Thursday, July 31, 2008


It was a combination of upgrading to a new computer and the loss of my internet connection that caused me to be off for almost a week. I've seen many bloggers and web site authors over the years who seemed completely dumbfounded by the idea that people may stop visiting their sites just because they either rarely or never get updated. Since I would definitely become one of those and because I never want to have to post something like, "Why did you stop reading me, you ungrateful bastards? Sure, there was nothing new but the archives were still up. What, you're all too good to re-read the classics?" I figured I better get something up, even if it sucks. On that note, here's a new review. Oh, it doesn't suck, but I would have posted it even if it had.

The X Files: I Want to Believe is one of those movies where people who once worked together on something successful and said, "Sure, I'll accept a huge check to do this crap again." I was an X-Files fan for a while. There were times when it was as good as anything that's ever been on television, like when they had Alex Trebbek and Jesse Ventura playing Men In Black. Then you'd have something about some sort of giant man-worm hybrid living in the sewers that made you think someone must have broken into the producers' offices, left the script on the desk and it got made by accident. If this movie were an episode of the show, I would rate it as average. We can't really hold creator/writer/director Chris Carter responsible for any of this. After all, he only had 6 years since the show went off the air to work on this.

It opens as most X-Files episodes did, in some atmospherically lit environment where vaguely menacing figures are clomping around terrorizing some innocent individual. Word of warning: if you are ever out in the woods and you suddenly stumble on an area beautifully lit by 500 watt lights, RUN! Intercut with this are scenes where some sort of search team is following around a crazy looking Scot (Billy Connolly who chose to have the same hairstyle as my grandmother) named Father Joe. The character of Father Joe is a convicted pedophile and I can't remember how he ever managed to convince all these law enforcement types to follow him onto a frozen lake and change their whole search pattern on his whims. It turns out he's having psychic visions and he digs up a severed arm. This convinces Special Agent Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet) to call in the FBI's most famous specialist on crazy Scottish psychic pedophile ex-priests, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny).

It turns out that Mulder has been living a quiet existence since the end of the show with his former partner turned lover, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). You can see why they get along so well since she lives a relatively normal life working as a doctor for a Catholic hospital while he lives a Unabomber lifestyle in a fortified compound still studying stories of alien anal probes. After vowing not to get involved with the FBI again, he promptly gets involved with the FBI again in a search for an agent who was kidnapped by those vaguely menacing figures you saw at the start of the movie. Father Joe keeps having visions about her that are the next best thing to useless. He says things like, "She's alive, dogs are barking, people are speaking Russian," and none of this does jack to aid the investigation because, like all psychics in movies and, for that matter, in all forms of fiction, he gives what's basically the first number of a 2000 number combination. Everything they say is true but it doesn't help to end the investigation. If it did, if Father Joe had said, "The woman you're looking form is at 1024 Main Street, Apt 4. Bring some chicken fingers, they're her favorite," then the movie would be over in two minutes but this tactic of doling out tiny bits of vague information in a piecemeal fashion is very noticeable and very annoying.

There are attempts at character development as Scully has to decide whether to use a risky experimental treatment on a terminally ill child but that whole subplot is distracting even though Scully's research into the illness will later provide her with a vital clue to the case she and Mulder are investigating.

There does come a point where they track down the villain and I suppose you all think that the movie just ends there BUT NOOOOOO it does not. Why is that, you ask? The villain uses the brilliant tactic of having stupid and incompetent people looking for him. He literally walks down his hall, sees a dozen FBI agents with all their backs turned to him and walks back out. He is then fortunate enough to have the kind of luck that can only be granted to you by god-like screenwriters and is able to evade Mulder and is even able to attack Agent Whitney. But don't worry, it gets dumber from there.

I'm going to try and explain this to you without spoiling the ending too much. It turns out that the reason the FBI agent was kidnapped and several other murders were committed was partly due to an act of love and also involved an amazing piece of science fiction. The medical procedure that the villains are attempting is, quite simply, one of the most amazing events in the history of medical science. If this were actually possible, they wouldn't need to do it through illegal means but instead would have conducted their experiments at the most prestigious medical institutions on the planet. Still, had they done that, we would have been spared all the scenes of severed limbs, disembodied heads and buckets of blood

Hopefully they won't let Chris Carter make another one of these since I'll probably feel obligated to see it. Yes, it's my choice whether I see it or not but I'd rather blame Chris Carter. I stopped watching The X-Files when it became obvious that Carter was lying to us when he said that he knew where the series was going and how it was going to end. Instead you got the feeling that they were just making it up as they were going along and this movie has the same feeling since they forget the psychic pedophile after a while to concentrate on the Russian body thieves.

Oh well, hopefully it won't be a week before you see me again. If it is, please enjoy the archives. They're classic.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 33

Just because a movie has the title of a gay porn film doesn't mean it's gay porn. This all feeds into that whole "Judging a book by its cover" thing. I wonder if this means that Backdoor Pepperoni Delivery is actually about delivering pizza.

Wow, gone almost a week and all you people get is one of these diddly little "Things I've Learned" posts. Oh well, sucks to be you.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


I'd like to meet these focus groups that always seem to demand that Will Ferrell take off his clothes in every movie he's in. Hmm, after having typed that, I realized that is the absolute last thing I'd ever want. Never mind.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 32

In stories as diverse as Farmer's Daughter jokes to upscale British films like Brideshead Revisited, we see again and again that the sure-fire way to make sure a guy has sex with your hot daughter is to utterly and completely forbid him to have sex with your hot daughter.

Also, I've learned that English people talk funny. I think they do it on purpose.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bats In The Belfry


That one word is actually quite sufficient in describing The Dark Knight. I expected it to be good but it was better than even I thought it would be. It turns out that it wasn't just a fluke or miracle of marketing that caused it to beat out Mamma Mia for the week's number 1 spot.

First off, I'm now officially pissed off at Heath Ledger for dying the way he did. It was stupid and preventable and has denied the world of a rare talent. I believe his performance as Ennis in Brokeback Mountain was one of the greatest pieces of acting you will ever see. Acting schools should simply show students people that movie, point at Ledger and say, "Do that." It is amazing to me that Ledger was able to play an emotionally repressed man who was able to let you know exactly how he was feeling. His performance as the Joker, on the other hand, shows us all what Ledger was truly capable of. Ledger is the first actor to truly understand and portray the Joker. When I first heard that Ledger had been cast to play the Joker, I assumed that director Christopher Nolan had lost a bet and been forced to do this. Despite the glowing praise I just handed him, I just couldn't imagine Mr. Easy Going Pretty Boy Ledger playing someone like the Joker. The amazing end result shows why Nolan is a bigtime director and I'm some goob writing about him on an unknown hobby blog.

When I say that Ledger is the first person to understand and portray the Joker, I should have said, "properly portray." The Joker, in movies and television, has always been played for laughs. Jack Nicholson's Joker in Tim Burton's Batman movie came a little closer to what the Joker actually is but even then he was mostly seen as a silly and campy character. Readers of Batman comics books know an entirely different Joker. The Joker is supposed to be a sadistic sociopath. To him, pain and violence are funny. He'll kill people as part of his elaborate criminal schemes or just because he's bored. The best example of this can be found in Alan Moore's 1998 graphic novel The Killing Joke where he forces Commissioner Gordon to watch as he tortures and mutilates Gordon's daughter, Barbara. It is the Joker of The Killing Joke that we see in this movie. Hell, if anything Ledger's Joker is even crazier. The Joker of Batman comic books had his face pulled into a permanent smile by exposure to chemicals. The Dark Knight's Joker simply cut a smile onto his face. Though he offers conflicting explanations as to why, in the end, he did it because he's completely insane.

I've spent three paragraphs talking about the movie's villain but that's because the Joker is the movie's driving force. For all effects and purposes, the Joker takes the world in this movie and remakes it to his liking. When Batman and the authorities of Gotham City start battling the Joker, they have no idea what the hell they are dealing with. Batman doesn't understand that the Joker isn't in this for the money or the power or the glory. He's never met anyone who simply wanted to create as much fear and pain as he possibly could. When the Joker finally manages to collect a vast sum of money, he uses it as fuel to burn a man alive. The Joker seems to exist to destroy Batman. Oh, he was probably always crazy, maybe that weirdo who lives on the street or in a filthy apartment that causes parents to say to their children, "Stay away from that man." No one had ever seen nor heard of him before Batman came along and his fingerprints weren't on file which bolsters the theory that he was just some lonely, anonymous disturbed man who was triggered into action when he first heard of the dark vigilante who moved through Gotham's streets at night.

In a very short time, the Joker holds Gotham City in his grip of fear. He publicly vows to kill people every day until Batman reveals his true identity and turns himself in and that's a vow that he keeps. It's District Attorney Harvey Dent who first comes to realize the madness that the city is now fighting and starts working closely with the Batman to end this reign of terror but that only brings Dent into the Joker's sights. Even when the Joker is captured, Batman doesn't fully understand what he's dealing with. When Harvey Dent is kidnapped, Batman still doesn't understand what he's dealing with and thinks he can simply beat the information he wants out of the Joker. This action has tragic results.

Again, I've been concentrating on the Joker and giving short shrift to the other characters. They're all good. Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and pretty much everyone else turn in excellent performances. It's too bad that they were mostly overshadowed by Ledger's iconic portrayal of the Joker. One of the best comparisons I can think of to this is Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Hannibal Lecter, a performance where the actor seems to transcend acting and fully become the person he or she is playing.

I can't believe all this happened in a big summer popcorn movie. I should have spent this entire review talking about the cool stunts, the eye popping special effects and all the awesome explosions. I should have been saying about The Dark Knight what I said about Wanted, that the best we could hope for is a movie whose stunts, effects, and jokes overcome the stupidity of the plot. Instead, we not only have this amazing performance of this incredible character but we also have a plot that, despite the fact that it's about a guy who runs around in a rubber suit, is as intelligent as it is dark. It doesn't supply easy answers in the end and Batman doesn't get to walk off happily into the sunset (or sunrise since he only comes out at night). The Dark Knight asks challenging questions about the nature or courage, purpose, ethics and sacrifice and its answers to these questions, like real life, aren't always just or fair but they are thought provoking.

If all this turns you off from wanting to see it, please ignore everything I've written and start over from here.

The Dark Knight blows lots of stuff up real good. It's not only awesome but it is also Mega-Awesome and sometimes it's even SUPER DUPER ULTRA MEGA-AWESOME!!!! It's the most awesome movie ever and if you miss it then you are not awesome, so go see it.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

That's A Spicy Meatball

So there I am, ticket in hand, all set to see The Dark Knight and God decides to give me the old metaphorical crane kick to the face by causing the projector to fail. This caused me to do something I never, ever thought I would do. Instead of just getting my money back and going home, I went ahead and saw Mamma Mia.

I never thought I'd see it because it's the film version of a famous stage musical but all the songs are from ABBA's song book. It's not that I'm not an ABBA wait, it's entirely that I'm not an ABBA fan. Until last night, I could have sworn that ABBA had only recorded three songs in their decades long career. Let's see, there's Dancing Queen, Take A Chance On Me and, um...there's Dancing Queen, I know that. Oh, the title track itself, Mamma Mia, that's an ABBA song right? Or was it just made up for the musical? My head hurts now.

Oh well, I suppose I should discuss the plot although it seems to only exist so the actors will have stuff to do in between singing about seeing that girl, watching that scene and digging that dancing queen. Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a 20 year old girl who, while planning her upcoming wedding, finds her mother's old diary and makes the mistake of reading it. It turns out her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep) used to be a total slut. The reason that Sophie never knew who her father was is that her loose mother never knew who the father was either. According to the diary, she had sex with three different guys within a few weeks of each other. At least, those were the three she had time to write about. There was Sam (Pierce Brosnan), the love of her life who broke her heart, Bill (Stellan SkarsgÄrd), the guy she threw herself at to get over Sam and Harry (Colin Firth), a guy she did it with, she's pretty much out of excuses at this point. Sophie really wants to have her father at her wedding so she sends invitations to all three to come to the Greek island where her mother runs an inn.

Sophie hatches a genius plan to hide the three from her mother in the inn's old goathouse until she can figure out which one is her father. This genius plan literally falls apart in about five minutes when Donna, apparently no longer a complete whore, spots her old dalliances wandering around her property and properly wonders what the hell they're doing there.

You can usually spot when the characters are about to sing another ABBA song because they suddenly start speaking in superfluous, out-of-character dialogue. For instance, Donna and her two oldest friends were sitting around discussing the mixed and wistful feelings that most mothers have when their daughters are about to marry when suddenly one of the women says something along the lines of, "Gosh Donna, you should loosen up and have more fun. Remember when you were the queen of the dance floor?" and then BAM they're all singing Dancing Queen. That happens pretty much before every musical number so you non-ABBA fans out there who also couldn't get into The Dark Knight know when to stick your fingers in your ears. I will say that some of the musical numbers were quite well done like Meryl Streep's rendition of Mamma Mia and then you get Lay All Your Love On Me, which starts off well enough as a love duet between Sophie and her fiance, Sky (Dominic Cooper) and ends with the guys from her Sky's bachelor party literally hopping around in swimsuits and flippers. If Sky's friends said to him, "Dude, we promise, this will be the gayest bachelor party you have ever seen," then this was definitely a promise fulfilled.

We did learn a few things from Mamma Mia:
  1. You don't necessarily need to have a decent singing voice to be cast in a major role in a big movie musical (I'm looking at you, Pierce Brosnan).
  2. A girl can be born and raised on a Greek island and still speak English with a middle American accent.
  3. On the same note, no one in Greece actually speaks Greek.
  4. Three grown men will suddenly stop whatever the hell they're doing to go see some chick they banged 20 years earlier and haven't heard from since simply because they get an invitation in the mail. Also, they will not call to say they're coming or try to confirm the invitation in any way.

So, that's about it. It all boils down to this: if you're not an ABBA fan, your chances of liking this movie are miserable. If you are an ABBA fan, you'll probably like it so much that you lose control of your bowels so it's best to wear one of those Depends Undergarments. If you're someone who only knows a few ABBA songs, like me, then you'll only see it if forced and then you'll go to your movie review site and write a bitter, sarcastic review. Okay, that's all of humanity broken down into three neat categories. Hope you found this helpful.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

And Superheroes Come To Feast

A lot of you probably saw the title and thought this would be a review of that big superhero movie that came out today. Sorry, Sunshine. I won't be seeing that until Sunday. Instead of living in the Now, let's look toward the World of Tomorrow.

"The Watchmen is unfilmable!" is what I was saying up until yesterday when the hi-def trailer was released on Apple. I'm trying like hell not to get my hopes up about this as I still find it hard to believe that Alan Moore's large, darkly realistic treatment of how the world would probably actually react to the idea of costumed vigilantes could possibly be boiled down to even a 3 hour movie (no idea if that's going to be the movie's length). Still, there's lots of it in the trailer. The Police Strike, Jon Ostermann blowing up, the Silk Spectre's superhot costume (though Malin Ackerman in the costume has a lot to do with it), the Martian fortress and hell, it even has Dr. Manhattan's bedroom antics. So, okay Zach Snyder, maybe this all isn't just the success of 300 going to your head and you'll actually make a decent film out of this.

In other upcoming cinematic superhero news, you have The Spirit. The trailer looks like director Frank Miller stuck a camera in his head and filmed his acid trip but it does have every hot chick in Hollywood. In fact, it looks like they literally ran out of Hollywood hot chicks because they actually had to import one from Spain. The way I experience this film will be the mirror image of the way I experience The Watchmen. I read every word of The Watchmen and, in fact, still have the original 12 issue comic book series secure in their mylar bags. On the other hand, I've never read a word of The Spirit. Not Will Eisner's original strips or Frank Miller's graphic novel update. This denies me the essential right of every comic book fan whose favorite titles get made into movies. I don't get to go on the internet and post 10,000 word ravings about how the movie missed some essential detail...
The Spirit only gets sausage and mushroom on his pizza yet the movie clearly shows him eating pepperoni. WHAT THE MOTHER PUSS DRINKING FUCK DID FRANK MILLER THINK HE WAS DOING?

So, was Eva Mendes the right woman to play Sand Seref? Why are you asking me? Sand Seref could come up and kick me in the balls and I still wouldn't know who the hell she was. I know nothing about this story which at least means I'll be able to judge it for what it is rather than its source material. Again, this will deny me the right to have my rage build slowly throughout the movie over the fact that Scarlett Johannson's character was supposed to have a different accent than what she had until finally the credits roll and I yell out in the middle of a crowded theater, "THAT WAS THE GAYEST, MOST RETARDED THING I'VE EVER SEEN!" and get to experience that moment of extreme embarrassment when everyone starts staring at me but also feel that moment of fellowship when one other guy says, "That's because of Silken Floss's accent, right? RIGHT ON, BROTHER!"

Oh, one more thing. This and Jumper will make two movies in a row where Samuel L. Jackson looks like the guy who staggers alone out of the gay bar at 3 AM. Not sure if this is a coincidence or if he's trying to tell us something but Sam, we'll accept you either way.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 31

According to the new X-Files movie, there's no reason to be skeptical of some crazy, unshaven foreigner with matted hair who's bleeding from the eyes when he tells you that he has visions.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2012 Reasons That People Are Stupid

Riding on the massive success/cultural phenomenon that was 10,000 B.C., Roland Emmerich is currently working on a movie slated for next year called 2012 which is apparently about the world ending in some vague way. It may be good though my current prediction is that it will make Armageddon look like Citizen Kane.

Predictions, by the way, are what this post is all about. Apparently, this movie is inspired by some prediction that the Mayans made around 3,000 years ago that the world would end on December 21, 2012. This idea is gaining ground among people who think it's a good idea to rely on the predictive powers of a people whose mystical powers were apparently so incredible that the Mayan civilization died out more than a millennium ago. That fact won't stop a lot of people from regarding Emmerich's dumb movie as a documentary and exposing a lot of stupid people to this stupid idea.

Not much we can do except to tell as many people as possible that this prediction is impossible and couldn't possibly happen. How do I know? Because the world was already destroyed by Y2K back in the year 2000. You can't destroy a world twice folks, that's just simple logic.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Center Of Hellboy

I saw a movie this weekend that was like a breath of fresh air. It was not only visually imaginative but also had characters who were interesting and, despite their bizarre nature, believable. It was fun and engaging and I don't recall once thinking that my intelligence was being insulted, highly unusual for a big summer blockbuster.

I saw another movie that was like a breath of air that was just breathed out of a guy who's been living on burritos for days. Whereas the first movie had an imaginative story, this one took one of the most famous imaginative stories in history and turned it into just another adventure story and not only was my intelligence being insulted, it was being dragged and spat upon by the plot while the special effects called it names.

The first movie was Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. The second one was Journey To The Center Of The Earth.

Journey To The Center Of The Earth is, of course, inspired by the famous Jules Verne book of the same name. Even back in Verne's time, this story was pretty well regarded as unlikely whereas today, it is regarded as impossible. That, of course, didn't stop the filmmakers from treating the whole situation quite seriously. This is one of those movies that acts as if the unbreakable laws of science are actually more along the lines of being the loosely enforced guidelines of science. The great thing about modern movies is that concepts like, "This whole situation is bloody well impossible," often don't keep people from walking out of the theater and saying, "Awesome!" For instance, I rather enjoyed The Core, another movie about the center of the earth that is completely impossible. Despite that, I just couldn't help but like a movie with the guts to have a space shuttle land in the Los Angeles River. The only thing that would have made it perfect was to have two guys walking across the river with a piece of glass that the shuttle could have broken through and some chicken coops and watermelon crates that could have been knocked over. Unfortunately, Journey doesn't have moments like that.

You know what does have great, memorable, gutsy moments? Hellboy 2, that's what. I was not a fan of the first Hellboy film so I'm just amazed that I'm so enthusiastic about this one. There's the animated opening that tells of an ancient war between humans and the supernatural races, the confrontation between an elvish prince and his father, a battle between Hellboy's crew and a forest god, visiting a troll market, pleading with an angel and what happens when they meet the unstoppable Golden Army. As I said, its characters are not only interesting but believable, quite a feat since its main characters are a demon, a fishman, a firestarter, an intelligent gas cloud and a pair of elvish twins. This is truly one hell of a movie ONE HELL OF A MOVIE! GET IT? I AM AWESOME! After Iron Man I doubted I'd see another high quality big studio summer blockbuster type of film this year since that's usually how it works. You'll get maybe one excellent summer film per year if you're lucky. The best you can expect from the rest normally is a movie that has enough entertainment value that allows you to overlook its abject stupidity. Yet here we are with Iron Man and Hellboy 2, two movies that will probably mkae those 10 Best Lists that critics put together every year and it looks like The Dark Knight will be joining them this Friday. I wonder what it is about this year that caused studio executives to greeenlight huge budgets for movies without saying things like, "Let's throw out all this character crap and fruity dialogue and toss in some more explosions and some bimbos with tits." Whatever it was, let's hope this is a start of a trend.

Journey, of course, is not part of this trend. Sure, it has a T-Rex. It's hard to screw up a scene with a T-Rex whether the T-Rex be advanced computer graphics or some guy in a rubber suit. I could go on for days about everything that's wrong with this movie and "everything" would include Brendan Fraser's scientist character who is either a genius or a doofus depending on the needs of the script, Anita Briehm's sexy Icelandic mountain guide character who is either a competent survivalist or a damsel in distress depending on the needs of the script and Josh Hutcherson's annoying teenager character who is always an annoying teenager. And that's just the characters. I haven't gotten into the way the plot makes no sense (somehow they got from the Earth's surface to its center in the space of a few minutes) or, with a few exceptions, it's unappealing graphics and special effects.

So, to sum up, rush to the theaters for Hellboy 2 and wait for Journey to come out on Netflix. You all could have just skipped to this paragraph without spending the time it took to read everything else. If that annoys you, feel free to email me or, rather, my Trash folder.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hellboy 2 Is Good

Title says it all. I'll also say that I wasn't a fan of the first Hellboy film so saying I like this one is saying a lot. That's all I have time for right now. Those of you who need their fix of me probably won't find this satisfying so I wouldn't blame you if you chose to stop not paying me to do this. Should have something more substantive tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Question Of The Day

When did it happen that Eddie Murphy lost the ability to make decent movies that didn't involve him being the voice of cartoon donkeys?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What Libertas Taught Us All

I talked yesterday about what may be the demise of Libertas, a website that claims to be a, "A Forum For Conservative Thought On Film." Unfortunately, it's mostly an exercise in right wing scolding in which we're all told that George Clooney is Osama bin Laden's favorite actor and WALL·E was paving the way for the country to be taken over by the dreaded Sierra Club/PETA Coalition. Oh, it also told us all what was on TCM that night for those of you who don't get TV Guide, watch the TV Guide Channel or have access to Of course, most of that came from their former main blogger, a guy who worked under the pseudonym of Dirty Harry. I shared my guess yesterday as to why they let him go and I still think it was a mistake. Maybe the guy who took over the majority of Harry's blogging duties, Jason Apuzzo (who's always been the site's editor) shared most of Harry's views but throughly lacked Harry's style. Compare their takes on the WALL E controversy. Here's Apuzzo:
Conservatives are understandably up in arms about what is apparently depicted in this film (Earth as Matrix-style, hyper-corporate, eco-apocalpytic wasteland), although we’ve been getting this sort of thing from Hollywood for quite some time.

*Snore* Hmm? Is he done? It's a bunch of blah blah blah, yada yada yada standard right wing blogger rant. Now read Dirty Harry:
It was fascinating to sit in a banquet room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and watch a bunch of liberal journalists at work. If you’re asking how I know they’re liberal … did you miss the “journalist” part? All of us had seen Wall-E the night before on the Disney lot. All of us had felt the eco message. All of us had heard, “Stay the course.”

Man, I'm out of breath. In one paragraph he trashes liberals, labels everyone who's not him as being part of some left-wing Borg Mind and manages to saddle WALL·E with the label of "Tree Hugging Bush Hating Al Gore Loving Economy Destroying End Of America Polemic" and, as I said, HE DID IT ALL IN ONE PARAGRAPH.

And yes, I'm not really being fair to Apuzzo since I selectively pulled those quotes out of context in order to make my point. You know who taught me how to do that? Dirty Harry, that's who! What have Jason Apuzzo and his site, Libertas, taught me? Nothing as cool, I can assure you, but Jason has taught me something and, now that Libertas is approaching what may be its end, I'll share it with you. Ready? The lesson that Libertas has taught me that will remain useful for as long as I live is this:


Honestly, what the fuck were you people thinking? The only thing that comes to mind is that you saw this on millions of Geocities pages back in 1999 and thought, "Yes, yes, this is the height of web design! I will never forget the sheer awesomeness that is red text on a black background!" And you never did. The only people today who still use red text on a black background are World of Warcraft guild websites and they use it to share with the world phrases like, "OUR L33TNESS SHALL PWN ALL N00BZ AND WILL SPREAD OUR UBERNESS ACROSS EVERY SERVER." Why didn't you just go all the way and have the red text flash? Maybe code the theme song of 300 into a midi that plays nonstop and can't be shut off? Or maybe just put the whole page into a dozen different frames?

So there you have it, folks. We all now know that if our goal is to make people think that we're the stupidest people on the planet, all we need do is put red text onto our black backgrounds or, as I shall say it from now on, just do it like Libertas.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Triumph Of The Shill

I've been feeling sorry for good ol' Dirty Harry lately. He's apparently lost his job at Libertas and I know what it's like to lose a good job you've had for a while. I'm not sure why he lost his gig at Libertas though I suspect there's some sort of cash flow problem there due to the fact that the blog's main organ, the Liberty Film Festival, has announced a "hiatus" and the reason that "hiatus" is in quotes is because whenever anyone in Hollywood says that a project of theirs is on hiatus, it means that it may as well have been dropped to the bottom of the Marianas Trench. There used to be a show on called Manimal before it went on "hiatus" 20 years ago. I still have hope it'll come back.* Oh well, they still have the blog and editor Jason Apuzzo has been assuring us all for weeks that they are planning major projects and expansions there which is probably why they also need to put that on "hiatus."

I also want to give props here to Dirty Harry. Jason Apuzzo shares with the world the same right wing rhetoric as Harry did but he doesn't have Harry's style. Need proof? Compare Apuzzo's post on the new trailer for The Day The Earth Stood Still with a post written by Dirty Harry on the same subject. All Apuzzo can think of to say is that it's "awful" and make some snarky remark of Hollywood's penchant for global warming films. BO-RING! Harry, on the other hand, finds a way to take this movie and slip in his desire to nuke both New York and Los Angeles.

So here I am, both feeling pity for the guy and finding nice things to say about him at the same time. It almost makes me not want to once again tell the world why he's a total douchebag. Almost.

With that, let me point out his recent post on Roger Ebert's review of Triumph Of The Will. Ebert took on the difficult and thankless task that he could have easily avoided, reviewing the famous Nazi propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl. Seeing it through fresh eyes, Ebert damned what is considered to be, despite its subject matter, a monumental achievement in cinema. Ebert, seeing it through fresh eyes after many years, does not share that opinion. Harry, for some reason (I suspect it's something along the lines of "Ebert's a liberal so I must disagree with him"), decided to devalue Ebert's review by selectively quoting the review and pretending that Roger Ebert hated Triumph Of The Will because it didn't show Nazis taking a crap.

From Ebert's review:
Try to imagine another film where hundreds of thousands gathered. Where all focus was on one or a few figures on a distant stage. Where those figures were the object of adulation. The film, of course, is the rock documentary “Woodstock” (1970). But consider how Michael Wadleigh, that film’s director, approached the formal challenge of his work. He begins with the preparations for this massive concert. He shows arrivals coming by car, bus, bicycle, foot. He show the arrangements to feed them. He makes the Port-O-San Man, serving the portable toilets, into a folk hero. …

By contrast, Riefenstahl’s camera is oblivious to one of the most fascinating aspects of the Nuremberg rally, which is how it was organized. Yes, there are overhead shots of vast fields of tents, laid out with mathematical precision. But how did the thousands eat, relieve themselves, prepare their uniforms and weapons and mass up to begin their march through town? We see overhead shots of tens of thousands of Nazis in rigid formation, not a single figure missing, not a single person walking to the sidelines. How long did they have to stand before their moment in the sun? Where did they go and what did they do after marching past Hitler? In a sense, Riefenstahl has told the least interesting part of the story.

I like Ebert. Glad he’s healthy. Glad he’s back — but he’s missing the point of Riefenstahl’s infamous masterpiece. Showing jackboots dragging porta-potties to the Nazi rally wasn’t exactly the stuff of myth-making, and that was Riefenstahl’s job, to transform Hitler from The Little Corporal into the mythical god who would lead his people out of the humiliation of WWI.

Geez. Harry, even when you take that quote out of context, its meaning is obvious to everyone but you and your comments section. See if some glimmer of reason breaks through the right wing fog when you read the next paragraph in Ebert's article:
By contrast, Riefenstahl's camera is oblivious to one of the most fascinating aspects of the Nuremberg rally, which is how it was organized. Yes, there are overhead shots of vast fields of tents, laid out with mathematical precision. But how did the thousands eat, relieve themselves, prepare their uniforms and weapons and mass up to begin their march through town? We see overhead shots of tens of thousands of Nazis in rigid formation, not a single figure missing, not a single person walking to the sidelines. How long did they have to stand before their moment in the sun? Where did they go and what did they do after marching past Hitler? In a sense, Riefenstahl has told the least interesting part of the story.

Ebert does not believe that Riefenstahl had to show Germans using the Little Nazis Room. His point was that, unlike Woodstock, TOTW never rose above the level of propaganda, and rather boring propaganda at that. Michael Wadleigh could have done nothing but show Woodstock's concert footage and would probably have still had an entertaining movie. Instead, he showed us the back story, the moments before, after and lifted the film above the level of Every Other Concert Film Ever Made. Leni Riefenstahl, on the other hand, left all that out and created an interesting propaganda film but nothing more than that.

Ebert explains this very well in his article and I encourage all of you to read it. In the meantime, we can all thank Harry for missing Ebert's point and using the conclusions he drew from that to accuse Ebert of missing Leni Riefentsahl's point, thus giving us all a fine example of irony that we can all show to future generations.

*Actually, Manimal sucked which is the reason it went into the endless limbo of hiatus. I thought it sounded better if I expressed some secret love for it. If any of you reading this actually did like Manimal, please accept my apology for insulting your beloved show and also please accept my suggestion to hit yourself in the head with a hammer until you have throughly forgotten that this piece of crap ever existed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I'm a regular reader of screenwriter John Rogers' blog Kung Fu Monkey. Rogers is the writer (or co-writer) of movies like The Core and Transformers. I'm not sure exactly what he did in Transformers but if he's the guy who wrote, "Pour Megan Fox into a mini skirt/midriff bearing tank top ensemble and have her bend over a car," then he's one of the greatest writers ever. With that on his resume, I feel we can all safely give his upcoming TNT show Leverage a shot. I'm not sure if he actually writes the thing or just takes all the credit. It premieres in December on TNT.

By the way, I'm going to be the first guy to write a crossover fanfic where the show's main female character, Parker (Beth Riesgraf), has sex with Claire from Heroes, Boomer from Battlestar Galactica and Sally Sparrow from the "Blink" episode of Doctor Who. I have no idea yet how they'll all get together or why they suddenly go lesbo, but I'm not sure any of the hows or whys matter.

Monday, July 7, 2008

HanCOCK (hee hee hee)

Didn't suck.

That's a good way to describe Hancock, the new Will Smith movie with the schizophrenic marketing campaign. Many of you may rememeber that, up until around six weeks ago, Hancock was being marketed as a big comedy with some action in it about an incompetent, alcoholic superhero. After the success of Iron Man, you started seeing commercials where Will Smith is flying around without crashing into stuff while valiantly and effectively fighting crime. Stuff still blew up around him but it wasn't his fault. So, which is it?

The answer is a hearty, "Nice Try," to whomever was in charge of the marketing since May. This is, for the most part, a comedy. It gets a little dramatic as time goes on but it never fully loses its light touch. I would normally suggest that everyone try to track down the people who made you think you were seeing some hardcore action flick and kick them in the balls but, since that's probably illegal, I will instead urge everyone to contact local, state and federal lawmakers and urge them to legalzie ball-kicking,

The movie opens with Will Smith's Hancock passed out drunk on a city bench. Hancock is woken up from his alcoholic stupor so that he can capture some evil guys who are leading the police on a gun battle/car chase along the highway for no discernible reason. After nearly crashing a jet, breaking through a highway sign and causing a half dozen cop cars to crash, Hancock manages to rip off the roof of the SUV that the machine gun wielding tough guys are driving. After they stupidly refuse to surrender even though they know who Hancock is, Hancock proceeds to fly them around the city and causes even more millions of dollars in damage by dragging them against buildings and leaving them on top of L.A's glorious Capitol Records Building, a place you should all visit (Los Angeles tourism bureau, please make the check out to Michael Clear). It turns out that people don't particularly care for Hancock and would like to throw him in jail for the rampant property destruction that always occurs when he tries to help someone. However, there isn't much that anyone can do about it. He has super powers but without any of those handy weaknesses like kryptonite or the color yellow so there isn't a way to apprehend him or a prison to hold him.

Enter the Embreys. Hancock saves Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) from an oncoming train. Ray invites Hancock back to his home for dinner and that's where we meet his wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) and son, Aaron (Jae Head, whose name I will remember ten years from now when his VH1 special Jae Head: Hollywood Trainwreck is showing). Turns out that Ray is a marketing whiz who wants to repay Hancock by rehabilitating his image and making people love him. In the meantime, Mary is mysteriously hostile toward and suspicious of Hancock. Why? WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO KNOW! I do congratulate those in charge of the marketing campaigns for managing to keep a major surprise out of their advertising. I'm sure there were 8 billion sites and forums that spoiled this but I have gotten extremely good at avoiding those over the years.

This brings us back to the very first sentence. It didn't suck. Had some funny stuff and a cool scene with tornadoes. It also had some stupid stuff where Hancock's enemies try to plot revenge against an indestructible man. You'll probably like it when you see it and, much like Hancock on a bender, you won't remember much of it after it's over.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mystery Solved

For over half a century, we've all wondered what "Klaatu Barada Nikto" meant. Now, finally, we knows that it translates to, "Be Excellent To Each Other!"

"Day The Earth Stood Still" is one of my favorite movies and I can't believe this remake will be any good. I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to keep an open mind. If not, you can look forward to me trashing this movie for the next 6 months. Enjoy!

UPDATE: In the original version of this post, I had the translation being, "Dude, where's my car?" because I had confused Keanu Reeves in Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure with Ashton Kutcher in the Bill and Ted ripoff Dude, Where's My Car? Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of editing, I have changed it and no one, not even you, will ever be aware of my glaring factual error.

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Friday, July 4, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Turns Out Pixar's Animated "The Fountainhead" Is Off The Table

Some of you have probably heard of the right wing's grand battle against WALL·E and that it has fallen flat. It opened at a very strong #1 thus ending their dream of repeating the success they had at blunting the box office take of The Golden Compass (you may remember how right wingers believed that this movie about a talking bear who beats the crap out of another talking bear threatened a 2000 year old religion). One thing this has taught me is that I would quickly lose my love of movies if viewing them was a quest for ideological purity and worldview validation. Sure, I jokingly told everyone to boycott the movie but these folks were actually trying to kill it. If I was a conservative, how could I ever enjoy going to the cinema when I knew that my entire time would be spent parsing every second to see if I could find signs of treason? How could I watch The Hulk and not see it as a diatribe against nuclear power or see Kung Fu Panda and try to figure out whether the film's liberal filmmakers are trying to get us to turn over all power to communist China or that we should all just have sex with animals so that they can talk like they do in the movie? An how, oh now, would I get over the fact that I have now "lost" something I never truly had?

I am talking about how conservatives felt that the folks at Pixar were, "one of them." Looking past the idea that they see a company with many employees as one person, how did they come to this conclusion? It turns out that they saw The Incredibles as being such an affirmation of conservative ideals that it was very difficult for them to keep from ejaculating* when they saw it. I knew about the conservative obsession with 300 and Transformers but I was in the dark about The Incredibles until I read this post by Jason Apuzzo from the newly-Dirty Harry-free Libertas telling us why:
Ever since Pixar’s The Incredibles came out several years ago, I’ve seen it hyped in conservative-libertarian circles to no end, to the point that people began to believe that there was actually some kind of pseudo-libertarian cabal of people who ran Pixar.

It turns out that The Incredibles, a movie seen by most people as an intelligent and entertaining film that served as both a fun superhero adventure and a funny parody of superhero adventures was seen by the right as Atlas Shrugged For Kids. For those of you who were never forced to read Atlas Shrugged, it's a novel by Ayn Rand written on a 4th grade reading level about some goob named John Galt who gets the world's smart people to go on strike. The message is that those who are Extraordinary should be a wealthy, ruling Elite. It says that we couldn't get by without them but rejects the idea that they couldn't get along without us. And that's what people like Jason Apuzzo saw when they watched The Incredibles.

Now their hearts are all broken. Their fantasies about partying with Pixar employees and getting drunk with them so they could all circle jerk each other and claim the next day that the alcohol was to blame has died because their accidentally-gay boyfriends have now made a movie where the Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by pollution. They even had the temerity to include what they saw as a clear slap in their faces by having one of their characters make a joke about staying the course. It's like Apuzzo and Company are Jennifer Aniston and Pixar is Brad Pitt who has just left them for the hot, sexy liberal ideology that looks a lot like Angelina Jolie and, to add insult to injury, Brad and Angie had a child named WALL·E.

Seriously, why the hell do you people even go to the movies? Wouldn't you be much happier if you just stayed home watching Fox News in between DVD collections of 24? Oh well, I'm off to see Hancock, a movie that will doubtlessly be described on right wing sites tomorrow as an anti-Randian screed that's trying to indoctrinate our children into the idea that Extraordinary People are out-of-control alcoholics who must be controlled by the lesser elements of society and have their spirits broken so they can be molded to our view of what they should be.

*This, of course, applies only to the men and Ann Coulter.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Conflicting Lessons

Those of you who are addicted to the red hot excitement that is this blog know that I do a regular feature called Things I've Learned From Watching Movies in which I tell everyone why you should pay more attention to the movies than you do to school. For instance, school tells you that exposure to a nuclear explosion will kill you whereas the movies tell you that the same event actually turns you into a monster when you're mad. Therefore, I prefer the fun facts of the movies to the dull "facts" of real life. Now, though, I have a dilemma.

In a couple of weeks, a movie called Journey To The Center Of The Earth will teach us that the center of the earth is a cool place with dinosaurs, carnivorous plants and vast oceans. That's awesome, right? But...

I remember back in 2003 a movie called The Core taught me that the center of the earth is a big lake of hot, gooey spinning stuff and that the spin can be stopped and started again by modern day technology.

SO WHICH IS IT?! What the hell, Hollywood? Don't you people ever get together. You're telling me that none of you ever got together and talked about this even though it's a proven fact that you all go to the same fajita bars and visit the same prostitutes? I can either tell people that the center of the earth is Jurassic Park or I can say that it's a big-ass lava lake that can be manipulated with a firecracker. If I say it's both, I'll look like an idiot.

Hopefully, someone out there knows some sort of pseudo-scientific theories that can reconcile all this for me.