Friday, July 31, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 7/31/09

We've all had a few stressful days (he said, projecting his existence onto that of the whole world) so why not wind down the week with a look at some brief comments on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

This will end well. The Rockford Files is one of the first shows I really loved so, naturally, they've decided to remake it and screw it up. Sure, they haven't even cast it yet, but "This is totally going to suck" is the assumption I make when dealing with new television shows and that goes double for TV classics. Some good news is that House creator David Shore is behind the reboot but that's not enough. I won't believe it's any good until it's run for around 5 years and people start saying, "Wow, this isn't as good as it was in season 2." Expect me to make a similar complaint in 2025 when the 3rd Rockford Files remake is announced.

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Heroes has been dying on the vine for about two years now. In the first season, you couldn't have asked for a better show. Since then, you can not only ask for one but you could get downright verbally abusive when doing so. It started showing signs of life in the second half of the last season so maybe so maybe this trailer is a sign of good things to come and not just artful marketing.



Then again, maybe this is the season they go all in with the "Let's make Mohinder Suresh into a mutated spider villain" idea and maybe they'll make Claire even more helpless than she already is. Perhaps they'll think that the fact neither of those have worked so far means that the odds of success will now tip in their favor.

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I forget that everyone isn't me and that there are people who live and die by things about which I could not care less. For example, until a tempest-in-a-teapot scandal began forming around her, I had no idea who Rachel LeFevre was. Had you told me she played Victoria in Twilight, I'd have asked who the hell Victoria was. Upon being informed that she played the evil vampire chick girlfriend of douchebag vampire villain James, I'd have said, "Oh, well, all rightie then," and gone on with whatever I was doing, something I can assure you was in no way related to Twilight. But that's me and most of the planet isn't me and a hefty portion of the they who are not me actually care a great deal about Twilight and whether or not Rachel What's-Her-Name plays Victoria in the Twilight sequels and they all got hot and bothered over the idea that she's being replaced by Opie Cunningham's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard. How Rachel LeFevre gained such a devoted following to make a controversy like this possible is a mystery to me. If memory serves, she clocked in about five minutes of screen time in the whole movie and, in that five minutes, left such an impression on me that, if she shot me in the face, I'd be unable to tell the authorities that she was the culprit. Anyway, I'm scared to click any of the links in that article though this one...
A fan has put together a dramatized script set in the Summit Entertainment offices, with execs discussing the Lefevre situation. Some of the dialogue is pie-in-the-sky speculation, but it's a funny, non-traditional approach to editorializing the news.
...is one I might look into later just to see if, as I predict, the author of that little skit will mainly have studio execs behind this decision saying things like, "Duh, we suk, huh huh, let's go eat our own poop." I could confirm whether or not I'm right by visiting the site and reading the skit but, to put it lightly, Twilight fandom is not a pretty sight and should be avoided by most people. By me, anyway.

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I'm pleasantly surprised to see the headline "Meryl Streep: Bankable Franchise". She's a national treasure who's still pumping out quality work (I'm willing to ignore Mamma Mia) after three decades in the movie business. She's also in a movie that I'll go see to recover from the near-certain clusterfuck that will be G.I. Joe. It's great that she's a popular movie draw. Since only so many people can be stars, that means she's taking one of those coveted spots away from someone else and sparing us headlines like "Rob Schneider Mania Sweeps The Nation" or "Dane Cook Is Cooking With Gas" and for that, we should all light a candle and pray for Meryl's fruitful existence to continue for a long time to come.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Almost But Not Quite

I almost made it to the end of the month without taking a day off. Unfortunately, a sick relative coupled with a work schedule change took up all my free time. Best I can do is give you a funny video to watch. This is a German pop band from the 80s with their lyrics not-quite-translated.



Should be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

They've Given You A Number

Don't have much time today so I think I'll fill your time with a nine minute clip and a few paragraphs.

I go back and forth about what my all time favorite television show is. Sometimes it's Mystery Science Theater 3000, the simple and brilliant comedy where a guy and two puppets make fun of bad movies. Other days I'll say Monty Python's Flying Circus. And then there are the days when I quite firmly will say The Prisoner.

The Prisoner is a British show made in the late 60s in which Patrick McGoohan played a spy who resigned from his top secret job but refused to say why. He was then captured and brought to a place called the Village and started an existence that defines the word "surreal". They called him Number Six (we never found out his real name) and, over the course of 17 episodes, came up with various ways to get him to confess why he resigned, most of which involved subtle manipulations. They could alter his perceptions and memories but he was strong enough to keep that one bit of information they wanted out of reach. Along the way, we were introduced to a succession of characters called Number Two, a mysterious dwarf butler who may or may not have been on Six's side and a monster called Rover who would track Six down when he tried to escape. Rover was, in reality, a weather balloon and shouldn't have been frightening, but it was.

Flash forward to 2009. AMC has decided to do an updated Prisoner mini-series which begs the question, "How will they screw it up? Will it just be lame or will its failure be of epic proportions?" That's what I was saying until I saw this (this is about nine minutes long):



Oh my god, could The Prisoner actually end up being good? It seems impossible but that preview isn't half bad. Its makers are showing wisdom in changing some of the basic storyline. Really, when doing a remake, it's dumb to adhere to the source material 100%. I think the art direction was better in the original series. The Village in 1967 had an unreal look to it, as if a caricature of an idyllic country town had come to life. Some of the plot elements are different too but we'll have to wait and see how that works. Of course, you couldn't have made a better choice than Ian McKellen for Number Two.

I'll be really surprised if this updated version of The Prisoner manages to hold up. Then again, I was surprised many years ago when I ended up liking this acid trip of a series in the first place. We'll just have to wait. Until then, be seeing you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Past and Future

First off, thanks a lot, America, for keeping The Ugly Truth from premiering at the #1 spot last weekend. This makers of this love letter to misogyny and stupidity got to explain to their families how mega awesome their #3 premiere behind talking gerbils and broomstick riding teenagers was and how they really did better than they thought they would. Then maybe their moms will ask if a sequel is in the works and they will run screaming.

While we're on the subject of Harry Potter, why do people keep saying the kids who've been playing the Harry Potter trio are too old the Harry Potter trio? In a commercial for the upcoming Judd Apatow comedy Funny People, Jonah Hill is joking about it, saying something along the lines of Harry Potter being in his 40s. It's true that Daniel Radcliffe is not the right age to be playing 18 year old Harry Potter. He's 20 now and normally an 18 year old is played by someone 24 and older. This also disqualifies 19 year old Emma Watson and 21 year old Rupert Grint from continuing to play Hermione and Ron.

But enough of the past. Let's look far into future, a time so distant the only name we have for it is, "This coming Friday," which brings us back to the subject of Funny People. I've been trying to figure out if this was going to be any good or not. Initially, I don't think it was marketed very well but they've improved their strategy which mainly involves focusing on the movie's funniest moments and deemphasizing the serious side. It would be great if they could trick people into thinking this is one of those goofy Adam Sandler movies instead of a movie that happens to have Adam Sandler in it. I think I've discussed the difference between those two before. An Adam Sandler movie is something like Don't Mess With the Zohan in which Sandler plays a head case with an annoying accent and ends up doing things like throwing fish in the air and catching it in his ass (something that happened in Zohan to the apparent delight of the bikini models who were watching despite the fact that the fish were literally now shit stained). A movie with Adam Sandler is something like Spanglish, something that can still be quite funny but is more down to earth and deals with serious themes. Movies with Adam Sandler in them can be very pleasant experiences. Adam Sandler movies can make you consider burning down the theater. Let's hope Funny People is the first one.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ugly Being The Operative Word

One of the great pleasures of being a movie fan is when you are pleasantly surprised. I love it when I see a movie whose marketing led me to believe that it would be awful and it actually turns out to be pretty good. The most recent example of this for me was The Proposal, a movie that should have so thoroughly insulted my taste and intelligence that my brains should have leaped out of my skull in protest and run screaming for having been forced to view it. Instead, the Sandra Bullock romantic comedy actually turned out to be quite pleasant. This leads me to this week's release of The Ugly Truth. I've written about it a couple times and each time concluded that it would be a true horror but I always held out the hope that I'll be surprised and it would be good. So, was I surprised.

Oh Lordy Lord no. The Ugly Truth is to movies what flames coming out of your privates would be to using the restroom.

I've learned a lot from The Ugly Truth. I learned that a woman can be smart, intelligent, competent and sophisticated AND simultaneously she can be so mindbogglingly stupid that you seriously wonder if she knows how to wipe her own ass. I learned that today's woman must be a librarian in the living room and a stripper in the bedroom. I assume she must also be a physicist in the kitchen and a Navy SEAL in the bathroom. If she falls short in any of these roles, she will have failed as a woman and will die old and unloved, forgotten by society and mocked by children. But hey, there's good news. A woman need only find a crude, obnoxious misogynist to educate her in the ways of womanly behavior that will successfully seduce a man, get him to buy her a house and impregnate her with 2.4 children.

Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler play Abby and Mike, two opposing personalities who could never ever fall in love and end up together at the end of the movie no way no how. I mean, they experience instant dislike for each other when they first meet so how could they possibly end up together?

Abby is the producer of a Regis and Kelly type morning show in Sacramento, CA. She's very good at handling various types of personalities and crises with instinct, intelligence and cool confidence, traits which abandon her completely in every other facet of her life. When going on a first date, she confesses to the man that she has thoroughly investigated him and even has him clarify a few points of her research. She does this, I assume, because she has never encountered people before and doesn't realize that this will instantly cause them to be creeped out. Enter Mike. Mike is a jerk on a cable access show called the Ugly Truth, said Truth being that every offensive gender stereotype is true. Abby's station manager/boss thinks it would be a good idea to hire him for the morning show. If you are wondering why you've never seen anything like that on any good natured light-entertainment morning show you've ever seen, it's because having an offensive misogynist who speaks graphically about sex and male-female relationships in an environment like that actually is NOT a good idea. Even if it did garner huge ratings, the only sponsors you'd get would range from strip clubs to sex toy shops.

Anyway, Abby becomes infatuated with a handsome surgeon who moved into her apartment complex and Mike agrees to help her land him (first bit of advice being to avoid behaving like a crazed stalker). The first thing he teaches her is that she's extremely hot. Somehow, a woman who looks like Katherine Heigl has failed to notice that she possesses a certain amount of sex appeal. Most girls figure out during their teen years that highlighting certain sexual attributes can help to entice boys but Abby seems to have spent that time honing her impressive ability to repulse men by acting insane.

Naturally, Mike's advice works and Dr. Goodbody begins to fall for Abby but Abby and Mike start thinking they'd like to be with each other and OH NO THEY'LL NEVER BE TOGETHER IT'S SO SAD but it all works out. The End!

Am I really spoiling anything? No, I've left out details and specifics and frankly, if you couldn't figure the basic framework of the plot on your own then you should never enter a movie theater again.

Is The Ugly Truth funny? No. Oh, it has its moments but not enough to overcome the fact that the lead characters range from repulsive to stupid. In the link above, I linked to a YouTube clip (since deleted) of what was supposedly the movie's funniest scene where Abby is wearing vibrating panties in a restaurant during a business dinner (don't ask) and a ten year old boy stumbles upon the remote control and begins to unintentionally violate her. I mostly just felt bad and embarrassed for her plus I felt annoyed when douchebag Mike figures out what's going on and just smiles and does nothing. There is one funny scene where she spills soda in the doctor's lap and ends up appearing to be giving him a blowjob while trying to clean him up but, as I said, that was ONE funny scene.

The Ugly Truth is an unfunny movie about stupid, offensive people who end up doing stupid, offensive things. To show how bad it is, I can no longer say, "At least it's not as bad as Transformers."

Friday, July 24, 2009

You Heard It Here First

I'm still annoyed I had to miss Comic-Con this year. If you aren't there either and share my frustration, we can all work together and do something about it. I'm going to create some fake rumors and I want you all to help spread them. True, there aren't many of you reading this, but if history has taught us anything, it's that even a small group can band together and make a difference.
  • A massive swarm of bedbugs has invaded Comic-Con and anyone who was there is infested with them. You should avoid anyone who was anywhere near Comic-Con lest you end up covered with bedbug bites.
  • The surviving members of Led Zeppelin got together over the weekend and played their greatest concert ever for anyone who wasn't at Comic-Con.
  • Comic-Con had clips of the new Twilight movie. You should say that the clips they saw were fake and that you saw clips of the real movie, a good version that is noticeably lacking in moussed up pretty boys with shiny skin who woo girls by saying they should take it as a compliment that he wants to kill them.
  • You know all those hot girls at Comic-Con dressed as Wonder Woman or Princess Leia? They were all dudes.
  • Tell everyone you had an awesome time over the weekend watching a double feature of two incredible new movies, Orphan and The Ugly Truth. This one will be a hard sell. Hopefully, these smug Comic-Con attendees will believe you and rush out to see these two awful movies, an experience that will erase any and all joy they felt at Comic-Con.
  • We all went to Awesome-Con which was 8 bazillion times better than Comic-Con. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and George Lucas were all there to announce a new series of Star Wars films and all attendees received actual copies of Action Comics #1.
  • Turns out there was something in the water at Comic-Con that causes people to grow extra nipples and causes their asses to turn blue.
  • A curse was cast over Comic-Con. No one who was there will ever know true love.
As for that last one, even if I knew ahead of time that this was true, I'd have still wanted to go. Oh well, guess I'll mope for the rest of the weekend. See you all next week.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 7/23/09

Hey everyone, it's Thursday. If you're wondering why everything is great, why the Sun is shining a little more brightly and why your bagel tastes really awesome, it's because Thursday is the day you get the new edition of Look At My Briefs.

As an avid fan of World of Warcraft, I was more interested in what I would find the next time I cleaned my belly button than I was when they announced a WoW movie last year. I assumed it would be some piece of crap written by a computer and directed by the guy who did Meet Dave. Turns out I was wrong. Somehow, they actually managed to land Sam Raimi to direct their movie. I had no idea Blizzard (the company that makes the Warcraft games) was actually serious about making a decent movie. I figured they regarded the movie idea as a source of a large one-time payment and the result would be some hideous pseudo-film that would come out in early January and be gone in a week. Not that this particular scenario couldn't still happen, of course, as anyone who ever saw The Gift can tell you.

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Why do they still call it Comic-Con? Looking through their program, maybe 1/3 of what goes on there has anything to do with comics anymore. They could call it Dental-Hygiene-Con or Drillbit-Safety-Expo and be just as relevant. I'm calling for everyone to share my outrage and boycott Comic-Con! Am I doing this because I really wanted to go but couldn't swing it? In answer to that, let me present to you an extra large portion of Kiss My Ass. Just boycott the damn thing.

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9 looks like it at least has the potential to be a great movie. I've yet to see anything that makes this movie look like it's infected with the Stupid Virus even though one of its producers is the director of the mindbogglingly stupid Wanted, a movie in which God hands out assassination orders by moving stitches in linen. The director, Shane Acker, was actually allowed to do expand his short feature of the same name and, from what has been said and heard, has more or less done it his way. That's just amazing.

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Hercules at AICN lodged a minor complaint that neither Edward James Olmos nor Mary McDonnell received an Emmy nomination for the final season of Battlestar Galactica. Cool, I was looking for a reason to once again trash Battlestar Galactica. GO TO HELL YOU STUPID MISERABLE FUCKWITS! Can't wait till Battlestar Galactica: the Plan comes out later this year so I can do that again.

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It's against my nature to post spoilers even when most people already know them. Still, I heartily encourage you to Google "Orphan ending spoiler" and discover for yourself why even people who'd never think of doing this normally are having a great deal of fun spoiling what may be the stupidest plot twist in the history of cinema.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Deadly Knitting Patterns

This is turning into a busy week for me. Originally, I was just going to skip today altogether but, being the awesome guy I am, I can find the time to give you a little something.

I just wanted to comment on a review of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince written by Big Hollywood's editor-in-chief John Nolte. He didn't like it. In fact, he's not a fan of the Harry Potter series. I suspect the reason he doesn't like Harry Potter is because he's a right wing extremist and people of that stripe think Harry Potter does the devil's work since the Potter books are religiously neutral and only Jesus could possibly fly on a broom and catch the golden snitch. Still, if that is the case, he's smart enough to know that he would look like an idiot if he came out and said all that and deserves credit for that bit of awareness. On the other hand, his awareness fails him when he expresses his shock and bewilderment at the idea that the movie may have exposed him to something gay.
There’s one truly odd moment worth mentioning. Recently, a ton of publicity surrounded Rowling’s announcement that her literary creation, Head Master Dumbledore, is gay. And yet in one of the film’s early scenes Dumbledore asks to borrow a girlie magazine using the pretense (or not) that he loves to look at the knitting patterns.

What’s that supposed to be about?

But that of course is the pitfall you set up for your creation when, in a fit of self-importance, you choose to politicize it. What might have been an otherwise funny, human character bit turns into something bigger and now we’re taken out of the moment trying to figure out where it all fits in the culture war.
No, John, we weren't taken out of the moment. Those of us who don't spend our every waking moment worrying about the homosexuals hiding under our beds and whispering the lyrics to "It's Raining Men" in our ears as we sleep didn't even notice it.

Still, I suppose the jig is up and it's time to confess. Yes John, the scene was inserted into the movie as an attempt by the Radical Homosexual Agenda to convert and recruit the world's population. I can tell you this because it's already too late. Your worst fears have already been realized. Once you saw that scene, John, you became gay. Oh, you've probably dismissed all the signs so far but you won't be able to for much longer. Soon, you'll find yourself buying the complete Sex and the City collection and saying things like, "Oh Samantha, you are such a sassy bitch." From there, you will start dressing more flamboyantly and moussing what's left of your hair. After that, you'll divorce your wife and move in with your "companion" Rob.

It's too late for John Nolte but it may not be too late for the rest of you. Stay away from Harry Potter! Don't read the books, don't watch the movies, don't eat fluffernutter sandwiches from a Harry Potter lunchbox. Remember, they're here! The gays are here! They're all around you! Keep watching the skies...for rainbows. When you see one, it means nature itself has turned gay.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things I've Learned From Watching Movies Part 73

What can the movies teach us today?

First off, if an alien race ever visits Earth, the best course of action is to brutally mistreat them.

If you ever want to become famous, just named yourself Julia.

When a woman says, "I wouldn't change one second of our life together," the fact that she bitches about her life non-stop probably means she's lying, especially if her husband is a time traveler.

Quentin Tarantino is such a good writer, he can actually make you feel sorry for the Nazis.

Death, apparently, is something you really want to avoid.

I'm not sure what the plot of this movie is. All I could think while watching this trailer was, "Man I really, really want to masturbate right now."

I can't believe this movie comes out in September and, just two months later, gets remade.

Even if they are really dead, it's probably not a good idea to stab dead bodies in the chest.

I'd have thought food falling from the upper stratosphere would fall so fast that it would kill anyone on whom it landed. I was wrong.

Monday, July 20, 2009

SO AND SO KILLS THAT OTHER GUY

I keep meaning to read the Harry Potter books but just never get around to it. The only advantage to not having read the books is that I'm not outraged months in advance about the ways in which the story was changed for the movie. I don't care if they cut out the short yet crucial scene where a character with some goofy name like Gumptius Hump showed Harry the most efficient way to stroke his own wand. I'm usually pretty cool even if I have read the book upon which a movie was based. All I really care about is whether the movie works. Still, it's nice not to have anything invested in the story ahead of time. Unfortunately, I knew how Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince would end ahead of time. Hell, everyone who was on the internet in summer of 2005 knew. If you were a regular at any sort of online forum or message board, no matter the subject, it was only a matter of time after the book Half-Blood Prince came out before you saw a subject header that spoiled a major event in the book, something having to do with a murder and who committed that murder. What a shock that would have been had I not known it was coming. I've wondered since I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince if that foreknowledge hurt my appreciation of the movie but, since I liked the movie, the damage doesn't seem to have been too bad.

The story opens where it left off in Order of the Phoenix. After a battle that claimed the life of Harry's godfather Sirius Black, Voldemort's resurrection has been revealed. The upside of that is that the magic world can now mobilize against him. The downside is that Voldemort and his Death-Eaters can now act openly. Riding in on storm clouds*, three Death-Eaters launch a quick assault on the magic world's center of commerce, Diagon Alley, and kidnap Mr. Ollivander, the fellow who sold Harry his Phoenix Feather Wand back in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone**. This attack also results in the destruction of London's Millennium Bridge.

This brings us to Harry reading about the incident in a diner a few months after his battle in the Ministry of Magic with Lord Voldemort. Still recovering from the trauma of that fight and the death of Sirius Black, the closest thing he's ever had to a father, he's unsure whether he will return to Hogwart's, especially since the same newspaper asks whether Harry Potter is The Chosen One whose destiny it is to engage Voldemort in a final apocalyptic battle. After managing to pick up a pretty waitress, Headmaster Dumbledore shows to cast the Cockus Blockus spell that whisks Harry away from his date and to the home of a man named Horace Slughorn, a former Hogwart's teacher who refuses to return to his old post until he's presented with the prospect of having Harry Potter as a student. It turns out that Dumbledore's real reason for luring Slughorn back to Hogwart's is that Slughorn has a memory that he won't reveal involving a former student named Tom Riddle who would grow up to be Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore believes (knowing what I know now, I can say rightly believes) that this memory is the key to Voldemort's ultimate defeat.

Pretty much every character, good and evil, who hasn't been imprisoned or brutally murdered in the previous five movies is back for this one. This includes Professor Severus Snape. In one of the opening scenes, we discover something that always seemed rather obvious, that Snape is in league with Voldemort. We see Snape ebing visited by the violently insane Bellatrix LeStrange and Narcissa Malfoy, the mother of Harry chief school rival Draco Malfoy. They have Snape make The Unbreakable Vow to help Draco complete a mission for Voldemort and, if he fails, to complete the mission himself. As to what that mission is, you can sit in a theater for two hours and find out the same way I did. So, Snape is working for Voldemort. Or is he? I guess we find out next year, unless you've already read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

The movies two and a half hour runtime allows for character development that normally gets thrown out in the first story conference, like when Harry begins to notice that Ron Weasley's kid sister, Ginny, is no longer a kid. The Quidditch match in which Ron becomes his team's hero is also something that would have been cut out. The Harry Potter films have always been something of a protected class. You fans of the books who like to complain that this or that scene is gone should realize that most studio executives would have preferred that the movies be nothing more than spells that cause explosions with maybe a few jokes and one or two melodramatic scenes sandwiched in between said explosions. One of the things that's kept people coming back to the theaters after six movies is the fact that we get to see characters like the bizarrely wonderful Luna Lovegood, someone who could have been removed from this movie altogether for the sake of length but whose absence would have been sorely felt. It's this sort of stuff that keeps us coming back even as the series gets progressively darker. When you see this, you'll know that no character is safe anymore, not even Harry.

So far, I know absolutely nothing about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and, unless I ever get around to actually reading the books, hopefully I'll keep it that way. If I find out ahead of time that Harry breaks up Draco Malfoy's meth lab or that Neville Longbottom has anal sex with Luna Lovegood, I'm going to be very upset.

* I loved the way the Londoners were so enraptured by the sight of storm clouds. They must not get a lot of rain there.

** To you confused Americans, that's the actual name of the first book/movie. I like it better than Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, a title created by American publishers who thought the original title to be too darn fancy. They thought this because they are morons.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One More Thing About Torchwood...

The tagline for the new Torchwood series, "We Are Coming," works just as well for the porn version, Touch Wood. The porn people should really send Torchwood's producers a Thank You note. Or maybe have their actors offer the BBC people blow jobs. Either one would be good.

Friday, July 17, 2009

You Don't Know Jack

For months now I've been looking forward to the third series of Torchwood. I don't really know why as I'm not Torchwood's biggest fan. If you've never seen Torchwood, it's a BBC show (shown in the U.S. on BBC America) about a high level government organization responsible for monitoring and dealing with alien activity on Earth. The team is led by Captain Jack Harkness, a character first introduced on Doctor Who, who became frozen in time by the Doctor's time machine and now cannot die. Torchwood has had some great episodes but, ultimately, I've found it to be a broken show. It's storylines are too often depressing are sometimes just dumb, like the time an alien arrived on Earth, possessed a pretty young woman and used her to screw men to death and absorb their sexual energy. That's more like something you'd read in a fanfic though the fanfic would have crossed over with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars. Still, the show has been just good enough to hold my attention.

When Executive Producer Russell T. Davies announced that series 3 of Torchwood would be a five episode story arc instead of a full season of individual episodes, I thought that was a great idea. Sure, we don't get as much but since each of the two previous series only had around five really good episodes each anyway, I figured this was the perfect model for the show. It turns out I was right.

The five episode mini-series Torchwood: Children of the Earth is pretty damn good. Not great, but close. Due to plot of the series two finale, the Torchwood team is now down to three members. Jack, ex-cop Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones who formerly acted more as the team's caretaker but, through attrition, now does a great deal of field work. He also became Jack's boyfriend, something that redefines the words, "field work." The story opens in 1965 when a group of pre-teens is being bused out to the Scottish countryside. When the bus stops, a light appears and the kids walk into it with only one looking back. We jump to 2009 when Gwen Cooper spots of couple of kids standing silently. Just standing. Their parents thought they were just being difficult kids. It didn't last too long and no one thought much of it until Torchwood and another branch of the government figured out that this happened to every child on the planet at the same time.

And...that's about as far as I want to go into plot specifics. There's five hours worth of stuff and I could reveal a little more without entering true spoiler territory but I really believe you'll enjoy it more if I don't. I will say that, during the five hour run, you'll see action, adventure, humor, sadness, triumph, tragedy, truly casual evil on the part of both the aliens and the humans and a lead character doing something that can only be described as both necessary and unforgivable.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth reaffirms my love for the BBC. They are just as capable as the U.S. of creating disgustingly stupid television programming but I truly believe that the very best of what they do is better than the very best of what we do. I also can't see this storyline having been done in America. Oh, we do some good stuff, but we don't do anything that has the guts and takes the risks that Torchwood does. At the very least, the networks would have wanted the ending changed and almost certainly would wanted the homosexual relationship between Jack and Ianto shelved.

I'm not sure what the future of Torchwood will be now. This is an excellent redemption for what was a broken show and, if it ended here, that would be fine with me. Still, maybe they'll be back next year. If this were made in America, they'd move the location to Hollywood and add a kid and a cigar smoking chimp to the cast and maybe do a Very Special Episode where Gwen goes blind or we find out that Jack never learned to read. Fortunately, this is made in England which means to worst we can expect is that they'll boil all the flavor out of their vegetables.

Torchwood: Children of the Earth
is showing next week, July 20-24, on BBC America. As they say, check your local listings for the time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 7/16/09

Here is yet another edition of brief commentaries on various subjects I like to call Look At My Briefs.

I share Quint's enthusiasm for the possibility that an American version of Let The Right One In might actually be good, an idea that I would say has the same odds as the Earth being shattered by a giant comet and then spontaneously putting itself back together the way it was. If you read my review back in November, you know what a huge fan I am of this thought-provoking, intelligent and, sometimes, truly frightening film. Like Quint, I simply assumed the American remake would get Twilighted and the characters would turn from children experiencing a dark and fascinating coming-of-age tale in to a teenage romance story. I figured the vampire girl, Eli, would be played by someone like Evan Rachel Wood and that the script would be filled with scenes of her in the shower or sleeping nude. Fortunately, this poster shows that, at the very least, the lead characters will remain children.

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Hey, remember that movie where Tim Allen brutally murdered Santa Claus and had to take his place? That was pure holiday fun, right? If you thought so, you'll love the idea of Russell Brand taking the Easter Bunny out of commission and having to take his place. I know the one thing this world has been missing is the concept of a foul mouthed, edgy British Easter bunny and it's about time the movie industry did something about it.

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There's a guy named Joe Barlow I've known for about ten years but lost touch with when I decided to get a cooler group of friends. Fortunately, I learned important life lessons about core values and true friendship* so Joe is now once again welcome as a part of my world. Actually, he started following me on Twitter (I think he found me through a mutual friend) and when I saw the name @CinemaslaveJoe I knew who he was. It turns out he has his own website called Cinemaslave that isn't updated nearly often enough due to his insistence on having a life. I'm mentioning all of this mainly to call attention to his latest podcast which has a cool tribute to the late fandom legend Forrest J. Ackerman. I met Ackerman years ago and it must have been quite a thrill for him to meet me though he kept his cool the whole time. You can also check out Joe's short film The Wicked Witch Project which was the very best of approximately 8 billion parodies of The Blair Witch Project that were made.

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Speaking of that, this is the tenth anniversary of the release of The Blair Witch Project. My recollection of that time is that this was the first example of successful viral internet marketing. Some of the marketing made it seem as if it was an actual documentary and a lot of people I knew both in real life and online thought it was a true story. They were often unswayed by, say, an appearance on Good Morning America by the actors saying it was a movie. Blair Witch holds up as an excellent and unconventional horror film.

* I may be confusing myself with a character in one of those teen comedies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Netflix Pics Picks

Netflix is becoming my favorite thing ever. They're not perfect, mind you. My brother-in-law reached a level of indignation with them normally reserved for people trying to deny your civil rights when it took several weeks for him to finally receive a copy of Slumdog Millionaire. Still they did heavily contribute to the end of Blockbuster's reign of evil over the video rental industry and for that we must all be eternally grateful.

Something I'm using more and more is their streaming service where you can watch something instantly on your computer, as God intended. When they first started doing this, their selection basically consisted of movies you had never heard of, always with good reason. These days, they have some excellent selections including Superbad and The Terminator. I thought I'd review a few of those and ended up concentrating on BBC television shows. For you Americans who have never heard of the BBC, it's the British Broadcasting Corporation, the main source of television and radio in England. England is a country that's not America and thus is considered by most U.S. citizens to be a godforsaken hellhole though they do manage to lighten things up by putting the picture of an inbred figurehead on all their money. I find this far superior than America's ghoulish penchant for putting dead guys on our money.

Neverwhere -- It's odd considering that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and I had read the book years ago that I had never seen the six part BBC television production of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere until a few weeks ago. Made in 1996, it manages not to look dated, probably because most of it takes place in a fantasy world. It is the story of Richard Mayhew, a Londoner who accidentally becomes part of a world of magic called London Below when he encounters one of its citizens, a girl named Door. After saving Door from the assassins who were hunting her, he discovers that people no longer notice him and even his best friend and fiance no longer recognize him. Luckily, his friend was a dick and his fiance a shrew yet he is still upset over losing them.

Richard and Door encounter some great characters along the way, especially the ruthless Marquis De Carabas, a man who has made sure that everyone he encounters owes him a favor. The show's biggest flaw is a character named Hunter. Oh, I liked the character well enough but she's supposed to be a superior fighter and every scene where she had to prove it made painfully obvious the fact that the actress had no fighting skills to speak of. Still, the show is interesting and, if you have Netflix, you could do worse than to spend a few hours having this streamed into the computer box where you keep your dirty pictures.

Jekyll -- If you saw a show last fall with Christian Slater called My Own Worst Enemy, you should know that you were watching a stupid, boring and vastly inferior ripoff of Jekyll. Written by Steven Moffat (one of my favorite writers of any medium), it stars James Nesbitt as Dr. Tom Jackman, a man who comes to find out he's sharing his brain with a sadistic personality that eventually names himself Mr. Hyde. Luckily, he has two of England's hottest women (Gina Bellman who plays his wife and Michelle Ryan as his nurse and assistant) to help him solve the mystery of Hyde and get his life back to normal. Jekyll is the type of show that restores your faith in the potential of television, only to have that faith dashed when America gets a hold of it.

Coupling -- And speaking of having America dash your faith, I present to you Coupling. American television tried to do its own version of this excellent comedy (also written by Steven Moffat). Even using Moffat's scripts, they managed to make it dull and unfunny. The original British version is one of my favorite sitcoms ever. It pushes the limits of good taste and gets away with it because it's funny. My favorite character is Jeff, an odd fellow whose odd theories about relationships and women often get him and his friends into trouble. He once talked about the Melty Man, a demon who comes from the bottom of Hell to steal men's erections. This caused his friend Patrick, a dimwitted Lothario, to lose his erection at a crucial moment. Coupling again has the extremely gorgeous Gina Bellman as Jane, a promiscuous woman who manages to breeze through life unaware of the fact that she's not very bright. She once tells tells a religious man who wonders why God doesn't answer his prayers that the reason for that is that God is a made up person and expecting him to answer your prayers is like writing a letter to a soap opera character and expecting a reply. What really made that funny was that she said that in an innocent attempt to be helpful, unaware of the fact that the man would find it offensive.

Next week, I'll do another review of Netflix's streaming selections. Hopefully they'll add a hardcore porn section between now and then and I can review that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Joe

I haven't done a real attempt at Movies I Haven't Seen since April when I grabbed The Ugly Truth by its virtual neck and shook it around for a bit until it cried. That's coming out shortly so we'll see if I was right about it. Until then, I'm still claiming a perfect record. True, I do tend to grab the low hanging fruit when it comes to predicting which movies are going to be godawfully horrible and, at the moment, the fruit that's damn near touching the ground is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Let's all watch the trailer.



By all means, feel free to go out and get some air and maybe have a refreshing beverage while you try to shake off the experience of that trailer. All set? Okay, let's begin.

First, we see that the preview has been approved for all audiences. It's clean so that's cool. That's also the most intelligent part of the trailer. Unfortunately, actual film clips start playing and our innocence is forever shattered.

I'm immediately annoyed when I see Christopher Eccleston playing the villain. I'm assuming negotiations for his appearance in this film went something like this:

"No way will I jeopardize my reputation as an actor by appearing in this piece of crap."

"Oh, so you don't want this huge check?"

"Um...in northern England, piece of crap is what we call something that disgusts us but we love it anyway, like blood pudding. Where do I sign?"

Good Lord, Eccleston, you left Doctor Who so you could do this? Okay, moving on...come on man, you were great in Doctor Who. Why oh why oh why...really moving on now. Chris and the rest of the big ball of evil known as Cobra all live jolly lives under the sea in some Blofeld-style fortress plotting and launching terrorist attacks like the destruction of the Eiffel Tower through the use of some sort of metal dissolving missile. WHY destroy the Eiffel Tower? Oh, I'm sure there'll be a good reason that's not at all offensively stupid. I'm also sure there will be a perfectly logical reason why the world's governments can't simply trace the missile to the undersea fort and nuke the ever loving piss out of it in retaliation for one of the worst terrorist attacks in history. I'm predicting Cobra will have invented something called Quasi-Crypto-Cloaking Technology. This means the world's only hope will be some two fisted tough guys who I guaran-god damn-tee you will at some point be dressed down by some weenie superior for Having Crossed The Line And Made The Situation Worse.

This is where we get to the movie's real problem. The villains, like Eccleston and a leather clad Sienna Miller are okay but the heroes are boring as shit and that analogy doesn't really work since shit can sometimes be very interesting so let's say the heroes are as boring as really, really boring shit. First you have Channing Tatum playing the main member of the Joe team, Duke. Tatum does something here he's only done in about six other movies, standing around and looking morose. Playing Ripcord is Marlon Wayans. Casting a member of the Wayans family is basically the last refuge of incompetent casting directors. In the trailer at least, none of the heroes seems to all that interesting. So far, all we have is that one is clinically depressed and one is black (this is considered to be an actual personality trait by many filmmakers). Plus, the Joes wear those stupid battle suits, something that may work just fine in cartoons or comic books but on the screen turn them into bland, interchangeable fighters. Fortunately, we live in a time where interesting characters aren't necessary. Instead, a movie can be a feast for the eyes with interesting effects and exciting action sequences which, if this trailer is anything to go by, don't exist in this movie.

One thing the filmmakers must have liked about the battle suits is that it is now easier to put the people into CGI sequences. This, for example, means that the scene where the Joes are dodging rockets is nothing more than something made in some guy's Macintosh are dodging something made in another guy's Macintosh. It's not particularly well done CGI either. It looks like a high tech cartoon, which is what it is. Even the ugly, confusing effects in Transformers 2 looked better than this. That, by the way, is meant as a devastating insult.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is going to thoroughly, utterly suck. The only way I could possibly be wrong is if the marketing strategy was to not show any of the good parts in the advertising. Another solid guarantee I want to give is that the actors in interviews will start referring to the movie as "fun" and that people should "lighten up and just enjoy it." This will be proof positive that I was right. Sienna Miller came close to doing that in an interview with Scifi Wire when she said that she took the part of the Duchess because she wanted to make, "...something that was just maybe really great fun and that people went to see and actually just had a great time seeing and weren't left damaged." That's close but not quite what I'm looking for. The Fun Movie Excuse will be used to dismiss critics, like me, who say their movie blows and will be proof that everything I've said today is true.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Größ

I don't really know how to review Brüno. Writing this review has taken me longer than it should have since I really don't want to spoil anything. The less you know about what it coming, the funnier it will be. The best way to sum up the movie is to say that, if you liked Borat, you'll like Brüno. On the other hand, if you thought Borat was something so thoroughly horrific that Hell tried to swallow it, choked and vomited it back up, you should at least wait for Brüno to come out on DVD.

Brüno uses real people in Candid Camera-style encounters with Sasha Baron Cohen's character, a gay Austrian fashion reporter named...damn, what was that name...it'll come to me. Anyway, what's-his-name is supposedly one of the fashion world's top personalities who declares what is "In" and what is "Aus". He has it all: fame, money and a personal assistant named Diesel who is also his comically athletic boyfriend (I couldn't possibly do justice to a description of that, you'll have to see it). Unfortunately, Brüno (oh yeah, that was his name) makes a public fool out of himself at a fashion show and ends up on the "Aus" list. Actually, I think it's more likely that the fashion world got wind of what Cohen and crew were up to and put the word out which is probably why the plot shifted away from fashion shows and interviews with fashion personalities and onto people like hunters, pastors and even former Presidential candidate Ron Paul. In other words, people who didn't know who the hell Brüno really was.

After losing his status, Brüno and his other assistant, Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), a man he didn't even notice until Diesel abandoned him for someone more hip, go to America to rebuild Brüno's career. This involves making a horrible television show which actually has a scene where you see a man's penis swing around, stand up and say, "Brüno." The humor from this comes when they have an unsuspecting focus group watch and grade the show. Another funny sequence is when Brüno decides to stop being gay and consults with one of those religious "Pray out the Gay" conversion groups.

As Borat did before, Brüno pretty much defines the word gross. If you don't like gross humor, you won't like this humor because it's gross. There's the aforementioned talking penis, a scene where Brüno graphically gives oral sex to a ghost and the part where Brüno and Lutz wake up chained together in various types of S&M gear, particularly the used toilet brush inserted into Lutz's gag. Some scenes are painful to watch too, like the part where Brüno goes on a hunting trip and hits on one of the hunters, a man who has no idea this is an actor and that he's in no danger of becoming Brüno's bitch. Oh, there's also the part where Brüno tries to make a sex tape with Ron Paul.

I've spent a lot of time talking about the plot but the plot isn't particularly important to the movie. Oh, I suppose they needed one but it exists to string together a series of funny episodes.

I happen to think Brüno is very funny and that Sasha Baron Cohen is a fearless genius but he crosses the good taste line so often that I can't blame people who think it's not funny and that Cohen is a fearless jerk.

I revealed more of the movie than I wanted to but if I hadn't, the whole review would have been "ZOMG Brüno is fckin AWSUM!!! :) :) :)" and writing easy reviews like that could become a bad habit.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Victoria Re(tard)gina

There are minuses to self publishing your own blog. It's hard to attract readers. No one pays you. You get in fights with foreign countries*. The major plus, though, is the author's complete freedom. You can write about whatever you want any way you want and no one can say boo about it. Still, for my own sake, I have imposed some rules on myself. Some of those rules involves Big Hollywood, the conservative movie site. I have a rule that I don't write about them more than once a week. That hasn't been a problem lately since they've slid very far down the "Things That Amuse Michael Clear" scale. Another rule is that I stay with the theme of this site and only comment on Big Hollywood articles that deal with movies or some other show business topic. That's supposed to be their theme too but they ignore it 40% of the time.

Today, I break those rules so I can once again comment on the perfect storm of stupid and crazy that is Victoria Jackson. Stupid and crazy combine in Victoria Jackson in such a way that, if engineers ever figured out a way to harness the energy generated from that combination, it could power the Enterprise. I gave you all a small taste of this a few days ago in which she was too stupid to realize she had just threatened the life of Nancy Pelosi. I hit Blogger's Publish button thinking, "That's that," not realizing that she was just getting warmed up. This piece reads like something written by a schizophrenic. Here's Vicki thinking she's stumbled onto the true reason that the Obama administration wants to institute a public health plan.
Social Security and Medicare are broke. Baby boomers, like me, are getting old and will soon be asking for it. Socialized medicine makes people die. You stand in a long, long line with a breast lump, clogged artery, or sharp pencil stuck in your eye, and someone like the DMV person, who can’t speak English, has chewing gum, an attitiude, really long fake nails that curl up at the end, and is talking on a cell phone, enjoying their power trip moment, is finally face to face with you. They mumble something incoherent about paperwork. You die. One less person in line for Social Security and Medicare!
Stupid, yes, but still vaguely coherent. Don't worry though, I promised batshit insanity and batshit insanity is what you will get.
Hitler did this. He killed the weak, the sick, the old, and babies and races/religions he didn’t like. Hitler also controlled the media. (Where’s the public debate between scientists on “Climate Change/Global Warming?”) Hitler had the VW bug invented as the state car. What will O’s nationalized car be? So… kill off the weak. That’s the plan. Tax the workers to death. Erase the middle class. Sounds like the evil governments we studied in high school long ago. The evil governments were : kings, oligarchies, facist, socialist, and communist. Now it’s called the Obama Administration. Sounds like candy or a rock band.
OH YEAH, BABY! Psychiatry students could write a doctoral thesis on those two paragraphs alone. I'm not even sure how to make fun of it. This is something I would have written if I were doing a parody of a right wing nut ranting about health care reform, except I might have tossed in something about using public health care to create a one world government run by atheist homosexuals. Also, I wouldn't have misspelled fascist.

But wait, she's not done. Remember, she's ranting about health care. You should remember that because she obviously forgot and started talking about some gift shop in which she started harassing the clerks.
I was browsing in a Burbank gift shop yesterday and I asked the store owner how business was doing. She smiled, “Well, you know, hit and miss. I’m sure it will be better soon.” The store was empty.

I apologized for not buying anything. “I’m sorry, but my husband now cringes when I order a Hazelnut Iced Coffee at McDonald’s, so I can’t really buy anything.”

Her smile hardened.

“You know, I’ve been speaking at Tea Parties lately. No one seems to know or care that our country just turned Socialist.”

She stared at me like a deer caught in head lights.
It goes on like that. Oh Lord, does it ever go on. She berates these poor shop clerks with all sorts of right wing talking points about taxpayer funded late term abortions, cap and trade legislation and how Obama will use national health care to decide who lives and who dies. I want to congratulate the clerks for the bravery they showed in not running away screaming. Victoria Jackson perceived their silence to be some sort of character flaw. She thought this because she's a complete and total idiot. If this were a movie, you would assume that her character was an alien who had just arrived here and knew nothing about human behavior.

The whole episode is similar to the amazement she expressed in her first article when the country failed to instantly turn against Obama when she called him a Communist on the O'Reilly Factor. She acts like a person who has just changed religions and wonders why other people don't convert too when she preaches The Revealed Truth to them. Those clerks did the same thing they would have done had she entered their store and started asking them if they were right with Jesus. They would have smiled, politely accepted a copy of The Watchtower and said, "Please come again," when they finally managed to get her the hell out of there. They did that because that's what people do when their jobs involve dealing with the public. Victoria Jackson didn't realize this because, as I have already said, she's a dangerous combination of nuts and stupid.

Oh, one more thing:
I got into my fuel efficient economy car, with the leopard seat covers, and the bumper that used to have the “I RESIST SOCIALISM” bumper sticker, until it got smashed, and I drove away thinking, “Ignorance is Bliss.”
Miss Jackson, I broke my rules for you so please STOP BITCHING ABOUT THAT DAMN BUMPER STICKER. You complained about it in the first article too. Buy another bumper sticker. I suspect someone told you it was a unique custom made bumper sticker and got you to pay $5000 for it, money you shelled out because you're an idiot.

*That may just be me. I'm currently having a major spat with Lapland. I don't want to get into the details. Besides, they know what they did.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 7/9/09

Ready to Look At My Briefs one more time? Okay, here we go.

I can't wait to see this new MacGruber movie. After all, if there's one truly reliable source of quality comedy, it's movies based on SNL sketches. Who can forget cinematic classic like The Ladies Man or Night At The Roxbury? The fact that the sketches themselves are just quick parodies of MacGuyver and don't much in the way of character development or continuous narrative is actually good news since the filmmakers will now be free to do whatever they want. Maybe MacGruber is in a band or raises alpacas for their wool. They could do all that and more. I just wish I could buy my ticket now.

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I just got the DVD of Knowing, the thought provoking science fiction film from Alex Proyas and starring Nicolas Cage. Knowing so thoroughly captivated me that I wrote two different reviews, one normal review and another full of spoilers. Knowing is still an odd experience for me as I honestly can't say to this day whether I consider it to be a good movie. There's so much of it that bothers me yet I keep coming back to it. I'll probably end up writing a third review after I watch the DVD.

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Wait a minute, Baywatch was something we weren't supposed to laugh at?

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I can't wait to see Torchwood: Children of Earth. Everything I've seen and read says this broken show has been fixed and that you will be glued to the television screen. There are shows in America that would probably be better if they were reduced to a single storyline told over a handful of episodes each year.

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Today's Michael Jackson coverage:
  • Some guy who sold Michael an ice cream cone when Michael was 12 will discuss how open and personable he was and say this is typical of people who order what Michael did: Chocolate Chip Butter Brickle.
  • Fans crying outside of Michael's home will be approached by reporters and be asked how Michael's death affected them. One will talk at length about how Michael's beautiful spirit will never truly leave us. Another will say, "You can see we're crying, right? How the hell do you THINK it affected us?"
  • Cameras will flock around Michael's grave when reports start coming in that Michael is being assumed into Heaven. These reports turn out to be wrong.
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You know what else was a great movie based on a Saturday Night Live character? Superstar, the movie about Molly Shannon's Mary Catherine Gallagher. It's full of so many classically funny moments that they overloaded my memory and I can't recall a single one. Will Farrell played Jesus in that. You know that must have been funny. Let's hope MacGruber can be as good as Superstar.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

An Inconvenient Truth

I WAS RIGHT! Yep, that's it, people. I was right. I'm not always right but this time, I nailed it. All rightie then, that's that. See you all tomorrow.

Oh shoot, you probably want context. This site would be so much easier to write if I never had to provide that.

Back in April, I wrote an edition of something I like to call Movies I Haven't Seen about a movie called The Ugly Truth. To sum up, if The Ugly Truth is being accurately portrayed by its marketing, it's a stupid monument to misogyny lacking in intelligence and humor. However, a commenter said that test audiences enjoyed the clips they had seen, especially a scene where Katherine Heigl's character is accidentally brought to orgasm in a crowded restaurant when she's wearing vibrating panties and a ten year old boy gets hold of the remote control. That made me think, "Wow, maybe this movie will actually be funny." Now, the vibrating panties clip is on YouTube. Let's take a look.



This was just like that fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally except that was good and this isn't. When you compare the two scenes, you see the reasons why. In When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan does what she does on purpose to make a point in a humorous fashion. Her behavior was her choice and she wasn't embarrassed by it afterward. Katherine Heigl, on the other hand, is the victim not only of unfortunate circumstances but also of that smirking woman hating asshole played by Gerard Butler, a man who knows exactly what's going on but doesn't stop it because he finds it amusing that she's being inadvertently violated by a ten year old. That situation is made worse by the fact that he's probably going to end up with her at the end of the movie simply because that's how romantic comedies work.

So, that's it. I was right. The Ugly Truth will be a black hole from which laughter and goodness cannot escape. It will take all the wonder and joy from the souls of they who see it and replace it with despair that will spread throughout the world until we all lose the ability hear the birds sing or feel the Sun shine on our faces. Smiles will be a thing of the past, something about which we will someday tell our grandchildren in the gray, depressing world of the future.

Still, I was right, so Yay Me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dumb, Dumber and Victoria Jackson

Regular readers of this site know all about Big Hollywood but for those of you just catching up, it's a conservative group blog that, when it first went online in January, was one of the most unintentionally hilarious things ever seen on the internet. In addition to numerous posts from people who think Jack Bauer is a real guy, you had Dirk Benedict's misogynistic rant about his Battlestar Galactica character now being played by a woman (as well as his insane rant about...hell, to this day I still don't know). I think my favorite was Debbie Schlussel's racist review of Taken where she proved that she thinks Albanian Catholics are the same as Arab Muslims.

Sadly, for the most part, they lost their edge and are just another conservative group blog. Still, from time to time, they take a break from doing Al Gore jokes in global warming denial articles and go back to their roots. In the past week they've produced three-count 'em-three articles worthy of attention and comment.

First up is Kurt Schlichter, a former standup comedian who was obviously so funny and successful that the other comedians got jealous and drove him out of show business. He wrote an article in which he compared Sarah Palin and her recent resignation to Star Wars.
Like “Star Wars,” she’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but her fans are rabid and chomping at the bit for the next installments.
That's true, neither Sarah Palin nor Star Wars are everyone's cup of tea. The difference is that the Star Wars films, even the lousy ones, are some of the most popular movies ever made while Sarah Palin is popular only with people who think we should have a nuclear war so that Jesus would be forced to return. He follows that dumb comparison up with this dumb comparison.
Again, a “Star Wars” analogy: Remember when Darth Vader faced off with Obi-Wan Kenobi? “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine?”
So Sarah Palin is Obi-Wan Kenobi? Okay, let's run with that. When Vader struck him down, Kenobi was reduced to a supporting role as a ghostly advisor whose total screen time in both sequels added up to about 15 minutes. If Sarah Palin finally disappears from the national stage only to pop up now and then to tell Republicans they should go to the Degobah System, that's fine by me.

Up next we have a favorite of this site, S.T. Karnick. Karnick's regular favorite thing to do at Big Hollywood is to find a piece of crappy entertainment that is both a critical and popular failure and declare it to be an excellent showcase of conservative values and ideas. He did it with the unwatchable show The Eleventh Hour (which has since been canceled) and the mediocre Will Farrell comedy Land of the Lost. He's back at it with this post about the movie Year One. This classic headline says it all: "Despite Ugly Facade, 'Year One' Has Positive Message About Religion." Once again, Karnick fails to find vindication for his worldview in real life so he turns to fiction, but this is a stretch even for him. Year One is a gross, vulgar comedy in which characters do things like murder relatives, rape animals and eat feces. How exactly does one read "Yay God!" into all that?
Fixating on this unpleasant subject matter, however, is causing critics to fail to see a perfectly evident meaning of the film: that the monotheist religions are the great source of civilization in human history.
Wow, he's good. He goes on to point out that when they are guests of Biblical figures Adam and Abraham, both worshipers of the monotheistic God of the Jews, "they encounter decent hospitality and are treated quite well," whereas when they wind up in the pagan city of Sodom they are enslaved and brutalized.
Thus the film clearly depicts non-monotheistic societies as horrible (albeit in varying ways), while connecting these to what is unattractive about contemporary American society, and the monotheistic one as vastly better places to live despite a few comic eccentricities.
I'm sure it will come as interesting news to places like India and Japan when they hear that their societies are horrible. I'm sure it will also come as interesting news to Karnick that even if he's right and Year One is a movie of faith and hope, a movie in which a guy literally pisses in his own face may not be the best medium for that message.

This brings us to Victoria Jackson. You may remember Victoria Jackson from her days on Saturday Night Live and the fact that she pretty much disappeared when she left that show in 1992. She gained some notoriety last year when she wrote on her blog that she, seriously, thought Barack Obama might be the Antichrist. So, we know where she's coming from. Now she's back writing in Big Hollywood that she has demoted Obama from "Antichrist" and now merely calls him a Communist.
Well, they are finally starting to use it. I think you might remember I was the first. I bravely spoke it to the Hollywood Congress of Republicans (October, 2008), who put it on the Internet; and then I spoke it on O’Reilly and Hannity. My husband scolded me. He said no one would take me seriously if I was such an alarmist. I got hate mail. I lost friends. I probably lost jobs. I didn’t want to be mean. It really isn’t mean. It’s probably a compliment to the President since he likes to quote his Marxist professors, and by his own words and actions is trying his very best to “change” our country from Capitalist to Communist.
Victoria Jackson truly is an idiot. I'm not saying that to be mean. It's probably a compliment to a woman who, by her own words and actions, is trying her best to "change" our country from Smart to Idiot. I'd love to know what these "lost jobs" were too. I'm sure her status as a former member of SNL means her acting services are in demand these days. She truly distinguished herself during her tenure there by the fact that, in six years, she never created one memorable character. Good Lord, even Tim Meadows managed to do the Ladies Man. Still, all one has to do is look at her IMDB profile to see that she is a victim of liberal discrimination. After all, so far, she only has six acting jobs scheduled for 2009. Clearly Barack Obama phoned all the major studio heads and told them, "She gets six jobs this year and that's it, got it, Comrades?" Another reason I called her stupid is the fact that she admits to having threatened the the woman who is third in line for the Presidency.
I called Nancy Pelosi and when I got her voice mail, I said, “Please vote to keep Freedom of Speech, especially Conservative and Christian, on the radio and T.V. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry!” When I hung up my cell phone, my husband the cop screamed from across the car, “Who were you calling?!” He almost crashed. I said, “Nancy Pelosi.” He said, “You just threatened Nancy Pelosi?!! The Speaker of the House?!! The third in line?!!” I started shouting, “I didn’t threaten her life, I was just trying to be emphatic! I just meant that if she eliminates conservative and Christian talk radio, all that will be left will be Howard Stern, and filth, and porn, and everything will be dark and bad, and icky!” My husband the cop shouted back, “They take threats seriously, Vicki!!” So, I called her voice mail back, and told her my name and apologized and said that I was a beginner political activist and hadn’t worded my message right. I just wanted my freedom not to go away.” My husband shouted, “You just told her your name!”
Setting aside the extra set of quotation marks AND setting aside the fact that there is currently no proposed legislation to limit the speech of Conservative Christians other than the imaginary bill that she read about on some right wing website, we have now learned that Victoria Jackson is so stupid that she doesn't know what words mean. If she got a phone call from a stranger saying, "Do this or you'll be sorry," what would she think? Ha ha, look at that, I just said that Victoria Jackson had the ability to think. At least her husband seems to have some smarts so we can hope that her lack of functioning brain cells at least skipped a generation and her kids won't stumble into oncoming traffic because they saw something sparkly in the road.

Then there's the Democrat plot against her car:
I had a bumper sticker that said “I Resist Socialism” but someone smashed into my bumper.
Yeah, some liberal saw that and received a signal through the chip in his head from Air America to smash your bumper. Congratulations, Victoria Jackson. I didn't think it would be possible to lower Big Hollywood's writing standards or intelligence quotient anymore but you managed to do it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fear of a Depp Planet

I don't know that much about famous bank robber John Dillinger. He's probably best known in modern times for the urban legend that his huge schlong is stored in the basement of the Smithsonian. When I lived in Indiana, I once had a neighbor who told me that he had to quit his job as a traveling salesman back in the 30s because he kept getting pulled over by the police due to his resemblance to John Dillinger. I also know how and when he died. To sum up, he was a bank robber with a huge penis, looked like my neighbor and died. That was all I knew before I saw Public Enemies.

Now that I've seen it, I hope that I still don't know much about Dillinger. I'd hate to think that Public Enemies was an accurate portrayal of him and his contemporaries. If the Michael Mann directed film is accurate, everybody who lived in the 1930s was a rather dull person whose behavior can only be explained by the fact that they someday wanted their life stories to be told in a movie so they behaved in a way that was most convenient for the screenwriters. For example, there is a scene where Dillinger (Johnny Depp) makes love to his girlfriend Billie Frichette (Marion Cotillard) for the first time, an encounter in which both participants remain pretty much fully clothed. I don't mean a case where the passion was so intense that they just dropped their pants and went at it, especially since the scene was decidedly devoid of passion as they mostly just laid there gritting their teeth like they were having splinters pulled from their fingers. I mean one of those stupid movie sex scenes where the filmmakers decide they don't want the stars to be naked so they keep their clothes on during sex. The only way that scene isn't stupid and distracting is if the real Dillinger said to Frichette, "Hey this may be dramatized on screen someday and I don't want the audience seeing your good stuff. Leave your lingerie on."

On paper, this must have looked like it would be a great movie. Popular stars like Johnny Depp and Christian Bale along with recent Oscar winner Marion Cotillard star in a film directed by Michael Mann about a famous and exciting historical figure. If movies were theoretical constructs instead of actual stories told on film, this would be the best movie ever. Instead it's just...bleh.

The movie opens well enough with Dillinger executing a very clever plan to break a friend of his out of a prison in Indiana. The whole event would have worked perfectly were it not for the fact that many people in prison are violent, unstable psychopaths, one of whom ends up alerting the entire prison to the jailbreak when he shoots one of the guards he's holding prisoner. Dillinger's friend who who also his mentor dies in the ensuing firefight. Dillinger, at least in the movie, is not a cold blooded killer and merely beats the guy who got his friend killed before leaving him on the side of the road for the cops to find. Dillinger and his partner, Red Hamilton, then show the audience why they were such successful bank robbers. They had a very meticulous and professional method that quickly stripped banks of their cash while minimalizing casualties unlike fellow celebrity bank robber Babyface Nelson who would go into a bank and randomly start shooting up the place. Dillinger is even regarded by some as a folk hero because he refuses to take money from the bank customers themselves.

We then meet Christian Bale's FBI agent Melvin Purvis. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup), under pressure to capture Dillinger, puts Purvis in charge of capturing him after Purvis tracks down and kills another famous bank robber, Pretty Boy Floyd. Purvis shows us why the concept "Celebrity Bank Robber" died out after the Depression was over. Famous isn't something a criminal really wants to be, especially with guys like Purvis who practice very thorough investigation practices but also new scientific techniques like wire tapping, something that is extremely effective when you know who you are looking for and who that person is likely to call.

Thanks to valuable connections formed through a series of bribes, Dillinger has created a safe haven for himself in Chicago and that's where he goes to relax after his latest robbery. It's also where he meets Billie Frichette. The whole Dillinger/Frichette relationship is the best example of the movie's lack of character development. He meets Billie and very quickly reveals that he's a famous wanted criminal. She rightly gets away from him only to have Dillinger track her down at her job and immediately start making very intrusive demands on her. One of the problems with her character is that we don't really know what is was about Billie that made her then quit her job and go off with Dillinger, a man she, at the time, knows only as a dangerous criminal who barged into her life like an obnoxious stalker.

In fact, character development and motivations are generally lacking in this movie. Billie is what is known in movies as The Girl. If she wasn't there, the movie would be a huge sausage fest and no one really wants that, but it also means that she does dumb stuff like angrily rejecting Dillinger just a few minutes before they go off together for sex. It really doesn't make sense. You may be thinking, "Okay sure Mike, she's just a dumb ol' girl. Surely the dudes are all well developed characters." No. not really. We never really learn that much about Purvis. All we know about him was that he was a competent agent. Everything else about him is a mystery. Christian Bale does the best he can but he doesn't have very much to work with.

Dillinger is the most thoroughly developed character, portrayed here as a thrill seeker who probably couldn't stop himself from taking the chances he did (at one point he actually walked into the FBI's Dillinger Unit just to look around) even though he knew it was probably going to lead him to a bad end. Even with all that, his character seemed conventional. Since it was Johnny Depp playing him, I was expecting more of the quirks and mannerisms that usually make his characters unforgettable.

Public Enemies isn't a horrible movie. It has some entertainment value. Some of the action scenes were good (though even then some of them were hard to keep track of) but, in the end, I wouldn't say it was worth seeing. The best part for me was the end. As I said, I knew how Dillinger die so, when I saw that coming, I knew it was almost over and soon I'd get to go to Five Guys for burgers.

Although, as I'm sure I'll say every time I see a movie I didn't like over the next several months, it wasn't as bad as Transformers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America

It's Independence Day here in the States, one of our more important holidays. In honor of this momentous occasion, here is a holiday video.



Yeah, I know. YOU try finding a decent 4th of July video.

Have a great holiday, Americans. If you live in a place I like to call Not America, have a nice weekend.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Right Wing Movie Reviews -- Transformers 2

Regular readers already know about Gotterdamerung, a conservative blogger who often takes issue with what he perceives as my liberal bias. Today he has demanded space here to respond to what he says is the left wing take I had on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I said I thought my review was at all political and he said, "Same thing." Whatever, here's Gotterdamerung.

Hi all. I've been reading the various reviews of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in utter disbelief. Almost all of them concentrate on the stupid plot, the messy editing, the poorly conceived effects and, well, everything else. I just cannot understand how so many people, audience and critics alike, missed the film's deeply positive message about religion and conservative values and its vindication of the right wing worldview.

Oh sure, it's all told symbolically. You can't go to socialist fascist communist nazi gay Hollywood and say, "I want to make a pro-America movie that blows the lid off of Obama's liberty-destroying agenda." No, you have to do this quietly and cleverly while the Leftist Overlords who run the movie business think you're making a movie about toys come to life.

It was obvious to me that the leader of the good Transformers, Optimus Prime, was modeled after George W. Bush while Barack Obama is represented by the Decepticon leader Megatron. It turns out that Megatron serves a Transformer called the Fallen, a creature who wants to destroy the Sun. This is similar to the way the Democrat Party is trying to destroy capitalism through the socialist myth of global warming.

Shia LeBeouf's character, Sam, represents the accomplished individual that the liberal Decepticons are trying to bring down. Sam touched the All-Spark and now has special alien knowledge in his head. The Decepticons are, after a fashion, trying to institute an excessive tax on Sam's brain and simply take away all for which Sam has worked so hard. Sam won't have that though and he fights off the Decepticons with the help of his girlfriend played by Megan Fox, a character who was so clearly based on Sarah Palin that I can't believe even the clueless liberal media missed it. This means that, once again, the lying libtards are intentionally trying to take glory away from Sarah Palin.

When Sam hooks up with the Autobots, Optimus Prime sacrifices himself to save him. Does that remind you of anything? Like, maybe, the way George W. Bush sacrificed himself to save us? And yes, liberals, I know Bush didn't actually sacrifice his life, but he did sacrifice his public image and his legacy in order to wipe the stain of Islam from the Middle East and make Iraq the 51st state. Anyway, Optimus is down and now the world seems almost certain to suffer defeat at the hands of the Terrorist Democrat Decepticons EXCEPT that Sam has placed his faith in Optimus Prime and, by extension, George Bush, the Republican Party and God Himself. Those three have never let anyone down who truly had faith in them. I mean, yeah, it sometimes looks like they've let down pretty much everyone to varying degrees, but only liberals would focus on a "fact" like that and not embrace the idea that the Holy Trinity of God, Republicans and Bush have never let anybody down. Thus, Same comes up with a way to bring Bush/Optimus back to life and defeat Obama/Megatron, the Decepticons and their human allies at Moveon.org (a plot point I assume was edited out for reasons of length).

Those elitist prigs we call "movie critics" thoroughly trashed this rare gem of conservative ideology but our center-right nation ignored them and rewarded a movie, directed by true Christian Michael Bay, that truly reflects their values with record setting opening week profits. Hopefully, Hollywood will learn from this and produce some ever more blatantly conservative films and make a fortune for themselves in the process. Probably not, though, since they get their marching orders from the Democrat Party, Obama's White House and Hell. The best evidence of this is that yet another Harry Potter film is coming out this month, a series of movies that tries to indoctrinate our children with the idea that secular sorcery is the answer to all of life's ills and that someone other than God can beat Lord Voldemort, a character obviously modeled after Al Franken.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Look At My Briefs -- 7/2/09

Upon request of the President of the European Union, I present another edition of Look At My Briefs.

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Really? Someone actually thought it would be a good idea to make a movie about a guy who impregnates his female friend by swapping out the sperm of an anonymous donor with his own AND to make the movie as a romantic comedy. This should be the story of a creepy stalker who is ultimately exposed as the degenerate he is. Instead, we'll be treated to Jennifer Aniston's initial revulsion upon hearing the news, her slow acceptance and the climactic reunion kiss between the two lovers. Also, we'll almost certainly end up seeing Jason Bateman masturbating to get his "donation".

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I hope no one thinks less of me when I say that I really, really hope we soon see a movie in which the hero is a pedophile. A particular pedophile, anyway. NO ONE F*CKS WITH THE JESUS!

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Following up on what I said yesterday, it's very difficult to have respect for the vaunted idea of The Free Market when it's capable of doing something like this. We desperately need a government takeover of the movie industry.

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Speaking of Transformers, someone on Twitter pointed out to me that my review had utterly failed to mention a character whose name I can't recall so I'll just call him Old Man Transformer. He was older than Optimus Prime and walked with a cane. He was in quite a bit of the movie too yet his presence completely escaped me when I reviewed the film. I think the reason that he was actually the least stupid element of the whole plot. Had the movie been better, I may have even been able to appreciate the appeal and camp value of Old Man Transformer. Unfortunately, the movie ended up eating huge chunks of ass and he got lost in the shuffle. Please don't think I'm prejudiced against old people.

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Netflix keeps springing these little surprises on me. The latest is that Neil Gaiman's BBC series Neverwhere is available for instant streaming. I'd read the book years ago but never saw the show. So far, it's as good as the book. I couldn't quite remember how it ended until I heard the word "Islington." then it all came back.

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Dear America's Got Talent,

Nice try. You're not fooling us. We knew you were going to try and slip in an American version of Susan Boyle and we saw Chuckly McPigfucker coming from a mile away. You'll have to do better than that.

Sincerely Yours, Mike Clear