Movies

February 27th, 2011 at 11:35 am

When will the Coen Brothers adapt Blood Meridian?

The Social Network. Billionaires have such important problems. The rest of us suffer through movies of their depositions.

The King’s Speech. Kings have such important problems. The rest of us suffer through their impediments.

Black Swan. Ballerinas have such important problems. The rest of us suffer through their delusional cuticles.

The Kids Are Alright. Lesbians have such important problems. The rest of us fantasize about Mark Ruffalo.

The Fighter. Boxers have such important problems. Like how to stop beating the shit out of each other.

Inception. Dreamers have such important problems. The rest of us have to worry about reality and are simply bored.

Toy Story 3. Toys have such important problems. The rest of us don’t have near the imagination or creativity to make movies this consistently well, despite this one (and The Incredibles) being a bit too long.

127 Hours. Hikers have such important problems. The rest of us sip martinis from boulder-free bars.

Wake me up when James Franco and Anne Hathaway have a threesome with Johnny Depp.

Or Exit Through the Gift Shop wins.

charlie burn Banksy



Inception Sucks

August 9th, 2010 at 8:59 am

For those connoisseurs interested in consuming texts of more cerebral and entertaining value, I recommend Fishing with John.

“Tom Waits catches a fish and puts it in his pants, but then becomes grumpy.”

As opposed to seeing Inception, becoming grumpy, and wishing you had just put a fish in your pants.

Fishing with John



Reader’s Delight

September 24th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

While the meteorological and economic industries are facing the grim realities of their professions with hurricanes and financial crises, it is high time to be an armchair publishing quarterback. Because we suffer none of the detriment, we just read about it.

Right?

It is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday today, September 24th.

The Palin-bashing book bandwagon is proving to be ever crowded with each passing day.

Obama is of course left out in the warm with movements like Books4Barack.

Barney Rosset, editor of Grove Press, the publisher of authors such as William S. Burroughs and Henry Miller, will be the subject of a new documentary, Obscene. It’s already in my queue. I haven’t been this excited about a documentary since Helvetica.

Bret Easton Ellis, who is probably the greatest living American writer for my money, better than John Updike, Phillip Roth (whose movie adaptations are doomed), and whoever else, is heading to Broadway with a theatrical interpretation of “American Psycho.” Yes!

Big Brother, I mean Google, is expanding its Book Search capabilities by providing discounts at participating booksellers. So do you pronounce it kew-pawn or coo-pin?

And because the general public is just dying for more Melville, Hollywood will be giving us another adaptation of Moby Dick.

French author, Pierre Pean, is on trial in Paris accused of inciting racial hatred in a book on the Rwandan genocide.

And speaking of lawsuits, The Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association regional trade show held this past weekend in Colorado Springs, the association’s booth featured canvas messenger bags for sale bearing the motto “Reading is Sexy,” blatantly ripping off the brilliant intellectual property of some hack blog.

Which is almost as cruel and cheap as co-opting the title of a song by Sugarhill Gang for a blog post title.

Lazy and Depraved.

We should all be ashamed.



Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

July 16th, 2008 at 11:30 am

So I’ve seen it: the latest documentary about author Hunter S. Thompson.

Surprise!

Gonzo The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson

Directed by Alex Gibney (Best-Documentary-Oscar-Winning Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron-Smartest Guys in the Room), the HST documentary is called Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.

Not to be confused with the oral biography, Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson.

Let’s throw the usual fish in a barrel and shoot them: The book is better. It is far more exhaustive and illuminating, contains a larger cast of characters, and provides a more thorough, telling account of this singular man’s life.

Successful in its own right, Gibney’s documentary focuses on HST’s most significant and productive period of the 60s and 70s with plenty of time spent on his Nixon/Vietnam criticism paralleling the current Bush/Iraq fiasco.

Take plenty of Mescaline before viewing the documentary so as to thwart the nauseous effects provoked by the occasional re-enacted dramatizations. Otherwise, the documentary is thoroughly entertaining and provides a colorful glimpse into this beast’s life with unseen/heard home video and audio tapes. Especially enlightening was the footage of Thompson’s memorial service, in which his remains were fired out of a hundred foot tower capped by a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button, and his second wife Anita’s self-shot home video was a bizarre rabbit hole into the final day’s of Thompson’s life.

The end of the documentary strikes a somber note with some of those who knew him best wishing HST was still alive. He was a brutal, talented man, someone deeply needed in these queer times of ours.  His writing following September 11th and up to the Iraq War and his suicide is juxtaposed with recent images that reveal how eerily prescient the Good Doc has been. And always was. And could have still been.

How bad we could use him now.



I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

June 30th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

“I really hope that God has the capacity for forgiveness that Christians claim, because I am going to test the absolute outer limits.” – Tucker Max

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

Tucker Max is an inexplicable success story. He wrote emails to friends about his drunken, debaucherous sexual exploits. This turned into a blog. This became a book. This became a New York Times bestselling book. Now there is a movie.

Though an impressive exercise in excess and gall, Max’s tales of drinking and sex are mostly unremarkable. Most youths half-conscious for high school and college will be able to meet Tucker half-way with his mildly shocking anecdotes of modern bacchanalian adventure. So let this be a lesson to you kids: be a cruel, disrespectful, self-absorbed, misogynistic drunk, and America will reward you.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, somewhere between a drunk Paper Chase and The Game on meth, is certainly appealing because it is authentic. You believe everything. Nothing is embellished. Nothing over-written. There is something very refreshing about its straightforward, casual forthcomingness.

But of course it’s totally depraved and reprehensible. The puritan in us wants to be appalled. The Top 40-listening, Simon Cowell wanna-being, Paris Hilton sex tape-watching fool in us wants to be entertained even more.

Though it pains me to say it, there’s a little bit of Hunter S. Thompson in Tucker Max. While I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell can’t hold a match to the rocket-fueled blowtorch that is HST’s intellect, craft, and cultural relevance, Max does carry around a tape recorder and write about his heroic consumption, just like the good Doc, however elementary and inferior the writing is. Sample passage (from page 69 no less):

“It got to the point where I was fucking with so much force her booty was clapping like Madison Square Garden, the bed was chipping the paint off the wall, my hips were bruising as they slammed against her ass bones and I was sweating like a migrant worker in a strawberry field, but it still wasn’t enough.”

This book and its success is frustrating and bothersome on several levels. Why do the douche bags always get away with it?

Let’s talk about this douche bag thing. Having read his book, I think Tucker Max is a douche bag. My secret sources working on the inside of the movie production of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell confirm this opinion. Though in his thirties, he’s the kind of guy who wears athletic shorts with dress shirts. Tucker Max angers me like drug dealers who don’t get caught anger me. But Tucker Max clearly has his own ideas of what a douche bag is and spends ample time examining so in the book. He refers to “legions of douche bags and tools that now seem to infect every aspect of Vegas,” and “an endless expanse of bushy-haired frat boy fuckwits in striped shirts and red pants.”

But Tucker Max drinks Grey Goose and Red Bull. His dog is named Maxie. He drinks booze from a CamelBak. Add this to the way he treats people and isolates himself in an insecure, cocky, self-absorbed and self-important bubble protected by mildly creative insults and vain ignorance, and you have a bona fide douche bag. You simply don’t garner respect or authority on any level by attacking metrosexuals for dropping Foucault and Sartre when you refer to Toulouse-Lautrec and Pheidippides and say things like, “That’s like Chamberlain telling Hitler he can have the Sudetenland.” I know, I know. Tucker Max does not care about garnering respect nor authority. Add that to the list of why he is the embodiment of the douche bags he claims to despise so much.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is at best an interesting anthropological contemplation of the decadence of modern white male privilege and at worst as bad as having to read someone’s diary or listen to them recall their dreams. How far American Comedy has come since Mark Twain. Max’s humor consists of glib observations and opinions and the occasionally chuckle-worthy rhetorical device. “Whatever buddy, you’re wearing a Detroit Red Wings jersey to a strip club, you obviously suck.” “When I am mid-coitus, a girl could extract a promise from me to trade my first-born for a Twix bar.”

If you think this kind of thing is funny, read this book. You won’t even be able to polish off a six-pack before you’re done and ready to move on to funnier, heartier fare. Like whiskey.

But Bravo to Tucker Max for creating an empire from something so debased and otherwise normal.



Tropic Thunder

May 22nd, 2008 at 8:48 am

Have you seen the trailer to Tropic Thunder?

Go ahead and watch it.

Tropic Thunder Poster

Wow. How long was that trailer? The actual movie can’t be much longer….

And how postmodern. A movie about a movie making a movie. Movie stars playing movie stars. Cliches of cliches. Pastiche of pastiche.

Hollywood is an incestuous, vain beast. I think you can actually get a glimpse of Hollywood bending over to suck its own dick in that trailer. What depressed me the most is that Hollywood clearly knows how depraved it is and glorifies itself in self-serving, self-fulfilling doggerel like this.

Self-satire? Self-mockery? I’ll have to wait and see it to decide how “smart” it is, but judging from Zoolander, Stiller will probably hit it out of the park. But how can he so blatantly allude to Platoon and Apocalypse Now when those are classic, universally praised movies that don’t pander to the low-brow, obtuse perspective that Tropic Thunder seeks to criticize?

Too bad Owen Wilson had to go and try to kill himself. He would have been good in that role. I’m sure he’ll be stellar in the adaptation of Marley & Me too. And for further irony, the director/writer Ben Stiller, selflessly stepped in to take on the starring role in Wilson’s absence. Woohoo. Just the kind of behavior of a Hollywood-type that he mocks in the movie.

A few more thoughts:

Robert Downey Jr. is quite possibly Brilliant. He looks exactly like Don Cheadle. Are we sure that isn’t actually Don Cheadle?

Robert Downey Jr.’s character undergoes a “controversial” operation to make him actually look like a black person. He then proceeds to spout Ebonics and display black stereotypes and prejudices. Which would have been a daring move on the movie’s part to project something so potentially offensive, but they sugarcoat it by having a black co-star present to authentically point out the blunders and mistakes. Too safe. It would have been far more impressive to let Downey’s character writhe about alone in his awkward mess. Especially since Jack Black’s character prominently mocks the franchises of Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. And this after Jack Black went black face for Be Kind Rewind.

Seems a bit racialist.

And isn’t it rather odd in a time of war that this is the movie that Hollywood makes? We haven’t even had a decent movie analyzing the 1st Gulf War (Jarhead? Three Kings?), much less one that properly addresses the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we still don’t have one. Instead we have this farce, Tropic Thunder. Which is fine. It’ll be funny and done well enough, but why can’t Hollywood spend just as much time criticizing and analyzing the world as it does itself?



Wall-E

May 7th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

So there’s this new movie coming out from the hard working people at Pixar called Wall-E. Perhaps you’ve heard of the hard working people at Pixar? They’re renowned for making “good” movies like Ratatouille, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc, A Bug’s Life, and the Toys Story.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Wall-E. It comes out June 27, 2008.

I liked Wall-E the first time when it was called Short Circuit.

Wall-E poster

Short Circuit poster

And the second time when it was called Short Circuit 2.

What was wrong with Short Circuit? Sure, Toy Story was a cute movie, but does it star Steve Guttenberg? Maybe they should have called it Shorty-C…

But if the hard working people at Pixar are so brilliant, why does Wall-E look like Johnny Five?

Wall-EShort Circuit

Sony’s going to sue somebody!

And there is no possible way that Wall-E will be able to compete with Short Circuit. It has one of the finest lines in the history of cinema:

“Hey, laser lips, your mother was a snow blower!”



Movie Mania

April 26th, 2008 at 9:37 am

Book publishing continues to (de?)volve into a mere feeder industry for Hollywood.

Is this a bad thing? Should books, as an art form, be more independent and self-serving than simply fertilizer for motion pictures? Have books mutated into cattle egrets for the cash cows of Hollywood? With the success and critical acclaim of There Will be Blood and No Country for Old Men, are we just biding our time for the wide release of The Road and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?

Guillermo del Toro will be directing the two film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Yes two. Go for three, I say. Peter Jackson will executive produce. Children of Hurin is around the corner. Be patient. The robber baron whores will get to it. I promise.

Nora Ephron will be directing the film adaptation of Julie and Julia. Amy Adams is set to play the titular Julie and Meryl Streep will portray Julia Child. I love Amy Adams. Amy Adams and Jenna Fischer are my Marisha Pessl and Zadie Smith of movies and television.

Tucker Max’s bestselling I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is also due to receive a moving picture interpretation.

Sales of a book always increase after their movie adaptation, which is great for the publishing industry and authors by exposing the work to readers it would have not otherwise been exposed to, but isn’t it a bit sad when a book only acquires a level of legitimacy if it’s made into a movie?



Final Harry Potter Movie to be Twice as Moving

March 14th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Warner Bros. Pictures has announced that J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” will not be adapted into merely one piddly little major motion picture, but two.

Which is twice as many movies.

And, if my math is right, twice as much money to be made. Why didn’t J.K. think of this! She could have just cut that thick slab of a book right in half and sold twice as many books. Simple math! There could have been a Deathlier Halloweeniers.

But of course, the decision to double the Harry Potter pleasure is being justified by only the utmost of creative and artistic reasons to remain loyal to the source material.

Of course.

I smell a rat.

This is the exact same tactic employed by the publishing executives reigning over Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series. It’s a whore’s market. And we’re all sluts.

With a recession in full bloom, it’s time to pull out all the stops, all the gimmicks. Give away free books. Turn the books 90 degrees.

Whatever it takes.



Marley & Me

February 21st, 2008 at 5:34 am

I have a dog (my first) and like all good, over-excited, enthusiastic first-time parents, when I got it I had every intention of reading every single goddamned book on the topic. Marley & Me by John Grogan was the next on a long and ever-expanding list. It had been on the bestseller lists for quite a long time and so I was expecting it to be a light, enjoyable read. The kind palatable to the masses and easily read between Mitch Albom and Nicholas Sparks.

With “Marley & Me,” I was expecting a dog book, a man’s book. I mean, right on the cover is a picture of a cute little puppy looking up at the camera with innocent, loving eyes and a subtitle reading, “Life And Love With The World’s Worst dog.” So I was expecting a book about a man and his dog.

What I got was a book about marriage and babies, two things that gross me out. Two things that my feelings about rank somewhere between ironing shirts and slamming my penis in a sliding door.

That being said, this book is very, very good. By page thirty-two, my eyes were welling with tears. The book actually ended up being a relatively slow read because I had to stop every other paragraph to lift weights, drink beer at a strip club, and watch kung fu movies in my underwear while eating a bowl of cereal for dinner. You see, “Marley & Me” is not a story about a man and his dog. “Marley & Me” is the story of a young married couple that adopts a dog. Like all good characters in good stories, this particular dog is not perfect. In fact, it’s an outrage. Marley is a barking, drooling, rampaging, gnawing, destroying, pillaging Viking of a dog. His energy is endless. He is kicked out of obedience school. He eats expensive necklaces. He rips apart furniture. He destroys an entire garage. He transforms into a howling terror of a werewolf during thunderstorms. He never stops. He is always moving, his frenetic tail constantly wagging and tipping over anything in its oscillating path.

With Marley’s hyperactive and destructive back story carefully laid out, it is an emotional scene when the couple gets pregnant, only to lose the baby in the first trimester, and the mom comes home to be comforted by the surprisingly now-calm Marley with his big head on her lap and his still, patient body consolingly at her side. I am a non-breeder and when reading this scene I was an absolute mess. I was a thirteen-year-old girl saying goodbye to her friends at the end of summer camp. I was a mother at her daughter’s wedding ceremony. I was the girlfriend who didn’t get anything from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. I was Meryl Streep in a Meryl Streep movie: weepy and distraught. Grogan poignantly balances the humor, stress, and satisfaction of pet ownership with a young wife as they transition into parenthood. His story is a pleasure to read in its effortless weaving of funny anecdotes, emotional growth, and the changing priorities that come with parenthood, all with an amusing animal for comic relief. Hollywood could not have done better.

The Grogans get pregnant again and their birth story is one of the more interesting ones I have heard (again, I’m a non-breeder so hearing this kind of schmaltzy crap usually bores me to tears. Why do you tell me this stuff? What do you want me to say, “Congratulations, you successfully carried out a maneuver that baboons accomplish every goddamned day, but with less fanfare, books, websites, and talking?”) But the Grogan’s story is quite remarkable as it offers a unique window into the child birthing methods of America. Before the birth, they reserve and pay extra for an upgraded, special birthing suite. When the big day arrives, however, they arrive at the hospital to learn that all of these suites are full. “We can’t control when women go into labor,” a nurse tells them. Not only that, however, but all of the “normal” labor and delivery rooms are full as well. A few phone calls, some scrambling, and they are led into a completely different part of the hospital. The room they are put in is bare and unadorned, lacking the floral curtains, pastel pillows, and cushy couch for dad that they had expected from their pre-natal tour.

The section they are in is for the poorer, mostly immigrant population of their southern Florida community. Seeing their dismay and concern, the Grogan’s doctor assures them that since the poor typically cannot afford prenatal care, they tend to have higher-risk pregnancies so their room was actually equipped with more specialized tools and instruments to prepare for these higher-risk deliveries. Also, these poorer immigrants cannot afford the expensive, pain-relieving epidurals that have become such a common part of births in America, so throughout their entire birth the Grogan’s are treated to the un-drugged screams and painful yelps of their impoverished neighbors. As a non-breeder and a bleeding heart liberal, all of this was thoroughly, thoroughly fascinating. Who would have thought? I open a book looking for a Jack London-esque dog story and get a socio-economic examination of the United States. Ah, books! And to think there’s more to this world than the news and current events I was getting from my usual two sources: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and my pot dealer.

From there, the story meanders down a gently twisting road into an enjoyable story of an American family, complete with happiness and sadness, disappointment and success, children and pet, jobs and vacations. The Grogans get pregnant again and with this baby mom goes into labor months too soon and is relegated to strict bed-rest to prevent a premature birth. A healthy baby boy is finally born at the same hospital and the day after Donald Trump’s baby. Afterwards, mom battles severe post-partum depression and demands that Marley be given away. At this point in the book, I remember silently chanting my encouragements to the narrator to “Get rid of the wife! Keep the dog! Keep the dog!” Ultimately, there was no need for such drastic measures, it’s too good and perfect of a story for tragedy. This story is one where wives and misbehaving dogs learn to live in harmony. There is the birth of a third kid (a girl!), a new job and move to Pennsylvania (complete with dog bellowing from the belly of the plane, serenading all un-amused passengers as his owners play dumb, feigning ignorance and similar disgust at such an obnoxious beast).

And through all of this idyllic American family’s adventure and change, Marley is there, though growing ever older. Marley of course eventually trots into the sunset and my tears were plinking down on the pages the whole way, Grogan tugging every one of my heartstrings. Since I have gotten a dog, I have often remarked that they make great starter-kids. In fact, I have often wondered why parents bother upgrading to human children given that dogs are expensive, entertaining, time-consuming, and very rewarding.

Now I know. Dogs die. We need something that will stick around a bit longer and wipe our ass.