Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Stumbled upon the following funny item while reading up on the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on wikipedia.org:
"Following the 1945 defection of Soviet cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko and his revelations of espionage, the RCMP Security Service implemented measures to screen out 'subversive' elements from the public sector. What began as a perceived need to create a bulwark against communism had, by the 1950s, been extended to homosexuality because homosexual acts were illegal, considered a sign of “character weakness,” and because the KGB could use it to blackmail civil servants into revealing state secrets.
"Scores of people were fired as part of this campaign, which included the development of a 'fruit machine.' This machine was based on the premise that changes in pupil dilation when viewing beefcake photos of nude men would scientifically determine whether or not a test subject was gay.
"After four years, the machine failed to produce results, and the program was discontinued."
I now ask the Canadian Government the following questions:
3. Four years?
4. How do you know it 'failed to produce results?' Did the machine say the man wasn't gay, but then he demanded to give you a blow job? Or did the machine keep saying you were gay and it was, therefore, 'wrong?'
5. Where can I get one of these fruit machines? I'd love to continue the research, for the sake of science.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Don't have one yet? Didn't think so---they don't sell 'em at Wal-Mart, chump!
Before everybody else in the subdivision beats you to the punch, y'all best be gettin' yoselves to Rodeo, bitches, where the exclusive Swiss boutique La Maison des Chiens de Prairie will be more than happy to hook you up with your very own cuddly critter, or two, or three--for a mere $17,000 a pop.*
Don't like the 'do on your little 'dog? Not to worry--La Salon des Chiens de Prairie, in the rear of the shop, offers cuts, dies, shaves, mani/pedis, and, of course, Brazilians.
What more could a poor little prairie dog ask for?
If pooper scoopers are not your thing, but you still want to get in on the craze, then try the world of fine art on for size:
*Note: The City of Beverly Hills would like to remind you to dispose of your dead prairie dogs properly--please notify the city's Dead Prairie Dog Collection Service and place the dead prairie dog by your garbage can, in the appropriate green plastic 'dead prairie dog bag' (available at your local pharmacy/grocery store).
In other scary photo news (this one real), check it out:
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Universal Soldier (1992) --- 'The Muscles from Brussels' as a flexible, muscled, French robot trying to act...and failing. Dolph Lundgren tried almost the same thing--except his robot was Swedish; he also failed.
Stargate (1994) --- This one was actually pretty good. He must have had a ghost writer/director. Or maybe James Spader hypnotized me or something. James Spader is the single greatest human being in the history of mankind, by the way.
Independence Day (1996) --- Atrocious. Except for Liv Tyler, who will always be my one true love, even though we must forever remain 500ft apart... Wait--that was Armageddon. Are they the same movie? Should be...
Godzilla (1998) --- Unapologetic shite.
The Patriot (2000) --- Mel Gibson as Braveheart...but in America! Who knew the vaunted British military was actually defeated by one 5'8" Australian racist! It was! I swear!
[sidenote: did you know Mel Gibson is actually American? Moved to Australia when he was 12...]
The Day After Tomorrow (2004) --- Only turned a profit because foreign audiences loved the poster--the Statue of Liberty crumbling into the ocean. They were disappointed by the lack of a point, the cardboard characters, and by the fact that America was not crushed into rubble and salted.
10,000 BC (2008AD) --- Did not even cover its production budget with domestic receipts. Once you add in marketing costs...yikes. And you wonder why there's no money left to make good movies? American military forces abroad were able to force enough customers into theaters for this clunker to clear $173 million in foreign receipts, but still...who should we be making movies for? Americans or terrorists?*
*please note all foreigners are terrorists. It's not my fault. They are.
Trade Marks of Roland Emmerich Films, according to imdb.com:
- Often features an object crashing into the camera.
- Often features a zoom-in shot of a villain's eyes widening when the villain meets his demise
- All of his major films have featured a couple kissing in front of a luminous background
- Often features the number "44" somewhere in his films in reference to his movie Moon 44
- Movies frequently feature a scene with rain.
- Large-scale disaster films.
- Often uses a shot of a teacup and saucer rattling wildly to demonstrate a strong vibration
Wondering what's next on his slate? Heck! I know I am!
2012 (2009) --- The end of the world is nigh, but don't fear--everyman John Cusack, a part-time limo driver and writer, will probably save the day in some farcical manner.
Fantastic Voyage (2010) --- Two-hit wonder Coolio dusts off his ride for one last spin around the block--to save the world!
Was it, counterintuitively, the staggering losses of 10,000BC that prompted his latest two deals? Do they not blame the director when a movie fails, only when it succeeds?
"Ah, it was the writer's fault this time."
Well, Roland Emmerich also wrote 10,000BC and 2012 (and Godzilla and Independence Day and Stargate).
"Um, it wasn't marketed properly."
You mean ensuring everybody in the solar system was aware this movie was coming out somehow confused your target demographic? What was your target demographic? Cavemen who stare in wonder at flickering lights, impressed by computer-generated saber-toothed tigers?
"No comment. Please join us again next year for the same movie--but with lovable John Cusack!"
Proof yet again that once your foot is all the way in the door--no matter how it might have gotten there--it is impossible for it to be removed. Think the Wachowski Brothers (well, actually now they are brother and sister, technically, if the rumors are true) will ever live down the stink-bomb that is Speed Racer?
I do! They have hundreds of millions of dollars! They made The Matrix! They can do whatever they want, no matter how shitty the concept/execution! Get ready for more embarrassing failures at a multiplex near you--on all eight screens!
Meanwhile, Woody Allen has to go to England to get a movie made...
[Speed Racer---Production Budget= $120 million; Marketing Budget= $4 trillion; Global Box Office Receipts after 18 days in Release= $67 million]
[Match Point---Production Budget- $15 million; Marketing Budget= $5; Global Box Office Receipts=$85million]
Interesting factoid found in my exhaustive research for this seminal article---
Roland Emmerich is supposedly referred to as "Das Spielbergle aus Sindelfingen" in his native Germany. Translation? "Little Spielberg from Sindelfingen." Do you think it's mere coincidence that they both suck? Do you think it's mere coincidence that each has warranted a blog entry on consecutive days, despite the fact that I hadn't written one in three weeks? Do you think it's mere coincidence they both use toothpaste? Or, will you finally believe in the legend of the Curse of Das Spielbergle?
And so, for all you millionaires out there, perk up those hairy old ears--your money is better invested in the stock market (or Woody Allen), even in these dire times, than in Roland Emmerich.
Yet, shadowy figures keep arrogantly betting on him, giving him bigger and bigger budgets, and blaming audiences when they lose, and in the process, willfully aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our culture.
Oh, wait--silly me--I forgot to answer the question! It's been so long...
And the answer to the question is:
The person who keeps letting Roland Emmerich make shitty movies is...Roland Emmerich! (Well, at least in part--you also have to blame the distributors who pony up advance capital in exchange for exclusive rights, as well as the gullible, Diet-Coke-swilling public.)
Emmerich and his partner, Dean Devlin, have produced all of his movies through their own company--Centropolis Entertainment, founded in 1985. I think they raise funds through some kind of pyramid scheme, but, as of press time, this could not be confirmed--OR denied...
Monday, May 26, 2008
I know it's a bit harsh, in light of all the good he has done in the past (Jaws, E.T, Indiana Jones I & III, producing Goonies, Back to the Future, and Gremlins), but he's let his previous success get to his head and still thinks he should be behind the wheel in Hollywood.
Don't people retire anymore, once they cease to be relevant?
Clearly Spielberg won't let us alone until he kicks the bucket and hands one of his sons the reigns to the empire that is Amblin Entertainment; it is for this reason I think he needs to be taught a lesson--Pilot-style.
Oh, what do you think should happen?
We tickle him until he says he's sorry?
I'M sorry, but that just won't cut it.
He doesn't deserve that kind of leniency.
- Hook (1991)----Ugh.
- Jurassic Park (1993)---a great book, a pretty hokey adaptation (example: of course he has to make the girl the smart kid, for no reason, but then doesn't follow through and she becomes a screaming damsel in distress, as opposed to a truly strong female character)
- Schindler's List (1993) --Not that great, people. The cinematography is enjoyable, as always, but that credit goes to Janusz Kaminski, not the Berg. Story-wise, script-wise, directing-wise? Pretty hokey and boring. Just because it involves the Holocaust does not mean it is Oscar-worthy.
- Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World (1997) ---did we need to go back?
- Amistad (1997) ---not even sure what to say about this one...
- Saving Private Ryan (1998) ---awful; the first installment of the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg Shitbox Trilogy. Realistic, expensive special effects in the opening D-Day scene; that's about the only thing worth watching. You want to see a GREAT fictionalized movie about WWII? Try watching one by a talented director who actually LIVED THROUGH IT--Paul Verhoeven's Black Book.
- A.I: Artificial Intelligence (2001) ---Not necessarily a great project, but I do not doubt Kubrick would have pulled it off; how much more glaring can the gap between a great director and a populist director be?
- Minority Report (2002) ---so many glaring improbabilities, within the world he created. Example: Everybody is looking for Tom Cruise, every retinal scanner in the city is searching for him, finding him...to the point where he pays somebody to REMOVE HIS EYEBALLS. Then he takes those eyeballs and uses them to access to the most secure facility in the city, the hall of super-secret records, or whatever. You mean to tell me they didn't lock out his access? Really? Or could Steven just not figure out any other way he could get Tom in there, and he didn't think anybody would notice or care, because his audience is dumb and just wants the good guy to win? And that's just ONE inconsistency...
- Catch Me If You Can (2002) ---please. A great real-life story made totally boring, mostly by stretching the truth to increase the role of the pursuing investigator, so that it would be worth Mr. Hanks' time. It wasn't. Everybody on the crew should have stayed in bed those 3 months.
- The Terminal (2004) ---Yet again, another true-life story that could have made a great movie. But instead, Spielberg casted Tom Hanks to play an Iranian man stuck in DeGaulle for decades. Of course, Spielberg moved it to JFK, made him from a fictionalized country, never mentioned the real-life story, and felt obliged to add in a love interest--Catherine Zeta Jones. Yeah. The real story just wasn't interesting enough--it's so much better when you add in a completely-unrealistic romance with a sexy woman.
- War of the Worlds (2005)---Tom Cruise tried desperately to prove his masculinity in the opening scenes. Let's see...he's a single father down on his luck who drives around a sexy muscle car and helps the neighborhood auto mechanic when the guy just can't figure out what's wrong with the car he's fixing... And then shit happens and he's stuck with his kids, trying to help them stay alive, and it's tough, lemme tell ya. But things aren't so tough for most people, evidently. His wife's entire family, including grandparents, somehow make their way safely to Boston and are chillin' at a brownstone in the tony Beacon Hill neighborhood--which is somehow untouched by disaster, as if aliens respect rich people too much to go after them.
- Jurassic Park 4 (2009)-----he didn't have the heart to direct the 3rd one, but he did executive produce it... I bet this one is gonna be killer. Let me guess: bigger better dinosaurs...a precocious child or two...aliens that look like E.T...soft furry animals that make for great licensing items...and a 2hr-long piece of crap.
[Side note: Can't wait for his Lincoln movie...Liam Neeson as Abraham Lincoln, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Harrison Ford as Vice President Johnson...and let me make a suggestion for John Wilkes Booth--Shia LeBoeuf. Hey, why not? It's not like it will matter how good this movie is--it's a Spielberg joint, dawg, we gotsta go see it!!!]
Oh, brother. I'm so tired of bitching. He isn't even worth the breath, this Spielberg, and yet I expend it. One last pass:
Is it any wonder that two of the three richest men in Hollywood (Geffen is safe...for now...) are both guilty of ruining their own legacies by not only returning to them for no reason, but also for proceeding to sully them beyond believe? And, let me tell you, both Lucas and Spielberg's heavy hands were visible on this one. I blame Lucas for the prairie dogs and monkeys, I blame Spielberg for everything else.
In closing, go to hell, Steven Spielberg. You have done more to ruin movies than you ever did to help them. I hope you realize that some day.
Question of the Week:
It took 18 years to get a script everybody agreed on and THIS was it? THIS was the one that everybody loved? What were the other ones? Various people's excrement smeared on 3-hole-punched toilet paper? Fuck you.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
and I loved it!
Robert Downey, Jr, was perfect for the part, the character was well-written, the story was tight, the humor was spot-on, the action and sex were well-sprinkled-in, the politics were right, and director Jon Favreau helmed the mission with surprising aplomb.
Pure and simple, this movie was fun from start to finish. Fun during the action sequences, fun during the character moments, fun during the comic relief, fun during the torture sequences. Well, maybe not fun...but certainly gripping--yet without a heavy touch.
Rather than be a burden to the action, like in most movies of its kind, the plot not only served the action beautifully, but rocketed forward with the sort of unchecked swagger only Robert Downey, Jr, could keep up with.
Downey was at once fantastic and believable, a walking caricature of a boy-genius-cum-playboy, whose resourcefulness and daring always wins the day. So what if he also likes to party and bed bevies of beautiful women? He earns it. Downey's Tony Stark is the epitome of a man's man, a hard-partying lovechild of Batman and MacGyver, and the packed, vocal crowd at the theater I saw the movie in loved every second of it.
Jon Favreau, a man I love to hate much more than most people, even though Swingers was pretty well-written, really surprised me today. Why? Because in the process of making this movie, he made a lot of great decisions. The dripping masculinity was equal parts arrogant and self-deprecating; I laughed a lot, even when the comedy dropped to pseudo-Tim Allen levels; the two hour runtime flew by, the pace unrelenting; the conventions of the genre were delivered creatively, giving me what I needed, yet doing so in unexpected ways, with well-practiced ease; Robert Downey, Jr, and Gwyneth Paltrow were fantastic, and part of that credit must go to the director guiding their performances.
The fact that the leading weapons manufacturer in the United States, Downey's Tony Stark, realizes his company is hurting the world at least as much as it is helping it, and decides to do something about it, is especially timely in the waning days of Bush/Cheney rule. Clear skies are nigh, the dark cloud is about to move on, and hope once again fills the hearts of men. What better time could there be to release Iron Man?
Iron Man was the best action movie I've seen in a long time--probably since Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins in 2005--and I do believe it is right up there with, if beneath, Richard Donner's Superman in the pantheon of comic book movies, but it was not without problems.
Jeff Bridges, although convincing and likable at the outset, grew into a disappointingly simplistic, shallow villain. I think it's safe to blame the writing of his character for that and I'm sure he would agree, seeing as it showed in his uninspired performance during his biggest scenes. Luckily, Bridges is not on-screen too much, and Downey is allowed more space to roam around and crow, master of the henyard.
While Terrence Howard's performance/role was serviceable, unremarkable; I cannot say the same for that of Gywneth Paltrow. The chemistry between Downey and Paltrow, who plays his faithful assistant, is palpable. Pepper Potts is a sexy, capable, loving, loyal amalgam of Bruce Wayne's Alfred and Austin Powers' Vanessa Kensington (and let us not forget to credit Get Smart's Agent 99) and Paltrow hits the role out of the park, imbuing her performance with the perfect blend of playfulness, humor, and emotion, and uttering at least two of the more memorable lines from the film.
"...and sometimes I take out the trash."In short, Iron Man was a real crowd pleaser and, for once, I didn't mind joining that crowd--it's no wonder the movie made over $100 million this weekend.
"I'll have a vodka martini...with a lot of olives. Like at least three olives."
The viewers are there, Hollywood. You just need to make good movies if you want people to go out and throw their money at you. Stop blaming the internet, pirating, extravagant home theaters, and a lagging economy; just make more movies like Iron Man. And The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which I saw for the second time the other night and, for the second time, loved. Promise me you'll rent it, because I know none of you saw it.
Oh, and one more thing--stick around for the end of the credits for Iron Man. There's a nice little treat for you if you do.
[For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Robert Downey, Sr, you should definitely check out Putney Swope (1969), a brilliant satire of the advertising industry that he wrote, directed, and produced. He also voiced the main character, Putney Swope.]