Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Phantom Of The Trailer Park

Phantom of the Opera
1998, Italy
Dario Argento
DVD


Dario Argento isn't trying anymore. That's the only explanation for this nonsense. His last few films have been shot on video, shoddily written, and show all the effort of a 7-year-old shoveling the driveway. He's old and tired, still insane in the sense that his scripts have the cohesion of a half-remembered episode of G.I. Joe, but disinterested in all the things that made his movies fun in the first place. Without gore or the wildly inventive visual style that made films like Susperia and Opera viewable, all we're left with is plots that would confuse a chaos mathematician, and actors whose use even as a moveable prop would be debatable.



In this particular installment in Argento's journey from horror auteur to high school kid with video camera, Julian Sands and Argento's daughter Asia star in an adaptation of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera. And by adaptation, I mean rough approximation, the sort of thing you might write if you've never read the book, but your roommate really likes the musical and plays the soundtrack every morning while he gets ready to go to the gym. It bears a rough similarity to the novel, though as I recall the Phantom was somewhat disfigured and hadn't been raised by rats like a rodent version of The Penguin. For some reason, my guess is either a second mortgage or alimony, Julian Sands is in this movie, perhaps expecting to parlay his roles in Arachnophobia and Warlock into a career in B movies on the continent. He has an English accent, which invariably commands both respect and the desire to eat spotted dick, but the Fabio hairstyle is starting to clash rather harshly with a face swollen from Vicodin and alcohol, like Conan the Barbarian has gone puffy and fey. But while that might stand at odds with the perception of the darkly brooding Phantom, it certainly matches Asia Argento's look like a brown belt does leather shoes.


Argento's castle.
Asia is, of course, pure, unadulterated Euro-trash of the worst kind, the type that takes their title seriously, mixing the aristocratic, spoiled haughtiness of their continental stereotype with the type of skanky classlessness that licks the mirror after a coke binge. And it's the way you imagine her tonguing the mirror that's so disgusting, like she'd be looking you in the eyes, daring you to imagine your phallus between her gap teeth, when in reality you're just wondering how this dog-faced woman got into the dinner party, and why one of her tits is hanging out of her shirt. The whole movie, she seems barely capable of looking at her co-stars instead of leering at the camera like one of those girls in the phone sex ads on cable TV after midnight. I can't for the life of me imagine why she would be doing that. Why would I want to call her? I can barely look at her. She looks like a pig in an ill-fitting mini-skirt, pink and slutty, to be sure, but I'm of a different species than Euro-trash. Not to say that I'm better, I just prefer standard white trash to the European variety. Sure, the latter has rich parents that can afford better drugs, but there's something in the desperation of a truck stop hooker's eyes as she goes down on you for crystal meth that really turns my crank. Turns hers, too, if her dealer hasn't blown up his trailer yet. And while both hide generations of inbreeding under poorly applied makeup, the smoky eye shadow of the Eurotrash is a poor substitute for the blackened eyes of the white trash woman, as one is merely cosmetic, and the other a mark that the housebreaking process has already begun. In short, the allure of the Eurotrash, her Stoli Vodka, and the title to her land pales in comparison to the promise of toothless fellatio from someone who can probably go a week without sleeping, or probably breathing. Plus, she'll be so drug addled she'll barely be able to ask for food, let alone complain about the servants, or lack thereof. Who knows, maybe she'll be confused enough to understand Phantom of the Opera.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday School On The Short Bus.

An American Haunting
2005, USA
Courtney Solomon
DVD

As if I didn't worry enough about molesting children, now I have to worry about poltergeists? Man, the Christian right in American is doing pretty much everything it can to bury every pleasure beneath a mound of guilt. And ever since The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, they've discovered that horror may well be the way to reach the youth of today with their messages of repression and self-denial. First, we're not allowed to kill, then we're not allowed to eat unleavened bread, and now we can't diddle our daughters or the spirit of their lost innocence will haunt us to death? Jeez, Christianity sure is a drag.






Yeah! Take that! Try to protect my kids, will you?

An American Haunting is based on a true story, allegedly, about a cursed family, headed by Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek. Those two have already been cursed, apparently, by either bank debts or a bad agent, because they both should be above toothless ghost stories directed by the guy who did Dungeons and Dragons. There are some unsettling scenes, to be sure, but the pioneer setting definitely engenders more mirth than fear, since it's difficult to find anyone in a bonnet terrifying. But the moral lesson of An American Haunting, that you probably shouldn't molest your kids, is just the latest in a long string of fun spoiled by moralist filmmakers.


1) The Exorcist taught us not to use a Ouija Board by ourselves, and not to piss on the rug. This ruins everything drunk 17 year old girls like to do at house parties, aside from throw up tequila in a punch bowl.





2) Halloween showed us the perils of drinking beer after comically brief sex, showing your left nipple, and speaking in a high, annoyingly squeaky voice. So really, don't be P.J. Soles. Well, there go my plans for Saturday night.



3) The Saw films taught us not to do anything, ever, lest we get judged by a sanctimonious prude with voice like a paper-shredder chewing a thesaurus with a infantile sense of ironic punishment. If you want to live without being tortured to death via an elaborate device, do absolutely nothing, ever. Still, even as you sit in your apartment, fearing to leave should you accidentally violate a commandment, Biblical rule, or by-law, you should try to get some exercise, lest you get fed to a mechanical sloth or something.



There are lessons to be learned, to be sure, but frankly I'd rather learn them with, say, Jason Voorhees than with some septuagenarian in a frock at Sunday school. If I'm going to have my fun spoiled, I'd at least like it to be done with a machete, not a bonnet.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Smell Sex And Candy. Also Rotting Vagina Stuffed With Dirt And Twigs And Left By The Side Of The Highway.

Perfume: The Story of Murderer
2006, USA
Tom Tykwer
35mm



You know, I would have never thought to use 12 dead women to distill the scent of love. To top off my shoebox full of genitals? Sure. To make a dead skin mask? Of course. To help build a larger, stronger women out of the parts of smaller, weaker ones? Maybe. But a perfume? Never. I guess I just don't have the imagination to really succeed in the serial killing industry, since the most inventive pecadillo I can come up with is snorting the bone dust of a pulverized Native American prostitute. But in Perfume, murderer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille has done me one better, by reducing beauty, adoration, and the stink of sex to an essence. The closest I've come is making glue from a hooker's hair, a poor substitute for a perfume that, as the movie's climax suggests, will cause crowds to be so overcome with affection they will tear their clothes off and ravage each other. The only smell I know that will get women to take their clothes off is the stench of ether, and usually it's me doing the actually stripping while they loll around and try not to choke on their own vomit. The film is about Grenouille, who is born with a perfect sense of smell and no conscience in 18th century Paris, where his obsession with preserving the scent of perfection leads him to a career first as a perfumer, and then as a serial killer.

And they make fine sweater-vests, as well.


Perfume is directed by Tom Tykwer, a great filmmaker who has been applying poetic interpretations to literal themes for quite some time. The frenetic pacing he established in his breakthrough film Run, Lola, Run is absent here, replaced by a brooding, hypnotic speed that seeks to entrance the viewer with languid poetry. Unfortunately, the thrall of Perfume is often interrupted by bad performances, heavy-handed direction, and over-the-top theatrics. Towards the end of the film, this settles into its grove, and everything fits into a sort of magic realist interpretation, but in the first half, it's quite jarring. Dustin Hoffman, in particular, is violently terrible as faded master perfumer Baldini, with an accent that would shame even the people who do bad Christopher Walken impressions. He bursts every bubble of engrossing enchantment, so out of place it feels like your father is standing in the room while you masturbate over the body of a dead prostitute. Which, incidentally, is the best way to get them ready to be glue.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pursuit of A Ferrari Enzo.

The Pursuit of Happyness
2006, USA
Gabriele Muccino
35mm

What kind of monster lets his son sleep on a bathroom floor in a bus station just so he can afford a red Ferrari? Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a true-life self made man who struggled with homelessness while training to be a stockbroker. Unfortunately, he was unable to support his family on the no-wages the internship pays, which is supposed to be inspirational, but is really just infuriating. Get a night job, you fucking deadbeat. This isn't a feel good movie. It's a feel angry at irresponsible parenting movie. Yeah, I'd like to follow my dreams, too. I want to be an astronaut, but I'm not going to strap my kid in a storage locker while I go through NASA flight school. If I did, she'd never trust me enough to take her clothes off for the webcam ever again! Gardner is an awful father, a fact that is glossed over with a saccharine glaze, like icing on a stale donut, or semen on a porn star with bad skin.


Add a few more blackheads, and you have a general idea of this film. Only it looks less like Jenny Garth.

So, Gardner sells medical supplies, poorly, after investing his life savings in bone density scanners that appear more difficult to peddle door to door than he anticipated. His wife, played by the talented and often unrecognized Thandie Newton, pulls double shifts at her job, which as far as I can tell is maintaining a delicate balance between exotically indeterminate ethnicity and freakish deformation. They're behind on their rent, and buried beneath debt and parking tickets, and Gardner’s solution to this is to take 6 months off work in order to take an unpaid internship at a brokerage. Of course, things work out for the best, because they likely wouldn't make a movie about a guy who starved his kid to death trying to afford a sports car. But Gardner is an bad father, in a sappy movie that tugs at heartstrings like violent siblings pull at pigtails, and I don't have time for this. You know what? I want to be somebody too, instead of spending my life toiling in obscurity and complaining about Will Smith movies. But my amphetamines don’t buy themselves, and pimping my children out to Internet pedophiles is a time-consuming gig. I try to live my life responsibly, putting food on the table for me and my family. Or more accurately, on the table for me, and in dog bowls in the crawlspace for my family. I would never sacrifice my child's happiness for personal gain or for entertainment, as both Garnder and this movie does. I sacrificed my wife for that, and Mammon was well pleased with the burnt flesh, boiled blood, and melted fat I offered up Walpurgis Night last. The Pursuit of Happyness is the pursuit of selfish financial gain at the expense of a child, and quite frankly, I find that inappropriate, unamusing, and cruel. And if my kids had enough teeth left to answer, I'm sure they'd agree.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

The Worst Nautical Disaster Since Titanic Won The Oscar.

Poseidon
2006, USA
Wolfgang Peterson
DVD

In this remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure, a luxury cruise liner is capsized by a rogue wave, drowning most of the passengers, crew, and apparently the screenwriter right in the middle of his first draft. If I were to guess, I would say that he died with an outline, four scenes, and some sketches of at least three characters complete. After his untimely demise, probably as a result of either a flash fire from the ship's galleys or a computer generated fall down an elevator shaft, the script was probably taken over by one of the animators in charge of the CGI wave effects, clearly under the impression that since he works on computers, he can probably type fairly quickly and finish up the script before shooting ends.

How to save a drowning screenwriter. Provided you want to see Poseidon 2.

And finish up quickly the film does, like a bad one-night stand, racing from idiotic situation to improbable resolution so fast I barely had time to throw anything at the screen before the end credits ran. It was like dropping cinderblocks off the overpass into traffic; you have to time it just right if want to brain the shithead in the Cadillac Escalade right through the windshield. Sadly, I didn't hit the TV in time, and I had to watch this film go from a dumb action movie to a cataclysmic failure right before my eyes. Poseidon stars a host of talented actors, from Richard Dreyfuss to Josh Lucas, and even throws in Kurt Russell in case you want to bring your father along, but nothing, nothing, can save it from a fully retarded script. What makes it worse, is that some interesting plot points and ideas are brought up, only to be dropped in favor of another explosion, one that destroys not only part of the ship, but most of the laws of physics and all of my patience. No one in this movie is even trying to make a good film. It looks good, to be sure, but no effort whatsoever has been put into making this anything more than a frustrating exercise in rote action. Poseidon is like watching an obstacle course being completed by the retarded, with our only pleasure coming from them bumping their heads on the covered slide, or slipping on the tire field. Granted, these retards are prettier than most, their eyes properly spaced and their foreheads only mildly sloped, but they still muck around and bumble, saved by a combination of divine providence, deux ex machina, and lazy screenwriting.


Kurt Russell is an ex-firefighter on the cruise with his daughter and her boyfriend, Richard Dreyfuss is a aged gay man suffering from a broken heart and a cheap stereotype, and Josh Lucas is a professional gambler with a knowledge of the ship so precise I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the poor sap hired to finish off the script. Together with some expendable bodies and a cute kid to tug at heartstrings when the violin score isn't cutting it, they navigate through fire, water, and air to make it off the ship alive. And not only do they live through that, they dodged my cinderblock, as well.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

God Save The Cock Ring.

Children of Men
2006, USA/UK
Alfonso Cuaron
35mm

Clive Owen needs to shave. Every film I've seen him in, he seems intent on redefining "rugged good looks" as "hobo on a three day drunk", and Children of Men is no exception. Here, Owen and his stubble play a disillusioned ex-radical working an office job in an apocalyptic Britain. The human race has lost the ability to conceive children, and in the dying throes of civilization, England is the only country left standing. However, it's standing on shaky legs, degenerating into chaos and anarchy under a fascist, racist government, sort of like Mad Max meets Mein Kampf meets my wet, immigrant-free dreams.


Apparently, Mad Max has already met Mein Kampf.


In the Britain of the future, things have gotten so bad there is apparently only one camera and no tripods left in the whole country, so Children of Men looks like cell phone footage shot while running through an industrial district. That certainly helps to heighten the tension, since we never know when the characters, or even the camera, might have to stop and send a text message through AIM. Gritty and realistic, Children of Men excels because it's relevant, realistic, and exciting. Touching on issues such as terrorism, xenophobia, and the Patriot Act, the film's futuristic setting doesn't make it any less timely, and the documentary feel, tense script, and engrossing performances help to make the film among the most gripping you'll see all year.



But that's not what concerns me. What concerns me is the insistence the Britain will somehow forever be the last bastion of humanity come the end of the world, the lighthouse in an apocalyptic storm. Judging from films like this and V For Vendetta, England is apparently capable of surviving any number of destructive cataclysms, based entirely upon the sheer strength of their haughty elitism. I guess since they don't breathe the same air us commoners do, they get spared whatever destruction is rained upon the rest of the world. Listen, England, I know you guys were pretty good sailors 2 hundred years ago, but aside from Patrick O'Brien, nobody gives a fuck anymore. Once, the sun never set on the British Empire. Now, the sun never sets on a computer programmer doing a Monty Python routine, or an international version of one of their shitty reality TV shows and that’s ALL YOU HAVE LEFT! You barely even have food over there, and what there is smells like it emigrated from India in the 1960s. For all your airs, you'd think every woman over there was the Queen of England, not some gap-toothed provincial with an accent like a fishmonger in Whitechapel, and all the men are all a lace handkerchief and a frilly collar away from getting sodomized by Lord Byron. I think the problem with infertility in this movie may not be barren wombs, but rather infectious homosexuality, because I've never heard a British accent that didn't sound like regular English navigating its way around a mouthful of cock. Plus, the Brits seem intent on exporting as much gay as possible through their incessantly queer indie bands. Babyshambles? That's supposed to be punk? Then why does it sound like the Smiths with late-stage HIV? Actually, they don't sound like anything, because I refuse to listen to anything where the guitars chimes his guitar instead of strumming it because his wrists are too limp. So, I think that when the end of the world comes, I'll avoid running off to Merry Old England to pop E and listen to ripped-off Stone Roses riffs. I'll just stay in North America and die. At least the soundtrack will be better.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Everything I Need To Know In Life, I Learned Trapped In A Maze With A Satyr.

Pan's Labyrinth
2006, MexicoGuillermo Del Toro
35mm

It may not seem true, but at one point in time it was possible to tell a fairy tale without having a lobster or a warthog sing a stupid song about the circle of life every ten minutes. In order to distract the kids from the lack of Nathan Lane belting out show tunes , story-tellers resorted to other tactics to keep children interested, namely killing people in horrific ways. And Pan's Labyrinth is a throwback to those halcyon days of witches in the oven, frozen matchstick girls, and Goldilocks gang raped by bears. Okay, so that last bit may only be part of the fairy tale when I tell it to my kids, but you do get the idea.

Pan's Labyrinth, on the other hand, harkens back to the good old days, when children learned their lessons by having the shit scared out of them and their lives threatened. Guillermo Del Toro understands that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child, or more accurately, if you don't show the child a man getting his cheek slit open from the inside by a paring knife, they grow up as panty-waisted homosexuals. And that's what this movie is about: telling a story about princesses and underworld kingdoms while showing an anti-government guerilla getting tortured with an awl and a blacksmith's hammer. That will teach the little fucks the meaning of obedience. Make a scene in a McDonald's parking lot because you didn't get the right Happy Meal? I'll have your fucking fingers for that, and then I'll feed them to the god-awful Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, who has eyeballs in his hands and eats babies.

Ronald McDonald without his makeup.

In the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Pan's Labyrinth isn't the decadent exercise in special effect wankery I had expected. Instead, it's actually a tragic tale of a young girl with a sick mother, a wicked army captain stepfather, and her overactive imagination. There's a faun, fairies, an enormous toad, and plenty of graphic violence, which helps separate the fantasy scenes from the reality ones. Or rather, the different types of violence distinguish the two worlds, with the graphic, realistic knife wounds and gunshots contrasting with the phantasmagorically baroque bloodshed of the fantasy sequences. It's enough to shock and interest adults and children alike, which is great, because it will help kids learn an important lesson, which is that if you speak Spanish, something will try to eat you. It's a great lesson that helps keep Mexicans out of my neighborhood, but frankly, since this film is so well constructed and appealing, it's a shame it doesn't teach children some other important life lessons.

1) Don't touch my action figures. I know they look like fun, especially the shelf dedicated to the various incarnations of Bruce Campbell, but there are small pieces that you might choke on. And believe me, if you fuck up my diorama of Jason giving it to Elvira up the pooper with the shaft of an axe, you will choke on them.

2) Yes, children like comic books. And yes, I like comic books. But no, I do not like children, and if the children I don't like like my comic books, they will find out what happens to people who do not respect strict alpha-numeric classification systems. And is that Nutella on my mint-condition copy of Swamp Thing #18 It is? Charming. Don't mix it with the blood you're about to lose, and I'll try not to get my semen on it when I'm done with you.

3) I know children are curious. But curiosity killed the cat, and throttled the little boy who snuck into my basement and discovered what I do to little girls.

The moral of the last story is that nosiness leads to nothing but trouble, both for the child, and for the adult who's trying to figure out how to get arm bones through the garbage disposa chutel. And that's the kind of fairy tale that, like Pan's Labyrinth, has something for both kids and adults.

Underage? Read a PG-13 review at The Comic Book Bin. Then come over to my house and let me watch you touch yourself. Girls and effeminate boys only need apply.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Story of a Breast Fetish.

Gia
USA, 1998
Michael Cristofer
DVD

This is the story of a supermodel. She does a lot of drugs, has promiscuous sex, and spends her time dressing up ludicrously and practicing shaking her hips like a tipsy prostitute. Actually, it sounds like the story of all supermodels. Throw in some gossiping and back-stabbing, and it's the story of all women as well. But all this description is incidental, because Gia is the movie where Angelina Jolie shows her tits.


There. I just saved you 126 minutes. Don't forget to wash that sock.

It's a shame that's all this film is known for, for two reasons. Firstly, it's a good movie in its own right, with more interesting directorial flourishes than most made-for-cable films, and strong performances from Jolie and Mercedes Ruehl, as Gia's mother. And secondly, because seeing Angelina Jolie’s tits is not a good thing. While most people seem to find her irresistibly attractive, that is because most people are stupid. To me, she looks like she's eaten improperly canned tomatoes, and her face is puffing up like a sprained knee from botulism. And her lips? Those bee-stung, cock-sucking lips? I wouldn't let those anywhere near my cock. They look fucking contagious. I know I'm poorly hung, but I'd still rather not have my genitals get whatever gargantuan elephantitis is disfiguring her face.

But actresses should not be judged by their faces, despite what Life & Style magazine hacks would have you believe. They should be judged by their breasts, and if I were a 10 year-old boy on the cusp of puberty, I would be thoroughly impressed. However, I'm significantly older than that, and as I have access to the Internet, I no longer need to jerk off to HBO movies played after 11 PM. Strangely, most of the people who like this movie like it for just that reason. Or the males do, at least. The girls that like it do so because it helps convince them that the coke they do is glamorous instead of a trashy way to drink more cheap rum without passing out. But the men, they've got the DVD for the tits and the tits only. Maybe it reminds them of massaging their crotch to the lingerie section of the Sears catalogue, or it's some weird Oedipal breast-feeding thing, but it certainly doesn't do it for me. What does do it is the interesting structure, with staged interview segments interspersed with more standard docudrama, and occasional black and white scenes recalling fashion photography, and the harrowing depiction of heroin addiction and AIDS. That's what gets me off, not the tits. And yet, people call me the weird one.