steel, even though I had some serious issues with it — namely, for a “fun” superhero movie it was pretty goddamn gloomy. But then maybe I’m the asshole here and it was never supposed to be fun, maybe Snyder & Nolan felt like the kids today, they’ve had enough fun in their lives and it’s time to smack ’em with harshness. Times have changed, bitches, and it’s time to toughen up, knuckle up, and pull yourselves up by your bootstraps: You want Reading Rainbow to help you enjoy books? Kickstart it with your dollars, kid. You wanna go to Sesame Street? Subscribe to HBO, you little lazy bastard. And you want a nice Superman who stands for Truth, Justice, and the American way? Watch the old shit, you young fuck.

Where was I? Oh yes, this film and why I was torn between seeing it and not seeing it. If you are a regular reader than you see this coming much like I saw most of this film coming, even though I never watched a single trailer. You know what I’m talking about — you know who I’m talking about.

amy-adams easter bunny

Oh, Amy. Why do you have to be such a talented — but more importantly, sincere and likable! — actress who seems genuinely appreciative of her success and carries no airs of fakery? And if you’re just that good at hiding the fakery, then you are in fact the greatest actor ever because even the best thespians of either gender fail miserably at doing that.

Meryl Streep is my jam, but man oh man is she suspect whenever she doesn’t win something. And remember Anne Hathaway’s shameless attempts when she was racking them up for Les Miserables? Or remember your co-star Melissa Leo winning Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter? Oh man, she was the worst at that. Her high/low point was singing along at the end of the Oscar ceremony to Over the Rainbow, holy shit, she thought we would buy that OMG DREAMS DO COME TRUE look on her face.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ll follow you anywhere, but wow, it would’ve been so much easier for me to wait for the R-rated Blu-ray of this movie, rather than deal with the rest of the country going to see this at the same time when I already knew who was going win and lose between Batman and Superman: The studio over the audience. But you’re in this movie, Amy! Anyway, sorry for using my one straight-up question as an excuse to mostly put down others. Sorry about that, Amy. That was very un-Amy with me and I need to fix that.

Take care and be well.

Signed, Me.

The Adorable Amy Adams returns as Lois Lane, but I wasn’t that hot on seeing the sequel in the theaters and the reviews only made me colder to it. So then I’m in the position of only being interested in seeing this film because The Triple A is in it and even then, what if she isn’t in it that much? What am I left with? Something so cynically put together then thrown at the great unwashed masses with such overflowing contempt towards us that it might as well have been directed by Transformers-era Michael Bay and titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the Fallen Dark Moon of Extinction Fuck You Dummy Dumb Dumbs Stupidheads We Love You As Much As Politicians Do So Go Get Fucked You Morons And Shove It Down Your Entrance And Shove It Up Your Exit And Thanks For The New Cars And Houses You Bought Us We’ll See You Next Time With The Next Bucket Of Cine-Slop You Cuntfaced Pig Headed Sheep People?

I remembered feeling burned by the second Transformers garbage bin that was Revenge of the Fallen and I swore I was done with that series, but then people kept going on about how the third one was actually the one to watch. What to do, I wondered. Am I actually going to have to see this one? So I hedged my bet by taking some of that fine green herb with me and toking up like a muthafuckin’ soldier in the parking lot. And you know what? The movie wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t that bad either.

Since then, I’ve cut down — way down — on the ganja. Once upon a time I approached Wake & Bake levels and then I surpassed it, then I realized I was becoming one of those weirdo stoners that I can’t stand and I started to exhibit behavior I loathed in my fellow pot-smoker. So now it’s relegated to the occasional Saturday night/early Sunday morning nightcap, or the occasional legit bout of insomnia.

Or a movie I’m not too sure about.

And so, I got up Saturday morning and drove to the 9:00am IMAX showing of BvS: DoJ, playing “The Love Movement” album by A Tribe Called Quest, which turned out to be their final album. (RIP Phife Dawg!!!) I arrived at the theater by the time “Find a Way” was ending (it wasn’t a long drive) and in the parking lot I busted out the vaporizer and got to work inhaling as much as possible in the short time window available, turning the greenery inside into a nice toasty shade of Fall leaves.

Then I ambled my way inside and you bet your ass I bought some nachos and a two-bladder sized Camelbak of Cherry Coke. I found a good seat and in a couple minutes I was surrounded by children — kids to the left of me, kids to the right, and here I am stuck in the middle of a good-fucking high. I felt irresponsible but fuck it, these kids need to learn about this shit. I figured I was OK so long as they don’t have some weird law I’m not aware of, like, I don’t know, like if being stoned near children qualifies as a Sex Offense or something and next thing I know I’m locked up with Popeye from Blood In Blood Out except he has higher standards than my ass, so instead he just beats the shit out of me.

I actually watched the trailers, except for the Captain America: Civil War one, because audio can’t really spoil shit for me, except for when the kid next to me screamed out the name of someone who pops up at the very last second; Suicide Squad looked interesting; Ghostbusters looked funny and as far as that movie is concerned, I’m good to go despite Melissa McCarthy being in it. The kids around me were pretty hyped up about it, and they were all boys, so take that you adult jagoffs who can’t take females bustin’ ghosts.

Anyway, for these ramblings on Beavis Dodge below, keep in mind that I was as high as Terence Herman Edward Dickens when I watched all of this.


The film begins for me with The Adorable Amy Adams and we’re following her as she interviews an African warlord over there in the African Outback or whatever they call it, and it’s a pretty awesome entrance or maybe it was a decent one but because it’s Our Amy that ups it like 50 percent. So anyway, during all this it’s revealed that her photographer’s camera has a tracking device in it, so naturally the warlord does his thing (it’s noon and he hasn’t killed anyone yet) and puts a .45 slug into this photographer-about-to-become-a-corpse’s head.

Now get this — that guy who just got killed? I find out later that was Jimmy Olsen. No shit. Jimmy Fuckin’ Olsen. I guess that was supposed to be a Holy Shit moment except, uh, I don’t remember this dude in the last film and they didn’t give you any establishment of his character here — not even a hint or clue. So it’s not really a Holy Shit moment, at least not until you look it up online because you saw Jimmy Olsen in the end credits but didn’t remember seeing him in the movie. I honestly don’t know if that was a Fuck You from the filmmakers or a We Just Don’t Give A Shit from them, whatever the fuck ever; Lois ends up getting saved by Supes, so it’s all good.

You know who also doesn’t give a shit? Superman. Later on, Lois has an awkward conversation sitting in a bathtub while Clark Kent (played by The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) stands over her, and she talks about how Senator Holly Hunter is having press conferences featuring Stock African Townspeople saying Fuck A Superman, He Didn’t Save Shit and Clark’s like I Don’t Care.

You sure don’t, Clarky. I wish you did, I wish we saw more of you actually doing heroic stuff and not just the aftermath where Mexicans touch you like you’re The Jesus, and I wish you were portrayed with the same vim and vigor that Henry Cavill brought to the U.N.C.L.E. joint, and I swear sometimes it felt like somewhere off-camera there was a gun being pointed in Cavill’s direction, with some sweaty guy whispering “That’s right, limey, you keep not enjoying yourself. If I see even a speck of light in your performance, it’s curtains for you! Now jump into that bathtub even though you’re wearing clothes, because that’s as lighthearted as it’s gonna get!”

Hey I don’t mind seeing Amy Adams in a bathtub, but it’s not you get to see much anyway, but if you’re into hot dudes then you get Clark standing in his underwear and cooking eggs which didn’t seem very smart given all that hot oil that could potentially burn him but then again, he’s Kal-El, what does he care? He might as well crack eggs on those fuckin’ washboard abs and fry ’em with his Evil Devil Eyes Heat-Vision and forget about ever washing dishes.

Meanwhile in Gotham City — just located across the water a few miles away! — Batman (played by Argo) is doing his thing saving people and branding a fucking Bat logo on the criminals before sending them to prison (where the identification will get them killed). I guess tattooing a number on them before sending them off to a place full of similar folk to be murdered would be too much work. Even Alfred (played by Dead Ringers) is put off by this branding shit; he tells him that he wasn’t like that before and Bruce pretty much gives him some bullshit about how things are worse now so I guess he has to be, uh, worser. It’s also kinda hinted that Bruce Wayne is a drinker, like Affleck in real life.

Ah, I kid the rich and handsome actor and director of Academy Award-winning films who wins at life while I just blog about it. Sorry for hurting your feelings, Ben. I remember when the news came out that he was going to portray Batman, and I never had a problem with it. If anything, my only complaint was that he should be directing the movie because he’s a damn good director. As it is, in his actor-solo mode I thought he was really good and it kinda bums me out there isn’t a solo Batman movie featuring Affleck doing some more stabbing and shooting and bone-breaking and setting people on fire.

It’s a trip, man, it’s like Snyder and company thought the already controversial Burton/Keaton Batman was a pussy. But love it or hate it, you gotta give points to this Batman for using an electronic voice modulator so he doesn’t have to do that lame growl voice that Christian Bale had to do. One day, when I’m ready to die, I’ll find Bale at a bar and walk up to him and give him sooooo much shit about that voice.

Or maybe I won’t give him shit, because according to those e-mails that were leaked out of Sony, my man C.B. stepped in and gave a little of that Light Trashing magic to that niece-molesting actor-bullying fuckhead David O. Russell for making The Adorable Amy Adams cry. HE MADE HER CRY. This shitmouth has a history of this, and it takes a Bale or a George Clooney to ring this asshole’s bell every once in a while which is not nearly enough. So I’m happy his ode to poor Stockholm Syndrome-suffering Jennifer Lawrence, Joy, underperformed at the box office, because the more of those he makes, the less The Powers That Be will throw dollars at him, and the sooner he becomes Yesterday’s News — at least until a decade or two later when when his old movies become popular again and he tours the revival cinema circuit to blah blah the packed enraptured crowds, the way we do with Former Hot Shit/Terrible Human Beings like William Friedkin. And I say this as a major, major, major fan of William Friedkin — the filmmaker.

And I think you see a bit of where my crush on The Adorable Amy Adams comes from: the possibility that maybe she’s a genuinely decent human being and yet she managed to find success in a business where nice people finish last and walking twats win awards and get away with terrible behavior. I’ll always cheer on people like that. This blog entry will be hilarious to read after it comes out that Amy Adams is like a secret Nazi or something, or she does something stupid and open up a Twitter account and have an opinion. Then that will be the end of The Triple A.

Anyway, fuck those guys. As much as I think the movie really begins with Our Amy, it actually begins with this cool sequence that goes back and forth between Young Bruce Wayne at his parents’ funeral and the night they were shot dead by Joe Chill (after Thomas Wayne makes the incredibly smart move of taking a swing at the handgun-toting Chill). Then it goes into him falling into that bat pit and getting all batted on and I guess he’s the King of the Bats or something now because they encircle him and levitate him up towards the light.

It worked for me, and it made me think for a second that I was actually watching a straight-up new Batman reboot (which I guess it is, but it’s also a Superman film, a Justice League film, etc.), but then it goes into the events of Man of Steel, when the World Engine is fucking up Metropolis and I guess it wasn’t doing a fast enough job, so here comes Superman and Zod to speed up the destruction process.

While this is happening, Middle-Aged Bruce Wayne is driving his SUV trying to get his people out of one of his buildings, but hey, he’s the star and they’re just bit players. Doesn’t take Neil Degrasse Tyson to figure out how that’s gonna work out — and that’s because he’s too busy making a cameo in this film. I gotta say, I thought all of that worked but that could be because 9/11-style imagery mixed with a soon-to-be-smooshed dude praying to God to save his soul is gonna automatically give me a case of the Strong Emotions. (I don’t think this film is gonna play very well in Pakistan at the moment either. Sigh.) Call it cheating, call it good filmmaking, but mostly I prefer to call it bad-taste ballsiness. This film? This Batman v Superman film? It’s actually kinda fascinating.

For example, check out Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and then go nominate that dude for Best Supporting Actor or give him two in the back of the fucking head so he never does it again — either way I’m fine with it. Because never have I felt like jumping at the screen and tearing it to shreds the way I felt while watching him, ruining my goddamn high, this fuck. His Luthor is an absolute shit of a human being in every goddamn way: the way he walks, the way he talks, the way his face will twitch. It got to where it was starting to hurt me watching him breathe.

His Lex Luthor is this super-rich kid with eccentricities upon eccentricities multiplied by many social anxieties and everybody puts up with it because he’s a Master of the Universe. I guess that’s why he has this hard-on for Superman, ’cause he’s going on and on about how people see Supes as a God and this bothers him. Maybe the idea that someone could be on a higher plane than him really rubs Lex raw. So he disguises this player-hating as looking out for the world, because you can’t have this being roaming around with the potential to burn it all down to the ground whenever/if ever he felt like it. That’s why he has his people locate Kryptonite and that’s why he tries to get Senator Holly Hunter to get with the idea of keeping Supes in check with the green shit. But in the end, he’s setting up Supes and Bats to fight it out because Man Must Fight God, and if God Is Dead then ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz I really didn’t care and plus I was too high to really pay attention to any scene that wasn’t focused on the star of Enchanted.

Oh by the way, for those who’ve seen this film: didn’t you think those Polaroids that Lex had of Martha Kent being held captive were a touch much? Poor Diane Lane, but I guess you take what they give ya. I mean, they were really freaky and looked like something out of some serial killer/rapist’s collection. Again with the bad taste and insanity of the film — and the filmmakers.

This may not be the most popular opinion, but I never felt so much hate towards any of the Marvel film villains, or any hate at all, compared with how I felt about Lex-Dog. So I’m giving DC the award for having the better bad guy in a comic book film. He was so cartoonishly evil and petty, he almost seemed like a real human being. In other words, Eisenberg’s Luthor was absolutely Shkrelian.

There’s a nightmare sequence where Batman is living in post-apocalyptic Wherever and he’s searching for the last piece of Kryptonite or something, but it turns out to be a setup and suddenly he’s surrounded by black-clad soldiers with Superman arm patches and they start beating the shit out of him — and then! Then these winged devils or whatever the hell they were swoop in and start pulling bodies away and it’s all so very insane.

It felt like something out of the most expensive Christian-exploitation movie never made (or if some billionaire asshole funded a film adaptation of a Jack Chick cartoon tract) where it’s the near-future and the poor Christians are being hunted down for being down with G.O.D. (Happy Easter, btw) and they have to take the Mark of the Beast and they just got caught trying to smuggle The Last Bible In Existence, because all the bibles are being burned and crosses are being destroyed and then on television Dictator-For-Life Obama is talking about bringing our former enemies together and now abortions are mandatory (for men and women!) and our national flag is now the Islamic crescent moon & star and Oh My God The Poors Have Health Care! And the Homos Are Getting Married! And if only they let me keep my guns and my Jesus, this would’ve never happened!

By the way, The Poors Have Health Care! And the Homos Are Getting Married! sounds like the most fucked-up Andy Milligan film ever.

Speaking of fucked-up, there’s also some disturbing undercurrents? and metaphors? or hidden messages? in this film. What I’m saying is that Lex’s plan involves blowing up the Capitol Building in order to drum up more hate against Superman, and it got me thinking of the conspiracy theories about various False Flag operations like, well, like 9/11 and how it was done in order to justify going over to Fuckheadistan (thanks London Has Fallen!) and get that sweet sweet guzzleline, and I wondered if that was the purpose of Snyder and company or maybe I’m just falling into the stoner trap again, forgive me.

Oh, another thing about the Capitol Building scene; I saw a name plate for someone named “Sen. Purrington” and I decided that if I ever decide to get a cat, that’s what I’m going to name it.

So what of the ultimate showdown? It was OK. Pretty much what I expected, with a couple cool gadget traps being used by Bats and Supes using his powers to punch him back about a couple miles. It’s all technically awesome but I didn’t really give that much of a care about who would win. All I could think about was the tagline to Alien vs. Predator: “Whoever wins…we lose.”

You have the two comic book titans facing off against each other — thankfully this time they’re in an abandoned part of town, the better to lessen collateral damage — and yet I was more into the scenes of Lois Lane walking around holding this Kryptonite-tipped spear and she looked awesome/adorable doing so. Where’s that movie? Shit, I’ll direct that spin-off, if they’ll let me.

It’s like Snyder read my ramblings about the last film and kept in mind that I really dug seeing The Triple A walking around with a space blaster thingamajig and thought “Hmm, how can I please ol’ EFC with this one?” and he certainly did. So thanks, bro. See you at the gym tomorrow, where we’ll bench press some heavy weight and laugh at the skinny flabby weaklings — where’s my high-five, broseph?

There are no stingers in this film, which I found out with my trusty RunPee app, which not only told me not to bother sticking around after the end credits, but also let me know that Kevin Costner’s Pa Kent showed up to pep talk Clark while I was busying emptying the ol’ bladder. So yeah, no stingers, but that’s because there’s a sequence late in the film that feels like all the stingers put together; this is where you see the rest of the Justice League like Aquaman, The Flash, some Black dude all chopped up and with wires sticking out of his body cavities looking like Murphy in Robocop 2, and Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman.

Almost forgot about her: Wonder Woman shows up to join in on the CGI-fighting shenanigans and it all looks good in a visual sense, and while the soundtrack was telling me DUDES! DUUUUUUDES! WONDER WOMAN IS HERE! SHE’S KICKING ASS WITH BATMAN AND SUPERMAN! AND SHE’S SMOOOOOOOKIN’! ISN’T THIS AWESOME! I nodded and said to no one “Hell yeah, this is awesome — dipping the jalapenos that came with my nachos into the melted cheese was an excellent idea!” Don’t laugh, lady and gentleman, these jalapenos went above and beyond the call of duty and I applaud whoever grew them and whoever was in charge of picking them for this movie theater establishment.

Say what you will, and I’m gonna say what I will: Zach Snyder is now an honest-to-goodness genuine auteur. Triple-feature this film, 300, and Sucker Punch and you’ll know more about this guy than he probably even knows about himself. Among many things I learned from his two Superman movies is that Snyder’s favorite Superman is the drunk & angry people-hating one that split from Clark Kent in Superman III, the one who will punch a hole into an oil tanker because Fuck The World.

Like I said earlier, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a fascinating film to experience. If you’re too much of a comic book fan or love the older incarnations of Supes and/or Batman too much, maybe you should stay away. No, you should definitely stay away. But on its own, the movie does a good job taking a long time telling a simple story, but it’s redeemed by the whacked-out style and perverse decisions that I can only describe as…well, I don’t know how to put it succinctly (he says after spending numerous paragraphs going on and on and on). Is it a train wreck? Um, maybe — but it’s more like a train derailed by gigantic testicles. People are dead and the train is destroyed but wow, look at the big balls on that guy, I didn’t know they made them that big! Not for nothing, but Snyder’s production company is called “Cruel and Unusual Films” — which is right on the goddamn money, Zachy.

So I liked the movie, but not for the reasons that your average Batman and/or Superman fan would want to like it, let’s put it that way. As it is, my commitment to this particular galaxy in the DC universe is probably going to last as long as Amy Adams is involved. But what do I know? The kids seemed to bounce around like crazy during the BvS stuff, and fidgeted like mad during everything else.

In conclusion, I hope Soledad O’Brien made it out OK.

I should’ve known about this motherfucker the second he began reminding everyone around him that his birthday was coming up about a month-and-a-half in advance, on some Hint-Hint type shit.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 23, 2016 by efcontentment

My coworker loves to talk about his life and I don’t think he minds that I’m wearing earbuds and listening to podcasts while he’s venting because that’s all he’s really doing — venting. Long ago, I used to talk with him and try to cheer him up by reminding him that it’s a big blue ball we live on, and we, brother? We are legion. So you’re never really alone, I tell him, because millions out there have had their worlds rocked in various magnitudes — many higher than yours — but they got through it and if they got through it, so can you! Then I usually cock my head to the side and give a big ol’ smile and wave at him, with that gay shit.

OK, that’s unfair and offensive, but you are reading the words of a man who last month watched his coworker tear up and fight back sobs before going up to him and giving him a hug because it seemed like the right thing to do. You are reading the words of a man who would occasionally bring his coworker a donut or a pastry or a fucking breakfast burrito in the morning in an attempt to brighten his day with a little kindness. You are reading the words of a man who used his personal time to fill up a flash drive with various movies that he felt the coworker would like and would help him get through this bad time, and instead gets to hear his coworker constantly bemoan being “bored as shit at home” as if there was nothing for him to WATCH.

In other words, you are reading the words of a schmuck.

And what exactly is the coworker’s latest tragedy that even a daily dab of hash oil in the morning — as is his daily custom — will not cure? The coworker became friendly with a neighbor in his apartment — a neighbor with kids — and this friendship involved dinners at her place, rides to work, and nights out at the local craft brewery. Soon, this lady began to “catch feelings” for him and his response was that he wasn’t interested in a relationship because he had just come from a bad one.

A few months later, he began to catch feelings for her, and when he told her this, she then informed him that she had a boyfriend/baby papa in prison who will be released in a few months, hence that’s a No Go on replacing “friend” with “relation” on this ship. And that, dear reader, is when the tears began to roll.

I am going to open up a bit more and talk about something I don’t really like to talk about — yup, I’m bringing up Daddy again.

You see, I never brought up my father’s death on Twitter or Facebook, not because I didn’t want to talk about it, but because I didn’t want to fuck with anybody’s day. I only mentioned it here on the blog, because if you clicked on the link, then you are entering of your own free will knowing that whatever you are exposed to was a result of you being interested and may God have mercy on your soul. (I’ve since come to the conclusion that this was a terrible mistake. In addition to the blog, I should’ve shouted out the dearly departed old man on every fucking social media network that I was a member of, the same way I know all of you would do the same thing.)

And I never brought it up at work except to let my boss know why I was taking time off, and I never walked around all morose & moaning & wailing among my coworkers because we have to be fucking professionals and do our best as members of an ensemble cast in this fucking movie we call Life, motherfucker! This guy, on the other hand, not only thinks he’s the star, he must’ve been busy smoking weed with his asshole friends in school when R.E.M. came out with “Everybody Hurts”.

You know, he kinda reminds me of me, maybe that’s what it is. Because I remember a couple years ago I responded to a friend’s e-mail with this real fucking epic pity party because the movie I directed turned out to be such a piece of shit. I went on and on in such a Woe Is Me type way, and I was so far up into my own fat ass that I conveniently forgot that the person I was writing to had spent a good portion of her life BEDRIDDEN AND UNABLE TO FUCKING WALK. She has since gotten better but it’s still tough with obstacles like Cuntface in her way whining about a fucking movie. By the way, I actually had to take a break right now to literally smack myself in the face about three times in some weird kinda Catholic punishment for that bullshit. Anyway, where was I?

So I think maybe you understand why I might be feeling a growing resentment towards this coworker who is letting what is ultimately minor in the grand scheme of things affect him to the point that he’ll literally moan/groan out of nowhere because he is soooo much in pain, this guy who shows little empathy to others but expects every bit of sympathy to be given. This is a man who in his current condition can be sullen towards everybody else at work, whereas I was still putting on a happy face and joking around with everybody while waiting to go home so I can cry alone about my recently deceased father. My coworkers are human beings who just want to make a living and go home and deal with their own problems — why would I punish them for something they didn’t do?

Whatever. I have my earbuds. And I have the knowledge that this is a man too hip to be happy. A man who subconsciously (at least) enjoys feeling terrible. While some of us had been exiled from contentment, he apparently sent himself away and is now possibly institutionalized from the experience. No man is an island — except this one, and he evidently believes that his is the only island where pain can occur. This morning we spoke about the tragic events in Brussels for about 5 minutes, and then he changed the subject to the Same Ol’ Shit for another two hours. So I now feel confident in rubber stamping Fuck This Guy on his file folder. I gave him a hug, I gave him my time — now I’ll just give him the impression that I pretend to give a shit.

On the bright side, I got two raises in the last year because my boss confided in me that I knew how to “handle” this asshole.

It’s too bad my coworker is not at all like Christian Bale’s character in Knight of Cups, the latest film from my man, Terrence Malick. I say that because Bale’s character — whose name I can’t remember, nor does it matter, so then I’ll call him “Fool” — has had various relationships go south and there never was a moment in the film where he pulls any of that coworker shit with the other people in his life. No, he just mostly wanders around, the way people do in a Malick joint. And why is he wandering? Why is he here? Why are we here? Why is life so difficult? Why do people still give Malick shit for the kind of films he makes when it’s pretty clear he is operating on his own level and doesn’t give a shit about things like Story and Plot when he’s got more metaphysical fish to fry?

These are all questions we have and Malick too has those questions (except the last one) because he is human like the rest of us. His career has been leading to these types of questions more and more since The Thin Red Line and it’s been a real trip for those of us who signed up for the journey. His films used to be more classically composed in the visual department, but like most directors, Terrence Malick has slowly changed his style over the years; it started with The New World, because that’s when things got more, I don’t know, flow-y? Like, the camera started moving and roving about, following the subject like a curious angel observing this fascinating creation known as Man and Wo-Man. (Whoa, man!)

Then he kicked it up a notch with The Tree of Life, and while we were barely getting our bearings this motherfucker went even farther and further with To the Wonder and I guess he was going way too fast because he lost quite a few of us with that one. I managed to hold on and ultimately I liked it but I felt he’d done better work. But after watching Knight, I wonder if I’d like To the Wonder even more now. Why? Because I liked Knight of Cups very much, even though it’s even more, uh, opaque and deals with something I’m getting kinda tired of seeing in movies (which I’ll get to soon). Maybe To the Wonder goes down easier now?

FYI, the original title for that film was To the Wonder To the Wall Till the Sweat Drip Down My Balls Till All These Bitches Crawl (Skeet Skeet Motherfuckers, Skeet Skeet Goddamn).

But yeah, I wasn’t sure at first about this one because when I read the synopsis — knowing that it would probably tell me more than the film would, because Terrence Malick makes films that you don’t have to worry knowing too much about before seeing it — I kinda rolled my eyes when I read that Bale’s character Fool was playing a screenwriter in Hollywood. But I also felt, hey, maybe now Malick will actually get a chance at winning Best Picture or Best Director, because you how the Academy loves movies that involve The Business They Have Chosen, right?

Well, you wouldn’t really know that Fool writes movies, except for a line said by one of his agents, something like “All you wanna do is write big movies in Hollywood” and even then that line you could barely hear because Malick isn’t really that interested in what these people have to say to each other, and is more into what they’re thinking. Yup, just like his other films the characters have their own inner monologues on the soundtrack and some of it is on the nose and some of it only makes sense to the person saying it. No really, I don’t even think Malick knows what some of this means and I think that’s the idea.

What do I mean? I mean I think he came up with this idea for the film because the premise is more or less (I’m sure, or at least I think I’m sure) an autobiographical one, but used it as a springboard to delve into more personal shit for himself AND personal shit for we the viewers (but more on that much later); Fool the screenwriter goes to Hollywood to write movies and ends up doing that but also ends up doing a lot of partying and drinking and whoring and fucking around with Asian chicks in his classic Lincoln Continental on his way to the usual rooftop bacchanalia, and then spends the early morning after staring out to the horizon thinking about what it all means. What an asshole. If I were in that position — and I’m sadly not, but not for lack of trying — I’d spend that morning looking for somewhere to have breakfast, preferably with one of my fellow partiers, preferably a couple of them, and preferably of the female persuasion.

What are you saying, you ask: I’m saying that even though this takes place in the Here and Now, this is pretty much what Malick probably did back in the 60s and 70s when he was writing movies, before he stepped up to the bat and knocked it out the fucking park with Badlands. But he wasn’t just banging and passing out on couches, he also had time to grow up a little and get himself into the occasional relationship with a lady. He even got married for a while, and then moved on to hooking up with a married woman which I guess was his way of compromising, like “I won’t get married but I’ll find a wife”. I’m talking about Fool mostly, I can’t say if Malick was fucking around with married women but I do know he’s been married three times so he must like ’em hitched one way or the other, dig?

I don’t know what kind of quality wool Malick was pulling, but Bale gets some pretty choice chicks in this film: Natalie Portman, the chick from Slumdog Millionaire, the chick from the Point Break remake that I actually paid to watch, a chick I don’t remember from one of the Transformers movies because who actually remembers that garbage, Imogen Poots from the Society of People With Unfortunate Last Names, and Cate Blanchett — but as regular readers of this blog probably already know, her full name is Cate Blanchett Who Held Open The Door For Me At The Arclight Hollywood At A Screening of Notes on a Scandal.

The biggest tip-off that this is based on his life back in the day is that it’s kinda dated; for all of his Hollywood lifestyle, you never see the dude use a smartphone or a computer and as mentioned earlier, his car is vintage too. Plus, if this guy was an actual working screenwriter in the late ’10s, there would’ve been scenes of this motherfucker holding court at the New Beverly Cinema or the Cinefamily, introducing movies he likes to packed crowds, all of them held in rapt attention to every word he says like he’s Paddy Chayefsky or some-fucking-body, even though he probably wrote one well-received genre movie that wasn’t even the director’s best work and I guess that’s why he has fans — because he’s a working screenwriter and that’s closer to The Dream Achieved than most of his 50,000+ Twitter followers will ever get, and that’s why he gets hundreds of retweets every fucking day for every passing thought he posts, and no, I am not the least bit jealous or envious.

I am every bit jealous and envious.

Anyway, the movie is like my writing here: all over the fucking place. But unlike my ramblings, I feel there is something substantial in all of this. The movie starts out with a narrator (Ben Kingsley, I believe) telling the Gnostic Gospel tale from “The Hymn of the Pearl” which is about a young prince who goes on a journey to find a pearl, which I guess is the Pearl of All Pearls considering all the shit he goes through to get it. Problem is, along the way the prince takes a drink and unfortunately this drink must’ve come from the Cosby Vineyard Selection because the prince then passes out and when he wakes up he’s forgotten everything. He forgot who he was, why he was there, and his purpose. His butthole hurts, he doesn’t know why.

So right there, the movie tells you what it’s about. The movie basically spoils it all for you right there if you pay attention rather than question why the fuck we’re looking at a satellite hovering over Earth, making you wonder if Malick is gonna get all 2 Tree 2 Life on us and take us back to Dinosaur Land immediately after.

But he’s not, he takes us back down to Earth with some Go-Pro footage of a desert highway and then we see Bale looking all assed-out near the highway. He’s on his way somewhere but he’s taken a detour to wander around the desert and think of what brought him to this point. And that’s when we go all over the place as his tale is told in various chapters, each with tarot card names like The Hermit, The Hanged Man, Judgment, Death, The Moon, etc. So it’s kinda like The Tree of Life’s Sean Penn sequences, except instead of some douchebag wandering around Dallas, we have Bale wandering around the desert. Ah, what am I saying — Bale’s probably a douchebag in real life too.

I’m bringing up The Tree of Life a lot because I love that film but also because, yeah man, there’s elements of that brought up here too. I already brought up a couple but another one would have to be how Bale’s character had a brother who killed himself a while ago, just like Penn’s character in the aforementioned movie-joint. As mentioned in my ramblings about that film, Malick had a brother who killed himself, so yeah, I can’t talk shit about that, that’s some tragic stuff right there and of course it’s gonna stick with you and you’ll always try to work that shit out in your soul. And you see, man, that’s the beauty of Terrence Malick’s films, this guy isn’t preaching, teaching, or reaching (take that, Cimino!) — he’s wondering. He’s as lost as the rest of us snowflakes, he’s getting older and he still hasn’t figured it out but there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, he’s inviting us to see his attempt to work this shit out but he’s also giving us something to work our own shit out on too.

This film, more than his others, comes closest to a kind of Rorschach cinema (with a slight tinge of Godfrey Reggio and Ron Fricke); it gives us imagery, it gives us moments, and while they can be taken at face value (and enjoyed as such), it can also be something we can interpret in our own way based on our own baggage.The relationship stuff I’m not going to get into because I’ve already exposed enough about myself, so I’ll just say there were a couple lines in there that gave me serious douchechills because of what kind of memories it brought up; basically all my past relationships I look back on with embarrassment (not against them, this is all self-hatred, son). Like, there’s quite a bit of stuff involving Bale’s family; his father is played by Brian Dennehy and at one point Dennehy’s inner monologue is talking about how he thought things would make more sense as he got older but here he is as an old man and he’s just as confused about this world as ever, and then there’s stuff about Bale realizing that there’s stuff his father was trying to teach him but he wasn’t trying to hear it, and he realizes his father was right way after the fact and GODDAMN there I go thinking of my dad again.

Bale’s bro is played by Creepo the Shopping Bag Filming Creep from American Beauty and Creepo is really good here, playing some dude who lives in the real L.A.; I’m talking about the downtown areas where the poor and downtrodden try to get by on a day-by-day basis, and it’s also one of the few times you see people from the darker echelon and I’m grateful for it. I’m getting fucking tired of people putting down Los Angeles as being this super fake plastic town, when what they’re really doing is generalizing the fuck out of the tiny portion they were exposed to. I want to tell these out-of-town fucks that just because you work in the film business and you only deal with film people, it doesn’t mean that is of what the entire city is comprised.

The real majority will soon be made of minorities, and when you talk about how an earthquake should sink the whole fucking town you’re giving me images of Latinos, Blacks, Asians, South Asians, Middle Easterners, everybody else I’m leaving out because this paragraph would be too long, the working class, the struggling, the poor, the hungry, the ones who take the fucking bus not because it’s good for the environment but because they have no choice, the ones who used to shop at Grand Central Market before it started getting gentrified and expensive, the ones who are constantly late for work because of yet another fucking road closure (so they can film a fucking movie), everybody else who doesn’t use valet parking, the ones just trying to get by, I see all of them drowning like another movie from that disaster porn filmmaking asshole Roland Emmerich and that’s why I’m going to put this baseball bat across your fucking face until it looks like Garry’s face when The Thing ’82 got him.

I will say this about the downtown L.A. stuff; Bale is wandering around the streets and not once does a disheveled-looking gentleman approach him all polite-like, greeting him, asking him how he’s doing and Man, how about this heat? and maybe compliments his outfit — and then hits him up for a dollar or two. Because at least for me, I can’t stand in one spot for more than 30 seconds in certain parts of the downtown area without least 2 instances of that occurring. To be fair, it used to be more like 4 instances of that, but the past few years they’ve been Giuliani-ing the fuck out of downtown so there’s that too, I guess.

It’s cool to see Malick and three-time-in-a-muthafuckin-row Academy Award-winning raza cinematographer (¡raza, güey!) Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki work their visual magic in and around the Los Angeles area; they shoot in downtown, the Hollywood Hills, Koreatown, Venice, Santa Monica, Burbank with the fuckin’ studios. Also lots of footage shot in freeways, looking at the road ahead, behind, or the sights beside it; man, it reminded me of when I was younger and didn’t have a license. One of my simplest pleasures was looking out the window from the car, looking at the buildings, or the land, all that shit. I miss it, and whenever I get the opportunity to be a passenger, I take advantage. Because it sucks driving and not being able to glance over and enjoy the sight of Los Angeles at night. Not unless I want to then follow it up with me going “OH SHIT!” as I almost crash into someone’s Prius.

They even journey out to the desert in Death Valley, making a stop in Palm Springs, and there’s time left to make a stop over in Las Vegas, Nevada where it appears they managed to find the real Elvis Presley because this Elvis was old, fat, and looked nothing like him. They even shoot over at one of those massive concerts, the kind of laptop spinning affair where the DJs show their appreciation to the throng of sweaty molly-popping peeps by throwing cake at them and somehow he or she doesn’t get a shotgun blast to the face for that rude shit.

Once again we are treated to the winning combo of Malick’s penchant for roving handheld cameras and Lubezki doing the wide-angle lens thing and it looks wonderfully dreamy as always, but on this film they pull a couple new tricks from their bag; in addition to 35mm and 70mm, they shot this sucker on digital — but not just your usual Arris and Reds, they also toss in some GoPro and even what looked to me like lower-end cell phone video. And it never felt gimmicky, it all felt…right. If for nothing else, Knight of Cups is good cinematography porn. I noticed I’ve said “porn” like three or four times already, and it’s probably because I’m horny.

Speaking of horny, all you Quentin Tarantino types are gonna have your Hattori Hanzo swords standing at Full Attention with all the foot shots in this film. No joke, it got to where I thought that clearly Malick must have a thing for tootsies. I mean, he shoots a lot of footage for his films and you could probably edit three or four films out of them. So he easily could’ve put together a cut that had zero foot shots but I think he was looking out for his fellow foot fetishists, rather than keep that footage for himself in a hard drive reserved for spanking, labeled “Tax Returns”.

But yeah, it got to a point where I thought to myself, “all that’s left is for someone to stick her foot in some dude’s mouth” and lo and fuckin’ behold, here comes Natalie Portman sticking hers into Bale’s mouth. Even though it’s a foot, it didn’t gross me out because I’m sure Ms. Portman is a clean woman. But what got me kinda skeeved out was watching a scene in a strip joint, where Bale talks up this stripper who then takes out this giant lollipop and sticks it into his mouth. I’m thinking “Jesus Christ, Bale, you know she does this for a living, right? You think you’re the only one she’s offered that same exact lollipop?” Man, imagine all the various Heps and Herpes and Desperation all over that candy, in addition to all those unnecessary empty calories. Eww.

Hey man, you like dogs? I love dogs and I love seeing a dog in this movie stumbling around after an earthquake among all the shaken & confused Los Angelenos like he’s thisclose to saying “Is everybody all right? Why didn’t any of you listen to me? Didn’t you see me freak out a few seconds before the shaking started?” There’s also this mini-montage filmed underwater in a swimming pool, where we’re treated to awesome slow-mo shots of dogs in Hawaiian shirts and leis jumping in as they attempt to grab tennis balls; they all open their mouths all wide like AAAAAAARRRRRRR I’M GONNA GET YOU BALL but they all fail at being dogs, and the tennis balls go free. As true a metaphor for life and as true a beauty in cinema as only Terrence Malick can bring you. That’s both a joke and a sincere statement. I’m as confused about it as you are.

Those dogs were part of a big Hollywood party thrown by Antonio Banderas, playing a version of himself named “Tonio”. I almost kinda want the real Banderas to be like the one in Knight of Cups; he’s an unapologetic pussy-hound (“They are like flavors. Sometimes you want raspberry and then after a while you want strawberry.”) and I’d like to see a spinoff buddy film with him and Neil Patrick Harris from the Harold & Kumar films. There are lots of familiar faces at the party, and one of them is Thomas Lennon, formerly of “The State” and “Reno 911!” and currently mostly of writing many a shitty high-concept studio screenplay. Anyway, he has a pretty cool interview where he talks about working on this film and it’s a great look into how Malick makes his movies.

Damn, man. I went on and on here, and the sad truth is I can keep going on but I think I’ve kept you for way too long — and I ain’t no Ariel Castro, you’re free to leave whenever. But I guess that shows to go you that I really liked this movie, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. I don’t do Top 10 lists but goddamn if this doesn’t end up on the year-end Best Of that I won’t make. As of now, it’s up there with The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life as the Malick films that hit me hardest while watching them for the first time.

I’ve said this before when rambling about his other films, but it bears repeating: The overall message in this film is a very simple one and it’s often told and often heard, and maybe some of us are tired of hearing it. But it doesn’t make it any less true, and sometimes we need to be reminded. But I totally get it if you see this film and don’t like it at all. I mean, that’s art for you: some will see beauty, some will see garbage, and some will just go “eh”. And I’m not one to throw that word out so easily either, “art” — especially in an industry filled with artisans who mistake themselves for artists. They see themselves as The Real Thing and then they try to convince others by constantly talking about how great they are. And that right there, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is Exhibit A through Z as to why they are not. But Terrence Malick? He ain’t saying shit. He just does it.

In conclusion, my coworker needs to shut his bitch ass up.

Forget it, Jake. It’s Oceania/Eurasia/Eastasia.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 14, 2016 by efcontentment

Girl, things are scarier now than ever on this increasingly fragile planet. If you go around and read the news or if you already all read’d up on the world theatre — and I don’t mean the American mainstream media bullshit that is all up on Trump’s ballsack, reporting on its hairs’ various shades and textures — then you’re probably wondering What The Fuck as well.

Once again you have North Korea and home-chingu Kim Jong-un with his usual Somebody Set Up Us The Bomb threats and rhetoric, and while it’s usually lip-flapping, this time it seems like he’s stepping it up a notch after some crippling sanctions, and it’s a little too much of a coincidence that South Korea and the good ol’ US of A (with some help from Australia and New Zealand) have now gotten together for the “largest scale ever” military drills that are a little too close to the Real Thing — and the DMZ. It’s all Seth Rogen’s fault, the Bud Light-hawking fuck.

And if it’s not one thing it’s another; Russia’s been stepping up and making moves like Jagger and Kasparov combined because their leader is a dude who misses the 80s almost as much as I miss the 90s — my man, Mr. Don’t Give A Fuck himself, Vladimir Muthafuckin’ Putin, baby. Doing his thang in Ukraine, causin’ mass hysteria in Syria (although as of typing time he’s pulling troops out of there, which of course makes me wonder Where Next?), and as of my writing this, is currently setting up a test launch of sixteen — sixteen!! — SLBMs at once from a nuclear submarine for no other reason than to let us in the U.S. know that they (he) can wipe us out almost as fast and easy as I can wipe out a plate of nachos. I can count about 16 different ways that can go wrong and the way he’s bending and breaking these rules of world conduct, you’d think this guy was an American!

V.P. reminds me of Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas; he’s the kind of guy who cheered for the bad guys in the movies — specifically in the 80s when those from the Soviet Union were the Top Baddies in Hollywood cinema. I bet he loved seeing Ivan Drago do his thing, and I bet you nowadays when he watches Rocky IV he shuts it off just as Balboa is about to go into his speech about how if I Can Change And You Can Change Everybody Can Change, preferring to end his film as a story about a Russian who gave his all in the name of Communism — choosing to ignore the part where Drago specifically declared that he’s fighting for himself, which is OK because everybody does that with at least one film, the way I chose to ignore Ridley Scott’s silly statement about Deckard being a Replicant in Blade Runner.

Putin probably likes the Rambo films because the Evil Red Menace is so fucking scary bad in them, he likes the two sequels in spite of the shorty American and his magical killing powers making things right for Capitalism. You know what? He probably laughed his ass off watching Stallone lose Best Supporting Actor for Creed to Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies — and how fucking perfect was it that his performance as a dude who once brought the United States and Soviet Union together did not match up to a performance of a dude who spied for the muthafuckin’ Russian government! Holy shit, I bet Putin stood his shirtless ass up and gave a hearty clap and laugh throughout Rylance’s acceptance speech. Then he used one hand to aim a rifle out the window to shoot a bloodthirsty lion while using the other hand to do dumbbell curls with the heaviest weight possible.

See, honey, Putin wants to bring it back to the good ol’ days when Russians were feared and not mocked on found footage fuck-up shows like “Ridiculousness” or “World’s Dumbest” or the evening news. He wants to bring it back to when his Red brothers were represented in cinema as big, scary, and missing a sense of humor — not big burly drinkers with hearts of gold given to stupid macho stunts.

Well in that case, perhaps he’d like to watch the film adaptation of the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which is a step forward in bringing back the concept of the scary Russian to cinema but a step back in that it takes place in the 1960s (same time that the series aired), giving the impression that Scary Russians were a long time ago. But hey, at least moves were made. The Russian is Illya Kuryakin played by the Winkle-vii himself, Armie Hammer, and he’s really good doing the whole Russian KGB agent deal, a dude who is mostly serious but occasionally will display pride when talking about how the Spanish Steps in Rome were really a creation of a Russian architect, but under all that steely resolve, the dude has some rage issues stemming from his disgraced father spending the rest of his days in a gulag and I think his mother was a whore or at least very friendly. If you catch Illya at the wrong time and you happen to be a piece of furniture, you’re screwed.

He does his job for Mother Russia and does it well, and his latest gig involves dealing with Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill (and who is as pitch-perfect in this film as Hammer). In a cool briefing montage, Illya finds out that Solo fought in WWII before working his military career into a hustle in a mostly successful career as a thief. I say “mostly successful” because then he eventually got pinched by the CIA and his life has become theirs to do with as they please, which in this case means doing the CIA agent thing with all the various spy-shenanigans involved.

The first 15 minutes are a cool — I’m probably going to use that word a lot here, “cool” — chase as Solo tries to get Ex Machina out of East Berlin (those were the days, eh, comrade?) while Illya is like a Russian Terminator in that he just won’t stop coming after them, except this plays out far less scarier and far more chill. My favorite moment during this sequence is when Solo has a clear advantage and can just put as many bullets into Illya as he wants but doesn’t because “somehow it just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do”, which makes sense when you realize that Solo is tripping out on this guy as much as we in the audience are tripping out on him. You just don’t kill something that interesting!

And that’s the attitude Solo has throughout the film after circumstances dictate that he partner up with Illya on a job that involves among other things: nuclear warheads, a computer disk that looks like half a VHS roll inside an old scotch tape dispenser, Italian mugger assholes, a Nazi rocket scientist, an Italian race car-driving asshole, Jared Harris doing a great job playing an English actor trying to play an American CIA dude, Italian assholes hogging up the men’s room, and a striking tall blonde contessa (played by Elizabeth Debicki, for whom I shall now keep an eye out). Worst of all, they have to deal with that bitch-ass Joseph Goebbels from Inglourious Basterds opening his mouth to reveal partially chewed caviar and Christ, I wanted to shoot this motherfucker in the face for it.

You know who I don’t want to shoot in the face? The lovely Alicia Vikander — she of the recent Academy Award win — playing the East German auto mechanic who can fix cars and she can drift them into parking spaces, and that’s enough to get me to ignore her ignorance when it comes to risotto and truffles and I bet you she chews with her mouth closed. She’s the daughter of the aforementioned Nazi rocket scientist, which is why the CIA breaks her out of the bad side of Deutschland, getting her out of those dirty overalls and into some very cute 60s outfits. Vikander also rocks the hell out of some pajamas and sunglasses, half-drunk and dancing and making me forgive her for stealing Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Oscar.

Just so I don’t completely come off sexist, our lead dudes are also looking good; Cavill with his American agent chic and Hammer with a more austere kind of chic. They both look smooth as all get-out and do the job of making guys like me want to up my clothes and grooming game. So it’s kind of like the James Bond movies in that way, making some want to be like them and others want to be with them. (Yeah, I know that was an Austin Powers line, but you know what I mean.)

Solo is more of the Bond in this duo, pulling such slick moves like having champagne brought to his hotel room and then telling the attractive concierge that it would be a shame to drink it alone HINT HINT. Shit, only in the movies and even then, only in the 60s before these ladies found out that they were actual human beings and that’s when all the fun ended for my fellow knuckle-draggers. Can you imagine pulling that shit in real life today?! Ay dios mio, there wouldn’t be enough mace in the world for the lady you try to make that move with. She’d have to have two mace canisters taped together jungle-style so that once she’s emptied the first one, she could flip over to the fresh one and give you the rest of the goods. And you’d still deserve a swift kick in the balls afterward.

Speaking of James Bond, have you seen Spectre? I have and I didn’t like it. One thing I’m noticing with each new Daniel Craig joint is that they seem to get increasingly glum but at the same time it’s like the filmmakers noticed this so they really tried with this last one to have some humor. Problem is, the humor really seems out of place, like they had no idea of how to blend it well or have it come out more organically. Instead it feels very thought out in a corporate sort-of-way, like they said “at this point we need to have a laugh, because according to our studies…” It feels as fake as when Christopher Nolan tried to become Mr. Warmth with some of Interstellar, which you know to a stiff-upper-lipped Englishman like Nolan is as alien as a Mexican Martian and there you go, I just reviewed two more movies in this one rambling.

But enough of those, let’s talk more about this, this Man from U.N.C.L.E. here. I missed this movie last summer because last summer was the summer of Mad Max: Fury Road, and I kinda regret not catching it back then because it would’ve made a nice change of pace for a couple hours (in between Fury Road viewings). It’s not a great movie but it’s such a fun throwback, and the whole thing has a mostly chill and breezy tone throughout. It’s kind of weird nowadays to see a big studio film released in summer that’s meant to be a summer blockbuster with the hopes of starting a franchise, and it all feels very low-key in comparison to what usually comes out that time of year. It’s a throwback in many ways; the retro style goes beyond the excellent costume and production design, and by the way, thank the maker that the filmmakers didn’t go with some kitschy mocking OMG this is sooo 60s approach.

It isn’t about the era so much as it’s *of* the era — and that includes the way the film was made; Steven Soderbergh was originally attached to this film and a lot of this film kinda has a Soderberghian flavor to it. Most of the movie has the restrained look and pace of a film from the time period in which it takes place — granted, a film from that time period with a little more cinematic style and kick to it. I mean, yeah it’s a Guy Ritchie joint, so that means there is the occasional camera trickery that honestly distracts more than adds to a tale such as this one — or in the case of the final action sequence, totally detracts from the excitement with split screens galore — but it’s still kinda restrained compared to your usual summer fare nowadays. So even if it doesn’t always look retro, it certainly feels retro more often than not.

One way that it’s restrained is in the back-and-forth between Cavill and Hammer; there is little-to-no raised voices between them; somewhere along the way in filmmaking-land it must’ve been decided that the best way for odd couples to communicate was to have them yell at each other all the time. It only works half the time in these movies, and the other half it just feels desperate. It makes me think of other buddy movies of the past 10 or 20 years and I wonder if maybe today’s audience didn’t know what to make of the understated interplay between the leads in this movie.

So many filmmakers were attached to this at one point or another, so this could’ve gone so many different audience-pleasing ways. They could’ve had a Black comic relief character who wouldn’t stop yelling and freaking out about everything or God forbid they could’ve gone with some douchebro type like Jonah Hill farting out one-liners while trying not to die of Fat Fuck Obesity every second of his life, turning everything he’s in into some kind of almost-snuff film and maybe that’s why he gets roles with quality directors like Scorsese and the Coens — they want to make an almost-snuff film and become even more legendary for doing so.

Speaking of ways they could’ve gone with this, I remember way back when From Dusk Till Dawn was about to come out, there was an interview in Details magazine with Quentin Tarantino and Juliette Lewis promoting it. In the interview, Tarantino held court at the Hamburger Hamlet and he mentioned the possibility of making a film version of U.N.C.L.E. starring George Clooney as Solo and himself as Illya Kuryakin. I want you to take a moment to think about that, and whatever you think is whatever you think.

Thankfully we were spared all of that and we got Superman and The Lone Ranger instead. Rather than trying to over-yell each other, our CIA and KGB heroes each have their different approach; Solo is mostly amused/bemused by this hulking Russian, and Illya maintains a professional resolve even though he probably can’t stand that this Yankee isn’t kissing his superior Russian feet daily. Solo is cool because he wants to be, Illya is cool because he has to be. But make no mistake, they’re both deadly when they need to be. They don’t fuck around when shit’s going down, dig?

It’s fun to watch them with their constant dick-measuring in nearly all departments (except the actual measuring of dicks department). Speaking of dicks, Hugh Grant is in this movie, and according to former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, he was the biggest one he interviewed. Anyway, among the many non-penises measured is the various gadgets; I’m a sucker for old-fashioned doohickeys in movies used for spying and bugging and spy-bugging and bug-spying and all that stuff. The movie isn’t filled wall-to-wall with them, but every once in a while when one popped up it never failed to make me smile. And if it’s not gadgets they’re tossing at each other with dismay for their partner’s motherland technology, then they’re giving each other shit about proper fashion choices — in one case, one following directly after the other. I couldn’t help but laugh. They also do something at the end that made me wistful for a time in my life when I actually thought everything was going to be all right between the world superpowers, it was actually kinda beautiful.

I also couldn’t help but laugh at how certain big deal moments are pushed to the background, like when one of our guys takes a break from a chase/shootout by stepping inside an unoccupied truck, raiding the driver’s lunch, then enjoying a quick bite with some tunes on the radio while chaos is reigning a short distance ahead of him. There’s also a torture sequence that is probably one of the few genuinely intense moments in this film — I feel that the dark stuff doesn’t work as well as the light stuff here — but let’s just say that the way the filmmakers chose to close that chapter left me laughing and applauding — much like Comrade Putin watching Mark Rylance win at the Oscars, except I kept my shirt on because I learned long ago not to do that to my fellow humans.

As mentioned way earlier, this film is based on a television show from the mid-to-late 60s but I couldn’t tell you how this matches or measures up in comparison, because I only watched one episode in the middle of the night on Me-TV and even then I wasn’t giving it my full attention. All I remember is that the episode only had Illya in it (played by David McCallum from Dogs or as I prefer to pronounce it, The Doggies) and Napoleon Solo (played by Robert Vaughn) was nowhere to be found. Maybe Vaughn was busy working on a movie or pulling some pay raise bullshit. So I can’t tell you how close or far away from the source material this film is, but if I had to guess, based only on that one episode I sorta-watched? I’d say it’s not very close to it at all.

Eh, that’s Hollywood for you, taking source material and making something else entirely different. But because I don’t carry the baggage of the old series and I took this film in as its own thing, I liked it — it was a cool flick to spend two hours with. The bad guys are real motherfuckers who you want to see get motherfucked, and the good guys are likable and you want to see them motherfuck the motherfuckers, and the ladies are lovely — but more than capable of their own motherfuckery as well.

This wasn’t great shakes at the box office, but it did OK and maybe it’ll do well enough on video to warrant a sequel, I mean, they blew money on a Zoolander sequel and the original didn’t break the bank during its theatrical release either. If they do make a part two, I’d check it out for sure — I wouldn’t pay top evening prices for my ticket but it’s definitely got my matinee money. Anyway, shout-out to a newlywed by the name of Kris Wallace who requested that I check this movie out and ramble about it — so I have and I just did. Thanks for the rec, Kris, and congratulations!

In conclusion, if Putin is bringing the 80s back then that means the 90s aren’t too far behind, and I for one am psyched about it.