Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Robots And Other Things

I see that Remake Fever continues as I read that new versions of The Thing and Robocop are currently in the works.

Robocop actually has Darren Aronofsky in the director's chair. This, to me, is Aronofsky saying, "Sure, it's awesome getting rave reviews and respect from my peers for movies like The Fountain and The Wrestler but I really need a big budget hit because bikini model mistresses aren't cheap. Don't judge me!" Now here's something he said that wasn't made up by me:
“The thing that’s exciting for a filmmaker like me about [“RoboCop”] is that it’s not as iconic as some of the other titles out there, so there’s room to do stuff with it,” Aronofsky told MTV News. “It had incredible insight into the future, and it’s still hilarious,” he added.
I was thinking about going to message boards frequented by science fiction fans but then didn't see it as being worth the bother. I know what they're going to say. It'll start with, "Robocop was Teh Aw3som3, that fuckbag Aronofsky isn't worthy of carrying Paul Verhoeven's jock strap. He better not change a damn thing," which will generate the response, "Jesus, calm down. The movie hasn't even been made yet. Give Aronofsky a chance," to which someone will say, "U ARE ALL KWEERZ," which will finally lead to, "Buy cheap World of Warcraft gold at UberLeet.com." Imagine that going on for 1000 pages and that's what I would have found.

As for The Thing, well, the first line in the article I read on about this doesn't inspire confidence.
The project now has its director: Matthijs Van Heijningen.
Huh. Wow. Matthijs Van Heijningen you say? I knew nothing about him so, naturally, I looked him up on IMDB and still can't say I know anything since there are actually two guys on the planet named Matthijs Van Heijningen. (If are from Holland or wherever he's from and consider that to be a common name, trust me, it's not common in the U.S. I wonder if I just started an international incident. If I did, it'll probably generate huge hit numbers for this site so I'm keeping it in.) After a bit of research, I see that he's a director of commercials who has just made his first movie, yet another movie about zombies taking over the planet called Army of the Dead. Oh well, it's not like Martin Scorcese was going to do it or anything like that.

The claim is being made that the new movie, which has already been adapted for the screen twice, will try to stick to the 1930s short story Who Goes There by John Campbell. The 1982 version starring Kurt Russell was already supposed to have done that as it kept the original concept of a creature that can take on any form (and also kept the cool scene where they try to determine who's an alien by shocking a sample of everyone's blood) while the 1954 version, which is a perfectly decent B movie, changed the monster into something that could make endless copies of itself. One way in which the 1954 version stayed true to the short story was that they both ended with big, dumb white guys shooting indiscriminately until all the bad stuff was dead.

Personally, I'd like to see Aronofsky doing The Thing and the godless foreigner doing Robocop since The Thing is a tad more intense and psychological but, surprisingly, movie studios still don't call and ask for my opinion. It'll be years before either comes out anyway, assuming that any of the million things that can jeopardize a production doesn't happen and they get made at all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Crowderhead

Since Big Hollywood went online earlier this month, my Firefox Bookmark bar is routinely stuffed full of links to be used as possible subject matter for my weekly Big Hollywood post. "Whatever will it be this week?" I often ask myself as I stand on my tiptoes in anticipation like a little girl...um...and then drink some beer and watch sports and do other guy stuff. So what will it be today? Will it be Joseph Lindsey's assertion that Hollywood hates women, an assertion he proves by ignoring all the evidence that he's wrong? Maybe it'll be Andrew Klavan's pity party over the fact that The Dark Knight was snubbed for Best Picture. Actually, it was a tossup between those two until yesterday when this gem showed up in my RSS reader.

This was written by Steven Crowder. Oh yes, you heard right, I mean that Steven Crowder, the guy who, when you hear his name, you instantly think, "Who the hell is Steven Crowder? No, seriously. Is he that guy down the street who had all those pictures on his wall of girls on the toilet?" Possibly, but in this case, I mean some nobody who is supremely qualified to write for Big Hollywood because he claims that evil, intolerant liberals are blackballing him from comedy clubs just because they want the terrorists to win.
When it comes to the entertainment industry, there is an unspoken policy: No Conservatives Allowed.

Sure, I could explain in graphic detail the grandeur of my sexcapades (this is hypothetical of course, as my sex life is non-existent), or go off an an anti-Christian tirade to much applause. If I were a dame, I would surely make insightful remarks about my monthly cycle and the shortcomings of men in the boudoir, all to critical accolades. Begin uttering the words “Muslim terrorism sucks,” however, and you will literally begin to hear the sound of sphincters puckering throughout your general vicinity.
Oddly, despite the claim that liberals have marked him with their left wing spunk so that all the other liberal overlords who run show business know not to hire him, he claims to be making a living as a comedian and an actor. In fact, the only real evidence he offers that he has been tossed into Hollywood's Matmos are the remarks he gets in comments sections.
One needs only take a peek at my YouTube channel to see the incredible hate mail received regularly from anonymous keyboard warriors. For a clean comedian working in a supposedly “open-minded” environment it’s shocking to hear, I know.
I am of the opinion that complaining about what's said about you in comments sections is the last refuge of the incompetent. If the only proof you have to offer that the world is against you is that some guy called FootLongDude said "u suk kok" in a comments section then you have no proof and the fact that you think this is "shocking" causes me to conclude that the only things you've ever done on the internet are upload your own YouTube videos and do torrent downloads of Fireproof and An American Carol.

However, I'm going to help you out as I think I found the proof that club owners are, in fact, discriminating against you and it has nothing to do with your beliefs that the government should issue school choice vouchers. You really, really shouldn't have guided the world to your YouTube channel. Let's all now sit back and enjoy the inimitable comedy stylings of Mr. Steven Crowder.

O...kay. First off, damn you to hell forever for making me think about Dane Cook since he's who you instantly reminded me of, both by your physical resemblance and your failure to crack me up.

He starts by taking Will Farrell to task for daring to do a Broadway comedy show about George W. Bush. I'm not sure, but I think the funny part was supposed to be when he suddenly did an even tighter closeup up of his oval face and pimply chin and literally shriek, "Like we care!" Yeah, asshole, no one cares about this. That's why, in a shitty economy, with ticket prices starting at $120, his eight week run in the thousand seat Cort Theater is nearly sold out. I think we all wish no one cared about us like that.

He then declares that no one cares about what celebrities think yet they continue to shove their opinions sown our throats, after which he immediately tells us all what he thinks and shoves his opinions down our throats. He then follows this up by doing what is either his Robert De Niro imitation which was awful if that's what it was, or his imitation of a retard in the advanced stages of syphilis trying to do Robert De Niro which was brilliant if that's what it was. Seriously dude, cheesy De Niro imitations? In 2009? What, you couldn't quite pull off Jack Nicholson talking about how that old Nurse Rat-shit won't get off your back so you went with De Niro? He follows his attempt at De Niro by having the same syphilitic retard try to do George Bush.

After a quick jab at Kanye West, he spends the rest of the video, an excruciating 105 seconds, bitching about Brad Pitt. In this rant, he denigrates the body of someone who's made women swoon and straight men question their sexuality for around 2 decades now. Then he says Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shouldn't be considered Hollywood's Golden Couple since Pitt cheated on his wife. I would like to note here that Steven Crowder, the guy telling us we shouldn't lavish vacuous admiration on one of the best looking couples in show business because of their moral failings, expressed admiration for Rush Limbaugh in the first paragraph of his Big Hollywood article. That would be the same Rush Limbaugh who not only sucks down pills by the truckload but also has been divorced three times and was recently arrested for possessing illegal Viagra after returning from a Dominican Republic sex tour. To sum up, ignore the good looking people but base your life on the beliefs of the degenerate drug addict. Everybody got that? Let's move on.

He sums up his humor free video by telling Brad Pitt that an actor's job is to act, "...and Brad, STOP SUCKING AT IT!" Yeah, all right. Brad Pitt sucks at his job. Currently, Brad Pitt is starring in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a movie that has made over 110 million dollars in the four weeks it's been out which, of course, is a sign of Brad Pitt's failings as an actor. Another sign is the Oscar nomination he received for that very same movie. I hope Brad Pitt isn't so busy having sex with his gorgeous girlfriend, raising their kids, winning awards and making movies with George Miller and Quentin Tarantino that he won't take the time to listen to a guy who's most notable IMDB credit is starring in a bit part on the show Greek.

Stevie, the reason some people won't hire you is because they've seen your act. Hey, don't worry too much about it. If there's room in the world for Dane Cook, Carlos Mencia, Lisa Lampanelli and Larry the Cable Guy, I'm sure you'll have no problem getting work as the middle act at the Chuckle Hut for many years to come and, if not, you'll always have the Big Hollywood gig to complain that it's all because of Barack Obama that nobody laughed when you asked what part of the chicken that the McNuggets come from.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Working The Malls

And so, it continues. Once again, a mediocre comedy dominates the box office. If this trend continues then next month the number 1 movies should be Pink Panther 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Madea Goes To Jail. As for the last two weeks, we've been treated to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

If you measure Paul Blart up against other movies in the same category like Four Christmases or Bedtime Stories, it looks pretty good. Hell, I'd call Paul Blart the Citizen Kane of slightly lame, forgettable comedies. I could be wrong but, if there's another movie that could arguably be called the Citizen Kane of forgettable comedies, I've forgotten all about it.

You've all seen the ads so you all know the basic premise. You have Kevin James playing Paul Blart, a likable loser who can't fulfill his dream of becoming a New Jersey State Trooper because he has hypoglycemia. He substitutes that dream with a job as a mall security guard, a job he performs with an overly large amount of zeal. I know we don't go to movies like this looking for realism, but one of the things that kept knocking me out of the movie was that I kept thinking you couldn't get away with doing the things that are done to Blart. Sure, he's not a cop but a security guard can call the cops and get you at least banned from the mall when you do things like throw stuff at them or run over them with one of those scooters they let handicapped people drive. The whole premise of the movie, though, is the security guard in general is a useless profession and that Blart, in particular, is a walking, talking joke. The purpose of doing that is to give him something to overcome.

One of the other plot points is that Blart has a crush on Amy, a pretty cashier played by Jayma Mays. I liked her when she was on Heroes and Sylar sliced her head open. I was wondering if I'd like her as much with her head on and it turns out that yeah, I do. Amy actually seems to be at least somewhat attracted to Paul until he gets drunk and makes a fool of himself. At this point you're probably thinking, "Gosh, the only way that Paul could win Amy back would be if she got kidnapped and Paul, against all odds, was able to overpower the kidnappers and rescue her." Wow, you're incredible if that is actually what you were thinking.

The second half of the movie is pretty good, much better than the first half anyway. It works as a Die Hard parody when a gang of highly competent super-thieves seize the mall and hold Amy, among others, hostage. It's funny to watch Paul Blart trying to act like an action movie hero like when he tries to slide across the floor to safety and doesn't quite make it or when Paul and one of the criminals have their version of a car chase with the bad guy riding a bike and Paul riding his official Security Guard Segway (I will give points to Paul, he's like Dale Earnhardt on that Segway, something that's both one of Paul's strengths and a running joke in the movie). In the end, Paul fails miserably and is gutted open like a fish while Amy is taken to the Middle East and sold as a sex slave. HA! Gotcha. What, you really think this won't have a happy ending?

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is one of those pleasant little movies that doesn't really affect your life one way or the other. If you see it, you'll chuckle now and then and maybe find some time to nap. If you don't, you will somehow find the a way to go on living. Get used to seeing that paragraph as I have a feeling I'll be using it on many other movies this year.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Filler Or Wonderfully Original Content? You Decide!

I find I lack the time today to do anything of real substance so instead I'm going to show you all a neat little video called The Remnants. It's a twelve minute web pilot that, if there is a God, will be picked up as a regular series. I'm really hoping it does get picked up since I want to be the first guy to say, "The Remnants isn't as good as it used to be." The show is set after some sort of worldwide Dawn of the Dead type disaster and follows a group of survivors who are remarkably ill-suited to being the last hope of humanity. This reminds me a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that it seems to be effortlessly lighthearted while also managing to deal with some very serious issues not only from the present situation of the characters but from the past as well. This has been around for a while but, as with all viral videos, it was months before I heard about it. It was only last week that I first heard about the Dancing Hamsters and "All Your Base Are Belong To Us".


The Remnants from John August on Vimeo.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Frost/Dick

I've read a lot of criticisms of the Ron Howard directed Frost/Nixon. Most of them come from the "Nixon was Teh Aw3s0m3" crowd who think that the acknowledged, proven crimes of Richard Nixon were simply procedural and political disagreements akin to the differing views that some may have over subjects like government vouchers for private school. Others come from sticklers for history who actually believe that movies are a good way to accurately tell true stories when, in fact, you'd get a more accurate telling from random drunks on the streets. Movies are about art and entertainment and, in this case, trying to use a myth to tell the truth. Yes, that sounds strange, but that's also the art of movie making.

Frost/Nixon takes what's basically a historical footnote, Richard Nixon's first major interview after he resigned from the Presidency, and puts it front and center. The movie opens by showing the two characters, British talk show host David Frost and Richard Nixon, a guy you may have heard your parents mention from time to time, either spitting when they say his name or trying to defend him by saying, "Um, you know, he wasn't all that bad." Frost is portrayed as a man trying to revive a career that's just starting to sag and sees Nixon's resignation as an opportunity. Figuring that Nixon's first interview would equal huge ratings, he sets for himself the goal of convincing the ex-President to speak with him on camera before doing so with anyone else. He achieves this goal by doing something that the major television networks were unwilling to do, that being to, basically, fill a moving van up with money and dump it all on Nixon's front lawn, something that couldn't be done back then due to the fact that, in the 70s, journalists had something called "Ethics". Yeah, I know, I laughed too.

Frost (Michael Sheen) is written and portrayed here as a somewhat vacuous celebrity who didn't comprehend the gravity of what he wanted to do or what sort of an opponent he was taking on. Nixon (Frank Langella in an Oscar caliber performance) saw this as a way to make some money while simultaneously rebuilding his reputation. He saw Frost as a lightweight who wouldn't give him the trouble that the journalistic big hitters of the time like Walter Cronkite or Mike Wallace would and perhaps assuming that the Frost's hardest hitting question would be, "Are you comfortable, Mr. President?"

Things start going badly for Frost before taping of the interviews even begins when he can't find any interest among the geniuses who ran American television networks back then in broadcasting his historic interview and, as a result of that, he begins losing the sponsors needed to pay the interview's rapidly rising price tag. He's also getting criticism from pretty much everyone, including members of his own staff. One of those people is James Reston (Sam Rockwell), a fiercely anti-Nixon journalist who wants Frost to become more serious and treat this interview as the trial that Nixon never had.

Nixon and his people, including his super-loyal and tough talking Chief of Staff Jack Brennan (Kevin Bacon), enter the interview with the high confidence that you might have if you were a man who has spent his entire life at the forefront of politics and, even though the scandal that would bring him down was already brewing, managed to win a landslide re-election going up against a guy whose biggest career accomplishment was asking the Bee Gees if they found their tight pants to be too binding. At the very start of the interview, Nixon's confidence is vindicated. Frost decided to get clever and ask Nixon why he hadn't simply burned the famous Watergate tapes. Any trial lawyer, by the way, will tell you that it's not a good idea to ask a witness a question that starts with the word, "Why." A "Why" question gives a witness a very wide latitude and lets them add in favorable interpretation and that's exactly what Nixon did when asked Frost's "Why" question. Nixon pretty much walks all over Frost throughout the interview which pulls Frost and his team into ever deeper levels of despair and Nixon closer to his goal of redemption in the eyes of the American people.

Frost managed to pull it out, of course. The characters throughout the movie are asked a series of documentary-style questions about the events before and during the interviews, a device that works better than I thought it would. It's been my observation over the years that any movie that needs to be explained by a narrator is almost always a bad movie but this is the exception that proves that rule and definitely won't be mentioned the next time I say, "Narrators always suck. ALWAYS!" Anyway, one of the best of these segments is near the end when James Reston comments on the power of television and how, for the second time in his career, Nixon was damaged by a television appearance (the first time being his famous 1960 debate with John F. Kennedy). Reston rightly points out that the only part of the interviews that people will remember is when Frost broke Nixon. Up until then, to put it in boxing terms, Nixon was winning on points until Frost scored his knockout punch.

Frost/Nixon contains dramatized scenes, shows events that took months to actually happen occurring in a few minutes and even contains a fictional phone call between Nixon and Frost that's used as a dramatic device to set up a turning point in the story. I've read plenty of reviews and articles who've never made a movie in their lives yet feel they can give Ron Howard advice like, "Why didn't Opie (huh huh) just present the facts as they happened? That would have been a fascinating film." Professional filmmaker Ron Howard, the director of Splash, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind disagreed with that opinion and instead did what he should have done, make what he felt was the best movie he could make. In the end, what can politely be called the movie's dramatic license doesn't alter the movie's ultimate truths, that Nixon not only failed in his goal to rehabilitate himself but that he admitted that he had let the American people down. If you don't like that, show Opie Cunningham how smart you are and go make a movie that tells the true story of how Frost and his team calmly sat around doing research while eating corned beef. It should be fascinating.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 58

When casting a character who is French, you should never even consider casting an actual Frenchman. So it is now, so it has always been.


BONUS: Some won't like this but some, like me, will think it's the most awesome thing in the history of awesome things. This is Peter Sellers imitating Laurence Olivier's performance of Richard III on what I think is 1965 British television.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yes We Lycan

Once again, as a service to the planet, I must do Movies I Haven't Seen. I had meant to perform this unenviable task on this particular movie a couple weeks ago but it slipped my mind till today. I prefer to do this weeks in advance of a film's release but now, since it premieres today, I fear I may be too late to keep people from seeing it and have their brains leap out of their heads in protest. I'm talking, of course, about Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. I admitted yesterday that the Underworld movies were guilty pleasures of mine. This new one, I'm wildly guessing, won't be. Let's all watch the trailer.



So, what have we learned? First off, people back in the Dark Ages posed a lot and communicated mostly through pompous monologues and dramatic shouts. Other than that, it's hard to tell what the hell is going on. I sort of remember from the first two movies that you had a war between Vampires and Werewolves who, of course, can't just be called Werewolves in these movies because that's what everyone on the planet calls them so calling them Werewolves here would make too much sense. In the Underworld films, they're called Lycans. Even if you've seen Underworld more than once, the plot will probably come as a complete surprise to you. You have a better chance of remembering porn plots than you do the plot of Underworld and its sequel since they both seemed to be intentionally incoherent. Except for the action scenes, they both look like the actors were just making the whole thing up as they went along. To give a quick recap: it was revealed in the first movie that the Lycan King, Lucian, was once the loyal servant of the Vampire King, Viktor. (Allow me to give a quick thanks to IMDB for helping me remember those names. Remembering the names of these characters yourself is a waste of valuable brain cells and is as pointless as remembering the name of a prostitute.) In an extended flashback, we see that Lucian fell in love with Viktor's daughter, Sonja, so Viktor decided to try to take the Worst Father Ever Award away from Lindsay Lohan's dad by having Sonja executed as punishment. Because Viktor is as bad a jailer as he is a parent, Lucian manages to escape fairly easily and launch a centuries long war between his people and the Vampires.

So, ok, since we know all that already, what the hell is this movie going to be about? Basically, Rise of the Lycans is going all Star Wars 1-3 on us. Yeah, we know the story, but not the WHOLE story so we're getting that now even though I can't recall ever having heard anyone say, "Hey, damn it, I want the details of this Lycan revolt. Did they organize it through MySpace? Did they fund it with paper drives and flea markets and pancake breakfasts? Did Bob Hope perform for the troops? Underworld didn't tell us any of that so I demand a prequel devoted to nothing but pointless background information."

As the trailer opens, we see Rhona Mitra playing Sonja (THE ONE WHO DIES and no, this is not a spoiler since you discover it in the first movie) and taking over the "heavily armed eye candy" role from Kate Beckinsale who, along with the mildly entertaining action scenes, was the reason to watch the first two movies. After beating up on some Lycans by tossing some spinning Lycan killing things at them, she returns to get lectured by her father about how they have to all be loyal and stuff, a lecture that will get thrown out the window later on when he kills her. Sonja is apparently a major league badass although the only evidence of this that we see consists of her riding around and staring at things. Lucian and Sonja meet and the combination of greasy hair, shirtless leather vest and unbearable body odor must have been irresistible since she decides that she's never had it so good and abandons everything she's ever known in order to have sex with Lucian in the mud.

They get caught and Lucian gets thrown in Vampire jail where he gets to overact, give one of those inspirational Braveheart speeches and tell his troops that they, the ones who sprout fur and grow claws, are not animals.

As with all cheap action flicks, we now reach the point in the trailer where no shot lasts longer than three seconds and we're bombarded with quick cuts of people running around, leaping in the air, knocking stuff over and screaming things like, "NOOOOOOO!" while beating their chests before you get to the point where the title comes up and you say, "Yay, it's over," only to have one final confrontation scene.

There's no hope for this movie, folks. None. The trailer is Exhibit A. Exhibit B is the fact that it was not made available for critic's screenings ahead of its release date which means that its studio, Screen Gems, the company that allowed crap like Prom Night and Untraceable to have critic's screenings, decided to pull the trigger here and hold this one back. There's only one reason for doing this and it's never, "We felt it was so awesome that we want it to be a surprise."

Anyway, this post will most likely have no difference on the movie's box office. Wouldn't it be great if it did? If movie studios learned to fear me and tried to be spared from my wrath by offering me huge bags of money and sex with Scarlett Johannson? But no, I'm cursed with a realistic worldview that does not allow me to think that anyone will be skipping Underworld this week. I will, however, get to say, "Told you so," in a really snotty and arrogant tone and that's just as good as vast wealth and violating Scarlett's every orifice.

Yep, totally just as good.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dregs Benedict

AAARRRGGGGHHH!!!! I simply, positively do NOT want this site to turn into BigHollywoodBlowsChunks.com but they make it so...damn...HARD. Yesterday, though, I gave into temptation and wrote about Dirk Benedict's whinefest in which he openly wondered why people would prefer the modern, complex, interesting version of Battlestar Galactica that's on TV today instead of the stupid version he did three decades ago in which, if his article was anything to go by, he somehow defeated Cylons every week by smoking cigars and having sex with women who existed as nothing more than receptacles of his semen. The answer he came up with was that modern society was made up of femmy little pussies who would naturally reject a guy like him who's 150% man. Secure in the knowledge that I was done with them for a week or so, I look in my RSS reader today to find this, something that looks like it was written by a schizophrenic. It also makes me want to ask a question of Big Hollywood higher ups Andrew Breitbart and John Nolte: What the hell do you have to do to have a piece rejected by Big Hollywood?

I have no idea how many different drug combinations it takes to start writing as if you were the first guy who ever stopped being young...
At my very first convention, I was coming out of an elevator as a fan was entering. She glanced at me, gasped and said, “My God, what happened to you?” It took me a couple minutes to understand her statement. What she was gasping about and referring to was the all too visual fact that I no longer looked the same. I had changed! AGED! She found this fact surprising. Stunning, perhaps, from the size of her gasp. This gave me pause.
...and then work your way up to this...
Fear, in other words, that it is not God, but Mickey Mouse who is dead, who has always been dead. Not in image, but in spirit. Spirit-less. A poseur. Not even a real rodent (they too are mortal) but the mere image of one, mass marketed by the same propagandists and sellers of false dreams that sold us our own image of ourselves. And if Mickey, our hero, our God, our star of stars, is dead … then what chance have we?
Wow. Just...wow. I think, if I so chose, that I could write about nothing but this article for the rest of my life and, upon my passing, the task could be taken up by my heirs. Thing is, I don't want to but it's so...difficult...like this part where he writes,
"Mickey is God. The old God is dead. Long live Mickey. He is the essence of our own divine image, of our celebrated selves, as we struggle for rejuvenation ad infinitum. We have created a new God and he is Us. We idolize our Selves. We are the viewer and we are the viewed."
How am I supposed to let that go? It literally could be used as the definitive example of incoherence and NOOOO I did it again. See? I started writing about it. I swear, I didn't even know I was doing it. I thought I was writing about Twilight until I looked up and saw that. Ok, here I go...

I love this headline from MTV Movies Blog:

Yep, I saw that headline and thought, "Wow, deleted scenes AND a documentary? Why, this'll just be the absolute mostest awesome DVD ever. No one's ever done that before cause, if they had, it certainly wouldn't rate being presented as a big deal in the headline." Seriously, this is like bragging that the Twilight DVD will include the movie. Unless one of the deleted scenes was Ashley Greene and Kristen Stewart showering together, this didn't rate a headline. This is as crazy as writing something like...
Choose your poison. More surgery? More toys? More fame? More fortune? More…? All suicide. All attempts to avoid the Hemingwayesque death of the individual too long in idolatrous worship at the altar of his own image.
CRAP, I did it again! What else? Must find something else...

Hey cool, Joss Whedon's writing and producing a horror movie. Even though this is one of those movies that is shrouded in Cloverfield-like secrecy, Whedon is one of the few people who ever existed who has my absolute trust that whatever project he's involved in will be at least watchable. Hell, who would have thought that he could take the idea of "Let's see if Doogie Howser can sing," and turn it into something as great as Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog? If you've never seen it, here's one of my favorite clips where Dr. Horrible is singing about the evil rising up inside him:
Were we to let go of our false images; peel the onion layer by layer; take the mirror off the wall and let go until finally we found our real uniqueness buried at the bottom of all the imagery … on the other side of the looking glass, what would we discover? That it is not just “us” at all but rather …what?

God? Spirit? And then what…?

And then nothing.
Huh? What happened? Where's the freaking clip? I had the YouTube embed code all set to paste and that came up instead. Oh Lord, gotta think fast...

Hey look, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is apparently not being presented to critics ahead of time. I wonder if this means the producers think it's so damn incredible that they don't want to run the risk of ruining all other movies for those poor, defenseless critics. I'll admit that the other two Underworld films are guilty pleasures. This is despite the fact that both films are equal parts incoherent and retarded. I also admit that my affection for the first two is mostly because of my affection for their star Kate Beckinsale. Those movies could have been called Kate Beckinsale Makes A Tuna Sandwich and I probably would have liked them, especially if she was wearing the same leather outfit as in the Underworld films. This would have been especially bad since she's English and they just slap tuna on the bread over there without first mixing it with mayo or celery. Now, for the bad news. Kate Beckinsale ain't in the new film. Still, it does have Rhona Mitra, whom I also like, but I don't know. I guess we must take the blind leap of faith into the web of life. Into the spirituality of our existence, so that we may then begin to enjoy the process of our...hey, wait a minute...
Then we must take the blind leap of faith into the web of life. Into the spirituality of our existence, so that we may then begin to enjoy the process of our life experience. Wherein lies real celebrity and celebration. Real love and strength and beauty and individuality. Real life and immortality.

The rest is all Mickey Mouse.
No. NOOOOO!!!! He's coming. It's too late, I can't stop him anymore. The crazy has been brought, the madness is on the march. Run. Save yourselves. No wait, screw that, save me too.

And...Scene! Let me just give a quick thank you to Dirk Benedict for writing what is both an incoherent, crazy piece of shit and, sadly for him, the second most incoherent, crazy piece of shit he's written this week. I was wondering exactly what sort of framework I would use to do some short comments on these random subjects and he gave it to me. It seems to have cost him his sanity but that's a small price to pay. Well, small price for me. Sure, he'll eventually be committed to some institution where they give him daily Thorazine enemas but I had a topic for today's post, so it all evens out.

All of this has happened before etc.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Huge Dirk

Yeah, I know. It's only Wednesday and here I am already writing about Big Hollywood. Personally, I think my restraint has been amazing. They've thrown so much at me and I've simply let it all go. You had James Hudnall's piece on all TeH Aw3som3 advances in technology. For instance, did you know that there are now paper thin monitors and that you can download e-books? YEAH, SO DID I. For that matter, so did everybody else on the planet except for James Hudnall who had decided to inform the world about stuff they already knew. I also let Tim Slagle slide when he wrote yet another piece lamenting the fact that Republicans would have a permanent majority if they could only manage to make some decent comedy because, as I've written before, there's nothing funnier than comedy that exists to push a radical agenda. Debbie Schlussel chastising Hollywood for making movies about savage Negros also got a by from me as did Don "Biggest Head in Rightwing Punditry" Surber's article where he bravely went after a 16 year old girl. I've been proud of myself lately both for the fact that I was able to resist the urge to write about Big Hollywood and because I've been cutting fat and sugar from my diet and eating more fruit and vegetables. Today, though, I once again visit Andrew Breitbart's Rightwing Hollycaust which means later on I'll probably deep fry some ice cream, dip it in chocolate and gulp it down in one bite.

What brought me back? Simple. They published the stupidest thing ever written. You may be thinking that someone must have written something with a title like "Great Farts Throughout History" or maybe Don Surber went one step further and accused Malia Obama of being a jihadist. Nope, those would be like War And Peace compared to what I'm talking about. Let the word go forth that on January 19 in the year of Our Lord 2009, Big Hollywood published what is both the Stupidest Thing Ever Written and the Stupidest Thing That Ever Will Be Written.
"Lt. Starbuck...Lost In Castration" by Dirk Benedict. Oh Lord, where to begin? When this showed up in my RSS reader, I wanted to have sex with it. That's how incredible it was. I knew this would stand out as a classic of stupidity. It's fitting on this historical day to say I knew I was witnessing a moment in history, something I would tell my grandkids about.

Dirk Benedict, of course, played Starbuck in the original incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, a show whose current incarnation on the Sci-Fi Channel is an example of how good television can be. The original 1979 version that starred Dirk Benedict? Not so much. To be fair, it was made at a time when television networks strove for mediocrity and conformity, the result of which is that the first BSG is a mediocre and conformist show. Also, if you knew nothing about that show and were told it was about a group of retarded people, you would probably believe it. It was a horrible, mind-bogglingly stupid show and very few people would try to argue that the original was better than the current incarnation. One of those people is Dirk Benedict and, unfortunately for him, Big Hollywood gave Benedict a forum to let the world know this.

First, he spends four paragraphs bitching about "The Suits":
Fortunately, I was young, my imagination fertile and adrenal glands strong, because bringing Starbuck to life was over the dead imaginations of a lot of Network Executives. Every character trait I struggled to give him was met with vigorous resistance. A charming womanizer? The “Suits” (Network Executives) hated it. A cigar (fumerello) smoker? The Suits hated it. A reluctant hero who found humor in the bleakest of situations? The Suits hated it. All this negative feedback convinced me I was on the right track.
Benedict was so thoroughly on the right track that Battlestar Galactica was canceled after one season. Now that Dirk Benedict has become the first person ever to inform us about network executives' lack of imagination, he figures now is the time to come out as a rightwing misogynist:
There was a time, I know I was there, when men were men, women were women and sometimes a cigar was just a good smoke. But 40 years of feminism have taken their toll. The war against masculinity has been won. Everything has turned into its opposite, so that what was once flirting and smoking is now sexual harassment and criminal. And everyone is more lonely and miserable as a result.
And this, folks, is why he's on Big Hollywood. But hey, there are plenty of places where you can read about the sad plight of the Y chromosome. What I really love about this article, what makes it The Stupidest Thing Ever Written, is when Benedict, the guy from the shitty BSG, starts criticizing the current, awesome BSG:
“Re-imagining”, they call it. “Un-imagining” is more accurate. To take what once was and twist it into what never was intended. So that a television show based on hope, spiritual faith and family is un-imagined and regurgitated as a show of despair, sexual violence and family dysfunction. To better reflect the times of ambiguous morality in which we live, one would assume. A show in which the aliens (Cylons) are justified in their desire to destroy human civilization, one would assume. Indeed, let us not say who the good guys are and who the bad are. That is being “judgmental,” taking sides, and that kind of (simplistic) thinking went out with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Kathryn Hepburn and John Wayne and, well, the original “Battlestar Galactica.”
To sum up, Mr. One Season thinks that he's in a position to lecture the current stewards of the BSG legend. He's managed to blow the cigar smoke off his computer screen long enough to tell Ron Moore and the other current producers that they should have kept all the crap that people hated back in 1979 which, I guess, would include the stupid dialogue, vapid characters and boring plots. First off, there's still plenty of "hope" and "spiritual faith" in BSG. Hell, the humans still worship those stupid Lords of Kobol that Benedict and the rest of the folks in Battlestar:Ponderosa did. Their entire journey has been guided by the faith their President has in ancient religious prophecies. And no Benedict, you dumbass, the death and destruction brought on by the Cylons is not "justified". What's important in terms of plot and character development is that the Cylons believe that they are justified. In fact, the Cylons fully embrace the concept of Exceptionalism. They believe that their race is allowed to do things that the humans are not allowed to do. If the humans do something brutal or petty or vengeful to them, the Cylons see it as an example of a deficiency in human character and not as a result of being pissed off that the Cylons destroyed 12 of their worlds and billions of their people. This actually makes the Cylons into interesting three dimensional characters and not just jerks in metal suits who shoot guns and say, "By your command." After all this, Benedict manages to pull off the neat trick of combining his chick-hate with his belief that smoking a cigar makes you a complex character:
One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of “Battlestar Galactica” everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak and wracked with indecision, while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more.
This was written by either someone who has never seen BSG or someone who's too busy trying to figure out why he can't pick up college girls by blowing cigar smoke in their faces while saying, "Remember me? I was Faceman in The A-Team," to have actually paid attention to what he was watching. There is not a character on the current BSG, be they man, woman, human or Cylon, that hasn't experienced times of weakness and confusion, wondering what the hell they would do next. What's really annoying Benedict is that the women in 1979 served one purpose in the show, that being to fight over who gets to blow Starbuck. Now they are fully formed, complex characters who get as much screen time as the men. One of these characters is Kara Thrace, a fighter pilot who is the ultimate target of Benedict's derision. The reason for this is that Kara Thrace is also known by her call sign, Starbuck.
Starbuck would go the way of most men in today’s society. Starbuck would become “Stardoe.” What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker, as in, “Frak! Gonads Gone!”

And the word went out to all the Suits in all the smoke-free offices throughout the land of Un-imagination, “Starbuck is dead. Long live Stardoe!”
Yep, Starbuck is now a woman and, because he's a manly man's man, Dirk Benedict has his panties all in a bunch over that. Dirkie-kins rants incoherently for several paragraphs about this. His rambling thinking goes from the "natural" roles of men and women (Quote:Men hand out cigars. Women “hand out” babies. And thus the world for thousands of years has gone’ round), Metro-sexual money men*, remakes, television formulas, and marketing campaigns. Benedict's ultimate point here seems to be that we don't really like the new BSG. Instead, we've been brainwashed into thinking it's good by the guys who sell Big Macs and such and, if it wasn't for them, we'd all be clamoring for a new Starbuck series starring Dirk Benedict and a group of sexy, young women who are perfectly happy to light Starbuck's cigars when they're not doing things that cause him to pretty much sit around in a pool of his own semen. Oh, there'd be Cylons too, I guess. What he doesn't explain is why, instead of sponsoring Starbuck Is Awesome, the show we all secretly want, they go to the trouble of using their evil brainwashing powers to convince us all that we'd rather watch the Starbuck Has Boobs show that's currently on.

The only purpose this whole article serves is to give you the ability to answer the question, "Hey, do you have any idea what might happen if an actor who hates women discovers that a character he used to play is now being played by a woman?" All you need do now is keep the link to this article in your pocket and just hand it to anyone who asks you that question. For the fact that he was willing to both look like a whiny little prick as well as President-For-Life of the He-Man Woman-Haters Club, we all owe Dirk Benedict a debt for writing the Stupidest Thing Ever Written.

This all reminds me of 1990 when Tim Burton's Batman movie came out and Adam West, Batman from the 1960s TV show, publicly bitched about the fact that Michael Keaton had been cast to play the title character and not him. This makes me think of the Heroes movie we'll see in 2025 that will cause Hayden Panetierre to write that not only is she no longer allowed to play the high school cheerleader, Claire, but that Claire is now a German shepherd. All that now allows me to say: All of this has happened before, all of this shall happen again.

*A good way to tell you are reading a conservative website is that they are the only ones who still use the term "Metro-sexual".

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Against Stupidity

When I was 12 or 13, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club, mainly because the first four books were only one penny, a price a jobless 12 (or 13) year old could easily afford. I did it mainly to get myself a copy of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, a novelized sequel to Star Wars. I wasn't much of a reader back then and didn't really give a crap what the other three books would be. I was lucky in that, quite by accident, I picked books by three of the greatest science fiction authors who ever lived. One was The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, another was Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke and the third was the book that got me interested in reading, The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Considering it was one of my favorite books, you can imagine my mixed feelings when I heard that Sony was planning to do a movie adaptation. Then I read this: "The project will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich," and my feelings changed. At first, my feelings were happy anticipation at the thought of seeing Asimov's vision being brought to the big screen mixed with my cynical knowledge at the odds against pretty much any movie being any good, much less a huge, complex science fiction epic. Then I saw Roland Emmerich's name and my feelings changed to nausea mixed with diarrhea.

Roland Emmerich? ROLAND "10,000 B.C." EMMERICH? What, was Kurt Wimmer unavailable? Was Uwe Boll too busy making another straight-to-DVD Bloodrayne sequel to take the reins of the Foundation project? What in the name of what must be some sort of pagan, horse-fucking god are you people at Sony thinking? Roland Emmerich's oeuvre includes movies like the above mentioned 10,000 B.C., The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, The Patriot, Godzilla and Stargate, movies that range in quality from "dumb but enjoyable" to "dumb but stupid". The Day After Tomorrow, a movie that treated the Laws of Science as if they were merely the Loosely Enforced Guidelines Of Science, falls into the first category. Sure, probably 2/3 of the world's population died in a global super-storm but it was okay since you didn't give a damn about any of the characters. Included in the second category are 10,000 B.C., a movie that posited the idea that our prehistorical ancestors were all super models, and Godzilla, where Emmerich and his crew said to themselves, "The key to box office gold is to take one of the world's most well known and iconic monsters, pit him against the super team of Matthew Broderick and some French douchebags and just see what happens."

Whether Emmerich's movies are any good or not, the key word used in describing them is always Dumb and it's a word that does not suit the works of Isaac Asimov. Asimov hasn't had a good track record with Hollywood. I'm sure most of you remember I, Robot which should have been called I, Suck. Asimov's book I, Robot was a series of short stories about the life story of Susan Calvin, a woman who devoted her life to the studying the psychology of robots. Robots in Asimov's stories are always guided by three unbreakable laws, laws which sometimes caused conflicts that they couldn't resolve such as the time a mind reading robot would tell people exactly what they wanted to hear, even if it wasn't true. An I, Robot movie was supposed to have been made in the late 70s with a script by my favorite writer, Harlan Ellison. The project fell through and Ellison released his screenplay in book form. It is considered to be a classic and would have made a wonderful movie. Naturally, that script was set aside in favor of a script by the guy who wrote Batman and Robin, the movie that shut down the Batman movie franchise for a decade. The main character in the book was Susan Calvin so, naturally, the movie is about a homicide detective named Del Spooner (Will Smith), a character who didn't exist in the book. Also, Susan Calvin was famously a very plain, unattractive woman so, naturally, they cast Bridget Moynahan to play her, a woman who looks like this:



I, Robot made money, but it's remembered as a stupid and incoherent disappointment, remembered by me anyway. Now, here's the bad news: I, Robot was the best movie adaptation of Asimov's books.

The other one was Nightfall. Some science fiction fans don't believe me when I tell them that a movie was made out of Nightfall but, as you can see here, it exists. I first saw this sitting in a video store with a note on it that read, and I quote, "This is the worst movie in the store. In fact, it may be the worst movie ever made. Let it rot on the shelf." I was thinking, "Could it be that bad?" and let me tell OH HELLS YEAH, it's that bad and more. I don't know how to describe the movie version of Nightfall. The only thing I can think of is that it's as if the movie was made by blind and deaf people. Asimov's vision of a technologically advanced world turned into a group of long haired jerks who wander around in the desert.

A big problem with Asimov is that his stories don't easily lend themselves to the screen. When you couple that with studios who not only don't understand his work but don't think they have to, you get movies like I, Robot. Add talentless filmmakers to the mix and you get Nightfall. And now, we have Roland Emmerich. If Emmerich stays true to form, the movie will mostly consist of beautiful people fighting rousing space battles. The movie's scientific accuracy will be similar to the accuracy achieved when a famous science fiction film had one of its characters bragging that he had made the Kessel Run in 15 parsecs. Eventually, there will come a point where plot and character developments set up earlier in the film will become inconvenient for whatever grand finale is planned so they will simply be ignored. That is the type of futuristic world we can expect from Roland Emmerich.

The only good thing is that maybe, just maybe, Isaac Asimov will be so disgusted by all this that he will come back from the dead. Or maybe, like Hari Seldon did in Foundation, he foresaw all this and made a series of cool tapes about it that will now be revealed. More likely, though, is that Roland Emmerich is like the Mule, the villain from Foundation and Empire that even Hari Seldon couldn't foresee and, if that's the case, I'll be thinking that the Foundation movie doesn't measure up to the quality and genius of Nightfall.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Any Fool Knows A Dog Needs A Home

I'm more than a little annoyed by the fact that I live in a country where more people would rather see Bride Wars than Slumdog Millionaire. Seriously, America, what the hell is wrong with you? You're all telling me that you'd rather see a movie where Kate Hudson's solution to a bad hair day is to take off her shirt and wrap it around her head just before a big, important meeting? You all really think that watching two idiots wrestling in wedding dresses is a better cinematic experience than a movie that tells a story that is funny, sad, thrilling, depressing, tragic and triumphant? What, did it not get enough four star reviews or make it onto enough Ten Best of the Year lists?

If you can't find where Slumdog Millionaire is playing, just look for the theater where the exiting crowd is made of equal parts cheerful faces and crying eyes. When it opens we meet Jamal Malik (Dev Patel, known to Skins fans as Anwar) at different points in his day. At one point, he's playing the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and getting all the way to the final question. At another, later point in the day, he's being tortured by police because they think he cheated. Their only evidence is that he's an uneducated slumdog whose job it is to get coffee for Indian telemarketers and, according to rigid class prejudices, couldn't possibly have known the answers. Based on those views, he is chained, beaten and electrocuted until he tells them how he knew. He didn't cheat. This was, simply, the luckiest day of his life. Well, up until the "arrested and tortured" part. Jamal was simply asked questions he happened to know which is the way anyone who's ever played a game show manages to win and he tells them about the horrific events in his life that gave him the information he needed to advance as far in the game as he has.

When asked what the god Rama is traditionally seen holding in his right hand, he remembers the day his Islamic village was razed by Hindi extremists, the same day he and his brother, Salim, became orphans, and he happened to see a boy, dressed as Rama, holding a bow and arrow in his right hand. The siblings fell in with an Oliver Twist-like group of orphans trained by a gangster, Mawan, to beg and steal for him. He remembers the day Mawan wanted him to sing a particular song, the day Mawan tried to blind him so that he could earn more money as a beggar, and that was how, when asked who had written the song he sang on that day, he was able to answer that question. And so on and so forth. His miserable life as an Indian street orphan, all the death and sorrow and viciousness that no child should ever have to see, served him well on this one lucky day.

Jamal doesn't care about the money. There are only two things on this planet Jamal cares about. One is his brother, Salim, who falls further and further into a life of crime. The other is a fellow orphan they met as children, a girl named Latika. Jamal and Latika loved each other before they even knew what love was so, in the tradition of great love stories, it seems as if the gods themselves have devoted all their energies to keeping them apart. All through their lives they are separated again and again until Jamal can once again track her down. As I said, he doesn't care about the money. He was just hoping that Latika would be watching and would find him.

I don't want to tell you anymore as it was wonderful going to the movies and not knowing exactly how the movie would end after 15 minutes in. In Hollywood, Jamal and Latika would have been assured a happy ending but, despite the fact that it was written and directed by Englishmen, this is an Indian story and, if you know anything about Indian love stories through the ages, they often end tragically. I'm not saying that's what happens here. I'm saying that, until the movie ended, I didn't know and that was wonderful.

And so I'm back to my original point. Slumdog Millionaire was beaten this week by crap like Hotel For Dogs, Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the execrable Bride Wars. I'm wondering if I'm going to have to read yet another article this year chastising the Academy for being out of touch with the moviegoing audience because they nominate movies like Slumdog Millionaire and not bigger hits like the ones I described above. Even decent hit films, like The Dark Knight or Tropic Thunder, aren't even in the same time zone as Slumdog Millionaire and I liked both of those a lot. In the end, movies like that win awards not because the nominators are out of touch elitists but because they saw these movies whereas "real Americans" like Bob Douchebag and his cousin, Weenie, didn't. They're the kind of guys who write furious posts in comments sections really letting those Hollywood big brains have it for failing to recognize Adam Sandler's genius in Don't Mess With The Zohan. Why the scene where he shoved a fish up his ass alone should net him Best Actor Oscars for the next ten years. If you see Slumdog Millionaire, you'll love it. If you don't love it, you're wrong. If you say, "Hey, that's my opinion," then I will answer, "Your opinion is wrong in the same way it would be wrong if you told me that, in your opinion, 2+2=5."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday

Taking the day off. I'm betting we all spend too much time on the internet so today is the day we should all get out and lead rich, full lives. I, for one, will be spending the day watching TV. BOOM, BABY!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You Got A Bloody Right To Say

I've been staying out of the whole Watchmen argument for a reason. To recap, Warner Brothers teamed up with 300 director Zach Snyder to make a movie version of the classic Alan Moore graphic novel. Fans have been anxiously waiting the release of this film, especially since a cool teaser trailer was released along with Dark Knight last summer, and the movie looks to be on a smooth ride to becoming the first mega hit of 2009.

Well, there is just one teensy little problem. It turned out Fox had enough of a claim on the Watchmen film rights to at least make the whole situation into a murky issue. Warner Brothers showed the same film making expertise and good judgment they showed when they decided to make Nights In Rodanthe and went ahead, spent the money, shot the film and got it all ready for a March 6 release date knowing that Fox had a team of lawyers ready to beat anyone with a stick if they tried to show Watchmen on that day. When they heard that Fox would try to delay the release date, Warner Brothers executives took time to shove the hookers' faces out of their laps, chuckle, snort indignantly and then tell the hookers to go back to sucking each ball individually.

Funny story: the blowout case Warner thought it had could be described as, "Blowout? Not so much," and the case started moving toward a trial that could have delayed the opening. But good news, a settlement was reached and the movie will premiere on March 6 as scheduled. Warner Brothers will make a little less money off it, a small price to pay for being dumb.

This is the first I have commented on it. I can tell by the fact that no one has mentioned it to me that people have been silently wondering why I have not stepped in to publicly advise Fox and Warner Brothers as to what their next step would be, advice that would almost certainly have included the phrase, "Don't you dare delay this movie, dickheads." And that's the problem. I didn't want to be the one who made the whole situation worse by being a jerk. Message boards are clogged right now with comments from the people who think that addressing a comment to the parties involved and opening it with "Dear Brain Dead Assholes" and I didn't want to be one of them. In my mind's eye, I saw a scenario in which the CEO of Warner Brothers was told by one of his assistants, "Sir, there's some blogger talking about Watchmen who's asking why you won't just pull your head out of your ass and get this thing done. He's also said you were gay and has implied that he is currently having buttsex with your mother." The CEO would then have mumbled the word, "Mommy?" before vowing that the case would never be settled and the movie's release would be delayed for years, all for the sole purpose of spiting me.

But that's all done. So, congratulations, douchebags. You all managed to stop jerking around seeing who has the tiniest dick and actually managed to not be complete retards. Now that the sand has been removed from your collective vaginas, maybe we can finally see the damn movie.

Phew. I've been wanting to say that forever.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 57

Don't tell your dad that he has to stop having sex with a woman like Elizabeth Banks, even if she did kill the ghosts who are currently haunting you. Really, it's just cruel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trolling For Dollars 2: The Dollaring

Yesterday, I talked about Big Hollywood's attempts at Concern Trolling Hollywood studios. Today, we return to the topic, mainly because it's already written. This was supposed to have been part of yesterday's post but I split it off because it was getting too long. The makers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are splitting that into two parts which means this is just like that and I'll make a billion dollars.

Today, we once again visit the work of John "Dirty Harry" Nolte. One of his favorite regular features is the TCM Pick O' The Day which, as I've said before, is an incredibly helpful feature to people who don't get TV Guide, watch the TV Guide Channel or have access to TVGuide.com. On Saturday, his pick was the George Cukor classic Dinner At Eight. Needless to say, he took the opportunity to criticize Hollywood. It boils down to yet another variation of Big Hollywood's continuing theme "Why oh why does Hollywood make all these liberal message movies when they could be making so much more money with lighter fare?"
For Americans suffering hard times during the Great Depression, movies were an oasis not a talking point. Certainly there were exceptions. Warner Brothers found a distinctive voice with grittier fare, especially the gangster picture which gave those feeling powerless the vicarious pleasure of watching people grab power, but this was an era predominantly made up of screwball comedies, DeMille’s lavish epics, musicals, monster movies and adventure films.
Please note that he brings up "exceptions" and "grittier fare" for the sole purpose of dismissing them. Not only does he choose not to deal with the fact that downbeat dramas like Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice And Men were also made in the 30s but he manages to fold gangster films into his "oasis, not a talking point" category.
Back then Hollywood knew their only chance of survival was to offer something found nowhere else: Pure Escapism. So Fred twirled Ginger, Shirley Temple was orphaned, Andy Hardy aw-shucked, Paul Muni emoted, Cagney took no crap, Flynn rescued de Havilland, Garbo laughed, and Gable…? Well, all he had to do was grin. And what happened? People with no money found the money. The studios were pushers, the audience addicts, and the drug … looking back now we now know it was art.
Yeah, things are different now. Major Hollywood releases are so grim and darkly realistic that Pure Escapism has been completely crowded out. For example, here are the major studio releases coming out this week:
  • A harsh and unflinching look at our materialistic society called Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
  • Hotel For Dogs, a seering indictment of animal cruelty.
  • A godless propaganda film making the claim that a Christian holiday can drive people to acts of brutal murder. I'm talking, of course, about My Bloody Valentine 3D.
Has anyone heard that any of those movies almost didn't get made to make room for a dramatization of the Enron collapse? Did Paul Blart almost get put into turnaround so a movie about a suicidal Iraq war vet could be produced? For that matter, did Bride Wars, a symbol of everything that's wrong with Hollywood, nearly get nixed in favor of another global warming documentary?

As I look through upcoming releases for the year, I can't find a week that doesn't contain at least one piece of light, escapist entertainment. The movie that comes closest to dealing with the contemporary economic situation is The International, the story of an Interpol agent (Clive Owen) fighting a bank run by rich, powerful bastards who are breaking the law to become richer, more powerful and more bastardish and even that comes in the form of an action packed escapist thriller.

As I said before, even in the 30s, escapist movies were hardly being crowded out. Somehow, the film industry back then managed to make Of Mice And Men, You Only Live Once and Wuthering Heights without crowding Snow White, Robin Hood and Top Hat off the screen. Nolte and the rest of his gang seem to believe that Iraq war films and downbeat dramas like Revolutionary Road are keeping movies like Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Pink Panther 2 from being made except that, you know, they are in fact being made.

The day you read, "Dreamworks Studios announced today that they have shelved plans to make a Transformers sequel in order to make room for the anti-Iraq War movie Baby Burner and a sequel to Oliver Stone's movie W called A-Hole: The George W. Bush Story," is the day I'll say they have a point.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trolling For Dollars

Big Hollywood has been in business for a week now and, from what I can tell, 95% of their traffic is me. Well, when I mean "me" I mean it in the Royal sense, a statement I admit makes little sense unless you are devastatingly intelligent. Hey, smart people, let's all make fun of the people who say they don't get it. Anyway, whenever web sites like Sadly No, Pandagon, Alicublog, and You Are Dumb, among others (including this one), are stuck for a topic, they simply log on to Big Hollywood and read whatever the hell is currently on their front page. With that done, they open Microsoft Word, click on the Big Hollywood Template they've created and just insert relevant names and information. The template looks something like this:
Can you believe that douchebag (insert Big Hollywood author here) over at Big Hollywood wrote that (insert something incredibly stupid here)? That might happen if (insert evidence you got from a 30 second Google search that proves whatever the hell Big Hollywood said is a crock of shit here) wasn't true.
Let's try that. I'll log on to Big Hollwyood, see what's currently on their front page and voila:
Can you believe that douchebag Gary Graham over at Big Hollywood wrote that he has "self immolated his career by coming out Conservative"? That might happen if the fact that, according to his IMDB page, he currently has two movies in development wasn't true.
See how easy that was? Left wing web sites have had the easiest week of their lives thanks to Big Hollywood. Unfortunately, I must stray from the template to cover a somewhat broader topic. There are a couple of recurring themes over at Big Hollywood. You have topics like, "Hollywood wants to surrender to violent Islamists," "Liberals in show business want to do away with traditional values and force everyone to have to divorce his or her spouse and gay marry a Mexican," and, "Conservatives can't find work in Hollywood due to the fact that liberals have them all on a blacklist that every single one of them keeps on their Blackberries." An example of that last one is the Gary Graham article mentioned above. The theme I'm going to cover today is Big Hollywood's love of Concern Trolling.

If you're not up on Concern Trolling, it goes like this. You hold a certain position like, let's say, being against the creation of giant mutant bugs that will destroy the planet. You then use whatever venue available to you, be it your position as a cable news pundit, your nationally syndicated column or just visiting the comments section of a pro-giant bugs website and say something like, "Really, the only choice that the giant bug creators have is to give up their bug creation efforts for now, abandon their laboratories and then come back to it in a few years when, hopefully, the public will be more open to the idea of being devoured alive by giant bugs."

Big Hollywood's attempts at Concern Trolling have been going something like this: "Due to the fact that all the profitable movies are conservative while all the anti-war and liberal message movies are financial losers, don't you think movie studios would make a lot more money if they'd abandon movies like that for more profitable fare?" Since the movie business actually saw its total box office take rise by 2% in 2008 giving them an all-time record year, I'm sure many studio executives are appreciating this advice from their mortal enemies about what they're doing wrong.

I've already written about a couple examples of this, specifically the time when Orson Bean wrote that Hollywood doesn't make movies like Slumdog Millionaire, apparently not realizing that he was talking about an actual movie that was in the theaters at the time he wrote that, and Endre Balogh's plea not to make any more movies like In the Valley of Elah since that movie "lost a fortune" when, in fact, it made a profit. Since I wrote that last piece, there have been a couple more examples of this.

One of the best so far is S.T. Karnick helpfully advising Hollywood to stop making big budget entertainment aimed at a large, general audience and focus on low budget Christian films.
Yes, The Dark Knight made more money in U.S. theaters than any film in history except Titanic (in nominal dollars, unadjusted for inflation), but in terms of sheer return on the investment dollar, you’d have been better off putting your cash into the teen vampire movie Twilight, the teen musical High School Musical 3: Senior Year, or Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.

And you’d have been much, much smarter to invest in Kirk Cameron’s small, independent, Christian film Fireproof: it cost a half-million dollars to make and brought in $33.1 million, a return of more than sixty times its budget.
Here's a little clue: dozens of cheaply made Christian films are made every year, most of them straight-to-DVD stinkers. Maybe one a year gets lucky and manages to break out and become a legitimate hit. In 2007 it was Bella and in 2008 it was Fireproof. This is similar to when independent features like Little Miss Sunshine or Slumdog Millionaire manage to become hits. Most movies like that are seen by a very limited arthouse audience and make a small profit at best. Karnick then gives the film industry a handy tip sheet it can consult the next time it's wondering which films to greenlight. As a favor to Karnick, I will helpfully respond to each point:
* Big stars in recognizable, popular genres will get a big opening weekend. But if the movie isn’t good, it will tank quickly thereafter. (Bad movies make money all the time -- MC)
* Teenage girls are a steady source of income for the film industry. (Duh -- MC)
* PG and G films make money. (So do PG-13 and R movies, what's your point? -- MC)
* Big stars and snazzy graphics guarantee high costs but not necessarily high returns—cf. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Australia, and Speed Racer. (No shit -- MC)
* Political implications are fine, but to update the great Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn, if you want to send a message, send a text. The antiwar agenda deservedly brought financial losses to the arrogant leftists who tried to inflict it on innocent audiences. (Notice he doesn't name any of these alleged money losers. -- MC)
* And most important of all: people want a good time at the movies. They are willing to be challenged (as The Dark Knight and Iron Man, for example, did very well), but they don’t want to be insulted or have their basic values denigrated. (No fucking shit -- MC)
Wow, thanks a lot, S.T. Karnick. I can't wait to see his tips for good health that include sage advice like, "Don't drink poison." His comment about G and PG movies got me thinking, though. I looked up the cost/profit ratio of Saw V, the ultra-violent R-rated horror film. It's production budget was 10.8 million dollars. It's worldwide box office take was 105 million dollars. Had I invested in Fireproof, I would have made a 30 million dollar profit whereas if I had invested in Saw V, I would have made a 95 million dollar profit. Using Karnick's reasoning, this means we should stop making low budget Christian films and that every movie should be an ultra-violent torture-porn flick like Saw V. Feel free to take my advice, Mr. Karnick, and invest any money you might have in movies like that. No need to thank me, I'm just trying to help.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

At Least We're Getting "Hotel For Dogs"



The trailer above is for a British science fiction/fantasy film called Franklyn. As to why it's called Franklyn I have no idea since, according to IMDB, there isn't a guy in it named Franklyn and it doesn't look like I'll be finding out any time soon since, currently, there are no plans to show this in the USA. Having watched the trailer a few times, that fact really annoys me. I see so many movies that, despite having spent tens of millions of dollars on the very best special effects, have the visual imagination of a molerat. The look of this movie, on the other hand, is amazing, especially when you consider it must have been made on a limited budget. England and Canada will see a theatrical release of this movie on February 20. What do we have coming out on February 20? According to ComingSoon.net, the two biggest releases that week will be Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail and Fired Up. Pardon my French, but WHAT THE MOTHER PUSS DRUNK FUCK IS FIRED UP?
Shawn Colfax (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick Brady (Eric Christian Olsen), the stars of the Gerald R. Ford High School football team, are dreading the prospect of another summer at football camp. When Nick hatches a scheme for the two to join their school's cheerleaders at cheer camp instead, they find themselves awash in a sea of gorgeous young women. It all goes great until Shawn falls for Carly (Sarah Roemer), the beautiful head cheerleader who sees right through them.
So, instead of an inventive fantasy film, we get the obligatory "Goes To Jail" movie that all fictional characters who've starred in a series of comedies end up doing and a movie where guys in their mid 20s play horny teenagers who find themselves in a situation that the Penthouse Forum would deem unbelievable and reject. Also, between now and then, the American cinema that won't be showing Franklyn will somehow find room for the remake of Friday the 13th, the remake of My Bloody Valentine, the remake of The Pink Panther, the remake of every crappy movie ever made (this time it's called Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), Hotel For Dogs and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And, lest we forget, just this week your local multiplex managed to squeeze in the abysmally disgusting The Unborn and the disgustingly abysmal Bride Wars.

I have a suspicion that maybe American distributors are trying to avoid controversy, said controversy being that at least part of the movie takes place on an alternate world in which an atheist fights against an oppressive theocracy. I have no idea if Franklyn is any good but I do know that the art direction alone makes it a better film than anything I listed above, all of which look like the art direction was done by the same guy. Thing is, I have no idea what to do about this. The only way I can see a US theater risking the wrath of fundamentalist protests and showing this is if it's a huge hit in England. This means we're depending on people who think that boiling your vegetables until all the flavor has departed them is good eating. I don't have the energy to create some sort of massive online campaign to try to get this movie a domestic release so I'm just going to move to England. If there's anyone in England who can take me in for a few months, please let me know. I won't be able to pay you anything but I can entertain you with my ability to recreate every single Monty Python sketch. Trust me, around the 150th time I scream in your face, "THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!" you'll be amazed at how it never gets old.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Total Lack Of Pride Wars

One of the more or less regular features of this site is Movies I Haven't Seen. This is where I review a movie months before it is released (based mostly on the trailer) that I feel has no shot whatsoever at being good. The last time I did this was in November when I covered The Unborn and, I'm pleased to say that I have now picked 5 out of 5 godawfully retched movies. It currently has been awarded a 13% rating on the Tomatometer and critical response can be summed up by FEARnet's Scott Weinberg:
This stuff is scary in the same way that twelve random ingredients from your kitchen is soup.
However, I cannot enjoy this victory. In pulling The Unborn out of its dirty little cave into the sun for all the world to see, I missed an even greater abomination hiding just behind it. That, of course, is Bride Wars.

Bride Wars is a movie about two idiot girls who start a stupid fight for moronic reasons. If this movie is to be believed, every girl everywhere comes out of the womb thoroughly obsessed about her wedding. Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) certainly are. We see them from about age 6 doing nothing but talking about how someday they'd get married at New York's Plaza Hotel in June. They go to other weddings mostly to snidely comment on how it pales in comparison to the Plaza weddings of their dreams that will be planned by famed wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen). These are both educated and accomplished women, too. Emma is a grade school teacher and Liv, before the age of 30, is poised to become partner with a top flight New York City law firm. And yet, according to the movie, they can't help but have some sort of wedding-centric worldview. Whether this is caused by some sort of genetic defect that stems from having ovaries or maybe their IQ drops because they wear bras the movie does not say.

Their boyfriends both propose around the same time because it was convenient for the screenplay. They both go to Marion St. Claire and manage the impossible feat of booking June wedding dates at the Plaza on different weekends with only three months notice and, allow me to stress, anyone who knows anything about booking a short notice wedding date at a high profile venue like the Plaza Hotel knows that this is ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. It's the least likely event in a movie filled with unlikely events. I'd have found it more believable if one of them had gone faster than the speed of light or invented a perpetual motion machine. Another unlikely event is when both weddings accidentally get booked on the same day. An inconvenient fact for the screenplay is that these two are the best of friends who have been with each other their entire lives, through good times and bad, and each would do anything for the other. I am assuming that we will see a deleted scene on the DVD where they both are accidentally given some sort of Stupidity Pill that causes them to turn into immature idiots. Bad news for them, good news for the screenplay.

In the real world, of course, some sort of compromise wouldn't have been that hard to reach. In this world, however, best friends like Liv and Emma can't seem to find a way around this, probably due to the fact that they're both chicks and chicks be craaaazy. Did I mention that this movie is basically an ode to the wonders of misogyny?

Anyway, the girls start fighting and hilarity ensues. Well, not hilarity exactly, but rather an incredible simulation of hilarity that looks like it's supposed to be funny, except it isn't. It's kind of like the way Chicken McNuggets are supposed to taste like chicken. It's established early on that Anne Hathaway's Emma character is meak and wishy washy as compared to Kate Hudson's Bitch-On-Wheels portrayal of Liv, but they each turn into what is basically the same horrible person as Liv sabotages Emma's spray-on tan so she turns a deep shade of orange and Emma takes revenge by arranging for Liv's hair to be dyed blue. Remember when I said that Liv was so capable, intelligent and competent that she rose at a very young age to the top of her law firm? Just forget all that because now I get to tell you how she quite literally FORGOT that her hair was blue when she showed up for a meeting with an important client. If you're thinking, "Gosh Mike, surely there's some sort of solution to that. Wear a hat, grab a wig, maybe postpone the meeting?" Yeah, those are all good ideas. Liv's idea was, and I'm not making this up, to take off her shirt and wrap it around her head. This is explained by that fact that Chicks Be Crazy.

That's one of the big problems of this movie. The characters and their behavior are more or less established in the beginning of the movie and then all the character development is tossed down the crapper whenever it's convenient for the script. Only one of the characters, Emma's fiance, even notices any of this and is basically told to shut the hell up about it.

The people who made this movie should, quite literally, be ashamed of themselves. They won't be of course since the movie seems to be quite profitable especially considering it opened in the first half of January (traditionally a horrible time to open a movie) and a great deal of the country is experiencing bad weather. This does fit into my theory that mediocre comedy is king during times of economic distress like, you know, now. It also appeals to the narrow demographic of people who like to watch girls catfighting in wedding dresses without ending up naked, the group I assume pushed Bride Wars up to its number 2 slot for the week.

So, Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson, and everyone else involved in this abomination, enjoy your money and success. You've reinforced bad gender stereotypes and caused everyone who saw the movie to die a little bit inside, but at least you can all afford that new boat you've all had your eyes on and, in the end, that's really what show business is all about.

One more thing: for those of you keeping track, I'm changing my daily posting time from 8 PM to Midnight Eastern time. This is happening for a couple of reason, none of which are interesting to anyone but me.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 56

If you are a French gangster who likes to kidnap pretty American girls and use them as sex slaves, be very certain that they don't have dads who are former spies that can track your crepe eating, wine guzzling ass down and kill you. You may be thinking, "Sacrebleu, what are the odds of that happening?" Trust me, they're pretty damn good.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Step Three -- Profit

As what has unintentionally turned into Big Hollywood Week rapidly comes to a close, let me just say what a blast it was and congratulate all the hard work done by the Clear's Own staff. Also, let me give an extra special thanks to Andrew Breitbart for successfully collecting the largest collection of rightwing douchebags ever and getting them to post their often incoherent ramblings on my favorite subject, that being the movie industry.

I was wondering what the subject of today's post would be. Would it be Jonah Goldberg's comments on Watchmen in which he criticizes what he perceives as the book's liberal politics before declaring that the book's villain was a liberal? Nah, too easy.

How about Debbie Schlussel telling us all about Spider-Man's plan to turn the nation's youth into a caliphate by putting Barack Obama on a comic book cover? Nah, too stupid.

Ooh ooh, what about Ben Shapiro's list of the top 5 conservative characters on Lost? That's a fun little ditty in which he admiringly describes the way in which Lost extols the values of family and faith while simultaneously telling us how much he loves Sawyer, a violent conman and Ben Linus, a narcissistic psychopath. I would take this on but I'd rather not gain any more attention from Ben Shapiro than I have to. I can imagine being knocked out by him some night and waking up in his basement dressed in a leather mask while he refers to me as "The Gimp" or at the bottom of a pit where he tells me to put the lotion on my skin.

Hey, I know. World renowned violinist Endre Balogh wrote a post about Hollywood economics and the way he feels they put ideology above profit, an article that shows he clearly has the knowledge on this subject you would expect a professional violist to have. After flatly declaring, with no evidence to back it up, that Hollywood loves to make ideological films that they know will fail, he writes this:
I recently had a conversation with a very well known actor friend who was dumbfounded by my statement that “No one watches the Academy Awards any more.” Since he attends them every year, he couldn’t imagine how I could utter such a blasphemy.
I think your anonymous actor friend was thinking the same thing I was when I read that. The Oscars are viewed by somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/5 of the world's population and that it's very strange to refer to such a high number as "no one". He goes on to inform us about how none of these liberal movies make money (he still hasn't named one) and that he's the only one who can see this. Like all good right wing bloggers, he blames the 60s.
One answer lies in a change in attitude that first emerged in the 60’s and even earlier in the world of fine art. A film wasn’t considered “artistic” by critics and other filmmakers unless it portrayed the dark underbelly of life. Anything else was just “fluff”. Films and TV had to do more than merely entertain - they had to teach, or worse, preach. I remember as a kid getting sick of watching “Marcus Welby, MD” because the show evolved from entertainment into a dramatized lecture on the illness-of-the week.
So far, the closest things we have to example of liberal movies that don't make money are last year's Oscars and Marcus Welby, a medical drama about a private practice doctor. This show ran for seven years in prime time, many more years in reruns and even inspired two made-for-TV reunion films but, like the Oscars, Endre Balogh didn't care for it so it's a failure.

Finally, after seven paragraphs, we get an example of one of these big stinking losers films that Hollywood won't stop making.
Instead, we are given films like “In The Valley of Elah”, a movie that portrays soldiers as psychopathic murderers of their own comrades. It lost a fortune, but what the heck, it painted the picture that Liberals in Hollywood choose to believe about our military.
Wow! Lost a fortune, you say? How could those stupid movie studios have made the stupid decision of making such a stupid, money-losing film like In The Valley Of Elah? Ah, but once again, the real world must intrude on the imaginary world that Endre Balogh has pulled out of his ass. Elah's total world box office was around 29 million dollars. For most movies, yes, this would be a dismal box office failure UNLESS the movie in question had a production budget of, let's say, around 23 million dollars. Can you take a guess as to which Iraq war movie starring Tommy Lee Jones had production costs that clocked in right around 23 million dollars? It couldn't have been In The Valley Of Elah because Endre Balogh has informed us that it, "lost a fortune." I wish I could lose a fortune like that as 6 million dollars would come in very handy right about now.

There's an example here of the right wing hand not knowing what the other right wing hand is doing when he writes:
I was particularly interested in the figures for 2007 since the winner of the “Best Picture” Oscar that year was “No County For Old Men”, certainly the darkest film ever nominated. It is, in my opinion, a particularly vile, obscenely violent exercise in pointless nihilism. (I know, it was supposedly well made and the acting was great but I’m just a regular guy - not a film critic.)
Mr. Barogh has clearly not received the memo that No Country For Old Men is actually a conservative movie that shows how liberal values are responsible for all the evil in the world. This is especially apparent when he criticizes the Academy for awarding its Best Picture Oscar to a movie that had such a low opening.
As I said, the numbers don’t lie.
No, but liars do use numbers.
One would think, then, that the bottom line might make a greater impact. Yet it doesn’t seem to. The public clamors for more wholesome offerings.
Yeah, how come those jerks in Hollywood spend all their time making all those liberal, anti-America movies when they could be making wholesome films? Here are some ideas for wholesome movies with good values that I would like to offer Hollywood free of charge:
  • A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
  • A hotel handyman whose life changes when the lavish bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to magically come true.
  • A guy challenges himself to say "yes" to everything for an entire year.
  • An impoverished Indian teen becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire?"
  • A vampire and a teenage girl fall in love.
Nah, who would want to make movies like that?

So, let's sum up Barogh's argument: Hollywood makes money losing movies that, according to the two examples offered, didn't actually lose money. These movies keep wholesome, popular movies from being made, movies just like five of of the most popular movies released during the past two months. My question is: which big, wholesome family friend blockbusters does Barogh think are getting crowded out by these darker movies made by indie producers? Oh, almost forgot:
Yet, were it not for their Left wing agenda-driven mindset, the film and TV industry executives could have far greater financial success simply by making products that celebrate the positive aspects of American values.
If only Hollywood producers and directors would listen more to their own pocketbooks.
Hollywood had a record setting year which, by Endre Barogh's standards, means that they're doing something wrong and that they should listen to him. Just don't let him balance your books, Hollywood.