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The Radness of Spiderman 2

The Radness of Spiderman 2 published on 5 Comments on The Radness of Spiderman 2

Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh heh heh. This movie made me happy. Even when it was silly and maudlin, which it was at times in turn and at once, it satisfied my movie appetite. I do melodrama. I do over-the-top. Whatever Sam Raimi’s selling, I`ll buy it.

Wonder-booooooys — what is the secret of your pow-aaaah?

Plot spoilers are grayed out, but gag spoilers are free in the breeze, so be warned.

  • I gotta believe Raimi had fun doing this. Like, I`m so jealous I could faint fun. There were three scene transitions that made me smile — like actually teeth-exposing smile. And I feel like he must have had more creative control with this one, which would make sense with the first Spiderman making a couple of shekels and all, and he was like, if I want to recreate Evil Dead 2 when they’re operating on Doc Ock, by God, I`m gonna do it. There was a chainsaw and everything. And a lot of women screaming — a LOT. Not brief “Aiieee!” screams either, but these huge long squalling Wilhelms from at least four different women. So Raimi. So very Raimi.
  • Raimi also pulled off a lot of samey action — a LOT of flinging, swinging, falling and leaping. I didn’t mind. It reminded me that one advantage of living in the Triangle is if you want to fall off something with more than three stories you got to drive to Charlotte.
  • Going in, I didn’t really like Tobey Maguire. Seemed like he always played the same dude — wide-eyed naif — just sort of reacting to stuff around him. This movie turned my ship around for him the same way Down With Love did for Renee Zellweger. He got to do all kinds of crazy crap, and he worked it — from stopping a speeding subway to dorking around to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” However on some level I still pine for Christopher Daniel Barnes (Greg Brady from the new Brady movies, and the boy from “Day By Day”) to have this role — he’s the voice of Spiderman in everything animated, and for me he utterly embodies Peter Parker. He would have been doe-eyed and moppy. He would have schooled. I would have peed. But Tobey’s good, too.

    C. D. Barnes — Even as Greg Brady he is teh hottness.

  • This movie was weirdly dark. It was like that moment in Finding Nemo when I realized the message is that parents have to let go of their kids and what kind of kids` movie in the world has a message that sophisticated? So here the message is (not Rosemary Harris` warbly “Theah’s a HEE-rooo in ALL of us” but) that sacrificing yourself for others is not necessarily satisfying. So dark. I was especially impressed that you actually get to see Peter Parker turn his back on opportunities to be heroic. So dark. So Raimi.

    Somehow this is what I thought of before “Spider House Rules.” Bwahh! Bet no one ever had THAT idea!

  • There was some silliness, as I mentioned. The sciencey parts, f`rinstance, but what’s really silly is me because none of the sciencey parts bothered me as much as Rosie Octavius` saying when they met “he was studying science.” Not physics, or chemistry, but “science.” What, were they in the fourth grade? Also silly was how, when Doc Ock is having his first conversation with his robot arms, he turns around toward daylight and has really, really obvious makeup under his eyes to give him spooky tortured scientist eyes. Heh heh heh. Maybe it’s Maybelline. Not that I minded, or that I minded that developing artificial intelligence, let alone mechanical limbs that you can control with your brain, is probably enough to “put Oscorp on the map” with or without controlled fusion `n` stuff. I also didn’t mind that Doc Ock touches the busted chip on the back of his neck and exposits something like “Oh no! The chip on the back of my neck is busted!” although we TOTALLY saw it happen and could probably figure it out without having him say it out loud. Mostly I was stoked by the goodness of Alfred Molina, who worked out a lot of action and monologues that could have turned really sour. Goes to show how effective it is to cast a regular dude as a bad guy — like Arnold Vosloo in The Mummy and not like Arnold Schwarzenegger in whatever the hell Batman he was in.
  • Okay, one more round of silly. Poor James Franco got saddled with some terrible dialogue jobs. Not only does he have to say “put Oscorp on the map in a way my father never did,” like, forty times, but there’s a scene where he’s getting drunk (also saddled with the Sharon Stone school of acting like you’re drunk) at a party and has to toss off some 250-word essay on what’s bothering him. I forget what it was. But it was silly.
  • Okay, maybe some more silly. Doc Ock ends up with the funds to pull of his sciencey project, but, in the bank-robbing sequence that’s shown, he doesn’t seem to get away with any money. And how and where does he buy all his sciencey equipment with his totally obviously stolen money — eBay? Best Buy? Some kickin` garage sales?
  • Besides all these tiny things that didn’t bother me, there was one thing that did: Mary Jane running out on her wedding. The astronaut guy seemed like he deserved better — he was game for the upside-down kissy and all — and it doesn’t reflect well on ol` Emm Jay. I prefer this scenario — she runs out of a dress fitting instead, so Raimi still gets his slow-motion skirt-hiking run through the city but Mary Jane doesn’t come across as so much of a flibberty-jibbit. You could still have Jenna Jameson, er, Jimmy Jameson, aw, you know, J. K. Simmons standing by to deliver some cheapskate comedy about whether the dress can be returned if it’s worn out of the store (sure, he’s the father of the groom, but if he’s paying for catering at the reception he’s probably stuck with the dress, too). While I`m picking wedding nits (not hung up on weddings — I just lived through my sister’s and shall never forget it), what ran through my feeble shallow mind as Mary Jane took Peter Parker’s face in her hands was surely somebody would have made her get her nails done. It is after all part and parcel of turning the bride into some fantasy bouffant confection to emphasize the eventual ravages of time.
  • Anyway. I liked this movie. What I liked it for the most — what made me go “Guh GUH!” at the screen, despite having no heckling partner to share the moment with, her having seen the movie already with her HUSBAND can you imagine — is that it had, with no prior indication to soften the shock, Hal Sparks! Hal Sparks! If I try to tell you how Jon Stewart and Hal Sparks were my surrogate lovers in `99-`00, I still don’t think you`ll understand. He was born in Kentucky — I was born in Kentucky. He’s 5`8″ — I`m 5`8″. He hosted “Talk Soup” — I watched “Talk Soup.” And now there is no degree of separation between him and Bruce Campbell! Can you imagine? Sam Raimi, you RULE!

Halle Berry’s Catwoman

Halle Berry’s Catwoman published on 8 Comments on Halle Berry’s Catwoman

So much heckling. So. Much. Heckling. I know this must blow your mind — someone saw Halle Berry’s Catwoman and has a bunch of snotty comments to make? Jinkies, what a scoop! But here’s the deal — when someone says a movie is bad, I like to know EXACTLY what is bad about it. Bad acting? Bad internal logic? Bad what? Is it bad enough to be good (Van Helsing, Center Stage) or just bad enough to be irritating (L.A. Confidential, Sphere)? Would I watch some of it if it came on TV?

Catwoman for me was missing the high camp that makes a bad movie good. The acting wasn’t bad, just lacking — with the exception of Benjamin Bratt, who was at his “Law & Order” darndest, and Sharon Stone, who knew exactly what movie she was in and dialed it up to 11. If Halle Berry had played it to the back row, or if she`d had that Bruce Campbell sly-boots-ness that rings my chimes so strongly, this movie could have hanged ten in the badness department. Still, as it was, it was nice and bad anyway.

Oops, I thought this was Dogwoman. Mah bad.

I went with my preferred heckling partner, and many of the following heckles are hers.

There are spoilers galore here. I hope you don’t mind.

  • The plot hangs on an evil skin cream that makes people sick if they use it and hideous if they don’t. Mmm, sounds like Fen-Phen. When they show you how your skin rots if you stop using it, it’s with this morphing 3-D model of a test subject. That was handy — hey, rotting model, remember when we did that morphing before-and-after of how this skin cream made you look younger? We need you to come back now that you’re rotten and sit in the same chair with the same lighting and swivel around a bit so we can do the morphing effect for the rotting as well. Have to find a way to keep the company CGI department quiet — maybe we`ll blast them through a poo chute (more on that later).
  • Kind of hard to tell how long this product’s been around — it hasn’t been launched yet, but Sharon Stone’s used it so much it turned her skin to stone (huzzah wha? She’s playing it awful big for being stone `n` stuff), and yet Halle’s bosomy friend (Alex Borstein, who rules but is utterly sodomized by this role) has been using it for over a month and has no serious side effects either way.
  • Except she faints. This reminds me that she is hospitalized — paper gown and everything — for DAYS because she fainted. Break me offa piece of that health plan! No wonder all these good people are working for an evil cosmetics company — you can’t get that kind of health insurance anywhere else.
  • The Merovingian plays the head of the evil cosmetics company, and despite being the most Gallic looking dude since the Triplets of Belleville he plays an Englishman (I know `cause he says “bloody” in the veddy Britishest way ever). Guess a Frenchman couldn’t run a cosmetics company. Guess he really wouldn’t pronounce Beauline as “bo-line” instead of “be-yoo-line,” like everybody in the movie does. Also he’s nicely scene-chewing, `cause he’s only got like 10 lines to communicate his evilness, not like the 5 or 6 hundred he had in The Matrix.
  • Not sure where Halle Berry works. It’s apparently the advertising/art department of a cosmetics company, because The Merovingian can show up and chew her out and fire her. Yet it’s in a building far removed from the enormous office (with it’s own enormous waste-treatment facility underneath — get to that in a second). And later on she tells Benjamin Bratt she works at an advertising firm. Huzza wha? So hard to keep track of where one works. Maybe she’s lying to throw Detective Bratt off her trail, but it doesn’t play like that, and this movie is not that sophisticated.
  • Halle Berry is killed by poo. I assumed from the trailers that she gets shot, but no — one of the bad guys presses a handy poo-shooting button and blasts her out of some huge poo pipes into a vast poo wasteland in bizarre proximity to New York City (New Jersey? OMG just kidding New Jersey |20×0|2!!!). There she goes from floating face down in in poo water to lying face up on a poo island (eww don’t drink the water NYC). This causes no broken bones, disfigurement or pulled muscles — just death, and she doesn’t even seem to die by drowning, since she doesn’t koff up any water when she’s revived. Anyway, on poo island a computer generated cat (OMG Mrs. McGonagall!!!) sits on her chest (can’t get a real cat to do that, apparently) and breathes funky cat breath on her (wait, a cat CAN do this — I saw Cat’s Eye!) So she comes back to life and staggers home like Torgo and punches in her own window (don’t worry — she doesn’t hurt her hand, and it’s fixed somehow the next time you see it). The next morning she’s in fresh clothes and no longer covered in poo (don’t tell me she licked herself clean EWWW!!!)
  • Speaking of clothes, both Catwoman and Patience dress like holy crap: Patience like an anorexic art student, and Catwoman like a Frederick’s of Hollywood fire sale. It’s the one thing that unifies their characters — I could make a rotten, ancient cat pun here, but instead I`ll leave it to the next point.

    The way you dress… is scan-da-lous…

  • The cat puns are stupid and frequent. Catwoman tells some (really non-subtle and non-discreet) jewel thieves “What a purrrrrfect idea,” and it doesn’t even make sense! Robbing a jewelry store is a perfect idea? There’s another cat pun quick on the heels of it, but I think I blocked it out. I was waiting for her to do the “meow” thing from Super Troopers. Well, I think Halle’s a pussy who should write a litter to her clawyer fa fa fa OMG!!!11
  • This brings me to the general issue with Catwoman’s apartment — it’s seedy and ghetto enough to have wild insanely loud parties (hint for later #1 — call the police about it, maybe even your police friend who’s assigned to every case ever), but the apartments themselves are ENORMOUS. Hers makes the flat from “Friends” look like a walk-in closet, and the loud party people are apparently living in The Cat’s Cradle.
  • The playground fight/seduce-off, which sucked only slightly less in Daredevil, was this series of short swooping shots that made it look like an ad for three-legged jeans (a leg and a leg and a leg). I had a larf when Halle dunked, not just `cause it looked like Air Bud dunking, but because she falls FORWARD from the dunk on top of Benjamin Bratt way back at the free throw line. Silly.
  • What also reminded me of Daredevil was this movie’s abbreviated love scene. What I really REALLY wanted in both of these movies, with their schtupping heroes with super-heightened senses, was a little “ngh ngh OHHH! I`m really sorry. That’s never happened to me before.”
  • There were a couple of ridiculous signs to help establish the establishing shots. One, which I didn’t even notice, was that the police station had a big red neon sign in the window that said “POLICE.” I don’t know NYC — maybe police stations really do have neon signs that say “POLICE” like “Hot Fresh Now” but different. But there was also a charity fair with a big billboard next to it that said something like “FUNDRAISER FOR GOOD CAUSE.” Says Heckler #1: “That’s not a good use of money.” Says Heckler #2: “These people are already THERE. Who needs a sign?”
  • I can’t believe, with a hero named Patience, and all the refreshing midnight walks, they couldn’t throw in a little G`n`R. “AH BEEN WALKIN` THE STREEETS AT NAYEEEET!”
  • There was a motif with midnight that was silly. The magical cat was named Midnight, despite being a regular-ass-looking gray and black cat (apparently Egyptian Maus just look regular-ass). Hint for later #2 — you can’t name something Midnight unless it is BLACK. Or an awesome chocolate-chocolate-chip cookie from the Pacific Cookie Company, and then it can be only a Dr. Midnight. Gawd, I got to get back to California. Anyway, this was not an ironic name, like calling a big dude “Tiny.” Also, Patience has to turn in a project at midnight (not email it or put it on a file server, but PHYSICALLY BRING IT to evil cosmetics HQ across town). Also, the evil skin cream is being released at midnight. But fortunately Patience must have just watched American Graffiti and can apply that knowledge to stop a fleet of 18-wheelers. Owowowowo.
  • Catwoman was CGI more than half the time. It was like how when you watch a cartoon, and someone’s looking for a secret passage, you can tell where it is because it’s going to move in a second so it’s a cell on top of the background and it stands out. When suddenly you look over at Catwoman and she looks fake as Lindsay Lohan’s cans you know she’s about to do something wacky.
  • I got to give a whole bullet to Sharon Stone. She was like an albino baby bird storming in and out of a Mexican soap opera — turning her back on her scene partner, delivering dialogue into mirrors, shoving around glasses of ice in the international hand sign for “I’ve been drinking.” She even pulls out a red silk hankie so she can (intentionally) fake cry into it. It’s awesome when Halle gives herself the same mangy mislayered haircut so they can have a lipstick-lesbian-off. When they fight, Sharon Stone says she can’t be hurt since the evil skin cream made her stony, even when Halle gives her these insane roundhouse kicks `n` stuff (okay, then aim for the chest how `bout?). This is weird since she gets offed by falling out a window like two stories. Oh well.
  • BRAWWK I almost forgot! Detective Bratt, adrift without his Orbach, notices a “Sorry” note written for him on a coffee cup looks just like the “Sorry” note Catwoman leaves on a brown bag. He has it examined by handwriting analysis specialist at the department who, in the movie’s single thuddingest, dorkiest moment, explains the difference between the handwriting samples (one is shy, one is self-confident), despite the fact they look EXACTLY THE FREAK ALIKE. And leaving aside the issue that both these women wrote “Sorry” in identical black ink as notes! And leaving aside the fact that later Bratt finds out they’re both slim hot mulatto women! But still he has to find a jeweled cat claw (from an ugly-ass necklace) before he starts catching on. And THEN he goes to a lip print analysis specialist who finds a conclusive match between two funky lip prints. Here’s where I notice all the police technology in this movie is right out of Minority Report — huge rooms with freakishly large flat-panel monitors and images you can just magically drag and drop on each other. Who says Dubya slashed NYPD funding?
  • Incidentally, as my co-heckler pointed out, having Det. Bratt interrogate Halle is a bit of a conflict of interest, y`think? At least she gets to have a good dramatic cry to remind you she won an Oscar (she coulda just told Det. Bratt “I want you to make me feel good.” Maybe when they were taking shelter in the flower shop that keeps all its flowers out even when it’s closed.)
  • While I`m being snotty about technology, there were some really sophisticated fonts on the websites that Patience visits. As I asked my co-heckler, where my sans-serif is at? One more — the huge silent TV in the middle of nowhere that Patience sees the police sketch on. Huzzah wha? Do they just randomly have these in NYC, broadcasting breaking who-cares news and not ads? Okay, one more — Sharon Stone calls Halle on a video-phone thingy (I`m not real up on phones), and when Halle picks up she turns dramatically toward the phone camera (who’s holding it? What was she looking at?) to say “It’s me.” SHE CAN SEE YOU! DURR! And is this a phone conversation, or a video message, or what? ARRGH!
  • Okay, must calm self down. The big picture — the big picture is what’s important. The ostensible message of this movie is to be yourself, which for Halle would ostensibly be a merging of Catwoman and Patience (OMG so like the end of Long Kiss Goodnight!!!) But Halle gets in touch with her true self and, um, it’s pretty much how she was in the third act — Catwoman sometimes and Patience sometimes. Message received… and discarded. She does squeeze through her prison bars, which is cool (ewww Senator Kelly!) but irrelevant to the true-to-your-self message she just got. Then about thirty second later she appears to teleport. Um. Why didn’t you just majick yourself out of the prison cell in the first place? She’s also wearing a cuddly version of the Kill Bill yellow track suit. Once again, I am reminded of how much more I would have liked this movie if the main female had been Gogo Yubari.
  • Far and away the biggest mistake this movie made was making reference to Michelle Pfeiffer’s honest-to-God Selina Kyle Catwoman. She’s in a spread of photos at Frances Conroy’s house (an incredibly nice one to be in downtown NYC and owned by a retired college professor), and she stuck out like a non-sore thumb on a hand that’s been crushed in a vise. There’s also a fight/seduce moment where Halle holds up a severed cable shooting sparks and tells Det. Bratt something like “I knew there was a spark between us,” just like Michelle does to Max Shreck in Batman Returns (best DC superhero movie ever, BTW, if you take out some of The Penguin). This would be like going on a blind date and being like, “Hey, Salma Hayek, I`m nervous — could you come with me?” Not a good plan! You`d look like crap and she`d be embarrassed to be there.

    Let me cleanse your palate.

Gawd, that was a lot. I can’t stop heckling sometimes. If you need more Halle heckle, here’s someone else’s vigorous (but brief) heckle of Monster’s Ball.

One thing that amazed me was how PG this movie was. No sex, no bad language, hokey violence — just dry as a bone. It reminds me that Alien vs. Predator is PG-13, which is refrikkadiculous. How can you take two intensely R-rated franchises and stir them up into hard and tasteless PG-13 muffins? I was excited for a while, when I figured out this was going to be a movie and not just a video game, and now — not so much.

Beefs with The Village & The Last Samurai

Beefs with The Village & The Last Samurai published on 10 Comments on Beefs with The Village & The Last Samurai

I saw both these movies last weekend, and both of them take an excellent premise and potential and just sort of poop it away.

Spoilers abound.

The Last Samurai

I don’t know what the world would do if it didn’t have Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner stomping around saving people and cultures and worlds alla time. So Mr. Cruise was already in a hole when I plugged in the DVD, but fortunately I found lots of other stuff to bug me. Where my Samurai Jack is at? AKUUUuuuuuu!

  • When we first see his character, Nathan Algren, he’s drinking straight from a tiny flask, because drinking straight from a tiny flask is the international hand sign for “tortured in a period piece” — see Hidalgo, Interview with the Vampire, Blade Runner, Miller’s Crossing or pretty much any other movie ever. But soon we`ll scratch through the facade of tortured drunk jackass to find his true identity of tortured sober jackass.
  • There’s an unceasing march of exposition — and when the chatty white dudes aren’t around to help out with it, there’s the voice-over of Nathan’s diary, which contains such plausible notes-to-self as “since I left the farm at 17.”
  • The presence of the only female in this movie, Taka, could have been created from footage from other movies. There’s even a moment where she’s uncomfortable at the dinner table (I`m also remembering now that everybody seemed to be sitting in chairs — that would be weird), and she pauses with this tiny piece of rice on her chopsticks and looks over at 8 o`clock in the ultimate stock footage of “uncomfortable at the dinner table.” The only unpredictable thing she does is fail to schtupp Tom Cruise. Not the actress` fault, mind you, because even her subtitles are overwrought. She says “sumimasen,” which as I understand it is just “I`m sorry” or “excuse me,” and the subtitles show she said “forgive my weakness.” Damn, that’s some serious inflection. The same kind of thing happens when Tom Cruise finds her bathing and says “ikimasu,” which (again, could be wrong — this is just as I understand it) means “I go” or “I`m going,” and the subtitles say “I must go away.” I know Japanese is fraught with texture and meaning, but DAMN.

    Actually I could relate to Taka cause she speaks little girl formal Japanese like you learn in school. And she has wet hair alla time.

  • There are a lot of weird fast-motion flashbacks that are less Kurosawa and more Xena Warrior Princess. And then there are a lot of fight sequences that are less Princess Mononoke and more Story of Ricky. There’s more orange bloodspray than Kill Bill Vol. 1, which reminds me that the whole movie would have held my attention better if Taka had been Gogo Yubari.
  • It had bad guy from Ghost. You know. Bad guy from Ghost?
  • There were flutes and violins in the background of every scene, which is like the cinematic equivalent of “Sakura” in a Japanese restaurant. Got on me nerves.
  • The scene where Tom Cruise and the other two dudes met the emperor for the first time reminded me a lot of when the scene in “The Compleat Al” where Weird Al asks for Michael Jackson’s permission to parody “Eat It.” White glove and everything. I haven’t seen UHF all the way through — maybe Last Samurai is just a huge Weird Al homage.
  • It makes my dad crazy when guys with no access to razors or beard trimmers stagger around with the same beard day after day. The whole LOTR trilogy was lost on him. Maybe Taka was focusing her schtupping energies into maintaining Nathan’s beard — who knows? — but he spends weeks in the same western clothes he fought a battle in, and my his whites stay white.
  • Bad guy from Ghost says “Come, man, tell us what you saw” with no pause between “come” and “man,” like he’s reading his lines phonetically. I know he’s not a bad actor — it’s like he was reading the script for the first time, or the director had a grudge against him and used his worst take. While I`m picking line-reading nits, the westernized Japanese dude who approached bad guy from Ghost in the first place says “Engrish,” with a hard R, like he’s faking a Japanese accent and not doing so good. Weird. Tragic.
  • The whole time I was thinking how Tom Cruise’s haircut is the same as Diane Keaton’s in Something’s Gotta Give, and wondering how it would look on me.

So it was easy to dislike The Last Samurai, and it conformed to my expectations, and all was right with the universe. But then there’s The Village, which I wanted to like, and I didn’t hate, and that is a different matter entirely.

The Village

Gotta get these kids peeing indoors. Issis as yellow as the Washington Times.

  • Looking back, a lot of things made sense. The first scene, with Brendan Gleeson at his son’s grave — I thought his son had been killed by a creature. It added heft to the creature thing, like when William Hurt gets up at the funeral dinner and says something like “this makes us wonder if we made the right choice by settling here,” and to me that meant “where all these damn hell ass creatures are,” and it went in the spooky file even though later it looks like Brendan Gleeson’s kid just died of regular sickness and not-having-medicine-ness.

    Also, when Ivy takes Adrien Brody to the quiet room for hitting but lets him off the hook, it’s clear that the kind of hitting he must have done before was much worse than what he was guilty of there. So you got some violent tendencies. But there really should have been more foreshadowing for “of COURSE we keep a creature suit under the floorboards of the retard room,” so there wasn’t that “OMG it was Old Man Ferguson all along!” moment when the elders discover it. Still, once you see it, you got Adrien Brody gone, and floorboards up, and animal skins — you can figure it out — saying “OMG Adrien Brody stole our secret creature costume heretofore hidden under the floorboards” out loud was very silly.

  • The stabbing non-sound in The Village contrasted nicely with the stab sounds in The Last Samurai. In fact I thought the whole stabbing scene was perfect and disturbing though it would have played out better if Lucius (not Malfoy) had died instead of become a plot device.

  • William Hurt kept calling Joaquin Phoenix “the boy,” although he is THIRTY. Silly.
  • I would have preferred 1) that the monsters be real. And a little less dude-in-a-suit looking. Like just a red cloak with shadow underneath would have been nice and spooky, if you could get around feeling like you were being attacked by Orko.

    Oh no! It’s the safe color, Ram-Man!

  • If Ivy knew the creatures weren’t real (barring William Hurt’s voice-over that the fake monsters were based on real monsters of legend), why did she panic when she realized her safe color cloak was covered with mud? And why was she crying all through the woods, and pretty much non-stop through the last act? (Sidebar on crying: I like a good crying actor as much as the next guy, but you got to parcel it out — it’s hard to relate to somebody on a non-stop crying jag. I knew I wasn’t going to like The Messenger when Milla Jovovich showed up already with the waterworks, and she pretty much kept it up through the whole movie. Maybe it was allergies. I dunno.)
  • If you HAD to have the monsters be fake, and the movie be set in the 20th century (which I totally called like 5 minutes before it was revealed), I would have preferred 2) that there be some subtle anachronisms. There’s no way you could be exposed to the culture and crapola of the 20th century and not have some sneak out from time to time. What made The Sixth Sense so great (aside from the acting `n` family drama `n` stuff) was how he took the way you naturally fill in the blanks when watching a movie and used it against you. He could have done the same thing with The Village — check it out — you could have one character singing a little bit of “You Are My Sunshine.” It kind of sounds right, but you think, wait — that’s like 1940, that’s an anachronism. And you chalk it up to BAD FILMMAKING. This is because you are exposed to BAD FILMMAKING all the time, and you’re used to overlooking it. And then SHEPOW you were right all along.
  • Also I`m thinking a couple of characters refer to “quarts.” If you were going to create a perfect society, wouldn’t you go metric?

Wow, that was a lot. Mocking will resume tomorrow.

Super Fuzz Terence Hill

What You Might Not Know About Super Fuzz

What You Might Not Know About Super Fuzz published on

The other day I was trying to relate to someone a fevered memory of a movie from my feverish but memorable youth. All I remembered was a man with superpowers who lost them whenever he saw the color red. Except maybe it was more than just looking at the color red, `cause once he was running to rescue somebody and a red sash got caught around his lower leg and apparently he couldn’t just run with one eye closed and pretend it wasn’t there. Anyway I also remembered Ernest Borgnine was in it, and at one point there’s a ship and a huge bubblegum bubble.

Oh, and the wacky ending is that the superpowered dude marries his love interest, and when he lifts the veil she’s dyed her hair red OMG drink deep the bitter wacky irony!

I see my death in Feria!

The friend I was trying to explain this to thought I was nuts and disavowed any knowledge of such a movie and subsequently myself. But such times are what imDb and the Internet in general were made for. I looked up Mr. Borgnine. I looked up his movies from 1975-1985. I found Super Fuzz.

Let’s land at the bridge that runs right next to the Statue of Liberty.

Super Fuzz! Also known as Super Cop and Super Snooper, which coincided with The Oceans` addictive disco theme song that I`d pay a dollar to get my hands on. It starred Terence Hill of “Lucky Luke” fame. I can’t get into “Lucky Luke” right now, but it was wacky and had a wacky theme song and a sitting horse and guest-starred Madeline Kahn once, so rock on little Italian sitcom. According to my profound and time-consuming research at imDb, Terence Hill, born Mario Girotti, was and is as freakishly prolific in TV and film in Europe as Mr. Borgnine was and is in America.

Terence Hill is half Italian and from Italy, and Ernest Borgnine’s parents emigrated from Italy, which makes me realize Borgnine probably isn’t pronounced “Borg-9” and I am a silly fool. I wonder if these two knocked back a few and swapped stories about 120-hour work-weeks and “You got bombed at Dresden? No kidding. I was a sailor in WWII.” I hope they did. However this movie strikes you now, or struck you when it was playing on TV nonstop in the early 80s, these two guys are cool.

Marvel at the Coppola-esque foreshadowing. How the gum turns yellow and then beige and develops really obvious vinyl seams, I don’t know.

Also, Terence Hill played Trinity in Renegade/Call Me Trinity, which is a classic in my family, and in which my dad’s favorite scene is the one where Trinity eats a whole plate of beans and then sops up the sauce. Okay, I just checked with my dad, and he says actually his favorite scene is “Trinity slapping a duded-up gunslinger about ten times and outdrawing him after each slap.” Heh heh heh.

Also my dad says I thought Terence Hill was cute. I am unable to dispute that.

Anyway, Super Fuzz Terence Hill gets superpowers in a plutonium explosion and, with his partner Mr. Borgnine, tries to break up a ring of counterfeiters who are making fake one-dollar bills. One-dollar bills. How this could lead to fisticuffs and Ernest Borgnine trapped in a sinking ship, I can’t imagine. If I were working on fake one-dollar bills and someone came to stop me I would hand over my newsprint and green Sharpie and just let it go.

Mr. Borgnine? We’re here to take back your Academy Award.

I`m going to buy a copy of this movie, stick it between The Bourne Identity and The Last Unicorn on my shelf, invite a film school posse over and say, “Hey, kids. Why don’t you pick out something for us to watch?” Then lay out plastic tablecloth to catch exploding brains.

All images stolen from, which is probably the best actor website I’ve ever seen. I may even ask permission to use these images. Terence Hill is still working — a lot. His face, if possible, is even more square.

PS – Terence Hill reminds me of Sledge Hammer. I`m going to have to talk about how great Sledge Hammer is later, but in the meantime enjoy this kickass fan site, Sledge Hammer Online.

The Walls of Angband Felix Sotomayor

Are You Kidding Me With These Hosts of Angband

Are You Kidding Me With These Hosts of Angband published on
The Walls of Angband Felix Sotomayor
[The Walls of Angband by Felix Sotomayor, via Rolozo Tolkien]

So I got The Silmarillion in my bathroom, where it makes excellent reading–you can only digest a paragraph or two at a dose, and you never stood a chance of telling Feanor from Fingolfin or Huan from Huor anyway. I read the thing proper just a couple of months ago, but yesterday I noticed this line (From “Of the Fifth Battle”, kinda paraphrased):

All the hosts of Angband swarmed against them, and they bridged the stream with their dead, and encircled the remnant of Hithlum as a gathering tide about a rock. There the sun westered on the sixth day…

DUDE. DU-HU-HUDE. This is what Tolkien does that makes me crazy. He`ll spend a whole page talking about how Luthien’s song to Mandos is the saddest and fairest in the world…

(Two sidebars here:

  • 1) EVERY frickin` song an elf maid sings is the saddest and fairest in the world. Tolkien’s got to rank `em, or Luthien and Melian have to have a dance-off, or something, and
  • 2) Trying to describe a song in a novel is dense. There. I said it.)

…and then the hosts of Angband bridge the stream with their dead. Seems like maybe this is quite a turn of events? An image worthy of further visualization? Totally hardcore? But no, that’s it. And then the sun westers.

If I`m ever facing a host, and they bridge a stream with corpses to get to me, I will probably experience a dint in my morale meriting exploration. Just saying.

Harry Potter Elijah Wood

What Harry Potter Cribbed from Lord of the Rings

What Harry Potter Cribbed from Lord of the Rings published on

Look who can use GIMP!

I realize there’s nothing new under the sun–Tolkien himself borrowed from Norse mythology. At the same time, the more I review the Harry Potter books, the more I see the echoes of J.R.R. Below is what Harry Potter cribbed from Lord of the Rings.

Considering I`m only, like, part of the way through The Two Towers, these are just the ones I’ve found so far.

Entity Harry’s version Frodo’s version
Devoted, lower-class sidekick Samwise Ron
Dangerous, grasping willow tree Whomping willow The one that Tom Bombadil rescues Pippin and Merry from
Long-haired and -bearded wizard mentor/protector whose apparent feebleness belies his wizardly power Dumbledore Gandalf
Evil being who was banished but not destroyed, who is slowly regaining power and regrouping his army and is often referred to as “he-who-must-not-be-named/whose-name-we-dare-not-speak” Voldemort Sauron
Permanent forehead scar Harry’s Merry’s
Troll unleashed by enemy Mountain Cave
Character who could be portrayed by Robbie Coltrane Hagrid Gimli

For good measure, here’s some stuff ripped off from The Black Cauldron.

Oddly cute creature almost annoying in his devotion to the protagonist, who refers to himself in the third person Dobby Gurgi
Animal assistant with name that sounds like “Henwig” Hedwig Henwen
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander The Horned King

Gin and Juice Essay

Gin and Juice Essay published on
Captivatin' he who listens to the words that I speak
Captivatin’ he who listens to the words that I speak

Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” from his quadruple-platinum 1993 album Doggystyle, proved itself a top 10 hit and ushered in the age of West Coast gangster rap. But few would guess that the content of its lyrics would pave the way for the slow, often ignored birth of the genre of homo-hop, as its artists call it, through which urban gays gain an outlet to express themselves in a field long dominated by drugs, violence, and chasing women. “Gin and Juice” richly merges the traditional themes of gangster rap with the misgivings and fears of growing up gay in a gay-hating climate. The song is best interpreted as the lament of a gay man writing straight rap, which makes it “kinda hard bein Snoop D-O-double-G.”

Laid back
Laid back

First observe that it is very unlikely the audience he speaks to in the first verse is female. He explicitly asserts he wishes to “kick a little something for the G’s,” not the women. And why would he brag to a woman about the “bitches in the living room gettin it on”? Furthermore, if this party includes that kind of public sex, it seems unusual for Snoop to tell his partner to be sure to “turn off the lights and close the doors.” He affirms this scenario by concluding that “we”–presumably he and his partner–“don’t love them hoes, yeah!”

In this context, his mention of condoms in the first verse is at once a refreshing appeal for safer sex and an expression of discontent for the disparity between what Snoop and his friends feel comfortable doing. While Snoop has “a pocket full of rubbers” and his “homeboys do, too,” his heterosexual friends are free to couple in front of each other in the living room, while he must retreat with his partner to a private room. After all, “you got to get yours, but fool I gotta get mine.” The contradiction makes him angry, and inspires his only use of the term “motherfucker” in the song. He seems to be angry because he writes songs for the entertainment of his straight friends while he struggles secretly, internally: “G’s up, hoes down, while you motherfuckers bounce to this.”

Somehow, some way
Somehow, some way

The pervasive misogyny in the song shows some purpose, for it seems natural that a gay man would project his anger at the society that expects and compels him to pair with women onto those women he pairs with. Repeatedly he expresses his preference for men: “We don’t love them hoes”;”I don’t love you hoes”; “G’s up, hoes down”. He tells the “bitch” Sadie she “gets none of these,” as he is “at ease… with the Dogg Pound”–his male friends–and not her.

His repeated descriptions of drug and alcohol use indicate that he relies on substances to resolve himself to the situations he allows himself to be put in. The chorus has him “sippin` on gin and juice,” even as he just rolls down the street. And when Dre brings him a woman in the third verse, he must use both “Tanqueray and chronic” to perform.

The message of this song for urban gays is strong but not optimistic. When he mistreats the woman Dre brings “to serve” him, he tells her “don’t get upset,” and asks her to try to understand his situation is just as hard as hers–after all, “that’s just how it goes.” The special sympathy here between Snoop and this woman is apparent when he calls her “girl,” rather than “bitch” which would have easily fit the rhythm. He is, unfortunately, as resigned to concealing his sexual identity from his friends as this woman is to serving men sexually. Even so, Snoop asserts he will “somehow, some way/Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day.” His internal conflict continues, but he will not let it interfere with his career.

Rat Race

Rat Race published on

Did you know he could make this face?
I didn’t know he could make this face.

Stuff I liked about “Rat Race”

– Amy Smart going insane.
– No towel-wrestling with the dog over the heart.
– Seth Green doesn’t drop the keys in the lake once he gets them back.
– Illegal #2 only implied.
– The Lucys are mostly female.
– I didn’t know Gloria Allred is a real lawyer. It’s funnier if you don’t.
– Low-key betting millionaires gags.
– At the beginning, only one person reads aloud the message on the prize token.
– Mr. Bean falls asleep on his feet, rather than falling over.
– Payoff of the dark lipstick on the steering wheel. Wait for it…
– Expected it to be really, really bad.

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