Archive for the I Heart Amy Adams Category

No one ever uses the turn signal

Posted in Arrival, douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 29, 2016 by efcontentment

For as many years as this country has left, November 2016 will forever be known as the month that our very own The Adorable Amy Adams had two films released in which she had a starring role, and both of them have had Oscar buzz. Also this was the month where that other thing happened.

I finally made time to catch them both the other day at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena, where I tortured myself with the lovely scent of freshly made popcorn that I can’t eat yet because of some recent dental work. I was able to eat an overly salted soft pretzel, though, which I’m sure gave me about a week’s worth of sodium in one bite.

First, there was Nocturnal Animals, written and directed by (I Don’t Pop Molly, I Rock) Tom Ford, adapted from a novel called “Tony and Susan” (which has now been retitled after the film because, well, money). The Triple A plays Susan, a well-off art gallery owner who is married to The Lone Ranger from The Social Network and has a daughter in college, but clearly she’s not happy, despite living in an awesome house that’s clearly populated by the damning evidence that the person occupying it has nothing but Good News in her bank account. But at least she’s aware. Susan tells her friend that she feels bad about feeling bad, because she knows she has it good.

The scene where Susan confides in her friend? They’re having a dinner party in that scene, and one of the guests is this young woman who is being cheerfully vulgar to the crowd, and we find out she’s a famous actress. I’m going right ahead and assuming that character was a kind of swipe at Jennifer Lawrence, at least because she appears to be the Hot Actress Who Is Such A Regular Joe Like The Rest Of Us du jour, that’s who I was reminded of. There is the occasional moment like that in this film — all of them during the Susan art-world scenes — that made me want to laugh out loud and e-mail Mr. Ford the Catty Motherfucker award.

Anyway, Susan receives a package in the mail from her ex-husband, containing the proof for his new novel. The name of the book is “Nocturnal Animals” and what’s better than having the title of the movie said by someone in the movie? I’ll tell you: having the title of the movie show up during the movie.

You mean, like in the credits?

Bitch, you know what the fuck I mean.

So she’s reading the book, right, and luckily we don’t follow each word she reads but instead we see it played out. The story begins with Donnie Darko from Nightcrawler taking his family on a road trip through West Texas. His wife is played by Isla Fisher aka The Australian Amy Adams, and that right there is why Tom Ford is my dude: he knows what’s up. There’s also a daughter played by quite possibly someone who was created in a machine using both Adams’ and Fisher’s DNA. He and his two Amys end up in a horrifying situation that took me off guard. I hadn’t seen any trailers or ads for this on purpose, I just knew it was a Tom Ford joint and The Adorable Amy Adams was in it, all I expected was that it would probably look good.

Darko’s family end pissing off a group of the kind of angry/cruel/irrational rednecks that would probably feel more at home angrily F-wording up the proceedings in a Rob Zombie film and you can tell these assholes are just looking for an excuse. It’s possibly the most worked up (in a negative sense) I’ve gotten watching a film this year, I was feeling both tensed up and enraged. I swear a couple times I wanted to scream at the fucking movie screen. Plus, I was thinking, what the fuck, this is Texas and nobody has a gun? Isn’t that the whole point of that fucking place — that they’re like their own little country that plays by its own rules and shit?

Ford’s almost as sadistic as those characters, because right when you’re all worked up and ready to see what’s about to happen, the film cuts back to Susan taking a break from reading because the events in the book are working her up in a negative way too. (Also, she’s seeing a lot of parallels between the characters in the book and Susan & Ex-Husband.) The novel then turns into something that feels like some Cormac McCarthy shit written in between chapters of “No Country for Old Men”, and that’s when Michael Shannon shows up and he is, to nobody’s surprise, great in this.

Everybody is great in this, like Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal; this poor guy has been really putting himself out there every year to good notices and nothing else. The Academy finally gave an Oscar to DiCaprio, now they need to give it to Jakey G. here before he does something rash like cine-torture himself for Alejandro G. Innaritu. I don’t know if it’s going to happen for him this year, but Jesus, at least give him a Supporting nod because I think the dude deserves it for his work here.

I would be surprised if Amy Adams gets any kind of award recognition here. Because her character is more internal, that means all her beats have to be subtle, so hers is not a particularly showy performance and you know Oscar is kinda deaf and vision-impaired; they’ll probably be able to make out Gyllenhaal but they’ll be squinting their eyes and cupping their hands to their ears going “Whaaa?” at poor Amy. Whatever, she’s always been bringing the quality goods to these proceedings, which is all that matters.

(Until she eventually wins, of course. Then it will be all that matters. Suddenly Oscars will mean everything.)

The film cuts between the novel, Susan reading it and doing her art gallery/unhappy-well-off-woman-in-her-40s thing, and flashbacks to when Susan and her ex-husband (also played by Gyllenhaal) were in their early 20s. That last part, the early 20s stuff, really tripped me out because there is some kind of movie magic being used here to make them look like they just finished promoting Junebug and Jarhead in ’05. If there’s CGI de-aging being used, then it’s not as heavy as when they young’d up Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War — either that or the technology has improved that much over these past few months, because it looks a lot more natural.

I’m thinking it’s a combination of aging up Adams (black clothes and caked on makeup) and Gyllenhall (thick ass beard) in the beginning, and then cleaning them up in the flashbacks with some light CGI work. Whatever the case, it’s not just the wow factor of that shit that got me, but it worked because it really hit me how much happier and fresher the characters look because Life hadn’t bent them over yet.

This is Ford’s second film, following 2009’s A Single Man (which I rambled about somewhere here) and like that film, this one is pretty goddamn good. (Like that one, this one isn’t the feel good movie of the year either.) He wrote the screenplay adaptation and knocked that out, he gets good performances from his actors, he is clearly a big part of the visual look for this film — a film so beautifully set designed and shot-composed, one could freeze-frame a random moment and frame it on a wall.

And man oh man, you can tell a Tom Ford joint from the others just on the fact that everybody here is so impeccably dressed and groomed. (Even the West Texas stuff gives everyone an artfully disheveled kind of look.) They all look like they stepped out of ads from a fashion magazine; as soon as I saw Armie Hammer step in for a giant glass of iced coffee in this movie, I’m thinking Fuck I Need That Suit I Need That Haircut.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: EFC believes Tom Ford would make a stylish-as-fuck James Bond movie if they’re cool with an American/Texan directing a 007 movie.

Also, there’s two instances of Girls Wearing Glasses here, and in case you didn’t know, that’s like a thing I have. It’s not a fetish, no sir, I don’t need glasses to get hard or achieve orgasm, it’s not that kind of party. I’m just saying it ups every lady’s attractiveness quotient by like 10 percent for me. I can’t explain it, it just is, dude. Like, if I had directed She’s All That, it would’ve been about Laney putting those glasses back on after her makeover. Anyway, Susan puts on glasses sometimes to read the novel and then later on Jena Malone shows up in a pair of thick frames and that put a smile on my penis — FACE! I MEAN IT PUT A SMILE ON MY FACE!

(The rest of you Gyllenhaals and Hammers can stick to contacts and laser eye surgery. No glasses for you. Nobody wants to see that shit. My eyes are Exit Only, bro.)

I hate this motherfucker Tom Ford, this man who already won at life long ago but then decided to become a filmmaker — and he’s great at it! At least so far he’s great at it. Maybe next time he’ll fall on his face and get to feel what it’s like to be loser for once HAHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT FORD

If you’re into seeing naked obese women jumping around with firecrackers but you’re not really interested in this film, then show Amy your support by buying a ticket for this movie, and then sit down and watch the first five minutes of this, then get up and walk over to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and watch that shit. I mean why not? They don’t need your money, they’re gonna make like 20 years worth of sequels for that shit. But I want to see more movies directed by Tom Ford and starring The Triple A, and that shit ain’t happening unless some fuckin’ cash is flowed into their current projects.

I then flowed some more money Ms. Adams’ way while dealing out ducats in Denis Villeneuve’s direction; the second half of my Triple A Double Feature was the aliens-are-here movie Arrival. Look, I get it — there was no disrespect intended towards David Twohy and Charlie Sheen by giving their film the same title as theirs, they shot this as Story of Your Life which is the title of the Ted Chiang’s short story it was based on. But I’m sure the studio suits were like Nah, Bro, Nah and so now we have these dueling Arrivals.

Except I think some respect was paid here, because the original film is titled The Arrival while this one eliminates the The. The filmmakers are saying “It’s cool, we’re Arrival but you guys are THE Arrival and no one will forget that.” It’s kind of like what they did with the Evil Dead remake a few years ago; they were Evil Dead but Sam Raimi’s will always be THE Evil Dead.

Had I not known that this was from the director of Sicario and Prisoners, I would’ve thought this was a Terrence Malick joint early on. It has that same handheld shallow-focus personally close/personally distant look thing going on with narration over it, and I’m thinking, wow, has his style become like a thing now? Like I see even dudes like Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan taking this style, and I’m afraid I’ll get sick of it, the way I’m sick of zombies now. Meanwhile, much like George A. Romero, it seems like Malick is getting props as the originator while everybody else makes bank off of it. It’s not fair, but whoever said this shit was?

So yeah, it opens with our Amy as Dr. Louise Banks, she’s a linguist but she works for a living as a professor at a college, she’s probably too busy to correct your grammar and all that shit online or at least I don’t think she does. Or maybe that’s just an English major thing, I don’t know what Dr. Banks majored in, so who knows if she would correct your tweets and e-mails if she knew you.

Come to think of it, I don’t even know if she has any friends, she just has a nice house by the lake — oh shit, that reminds me, both her character in this film and her character in Nocturnal Animals share similarities in that they both hang their hats in nice pads and both have trouble sleeping. So there you go, it’s the Amy Adams Lives In A Nice House And Can’t Sleep double bill, ya’ll,

Anyway, she lives alone in this nice lake house — well, she lives alone *now* because in the beginning we watch her raise a kid until the kid becomes a pre-teen who then dies of some disease, so we’re dealing with that heavy shit too.

But yeah, she lives alone, and she’s so into her bubble that one day she’s walking through the university while people around her are looking all weirded and freaked, but she doesn’t notice this. She then walks into her class and wonders why there’s like five people in this big room, then everybody’s phones start to ring and she’s like “Huh?” until she turns on the giant flat screen television behind the dry-erase board and that’s when I went HUH?!

Bro, I missed all this good shit. In schools primary, secondary, and post-secondary, if we were gonna watch television for something in class, that shit had to be carted in on some big metal tv-stand shelf cart-thingy. And it was the square tube tv, too. Man, these kids today now have giant flat-screens to watch the world go ape-shit on? Lucky motherfuckers.

Or maybe not, because I was talking to my niece and nephew and they told me that at their schools they got rid of soda machines and sugary snacks and all that shit. The food is all health conscious stuff, and part of me is thinking that’s a very good thing because we need to wean the future generations off of garbage that does nothing for you other than give you a brief moment of joy in this overcrowded sinking ship of a planet. And the other part of me is like, damn, so you kids missed out on insane lunches like Rice Krispies Treats washed down with a Dr. Pepper, which was one of my go-tos in high school. I’m really surprised I still have all ten fingers and toes, to be honest with you.

Anyway, so she finds out on the tv that giant spacecrafts have materialized out of nowhere, 12 in all, and they’re hovering over different spots in the world. There’s one chilling out over a field in Montana, USA and that’s why Colonel Ghost Dog shows up to recruit her to join the Devil’s Tower-meets-Tent City festivities out in that field to help them figure out how to communicate with the things inside and figure out what they want. She’s joined by Marvel’s Hawkeye, playing a scientist who’s all about the math, so fuck that guy — because math is the fastest way to remind me how stupid I am.

What your usual sci-fi action-adventure would spend about a couple minutes on, Arrival devotes its entire running time; the movie is all about trying to figure out how to figure out what these aliens are saying. They just want to be able to ask these things what is the purpose of their visit, business or pleasure? Of course, you have different ideas from different kinds of people; a couple of educated libtards like Dr. Banks and Hawkeye think it’s more of a peaceful let’s-help-each-other type of visit, while shadowy creepy CIA types like the dude from A Serious Man (not to be confused with Tom Ford’s A Single Man) think these aliens are on some Independence Day type shit. Then you have Colonel Ghost Dog who is more of a I Don’t Question Orders, I Just Follow Them type who just wants good enough answers from Banks and Hawkeye to give to his superiors. (He’s also from a part of the country I haven’t figured out yet; based on his accent here, he’s either from Boston or Texas.)

Upon finding out that I was going to see this film, a buddy of mine who had already seen Arrival told me that he liked it and then we had the following text exchange:

See, my Good Friend here has my Amy Adams admiration figured out incorrectly, but I indulge him by responding in kind because that’s what Good Friends do. You talk to me about Amy Adams like that and I’ll indulge you too, you son-of-a-bitch bastard.

(To be honest, I felt like Ms. Adams needed to cover herself up during the bathtub scene in the Batman/Superman movie because there were plenty of men in the audience who were going to get the wrong idea about her. And we most certainly couldn’t have that. She’s a nice girl! Plus, I didn’t want her to catch cold.)

I’m a sucker for scenes of Smart People Figuring Shit Out, like, my favorite scene in Apollo 13 was when all those nerds are gathered around a table and they’re told they have to find a way to get one device to connect another device using only the various tools and junk on the table and Arrival is kinda like that scene. It’s a slow-moving film but not boring, it’s just they’re taking baby steps in this one; the funny thing is even with a deliberate pace the film takes more than its share of shortcuts.

Like early on, when Banks and Hawkeye are taken on-board the ship to talk to the aliens, they go through this whole process of getting on a scissor lift that elevates them to the ship’s entrance, then they hop off and let the ship’s anti-gravity thingy carry them the rest of the way, where they then begin walking the rest of the vertical path like it ain’t no thing. Then they get to this glass wall where the aliens are on the other side — by the way, kudos for finding a way to give us aliens that don’t follow the usual humanoid shape with big eyes and all that. They’re kinda spider-y, kinda octopus-y, and they’re both cool and scary at the same time.

By the time our scientists are boarding the ship for the first time, Ghost Dog and company have already gone through all of this, to the point that Ghost Dog shows no signs of excitement or tension or anything. He seems kinda bored by it. And I’m thinking, holy shit, that’s a whole movie right there! Imagine what these guys went through at the very beginning of this — and how long! — how long did it take them to figure all that shit out about how to board the ship and deal with the anti-gravity and all that shit, before being all nonchalant about it by the time Banks and Hawkeye arrived? If I remember it right, it was about two days before Team Banks arrived. Two days! These boys had to have been working around the clock. And who was the lucky son-of-a-gun who took that first step onto that ship?

(They do carry a bird with them in a cage with every visit, placing it a few feet ahead of them. So maybe they should give that bird a medal of some kind. Or some quality newspaper for its cage.)

Anyway, that’s what I mean by shortcuts. We’ll never know that or how even in the brief period of time they are able to make the advances that they make and then I remind myself that it’s a movie and that they only have so much time to tell this story before losing us all in the minutiae. Besides, that Cleveland Show-looking motherfucker Neil Degrasse-Tyson would shit all over it on Twitter (if he hasn’t already) on how much they got wrong while never understanding that all the degrees and smarts in the fucking galaxy will not help him reach the self-awareness required to step back for a couple seconds and say to himself “Neil, you are doing a lot of good for humanity by stressing the importance of knowledge — in particular in the fields of science and reason. We need a lot more of that in a world drowning in superstition. But dude, you are a thin-skinned asshole who thinks he’s fucking hilarious, and that, sir, is not a good combo.”

No sir, a good combo is Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve. Arrival is a heavy-on-the-science sci-fi joint with some surprising emotion popping up here and there. It features a great performance by The Triple A, but, oh Amy, I’m sorry but you’re probably not getting any Oscar gold with this one either. I’m thinking about it, and I’m realizing that she ends up doing a lot of acting by herself, which has to be one of the hardest things for an actor. I think I mentioned this on the blog a while back, but there is what I call the Robert Forster school of acting, named after one of my favorite actors who will never win an award because his stuff is so subtle and within and I already told you how the Academy gets down with performances like that. And I think for these two back-to-back performances, she took a brush-up course at that school.

Also, it does that movie thing that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang made fun of, where if a shot lingers on a nameless character a little too long after the fact, like the cook in The Hunt for Red October, you can bet the fuckin’ Brinks truck that Chekov’s Extra is going to pop up in some plot-changing shit later, you just fucking know, bro!

As for the ending, I liked it but I can see how it would piss off others. It’s not a twist, by the way, at least not in my book (pre-orders available now!), just a revelation that some people have issues with, either for logical reasons or whatever else they have a bug up their asses about. I dug it. It kinda reminded me of the ending to — well, shit, it reminds me of the endings to a lot of things, to be real with you.

OK, I’ll mention one of them — Runaway Train, and I feel comfortable saying that one without feeling that I spoiled something because you will not be able to figure out the connection. You would need to invite me to an expensive dinner that you will pay for, and it would have to be after I’ve had at least half of that meal before I explain to you how I feel that both this film and Runaway Train have similar endings. They all have to do with Free Will, I’ll give you that much/little.

(Also, they are both similar in that this film also features a scene where Amy Adams is shouting out of a runaway train screaming at an evil warden in a helicopter above her while sticking her middle finger at him, in between taking slugs out of Eric Roberts’ flask, saying “sucka” in every other sentence.)

It was a morning/afternoon well spent at the Arclight Pasadena. I don’t know if they do this for all the movies at the Arclight, but for both Arrival and Nocturnal Animals there was a clip before each film telling us that after the credits there would be some extra behind-the-scenes stuff. They were each about five minutes or so; the Nocturnal Animals one featured Gyllenhaal and Ford and it focused on how the ending could be interpreted, while the Arrival one featured Ms. Adams doing her impersonation of her French-Canadian director — which I of course found delightful. I appreciated these little extras, called “Arclight Stories” because they allow you to stick around after the credits for other reasons aside from finding out if there are any hints about what the next Marvel film is going to be about.

Nocturnal Animals or Arrival? You can’t go wrong with either one, whether you’re an Amy Adams fan or a fan of good movies. But I get it. You have kids, or just like Dwayne Johnson so much, you just have to see Moana, right? It’s cool. I mean, you can go fuck your mother, but it’s cool.

Help me meet the sunshine in the mourning

Posted in Big Eyes, douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, ramblings of a loser on December 31, 2014 by efcontentment

Jesus Christ.

This year. This goddamn year.

God. Damn. Maybe the Mayans were off by a digit.

OK, maybe that’s too much, but this certainly wasn’t one of the better years, that’s for sure.

Anyway, fuck that shit. Lady and gentleman, instead let me ramble about the latest film the North Koreans didn’t want you to see, Big Eyes, starring The Adorable Amy Adams and some other people. Those Commie motherfuckers, they see someone as talented and brimming with non-actress sincerity as Ms. Adams and it drives them nuts because only Dear Leader can be so awesome. But that is their problem.

Here in the United Muthafuckin’ States of Muthafuckin’ America (UMSMA), where one can go buy as many tickets to Big Eyes as they want — provided they don’t, like, run into the cops and make the mistake of not automatically bending over — we don’t go for that stupid bullshit. Here we worship celebrity and wealth, not some asshole in power. We are better than that.

Big Eyes is Ed Wood director Tim Burton getting together with Ed Wood writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski again and telling another strange-but-true story about some interesting individuals. In this case, the I.I.’s are Margaret and Walter Keane, an artist couple who became famous in the 60s because of these paintings of children featuring — wait for it — their big eyes. Except it was really only Walter Keane who got famous because he took all the credit even though it was his wife who painted those giant-eyed waifs. Her fame was more of a secondary kind, the residual fame-by-association.

This poor Margaret, she already left one bad marriage with daughter in tow, looking for greener pastures in the city by the bay, San Francisco. She then met up with Walter, who I have to admit is a real charmer; I like how Burton and company set up the first act of the film as a damn-near storybook romance, with Margaret being swept off her feet by this guy. He ends up proposing to her, and in response she gives out that wonderfully peculiar bow-tie smile of hers. That’s our Amy, folks.

It turns out that Walter is a very successful realtor and it doesn’t surprise me because this Austrian-accented dude from Nebraska has the gift of gab. I can see why Margaret first agrees to his idea of letting him take the credit because he is very convincing as a business partner and as a salesman. She, on the other hand, isn’t as verbally adept; there’s one scene where Margaret tries to talk to some dude checking out her artwork in a gallery and it’s so fuckin’ awkward because she’s rambling on about numerology and it becomes clear he’s more interested in banging-ology and it’s just…oh man, poor Amy — I mean, poor Margaret.

This Walter Keane turned out to be a real son-of-a-bitch, at least based on this film. The paintings become more and more popular and the Keanes make tons of dough off of them (you have to give it up to Walter for his idea of selling copies of the paintings), but he’s the only one who gets to enjoy the success. Meanwhile, Margaret gets to stay cooped up in a locked room turning out painting after painting, like so many hotcakes — which is exactly how these paintings are selling. Like muthafuckin’ hotcakes. Slathered in butter. Drizzled with maple syrup. Oh man, I can go for some right now — Keane paintings, I mean.

These paintings were popular but the critical consensus was one of Good God These Are Terrible, and leading this hate brigade was John Canaday, art critic for the New York Times. He’s played by Terence Stamp, and he can’t stand how successful these paintings are getting. At one point, he throws down a Time Magazine issue featuring a story on Keane, declaring that it’s “absurd”, while apparently not noticing that the front page is about the Watts Riots — because there’s also real life & death shit going on out there but fuck that, it’s all about art, you know?

There’s a tense moment between him and Walter that ends in an action that I don’t believe happened in real life, but hey, when you have General Zod the Limey in a film, you have to have him do something kinda badass. There’s also a line in that scene where Walter says something to the effect of “Critics have to criticize because they don’t know how to create” and Canaday just about yawns it off with “Oh, that moldy chestnut.” TAKE THAT, BIRDMAN!

Big Eyes opens with a quote by Andy Warhol, giving Keane props and basically saying that if the paintings were no good they wouldn’t be selling so many of them. I mean it’s cool that Warhol wasn’t a snob about this shit, but I mean that shit could also be said about assholes like Thomas Kinkade — or if you want to move it to movies, you can say the same about Michael Bay and his Transformers series. Millions of motherfuckers ponied up the dough for all of that shit (myself included). But I guess we each have a breaking point as to what we’ll consider art and what we’ll consider cynically-made garbage directed with contempt towards the people who would pay to see Optimus Prime be an asshole for almost three hours. I reached mine halfway through the second Transformers flick.

What am I talking about here? Oh yeah, OK, I’m back on track; while the film is pretty evenhanded about the quality of her work, clearly Burton is on the side of Keane’s paintings being genuine Art. They just seem like something he would be into, know what I mean? I’m not sure about the writers, I would guess that maybe Alexander and Karaszewski aren’t fans of the paintings but they are definitely behind the artist — much like with Ed Wood, a film about a filmmaker whose films were godawful but goddammit you have to admire the man for what he was trying to do and for having the balls/gumption/spirit to pull it off.

And in the case of Margaret Keane, regardless of what you might feel about her work, it’s hard to deny that she is putting her soul into them. I don’t think she’s pulling a Kinkade/Bay with any of her paintings, she’s sincere, and that’s probably one of many reasons that those ten years of marriage to Walter were hell (he was also a mean asshole drunk): she was in this fucked up situation of being forced to paint paint paint and it didn’t matter whether she was inspired or not. At one point, Walter tries to compare her situation to Michelangelo taking that Sistine Chapel gig and she’s all like “Yeah, and it took him four years” because she certainly doesn’t have that luxury of time.

Now, for the real question — how is our Amy here? Well, the fact that you would ask that question automatically makes you suspect in my eyes. Your faith is lacking and you should know better. But that’s OK. Anyway, she’s really good here; her Keane is someone who is quick to smile but does not outwardly express her negativity, but that’s not to say that she completely hides those kinds of feelings. She just doesn’t put up much of a fight during her weak attempts at standing up for herself. Every once in a while, she’ll let out a smart remark or sarcastic comment and I think that’s her way of letting out a little pressure from the boiler, but that’s as far as she’ll go. I suspect this way of Dealing With Shit was something she developed during her last marriage so her kid wouldn’t be a witness to her misery.

But that’s the problem — as far as Oscar gold is concerned. Because Adams is playing someone who tends to stay in Internal Mode, that means we don’t get that all-out showstopper (preferably right before the third act) where she finally decides that Enough Is Enough and starts throwing vases and stabbing holes into her paintings (to the protestations of her husband) while screaming out loud some bullshit like “I’M TIRED OF BEING FORCED TO SELL MY SOUL IN 12×16 FRAMES! YOU CAN HAVE MY MONEY AND MY FREEDOM, BUT THESE WILL ALWAYS BE MY BIG EYES! I’VE ABANDONED MY CHILD!!!” and that’s too bad because stuff like that is what gets the Academy hard.

That’s too bad, because if you can judge good acting with something else other than the Pacino Scale, you’d see that she’s doing a great job here. For the record — had Reese Witherspoon played this role and given the same performance, I’d have the same opinion. Because I am not viewing this film through Amy Adams glasses (which would present the film in AWWW-D).

But you know what? Fuck Oscar. If I were to meet The Adorable Amy Adams, I would tell her that. I would tell her that she doesn’t need an Oscar, she has something better than that — she gets to be Amy Adams. Then she would smile at me and hold out a ticket stub and tell me that hers is the red Volvo.

I’d sooner believe two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz getting a nomination for his role as Walter Keane, because his is the kind of really good performance that also has plenty of vocal/physical flourishes that the Academy licks up the way I lick up the rest of a chili bowl. It also helps his chances that the film more or less becomes his for the majority of the running time, or at least it felt that way to me.

It’s an interesting format for this film; the first act is Margaret’s, then the second act is really more about Walter with the occasional moment of cigarette-smoking Margaret intensely painting those big eyes, then in the third act Margaret realizes she has to take a stand and take the movie (and her paintings) back. Honestly, she probably has a better chance at Oscar attention if her performance is submitted to the Academy under Best Supporting Actress.

Overall, I liked the film. It’s an interesting story told in an entertaining manner — which I guess is my nicest way of saying that it was good-but-not-great and I was a tad underwhelmed. And I’ll be honest with you, man, I wouldn’t have been able to pick this out of a lineup as a Tim Burton joint, let alone one written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The writers don’t really use the same style that they used in their biopics like The People vs. Larry Flynt or Man on the Moon — which I understand, I mean, most artists abhor the idea of repeating themselves, right? Even Margaret Keane wanted to try some new shit that didn’t involve some big eyed kiddies.

But goddamn, I really liked what they did in the past. I liked the scope of those screenplays, those motherfuckers were rife with detail and dense and all-out overflowing with interesting characters and situations. Not so much with this one; it really is only the Margaret and Walter show, with occasional appearances by a critic, a gallery owner, or a friend who may be a wee bit jealous. There’s also a reporter/narrator played by Danny Huston who I found absolutely useless in this film, except for the amusing fact that Huston now sounds a little like his dad and will probably sound more like his dad as he gets older.

Compared to their previous screenplays, this has more of a slow burn approach; in their other works, the absurdity of the situation presented itself front and center and never went away. These dudes are nothing if not masters at telling tales that are so strange, they can only come from Real Life. But their script for Big Eyes is stingy with its No Fuckin’ Way Did That Happen points and waits for the last third of the film to finally redeem those motherfuckers. At least that’s how it felt for me, because I didn’t know the whole Keane story until I watched this film. If you already know how this all played out, then maybe none of this will raise your Give A Shit level past a two, maybe three.

It also doesn’t really look or feel like a Burton movie either, except for maybe the use of overly bright colors for the suburban neighborhood scenes at the beginning of the film (not too far off from the neighborhood in Edward Scissorhands). Also, Krysten Ritter is in this film as Margaret’s only friend, and she looks like a Tim Burton creation come to life — more specific, she looks like the real life person they based Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice on, had she existed in real life.

Speaking of which, if they ever make a Beetlejuice sequel, I can see Burton pull some coldblooded shit and recast Ryder’s role with this chick. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it turns out that Ritter and Burton become an item — it wouldn’t be the first time he fell in love/lust with an actress on one of his films and dumped his former lady as a result. Lisa Marie, meet Helena Bonham Carter. Helena Bonham Carter, meet Krysten Ritter. And so on, and so forth — until Burton drops dead or is shot dead by one of his former friends of the female persuasion. Which is what he deserves for calling each and every one of them his muse (based on nothing whatsoever but my own imagination).

I don’t mean this as an insult, because more often than not you have quality shit coming from this place, but the end result really felt to me less like a film made for the big screen and more like an HBO movie — some lower budgeted project Tim Burton took to remind people that before he became the aging gothic hipster schmuck who makes overly expensive/critically trashed Johnny Depp movies, he was once the young gothic hipster schmuck who made a not-very-expensive/critically acclaimed Johnny Depp film. Well, Big Eyes doesn’t measure up to that 20-year-old film, but it is better than Ed Wood in only one respect — Amy Adams is in it.

Oh, also there’s a judge in the film and he’s played by The Shredder from the 1990 film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which Ed Wood sorely lacked.

In conclusion: Fuck you and die, 2014.

No Oscars for Pale Redheads

Posted in American Hustle, douchebag, Her, I Heart Amy Adams, Oscars '14, ramblings of a loser, Uncategorized on March 2, 2014 by efcontentment

Fuck the dark — Character is what you are on the Internet. Which is probably why you find yourself so moody, disliking human beings more and more each passing day with every new Tweet, comment, or blog post (including this one). Especially the celebrities. It gets to where you consider becoming a cannibal just for the possibility of meeting one of these jerks followed by the eventual pleasure of flushing him or her down the toilet.

You wonder if you are becoming a Hater but that can’t really be the case, especially on the eve of the Oscar ceremony. By your watch, it’s only a few minutes to the Oscar telecast, yet you’re not exactly excited for it. You used to get excited, though. You used to love the Oscars in all its masturbatory glory, but somewhere along the way, it stopped being the Super Bowl for you (or Gay Super Bowl as the truly humorous like to call it). You knew fairly early that it’s all politics and ass-kissing and who went to the most Academy old folks homes to brighten some dying day players afternoon with the most fake sincerity, rather than, you know, being the best at your job. But you were a sucker for it. For a while, anyway.

Other factors began to factor into your not-so-much-enjoying-it anymore. Along with cynicism and age, came a creeping ever-growing fear — the fear that if you stop running/stop hustling, and take even a millisecond to look over your shoulder, you will find the immense dark spectre known as Quiet Desperation literally an inch away from you, practically hovering over you now, like a tidal wave of Fail ready to crash down. You know not to acknowledge it, because that’s all the darkness needs to swallow you whole and do to your inner soul what The Blob or the Sarlaac do to flesh and bone, only it will do it for a much longer period of time — as in the rest of your fucking life (or a thousand years).

Plus, half of the people they choose to host the fuckin’ thing, you just want to judo chop their throats.

But on the other hand, Amy Adams is nominated again! Yay! Hello, sir. Hello, ma’am. Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to ramble about a couple Oscar-nominated films The Adorable Amy Adams recently appeared in while kinda/sorta watching the Oscars. I’m going to ramble about them because once I start on a running gag based on a sincere appreciation of someone, I see it through to the end, baby. Plus, I watched them again recently thanks to a couple of borrowed screeners and I can’t do the Oscars with my 100-percent attention and/or sober anymore.

I’ll start off with Her, the latest Spike Jonze joint. The film takes place in the not-too-distant future (next Sunday, A.D.) where the world is heavily populated but technology has made it so that we don’t really have to reach out and make connections with our fellow humans. Shit, you don’t even have to write directly to people you already know, you can have someone else write letters or birthday cards or anything else stationary related and send them out.

That’s the job of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, playing a high-pants-wearing motherfucker named Theodore, who actually makes a living taking the simple act of writing to a loved one and turning it into a more complicated deal; he dictates the message to a computer, which then prints out the words in the client’s handwriting, and it looks like the message gets printed out and mailed out old-school style, even though I’m sure the recipient has to be a little suspicious that it was someone else who wrote it. I’m sure this service is fairly popular, taking what Hallmark does and moving it up to the next level.

It’s really how it is nowadays, isn’t it? Simple stuff taken for granted has been improved yet made more fragile and complicated. It used to be that I could take a book off a shelf and read it. Now I have to keep up with the techno-Joneses by having all my literature on a fuckin’ tablet. Sure I save space but God forbid my shit’s not charged up. And if I spill my booze on it, oops, I better dry that shit up quick, lest I lose all my shit and then I have to go make a bigger ass of myself at the fuckin’ Genius Bar where the guy behind the counter acts friendly but I know he’s really thinking “Listen, you fuckin’ Mexican…”

Speaking of which — donde estan mi gente? This film takes place in a future filled with so many buildings and people, yet very clean and positive, like a Canadian version of a Mega City. But Latinos apparently don’t exist here. “Then who occupies this wonderful utopia?”, you ask. Well, it’s all clean hard-working Anglos with the occasional sprinkle of those wily Asians. What is this, fuckin’ Blade Runner? No, it’s Shanghai, where quite a bit of the film was shot. But it was also shot in Los Angeles, so you know fuckin’ Jonze could’ve thrown in a few busboys or cholos or whatever passes muster with Hollywood casting agents, but chose not to. Why? I don’t know. He probably got knocked off his skateboard as a child by raza once and won’t let it go, fuckin’ rich boy asshole.

I know to most of you a future with no brown around sounds awesome, but get this, it’s even more awesome because like I mentioned earlier, no one really needs human contact anymore. You need an assistant/best friend/lover? Hook your shit up with the newest OS that features some badass artificial intelligence that among many settings includes the former Mrs. Ryan Reynolds as your Girl Friday. That’s what Phoenix chooses, and because our lead is currently recovering from a failed marriage and hasn’t had the best of luck in the dating scene, soon he and his super-Siri “Samantha” fall in looooove and that’s what the movie’s about.

I liked Her; it’s a sweet movie and has a lot to say about the fragility of relationships and using technology to overcome loneliness (or at least the hint of a threat of loneliness). If it’s not those fuckin’ dictated letters or cyber sex with chicks into freaky shit that doesn’t get you off, it’s people having hands-free conversations with their OS in public and no one bats an eye at ’em because the concept of crazy people talking to themselves is practically a quaint memory now, along with milkmen and quality American-made products. I mean, it’s really no different from today with people Tweeting/Facebook status updating everything just so they can ensure that the experience has been shared with someone else, like enjoying something by yourself doesn’t count or something. Which, I will agree, can really fuckin’ feel that way sometimes. I once made an even bigger ass of myself than usual about it.

I BET EVERYTHING I OWN THAT SPIKE WILL WIN BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY(*)

What I dug most about it (aside from You Know Who) was that Jonze, for all his rich-boy Jackass-playing visual smart-asseries, has a very sincere and non-snarky/non-cynical view about it all. It’s like he cares about everyone in this film in one way or another and isn’t judgmental about them in any way — which I guess gives him an extra point over ex-wife Sofia Coppola, if you were to believe what she denies. I mean, she can say otherwise all she wants, but there seems to be at least a little ax-grinding with at least a couple of the characters in Lost in Translation, not to mention a minute scosche of Tee Hee Hee Japs Be Funnay. Meanwhile in Her-ville, the hidden subtext running throughout could be interpreted as I’m Sorry I Wasn’t A Better Husband And I Hope We Find Happiness In Our Separate Lives, Also I Liked The Bling Ring.

My favorite moment of the film, and probably the most telling of the inner workings of Adam Spiegel is far into the running time: Phoenix puts on his little earpiece so he can start talking to his artificial sweetheart, only he can’t find her. She’s offline or out of range or some shit. He freaks out, trying again and again, to no avail. Eventually, he dashes out of the building, and through the Hispanic-less streets of future L.A. trying to find a signal somewhere, anywhere. As he runs around like a cyber chicken with its head disconnected from its main frame, he ends tripping over himself and falls down right there on the pavement. Immediately, the people around him, who up until then were ear/eye deep into their own earpieces and smartphones, or just minding their own business, run up to help him. Jonze has a positive attitude on human beings, I thought to myself. Tech’d out or not, the human connection will always be there, somewhere.

That kind of sentiment is heartwarming, especially nowadays with my faith in humans now neck-and-neck with my faith in a higher power. I would’ve sooner believed that at least one of those guys would start recording that shit, his cock rock-hard at the possibility of a major view count on his YouTube channel or massive Likes & LOLs on his Facebook account. I’m reminded of something Paul Thomas Anderson once said somewhere, about walking out of a donut shop early one morning and finding a woman sitting in her car, crying while singing out loud. The way he talked about it, it sounded like he was worried for her and hoped she felt better. Lucky for her it was him and it was the mid-to-late 90s and not some other asshole in the 21st Century because her weak moment would’ve Mos Def become many others’ highlight of their workday, know what I mean?

I don’t get it. Like the other day I saw a prank video on television where these cunts would fool people into thinking a baby just got crushed in its carriage. They all freaked out and ran over to help and then these sadistic pieces of shit would laugh in their face all HAW HAW MADE YOU CARE. Some of these people looked really fucked up about it, like borderline heart attack bad. Had I been one of the fooled, I know how I’d react. Knowing me, after the confusion goes away and the prank revealed, I’d probably get a little choked up by the overwhelming mix of emotions within me. Then, because I’m a man, I’d stuff the tears back inside before they go public and laugh along with the prankster. Then I’d grab something large and bash the fuck’s head open Irreversible style until the prankster’s death spasms ceased and the urine/fecal tinged scent of Finality filled the air, then I’d take this asshole’s iPhone and take a snapshot of the cherry pie/broken candles mixture that used to be his head and forward it to his parents along with a caption reading “Do a better job the next time you decide to shit another one of these out.”

This is why I rarely leave the house, by the way.

So. The Adorable Amy Adams plays Theodore’s best friend, The Adorable Amy. We never get her last name, but she might as well be Alternate Universe Amy Adams here. Instead of charming audiences everywhere with her awesomeness, in this universe she makes video games for a living but her real passion is in documentary filmmaking. She lives in the same building as Theodore and she pops up in the film every once in a while, usually with her husband. Amy does a great job as Amy, inhabiting her character with a lived-in quality that made me recognize various elements and behaviors that I’ve seen in other people, rather than the usual overly quirky or overly quippy bullshit you see come from Female Best Friends In Film and thank the fuck Christ that she has nothing resembling Manic or Pixie.

I liked the interplay between her and Phoenix, especially after seeing them in a completely different relationship between them in The Master. I totally bought them as good friends, and I liked how the dynamic between them is that he’s always a bit more serious than her and she’ll occasionally bust his balls in the way that friends do to each other, even though behind her side of the conversation is an undercurrent of genuine concern for the emotional well-being of her buddy. And while she is but a side character in this Joaquin-centric story, you get the sense that she has own shit to deal with — like we all have our own shit to deal with — and she can’t always be checking in on the homie, you know?

Another break, another 2nd glass of wine, another bathroom break. OK, I’m back. The magic of the written word, ya’ll. Jonah Hill didn’t win. The Oscars are A-OK with me as of now.

Anyway, I’ve heard people call Adams’ character “dowdy” or “plain” or even “ugly” but I honestly feel she just looks real (more like real adorable — AWWW). She’s a busy working gal who dresses (and hair dresses) for comfort, not to make all the other men and lesbian woman go I WANT THAT. So quiet down about that shit, gang. Who’s to say that she doesn’t clean up spectacularly when she goes out, hell she’d probably look not too dissimilar from her character in the next film…

I wonder if Martin Scorsese has seen American Hustle. If he has, I bet you his reaction was probably like that scene in Single White Female where Bridget Fonda gets creeped the fuck out by Jennifer Jason Leigh’s attempt to look like her. It would make a pretty good double-feature with fellow bizarro Scorsese flick Blow, is what I’m saying. I’ve seen the names Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder thrown around as well, but I didn’t get that vibe at all. To me, the camera work, editing, sound design, soundtrack, use of voiceover, the angry/awkward arguments between competent husband and harpy wife, all of that shit screams I Heart Scorsese. But it’s not directed by Marty S., it’s David O. with another one of his films filled with loud and mostly unpleasant characters. Fortunately, I like his films, even if I think the director’s a twat. I liked this film too.

The film starts out with Christian Bale doing a great impression of me, with his fat fuckin’ gut squeezed into a dress shirt and spending forever making his bald-ass head look like it still has hair. You in-shape hair-having motherfuckers don’t know how easy you have it, with your thick hair and thin stomachs. But Bale’s character is like the better version of me because despite his visual inadequacies, ol’ Light Trasher here still managed to score not only an Amy Adams-looking lady, but one in prime hotness. More on that later.

So Bale is a scumbag con artist named Irving, and we’re supposed to be cool with his ripoff games because his father was a hard worker who got screwed. Come to think of it, that’s actually a pretty good reason to go the dishonest way. If the news — and I mean the news for the past 50-100 years — is any indication, dishonesty is the way to go, bro. Make that fuckin’ money and if you have to betray the confidence of your fellow man to do it…well….what’s the problem here? I don’t see a problem, unless the problem is that you’re not making any money. Then that’s a big fuckin’ problem.

Adams plays his chick, Sydney, who tried making bucks the straight & narrow way before reinventing herself as some English bird with a Kevin Costner-style British accent. Yeah, it wavers but that’s OK because her accent is supposed to be shaky, or at least that’s what I will tell you while slapping you senseless for even entertaining the idea that maybe Ms. Adams’ strengths in acting do not include foreign accents. *slap, backhand slap* How DARE you, sir!

Anyway, she hooks up with Irving and everything is going great — or as great as things can go for a dude who’s still married with a kid — until Bradley Cooper shows up, which sounds about right because Bradley Cooper always ruins everything with his handsome face and charming personality, the bastard. With his perm, Cooper’s character Richie looks like some vaguely Middle Eastern ethnic you’d find at a discotheque wearing tight pants to enhance his bulge, but he’s really an eye-tie FBI agent in search of a career-making bust.

Because The Wolf of Wall Street is too harsh and Gravity is too Mexican, this flick has a good chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture, which wouldn’t bother me except I don’t think American Hustle is worthy of it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid joint that’s never less than entertaining and featuring great performances by literally everyone in the fuckin’ cast. Everyone, even the extras are fucking killing it. There are no small roles here, just brief running times for certain parts. Off the top of my head, I thought whoever played Cooper’s mom had a borderline heartbreaking moment where she just has these sad-as-sad-can-be eyes while he’s assuring her (but really assuring himself) that he’s gonna go places.

It just doesn’t give me the Best Picture vibe, that’s all. But what do I know? I thought Inside Llewyn DavisLeo Snorts Off/Blows Into A Girl’s Asshole, and the 90-Minute Panic Attack Starring Sandra Bullock were far more worthy of the golden statue, and one of them wasn’t even fuckin’ nominated for the big prize. I also think this photo here is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. See, people, these are my tastes. Different strokes and all that, you know? It’s still a while before they announce the winner. Eh, they’ll probably give it to 12 Years a Slave, because it’s a strong film about an incredibly important subject. And because Obama.

I’ve read some comments online from people who feel the same way I do the Hustle, except then they knock on O. Russell, saying that his Scorsese-ish direction exposes our fearless Clooney fighter as some kind of hack to which I say Bullshit. Sure, he may have approached the visual/aurals on this bitch that way, but all the back-and-forth between all the characters here scream Russell. I understand his style — at least for his last couple films — is to do a lot of rewriting and improv on the set, even throwing new lines at the actors during scenes. So you can say what you want about the style of the film, but the content is all David O., baby, and while the story may be kinda/sorta based on a true story that happened here on Planet Earth, the characters in the film are all from the Planet David O. Russell.

I think Cooper’s character is the most D.O.R.-ish of the crowd, because he’s a pushy bully who apparently doesn’t really understand that he’s a pushy bully, especially the way he fucks with his superior, played by talented fuck Louis CK. It reminds me of the story about O. Russell going up to Christopher Nolan and putting him in a serious headlock because Nolan wanted to use one of his actors for The Prestige. Just because Nolan made Batman doesn’t make him Batman, so he was helpless against rager Russell’s violence.

I bet he apologized to Nolan immediately after fucking his shit up, just like Cooper does to a couple people during this flick. This is not how normal people act, David. Crazy people act like that. Which I guess explains why O. Russell was trying so hard with Silver Linings Playbook to tell us that crazies are people too (ESPECIALLY MY SON, YOU BASTARDS!!!), so rather than act with alarm, we should be charmed by obnoxious behavior caused by mixed wires in the head. Ah phooey, you fuck! Quit trying to justify your fucked up behavior by having the characters in your film act the same way. Got it? Now go tell Nolan you’re sorry.

So obviously, O. Russell has lots of sympathy and empathy for the main characters, even if they’re kinda like assholes — but he does a good job at convincing the audience (me) that they’re deserving of it. I mean, for all of Cooper’s assholishness, I can totally feel where he’s coming from, as well as Adams’ character. They’re not content with their current square in the game of life, they want more. In the case of Cooper, accomplishing this goal involves pulling off this big Abscam bust he’s working on. In the case of Adams, it involves reinventing herself completely and always pretending she’s someone else. I liked that shared dynamic, probably because when it comes to not being happy with who you are while trying to be someone else, not only have I heard that song before but I can sing it to you note-for-note perfect.

Speaking of sympathy and empathy, my favorite character not played by Amy Adams is Mayor Carmine Something-or-other, portrayed by Jeremy Renner from Dahmer. Did you ever see that film? It’s pretty good, but thinking of that movie reminds me of a girl I once knew who told me that she saw it something like 4 or 5 times at the movie theater, this film about a serial killer who brought dudes home to kill/rape/eat them. (I guess that makes me the Jeffrey Dahmer of fast food.)

At this moment, I’m one wine bottle down and an hour into the Oscar telecast and I have three things to say about it — one, Ellen Degeneres is officially an Oscar host I do not wish to judo chop in the throat, and two, Amy Adams was caught looking down at something (her phone is my best guess) while Tyler Perry droned on and on and on about how the Best Picture nominees will change the world and all that shit. Our gal Amy does not give a shit about that Madea bullshit. I further approve of our lady.

Anyway, Carmine is the mayor of Camden, NJ and he seems like a cool dude to hang out with, singing popular guido tunes all night and then taking you out for breakfast, but he’s not some asshole either, which you would assume because of his being in office. Carmine really believes in his town and wants the best for his people. That’s why he gets mixed up in all the Irving/Sydney/Richie shenanigans, causing me to shake my head and wish for his character to get the fuck out of this movie because he’s such a good dude with good intentions. Watching his particular tale unfold was like watching a car crash in slow-mo with someone you really like sitting in the death seat.

But on the complete opposite end of the Sympathy/Empathy scale, you have Jennifer Lawrence’s character as Bale’s killer shrew of a wife. If this broad hooked up with Sharon Stone’s character from Casino, they’d leave behind a trail of broken-hearted/stupid moronic asshole men from here to Timbuk-fuckin-tu. I gotta tell you, man, I’ve never been one for wife beating, especially in real life, but at one point in this movie, I used all my mind energy trying to conjure up Lawrence Fishburne as Ike Turner into the proceedings so he could give Katniss the boot treatment. Man oh man, it got to where I wanted to scream out loud while punching every wall in the world — and I say this as someone who is rather fond of Ms. Lawrence.

But enough of that unpleasantness, let’s talk about something absolutely pleasant, like how without warning The Adorable Amy Adams turned into The Incredibly Fuckable Amy Adams all of a sudden. I feel like Marty McFly’s brother post-car wreck: When the hell did this happen?! I am not complaining, good sir and madam. No, not at all. She looks very good here, and the 70s fashion is quite becoming on our gal. It’s just that there are scenes here where our dear Princess Giselle from Enchanted gets all sexed out with her fellow man, causing my crush on her to battle it out with my newfound lust. It’s like my heart was saying NO AMY NO while my poor abused manhood happily declared YES AMY YES. Based on some of the shots of her character in the film, I’d say both O. Russell and cinematographer Linus Sandgren’s physical emotions went with the latter.

By the way, I’m spending all this time on how good she looks because it’s way past an undeniable fact that she is excellent in the role, like she is in everything else, including life. (And because I’m a sexist pig who only sees the ladies as sex objects.) Since 2006, she’s been nominated like 3 or 4 times already, which shows to go you how fuckin’ talented our gal Amy is. It would be so sweet to see Ms. Adams win Best Actress for her performance, but I can’t say with total conviction that she deserves it, because I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine yet and I keep hearing Cate Blanchett is the one to beat. If she doesn’t win, that’s cool, she’s proven herself time and time again and more than held her own with the likes of Streep, Day-Lewis, Seymour Hoffman, and Kermit the Frog.

But you know who did just win? Muthafuckin’ Mexican and Kenyan citizen Ms. Lupita Nyong’o. Classy acceptance speech too. I approve of these Oscars. And now the double shot of awesome that was Amy Adams and Bill Murray presenting becomes a triple shot of awesome with his Harold Ramis shout-out — nay, quadruple shot because muthafuckin’ goddamn badass cinematographer Emmanuel FTMW Lubezki just took the statue for Gravity. How can this be better — holy shit Alfonso Cuaron was one of the winners for Best Editing and I’m so — oops, they cut him off when he was about to accept: Shut up and get going Cuaron, these leaves ain’t gonna blow themselves. 

I think I’m gonna hold off on ending this until I find out whether our gal Amy wins or not. And now that I’m all Mex’d up, I need to know if Cuaron will take it as well. And then I’ll know whether or not to begin writing my buddy cop movie/secret Miss Congeniality sequel starring Adams, Sandra Bullock, and Bill Murray. Emmanuel Lubezki will shoot it, and Alfonso Cuaron will direct.

8:35pm: ALFONSO FUCK YEAH

8:44pm: Awww, you’ll get them next time, Amy. I can’t hate on Cate because they say her performance in Blue Jasmine was all kinds of perfect, and because she held open the door for me at a screening of Notes on a Scandal and gave me a warm smile, proving that she is indeed a great actress. For another year, The Adorable Amy Adams will have to settle for being the Roger Deakins of acting. And that ain’t bad, if you ask me. You know what? I actually kinda liked this year’s Oscars. Keep running, ya’ll.

Fuck it, I’m writing that Miss Congeniality script anyway. Because Hollywood is a land where dreams come true and blah blah blah blabbity blah blah bullshit blah blah my ass.

* – I wrote that part after he won, obviously. 

Suddenly you crave IHOP

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, Man of Steel, ramblings of a loser on July 18, 2013 by efcontentment

There are riots in the streets. That’s what the news is telling me, anyway. I understand, though. I understand and share the same feelings of anger, sadness, and overall helplessness being expressed by everyone in both peaceful and non-peaceful protests over this injustice. I mean, really — fuckin’ Adam Sandler’s movie beat out Pacific Rim at the box office? THIS IS BULLSHIT. *cue rimshot, followed by gunshot into blogger’s fat mouth*

But things aren’t so bad, he says to himself, because there’s an Amy Adams film currently in theaters, and the American public did the right thing this time and supported her with their dollars (it also might have something to do with the movie being about Superman, but whatever). Yeah, it took me about a month to finally get around to catching Man of Steel, but I was busy chasing dreams and money and gaining traction on maybe a little of both.

I guess Superman Returns didn’t do it for anyone, otherwise why would they be rebooting the reboot? Maybe it was because Warner Bros. couldn’t handle Real-Life-Dom-Cobb Christopher Nolan wrapping up the money-making behemoth that was the Batman trilogy, and like some clingy desperate girlfriend or boyfriend unable to accept the plain & simple fact that It Is Over, they begged and pleaded Nolan for something — ANYTHING — to continue doing what he was doing. Can you imagine being Nolan and having the power to turn any slick asshole movie exec into fuckin’ panicked MacGruber with just a simple “No” or “I don’t think so”?

Nolan then stroked his imaginary beard and thought up the idea of overseeing the Superman reboot, provided they find someone else to type out the words and someone else to direct. The Brothers Warner and their sister Dot then visited movie jail and paroled Zack Snyder, telling him that if he wanted to screw around and make another masturbatory fever dream about hot chicks fighting zombie Nazi orcs and giant robots, he better first earn himself some new box office capitol and get with what the Noles is cooking up. So Snyder shows up for work and just to earn extra brownie points, he even apes Nolan’s filmmaking style of combining steady widescreen visuals with handheld close-ups and natural looking source-style lighting. At least that’s how I imagine it all happening.

Now we have Man of Steel, and here’s a quick rundown: Father freaks out about Krypton ending and rockets his son the fuck out of there just in time to get shanked by some asshole named Zod. Rocket Boy lands on Earth, sun gives him superpowers, he’s raised on a farm by the Kents, he grows up, lives life, Zod arrives on Earth to take over/settle grudge, superhero shit follows. Also, there’s a cute reporter named Lois Lane who wants the scoop because that’s what reporters do for a living. If I can continue being a completely reductive asshat about it, it’s kinda like if you took the first hour of Donner’s Superman film and followed it up with the second hour of Superman II, minus Lex Luthor and his bullshittery, and mostly told during the first half in a fractured flashback type of form.

Speaking of the Donner & Lester films, I went into this flick wanting to enjoy it as its own thing, and I didn’t bring any baggage from the previous Supermans, other than “please be better than parts III and IV”. But the more I think about this flick after the fact, the more I can’t help but compare it to those first two joints. But more on that later.

This is how old I’m getting, seeing movies where guys who used to be the main draw are now the supporting players. Like, before the film, they showed a trailer for something called Paranoia starring one of the Hemsworth boys, and Harrison Ford & Gary Oldman in the secondary roles. I remember when Ford was a leading box-office sensation for what seemed — fuck that, it didn’t seem, it WAS — my whole life and now he’s reached that point in his career where he’ll always be an A+ Hollywood Legend For Life but unless his work in the future involves revisiting such roles as Indiana Jones or Han Solo or Joe Frantic, his blockbuster days are kinda over.

That’s just how it is for your famous types as they approach the twilight of the good times; they live out the remainder of their limelight by showing up in someone else’s flick to give it a touch of stardom, or they disgrace themselves by getting caught screaming sexist/racist epithets on the phone to their trophy wives. In other words, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain in Machete Kills.

In the case of the former, here are Exhibits B and C: You have the star of Gladiator and L.A. Confidential playing Superman’s birth father, Jor-El, and you have the star of Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves playing Superman’s Earth daddy, Jonathan “Pa” Kent. As Papa Number One, Russell Crowe is decent in the role, doing that monotone-ish thing he does most of the time whenever he’s not ordering his fellow Gladiators to form into single columns or trolling the fuck out of Parker Barnes. He has a lot more to do as Jor-El, compared to Marlon Brando in the O.G. Supes film. He runs, jumps, swims, rides a flying Avatar lizard — and yet, Brando exuded a fuck ton more gravitas just by simply holding up some glowy-pointed crystal at a motherfucker. In this case, the fat fuckin’ turtle beat the doughy hare.

It’s the same case with Costner in the part of Daddy Nombre Deux; his Pa Kent has a lot more screen time compared to Glenn Ford in the ’78 version, but goddamn Ford hit me much harder in his 2 or 3 scenes then K.C. does during his sporadic appearances in the first hour. I mean, even Costner’s badass final moment where he gets swept up by a tornado didn’t have as much of a punch as Ford suddenly grabbing his wrist and dropping dead. Maybe that’s less a reflection on the film and more on my personal baggage; I have old parents and having one of them keel over due to a fondness for bacon is more likely than them getting the Twister treatment, is what I’m saying.

Speaking of Pa Kent’s final moments, I thought it was interesting that in Man of Steel, it’s shown that he died in 1997, which also happens to be the same year Costner’s The Postman was released. So I don’t know if that was a coincidence or some kind of fucked up joke to have Costner’s character die the same year his directing career died (but then was resurrected — or at least had one hell of a death spasm — in 2003 with his really, really, really fuckin’ good Open Range). And you know what, man? I liked The Postman. I’ll sooner watch that then your beloved The Artist — AND YES I JUST FUCKIN SAID THAT SHIT.

I gotta give it up to this flick for showing more of Clark Kent’s formative years, confirming my suspicions that a guy with his abilities would have a pretty shitty time during the already pretty shitty period of life known as Grades K-12. Poor kid has these panic attacks because his x-ray vision and shit goes on and off unexpectedly like your average car alarm, causing him to run for the nearest alone place — where of course he’s followed by half the school wanting to peep out the freak in his freakiness.

That scene brought up a painful memory of the time I felt way-too-nauseated in the 4th grade and ran out of class to head for the bathroom, only to barely make it a few feet out the door and past the pavement, where I violently spewed out Pop Tarts and Lunchables onto the grass for what seemed like forever. I thought to myself “How can this get worse?” and then God answered back by cueing the school bell, and then everyone in the 4th grade came out of their classes and gathered around as I vomited in such a manner that even that pie-eater in Stand by Me would’ve been like WTF. I tempted that God once again by wondering yet again if it could get even worse again. And that’s when I heard one of the kids yell “IT’S COMING OUT OF HIS NOSE!!!” followed by a collective EWWWWW from both children and adults. And they were right. It was indeed spewing out of my nose as well.

But at least Clark Kent makes up for his spazzy moments by saving a bunch of these assholes after their school bus falls into a river. So some of these kids and townspeople are saying it’s a miracle of God or something like that. Meanwhile, God apparently wasn’t in a miracle mood when he let those kids in The Sweet Hereafter know all too well what it feels like to spend your last moments on Earth becoming drowned human popsicles. Some would justify it by saying that the extinguishing of all that young innocent life was His punishment to us for letting gays get married. (Meanwhile, He seemed to be OK with slavery and that whole Hitler thing. But when them homos get to making vows….)

Speaking of Hitler, the villain known as General Zod is kinda like him in that he’s a genocidal cunt as well. He wants to make Earth more habitable for his fellow Kryptonians, and while someone with his intelligence and leadership ability could probably figure out a way for both humans and Kryps to live together, he’s rather just let all the humans die out. I can’t blame him. I mean, what would Kryptonians get out of living with humans, aside from non-stop requests from kids for piggy back rides to the sky, people bugging them to use X-ray vision on them so they won’t have to go to the doctor, or being asked at barbecues to start up the grill with their heat vision. Worst of all, a Kryptonian will always be the first person a human will call when they need help moving, and it’s not like the human will put any effort in lifting his or her side of the furniture.

Then somewhere along the way, people would start to resent the Kryps for taking all the x-ray jobs and the house movers jobs and whatever other jobs that humans would be passed over in favor of Kryptonians. That would suck for the Kryptonians but would be awesome for mi gente, because now all the anti-immigrant laserbeams of hate would veer away from them and move towards the Kryps. About fuckin’ time, I say.

Zod is played by Michael Shannon (not to be confused with Michael J. Shannon from Superman II ), and he’s pretty good here, as should be expected when you cast a well-respected Academy Award-nominated actor. I especially dug how half the time he sounds like Dolph Lundgren. There is more to his character than the Zod portrayed by Terence Stamp in the Donner/Lester flicks; ultimately, he does what he thinks/feels is for the greater good, his fellow Kryps. The O.G. Zod, on the other hand, just wanted to rule because it’s good to be the king, or something. And yet, I found Stamp’s version of Zod a lot more fun to watch.

I feel that way about the film in general. While they might have gotten more into Superman’s past, and given more complicated motivations for the villain, they also sucked a lot of the fun out of it and replaced it with a darker, more “real” feel to it. I mean, I get it — that’s what Nolan did with Batman and it worked really well in that case. But I don’t think that same tone fits the Superman world at all. I’m not familiar with the comic books at all, so maybe that kind of thing worked better there (I’m assuming they’ve tried the grittier/darker approach on some of their runs), but I guess maybe I’m just burnt out on that sort of thing after the Nolan Batman trilogy.

It just doesn’t feel like a Superman movie, and maybe the filmmakers knew it, which is why they called it Man of Steel instead of, I don’t know, Another Superman or some shit. Even the flying is different; he doesn’t so much take off from the ground as he explodes from it, getting into some weird explod-o-flight rather than the graceful gliding & landing Reeve did back in the day. The flying in this movie looks like a pain in the ass and probably takes a lot out of you, wearing you out and leaving you in no mood to put up with some chick asking you to guess what color her underwear is. Fuck that shit, find me a couch for me to rest my weary frame, woman.

But whatever, man. On the other hand, you have Superman Returns which did keep the spirit and tone of the Donner/Lester flicks but came out a dull experience. So at least this one never bored me, even at close to two-and-a-half hours. The pacing never lags, and the second half of the film is an extended battle with plenty of explosions and demolished buildings and what has to be thousands of human casualties, not to mention a brief interlude in space. Remember when Warner Bros. came thisclose to making a live-action Akira movie before canceling? Well, the last half-hour or so of Man of Steel is probably as close as we’ll ever get to having one. All it’s missing is Supes yelling out “TETSUUUUOOOOO!!!!!” and some dude turning into some giant mess of organs and junk.

The last Superman flick kinda pussied out of the whole “truth, justice, and the American way” deal and while this movie doesn’t use the line (or if they did, I didn’t hear it because I was chomping my nachos like a madman who eats nachos), it at least had Superman say something to the effect of “I was raised in Kansas, that’s how fuckin’ American I am, you black son-of-a-bitch”, which I appreciated. And I would’ve appreciated it even more if the actor saying that line wasn’t as British as socialized medicine. But no, they couldn’t find someone in this motherfucker who looked Murrican enough to play an alien from another galaxy. They had to go across the pond for that. The fuck? That’s as insane as casting an Australian to play a Canadian. I will not hear of this madness no longer. Anyway, this Cavill guy, he’s fine in the role. He’s also fiiiiine as a hot piece of man-ass, but that’s besides the point. He’s no Reeve, this one, but Reeve is currently merged with the infinite, so he’ll do.

As for the reason I even watched this fuckin’ thing: It takes almost an hour before Ms. Adams shows up as Lois Lane, tough-talker and hard-drinker. She also writes for the Daily Planet and calls men out on their dick measuring (figuratively speaking). Just as I’m sure she became a lot of baseball fans’ dream girl in Trouble with the Curve as an attractive lady who knows a hell of a lot about baseball stats, here she’ll probably give camera geeks a minor case of the swoons during the scene where she puts together her Nikon D3 like it was La Femme Nikita’s sniper rifle or something. Actually, I take that back. Camera geeks, being the insufferable twats that they are, will probably scoff at this girl for having such an outdated camera — the D3 is soooo 2008, a-hyuk, a-hyuk.

When she first meets up with Superman, she’s just been injured, so he uses his heat vision to cauterize her wound. She screams and he’s holding her and I guess that’s the film’s way of saying that they just fucked without actually fucking, or something. Most of the time she’s just going around asking people for stories about the guy, following the lead until Laurence Fishburne tells her to quit that shit before he gives her the Ike/boot treatment. OK, not really, he’s just her boss and all he does is suspend her without pay.

She’s good in the movie, but I think I’m gonna have to hold out until the sequel to really have an opinion of her as Lois Lane. I say that because she doesn’t get as much to do, on account of the movie being more about Superman’s past and dealings with that General Zod motherfucker. The nerve of the filmmakers to waste time on that bullshit when they should really be telling the story about this ace reporter. But with what little they give her, she doesn’t get the chance to really Margot Kidder up the proceedings. She also doesn’t get the chance to embarrass herself with some “Can You Read My Mind” bullshit, either, so I guess I should be grateful for that. But c’mon guys, up the Amy quotient when you make part II.

She does get to wield a space blaster, though, so that was kinda cool. But because she’s The Adorable Amy Adams, she wields the weapon awkwardly.

And hey, it’s better than Superman III and IV, which is all you can really ask for at this point.

In conclusion, if you want to feel funny about feeling funny about Diane Lane in old age makeup and grandma clothes, or if 9/11 wasn’t enough mass destruction and death in a city for you, go see Man of Steel.

Doomsday prism

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, ramblings of a loser, Trouble with the Curve on September 27, 2012 by efcontentment

This September has been absolutely Amy-tastic with two films featuring The Adorable Amy Adams in our fine overpriced, badly-projected theaters; I’ve already rambled about the first movie, The Master (read that if you haven’t already, please, thank you) and now I’ll ramble about the second flick, Trouble with the Curve, where she co-stars with Clint Muthafuckin’ Eastwood.

For the record, my experience with baseball is mostly relegated to my junior high school years, and later, the occasional half-drunken softball fuck-around at barbecues. Other than that, I don’t give a good goddamn about the game and watching it on television makes me sleepy and hearing about it from others makes my eyes glaze over. Sorry. I don’t know a fuckin’ thing about stats or players or teams. Once upon a time, I used to think the “Black Sox” was an actual team and not just a name related to an old scandal (holy shit, was that an embarrassing night of Trivial Pursuit). I did go to a couple games and enjoyed stuffing my fat ass with overpriced snacks, though. Anyway, keep all that shit in mind while I ramble about this movie, which I only watched because Clint Eastwood is awesome and Amy Adams is AWWW-some.

So Clint’s a scout for the Atlanta Braves and it seems like a pretty cool job, sitting around with his fellow oldsters, munching on peanuts, chomping on cigars, talking shit while taking down notes on the potential acquisition. Then he’ll continue with his notes over a few beers at the local watering hole, then after he’ll go to his cheap motel and let the Powers That Be know whether or not this guy’s worth a shit or not. It’s a cool job, he’s been doing it forever, but now it’s coming close to contract-renewing time and that fuckin’ asshole Matthew Lillard is trying to get rid of him and replace him with those newfangled computers because this motherfucker’s like Fuck Gran Torino, It’s All About Moneyball In This Bitch.

Lillard’s job to fuck Clint out of employment would be much easier if he knew about Clint’s recent problems with his sight; it’s tough enough that it takes him five minutes to take a twenty-second leak at his age, but now the man has to deal with his vision getting all blobby-blurry on him. Early on in the film, he accidentally bumps into his coffee table and ends up angrily kicking the motherfucker away, making this not only the second of two films featuring Amy Adams this month, but the second of two films featuring Amy Adams this month that include scenes of the lead character taking his pain/annoyance out on the house after bumping into a table.

Clint gets the official word from his eye doctor, a man who wears quite possibly the worst fuckin’ rug I’ve ever seen on something that wasn’t a floor. I guess it makes sense, given that he’s an eye doctor and most of his patients wouldn’t be able to see well enough to tell. Or maybe that’s how he tests them, by asking them how his hair looks and their response would determine how bad/good their eyesight really is.

Thankfully, John Goodman is on the scene, playing Clint’s old buddy. He gets the hint that something’s up with Clint’s eyes, so he calls up the man’s semi-estranged daughter (played by our girl Amy) to help this ancient work of art out on the job. See, if this was my dad, I’d be like Sure, it’s not like I have much going on right now anyway — I can hang out for a while in North Carolina with the old man, watch some ball games, eat hot dogs. But it’s not me, this is Amy’s character with a good life going for her as a hard-working, kick-ass attorney who’s thisclose to becoming a partner at the law firm headed up by the warden from Shawshank and the deputy from “She’s the Sheriff”, provided she doesn’t fuck up an important case they got going on. She’s got a lot of shit in her life right now, is what I’m saying. She’s busy. That and, you know, the semi-estrangement.

She’s very serious about these things, both at work and outside of work; she has a boyfriend taking her to the nice eatery with the kind of music you’d hear at the Black Angus and he’s all like C’mon Bitch when are we gonna get married, but she’s married to her work, and she’s also married to being a vegan — until the halfway point of the film, when she starts stuffing herself with hot dogs because she “couldn’t hold out any longer”, like that kind of lifestyle choice is that easy/fast to switch without any repercussions.

That reminds me of a dude I knew, he was a vegan because his girlfriend of six years was vegan. She ended up going to see her family for the weekend, and my man was home alone, watching television. A Pizza Hut commercial came on and he was like Fuck It, I’m ordering me a Meat Lover’s. A couple hours later, he’s puking his guts out. According to his doctor, my dude spent so much time without that harsh meat that his system wasn’t ready for the strong re-introduction. So basically what I’m saying is, thank you Robert Lorenz, director of this film, for sparing us the scene where Our Amy is upchucking poorly digested chunks of animal anus or whatever the fuck is supposedly in that stuff.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s some other stuff early on in this film about how this is Clint’s possibly last go-round as a scout on account of his age, and there’s a sub-sub-plot about some player not doing so well and that perhaps seeing his parents will help him out, but I honestly don’t remember it that well because the characters discussing it were all familiar actors who now look so much older and I was distracted by that. Clint, of course, is all wrinkled out but at least he spent the last 20-something years easing us into it by making his age a factor in the stories he was telling. Then there’s Ed Lauter and the dude who made the mistake of stealing Jobu’s rum in Major League (as fellow scouts), not to mention the aforementioned Warden of Shawshank — those guys were always kinda old, so that’s no surprise, to see them even older.

But then you look over at Robert Patrick — the T-1000, people! — looking so fuckin’ grizzed here and that really threw me off. Even Matthew Lillard — who I always thought of as the young-ass punk guy in SLC Punk! or the punk-ass young guy in Scream — is starting to show signs of getting bitchslapped by Father Time, looking more and more like Michael Berryman with hair. I guess it’s my refusal to grow up (I’m a Toys R Us kid) that makes it difficult to acknowledge everyone else getting older. And if they are, then I sure as fuck am. I think the trick is to just be really fat and slowly lose some pounds over the years, then the aging won’t be as noticeable, because that seems to be working for Goodman.

So off they go, that old badass Clint and our swell gal Amy, off to watch some thick asshole of a human being hit homers and see if he’s Braves material. I don’t know about that, but he’s definitely douchebag material, treating his teammates like shit and charging people for autographs. He also believes in visualizing in his mind all the good shit that’s gonna happen to him in the future — money, women, fame — which I’m not against, I just wish he would also visualize becoming a better human being as well. Best/worst part is he’s not even a pro yet but he’s already doing that cheapskate thing that pro-athletes excel at by demanding a bag of nuts from the raza peanut vendor in the stands (calls him “peanut boy”), then refusing to pay the fuckin’ $2 for ’em. You fuckin’ piece of shit — I got your bag of nuts swinging, ya fat cunt.

Along the way, they run into Mr. Sexy Back himself, Justin Timberlake. He’s all right, playing a former-player-turned-scout for the Red Sox who’s hoping to parlay his current career into a gig as an announcer up in the sports booth. He’s not annoying, in fact, he’s a pretty likable dude and even really funny at times — he’s introduced in a scene that starts out Whatever and ends in Awkward, with someone calling him a “dork”, so with that I was already on his side. Likability is important if he’s going to be the potential hug interest for Our Amy in this film. That’s why it’s gonna hurt so fuckin’ much when Amy eventually does a movie with Punk’d the Douchebag. You may scoff, but shit, did you ever think you were gonna see that human smegma co-star with Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman? No, you didn’t. But it happened anyway. We’re living in the darkest timeline, people — so expect the worst, hope for the best and watch the worst happen in front of your fuckin’ eyes anyway.

I like how they make Amy’s character a big baseball fan who knows a lot of trivia, demonstrating it over tequila shots with Sexy Back; if I loved baseball as much as I love movies and getting fat, I’d totally be falling in love watching this scene of a pretty girl downing the booze and displaying such knowledge about the sport. It’s a great use of Nerd Bait by the filmmakers, and yeah, don’t get it twisted — hardcore sports fans are just another form of nerd, don’t try to pretend they’re not. You stats-quoting, fantasy sports-playing, jersey-wearing motherfuckers are just as bad as those of us who quote lines from films or those other peeps who show up at conventions wearing fuckin’ cosplay from some fuckin’ anime, which some of you homophobes might call gay except I’d argue the sports thing is gayer because of all the sweaty muscular mens you’re taking in. Yeah, “mens”, I’m not gonna correct it.

This movie started off really fuckin’ lame and cheesy, with Clint eating Spam out of the can and declaring it as a “breakfast of champions”, which isn’t quite Jim Belushi creating some weird concoction in The Principal, but felt just as 1980s when I heard it. The antagonists don’t go any deeper than about a hundred feet into the depths of Asshole, but that kind of shit is still fun to watch and it made me laugh. I don’t know if it’s Lorenz’ direction or Randy Brown’s script that’s to blame, or both, but that’s just how it is. It’s the kind of movie where more than one character agrees that Ice Cube has long been ignored by the Oscars for his performances, which I guess is funnier if you’re in your late 70s and only have a passing idea of who or what a fuckin’ Ice Cube is.

It gets a little better along the way, not like “really good” better, more like lazy Sunday afternoon viewing better. Which I guess is just a long way for me to say “kinda decent”. I liked the interactions between the three main characters, that really worked; mostly the humorous moments between them. It certainly doesn’t try to surprise you at the end, or at least I hope it wasn’t, otherwise the film thinks very little of you. As it is, it could’ve been done a lot worse. I don’t know about paying full price to see this in a shitty too-dark-digital-projection theater, but you can put this harmless shit on in the family room a few months from now and you’re not gonna get anyone’s feathers ruffled up, unless someone in your family was sodomized with a baseball bat or something. 

You’d probably get more out of it if you’re into the beisbol, but for me it was OK at best. But then again, there is a scene where Amy Adams hits a ball, trots past the bases going “WOOOO!” and then finishes it off by performing a cartwheel. Which is just so overwhelmingly precious I’ve changed my mind and now declare:

A-FUCKING-PLUS, MOVIE. A-FUCKING-PLUS.

Melora Walters singing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" sounds exactly like Melora Walters singing "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, ramblings of a loser, The Master on September 26, 2012 by efcontentment

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Hollywood has sent forth two Amy Adams films to the cinemas. The first is The Master (which sadly has nothing to do with that one episode of “Roseanne” where she and Dan were one-upping each others’ Halloween pranks), the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson, he of the late 90s explosion of big time filmmakers with the same last name, alongside Wes Anderson and Paul W.S. Anderson. (I didn’t say they were of matching talents.)

The Adorable Amy Adams plays the wife of an L. Ron Hubbard-like motherfucker named Lancaster Dodd, MOC, PhD, MD, ABC, BBD, The East Coast Family — played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, best known to assholes like me as the funny best friend in that shitty Ben Stiller movie. No, the other one. No, not that one either, the other one, the one where he’s a bit of an awkward dude and he has a thing for this hot chick and — no, not that one either.

I don’t know if Hubbard had a wife who sat in the background keeping an ever-watchful eye on him and the people he hung out with, but that’s what Adams’ character Peggy mostly does in this movie. There’s a definite “behind every great man…” element at play between Peggy and Lancaster, and Anderson cannily keeps her mostly in the background during the film, making a motherfucker feel that there’s possibly even more than meets the eye with that broad — there’s a little Karl Rove mixed into her Jackie Kennedy, if you get my drift.

This life is complicated enough with all the haters giving my man Dodd shit about his movement and book titled “The Cause” — which involves healing motherfuckers from their past traumas and giving up “animal” behaviors — and they’re either showing up to his parties and interrupting him while he’s dropping Mental Health Modern Science on old gullible society ladies, or they’re sending the pigs to harass him while he’s doing his thing at Laura “The Tidbit” Dern’s house. It’s enough to make a man want to drink some super-strong hooch made mostly from household items that probably shouldn’t be imbibed.

That’s where Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Freddie Quell, comes in. Quell’s a lost soul/expert mixologist, and when he’s not trying to show his liver who the fuck is in charge, he’s getting into smacking/wrestling matches with his fellow man, trying to get into penis/vagina matches with his fellow ladies, or beating the shit out of jail cell toilets. He’s an unhappy fellow who “can’t take this world straight”, to steal a line from the film. I would judge this unpleasant weirdo harshly, were it not for the unfortunate fact that I found myself relating a little too much with him at times.

I’m not Quell, though; I don’t share his fondness for farting in public or whacking off in front of others and I don’t look like Joaquin Phoenix. Come to think of it, even Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t look like Joaquin Phoenix here. I don’t know if he specifically lost weight for the film or if that fake wannabe Andy Kaufman rapper shit failure took a chomp out of his spirit, but either way, Jay-P is lookin’ tore the fuck up. It works because his Quell is coming down from the one-two punch of getting permanently jangled from serving in WW2, and from ditching the girl he loved. All that, plus drinking torpedo fuel and downing paint thinner-based concoctions is gonna make any young man look like a, uh, not a young man.

Eventually Quell hooks up with Dodd, and their relationship ultimately comes down to some inherent need for one another — call it scientist/guinea pig, father/son, general/soldier, philosopher/student — it’s all of those, really. You have the wild uninhibited Quell, all id, all animal. You have Dodd, the “master” of himself, talking shit about animals like somehow humans are better. Both are full of shit because despite his drinking and outbursts, Quell ultimately would like to improve (even though he doesn’t make it easy) and while Dodd tries to use his Cause methods to help the dude out (or exploit as a prime test subject?), I also got the sense that he secretly gets some vicarious pleasure watching the homie act a fool. (It’s seems the only moments where Dodd is able to indulge himself is when he’s tipsily dancing/singing at parties or wildly gesticulating while telling stories about putting leashes on dragons.)

It’s a sad little movie, an intimate character study painted on a grand canvas, the canvas being the 70mm film format (or 65mm, if you wanna be that way). I’ve seen it twice — 70mm and digital — and while you lose the bonus of watching the beautiful cinematography lookin’ so large and pristine in the non-70mm versions, you don’t lose out on any of the dramatic punch. By “dramatic”, I mean the acting, because narrative-wise this joint’s a very simple story, quite possibly the most simple story told by PTA since Punch-Drunk Love, it’s just that homeboy likes taking the scenic route. There is no memorable set-piece in this film, like the burning oil derrick in There Will Be Blood or raining ribbits in Magnolia, no pop-culture-ready quotables like “I drink your milkshake”, no coked-up Alfred Molina in a bathrobe.

This is definitely his most subtle film, as far as what makes these characters tick; nothing is spelled out and sometimes it’s just a matter of taking in a dude’s body language or even his surroundings to get where he’s coming from. Go to the next paragraph if you want to avoid an example that happens like 10-20 minutes into the film: So there’s this scene where Quell is working as a photographer at a shopping center, taking pics of families and shit like that. He ends up getting drunk on the job and is setting up a photo shoot with some dude; in the background we can hear the distant cries of a baby, as you would at a public place like this. Quell stops for a moment, then asks the man if he’s married. Man says yes. Quell then approaches him and starts fucking with the dude and eventually it gets physical between them (the man slaps Quell in the face and the digital 7.1 surround fucking sells that SMACK so hard, holy shit). Anyway, I think the baby crying, the man being married, and Quell being apart from the girl he loved, plus the booze….I don’t know what the fuck I’m saying.  

You don’t have Anderson drawing you a map to each character’s motivations, or bravura cinematic moments that you’ll be quoting and rewinding and spoofing on YouTube or Funny or Die (those assholes always find a way, though), but what you do have are a few intense moments of 100-proof Grade-A Acting between some of the best actors around. Phoenix’s Quell has spent time at the V.A. getting treatment for his “nervous condition”, and watching him will give many viewers a nervous condition as well; he always appears to be on the verge of lunging at a motherfucker, and at one point, he literally begins chewing the scenery as he tears into a mattress.

He’s also just fascinating to watch, especially whenever PTA shoots him in low-angle close-ups while homeboy already has his head tilted back; he’s always hunched over and he even makes standing with his hands on his hips look like some kind of painful ordeal. His face is always scrunched up with his cleft-palate’d mouth frozen in some kind of post-stroke rictus, causing his dialogue to sometimes sound all GWARNM BLAGRM and causing me to reach for the Subtitle option on my remote except I’m at a movie theater, there’s no remote, and now I’m all like Fuck, I gotta wait for the Blu-ray to understand this motherfucker?!

Hoffman is excellent as Dodd, someone who seems to be on top of everything, seems to know everything, prone to hearty handshakes and being the center of attention at social functions. You can totally understand why people would be eager to believe what he says, even though the game he spits can range from “interesting” to “are you fucking kidding me?” And the cracks certainly show through his otherwise confident facade whenever someone has the audacity to call Dodd on this shit, causing homeboy to snap on a motherfucker. Not that anyone takes much notice (or refuses to acknowledge it), I guess for the same reason people will forgive their favorite politician or spiritual leader for fucking up royally; nobody’s perfect and we’re only human after all, either that or maybe people just want to believe in something so bad, they’ll plug their ears, close their eyes, and go LALALALALALA to ignore the warning signs and then unplug and open long enough to blame someone else — anyone else — for putting Their Guy in that position.

As for The Adorable Amy Adams, she does very well in her role; nothing showstopping, but that’s not what the part’s about anyway, she’s more of a presence that pops up from time to time to remind us that Amy Adams is in this movie. Dalton from Road House must’ve been her grandson and that’s where he learned his Be Nice Until It’s Time Not To Be Nice ways, because there are times where she looks/acts as sweet as expected, bouncing her toddler son on her knee and baby-talking him, and then there are other moments where she is all business and will get up in a dude’s face while he’s trying to catch some ZZZ’s and tell him what’s what.

And when it comes time to pull the leash on the ol’ hubby, she does that shit like a fuckin’ boss, walking up to L.D. while he’s washing up in the bathroom before bed, and proceeding to jerk that motherfucker off while setting him straight with some rules on how he should behave. My goodness — the last film they acted in together, Adams and Hoffman were bonding over their fondness for Frosty the Snowman, now she’s like the reverse Frank T.J. Mackey, demanding respect for the cunt while taming the cock. The cherry of this hand-job sundae is when she tells Dodd when to come (I prefer the non-porn spelling), she doesn’t even let the guy come at his own leisure. It’s like just ’cause she’s tugging this dude’s main vein doesn’t mean she has all fuckin’ night, either, ’cause a girl’s gotta get her sleep. Damn. Even her one-handed hand-wash afterward was gangsta.

People always gotta make it about something it’s not, and I guess as soon as they found out that Lancaster Dodd was based in some part on L. Ron Hubbard, they figured Anderson was gonna fuck Scientology in the ass, like he’s Jesus Quintana on a Wednesday night date. He doesn’t really do that because it’s not an exposé on that shit. It’s more about the flawed motherfuckers behind that kind of thing, but there are enough references to it that you can point it out your bud, all “That’s the auditing session he’s doing, only he doesn’t have the E-meter!” If he wanted to, Anderson could’ve completely changed it to something that didn’t resemble Scientology at all — and you’d still have the same story and character arc (or lack thereof).

I think the 70mm will throw some people off, coming in and expecting some epic bastard-from-a-basket type shit, but they’re getting something closer to a minor-scaled joint like Hard Eight (or Sydney, if you wanna be that way). His last film ended with a character declaring “I’m finished!” while this film ended with the lady behind me asking her friend “Is that it?”, so keep that in mind. It’s got a bit of a Full Metal Jacket thing going where the second half doesn’t match the first half in power and awesomeness. I liked the film but after seeing it twice, I have to say this is my least favorite P.T. Anderson flick. But hey, with an oeuvre like his, “least” is still pretty fuckin’ good.

A fifth of that Black Jack, a 16 oz Coke

Posted in douchebag, I Heart Amy Adams, ramblings of a loser, The Muppets on November 17, 2011 by efcontentment

“What movie is this line for?” asked the older lady who had just walked up to me, and I told her it was for The Muppets, to which she responded “Huh?”, and not in that I Didn’t Hear You sort-of-way, but in that “Aren’t you an adult?” kind of way. That’s OK, though; I was not the only adult, in fact, the majority of this particular queue was old enough to buy alcohol legally. We were here because of a love for Jim Henson’s creations — and because we managed to get on the guest list.

You see, Jeremy Smith (aka Mr Beaks of AICN and Internet fame) set this screening up at The Grove in Los Angeles — a nice place where you can look at people who most likely make more money than you — and once inside the Pacific Theatres auditorium, Mr. Smith-Beaks asked us to indulge him as he led us in a Mahna-Mahna singalong, which reminded me of what I saw 20 minutes earlier: 3 men in the restroom singing a couple verses from Wham’s “Last Christmas” while taking a piss (1 at the urinal, the other 2 in separate stalls). Because singing was involved in both instances, obviously. I didn’t notice any dudes in the audience holding their dicks while singing Mahna-Mahna (and it wasn’t for lack of looking, either).

Preceding the feature was a Toy Story Toon titled “Small Fry” and I don’t know why I had the stones to doubt Pixar about this one, but I did; I figured this would be a cute time-filler and they probably got Tom Hanks’ brother from Acts of Violence to do Woody’s voice, as well as the relatives of all the other famous actors who worked on the trilogy to take over. But no, they got the whole fuckin’ cast back together, they got Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, and even the guy who played Patricia Richardson’s douchebag husband from that Tool Time show.

Because this was a Pixar joint, the motherfuckers behind-the-scenes put their usual 220% into telling this brief tale about Buzz Lightyear’s visit to a fast-food joint. It’s good stuff, and considering how goddamn perfect the last film ended, I’d prefer that the Toy Story adventures continue like this, rather than with another film; in addition to giving us a few minutes of Good Times, these shorts also serve as postcards informing the rest of us about how our guys are doing. They’re doing well, by the way, thanks for asking.

So then The Muppets started, and in the opening scene we’re introduced to a new Muppet named Walter. I once worked with a guy named Walter and he always felt a need to tell me stories of his many sexual conquests, each disgusting verbal image punctuated with “I was piping her, dawg! Piping her!” Anyway, the non-piping Walter is the younger brother of Jason Segel’s character, and I guess Segel is a real mensch, because he doesn’t give a shit that his mother obviously slept around one drunken night with a Muppet behind her husband’s back, instead he treats Walter with the kind of love and respect that only a kind-hearted sibling can give. They do way too much stuff together, though, and if you disagree with me, then you’re disagreeing with The Adorable Amy Adams.

Yeah man, she’s in this movie too, and I think she may have gone a tad Method in going for the Miss Piggy parallels because she appears a little heavier here, or maybe she was channeling her inner Cookie Monster before someone told her this was a Muppet movie, not Sesame Street. The extra weight is most likely a result of having given birth before production, and besides, this is The Adorable Amy Adams we’re talking about, this only means that there’s even more of her adorable self to find adorable. C’mon, this is Amy Adams, people. She’s been in Leap Year and that Ben Stiller museum bullshit and I still haven’t found her doing anything I’d put in the neighborhood of Wrong. She looks wonderfully fine, baby weight or not. Having said that, I’d also like to say the following: That’s quite enough, Ms. Adams.

So yeah, Adams’ character is also Segel’s love interest and she’s been incredibly accommodating, patient and gracious about his brother tagging along with them on every goddamn thing they do. Most recently, she’s given the OK to Walter going with them on a 10-year-anniversary trip to Los Angeles, even though privately she wishes the fuckin’ guy can take a solo trip while she and the Segs can have some two-way fun times. Well, she’s in luck because shortly after they arrive in the city of shitty traffic and shittier parking, Walter does take a breather in Kermit the Frog’s old office at the now rundown Muppet Studios — where he fortunately overhears that bad Chris Cooper’s plan to demolish the old Muppet Theater (because he’s an evil oil magnate named Tex Richman and the location happens to be located on top of some prime vehicular go-juice).

What to do? I’ll tell you what to do — you go Electric Boogaloo on the motherfuckers and try to raise enough money (ten million dollars) to buy the theater back. So off they go — Walter, The Adorable Amy Adams, and that Segal guy — to convince Kermit to get the ol’ Muppet gang together and stage a telethon with the singing and the dancing and the twisting and the kung-fu fiiiiiiighting. Deedle-deedle-dee-dee-do.

Let me talk about this Segel dude (who also co-wrote the screenplay); I’ve never seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall or that TV show where Neil Patrick Harris bangs women, so I’m not that up on the guy and his business and his talent or lack thereof. But I’ve seen him on Craig Ferguson and I’ve also seen him on Craig Ferguson’s show, and he came off as very likable and funny. He seemed like a good dude, and fuck it, I’m saying he is a good dude, because in the end, he shepherded this project out of the Good Idea Barn and into the Pasture of Motherfuckin’ Fruition — and I apologize for writing such a stupid sentence in a blog already full of them.

When Segel and the Muppets try pitching the telethon to a high-powered TV exec (ah, Rashida Jones, the things you do to me), she counters back with charts showing them how irrelevant they are nowadays, telling them how Cynicism sells, not some fruity Muppets who are all about good feelings (one of the hit shows is something called “Punch Teacher”, and that clip ends with a hilariously fucked-up off-screen line of dialogue).

That made me wonder how much of the studio exec dialogue came out of Segel’s real-life pitch meetings, as he tried to get a new Muppet movie off the ground. The exec tells them that they need a big star to headline the telethon, and I’m sure that was the same shit Segel was told when it came to making The Muppets; in the film’s case they got Amy Adams and some celebrity cameos (I was particularly fond of seeing Alan Arkin and Emily Blunt — it’s a Sunshine Cleaning reunion!), but for the telethon, I was less impressed and more amused by who they managed to get — especially when you consider that there’s someone in the Muppet Theater audience who can arguably be considered a bigger star at this particular point in time.

Some of the original Muppet crew (including that contentious muthafucka Frank Oz) have been vocal about not digging on this movie, and I guess the “fart shoes” gag might be part of the problem. Perhaps that kind of humor never made it to the Muppets back in the day, but I can’t be too sure. Listen man, I haven’t seen any of the other Muppet movies since I was in elementary school, so I can’t compare this joint with The Muppet Movie or The Muppets Take Manhattan, because I honestly don’t remember them all too well plot-wise.

But I must have part Robocop in me though, because while I can’t really remember them, I can still *feel* them and this new one left me feeling just as happy — if not more — as the previous Muppet flicks made me feel, so that sounds like a class-A success to me. Even Walter felt like an old friend, even though this is his first barbecue. Also, the fart shoes gag is the only bathroom joke I can recall from the film, and it’s not even that bad, it’s really just an old-fashioned whoopie cushion gag, not twenty-seven Eddie Murphys in various stages of latex make-up and fat suits, unable to control themselves (to diminishing returns).

Anyway, the end result — directed by some dude from Flight of the Conchords and featuring songs written by another dude from Flight of the Conchords — is both a highly-entertaining family film (a family film that sneakily manages to feature a certain hit song by Cee Lo Green — yes, I know they credit the clean version in the soundtrack, but you Just Fucking Know that Segel and company meant the other one) and a love letter to these goddamn Muppets, and it’s absolutely brimming with Neo-Sincerity (while still having a sense-of-humor about certain accepted cliches, getting all meta on us). This is a film that wears its heart on its sleeve, one that embraces the ever-fading ideals of Kindness and Compassion, while insisting to the audience that the most important thing is to just fuckin’ Try.

Man, to take that proud stance in a time where cynicism runs rampant and mean-spiritedness is disguised as being “cool”, well that makes The Muppets pretty goddamn punk, if you ask me.

That tea & crumpet-eating mofo Martin Amis once wrote about the first time he saw E.T. The Extra Terrestrial; he said he was fuckin’ bawling his British-novelist eyes out by the end of it. Then he noticed that the conveniently well-rounded group of people sitting to the left and right of him (Japanese businessman, black guy, punk rocker, mother — they were only a construction worker away from singing YMCA) were also crying. He said that they weren’t so much crying for the on-screen characters, as they were crying for their “lost selves”. I was thinking of that while pulling an Amis by glancing for tears in the audience (there were a few). Me, I didn’t cry; I was feeling the film, but not that deeply. Besides, I don’t cry at movies, I’m a man — I wait until I’m alone in the privacy of my own home to let that shit flow.

But yeah man, those E.T. tears, I believe, are the same kind of tears that also rolled down many a moviegoers’ chubby cheeks during the first 15 minutes of Up and the last 15 minutes of Toy Story 3 — the dreaded Growing Up Sucks A Dick But We Have To tears (aka Pixar Tears). An old man wakes up in bed without his wife, a teenager sighs as he sits alone in his car, a boy says goodbye to his alien father/brother surrogate — sure, we know these are fictional characters in a fictional setting in a goddamn movie, but while the on-screen events are not real, the fuckin’ brutal emotions they stir up in us (not to mention related past memories) are way too fuckin’ real. Fuck you, Wistfulness! Goddamn you to Hell, Nostalgia! That’s why we cry at fuckin’ “cartoons”, asshole hack comedian whose name I can’t remember but will probably be famous someday on a sitcom that will last 10 years. That’s why.

All right, fine — that’s why *I* cry at the fuckin’ things.

So on that tip, you have The Muppets: a bunch of these cloth-skinned creatures philosophizing in song about the lovers and dreamers (and me!) who believe in dreams and illusions, despite the general factual consensus proving otherwise — But you know what, man? Perhaps you’re not alone in having these thoughts. Maybe we ALL have ’em! — which is the kind of thing some of us want to hear in our old age, long after we reached the end of our formative years and had the curtain lifted, introducing us to the ugly, horrifying, crippling machine of despair, anguish, and hatred that is commonly referred to as The Real World (not to be confused with that MTV show featuring some nasty dude who shot snot rockets out of his nose and grossed out some raza dude with HIV by eating peanut butter with his nasty booger hands. Man, if I was Pedro, I’d have spit in that peanut butter and say “Try eating that shit now, ya fuckin’ disgusting no-shower-taking, nose-picking, bike-riding, born insecure, rat-soup-eating MUTHAFUCKA!” ).

So on the tip of *that* tip, I will be very surprised if I find out that I was the only one in that theater who knew that men & women were really controlling and voicing the Muppets, and yet still chose to believe Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, Kristen Schaal, Animal, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, non-piping Walter, etc., were real. Because they sure as fuck were real when I was a kid. It’s still real to me, dammit! I STILL BELIEVE!

It’s a sweet film, and a very funny one at that; maybe not Pixar-quality, but fuck man, nobody’s perfect. Besides, I’d have to see it again to make that judgment. As it is, it’s definitely one of the better examples of the kind of family film that both the kids and adults will enjoy, and no one will feel like a complete schmo for buying a ticket to — unless you are in fact, a schmo who refuses to enjoy awesome shit. Me, I couldn’t stop smiling during it.

In conclusion, Amy Adams gets to eat a Pink’s chili dog in the movie and that to me, is oceans of awesome to watch, and not in some sexual way, either. Don’t get it twisted, peeps. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have another Me Party.

ALTERNATE SPOILER-ISH ENDING

Hey man, let me tell you something that happens in the movie, and how fucked up it was to me. So the Muppets find Gonzo and try to convince him to do the show. He (it?) says no, because he has a successful business distributing bathroom fixtures and he’s on his way to 1% Land, so off they go, disappointed. Because this is a movie, he changes his mind by the next scene, and to show his commitment, he blows up the warehouse containing his entire business. Which is fine for him, but what about the hundreds of loyal workers he just fucked out of a job? In this economy, no less. What a fuckin’ asshole. WHAT A FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE. That piece of shit, I never liked him, I never trusted him. For all I know, he had me set up and had my friend Angel Fernandez killed. But that’s history. I’m here, he’s not.

Oh, and they sing Starship’s “We Built This City”, which made me really uncomfortable because it reminded me of a rather unfortunate (and NSFW) soundalike I once caught on Sirius/XM. You’ve been warned.