Monday, October 30, 2006

A Slow Descent Into Language.

The Harder They Come
1972, Jamaica
Perry Henzell
DVD

Before anyone else makes the joke, let me assure you that this is not a pornographic film. Even if it were, I wouldn't watch it, because it's from Jamaica. Ever since I moved into a low income neighborhood, my jungle fever has transformed itself into jungle fear, and the once stiff erection I received from watching an ample-bottomed Nubian princess getting double penetrated by two of the lesser members of the Wu-Tang Clan has been withered by the fear of getting shot to death for figuring out the secret knock to the crack den beneath my apartment.

That's why anthropological films such as this fascinate me so. They're a chance to peer deep into a particular culture without getting a contact high and pissing dirty on one of my random monthly drug tests. The Harder They Come is the first feature film made in Jamaica by Jamaicans, and while whoever's working the camera is clearly too stoned to move too far past the 'point and shoot' style of cinematography, the film has a certain genuine quality to is that is most invigorating. Despite its ragged edges, the movie's appeal is in its ethnographic quality, making the viewer feel not so much a participant as a, I don’t know, let’s say imperialist conqueror. It's so.... informative to see the natives in their natural element, playing their tribal 'reggae' music, speaking in their charming pidgin dialect. Much more than just a curiosity for us to marvel at, this film provides great insight into life amidst the colonials.

Some secondary research I used for this article.

A Mr. James Cliff enacts the lead role of Ivanhoe Martin with a level of panache and veracity previously known only to the Shakespearean players of the Elizabethan era. Relocating from his pastoral ancestral home to the urban squalor of King's Town, Ivan seeks to make his living as a minstrel, parlaying his dulcet singing voice and sense of tribal rhythm into a popular sheet music pamphlet of some kind. Unfortunately, the machinations of an unscrupulous native disc jockey and the permutations of a capricious universe lay his expectations low, and Ivan is forced to turn to a life of narcotics trafficking and highway robbery. I will resist the temptation to prostelyze, and state that had Ivanhoe been pressed into the Royal Navy, he would have learned discipline and duty along side the browned Malays of the East Indies. Instead, I’ll merely state that Ivanhoe's poor example should not be followed by other unfortunates in the same sad circumstance. Heaven forbid that the natives, inspired by Ivanhoe's actions and inflamed by the sacrilegiously sensuous music, should be driven into a frenzy, and rebel against the civilizing influence of their British rulers. While the Empire would feel the loss of that particular island colony as a dog would mourn the loss of one of its fleas, I feel that it would do the natives much more harm than good, and I fear for their Christian souls should such a travesty arise. So, in the name of God, Queen, and Country, this movie should be banned, lest the proud rule of the British Empire be challenged by those who would wish to see her destroyed. God Save The Queen!

Friday, October 27, 2006

First You Get The Money, Then You Get The Power, Then You Get The Locker Poster of Tony Montana.

The Black Dahlia
2006, USA
Brian DePalma
35mm

So I like Brian De Palma. What's it to you? You think you're better than me? Listen, I've got a white gold chain with a diamond microphone on it that I got at the swap meet, and I know every line to DePalma’s Scarface. My facial hair is trimmed into razor thin lines, I like to lick my lips in public, and I have several oversized black T shirts with Simpsons characters posing like The Sopranos, and I would kick your ass if I didn’t have to get back to my job handing out club flyers on a street corner. Just kidding. I graduated high school. No, I like Brian De Palma not because he annoyed the hell out of me by accidentally making Scarface a cultural phenomenon among people whose idea of culture is the latest Tupac B sides collection. I like him because his early films were nerdy little riffs on Hitchcock, and he seems to hate women almost as much as I do.

It actually says "say hello to my little friend" on his teeth. And "I'm a fucking retard" on his chain.

But aside from ejaculating every time he spatters a brunette with blood, I haven't gleaned much enjoyment from De Palma's films of late. Femme Fatale was an interesting inflammation of the sub-textual eroticism of film noir, but Mission To Mars was a little baffling, and I'm still not sure whether Mission Impossible was supposed to be funny or sad. The Black Dahlia, however, I had high hopes for. Based upon James Ellroy's novel, the film is about the famous Black Dahlia murder case, in which aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found chopped in two with her mouth carved open. Being both a fan of Ellroy's novels and mutilation, I was looking forward to seeing what De Palma was going to do with the story. While the movie doesn't fail completely, it doesn't live up to the material's potential as did, say, L. A. Confidential, based upon another Ellroy novel. The cast, comprised of Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank, and Scarlet Johansson's visible ego, are far too young to sell their performances, and the story gets so convoluted De Palma has to rush a compressed explanation into the final act of the film. Also, De Palma's Hitchockian camera trickery, apparently the only way he knows how to prove he went to film school, distracts from the film's atmosphere, destroying the frail illusion of the The Black Dahlia’s temporal setting. Plus, I can't watch this movie and get high with my friends at 2 pm on a Tuesday while the civilized world is at work. There's barely anything to quote loudly while trying to sneak into the Sean Paul after party at Club Zone, and Josh Hartnett doesn't look nearly as good on a locker poster as Al Pacino.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fair Trade Lady Boys.

Human Trafficking
2005, USA
Christian Duguay
DVD

TV movies are so good hearted. Whether they're earnestly warning us of the dangers of F5 tornados or blaming terrorism on Democrats and gay marriage, they always have our best interests at heart. Though it can be argued were the TV film any good, it would have been produced for the big screen instead of for after Will & Grace, there's a lot to be said for the informative and heartfelt quality of most made-for-cable films. Human Trafficking, originally aired on the Lifetime Network, is no different. With open arms and an open heart, the film seeks to educate and inform the viewing public about the seedy world of sex slavery. While there's no way I'm going to sit through 3 hours of Mia Sorvino trying to act, I can only assume that the trite direction of Christian Duguay and the obvious sensibilities of all TV movies are meant to warn us about the obvious implications of the trafficking in human lives, which is caveat emptor: let the buyer beware. In the unregulated industry of sex slaves, it's easy to be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous human dealer, and rented an 8-year-old Thai girl instead of a 7-year-old Korean boy. And believe me, the Consumer Control Board is not happy to hear those complaints. But without government regulation, there’s little you they can do to help a cheated client get his money back, or his blood work clean. So, while I'm not sure exactly how much detail the film gets into, here are a few helpful hints and warnings about the dangers of human trafficking.

She could be anybody's daughter. Sadly, she's not mine.

1) Russian women will do anything for food. Unfortunately, if you couple desperation with unkempt body hair, you get rug burn.

2) Filipinos are a real treat. Adding tears to the usual mix of blood and semen, they require practically no lubricant.

3) Romanians have an exciting mix of Slavic and Roma bloodlines, resulting in intriguing Asiatic features and STIs they don't even have names for.

4) The difference between a 6-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl is negligible in practice, immense in theory. Make your preference known early, so you don't accidentally turn gay in the dark.

5) Everyone from South America has the clap.

As you can see, Human Trafficking is a powerful and moving exploration of the horrors of getting ripped of by sex slavers. I recommend it heartily, because of its educational value, and not because my friend Bjanka is in it. Rent it today, and protect yourself and your investment.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Not A Plug


I think all of you, and all of your friends, should check out Fangoria TV. Specifically the subscriber’s part of the site. At least until Friday. For no reason whatsoever.

It's Purple Raining Men Who Are Having Oral Sex With Other Men.

Purple Rain
1984, USA
Albert Magnoli
DVD

Lots of weird shit happened in the 80s. Bandanas became acceptable attire for people other than bikers and Wild West bandits, Tony Danza turned a skull full of Italian sausage and chauvinism into a career, and dressing like a 19th century pirate could make you a rock star. Such was the world in which Prince made Purple Rain, a 2-hour propaganda film dedicated to proving he's not a homosexual. Similar charges have been leveled against me, due to my fanatical Danzig worship, America's Next Top Model body type, and affected use of language, but I've never thought to dispel them by singing and dancing while costumed as a French Revolution Era aristocrat, which seems to be Prince's line of attack.

Prince's keyboardist, Poncey the Cruel.

Purple Rain has Prince and the New Power Generation as a struggling house band in a hot nightclub. How the nightclub got hot when its star attraction is a mixed-race midget rubbing himself on an amplifier is beyond me. Actually, come to think of it, I did visit a bar in Slovakia that had the same kind of thing going on, but they were using blood as lubricant and there was a hermaphrodite involved. Apollonia, a small town girl with big city dreams and a fag hag name shows up with designs on being a star, and she quickly latches onto Prince. However, club headliner Morris Day, gamely giving the performance his all despite clearly having suffered a stroke of some kind, has his own ideas. The fact that his ideas seem to actually involve helping Apollonia instead of smacking her around and throwing her in a lake like Prince does seems not to faze anyone involved in the film. Prince is abusive and cruel, both to Apollonia and the female members of his band. This behavior stems from the family dynamic portrayed in the film, where a violent but musically brilliant father torments Prince's mom. This sympathetically portrayed relationship forms the heart of the film, but sadly, all the music, frilly shirts, and purple forms the stiffened erection of the film, with Prince forming the willing male mouth engulfing it.

I've got no problem with musicals. In fact, I like them. Musical theatre keeps all the undesirables in one place, ensconced in a movie theatre giving each other handjobs, making them easier to nailbomb when the line between shock comedy and militant action becomes blurred. But one of the things I can't stand about musicals or rock movies is that they invariably capture a sense of cool that becomes absolutely ridiculous within a month of the movie's release. It's like old yearbook photos, or a time capsule that you open, expecting to discover a sense of nostalgia but finding only the rat-tail you cut off in 6th grade and $300 in now-worthless Pogs. Purple Rain is just embarrassing, a dated wedding video where everyone is drunk and has beards. It's like watching home movies of your parents smoking pot, like a slideshow of high school prom photos, set to a song that made you cry in 1988, but now sounds like something an autistic kid made with a Cassio keyboard and a key-tar. I don't want to remember the '80s, and I don't want to remember Purple Rain anymore.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

For The Orientalist In You

The Departed
2006, USA
Martin Scorsese
35mm

Halfway through this movie, I realized that I had seen it before. Except the first time I watched it, it was yellower and made less sense, indicating to me that it was probably from the Orient. The Far East has provided much in the way of valuable exports to the New World since the Chrysanthemum and Dragon Thrones open their jade gates to Western trade. First silk and spices, then powdered rhinoceros horn for impotent opium addicts, and now incomprehensible horror and action movies, much has come our way from the Portuguese trade routes and the Dutch East India Company. Infernal Affairs, now The Departed, is no exception.

Now, I'm normally of the opinion that trans-cultural remakes are a bad idea. The films are generally better the first time around, and since I don't want to get anyone else's culture on me anyway, it's best to leave these things well enough alone. However, in the case of the Japans, the proud Nipponese are still beginners when it comes to language and narrative, unable to tell simple stories without throwing in a pink-haired lady constantly complaining in a shrill voice not unlike a mewling, toothless infant. So, it's a good thing that these films are translated, sanitized, and repackaged for North American audiences, because otherwise I couldn't possibly understand the artistry of these noble savages. After all, a movie can't possibly be good if it doesn't have either Jack Nicholson or Leonardo Di Caprio in it.

This kimono will be remade with Jessical Biel.

And The Departed has both, plus director Martin Scorsese, which means it's an Oscar nomination waiting for a full page Variety ad. Sticking fairly close to the original script, The Departed tells a complex story rather simply, paralleling the life of an undercover cop infiltrating a crime boss with a crooked cop infiltrating the police department. The two stories intertwine, and things go steadily downhill from there, with Scorsese's trademark love of violence and nerdy structuralist film. The script is tight, and despite the fact that Jack Nicholson seems to be planning to lose it sometime in the next few years, the performances really elevate the film from a great script to a great film. And thank goodness. If Scorsese hadn't brought this film over the sea, no doubt in a galleon full of nutmeg, saffron, and bolts of fine silk, and translated it into white, the masses wouldn't be able to appreciate the winding, surprising plot and the taut screenplay. Like a Filipino pearl diver, he has plucked a gem out of the land of raw seafood and polished it to a brilliant shine that all civilized peoples can enjoy. If it weren't for great cultural philanthropists like Scorsese, we would have to watch The Ring in its original form, hysteria and goobledygook intact. I would have to watch Shall We Dance with its original Asian cast, struggling to tell the female lead from the male, instead of trying to avoid being aroused by the fact that Richard Gere looks like a 10 year old boy and Jennifer Lopez dresses like a hooker. I would have to read The Grudge instead of refusing to watch it because it looks retarded. So, I'm thankful that Scorsese brought this film over, since the last thing I ordered from the Orient came in a box full of air holes, and refused to cook unless she got to eat too. Plus, despite what the pamphlet led me to believe, the bruises showed up despite the yellow skin. So it seems that The Departed is as close one can get to the Orient, without risking polluting our Western minds with the seductive mysteries of the East. How very exotic.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The More the Merrier.


Judging from my Site Meter, I’m rapidly becoming the net’s biggest resource for Chloe Sevigny blow job pics. Add a couple more references to Ashley Simpson getting rimmed by a German Shepherd while Mary-Kate Olson kills a baby, and this will be like one stop shopping for those creepy guys who jerk off in internet cafes while I’m trying to avoid CSIS by visiting godhatesfags.com from a public computer. Freaks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hooked on Brains and Phonics: Learning Lessons From the Undead.

Night of the Living Dead
USA, 1968
George Romero
DVD

It's not like I watch this movie over and over again just for fun. No, no, Romero's 1968 horror masterpiece must be compulsively revisited in order to unearth the pearls of wisdom it contains. The lessons to be learned from this zombie epic/hysterical diatribe against communism are legion, and they're not just confined to warnings about the dangers of cultural homogeny and the obliteration of identity. Many more valuable lessons can be gleaned from this unsettling, eerie film, such as the danger of falling asleep naked, because you might get half eaten and return to life, and undeath is not kind to middle aged breasts. Saddlebag tits are bad enough, let alone when they’re full of rotted meat. Other lessons of note:

1) A sleeveless shirt is not a flattering thing to die in. Its resemblance to a toga in grainy black and white photography is unmistakable. Add a couple of extra layers of fat, and comparisons to a zombie John Belushi are unavoidable.

2) Black people are way better at yelling than white people. Not so good at dodging bullets, though. One cancels the other out.

3) Shrieking is not an effective defense against either the undead, or film critics. Star Judith O’Dea got savaged by both, and deserved it.

4) Bark is not a good substitute for a balanced breakfast of intestines and burnt foot.

5) Stay in the cellar. No matter what. I summer down there. It's great for hiding from zombies, creditors, and black people who yell a lot and get shot.

Now, I'm off to pick up some fall entertaining tips from 10 Man Cock Slam #10.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Affirmative Craption.

Roots
USA, 1977
Marvin J Chomsky, John Erman, David Greene, Gilbert Moses
VHS

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a racist. Like most people who hold views that some might label prejudiced, virulently xenophobic, or militantly white supremacist, my beliefs are born of ignorance, rather than hatred. And what's most important is that I recognize that I have a problem, and I'm taking steps to rectify that. One of the important steps I'm taking, other than selling off most of my David Allen Coe/Johnny Rebel collection, is to educate myself on the plight of the coloreds. And so, Roots. For those of you who don't know, Roots is a landmark television series that recounts the history of Africans in the United States from slavery until Geordie LaForge became chief engineer on the USS Enterprise. Problem is, Roots is really long, and I have a lot of militia meetings to attend, so it may take a while for me to get through the whole thing. But in order to maximize the educational potential of the exercise, I will be typing up mini reviews, or reports, about each episode, to aid in memory retention. I hope you'll bear with me as I learn, grow, and become a better person, and hopefully, maybe, you'll learn a little something too.

Episode 1

Wow. Only one preachy, pedantic hour in, and I've already learned a lot. Apparently, black people come from Africa, not Detroit. And, you can tell that someone leads an idyllic, noble existence because they don't use contractions. I guess when you're too busy living a life of decadence and evil, corrupting all that you touch with the virulence of a small pox blanket, crushing all resistance in the name of Manifest Destiny and country music, you don't have time to say words in their entirety. But when you live in grass huts and have nothing to do but talk to the moon and herd goats, you have all the time in the world to say words like ‘cannot’, as in “I cannot believe how simplistically I am being portrayed”.

Don't worry, blacks, only 300 years until you finally overcome slavery. And work in the engine room for white people.

The episode begins with Levar Burton, apparently before he learned to read, becoming a man in his native Africa by trying to catch a bird and absorbing nuggets of folk wisdom from his father. This is clumsily intercut with scenes feature evil Americans cackling about the slave trade while eating abortions out of silver buckets. Geordi LaForge is captured, despite the misgivings of a humanitarian slave ship's captain meant to embody the conscientious objector trapped by the standards of his time. The episode ends with LaForge on the ship, held in abominable conditions alongside several basketball teams worth of slaves, plotting revenge and revolt.

I feel enlightened already. Even just one hour into to this mammoth, no doubt unbelievably patronizing exploration of early African American history, I feel more comfortable with the shit head crack dealer living in the apartment below me, selling drugs out his broken front window and beating his girlfriend. I find I'm able to watch old UPN sitcoms without feeling nervous, and I can listen to rap music without breaking out in hives. Thank you, Roots, for curing racism by treating a complex problem to a fancy light and picture show. I can't wait to see what boon the next episode will grant me. Maybe I’ll learn the true meaning of Christmas.

Updates

Someone found my site by searching for “dismembered filipina”. I can die happy. Also, thank you, Jaymis. I have celebrated by adding an off colour joke to my Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning review. See if you can find it! It’s like finding a hog’s penis in a haystack of run-on sentences!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Remembrance of Things Past, If That Thing Was Getting Diddled By Your Uncle.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
2006, USA
Jonathan Liebesman
35 mm


Have you ever had deja vu? Now, have you ever paid $10.50 to have deja vu of a bad memory? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is kind of like flashing back to the brown acid trip at Woodstock '94: awful, confusing, and full of retarded 18 year old boys dressed like Fred Durst. The first Texas remake was awful, and this prequel does nothing but remake the remake. Ostensibly a prequel, this film appears to be set approximately 93 minutes before the start of the first film, filling in all the details we were dying to know regarding what Leatherface had for dinner before tried to kill Jessica Biel (people, incidentally). This is as much a prequel as vomit is the sequel to Jack Daniels and cocaine. The sheer disrespect for the audience is much more appalling that the rape and graphic violence that are splattered all over the screen like my sperm on a daycare window. And no matter how many pedophile jokes I make, tasteless though they may be, I will never offend anyone as much as my intelligence was insulted by this sad and pathetic attempt to weasel a few extra dollars out of the 18-25 IQ set. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a grim, gritty, nasty little film that explored the demise of the American family and the collision between the realistic and the insane. The remake was the same thing, except with a slightly higher chance that My Chemical Romance was going to start playing their new single halfway through any given scene. This prequel takes the enhanced stupidity of the remake and the music video aesthetic and, uh, does nothing with it. It just gives it another shot, like a rewrite on a final paper in Stock Slasher Sequels 101.

My prequel to the last photo I posted.

The plot follows a group of stupid kids who crash their stupid car near a stupid inbred family that eats people. So, they get eaten, apparently as appetizers for the car full of stupid kids that get eaten maybe 90 minutes later in the other Texas remake. The cast making up the doomed teens are barely worth mentioning, made up entirely of kids who may or may not have been on The OC, as well as Jordana Brewster's eyebrows. The only part of the film worth noting is the performance of Full Metal Jacket's R. Lee Ermey, who has parlayed yelling obscenities into a lucrative career. He's creepy and horrible, and is probably not acting, but his performance is unsettling and manages to keep the film's head above water. The special effects are also helpful in maintaining a sense of tension, but it's broken any time Jordana Brewster's eyebrows deliver one of the horrible lines of Aliens-era Ripley dialogue that pepper the script like macho punctuation. The thing that made the original film work as well as it did was the realism with which the characters responded to their surreal situation. Marilyn Burns, the star of the 1974 original, didn't react to being chased around by an obese man in a butcher's apron by mouthing off with hollow heroics; she just screamed a lot and ran through a second story window. Here, our heroine's eyebrows manage to pluck up some unrealistic courage, fire off a couple of unreasonably snappy one liners, and launch into acts of supreme courage that smack of the Rambo school of character development. I don't know about you, but every time I chain a young woman to my dinner table while feeding her parts of her friends, she barely says anything snarky to me, but that may be because it's hard to talk when you've got a mouthful of pig's genitals.

Director Jonathan Leibesman has seen a great many television commercials, as well as the first remake, and feels the need to emphasize that over any personal style he may or may not have. The lighting is as dark and scary as a quarter of a million dollars in halogen can look, and the music is only interesting when it's remembering the 1974 film's soundtrack. Sadly, I can remember the original movie too, and I remember that I want my $10.50 back.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Back in Blue Jeans and an Emperor T Shirt. Don't Get Too Excited.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
USA, 2004
Asia Argento
DVD


Like Seth Putnam of Anal Cunt, I like drugs and child abuse. Unfortunately, the closest I can come to the latter is punching my underage girlfriend in the stomach after unprotected sex. As for the former, stomach ulcers, teeth ground down to saw-edged nubs, and a partially functional left lung leave only the intravenous variety available to me, and that’s a little pricey on a welfare-fraudster’s salary. So, I have to get my fix from watching movies like Asia Argento’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. And while The Heart May Be Deceitful Above All Things may not correctly simulate the dizzying heights of high school Benzedrine abuse as well as I would have hoped, it did make me feel like throwing up blood, so the comparison remains accurate.

That's also how I felt after watching America's Next Top Model, but for diffferent reasons.

The film is based on J.T. Leroy’s memoir of a troubled youth filled with drug abuse, a violently insane mother, and a succession of horrible father figures, each more twisted than the last. The book attempts, and largely succeeds, in transforming Leroy’s childhood into a Holocaust of horror and abuse, where each page brings a new atrocity that befell the youngster. Unfortunately, like the Holocaust, it never happened. Leroy is actually Laura Albert, an author who perpetrated a James Frey-like hoax that was unmasked in 2006 by Steven Beachy in New York magazine. Though this is irrelevant to the film, it does make the viewing experience a little less satisfying, as I have trouble ejaculating when the child throwing up in the meth lab on screen is only a fictional creation. I do find it kind of disgusting that someone would seek to profit off of an over-the-top, exaggerated persona, but that’s only because I hate myself.

Depending on what mood I’m in, Argento’s direction is either incompetent or brilliant. The film is shot in a strange mix of a documentary style, Dogma-ish realism and standard Hollywood techniques, like crane shots and Steadicam. This is either a comment on the source material’s hybridization of reality and fiction, or Argento ran out of equipment rental money halfway through the shoot. As she is the daughter of one of the greatest visual stylists/narrative incompetents in film history, I’m leaning towards the ‘idiot’ explanation, but I guess anything’s possible. Argento also takes a co-starring role in the film, as the young Leroy’s mother. Though she spends most of the movie looking like someone beat the shit out of Uma Thurman and struggling not to sound like coked out Euro Trash, she is suitably scabby and lot-lizard-ugly for the role. Jimmy Bennett as the child is a real pleasant surprise, as he manages to range from shrill to stoned quite effectively for a 10 year old, plus he’s got a pretty mouth. The cast is rounded out by Peter Fonda, Marilyn Manson, sadly, and the always good-but-uncomfortable Michael Pitt. There’s lots of AIDS, hooking, and everything else you might expect to find backstage at Rent. The film is annoying and pretension, just the sort of thing that The Village Voice would pretend to like if the transgendered community were watching, but that’s not to say there’s nothing of interest here. It’s just to say that what’s there is gay, high, and likes to hit kids.