Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Been a while, yeah? Well, this time, it *was* the phone company's fault, so I can say, "FUCK THE PHONE COMPANY!"

I really don't have anything else to say. Just wanted to prove I wasn't dead.

From my heart and from my hand
Why don't people understand my intentions?

Friday, November 14, 2003

Apparently, my pure, undistilled hatred for The Matrix Revolutions isn't shared by the populace at large. In fact, I've heard several state they preferred it over Reloaded. Well, whatever. I don't plan on ever watching either of them ever again, to tell you the truth, so the question of which was better is totally irrelevant to me. And yes, those who there on the night I watched The Matrix Reloaded (and lived through the most untimely power outage in the history of the universe) are probably thinking, "Hey, you liked Reloaded! What's this about never watching it again?" Well, I did watch it again, two days later, actually, and it did not hold up well on a repeat viewing. Certainly, some parts were still entertaining, but it was not as enjoyable as the first time. And since Revolutions renders pretty much all of Reloaded completely pointless, I feel no need to revisit it a third time. I did watch the original yesterday, though. It still rules.

Is the poll over there working for anybody else? Because it doesn't work for me.

I'm working on a big idea for a end-of-2003 review. Bigger than just a movie top ten list. Not sure what'll happen, but I'll keep you posted.

And I should probably tell you this, though I'm not proud. I told myself a long time ago that I would never go back, that I was through with it, but the old habit cropped up again today.

I'm a Cubs fan again.

It came as a shock to me, too. Especially considering that it's November and nobody gives a fuck about baseball right now. But I heard a rumor today that the Cubs are working a trade to get Alex Rodriguez, and I thought, "Yes!" and I realized I couldn't deny it anymore. I cheered for them in the playoffs, but I told myself it was because I wanted them to lose to the Red Sox. But now, I've seen the light.

I'm still an Astros fan, by the way. I'm not a traitor just because I like another team, too. And the Cubs are way down at the bottom of the list of teams I like, behind the Astros, the Dodgers, and the Red Sox. So no need to panic, okay? (And yes, I'm talking to you. You know who you are.)

I'm gonna get free
I'm gonna get free
I'm gonna get free
Ride into the sun
She never loved me
She never loved me
She never loved me
Why should anyone?

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The Matrix Ruinations

Oh no. No. Dear god, no.

This can't be. I mean, it was a dream, right? Surely, that's it. Yeah. Of course. The movie I saw doesn't really exist. Only a hallucination brought on by too much Dr Pepper and not enough sleep. Obviously.

I mean, really, let's be honest here: there's no way that the version of The Matrix Revolutions I saw this morning was the real thing. Couldn't be. Because that movie was a horrible piece of garbage (and that was during its better moments), a sure-fire DUD, and a serious challenger to Jeepers Creepers 2 and Underworld in the Worst Picture of the Year race.

Last night, a friend of mine suggested that the conclusion of the film would be Bill and Ted waking up from their horrible nightmare. "Whoa, Ted..." That would have been a better idea, Wachowskis. And as if your bloated sense of self-importance weren't obvious enough, that grand, epic score during the end credits was fucking awful. What happened to the Rage Against the Machine songs? That worked well in the first two. But then, since you decided to diregard everything else (and I do mean EVERYTHING else) that worked about the first two, I shouldn't be surprised by your music choices.

And I KNOW you weren't hinting at a sequel (or sequels) in that last scene, right? That was just the tail-end of your mythology's flame-out, right? Better be.

The Matrix Revolutions is the worst cliffhanger resolution since they revealed that an entire season of Dallas was all a dream. And a dream is what I'm banking on. Hoping for.

You can chime in with your two cents over on the left there. Feel free.

This time nobody goes home.

Monday, November 03, 2003

My modem is moving slowly, joints creaking, trying to cycle itself back out of hibernation. My monitor actually looks darker than it did before...maybe that's just my imagination, though. You know that feeling you'd get on the first day of school every year, the one where you know where everything is, but the knowledge just comes slower than it should? No? Well, that's how I feel about the internet right now.

Yes, I'm back from my involuntary internet vacation. I wish I could justify it with some vitriol-dripping diatribe -- "FUCK THE PHONE COMPANY!!" -- but it's my fault. So I'm mad at myself. But the problem is fixed now, and shouldn't flare up again any time soon. But you never know.

Let's see, what did I miss....oh, the Yankees lost. I'm still happy about that, by the way.

I also missed We're Fucked Day, which pisses me off. I had planned on replacing my picture of Dr. Strangelove up there with this upside-down flag and a Rage Against the Machine quote: "It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now? All hell can't stop us now" (from "Guerilla Radio"). But the phone company had other ideas. Oh well.

It's time for work now. I'll get back into the groove of posting pretty quickly, don't worry. And a new short story is coming. Aw yeah.

The teacher stands in front of the class
But the lesson plan he can't recall
The students' eyes don't perceive the lies
Bouncing off every fucking wall
His composure is well kept
I guess he fears playing the fool
The complacent students sit and listen
To the bullshit that he learned in school

Europe ain't my rope to swing on
Can't learn a thing from it
Yet we hang from it
Gotta get it, gotta get it together then
Like the motherfuckin' weathermen
To expose and close the doors on those who try
To strangle and mangle the truth
'Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react
We gotta take the power back

Monday, October 27, 2003

Kill Bill, Vol 1

"You didn't really think it was going to be that easy, did you?"
"You know, for a second there...yeah, I really did."
"Silly rabbit...."

So just what the hell has Quentin Tarantino been doing since 1997? I have to admit -- when I saw that "The 4th Film by Quentin Tarantino" card in the trailer, I had to restrain a whoop of delight. Yes, I am a Tarantino fan. Yes, I can recite pretty much every line of dialogue from Pulp Fiction from memory. And yes, I have an enormous Reservoir Dogs poster. Call me a fanboy, call me an apologist -- whatever. I get what Q.T. is saying.

And I knew within five seconds I was going to love this movie: Tarantino opens it up with a hilarious -- and very appropriate -- reference to Star Trek II. It's that kind of love (and encyclopedic knowledge) of film that's apparent in all of Tarantino's work, but none more so than Kill Bill.

The story is strikingly simple: a group of assassins known as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad hit a wedding in a small church in El Paso, killing everyone. Well, almost everyone -- despite their efforts, the main target of the hit, the Bride (Uma Thurman) -- who is, or was, one of their own -- somehow survives, though comatose. When she wakes up four years later, to discover she's lost the child she was carrying at the time, there's only one course of action: REVENGE~! And in appropriate action-movie style, she aims to take them out one at a time, trotting across the globe to kill them all, finishing with the leader known only as Bill (David Carradine).

In the hands of another writer/director, this would be a dark, serious character study, watching as the Bride slowly becomes more and more machine-like as she moves toward her goal of killing Bill. But not Tarantino -- he's always had an unabashed adoration for those bloody kung fu movies from the 70s, and Kill Bill is his version, complete with cheesy wocka-wocka music cues and characters with names like "Black Mamba" and "Copperhead." Along the way, Q also finds time to give us a short anime film, a horrifying subplot about certain liberties taken with the comatose Bride, and a master swordmaker's reluctant return to his craft.

One of the more remarkable aspects of the picture is the gorgeous cinematography -- colors just burst out the frame, especially in an early sequence in suburbia. The film's climactic fight scene in the snow is probably the most beautiful image I've seen all year. A scene where the Bride, clad in a yellow jumpsuit rides her motorcycle through the neon glow of Tokyo, is similarly stunning. Credit to Robert Richardson for impeccable work. Sally Menke's editing is also noteworthy (and award-worthy).

As far as the acting goes, everyone pretty much hits their marks perfectly. While there's cheese in the music and occasionally in the writing, there's none in the performances, which I have to commend. Tarantino also taunts us, letting us know at the beginning David Carradine is playing Bill, but never letting us see any of Bill other than his hand (that's a tactic Tarantino loves: amping up a character's image in the minds of audience by refusing to let us see his/her face). I should mention Lucy Liu, whom I normally don't care for: I just loved her in this movie. Thanks to the film's obligatory time-jumping (it is Tarantino, after all), I'm not sure if she'll be in Volume 2. Here's hoping.

There's been a lot of talk about Kill Bill's violence, and it's warranted -- this is one of the most graphically violent mainstream movies I've seen. We're talking heads chopped off and spraying blood, hands and feet severed and flying around, and other slashed body parts. It reminds me of nothing less than Monty Python's Black Knight scene, really. But unlike such ritual bloodlettings as Hannibal and the like, Kill Bill takes none of it seriously, so the whole movie as a Looney Tunes/Roadrunner feel that makes it hard to be offended at the various vivisected henchmen. Your mileage may vary, however, so consider yourself warned.

The movie does come to a rather abrupt conclusion, complete with gasp-inducing cliffhanger. I loved it, but I heard a lot of boos from the audience; I have to ask, "What were you expecting?" It does say "Volume 1" right there in the title. I should point on that it's much a better ending than The Matrix Reloaded, and Tarantino doesn't gives us a cheesy "To Be Continued" title, either. It just cuts to the "Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino" card, leaving us breathless with exhaustion and antcipation. Though I didn't like it at first, I'm happy about the split -- I don't think I could sit through much more of this one, as much as I loved it.

So will Kill Bill, Vol. 2 be the 5th film by Quentin Tarantino? Or still the 4th? Fourth-and-a-half? Only a few months to wait and find out. I do know this: Vol. 1 is the best film I've seen this year, by far. Welcome back, Q.

Rating: *****

Thursday, October 23, 2003

In the fuzzy, depressed mental state in which I wrote my previous post, I neglected to mention my acquisition of the new Barenaked Ladies release, Everything to Everyone. It's the same Canadian goodness we've come to expect. And honestly, that's really a incredible accomplishment, when you consider the BNL style; there's a fine line between quirky goofiness and annoying juvenelia, and BNL's ability to land on the positive side of that line so consistently for fourteen-plus years now is truly impressive.

(Someone out there is reading this right now and thinking, "Fourteen years? Dude, was that chickity-china-the-chinese-chicken song fourteen years ago?" No. No no no. "One Week" may have big their biggest hit [in America, anyway], but it was by no means their first. Their first radio hit was "Be My Yoko Ono," back in 1989, and they were very popular in the Canadian club scene for some time before that. They are not one-hit wonders, despite what the clueless sales clerk at Wearhouse told me. Moron. Uh, anyway...what was I talking about?...oh, yeah....)

I've become particularly enamored with a song on the disc called "Upside Down." This may be my new favorite song of theirs...yes, I might like it more than "Alcohol" or "Box Set." I decided to submit the lyrics here for your approval.

I always knew it'd come to this
Sooner or later there must be another's kiss
Behind that kiss a promise of a life of bliss
Yeah, great -- I won't be taking the bait
I'd rather drown
And I will not turn my whole life upside down

Imagine everything you've done
Under a microscope on view for everyone
And if the King of Circumspection's here
He's come in vain -- I won't be sharing the blame
I wear the crown
And I will not turn my whole life upside down

Nothing's good enough for me
To shake me from complacency
I make my mind up and I'll never be...

The kind of man to make a choice
For if I hold my tongue, I'll never lose my voice
If each attempted act of sabotage destroys all hope
I won't be needing the rope
I'm gagged and bound
But I will not turn my whole life upside down

And if the genie was set free
And, by the laws of things like that, he's indebted to me
I'd bury my three wishes deep down in the ground
Cause I will not turn my whole life upside down

Though I appreciate the aim
Tell Andy Warhol's ghost that he can keep his fame
I'd only use to make everything the same again
So don't applaud 'til the end -- I'm not around
And I will not turn my whole life upside down

Nothing's good enough for me
To shake me from complacency
I've made my mind up -- I won't make a sound
And I will not turn my whole life upside down

Well, I like it. And you should, too. So go buy it. And yes, I mean buy it. And yes, I'm talking to you.

And if the clerk tells you that Barenaked Ladies are a one-hit wonder, clock him in the jaw. Moron.

I never though that you would love me
The way that you do
I never thought that you could love me
Half as much as I do
In memoriam: Elliot Smith. Nothing I could say would be better than what a friend of mine did, so I'll just say it's a sad, tragic thing.

I actually came up with an idea for a short play I was going to start writing tonight, but a large part of it involves two characters discussing suicide at length; it seemed a little unnerving (not to mention depressing as all hell) to write this after hearing about Elliot, so I'll put if off for a week or so.

Onto baseball. In the fictional world, the Oklahoma Tornados are now 42-16, far and away the best team in baseball. It's actually scary how good we are. Out of boredom, I simmed the rest of the season just to see what would happen. We ended up 110-52 and walked away with the world title. Awesomeness.

In the real world, the Marlins tried to give away Game 4, but came back to win in the 12th off a homer by Alex Gonzales. So what we have is now the exact same situation as in the ALCS: Yanks lose Game 1. They win Game 2 at home, then beat the other team's ace (Pedro for Boston, Josh Beckett for Florida) in Game 3, then lose Game 4 despite late inning heroics from Ruben Sierra. It's scary, isn't it?

I still hold to my prediction (delusion?) of the Marlins' victory in seven games. Yes, I'm a lunatic.

Next door, the TV's flashing
Blue frames on the wall
It's a comedy of errors, you see
It's about taking a fall

To vanish to oblivion
Is easy to do
And I try to be, but you know me
I come back when you want me to
Do you miss me, Miss Misery
Like you say you do?

Friday, October 17, 2003

Mystic River: ****1/2. The Best Actor race is now a heated three-way between Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, and Sean Penn, who is all kinds of awesome here.

I saw the trailer for Tim Burton's Big Fish. It will either be really good or absolutely unbearable. Not sure which yet.

Oh, and the Red Sox. I'm disappointed, but not surprised, really. I mean, it's the Red Sox. I'm used to it. "Wait till next year," as Dodger fans used to say. And still say, I'd imagine. Next year's dream playoffs -- Astros vs. Dodgers in the NLCS; Red Sox vs. Mariners in the ALCS. I think I would have a stroke trying to decide who to root for.

So it's the Greatest Team Ever vs. Those Crazy Marlins for the prize. As much as I hate the Yankees, they probably are the best team in baseball. You'd have to be a lunatic to bet against them.

Marlins in seven.

You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Five outs. There were five friggin' outs away. And they blew it.

If you didn't see it, the Cubs were up 3-0 in the 8th. Someone for the Marlins...Castillo, I believe, tapped a short pop-up in foul ground down the third-base line. Into the stands, but definitely playable. Moises Alou -- Cubs leftfielder -- sticks his glove in the crowd to catch the ball....

...and some stupid fucking drunk fan tries to catch the ball and slaps it away.

The Marlins go on to score EIGHT in the inning.

Game 7 tonight. I am afraid. Very afraid.

In other news, Mystic River opens today. Aw yeah.

It'll work out. You'll see it already. In the end, it's all nice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


Yes, the Red Sox managed to hold on to win Game 4, despite their best efforts to give it away in the ninth. So it's tied up at 2-2 now, which means that the series is definitely going back to New York for at least one game. I guarantee some stupid Yankee fan is going to start some shit. Watch.

In just a few moments, Game 5 starts. And then, tonight, Game 6 of the NLCS. The Cubs have the chance to go to the World Series for the first time since 1945. One can only hope.

There's a new baseball poll over there. You know what to do.

In other baseball news, my expansion team on All-Star Baseball 2003 -- the Oklahoma Tornados -- are now 27-11, still in 1st place in the NL Central. We're the most powerful offensive team in baseball, and we have one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The other teams cower in our presence. Yeah.

People will come, Ray. People will come.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

So I saw Intolerable Cruelty yesterday: ****1/2. I also saw Kill Bill, which I just had to write about at length. And I saw the Return of the King trailer. *Twice.* And the Cubs won!

It was a good day.

But now the Red Sox are losing, and Pedro is totally falling apart. Grrr.

Wiggle your big toe. Wiggle your big toe.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Good news: The Lion King (#28 on the Essentials list) is out on DVD. It's about freakin' time.

Bad news: "Morning Report," the all-new song added to the film, is really quite bad. It's unnecessary and messes with the flow of the movie. Plus, it means it takes longer to get to "Just Can't Wait to Be King" and "Be Prepared." Luckily, you can watch the film without it, so I won't have to firebomb Disney in retaliation.

In keeping with the whole Lion King madness, there's a new poll over there. VOTE!

Speaking of voting: Ahnold is the governor of California. Since I don't live there, and haven't lived there since 1989, I really don't much give a damn, but I also don't think it's an "embarassment to democracy" or anything. I mean, why do we assume that just because he's Ahnold, he'll make a bad governor? Sure, he might make a horrible leader, and if he does, I'll be the first to say so. But hey, Ronald Regan was an actor before he became governor of California and eventually President, and he was a....

Okay, bad example.

I know it sounds sordid
But you'll be rewarded
When at last I am given my dues
And injustice deliciously squared
Be prepared!

Monday, October 06, 2003

Okay, so it's been a while. Why haven't I posted? Short answer: "I didn't feel like it." Long answer: "(pause) I didn't feel like it."

So, yeah. I saw Lost in Translation: ****1/2, best film of the year so far. Great flick. Saw The Rundown: ***1/2. I think the Rock might just become an action star after all. How about that. Now it's all about Kill Bill and Intolerable Cruelty.

I was complaining about our government (I know, big surprise) to someone yesterday, and I had to once again listen to that stupid "Well, why don't you just go live somewhere else then?" garbage. They ask me how I'd feel if I was living in a country where I wasn't allowed to complain about the government.

"You mean," I said, "what if I lived in a country where, if I spoke out against my leaders, I would be harrassed and told to shut up or leave the country?"


"Um...I do."

Can anyone tell me where I can get a desktop wallpaper of an upside-down American flag?

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our souls
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold
And if you listen very hard
The truth will come to you at last
When all is one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll

Thursday, September 25, 2003


Rarely have I taken such pleasure in being wrong: Lost in Translation will indeed be opening at a theater...well, maybe not near me, but close enough.

And as if to make sure this movie-related happiness is stomped into the ground and crushed before it can blossom into full-blown optimism, New Line has announced that the long-awaited Return of the King trailer will appear in theaters starting tomorrow...with Secondhand Lions. Yeah, fuck you, too.

I thought about the army
Dad said, "Son, you're fuckin' high"

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

To answer someone's question: No, I'm not reviewing Underworld. I might write up a paragraph or two for one of my end-of-month capsule reviews, should I choose to do one. But otherwise, you'll have to do with just the knowledge that I hated it with the furious intensity of a thousand suns, and that's all. Sorry.

Album of the week: Some Devil, Dave Matthews. Good stuff. Not that radical a departure from DMB stuff, but different enough. It's spectacular.

And Lost in Translation will, most likely, not open anywhere in this state, thus depriving me of yet another critically adored film. AARGH!

Gravedigger, when you dig my grave
Could you make it shallow
So that I can feel the rain?

Sunday, September 21, 2003

During a screening of Underworld....

My friend Robert: "So, why do the vampires have to be the good guys?"

Me: "Um....because Kate Beckinsale is a vampire. And she's really hot."

Robert: "Oh."

Holy crap, did I hate Underworld. I mean, I knew it was going to be bad, but...damn. The worst movie I've seen all year, and that includes Jeepers Creepers 2. And when a flying, cannibalistic homosexual rapist in a stupid hat has you beat, you suck pretty badly, don't you? But seriously, a horrible script, goofy FX, and atrocious acting all lead up to a definite Worst Picture of the Year candidate. I'm stunned White Wolf would sue: why would they want people to believe they were in any way responsible for this horrible piece of shit (though I do believe they have something of a case)?

You know what's a cool feeling? When two friends of yours have been wracking their brains on a puzzle in Silent Hill 3 for seven hours (yeah, seven hours), then you show up and solve it in ten minutes. That's a cool feeling. The not-cool part of it is that now I want to play SH3 again really bad.

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

(Essential #73)

A question: when the Reliant attacks the Enterprise, and that engineering cadet (who is Scotty's nephew according to the novelization) is mortally wounded, why the hell does Scotty bring him to the bridge? I mean, to get to the bridge from Engineering, you have to pass Sickbay. What's going on here?

Ah, Star Trek. One of my earliest movie-related memories is lying on the floor of our apartment in Canoga Park, California, pretending to be asleep while my mom watched Star Trek V. Perhaps it would have been better for my sanity if I actually had slept instead of watching a film directed by William Shatner, but I was hooked. Right there, I was instantly a Star Trek geek.

Our cultural landscape is littered with movies adapted from popular television shows -- Charlie's Angels, Scooby Doo, S.W.A.T. -- but most are disasters. The only series to truly breakthrough and suceed on the big screen was Star Trek (unless you count Maverick, which I loved but not too many others did). But it wasn't easy for Gene Roddenberry's creation: the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was a slow, ponderous mess that was so awful that I'm surprised they greenlit a sequel.

But oh, thank Paramount they did, because Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan obliterates the bad memories of the turgid first film. Leaving behind that movie's "We are making serious science fiction" tone, director Nicholas Meyer injects Khan with the thing that made the series great in the first place: the interaction between Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nemoy), and Doctor "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelley). He then throws in some great action, an outstanding villain, and one hell of a shocking climax, and ends up with what is arguably the best of the Trek films.

Classic scene:

Spock's final moments. "I have been and always will be your friend. Live long...and prosper..."

His days of galavanting across the galaxy long since passed, Kirk (now an Admiral) presides over Starfleet Academy, grading the cadets under Spock's tutilage. He projects a happy air -- "Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young," he tells McCoy -- but everyone can tell he'd rather be doing just that.

Be careful what you wish for: while scouting locations to test the experimental Genesis device -- a bomb that creates life, rather than destroying it -- Chekov (Walter Koening) and the crew of the Reliant stumble upon the shelter of Khan Singh (the gloriously over-the-top Ricardo Montalban) and his crew. A genetically-engineered superman from Earth, Khan was marooned on this barren world decades ago by Kirk (in the episode "Space Seed"), and now he wants vengeance. He implants worms (don't ask) in the brains of Chekov and Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield) and takes over the Reliant, heading for his revenge and to pick up the Genesis device, which he admires for its destructive capabilites more than the creation.

The Enterprise, on a training cruise and staffed almost entirely by cadets, is somehow "the only ship in the quadrant" and must respond to the situation. In addition to meeting up with Khan, Kirk finds the creators of Genesis: Carol Marcus (Bibi Besch), who happens to be a former lover; and her son, David (Merritt Butrick), who happens to be the result of that affair. There is much technobabble, phaser fights, exploding computer consoles, and angst from Shatner (this is probably his best performance...for what that's worth).

Montalban gives Khan everything he has, and the result is magnificent. He quotes Shakespeare and Moby Dick, says "I will avenge you!" when a crewman falls, and gives us dubious Klingon proverbs: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." (That's actually Spanish.) The tension and rage between he and Kirk is impressive, especially considering that not once in the film are the two in the same room together.

Random triviata:

The painting of San Francisco that serves as the background during the scene in Kirk's apartment was originally used in The Towering Inferno.

While the later films excelled with their special effects, Khan is not nearly as impressive. The budget was rather tight, and it shows -- a shot of approaching Klingon battle cruisers is footage from the first film, and the bridges of the Reliant and the Enterprise are the exact same set with different lighting. When fake heads are used in the ear worm scenes, the difference is very noticable.

But where the film fails in effects, it makes up in character. The script crackles with wonderful exchanges (Kirk: "I would not presume to debate you." Spock: "That would be wise.") and the performances are great all around. Of all the Trek films, this is the most important -- without a success here, we probably wouldn't have seen the birth of The Next Generation five years later, nor would we get any of the even-numbered films that we would love later on (the odd-numbered movies all suck). Of course, we wouldn't have had to endure Star Trek V, either...but I think the trade-off is worth it.

Oh, and another question: when Carol tries to signal Kirk, Uhura tells him the signal is "jammed at the source." But previous dialogue says that the Reliant and Khan -- who is presumably the one doing the jamming -- won't reach the station for three days. What's going on there?

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Might as well get this out of the way right now: I've never seen El Mariachi. And I've only seen about twenty minutes or so of Desperado, and I didn't like it. So I'm not entirely sure why I was looking forward to this movie as much as I was...but I bet it had something to do with Johnny Depp. Though I've always admired his work, I've never big the biggest of Depp fans until this summer, when Pirates of the Caribbean dropped and Jack Sparrow blew everyone away. So I found myself highly intrigued in his follow-up, which also happened to be the final film in Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi" trilogy.

And maybe my Depp focus had something to do with my opinion of the final product, but once again, this movie belongs to Johnny. Sure, his Sands (a CIA operative) is really just a supporting character, but Depp's performance is spellbinding. When he's onscreen, the movie crackles with life; when he's off, you're waiting for him to come back.

I could try to tell you the plot, but I really couldn't discern much of it myself. Sands hires the legendary El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) to hit a Mexican general (Gerardo Vigil). El, as he's called ("as in the," Sands is told), already has a good reason to waste the guy: he killed his wife (Salma Hayek) and his daughter. But Sands wants El to kill him only after the general as already killed the President of Mexico (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) in an attempted coup. Somehow, another Mexican general (Willam Dafoe) ties into all of this, as does a one-eyed man (Cheech Marin), a retired FBI agent (Ruben Blades), and a little dog belonging to Mickey Rourke.

It's nearly impossible to follow, but Rodriguez keeps it moving along fairly quickly. Rodriguez is the cinematic equivalent of Trent Reznor -- he directed the film, wrote the script, operated the camera, composed the music, and edited the picture himself (or, as he terms it in the opening credits, "shot, chopped and scored"). And while it's impressive to see someone take that much control over a film (when the credit says "A Robert Rodriguez Flick," it's the truth), the film suffers a bit from that single-mindedness. Sometimes, collaboration can be a good thing; another writer, for instance, may have been able to convince him to thin out -- or at least clarify -- his narrative. Rodriguez is all alone, essentially creating this film in his garage, and it has the self-indulgent feel of someone operating without a bullshit detector.

If it sounds like I'm writing the film off, I'm not. Once Upon a Time in Mexico really is a blast. The action scenes are a lot of fun, even if I wasn't always certain why the various people were trying to kill one another, and they haven't the slightest touch of The Matrix in them anywhere, to my great relief. Banderas has a smothering intensity that perfectly embodies his character, and Mickey Rourke manages to get a lot more mileage than you'd think he could out of carrying around a little dog.

But I keep coming back to Depp. There's something about him: standing there, watching a bullfight, wearing a CIA t-shirt, Sands commands the attention of the audience. He's funny, he's dangerous, and he's probably a little bit insane...Sands, I mean, not Depp. But this character is so much fun that the rest of the movie actually suffers in comparison -- I like Willem Dafoe as much as the next guy, but he's totally forgotten about the second he leaves the frame, while Sands becomes what truly makes Mexico worth watching. Technically, I think he's supposed to be a bad guy (who can tell with this script?), but I was rooting for him all the way.

So Robert Rodriguez may have done everything on this picture short of painting the sets and acting as chauffeur, but Johnny Depp wanders onto the screen and steals it all for himself. It may be a "Robert Rodriguez Flick," but it's a Johnny Depp picture. Somebody give this man an Oscar.

Rating: ***1/2

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Johnny Depp: my new hero. Read my review of Once Upon a Time in Mexico to find out why.

It appears that one of Depp's upcoming projects is the film adaptation of Stephen King's Secret Window, Secret Garden. This is yet more GOOD NEWS, folks.

And Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is a work of exquisite evil. I will defeat thy evil VR missions! I swear to it!

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel

Saturday, September 13, 2003

I saw a film today, oh boy

I scraped together some quarters today, headed down to Movies 12 and saw Matchstick Men. Talk about a pleasant surprise. Consider me back on the Nick Cage bandwagon after this and Adaptation. But the best part here is Alison Lohman, who is wonderful as Cage's long-lost daughter. And Ridley Scott's visual style is superb. Call it ****...only the second movie I've seen in theaters this year to reach that. Blech.

But good news: there are good movies on the horizon. Some of the ones I'm looking forward to, in order of can't-wait-edness....

The Return of the King -- Who isn't waiting for this?

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 -- So I'm a Tarantino mark. This still looks awesome.

Mystic River -- Good lord, have you seen this cast? Plus Eastwood behind the camera? I am SO there.

Intolerable Cruelty -- Yeah, the trailer doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but it's the Coens! How bad could it be? ...Don't answer that.

Cold Mountain -- Nicole Kidman, directed by Anthony Minghella. That's all I know, but that's enough for me.

Love, Actually -- Yet another great cast. Yeah, it's a romantic comedy. So what?

The Rundown -- Call me crazy, but I loved the trailer. So the Rock's filmography is less than spectacular, but it's way better than Hogan's.

The Last Samurai -- The full trailer I saw today cemented it -- this is gonna be either really good or really bad. Either way, I can't wait.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico -- ...hey, that opened today, didn't it? All right!

The Matrix Revolutions -- sure, Reloaded was only barely a success, but I'm still optmistic. Am I being foolish?

So hopefully, this awful summer will be nothing but a bad memory soon.

And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh

Friday, September 12, 2003

Christian Bale (American Psycho) has been signed to be the next Batman, to be directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia). This is GOOD NEWS, folks.

That is all.

That's why they call me bad company
And I won't deny
Bad company 'til the day I die

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Sublime moment: I'm sitting here at my computer. The score from Magnolia is playing on my CD player. And just at the point in the score where the heavy rain begins in the movie, thunder hits outside and the light rain picks up in intensity. Nice.

So I'm listening to the audio commentary on Stephen King's Storm of the Century (thank you, Robert), and it's really not terribly interesting. Sure, I love listening to King talk, but director Craig R. Baxley has nothing at all worth saying. And there are huge -- and I mean huge, ten or fifteen minutes -- gaps in the commentary, where it's just silence. Not cool. I'm about halfway through.

I'm in kind of a nostalgic mood. I've been reading over the records of our past Vampire games....ah, memories. And yes, I'm working on it. It's coming, okay? By the end of next week, I swear to you.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry. Those who need to do.)

I've received some pleasant comments about my "Sixteenth Specimen" memoir -- thanks. I also got one "it sucked ass," but he was joking. I think.

Oh, great, it's time to get ready for work. Blech.

I know this all seems silly. I know that maybe I sound ridiculous, like maybe this is scene of the movie where the guy is trying to get ahold on the long-lost son, but this is that scene. Y'know? I think they have those scene in movies because they're true, because they really happen....Do not leave me hanging on this -- please. See...this is the scene of the movie where you help me out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Now available for your reading pleasure....

"Now, she wanted to get an "impact" shot. She orders me to bang my head on the steering wheel. I try it out once. "No, not like that -- hard." I smash my head into the steering column at full speed. "Yeah, like that." I'm once again given the order to repeat this action until told to stop. Only this time, she kills the lights in the garage and turns on the strobe. Right in my eyes. So there I am, in a very hot garage, crashing my face into the Ford logo with a strobe light flashing through my pupils and directly into my brain. Acting: gotta love it."

"Affirmations, Cloning, and Car Crashes: The Making of 'Sixteenth Specimen'" as now been uploaded. Read it. Tell me what you think. I beg of you.

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Yesterday -- well, technically this morning -- while raving about Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, I somehow forgot to mention the equally hilarious website, upon which the novel is loosely based.

So, White Wolf is suing the makers of Underworld for copyright infringment. I'd have to say I'm rooting for White Wolf here. Not because I think they have a case (I'd have to see Underworld first), but because (a) I love White Wolf games and (b) Underworld looks really, really bad.

I'm halfway through something for the writing section. Should be up tomorrow or Thursday.

And the Astros are going to give me a goddamn heart attack. Just so you know.

I pledge my grievance to the flag
Excuses, excuses....

On Saturday night, I made plans to see Dirty Pretty Things the following day. So it really came as no surprise to find myself Sunday evening watching The Italian Job (inexplicably in re-release) instead. It was okay -- I might write a review later.

Oh, so many things to write. I'm supposed to be writing something for this site right now (I'm the "lazy bum" described on the front page). I've got a non-fiction piece I want to do. I watched the ABC miniseries Stephen King's Storm of the Century last week; I liked it much more than I remembered, and planned to write a review. And yet nothing is done. Why? Well....

1) I've been trying to fix that image up there. That took far longer than I expected. But now that it's there, what do you think?

2) For some reason, I've been hooked on my PlayStation 2 again for the last few days (especially Metal Gear Solid 2 and WWE Smackdown). Don't know why.

3) I bought a book today: Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. I can't put the damn thing down. It's open next to me as I type this. I'm glancing at it during long page loads.

Not to mention that tonight, while at work, no less than three -- three -- ideas for new things to write came to me. See, I have a lot of good ideas; they just all come to me at once.

Hopefully, I'll sort this all out and have something done by the end of the week. Hopefully.

Did Mother Nature tell you,
"Boy, you come and go as you please"?
That's what she said to me

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Ten reviews, one page! This is what happens when I get lazy, folks.

Oh, and I discovered something today that I didn't know when I wrote that -- Victor Salva, writer/director of the Jeepers Creepers films, is a convicted pedophile. This explains a great deal, actually.

"What's a pederast, Walter?"
"Shut the fuck up, Donny."

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Forgive me for the lack of updates, but the past few weeks have been rather strange. After struggling through a power outage, flat tires, a cold, and the DVD release of Bowling for Columbine (review now posted!), I'm ready to give this site some attention once again.

A few brief notes before it's time to either shuffle into work or call in sick and head for bed: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is just as good on DVD as it was in the theater; the pacing seems much smoother on the small screen, but the grand scope of some of the action scenes is lessened just a bit. My favorite moment is still just as awe-inspiring as it was on the big screen: Grima Wormtongue, moved to tears by the shear awesomness of Sauruman's army. I love that part.... I saw Seabiscuit: blech. Call it **1/2. It wasn't bad, but it was bland apart from the exciting racing sequences. And what was with the PBS narrator?.... Jonny Depp will be playing Willy Wonka in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, to be directed by Tim Burton. I have no idea how to feel about this -- Depp is good, yes, but I'm no Tim Burton fan (blasphemy, I know).

And that's it. I'll be back tomorrow with a whole bunch of capsule reviews of a month's worth of video rentals.

You're even dumber than you think I think you are.

Back to the Future II

You know, I really remember enjoying this one a hell of a lot more when it was originally released. Maybe its reliance on retreading (literally) the events of the first Back to the Future turned me off a lot more this time; maybe I caught the ludicrous and enormous plot holes and that derailed my enjoyment. Either way, Back to the Future II is a supreme disappointment. The plot is far too complex to get into here (a trip to the future to correct damage farther into the future wrecks havoc on the past and thus screws up the present and makes the entire movie theoretically impossible... essentially), and that's part of the problem -- the beautiful simplicity of the first film is lost under unnecessary plot complications. In fact, at one point, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd, as himself) has to pull out a chalkboard and draw diagrams to explain everything to Marty (Michael J. Fox) and the audience. And it all leads up to a cheap-ass "To Be Concluded" non-ending and a trailer for Back to the Future III (a movie I remember liking less than this one, which is why I haven't picked that one up yet). The film's only real achievement is a technical one -- camera technology advancements allowed Fox to play three different characters on screen at once fairly seamlessly. But it's only for a scene or two, and none of the characters are very interesting anyway. If you do decide to watch this one, watch out for Elijah Wood's very first film role at a 80's diner in the future.

Rating: *

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The Life of David Gale

There are no fewer than four films featuring Kevin Spacey on my Essentials list, two in the top ten. During the period of my life when it became clear to me that I wanted to be a filmmaker, Spacey churned out incredible performance after incredible performance -- L.A. Confidential, The Big Kahuna, and, of course, his Oscar-winning turn in American Beauty. I watched Spacey bring the house down on Inside the Actor's Studio, and kill in the "Star Wars Auditions" sketch on Saturday Night Live. He was my favorite actor.

But something happened after that second Oscar. Something about his melodramatic role in Pay It Forward made me worry long before that film torpedoed itself into the garbage. The Shipping News? Kevin, you have two Oscars already, you don't need to mine for more. K-PAX? This is a joke, right? Where the hell was Verbal Kint? Lester Burnham? What happened?

I saw the trailer for The Life of David Gale, and didn't want to see it. Never mind that Alan Parker (director of such diverse films as Angela's Ashes and Pink Floyd: The Wall) was behind the camera. And never mind Spacey. I had given up. But something compelled me. Maybe Spacey deserved another chance. So I caved.

I've got good news and bad news. The bad news: The Life of David Gale is an embarassing disaster, and one of the most intellectually offensive films I've seen in a while. The good news: it's not Spacey's fault.

In New York, reporter Bitsey (?) Bloom (Kate Winslet) is coming off a well-publicized jail term for refusing to reveal her sources in a story about kiddie porn. Her integrity under fire has earned her a special assignment: head down to Texas and interview death row inmate David Gale (Spacey), sentenced to die in three days for the rape and murder of his friend and colleague, Constance Harroway (Laura Linney). It seems Gale and Harroway were both high-ranking officials for DeathWatch, an anti-death penalty group, and both very outspoken death penalty abolitionists. Gale has never given an interview before now, and specifically requests Bitsey for the job. And even though "Dammit, you know I work alone," Bitsey is assigned an intern, Zack (Gabriel Mann), to help her work out the various plot twists. They end up in a rental car with a flashing "overheating" light, which would be inexcusably obvious foreshadowing if a brief flash-forward at the start of the film didn't spoil that suspense for us.

Right off the bat, the script (Charles Randolph's first) is downright embarrassing in its liberal bias. Zack says things like "Ninety percent of all serial killers vote Republican." Bitsey talks about Gale's guilt with such conviction that her eventual change of heart is hardly a surprise. And things get no better once we meet Gale: he tells Bitsey at their first meeting, "No one looks through that glass and sees a person. They see a crime." The guards at the prison are heartless bullies who scream at Gale for standing and refuse to turn the volume down on the speakers. Now I'm the last person to stand up for the conservatives, but jeez.

At its heart, the movie is a standard investigative thriller -- Gale proclaims his innocence, and pieces of information pop up that may support his side of the story. There's a videotape of the crime that may or may not exist, and of course a Mysterious Stalker following Bitsey and Zack around -- a cowboy who listens to opera tails them in a pickup truck (headlights off, but they still manage to spot him every time). There are a few odd touches I like -- the goth chick that's moved into the house where the murder occurred and turned it into a macabre museum, complete with guided tour and a complimentary photo pack -- but there's not much here you've never seen before.

If there's anything to keep you awake through the thriller portions of Gale, it's Spacey, who turns in his best performance since...well, since American Beauty. Gale is a man who knows he's made mistakes -- he cheated on his wife with a student (which resulted in a bogus rape charge), he's an alcoholic, he's an egotistical glory hound -- and is saddened that he's unable to atone for them. In Spacey's hands, he's both angry and amused by the irony of his predicament and the skill of those who placed him there. It may not be his best work, but it's a step back on track.

Elsewhere, the acting's not much to speak of. Laura Linney has little to do with her character, mainly just frowning and spitting out statistics. Kate Winslet, meanwhile, has a character arc so perfunctory that it's a testament to her talent that she doesn't look bored. Gabriel Mann, unfortunately, has even less to do, and does nothing worth noting.

So as a suspense picture, Gale churns along competently, if not originally or particularly interestingly. But the film totally comes apart when Parker and Randolph decide to get political. Pages of dialogue are committed to exposing the various flaws in the death penalty system. The governor is described as a "frat boy" and says things like "I say let's bring 'em in, strap 'em down, and rock 'n' roll." In a television debate with Gale, Gale compares him to Hitler and offers still more statistics; in response, the governor quotes the bible. The film is placed in Texas, which makes it even easier to make those in favor of executions look like lunatics, helped along with dialogue like, "You know you're in the bible belt when there are more churches than Starbucks." (Huh?)

And then there's the ending, which I won't spoil (though I had it called from the trailer). It has the notable aspect of being both completely nonsensical and entirely predictable; it also manages to totally undermine all of the arrogant conservative-bashing in a single shot. Thus the only barely competent thriller aspect of the film manages to fall on its face, as well. I'm sure that Parker and Randolph think they've made an intelligent suspense picture that says some important things about the state of the death penalty in America. But they've made the exact opposite -- a boring, predictable mess that contradicts its own heavy-handed message in the desire to get one last "Gotcha!" out of the audience.

Well, Kevin, you're once again a respectable actor. But, please, for my sake and yours: fire your agent.

Rating: *

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Bowling for Columbine

In the spring of 1995, when I was in eighth grade, I began to conceive of a short story, one I would never end up actually writing. The story described a school terrorized by a mad bomber, indescriminately killing teachers, students and anyone else who managed to wander onto school grounds. At the end of the story, police would make the shocking revelation that it was one of the school's very own students behind the murders. The thought that this story was, in some way, my attempt to deal with the frustration, rage and alienation I felt on a daily basis at McAdams Junior High somehow never occurred to me at the time. But it did on April 20, 1999, when my English teacher announced to the class that two high school students in Colorado had opened fire on their classmates. And it came back to me once again as I watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine a second time, haunted by the security-camera footage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold -- who, like me, were high school seniors in 1999 -- mercilessly stalking their classmates and teachers.

Though Moore's scathing film uses the Littleton massacre as a jumping-off point, Bowling for Columbine isn't about school violence or school shootings. Nor is it about gun control, though it seems to start out that way. Instead, Moore tries to get to the bottom of why we have so much violence in America: "Are we a nation of gun nuts," he asks, "or just plain nuts?" There's evidence to support either side, but at the end, Moore believes the latter.

Of course, everyone has theories abound concerning gun violence in this country, and Moore wastes no time in debunking them one at a time. Some say we simply have too many guns in this country...but Canada is a gun-loving country, too, and yet they don't have the same problems we do. (Moore chats with a police officer in Windsor, across the river from Detroit, who says he can only remember one murder in the last three years, and that was by a visitor from Detroit.) Others say our bloody history is to blame...but what about Germany? A lot of fingers are pointed at our violent movies and video games...but Hollywood blockbusters are just as popular overseas, and a lot of our violent games come from Japan. The breakdown of the traditional family unit? But England has a higher rate of divorce than we do.

For Moore, it all boils down to the fact that our culture is not one of violence, as some claim, but one of fear: drive-by shootings that lead the news, government warnings about threats in the vaguest possible terms, all designed to keep the citizens afraid of one another to distract us from the corporate crime that occurs all around us. And, as shown in a brilliant animated sequence written by Moore, that fear is cultivated from blatant racism, white America's fear of the black man, dating back to slavery.

Moore visits the Michigan Militia, who claim that being armed is a "responsibilty of every American....Who's going to protect your family? The cops?" James Nichols, who was arrested (but not charged) in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing, tells a clearly-frightened Moore that the evils of the government will result in a bloody revolt. When Moore asks if the man has ever considered non-violent protest, like Ghandi, he stammers and mumbles, "I'm not familiar with that."

In Littleton, Moore is shocked to discover that the town's largest employer just happens to be Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor. He theorizes that our nation's violence-is-the-answer foreign policy may have influenced the Columbine killers -- on the day of the massacre, the U.S. dropped more bombs on Kosovo than at any other point during that war. But elements like these were ignored in the post-Columbine rush to blame rock singer Marilyn Manson, whom Moore interviews. "The president was dropping bombs on another country," Manson says, "and yet I'm a bad guy because I sing some rock 'n' roll songs. And who's a bigger influence, the president or Marilyn Manson?"

It probably doesn't hurt that I agree with most of what Moore is saying. But there are certainly parts of his film that are inspired, like the trip he takes to Canada to try to look at our country from another angle. And it's interesting that those who took the brunt of the finger-pointing after Columbine, like Manson and South Park co-creator Matt Stone (who attented Columbine High School), give thoughtful interviews with Moore, yet NRA President Charlton Heston and sympathizer Dick Clark (whom Moore tries to interview) can't run away from the camera fast enough. Moore's outrage is both amusing and contagious, and his wit is razor-sharp: in a genius sequence, he demonstrates white America's anxiety toward blacks by showing comparative news clips of "Africanized killer bees" nesting across the street from a terrified old white lady.

But Bowling for Columbine, as good as it is, is not perfect. There are a few slips here, and they are pretty severe. For example, Moore visits two of the survivors of the Columbine massacre, and takes them to K-Mart headquarters to force the company to question their policy of selling handgun ammunition (the bullets Klebold and Harris used were purchased at K-Mart). It's interesting, no doubt, and it's a fine moment of triumph when a K-Mart executive announces that they will indeed cease the sale of handgun ammo. But since Moore has already spent a large portion of his film arguing, exhaustively, that easy access to guns and ammunition is not the problem, one wonders what the relevance of this could be. Moore also plays fast and dirty with some statistics -- rather than pointing out the differences in murder rates between nations, he throws raw numbers out there. Sure, it's shocking to know that Canada only has 165 homicides a year compared to our nearly 11,500, but ignoring the obvious differences in population between the two countries is a transparent attempt to give the message more impact, and it hurts the film.

But even with its flaws, Bowling for Columbine is a bold, stunning work that deserves every one of the many accolades it received. In the end, Moore never really does find many satisfactory answers to the questions he asks. What is it that makes some people snap and turn to violence? What's the difference between Klebold and Harris, who murdered their classmates, and frustrated people like me or Matt Stone, who channel that anger in another direction? But perhaps it's simply enough that the questions are being asked at all.

Rating: ****1/2

Monday, August 18, 2003

If the Oscars were held today...

My oh my, what a bad year it's been at the movies. Just dreadful flicks as far as the eye can see.

But, I'm determined to look at the positive, so here are my picks for the various Oscar categories as of August 18, 2003 (though it should be pointed out that I've yet to see Seabiscuit)....

Best Picture: Phone Booth
Director: Joel Schumacher, Phone Booth
Actor: Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Actress: Naomie Harris, 28 Days Later
Supporting Actor: Kiefer Sutherland, Phone Booth
Supporting Actress: Claire Danes, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (See what I'm talking about? I know, technically, this is propably a lead. But I've got nothin'.)
Original Screenplay: Phone Booth
Adapted Screenplay: Pirates of the Caribbean (Would this be considered adapted? It is "based" on something.)
Cinematography: Phone Booth
Editing: Phone Booth
Sound: Matrix Reloaded
Sound Editing: Matrix Reloaded
Score: Pirates of the Caribbean
Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean
Makeup: Pirates of the Caribbean
Costume Design: Pirates of the Caribbean
Art Direction: Pirates of the Caribbean

So it's Phone Booth, Pirates of the Caribbean, and a whole lotta crap. This year sucks.

I'm working on a new list to add to my writing section. Should be up in the next few days.

The universe is a pretty big place. And if it's just us...seems like an awful waste of space.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Reviews of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and (gasp!) The Life of David Gale are now posted.

Saw Freddy vs. Jason last night. Don't hold your breath waiting for a review. It sucked, but I wasn't expecting anything else. It was worse than I thought it would be, though.

If you have not yet voted in the poll over there, please do. One film is currently running away with the voting quite handily; unfortunately for me, it's the one film on the list I don't own a copy of. Guess that's what I get for putting it over there.

Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

My hearing and my voice are more or less once again at pre-Metallica levels. My mind may never recover from limpbizkt's set, but at least my physical faculties have returned.

After an long hiatus (about a month and a half, I think), we are picking up our Vampire game again. And I really wish I could get more into it. Honestly. But the constant games just burned me out. I'm going to play tonight, because I promised I would. I just wish I could get as excited about it as certain other players are.

In other news, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on Monday. It's a great movie -- it's got your standard swashbuckling, walk-the-plank, "shiver-me-timbers" pirate movie stuff, and then there's Johnny Depp's performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, which seems flown in from another planet. He said in interviews he was trying to envision "Keith Richards crossed with a drag queen," and that's exactly what he becomes. As cliched as the rest of the movie can be at times, Depp is completely and unquestionably original. (Rating, if you were wondering: ****)

"Who is that?" [points to William Shakespeare]
"Oh, nobody. Just the writer."

Sunday, August 03, 2003

The setlist of the gods:

Master of Puppets.
Harvester of Sorrow. (!)
Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Sad But True.
St. Anger.
No Remorse. (!!)
Seek and Destroy.
Blackened. (!!!)

1st Encore:
Nothing Else Matters.
Creeping Death.

2nd Encore:
Enter Sandman.

Oh. My. Holy. GOD.

Never have I felt physically assaulted by a live performance before. When I watched Metallica live DVDs, they always say stuff like, "We're here to KICK YOUR ASS!" but I didn't get that feeling when I saw them a few years ago in Dallas.

Now I have. Goddamn they were incredible. And I don't think my hearing will ever return to its previous level.

Had it just been Metallica, I would have gone home happy and satisfied. But it wasn't just Metallica -- oh, no. Linkin Park played as well, and it should be illegal to be that awesome. Deftones and Mudvayne played, too, and they were all right, I guess. I paid attention to their sets at least, and at no point did I begin openly mocking them, so that's a plus.

But Limp Bizkit -- oh, excuse me, limpbizkit -- played as well.

Now, I have never cared for limpbizkit. "My Way" is a good song. As is "Rearranged." "Break Stuff" is a great song to hear live. And "Nookie" is decent, I guess. But the rest of their catalog is bland, boring, and redundant. So I've never cared for them.

But I fucking hate Fred Durst.

My problem with Durst is his incessant need to be liked. "You want to hear metal? We'll play metal! You want to hear some rap? Oh, we'll do that, too! Sure, I can't really do either with much ability, but if that's what you want, YOU GOT IT!! You like hearing the word 'fuck'? I'll write a song where nearly EVERY SINGLE LINE contains that word at least once! You like Napster? Hey, me too! I love Napster! All music should be free! Yes! I'll even TOUR for Napster, yeah! And it'll be FREE!! LOVE ME, PLEASE, JUST LOVE ME!!!! PLEASE!!!!!"

You can see how this gets annoying. The apex of Durst's stupidity is in "Take a Look Around," the theme song from Mission: Impossible 2, in which he blasts those who criticized him for selling out and endorsing New Era, the makers of the baseball caps he never takes off, and manages to WORK IN A FUCKING COMMERCIAL for New Era while doing it. That's what I'm talking about.

limpbizkit's set last night was the same shit, only I couldn't change the station or eject the CD or anything. I had to sit there and take it while Durst essentially masturbated for an hour.

They started out just fine -- they played a few of their shitty songs, including the "fucked-up" one. Then Fred starts in giving Metallica a verbal blowjob (all the bands at the show did this, but Fred's was particularly blatant). He talks about the greatness of Metallica, how he hired the new guitarist based solely on his ability to play any Metallica song ever written, and then they play their cover of Metallica's "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)," which is terrible. Towards the end of the song, the words "METALLICA IS THE SHIT" appeared on the video screens, and Durst requested that the audience "Jump for Metallica! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!" I swear I'm not making this up.

Then, during a pretty bad performance of "Nookie," Durst suddenly disappeared from the stage. For about two minutes. Then we hear his voice: "Hey, Houston...I'm backstage..." Huh? What the fuck are you doing backstage, dipshit? The concert's out here!

Then suddenly we spot him amongst the fans with a wireless mic, grabbing beers and calling people cool and doing whatever he can to make people cheer. Then the band leaves the stage, the video screens start playing "patriotic" images of flags and fighter pilots and stuff, and a tape recording (?!) of the music from the Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" plays. Durst absolutely fucking BUTCHERS that song, still walking through the audience, stealing beers and saying shit like, "I think all beers should be free from now on!" (And I'm not making that up.)

Eventually, Durst wanders back on stage. It's the middle of a song, which one I don't remember. Once he's back on the stage, something flies out of the mosh pit and hits him in the arm. He stops singing, looks at (presumably) the person who threw it, and says (and I quote): "If you want to throw something at me, don't be a pussy, hit me in the face, you fucking faggot." And then the song continues.

As if all this wasn't enough, then they start setting off fireworks. "Look! Fire! LOVE ME!" (He didn't actually say that one.) Then some more blatant verbal blowjobs, this time for "the great state of Texas." They play yet another shitty cover, this time George Michael's "Faith." This time, though, there's something to laugh at other than Fred: the video screens play a rather hilarious montage of clips from Michael's video for the song, timed to synch with bizkit's performance. It was pretty funny. (Though I should point out, for a guy who just called someone a "fucking faggot" just moments before, Durst sure did leave George Michael's ass on screen for an awfully long time. Just saying.)

Then, the song ends, the words "NEW ALBUM FALL 2003" flash on the screen, and, mercifully, the set is over.

If anyone is unsure as to why I hate Fred Durst -- and thus limpbizkt -- reread the above paragraphs.

But Metallica kicks ass. Yes, they do.

my lifestyle determines my deathstyle

Saturday, August 02, 2003

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Metallica concert I attended last month inspired me to finally pick this one up at the video store (prior to taking the stage, the band plays a clip from the film), and am I glad I did. The final film in Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name" trilogy (preceded by A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) is simply the greatest western I've ever seen. First off, that title sequence -- whoa! Beautiful images accompanied by Ennio Morricone's legendary score (one of the best I've ever heard). Leone shows remarkable patience in delving out his story -- the main plot of the film isn't even introduced until nearly the halfway mark -- instead choosing to let his characters interact with one another and the landscape. We've got Clint Eastwood as Blondie, "The Good"; Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes, "The Bad"; and, in by far the best performance in the film, Eli Wallach as the cunning Tuco, "The Ugly." The three take turns double-crossing one another over the course of the film, all heading towards a showdown in a graveyard over $200,000. At times, Leone reaches levels of Hitchcockian suspense, like a scene where some goons Tuco hires sneak up on Blondie in his room while the Confederate army marches outside; at others, the film achieves an incredible epic grandeur -- an extended sequence in the desert, for instance, or the Civil War battle that Blondie and Tuco stumble into late in the film (this also gives Aldo Giuffre a chance to shine in a brief but wonderful role as an alcoholic Union captain). For me, the best moment in the movie was also the most beautiful: Tuco finally finds the graveyard, the best piece of that gorgeous score swells, and Tuco, ecstatic, runs through the graves, hunting for his fortune. It's a stunning scene, instantly one of my favorites. And I'm not alone -- that happens to be the scene Metallica shows before going on stage. Now, maybe Godsmack can start showing clips of High Noon....


The Frighteners

So in between his art-house masterpiece (Heavenly Creatures) and his big-budget fantasy epic masterpiece (the Lord of the Rings trilogy) Peter Jackson made this quirky little genre flick for Robert Zemeckis. I love the concept: after a car accident that kills his wife, Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox) gains the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Rather than become John Edwards, Frank uses his deceased companions for monetary gain and becomes a ghostbuster -- the spirits (he lives with a few) pay a visit to a random home, spook the residents, and drop Frank's business card. He comes in with bizarre gadgets and a holy water pistol and "cleans" the house. But trouble arises when an unfriendly ghost shows up in town and starts waxing the residents. It's all in good fun, and Jackson's technical skills are more than up to the task: the special effects are nothing short of dazzling, as are the remarkable makeup jobs on the various corpses. As to be expected from a Peter Jackson movie, there's some lowbrow humor thrown in for good measure; the decaying judge (John Astin) has an amorous encounter with an Egytian mummy, capped off with a pitch-black one-liner that you will find either appalling or hilarious. Actually, what's really appalling is that Danny Elfman scored this movie and somehow Oingo Boingo's "Dead Man's Party" didn't find its way onto the soundtrack (instead, a third-rate version of "Don't Fear the Reaper" plays over the end credits).

Rating: ***

Full Frontal

I like Steven Soderbergh. Really, I do. But I can't defend this. Full Frontal is supposed to be a "wicked satire" about the fakeness of Hollywood or something, but it's really just masturbatory garbage designed to make Soderbergh feel better about making money and winning an Oscar. There's a plot, sort of, about actors and writers and massage therapists and autoerotic asphyxiation, but it's really beside the point. Half of the movie is buried under pretentious voice-overs and shot with really crappy digital cameras; the other half is some insipid romance film made by the characters in the other half, starring Julia Roberts under the ugliest wig I have ever seen. The digital video footage is so bad he must have shot it poorly on purpose -- Soderbergh is a very talented cinematographer (operating, as always, under the pseudonym Peter Andrews), but the movies I've made with my friends in my apartment look better than Full Frontal's DV portions. The only thing remotely redeeming about this whole enterprise is David Hyde Pierce, who gives an excellent performance as the depressed screenwriter Carl. But it's almost impossible to see under Soderbergh's movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie. Okay, Steve: you're an artist. We get it. Can you go back to making good movies, please?

Rating: 1/2*


Every once in a while, there comes a movie that seems to have been made for the sole purpose of winning Academy Awards; A Beautiful Mind is a recent example. And here we have Seabiscuit, seemingly constructed from the ground up to pull in the Oscar votes. It's a period piece, based on a book and a true story, featuring respected actors (Tobey Maguire, Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges), and capping off with an heartwarming, inspirational message about overcoming adversity. It probably will score itself a few trophies, but it's really nothing special. Certainly writer/director Gary Ross (who wrote Big and Dave, as well as writing and directing the excellent Pleasantville) doesn't think so; why else would he have been so lazy as to use stock photographs and a PBS narrator to get half of his point across? The actors are all good enough, but the material is simply beneath them. And the redundant final fifteen minutes really almost sink the whole movie. But as far as Oscar bait goes, at least it's better than A Beautiful Mind.

Rating: **1/2

Pirates of the Caribbean

After months of waiting, something worthwhile finally shows up in the mutliplex, and (gasp!) it's A Jerry Bruckheimer Production. It may not be High Art, but it's hell of a lot more fun than the ride it's based on. Director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) gets some great visuals (like the haunting opening shot: a boat appearing out of the fog), the special effects are fantastic, and the shiver-me-timbers walk-the-plank stuff is a blast. But, really, this movie is all about Johnny Depp. His performance as Captain Jack Sparrow seems to exist on another plain of reality altogether; it's brilliant, swaggering insanity, and is totally deserving of an Oscar nomination (which it won't get). Geoffrey Rush is good, too, as is Orlando Bloom in the thankless straight role. Kiera Knightley may not give a great performance, but she looks good, and that's really all that's required. The movie's too long by about half an hour, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what I'd cut.

Rating: ****

Jeepers Creepers 2

I actually enjoyed the first Jeepers Creepers, on some deep, sadistic. Darkness Falls level. But, regrettably, the sequel is just awful. The Creeper (as the monster is apparently called) has one day left to get as much food as he can before return to hibernate for 23 years, so he sabotages a school bus filled with teenagers and proceeds to take forever in collecting his food. Why he wastes time grabbing people one at a time rather than just killing everyone all at once is never explored. It's not interesting, it's not funny, and it's not scary. In fact, the only thing disturbing about it is in the bizarre homoerotic subtext that floats beneath the whole movie. Like the busful of football players (or basketball players or something) who spend half the movie with no shirts on, constantly taunting each other for possible homosexuality. Or the ungodly long scene where the Creeper eyes the players, ignoring the three cheerleaders, sniffing out which players it wants to eat, winking and smiling at them, and even dragging its tongue across the window when it finds one it especially likes. In any event, the audience I saw it with shared my reaction: stunned silence, punctuated by snickers of derision when something "scary" would happen. Really, writer/director Victor Salva had to have been going for laughs, because he uses the Naked Gun technique of harmless conversation in the foreground, painful action in the background for half of the Creeper's attacks. Hopefully, this franchise ends here.

Rating: DUD

Freddy vs. Jason

I never really got into either the Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th films, so maybe it's my own fault for not enjoying this movie. Everyone else I'm reading talks about it being "funny" and "clever," but I just didn't see it. Until the rather interesting last fifteen minutes, when Freddy and Jason go at it, the film is just a disaster, filled with horrible characters, annoying dialogue, and filmmaking skills so bad they're embarrassing. Take, for example, a scene with all the main characters hiding and talking in a basement. Director Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky) keeps cutting away to another of the characters, sitting in what appears to be another room, talking to herself. I was lost for half of the scene, until he finally made it clear that oh, right, everyone's actually in the same room. Bad, bad movie. But the Freddy-Jason fight was pretty cool. I'll give it that.

Rating: 1/2*


Here's another one I really wanted to like more. I even watched it twice, to make sure I wasn't missing something. But it's a simple fact -- former Python Terry Gilliam's Brazil did nothing for me. I respect its technical qualities -- the art direction and set design is especially noteworthy -- but the cold, too-quirky-for-its-own-damn-good script just couldn't pull me in. Sam (Jonathan Pryce), a meek clerk at the Ministry of Information, finds the girl of his dreams (literally), only to be pulled in with her into the bureaucratic nightmare that is the world of Brazil. Robert DeNiro is fun in a small role as a rogue plumber (yes, a rogue plumber -- don't ask), but I found Brazil to be remarkably unfunny, despite its obvious comic aspirations (a running joke about a horribly botched plastic surgery falls flat on its face...pardon the pun). And when it's not telling bad jokes, it's just plain weird, like the daydreams Sam has, featuring a winged Sam battling a giant samurai monster (among other things). I did like Michael Palin's supporting role as Sam's friend, and as I said, the set design is really spectacular. But the film as a whole is uninspiring. I'll say this, though -- the ending is impressive. That, I liked.

Rating: **

Thursday, July 31, 2003

More MOVIE MADNESS~!, courtesy of Bayou Video.

An Evening with Kevin Smith
So it's not a movie, exactly, but it is a DVD. It's a four-hour (!) compilation of Q&A sessions writer/director/actor, sort of, Kevin Smith (of Clerks) did at several colleges in 2001. Four hours may seem excessive, but Smith is a hilarious storyteller, and it's a blast to hear him talk. Worth a rental, if only for the obscenely funny story about what happened to his script for Superman Lives (Hairdresser-turned-producer Jon Peters: "You know why you and me are gonna do a great job making Superman? ...Cause you and me, we're from the streets."). If you're not a fan of Smith's films, you probably won't have a good time, though.

(Rating: ****1/2, but only for View Askew fans)

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Not a easy film to get through. Easily one of the strangest movies I've ever seen. Steven Spielberg took over this project from the late Stanley Kubrick, and the result is an occasionally distracting marriage of two disctintly opposite filmmaking styles -- the warm, emotional (some might say sentimental) tendencies of Spielberg with the intellectual, detatched (some might say cold) methods of Kubrick. But despite all that, it's still a great film, and the lack of Oscar nominations for Spielberg's direction and especially Haley Joel Osment's devasting performance as the robot child David are an absolute travesty.

(Rating: ****1/2)

A Clockwork Orange
Speaking of Kubrick. A friend of mine once told me that this was his favorite movie. At the time, I hadn't seen it, so I just said, "Oh, that's cool." But now that I've seen it twice...that kinda disturbs me. Because this one fucked-up movie, my friends. I don't even really know what to say about it -- I'm not sure if I liked it. But most Kubrick films leave me with that feeling, that "What the hell was that?" feeling in my brain, where I'm not sure if I was entertained or anything. The movies just sit there, refusing to leave my head. I guess that's why he was such a great filmmaker. This is certainly an excellent film, but I don't know if I'd ever want to watch it again.

(Rating: ****)

The Shining
(I actually borrowed this from my friend Robert, as opposed to renting it.) Kubrick again. Watching this movie prompted a very long, very heated discussion with my friend about the liberties this film takes with the Stephen King novel (and it does take a lot of liberties). He's a die-hard King fanatic (as am I), and was quite unhappy with the plethora of changes -- he felt the film deflated and destroyed the book's story. I pointed out that it just changed the story slightly -- the book was about the Overlook Hotel's ghosts using Jack Torrance to get to his son, Danny, so that they could become real (or some shit, it's been years since I read the novel). But in the movie, Kubrick simplified things: the Overlook Hotel's ghosts are now just after Jack for reasons that aren't explained. In the book, the hotel loses. In the movie, the hotel wins. These changes (along with some problems with the film itself, like some bad acting and questionable choices in the score) led my friend to hate the movie. I, on the other hand, accepted the alterations as Kubrick recognizing that some elements of the novel were impossible to film -- such as the lion-shaped bushes that come to life and eat people -- while others were too complicated to work in a film version -- such as the croquet mallet that became an ax in the movie, and the hotel's long and storied history -- and did what he had to do to make a good movie. And I also admired Kubrick's fascinating camerawork: he shies away from close-ups, instead using medium and long shots, and always leaves an unusual amount of empty space above the actors' heads. When a character goes from one place in the hotel to another, we don't cut away -- Kubrick follows them through corridor after room after hallway in long, unbroken shots. All this together gives us the impression that Jack, Danny and Wendy are dwarfed by the hotel, that their eventual fight against it is futile. Oh, and I think I win my argument about the changes: after all, ABC aired a new six-hour mini-series of The Shining a few years ago, scripted by Stephen King himself to be as faithful to the book as possible, and it sucked ass. So there.

(Rating: ****)

High Fidelity
It's about a year ago, right, and a few friends and I were sitting in a car in the parking lot at College of the Mainland during acting class. We're supposed to be learning our scenes, but our scenes all suck, so we're just hanging out, talking. One guy, Wayne, is in the backseat, reading a script that I never finished. The owner of the car, this great girl named Kelly, is throwing CDs into the stereo almost at random. She starts playing this one song, and it's really really good. I've never heard it before, but it's easily one of the coolest songs ever. "Who is this?" I say. She smiles, a really wide smile, and says, "The Beta Band." "It's good," I say, and she laughs. "Yeah, I know. You can have this CD if you -- it's a burned copy. I have the original at home." I gladly take the CD. She's still laughing, so I ask what's up. "Have you seen High Fidelity?" she says. I haven't, so I say so. She says, "See it. You'll understand." Now I have seen it. And I do understand. Oh, man, what a great movie. And my all-time top five track ones, side ones: "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana; "Enter Sandman," Metallica; "Everything in Its Right Place," Radiohead; "On the Bound," Fiona Apple; and "So Much to Say," Dave Matthews Band. (Just see High Fidelity. You'll understand.)

(Rating: *****)

And then there's The Life of David Gale...but that one's inspired me to write an actual full-blown review. I know I said I'd do that for Moulin Rouge!, but I mean it this time.

Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or am I miserable because I listened to pop music?

Monday, July 28, 2003

Rarely does anything I write make me laugh. I love humor, and I love comedy and funny things, but I can rarely seem to write them myself...at least in a way that seems funny to me.

But lo and behold, I actually managed to come up with an exchange that made me laugh long and hard...

ADAM: "You killed David!"
IAN: "No, I didn't, he committed suicide."
ADAM: "With your gun."
IAN: "Yes."
ADAM: "In your house."
IAN: "Yes."
ADAM: "In front of you."
IAN: "Yes."
ADAM: "By shooting himself in the face."
IAN: "Yes."
ADAM: "Twice."
IAN: "...Yes."

That's from Burned, the latest short film from Vacant Studios (who were working on another movie you may remember). The plot is...ridiculous, really, and I won't embarass myself by providing a synopsis here. But those lines make me laugh.

We just shot the film on Saturday, and we're now in the post-production phase. We're editing, we've got a guy working on a score, we've got sound effects to dub in -- there are moments during this production where I'm thinking, "Holy shit, I'm making a real movie!" Then I watch some of our footage (example: a moving car simulated by spraying a stationary car with a hose, creating "rain" that obscures the view of the non-moving background) and that feeling goes away.

The camera stuff is actually somewhat competent, in some cases. The film takes place in two locations -- one a place of happiness and contemplation, the other a den of sin and death. We shot the scenes in the happy location in the daytime, in a very white room, with bright light streaming through the covered windows, creating something that looks like the afterlife at times. The other location was photographed (er, well, I guess "videographed" or something, since we used my digital camera) at night, in my apartment, which features no air conditioning and very poor lighting. So everyone looks like death warmed over, they're dripping with sweat. The only lights in the room are almost always in the frame, creating bizarre shadows and making everyone seem ominous. Add to this the fact that we shot in black-and-white, and the effect is almost startling. Now, if only the movie hadn't been yet another goofy parody, we could've had something incredible.

But the experience of directing this short flick -- as dreadful as the process was at times, thanks mostly to my apartment's lack of air conditioning and my own determination to finish this fucking movie NOW, DAMMIT -- has inspired me to want to start writing again. I've got a strong desire to start writing another screenplay -- not just a goofy short film to shoot in one day with my friends, but a real, feature-length screenplay. It's been close to a year since I tried that. I think perhaps the time has come again.

Now, where is that Final Draft disc....

It could've been God stopped the bullets, changed Coke to Pepsi, found my fucking car keys. But you see, that shit don't matter.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Oh, I forgot one...

The Japanese film that spawned The Ring. The original is superior, if only because it doesn't try so hard: while the American version featured non-stop rain and gloom and people coughing up medical equipment and such, Ringu manages to be far creepier by just looking normal. There are also some minor plot differences, all of them improvements -- this movie's story actually makes sense! Highly recommended, assuming that the Japanese audio won't bother you.

(Rating: ****. The Ring received ***.)

"If you could fight any celebrity, who would it be?"
"Shatner. I'd fight William Shatner."

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Haven't updated in a while. Not like it matters, because no one reads this anyway. But I still feel bad.

I've been renting movies like a madman over the past month or so. Since my current financial situation doesn't allow me to purchase DVDs (though I've got quite the impressive collection already), I've rediscovered the joy that is renting. I think it was simply the evilness of those evil Satan-worshippers at Blockbuster that turned off in the first place, so now I'm going to Bayou Video, a little video store that resides between the Dollar General Store and a barber shop. It's small, but it's got class. And movies are cheap, plus no one there worships the Dark Lord Lucifer, at least to my knowledge.

Here's a list of the movies I've managed to rent there, along with a brief capsule review (I am planning to start writing full-blown reviews to add to my film reviews section, but this will do for now).

The Truman Show
What a great movie. When people talk about the 1999 Academy Awards, they usually talk about the "injustice" that was Saving Private Ryan's failure to win Best Picture (an award that went to the vastly superior Shakespeare in Love). But what few people remember is an even greater injustice: the nearly complete shutout of Peter Weir's stunning The Truman Show. A satire that manages to be both funny, pointed and moving, Truman features a brilliant performance by Jim Carrey and one of the great moments in all of cinema: Truman's reunion with his "long-lost" "father," all orchestrated by his unseen director, Christof (played superbly by Ed Harris). And the stunning climax, when Truman comes face-to-face with God and turns away. A true masterpiece.

(Rating: Essential #60)

Punch-Drunk Love
It's now official: writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (who also gave us Boogie Nights and Magnolia) is the best American filmmaker working today. Punch-Drunk Love is the romantic comedy for people who don't like romantic comedies, and the Adam Sandler movie for people who hate Adam Sandler. Sandler's Barry Egan is strikingly similar to other Sandler creations like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison: lonely, sexually frustrated, prone to violent outbursts. But unlike those characters, whose emotional deficiences are celebrated and played for laughs, here he becomes a object of pity, as we see him tormented by the relentless childish teasing of his sisters. He falls in love at first sight with the glorious Lena (Emily Watson) while avoiding the henchmen of the sinister operator of a phone-sex company (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Yeah, it sounds bizarre, and it is, but what would you expect from the guy who had Tom Cruise strutting around a stage screaming "Respect the cock and tame the cunt"?

(Rating: *****)

The Evil Dead
I'd been waiting to see this for years. I'd heard so much about the greatness of this cheapo horror flick. I was skeptical -- after all, it was the film debut of director Sam Raimi, whom I've never been fond of (the man behind the horrible The Quick and the Dead, the cheesy For the Love of the Game, and the wildly overpraised Spiderman). But last night, I finally got a chance to see it. And....wow, did it suck. Sorry, people, I just don't get it. The first thirty minutes or so are pretty good, but it eventually decends into an endless stream of gore splattering across the screen. And it's just not scary at all. Sorry.

(Rating: *1/2)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This just might be the greatest action movie ever made. Do I really have to say anything else?

(Rating: Essential #38)

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presedential Election
George W. Bush is Satan. I wonder if he ever worked for Blockbuster....

(Rating: ****)

The Game
The film David Fincher made between Se7en and Fight Club. Anything is going to look bad between those films, and it doesn't help that The Game is pretty predictable. Looks great, well-acted, but the script lets Fincher down.

(Rating: ***)

The only movie I can think of that is actually funnier in retrospect than it is while you're actually watching it. Kinda like high school. A great movie, and what might be Bill Murray's best performance.

(Rating: ****1/2)

And that's it. I also rented Moulin Rouge!, but I think I'm going to write a full-blown review of that one. Gotta go now -- I have to go to the video store.

"I wish he would have done this for me when I was a kid."
"But you didn't have a drug problem then."
"It still would have meant a lot to me."

Monday, July 14, 2003

"Not Waving but Drowning"
by Florence Margaret Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

I love that poem. I read it in an English textbook years ago, and happened to stumble across it today while looking for something else. How about that.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Song of the week:

"Locomotive (Complicity)"
by Guns N' Roses

Gonna find a way to cure this loneliness
Yeah, I'll find a way to cure the pain
If I said that you're my friend,
And our love would never end,
How long before I had your trust again?
I opened up the doors when it was cold outside
Hoping that you'd find your own way in
But how can I protect you,
Or try not to neglect you,
When you won't take the love I have to give?

I bought me an illusion, and I put it on the wall
I let it fill my head with dreams, and I had to have them all
But oh, the taste is never so sweet as what you'd believe it is...
Well, I guess it never is
It's these prejudiced illusions that pump the blood
To the heart of the biz

You know I never thought that it could take so long
You know I never knew how to be strong
Yeah, I let you shape me,
But I feel as though you raped me,
Becaause you climbed inside my world and in my songs
So now I've closed the door to keep the cold outside
Seems somehow I've found the will to live
But how can I forget you,
Or try not to reject you,
When we both know it takes time to forgive?

Sweetness is a virtue
And you lost your virtue long ago
You know I'd like to hurt you
But my conscience always tells me no
You could sell your body on the street
To anyone whom you might meet
Who'd love to try and get inside
And bust your innocence open wide

'Cause my baby's got a locomotive
My baby's gone off the track
My baby's got a locomotive
Got to peel the bitch off my back
I know it looks like I'm insane
Take a closer look I'm not to blame

Gonna have some fun with my frustration
Gonna watch the big screen in my head
I'd rather take a detour,
'Cause this road ain't getting clearer
Your train of thought has cut me off again
Better tame that boy 'cause he's a wild one
Better tame that boy 'fore he's a man
Sweetheart don't make me laugh;
You's gettin' too big for your pants,
And I's think maybe you should cut out while you can

You can use your illusion, let it take you where it may
We live and learn, and then sometimes it's best to walk away
Me I'm just here hangin' on, it's my only place to stay
At least for now anyway
I've worked too hard for my illusions just to throw them all away

I'm taking time for quiet consolation
In passing by this love that's passed away
I know it's never easy,
So why should you believe me,
When I've always got so many things to say?
Calling off the dogs -- a simple choice is made
'Cause playful hearts can sometimes be enraged
You know I tried to wake you --
I mean, how long could it take you
To open up your eyes and turn the page?

Kindness is a treasure
And it's one towards me you've seldom shown
So I'll say it for good measure
To all the ones like you I've known
You know I'd like to shave your head
And all my friends could paint it red
'Cause love to me's a two way street
And all I really want is peace

But my baby's got a locomotive
My baby's gone off the track
My baby's got a locomotive
Got to peel the bitch off my back
I know it looks like I'm insane
Take a closer look I'm not to blame

Affection is a blessing
Can you find it in your sordid heart?
I tried to keep this thing together
But the tremor tore my pad apart
Yeah, I know it's hard to face
When all we've worked for's gone to waste
But you're such a stupid woman
And I'm such a stupid man
But love like time's got its own plans

'Cause my baby's got a locomotive
My baby's gone off the track
My baby's got a locomotive
Got to peel the bitch off my back
I know it looks like I'm insane
Take a closer look I'm not to blame
If love is blind, I guess I'll buy myself a cane

Love's so strange...