Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Like Jesus, I Will Rise From The Dead. And Hate Homosexuals.

Wow, that was nice. Thanks for the emails, and all the pleasant comments, except for Derek and that goth girl that sent me black flowers and a dead rat, like that’s supposed to make me feel better. In the future, dead children are worth the extra postage.

So, it’s been fun, and while any explanation I give for my absence will be meaningless since none of you actually know me personally, I will give a somewhat cursory one. Essentially, for the immediate future, I have some current concerns that require immediate and constant attention. Coupled with a sense of being a little burned out and quite clearly not very funny anymore, I don’t really have the energy or the time for complaining about movies. And most important of all, I don’t have a house or a computer at the moment, which means that I’ve been posting lately through the use of smoke signals and a Cherokee interpreter. But, the Cherokee stole my TV and most of my remaining DVDs and traded them in for fire water and anti-freeze, so now I’m shit out of luck. There’s a small chance I will be back on my feet blogging wise in mid June, or earlier, but I couldn’t really bear to see the hits dwindle while people gradually lose interest, so I figured I would just call it quits, and maybe try to re-boot later on in the summer. And even if I could come back in June, things would be very sporadic, because of some other stuff that’s going on at the end of the month. So, instead of making everybody wait, I pulled the plug, and also swallowed a bottle of Atavan and threw up in a bathtub. Essentially, all I’m trying to say is that I’m not dead, despite my best efforts, and I might be back, if only to use a joke I’ve been saving up about Jessica Biel looking like Jennifer Tilly’s younger brother. Truth be told, I feel a lot more motivated about coming back now that I see that my readership is actually 18, and not the even dozen I had assumed.

Point being, drop by every once in a while if you feel like it, email me if you want to know if a movie’s good or not, check out The Comic Book Bin once a week for my stuff, and visit all the links on the right hand side of the page daily. Bye for now,

Ash

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ut animus dolor , EGO recedo.

I'm done. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all in whatever hell you go to for laughing at my Jew jokes.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Death March Of The Penguins

March of the Penguins
2005, France
Luc Jacquet
DVD

A surprise box office hit, this Oscar-winning documentary about the elaborate mating and birthing cycles of the Emperor penguin was the feel-good film of the year. To most people. Personally, I found it a little depressing, probably because the movie reminds me of how many of my relationships end in isolation, misery, and a frozen corpse lying on an ice floe. But that’s more a personal problem, and I’m not going to let it affect my opinion of the film. Which is, of course, that it sucks.

Women can be so cold.

This movie is like a cute baby seal waiting to be clubbed. It’s self-consciously cute and charming, like it’s begging to be immortalized on a McDonald’s Happy Meal Cup. It’s not that penguins lead a particularly harsh, gritty existence that’s being glossed over to sell movie tickets to Sunday afternoon family outings, like the Nazis in Sound of Music, or any movie with black people. It’s just that they’re trying to make a monstrously stupid animal seem noble. It is not impressive that penguins can survive in the most inhospitable environment on earth. It is miserably dumb. These animals are too stupid to die, so they engage on long, pointless marches to the middle of nowhere and back six or seven times a year, just so they can birth pear-shaped babies that usually die immediately. Sometimes they get tired of marching, and they slide around on their stomachs, which is sort of cute until you notice that one out of every two birds is smeared with the shit of the other fifty percent.

The hills are alive with the ashes of the European Jewry.

March of the Penguins is a capably made film, with beautiful photography. I suppose my hostility stems from the fact that the film is so shamelessly manipulative and childish that it feels like a TV ad for Euro-Disney. The English narration, delivered by Morgan Freeman, is simplistic and trite, and gives the distinct impression of being poorly researched. But all is meant to be forgiven as soon as we see the first cute little bird waddling its way across the ice shelf, and smell the gentle scent of shit stink wafting from its chest.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

As Funny as a Brick In Someone Else's Teeth

Brick
2005, USA
Rian Johnson
35mm

There are many different kinds of funny. There’s funny ‘ha-ha’, and there’s funny ‘strange’. There’s funny ‘Saturday Night Live’, or ‘not funny’ as it’s often called, and there’s funny ‘what’s that funny smell and why haven’t I seen your girlfriend in three weeks?’. Then, there’s funny ‘Chaplin’, and there’s funny ‘Buster Keaton’. Brick is funny ‘Buster Keaton’, staring you dead in the face without a smile and blinking, daring you not to laugh, while Chaplin is busy tripping over his cane and loosing his hat. And the best part is, Brick is funny without actually having any jokes in it. It accomplishes this by setting a note-perfect 1940s film noir film in a 21st century high school. The image of Tommy Solomon from 3rd Rock trading barbs with a femme fatale in her tweens is so inherently ludicrous it’s inspired, yet never does the film stop taking itself completely seriously.

The Olsen Twins play a pair of sleazy strippers. Well, they should.

The only problem is, it takes about half an hour to figure this out. Up until then, Brick just feels like somebody in Hollywood really likes Blue Velvet and Encyclopaedia Brown books, and has gone too funny ‘strange’ on cocaine to tell the difference between the two. And every once in a while, Brick does slip, drifting into a high school drama production of Touch of Evil. But when the film is working, you almost forget that you’re watching a ridiculous, contrary impossibility, the novelty equivalent of an all-midget western, or a female Mathlete. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the school private eye, Brick takes the viewer into a gritty and depraved underworld of drugs, sex, and violence, all carried out by teenagers speaking as if Dashiell Hammett taught them English. The plot is labyrinthine and complex, the kind of story you’re going to have to explain to your girlfriend, and you’re still going to get it wrong, unless you happen to have seen both The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.

Detective novelist Dashiel Hammett. I had a different picture to go here originally, but I like this one better.

But the fact that the movie cribs from every detective film in sight is entirely forgivable, given the nature of the movie as a tribute/parody to the genre. After seeing it, I’m hoping Brick is a big success, and leads to a host of other films paying tribute to classic film structures. I hear Jim Henson Studios is working on a Muppet version of Schindler’s List, where Fozzy Bear and Kermit imprison and gas all the big-nosed Muppets, and there’s a retirement home sex-comedy in the works over at Dreamworks. Myself, I’m working on a big-screen version of Debbie Does Dallas starring a girl that looks like Dakota Fanning and my neighbour’s kids. I assure you, the film will be hilariously funny. But not in a ‘ha ha’ way.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What Radiation Created, One Long Movie Can Destroy

Madadayo
1993, Japan
Akira Kurosawa
DVD

Filmed in 1993, Madadayo was master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s final film, before tragically boring himself to death. What’s worse is that this film also took down uncredited co-director Ishiro Honda, director of Godzilla and the man who brought us an entire genre of Japanese man-in-monster-suit movies. Madadayo is the story of a Japanese university professor who retires at age 60 and then refuses to die for maybe 10 hours of screen time, despite having made his last good film in 1985. I mean taught his last class before the Second World War.

Akira Kurosawa Vs. Ishiro Honda.

There’s a lot of partying in this movie, a lot of enjoying life, and a lot of really trying to be Frank Capra. But the thing about Akira Kurosawa is that I really like it when he’s being Kurosawa, not Capra, because being Kurosawa means being like John Ford but with swords and costumes that look like swaddling clothes. Frankly, if Toshiro Mifune’s not it the movie and somebody doesn’t get shot in the neck with an arrow, I don’t need to see it. Kurosawa, at his best, was a powerful filmmaker who compromised a uniquely Japanese vision for an international accessible hybrid of Western sensibilities and Asian culture. At his worst, however, he’s self-indulgent and tired, as in Madadayo. Still, even then, he proved to be strong enough to kill Godzilla.

Video Round Up: April 11, 2006


If, like me, you’re currently wallowing in a suicidal depression, watching your hair fall out as the will to live seeps from you like a punctured tire, you’ll be pleased to know that Fun With Dick And Jane has just been released on DVD, giving you that extra push in front of the subway.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Suck It, Guv'nor.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
2005, UK
Michael Winterbottom
35mm

The English have a very unique style of filmmaking. Rather than taking the path of least resistance, as many national cinemas do, the UK film industry refuses to merely ape the style and form of Hollywood cinema. Instead, they take American films and add a gentle touch of flaming homosexuality, like accenting a severe gray suit with a lavender tie. No matter how gangster the lean, how slap the stick, delivering every line of dialogue from the mouths of pasty, rail-thin fops with accents like Victorian aristocrats with head-colds gives British film a unique flavor, and that flavor is semen. I love British comedy, as well as the English take on the gangster film, but there’s no way to be either tough or manly when you sound like Lord Bullingdon from Barry Lyndon. Tristram Shandy is no different. Here, Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce attempt the grand experiment of filming an unfilmmable novel, and succeed in gaying up Adaptation.

The Terminator, from the British remake of T2: Judgement Day.

And, of course, it’s brilliant, because all great art comes from some form of mental illness, be it depression, schizophrenia, or homosexuality. The film is based on a book that seems so bizarre I’m not sure I believe it exists, despite owning it. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a rambling, wonderfully self indulgent piece of structuralist literature that’s so strange it’s been labelled post-modern by people who learned the term from Scream, despite the book being written in the 1760s. However, about 20 minutes into the film, it stops being about the book and starts being about the movie crew making the film. This is pretty annoying on paper, but fairly satisfying on screen. The book itself is about tangents and unpredictability, so it’s fitting that the film follows the same pattern.

This still from the movie demonstrates that Winterbottom took a very literal approach to filming the novel.

The cast is comprised of a “who’s who” of British actors, a stellar collection of preening queers unmatched even by the most densely cast volume of Priape’s School of Hard Cocks. Steve Coogan stars as Tristram Shandy and himself, no doubt because he jumps at any chance to talk directly to the camera. Rob Brydon, unfortunately from Little Briton, co-stars, along with the black girl from 28 Days Later and that pretty blonde with the horrifically crass Scottish brogue that’s in Extras. The film moves quickly and chaotically, adapting the novel in spirit if not in story, so in its own way, it makes a comment about the very process of adaptation that’s actually quite refreshing to hear. Or rather it would be, if it were intelligible over the mouthful of cock this movie’s sucking.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Unacurry.

Gandhi
1982, UK / India
Richard Attenborough
DVD

Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi is an almost legendary film, and rightly so. One of the greatest men in history, the filmed version of Mohandas Gandhi’s life, propelled by an Oscar-winning performance by Ben Kingsley, is a powerful piece of filmmaking. Throughout his life, Gandhi battled institutionalized injustice and racism in South Africa and India, eventually winning Indian independence from Britain. And he did all this through non-violent resistance, resulting in a life story, and a film, that is truly astounding. Ly boring. I meant to add that on the end of the last sentence, but I get tired even thinking about the 3 hours of this movie. Yes, yes, I know, Gandhi was an incredible man, Kingsley is an incredible actor, but pacifism take sooooo long to get anywhere. And I’m pretty sure that tactic would only work for Gandhi, probably because he looked kind of like E.T., and therefore instantly endearing. On the flip side of the coin, if you attack your government using actual violence instead of squatting on the ground and refusing to move, you often get to wear a cape and cool mask, and sometimes star in a dystopian Frank Miller comic book. And in a cultural climate based on image instead of message, Gandhi’s going to need to update his style if he wants to stay relevant and off of Mr. Blackwell’s catty fashion list. Instead of us learning from Gandhi, Gandhi should learn from these legendary and historical anti-government combatants.

Gandhi and child actor Henry Thomas.

1. Green Arrow. In The Dark Knight Returns, Oliver Queen has one arm, one bulging eye, and looks like something a crazy man would doodle in his own feces after wriggling out of a straightjacket. Way cooler than a shriveled Indian.


2. Osama Bin Ladin. A seven-foot tall, unimaginably rich evil-doer who lives in a network of caves and underground bunkers. If he had metal teeth or a golden hand, he’d be perfect Bond villain.



Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second in command.

3. Timothy Kasczinsky, the Unabomber. In a sweatshirt and sunglasses, he didn’t cut a very imposing figure, but he’s still more dramatic than Gandhi’s California Raisin look.


So, while I appreciate the moral lesson taught here, I think it needs some updating for the modern world. Or at least a better costume.

Monday, April 03, 2006

What's Slimy, Evil, And Tries To Crawl Inside Your Mouth? My Genitals. Also, Slither's a Pretty Good Movie.

Slither
2006, USA
James Gunn
35mm

About once every ten years, a horror movie comes along that’s so energetic, so infectiously fun, that you can’t help but fall in love with it. Unfortunately for Slither, this decade that film was Top of the Food Chain. Still, this low-budget horror-comedy is pulling in bizarrely positive reviews, though judging from its opening weekend box office, the critics are the only people who have seen it, and they’re didn’t pay.

Slither takes place in small town in the American South, because that way you only need one barn, a forest, three actors and ten teeth to make a film. Alien slugs from Night of the Creeps invade the town, courtesy of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’s Michael Rooker, turning much of the population into killer, hive-mind linked zombies. For some reason, this is viewed negatively by many of the townsfolk, despite the fact that a single Borg-like hive-mind is generally exactly one more mind than hillbilly Republicans have. Nevertheless, resist they must, led by intrepid chief of police Nathan Fillion, who is apparently not making enough money off Firefly residuals to avoid movies about killer mollusks. Joined by an actress who is very nearly Rachel McAdams and an underage girl who shows her nipples, Fillion must battle slugs, zombies, and the inevitable B-movie boredom that kicks in between gory and disgusting set-pieces.

Thank you, Google, for not letting me down with a 'mind eating slug' search.

Director James Gunn clearly has a great love for sci-fi and horror, though his hard-on for David Cronenberg’s Shivers is showing through his pants, and the pre-ejaculate smells a little bit like Invaders From Mars. The premise of Slither owes a great deal to the schlock sci-fi of Ray Kellogg, and that’s not a debt you want to repay come Judgement Day. Taken as a comedy, Slither is quite good. Gunn directs his actors with a great sense of comedic timing, and despite the fact that the trailer makes the film look horrible, it’s really quite fun. As a horror film, however, it leaves a little to be desired. There are some distressing moments, but the emphasis here is on laughs rather than scares, and bad computer graphics over anything remotely frightening. Nevertheless, Slither has climbed to the top of my list of favorite monster slug movies. Now if only Gunn would set his sights on The Killer Shrews.