The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Demona: Victim of Her Own Evil

We all have that fictional character that speaks to our souls. Usually we encounter that character at a relatively young age, but sometimes that character comes to us later in life. For many it's Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, Mr. Spock, Buffy Summers, or someone totally offbeat like Mr. Blond (by the way, I hope none of you think torturing police officers and slicing their ears off is fun in real life).

For me, it's always been a gargoyle. No, it's not one of those singing Notre Dame gargoyles from that Disney movie. It's one of those flesh and blood gargoyles from that Disney TV series. No it's not Goliath, nor is it Brooklyn, or even Hudson. My hetero man love for Thom Adcox aside, it's not Lexington.

Her name is Demona, and she is a complete fuck up.

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Art by Jennifer L. Anderson

I was thirteen years old when "Gargoyles" first aired. October 24th at 4:00pm in 1994. Channel 11, WPIX New York. This was when syndication still existed, before the rise of these studios owning the networks. Before Cartoon Network, and Disney XD.

"Batman the Animated Series" had premiered two short years ago, and the studios were taking chances, and allowing more animated television shows to push the envelope and take chances. At least that's how it gets romanticized by people, in the case of "Gargoyles," Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg went to war and the most trusted inmate at the asylum got to run his show largely unsupervised. That inmate was Greg Weisman, and that show was "Gargoyles."

So, who is Demona? To some, she is a psychopathic ex-wife with a big gun. To others she is the unfortunate victim of the evils around her. And then there are those that think she is a lesbian who hasn't discovered herself.

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Well, if you want the stone cold facts, everything in this link should tell you what you need to know:

Demona at GargWiki.

But, who is Demona to me? That's a fascinating question, and I'll do my best to adequately answer it. Well, she's got a terrific design, she was animated quite well, and Marina Sirtis was both brooding and intense when she supplied Demona with her voice, but it goes beyond all of this.

Demona was different things for me at different stages of my life. As an angry young man, she was a radical, a freedom fighter. Someone who had taken a lot of abuse and was finally giving some abuse back. Given my teenage years in life, that made an impact. As someone who often felt like an outcast, it was great to see an outcast taking vengeance on the world around her.

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Then I grew up. Looking back on those days of my youth, I discovered that much of the hardships I endured were self-inflicted. I learned that I had to stop feeling sorry for myself, and take control of my own life, and take responsibility for my own actions. I had become an adult, it was time to behave like one.

So, where did that leave Demona? Well, I looked at her again through a fresh perspective and gone was the heroic freedom fighter, gone was the victim of that cruel world. I finally saw what I was meant to see, I saw a fuck-up. I saw someone who was the architect of her own misery. I saw someone who was so weak that should rather commit mass genocide than admit that she was wrong. I saw a walking contradiction who went to great lengths to absolve herself of any responsibility for her own sins.

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They say that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Well, what character sums that up better than Demona? I used to defend my mistakes by citing my intentions too. But the world does not run on intentions, it runs on actions. However noble she thought her intentions were, those intentions are what destroyed her clan.

We all, at moments in our lives, have made rationalizations to keep ourselves sane. Made a mistake that we were to proud to admit to, be it small or huge. How many of us, if given the chance would choose to take revenge for slights committed against us either real or exaggerated in our own heads?

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Is she evil? Here's Merriam-Webster's definition.

So, yes, by any of these definitions, she is. She has committed cruel, and murderous acts against other living beings. She has attempted genocide on a global scale. And she justifies all this by saying the humans she seeks to annihilate are a threat to her kind. While she is not completely wrong, she also has no qualms about attempting to kill Goliath, or the rest of the Manhattan Clan. The one exception at the moment being her daughter, Angela.

Angela is an interesting wrench that gets thrown into the Demona machine. Many believe that as Luke Skywalker redeemed Darth Vader, Angela will redeem Demona. I disagree with that notion completely. It's too clean, it's too easy, and, frankly, it's way too cliche. Demona is a character who has avoided many of the obvious cliches, and I think she will avoid this one as well. If anything, Angela will become Demona's newest rationalization for the cruelty she inflicts on others. Many bigoted politicians hide behind the veil of God, country, and children as they act in manners that should be morally reprehensible to all three. Take God out of that trio and is Demona any different?

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Why is Demona my all time favorite character? Because she represents a fundamental flaw that we all carry. The ability to do wrong and to justify it in our own warped minds. Sometimes, we are lucky enough to have an epiphany and realize just how wrong we are. Many of us hope Demona has that same epiphany, because if she can, maybe there is hope for the rest of us.

Demona is an endlessly fascinating character. We never saw anything like her in the realm of western animation before her debut, and I don't think she's been replicated since then. Why? I don't know. But lightning has been caught in a bottle, and I am rather happy that no one has attempted to imitate this unique and tragically flawed character.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Christopher Walken

I've got nothing today, so I'm sharing this:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hitler, Demona, and the Occult...



I recently re-read and re-watched the 2009 Gathering of the Gargoyles Radio Play: "Religious Studies 101: A Handful of Thorns." It is a non-canonical crossover between "Gargoyles" and "The Spectacular Spider-Man" written by Greg Weisman and performed by several of the original voice actors and some fans.

In the play, Demona obtains the Spear of Destiny. A little tidbit just leaped out at me. A line of Demona's from the script:

"A simple wooden shaft. The prize of Adolph Hitler's personal collection. After his... demise, his remaining followers smuggled it to Brazil. I paid handsomely to have it smuggled to me."

Which leads me to wonder. Did Demona have a connection with Hitler? Now, I know the Radio Play is non-canonical, but Greg did keep everyone in character and said elements of the Play might end up in future canon stories.

The way she mentions his demise in the script, and the way Marina delivered the line, it is quite... suspicious.

We know that Demona is perfectly willing to ally herself with humans when it suits her purposes. She allied herself with Hakon and the Captain. She allied herself with Canmore (and, I tend to think that as far as Demona is concerned, the scars of the Hunter are a far more evil symbol than the swastika). She allied herself with Xanatos.

Hitler had a personal obsession with the occult, that is a widely known fact, and he never kept it a secret, even then. Demona could have easily found out about that, and worked with him to achieve her own ends.

Greg Weisman also has spent the last thirteen years refusing to tell us what Demona did during World War II. He did tell us that Macbeth fought for the Allies though. And we know she most likely didn't encounter any Hunters since the last documented encounter before Charles Canmore in 1980 was Fiona Canmore in 1920.

Although, there was this question and answer about Demona and the War:

5) What did Demona think of stuff like the Holocaust or slavery? I know it probably confirmed her beliefs on the evil of humanity, but did she feel sorry for the victims involved?

5. Generally, I think your first statement is correct. Whether or not she felt individual pity has a lot to do with how close she got to the action, which I'm not commenting on at this time.


With that last sentence, I am reasonably sure that he has something in mind.

Yes, Demona never hesitates to point of humanity's evils, but she is also enough of a hypocrite to participate and cooperate with the worst of humanity when it suits her needs.

I'll leave you all with this documentary on Hitler and the occult.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Coop. Jamie. The Old Testament. The New Testament.

I just used "Megas XLR" to explain the difference between Old Testament God and New Testament God.

Old Testament God is a raging alcoholic. I think that's because the Jews don't believe in Hell. God would just reign down fire and brimstone on you now. Old Testament God is Coop... who does reign down fire and brimstone when you piss him off.



On the other hand, New Testament God became a slacker since he doesn't do that anymore. New Testament God is a slacker with delusions of grandeur and wanting worship without having to do anything, but he always needs money and wants you to give it. New Testament God is Jamie.



I suppose that makes Gorrath the resident Satan:



I have no idea who Kiva is yet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Robert Culp, August 16, 1930 – March 24, 2010

Robert Culp died yesterday. I'll admit, I'm not as familiar with his work as I wish I was, but it's still sad.

So, as a tribute to the man, a performance of his that Disney hasn't released on DVD:





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quentin Tarantino

What's the draw of a Tarantino movie? I get asked this a lot, especially considering how critical I am of directors like James Cameron.

I guess I can answer that for me the draw is the characters. Yeah, for the most part as people, they are not people most would want to be around in real life. But they're still great characters. The dialogue is great in all of his movies also, and I love good dialogue.

There is also always something fresh about Tarantino's films also. They don't feel like 95% of other films that are all produced from the same "How to Make a Movie" text book most of Hollywood seems to follow.

"Blood, violence, pain and suffering"... well, to be fair you find that in most other movies as well. Look at most of the movies Mel Gibson made, or Arnold Schwartzenegger. The movies they're famous for are covered in the stuff. You have your "Terminators" and your "Lethal Weapons" and your "Passion of the Christs" coming from these and other people also, which I think in many ways are a lot more brutal than anything Tarantino made. Of course, I'm not really a fan of those too, but to each their own I guess. I like some of their movies, but none of them have made my Top Ten, or even my Top Twenty while "Reservoir Dogs," and "Pulp Fiction" are all in my Top Ten. I also love "Kill Bill," and "Inglourious Basterds."

I guess also, when I look at Tarantino, I see someone like me who is a film enthusiast... I went to film school myself, and still hope to get into that business. His films are different, edgy, and feature subject matters that interest me. I always liked gangster films, samurai films and the like, and Tarantino's films speak to me. I find it refreshing that someone in Hollywood is doing their own thing instead of constantly re-hashing the same old thing. Yeah, he's paid homages, which I enjoy, but still manages to make something completely original out of it.

Let's put it this way, if I were to be a director, I'd rather follow in Quentin Tarantino's footsteps any day than follow in James Cameron, Michael Bay or George Lucas's footsteps. They may both be a lot richer, but I don't like any movie they made in the last twenty years.



Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wow...

Normally, I am not one to copy and paste someone's article. But this is so damn epic, I need to share it:

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Three years ago, when we first reflected on the history of bloated, big-budget spectacles, our Worst Blockbusters list went on to become one of the most popular posts in the history of the site. It may be no coincidence, either, that DHS seized our hard drives two days after it published. There have been four blockbuster seasons since then, and as part of our fifth anniversary celebration, we felt it appropriate to update the list, adding several movies released since May 2006 in addition to one glaring oversight missing from the original list. The result: The 15 Worst Blockbusters of All Time.

In a culture obsessed with the here and now, it might be easy to forget that Michael Bay, Will Smith, Bret Ratner, Roland Emmerich, Adam Sandler, and Bruce Willis have been polluting suburban multiplexes for a generation. Indeed, for at least the last 12 or 15 years, the studios’ goal in producing summer movies hasn’t been creating a quality product for mass consumption; as Dade Hayes and Jonathan Bing write in Open Wide: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession, it’s become about designing a megabudget spectacle built to “decimate everything in its path before self-destructing.”

In 2003, the average movie registered 41 percent of its total box-office take in its first weekend, and that portion is higher now — just this year, Friday the 13th grossed 65 percent of its final gross in its opening weekend, and Wolverine grossed 48 percent of its final tally in its opening weekend. The major studios understand that the formula for success has absolutely nothing to do with quality; it’s about creating enough hype and hiding your film from critics long enough to sneak a $50 million opening past the American public before they realize they’ve been hoodwinked into spending three hours’ wages for two hours of Kevin James’ fart jokes. Certainly, there have been exceptions to the rule; for every dozen movies like Independence Day or Twister, there is the occasional Bourne Identity, Star Trek, or Pixar film to keep our faith in the studio system alive. But, more often than not, those films that break the $100 million mark are empty spectacles that take more than they give.

It was this thought that originally inspired us to look back at the history of the blockbuster and reminisce about how we’ve all wasted our money in years past. In ranking the worst blockbusters of all time, three factors were taken into consideration: General consensus among Pajiba staffers; the overall critical success as ranked by Rotten Tomatoes; and box-office success. The final list isn’t a list of the absolute worst blockbusters — you won’t see Catwoman or Speed Racer, for instance, because they were box-office failures — these are the worst of the most successful blockbusters, which is to say: It acknowledges the degree of disappointment felt by the film lover confronted by one of these over-hyped movies when it misfires.

To be sure, there were a number of worthy candidates that didn’t make the cut, including the two Matrix sequels, Con Air, The Cat in the Hat, The Fast and the Furious, Click, xXx, and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. But, in the end, we believe this is a solid list that appropriately reflects the absolute worst of the worst among the top-grossing blockbusters, carefully weighing the money made against the suffering induced, and ranked in order of sheer heinousness.

15. X-Men: Wolverine ($177 million and counting)

Where does one begin with this film? There’s a difficult conundrum when it comes to movies based on comic books. Do you review the film as a fan, as a reader of the comics? Or do you review the film in a vacuum, regardless of whether you’ve read the comics? Is that even possible? However, regardless of what perspective one takes, there’s one important fact about X-Men Origins: Wolverine that is pretty much incontrovertible: It’s fucking stupid. Completely, utterly ridiculous. Worse still? It could have been not just good, but great, using the exact same tools. it’s guilty of even worse crimes than X-Men 3 — taking an absolutely A+ cast, letting them give very good, if limited, performances, and then writing them all into the goddamn ground. You already have one of the greatest rivalries, between Wolverine and Sabretooth. Deadpool is already a fantastic character. Rather than use the already compelling story lines, they just throw the kitchen sink into it, and we’re left to watch it drown in it’s own excess. For that is the greatest sin here — taking a promising, popular concept and trying to inject it with magical movie steroids. Not surprisingly, it ends up pathetic and limp. —TK

14.The Rock ($134 million)

The Rock holds a special place in my heart: It’s the one movie I’ve wanted to walk out on but couldn’t. I was in college then, and I had gone to see it with a group of friends — friends who, strangely, did not feel compelled to leave after the first 20 minutes — at a theater far from campus. So I was forced to sit through two-and-a-quarter hours of Sean Connery strutting, Nick Cage lumbering, and Anthony Clark (as the queeny “stylist” who left a bitter aftertaste out of all proportion to his miniscule screen time) mincing.

As the second collaboration of Michael Bay and Jerry “Mr. Blockbuster” Bruckheimer, the duo that would go on to inflict Armageddon and Pearl Harbor (both found below) on a sadly compliant public, The Rock is a perfect illustration of the blockbuster paradigm Bruckheimer and his late partner Don Simpson perfected with Beverly Hills Cop I and II, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, and Bad Boys, their first collaboration with Bay: inane, derivative scripts; flashy visuals; and excess testosterone.

Here, Connery, Cage, and Ed Harris — all talented, appealing actors, in other movies — play the flat, unconvincing leads while a prodigious cast of character actors, including David Morse, Philip Baker Hall, John C. McGinley, and the late, great John Spencer, suffer the ignominy of supporting roles. From the preposterous opening scene, in which Harris stands speechifying at his wife’s graveside in the middle of a typhoon, to its Hallmark-card epilogue, nothing in this movie bears any resemblance to reality, or, for that matter, to entertainment. — Jeremy C. Fox

13. Van Helsing ($120 million)

There’s a reason why the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll aren’t tossed together into one movie very often — it’s fucking moronic. But don’t even bother to point this out to Stephen Sommers, who makes films notable for their cross-blending of Indiana Jones-style adventure, monster-movie homage, and ripe human fecal matter — I doubt he’d get the joke.

Van Helsing represents one of the worst kinds of blockbuster formulas: Wantonly bad writing; attractive leads who don’t even bother to act and endure any pretense that will allow them to bear their gleaming, well-toned flesh; and ubiquitous CGI effects that, while painstakingly detailed, somehow look less real than forced-perspective puppets and foam latex.

At least Monster Squad had camp. — Phillip Stephens

12. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($317 million)

The greatest disappointment of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — and in a movie where (among other things) a young hero swings among vines like Tarzan, there are several disappointments — is that the filmmakers lacked the confidence to wholeheartedly embrace the character they’d created and instead resorted to riffing on his age and that of the entire series. Director Steven Spielberg and producer/story man George Lucas hauled something magical out of thin air when they gave life to Indiana Jones more than 25 years ago, but rather than return to that parallel fictional universe, they’ve tried to drag Indy into our own, and they wind up getting stuck halfway between worlds. The first half of the film is stronger, but also more weirdly apologetic about the fact that Indy has returned at all, as if screenwriter David Koepp were given instructions to act mildly embarrassed about the project for the first 50 pages. Much of the film is a meta-nod to the others, eschewing character-based humor or revelation for knowing winks at the audience. I can’t believe this is the script that convinced the principles to make another film. Spielberg is a smart and gifted filmmaker, and though he always maintained a certain intellectual distance from the material even while putting his heart into it, not until now has that distance become tinged with irony or, horrifyingly, the aroma of parody. — Daniel Carlson


11. Pearl Harbor ($198 million)

Bruckheimer and Bay strike again, in their penultimate collaboration (the two haven’t worked together since 2003’s Bad Boys II, though both continue to create insipid crap with others). Pearl Harbor displays just how little film progressed in the 70 years subsequent to Howard Hughes’ early talkie Hell’s Angels — both films weave back and forth between stunning aeronautical feats (in Hughes’ case, all real, in Bay’s, mostly CG) and a hackneyed love-triangle plot.

Sporting Southern accents picked up at Thelma and Louise’s tag sale, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett are all callow vainglory and macho bonhomie until a dame comes between them. Said dame is played by Kate Beckinsale, who, lovely as she is, displays no particular personality and seems replaceable by any other hot tamale of the era. Fortunately, just when it seems the rivalry for her dewy glances will forever rend the bond between Affleck and Hartnett, World War II comes along to save their friendship. This sappy prelude to the attacks goes on for as long as a normal movie, but why rush when you’ve set aside over three hours to spool out your ungainly melodrama?

With the CG-intensive battle scenes, B&B would like to evoke the horrors of war a la Saving Private Ryan, but this is really a hodgepodge of Titanic and Top Gun and, as with Titanic, the true horror is that a historic catastrophe is treated as nothing more than a backdrop to a tin-eared soap opera. Bay never met a lily he couldn’t gild, and Hans Zimmer’s syrupy orchestral score is just the icing on this goopy cake of prosaic postcard Americana, random slow-motion, endless aerial shots, and a 40-minute sequence of identical CG explosions. — JCF


10. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry ($120 million)

Are you tired of the sudden growth of films that treat homosexuals as actual people with actual, complex emotions? Isn’t it disgusting? It’s vile, right? Hetero-torture porn. It’s an affront to God-fearing breeders like you and me, am I right? If God wanted men to use the rear door, he would’ve stitched on an ass labia. Am I right? There’s a reason God invented AIDS, and it wasn’t so that cubicle monkeys could guilt you into ponying up $5 to sponsor a co-worker’s effort to walk around a track a few miles and wear a pretty ribbon. (Clearly, the walk-a-thon industry was behind the spread of the disease).The genius of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is in its premise: Two male firefighters, Chuck (Adam Sandler) and Larry (Kevin James), get hitched so that they can share domestic partner benefits. And therein lies the comedic gold: There are no gay firefighters in America! I mean, seriously: Who would believe that? Firemen shower together. They hold big hoses and shake them around merrily. They slide down freakin’ poles, people. Gay people don’t do that. And that’s why Chuck and Larry works — we’re never led to believe that homosexuality is an actual threat to our nation’s fire departments, because if there’s one thing that I couldn’t bear, it’s the notion that some muscle-bound chubby chaser might pull me from 20 foot flames and bring me to safety (seriously: If there are gay fireman out there and you’re called to my house, just let me and my family perish with a little dignity, please). The thought makes me sick, and it makes Bruce Springsteen sick, too. — DR

9. Meet the Fockers ($279 million)

That a joke about the name of its lead character, Gaylord Focker, is referenced at least 24 times in its 115 minutes says about all you need to know about Meet the Fockers. It is an orgy of one-note jokes that outstayed their welcome in its precursor, only to be dragged back out, repackaged with more star power, and re-gifted like a Clay Aiken Christmas CD.

Meet the Fockers may not represent the first time that two of the greatest actors of any generation — Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro — have shared screen time, but it’s certainly the worst, and that Barbara Streisand would trade in her Hollywood wattage for a role where she essentially plays Mrs. Roper with a psychology degree is just plain embarrassing. Indeed, the whole Meet the Fockers exercise is empty, tedious, and about as enjoyable as one of the blows to the head that Ben Stiller inevitably suffers in every movie he’s in.

Meet the Fockers does have one thing going for it, however, but even that is empty consolation for most of us: If you relish the opportunity to see how far the mighty have fallen, Fockers offers it in spades. What does it say, after all, that Hoffman, De Niro, and Streisand (who have 18 Oscar nominations and six wins among them) are playing second fiddle to an actor whose most famous onscreen moment involved a wad of his own semen hanging from his ear? — DR

8. Armageddon ($201 million)

This is one of the movies that, for me, acts as a kind of litmus test of intelligence and higher-order thinking. Basically, anyone who likes this movie is at best misguided and at worst an outright moron who should be informed immediately of this film’s utter lack of redeeming qualities and told to keep their love for it a secret, lest people find them out and permanently ostracize them from society. Not even the inexplicable presence of the likable Owen Wilson can make me feel anything but contempt for this film. The third collaboration on this list between director Michael Bay and uber-producer/Faustian role model Jerry Bruckheimer is an exercise in bloated excess and phony emotion, a mix they would take to its extreme later in Pearl Harbor.

For a movie with a $140 million budget, the effects are downright pitiful. The blue, hazy asteroid never conveys the sense of epic scope it deserves, perhaps because Bay’s camera doesn’t hold a shot for more than four seconds. And on an asteroid the size of Texas, how do the separated men regroup? I know that’s a stupid thing to get hung up on, but that’s a lot of land to cover, and trying to reason out the logistics was the only thing that kept me watching in the first place.

Ultimately, not a single thing in Armageddon is emotionally honest, from the animal crackers to the melodramatic martyrdom. Bay’s close-ups of plaques honoring fallen Apollo astronauts are cheap echoes of a kind of nationalism he can never adequately sell; it’s almost like he wants to be Frank Capra, but he’s too cynical to know the difference between American sentiment and making a buck. Armageddon is a blockbuster of the worst kind: pretending to be deep, while reveling in its superficiality. And don’t even get me started on Affleck. — Daniel Carlson

7. Patch Adams ($135 million)

I hate this movie. There’s really no better way to put it. I could start off talking about films on the grand scale of human existence, pouring out prose so purple you wouldn’t even know what I was saying but, when it comes down to it, I just hate this movie so much.

Where to begin? First, kids with cancer need chemo, not clown noses. Second, having Monica Potter’s character get shotgunned is a brutal, cold, alienating turn of events but, the first time I saw the film, I found myself envying her because she took the easy way out, while the rest of us had to sit there and suffer through another preachy, treacly, cloying, saccharine, just damned awful movie from Robin Williams. The man has made 2.5 good movies in his career (Awakenings, Good Will Hunting, and parts of Dead Poets Society), and he thinks that entitles him to shove crap like this down our throats, substituting platitudes for dialogue and cheap audience manipulation for dramatic arcs. By the time the butterfly lands on Patch and heals his spirit, I knew I was watching a masterpiece of awful filmmaking.

I love film. A lot. I think it has the ability to show us the profound beauties of which we as a people are capable, those moments of accidental grace when two characters suddenly stumble into forgiveness or hope or pain or love. It’s a powerful medium, responsible for a unique kind of cultural mindset and nostalgia. And Patch Adams is a desecration of all that, a profaning of the art form to its lowest point.

I don’t know what else to say: I just hate this movie. — DC

6. Big Momma’s House ($117 million)

The premise of Big Momma’s House is that our dear friend Martin Lawrence must go undercover by pretending to be Big Momma, a ginormous black grandmother with a fondness for floral-print muumuus. The first time I saw this tripe (in the theater — please don’t ask me why), I fell asleep for about 40 minutes, and that was by far the best part of the whole film. The second time I tried watching it, while preparing to write this blurb, I was forced to turn it off about a half-hour in, out of sheer mental frustration.

The scene that did me in involved Martin/Momma acting as a midwife and trying to use a turkey baster, tongs, and a plunger to deliver the baby. And, quite frankly, it’s a miracle I even made it that far since, at the 10-minute mark of this celluloid disaster, there was a hit-to-the-groin gag followed immediately by a scene where Martin is hiding in a bathtub while the real Big Momma is right on the other side of the shower curtain taking an enormously noisy shit, grunting and uttering things like “Whoooo, stewed prunes going right through me!” Not even Paul Giamatti (as Martin’s FBI partner) or Terrance Howard (as the it’s-hard-out-here-for-a-struggling-actor villain) come anywhere close to saving this wretch. And yet, if you still remain curious about this film, save the rental fee and the 100 minutes of your life and simply stick your head in a toilet for a good minute or two while having a loved one repeatedly kick you in the ass. Trust me; you’ll still come out ahead. — Seth Freilich

5. Wild Wild West ($113 million)

There’s a now famous story, as relayed by Kevin Smith, that illustrates most of what you need to know about Wild Wild West.. It was produced by Jon Peters, who was also attached to a Superman sequel in the late 90s. One of his major requests, in asking Smith to write a draft of the Superman script, was to have the Man of Steel battle a giant spider in the third act. Fortunately, the Superman sequel never took off, but unfortunately, Peters decided, instead, to incorporate the giant mechanical spider into the third act of Wild Wild West.

Essentially, Wild Wild West is one of the worst illustrations of concept first, script second. The film, based on a 1960’s television show set in 1869, inexplicably meshed modern hip hop references and mock-jive in a post-civil war America full of James Bond gadgetry and an evil inventor. You’d think with that much incongruity — there’s a black man in a cowboy hat with a position of authority, for God’s sake — that director Barry Sonnenfeld and its star Will Smith could have some fun with it. However, the jokes, if you can even call them that, fall flat, buried apparently underneath the piles and piles of money thrown on the screen. — DR

4. Titanic ($600 million)

This pretty much sums up everything you need to know about Titanic: While the actual ship sank in about two hours and 40 minutes, the damn movie ran for almost three-and-a-quarter hours. James Cameron’s self-indulgent pet project simply needed that extra half-hour to ensure that the viewers’ souls were sucked completely dry. And that’s why this movie blows. Well, that and Celine Dion. — SF

3. Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace ($431 million)

For almost 20 years we waited, pined, and yearned. And then it happened: George Lucas announced that Star Wars — the greatest phenomenon in all of pop culture history — was coming back. Untold throngs went giddy — an honest-to-God cultural fervor erupted, and not just among geeks and thirtysomething fanboys.

And then it sucked. It sucked a gigantic, meaty mountain of ass.

I’m through with living in denial: George Lucas’ prequel trilogy more or less sucked from beginning to end, and nowhere was this risible fiasco more apparent than in Episode I — The Phantom Menace — a title that alone warrants damnation.

I don’t use the word “sellout” often because the term itself has become so cliche, but George Lucas is the absolute definition of the word. He took one of the world’s most beloved science fiction universes and turned it into a goddamn farce: laughable racial caricatures; vile, unsympathetic protagonists who deliver ridiculous dialogue in a manner so stilted that it makes Tara Reid look like Spencer Tracy; and a giant seahorse named Jar Jar who speaks in Antebellum blaccent.

It needs to be said: George Lucas sucks. The years of Brobdingnagian success have clearly addled his brain to the point that he can no longer process reality and realize his material is now wretched dross, and no one dares point it out to him. His second trilogy was the most uncreative endeavor possible: A guaranteed smash-hit with no substance whatsoever, never mind that it cheated and frustrated millions of people. — PS

2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($170 million and heading toward $300 million plus )

Revenge of the Fallen is little more than a series of explosions transposed with shots of Megan Fox’s cleavage and/or ass. Mr. Bay sees what he cannot have in the bedroom, and out of those phallic frustrations, he obliterates everything in his wake like a petulant little child who destroys the contents of his toy chest because he’s been denied an ice cream cone. Those Transformers are his toys; the big screen is his bedroom; and sexual competence is the ice cream cone that will forever elude him. Serial killers are often associated with small-penis syndrome and though there may be little veracity in that theory, it’s apparent that Michael Bay shares the same hedonistic soullessness of a Ted Bundy or Leonard Lake. There’s not an ounce of life in the Fallen’s script. But there is little denying that the man knows how to film an action sequence — 44 years of practice borne out of sexual insufficiency will make a person an expert. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is Bush League, and I mean that in a purely political sense. It’s chest-thumping, racially-insensitive, sexually provocative redmeat bullshit designed to get needle dicks hard. And that’s fine, if you’re a hormone-addled pubescent Beavis who gets his rocks off on blowing up frogs. — DR


1. Batman & Robin ($107 million)

From the very first exchange between Batman and his sexually ambiguous protege (“I want a car. Chicks dig the car.”/ “This is why Superman works alone.”), Batman & Robin didn’t have a goddamn chance. Written by Akiva Goldsman, the script alone might have warranted its own separate award for inadequacy, so replete was it with puns, mangled idioms, and lazy one-liners that it felt as though it were written by a high-school junior charged with composing yearbook headlines.

As much as George Clooney, tongue firmly in cheek, likes to take credit for the downfall of the franchise’s initial go-round, the fact is, he’s the only one who managed to survive the film unscathed. I mean, lookit: If you don’t count Terminator 3, a film also considered for this list, Batman & Robin basically ended the previously successful film careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone and, were it not for Quentin Tarantino and his fondness for legs that don’t stop, Uma Thurman might have been perpetually stuck in the six-year rut she was in before the Kill Bill franchise came along and resurrected her star.

It’d be foolish, though, to blame any of the cast members directly for making Batman & Robin the worst blockbuster of all time; incompetence of this magnitude can only be reserved for the George W. Bush of Hollywood directors, Joel Schumacher, a man so feebleminded that, were he charged with directing the war on terror, the entire armed services would be outfitted with Bat nipples (suggesting a new “Don’t ask, don’t need to tell” policy in our military). It is Schumacher, after all, who thought it’d be a swell idea to strip away the best elements in the Batman tradition — dark mythology, sinister mysteries, and the rare comic-book character with a modicum of real-world relatability — and leave only the “BAMS!” “POWS!” and “KABOOMS!” of the campy ’60s TV series, which he amped to unnecessary levels with 125 minutes of zipless zingers, garish colors seemingly pulled from J. Crew catalogues, and, for God’s sake, Coolio (whose own musical career, naturally, stalled after B & R’s release).

Indeed, as Robin so eloquently explained to Poison Ivy in one of the film’s penultimate scenes: “I hate to disappoint you, but rubber lips are immune to your charms.”

If only we were all so immune. — DR

***

http://www.pajiba.com/guides/10-worst-blockbusters-of-all-time.php

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rating the movies I saw in 2009:

In Theaters:
Watchmen (4/5)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (1/5)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (3/5)
Sherlock Holmes (4/5)

On DVD:
District 9 (5/5)
Star Trek (5/5)
Taken (4/5)
Up (5/5)
Inglourious Basterds (5/5)
The Hurt Locker (5/5)
Avatar (2/5)

Direct-to-DVD:
Hulk Vs (4/5)
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2/5)

Movies I watched for the first time this year:
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas (5/5)
The Incredible Hulk (4/5)
Bugsy (5/5)
Wall-E (4/5)
Casino Royale (5/5)
Lawrence of Arabia (5/5)
The Dreamers (4/5)
Blue Velvet (5/5)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten Best Movie Villains of the 00's...

They say a movie is only as good as its villain, and the past decade brought us some great villains. So, I'm here to honor them. In no particular order, here we go.

Joker

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"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair."

I did not want to use villains who have existed in source material predating this decade, but this take on the Joker is so unique, and yet so iconic, it would be a tragedy if I didn't include him. Arguably the scariest movie villain since Hannibal Lecter. He was cunning, intelligent, and chaos personified. And of course, Ledger's personal flourishes must be mentioned as well.

William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting

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"My father gave his life, making this country what it is. Murdered by the British with all of his men on the twenty fifth of July, anno domini, 1814. Do you think I'm going to help you befoul his legacy, by giving this country over to them, what's had no hand in the fighting for it? Why, because they come off a boat crawling with lice and begging you for soup."

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my all time favorite actors. I've been told I have a man-crush on him. I'm willing to admit to that, and he brought us a great antagonist in Bill the Butcher, a gangster and political leader... talk about a dangerous combination. A racist and a xenophobe who wraps himself in the flag representing an evil undercurrent of this country which has never gone away. The dark side of patriotism personified.

Anton Chigurh

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"What's the most you've ever lost on a coin toss?"

A cold, calculating killer, Anton Chigurh represents how we take our life into our hands every time we leave our homes. When he asks a poor shopkeeper what's the most he's ever lost on a coin toss, that shopkeeper has no idea how close to death he was. And neither do we. Who knows when that bus will hit us, or we'll be standing on a sidewalk next to a psychopath? That, and it takes talent to be this scary with that haircut.

Bill

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"I'm a killer. I'm a murdering bastard, you know that. And there are consequences to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard."

The titular character of "Kill Bill," was the deadliest assassin in the world. Brilliantly written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, with a quiet understated performance by the late David Carradine. While he speaks more often than he takes action, it's this character's mind that makes him dangerous. Very few people can bring so much subtle menace to making their four year old daughter a sandwich, but Bill did.

Colonel Hans Landa

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"The feature that makes me such an effective hunter of the Jews is, as opposed to most German soldiers, I can think like a Jew, where they can only think like a German … more precisely, German soldier. Now, if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and the predatory instinct of a hawk. But if one were to determine what attributes the Jews share with a beast, it would be that of the rat. The Führer and Goebbels's propaganda have said pretty much the same thing, but where our conclusions differ is I don't consider the comparison an insult."

Nazis are easy to include on a list like this, but Christoph Waltz's performance as Hans Landa won him a much deserved Oscar. The French called him the Jew Hunter, and he was very good at his job. Whether he is subtly intimidating a farmer to betray the Jews he is hiding. And the most ironic part of this, he never considered himself a Nazi, or even hated Jews. From his point of view, he just understood how the world worked. When the time came to betray Nazi Germany, he did it in a heartbeat, and not out of any humanity, but because he always acted in his own self interest.

Captain Hector Barbossa

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"For too long I've been parched of thirst and unable to quench it! Too long I've been starvin' to death and haven't died! I feel nothing! Not the wind on my face, nor the spray of the sea... nor the warmth of a woman's flesh. Ye'd best start believin' in ghost stories, Miss Turner. Yer in one!"

Let's face facts, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise has likely outstayed its welcome. We had a terrific first movie, and two mediocre to terrible sequels. But the brightest spot in all three of these movies was Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. He may have been the most cliched pirate of the series, but I'll be damned if Rush didn't sell it. Every single frame of this film, Rush chewed the scenery, and had a good time. I'd wager an even better time than his co-stars. Whether he was acting against the protagonists or allied with them, Barbossa was always true to himself and himself only. I rooted for him in all three... and let's face it, is Jack Sparrow a leader of men? No. Barbossa is... and Barbossa earned that ship.

Magda Goebbels

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"Sleep tight, children."


"Der Untergang" was a film about Hitler's final days in his bunker, and is probably better known for inspiring an internet meme. While I was tempted to put Hitler himself on this list, I decided not to for two reasons. First off, it's Hitler. The moment you allow depictions of HITLER on best villains lists, he'll never leave. Now the performance may well be worthy of the listing independent of Hitler's reputation, but it's a slippery slope. Playing Hitler would be to best villains list as playing a retard is to Best Actor nominations.

Second of all, because Magda Goebbels was even creepier than Hitler. A woman who was such a fanatical Nazi that she poisoned her own children rather than allow them to grow up in a world where Hitler was dead, and National Socialism was overthrown. That's really all there is to say about her, but it's so chilling, she's more than earned her spot on this list.

The Operative

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"You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords."

Every government has them. Monsters who abandon their humanity and commit atrocities on behalf their country. And they know they're committing atrocities, but they do it anyway, and then have a good night's sleep every single night. That's the nameless Operative to a tee. He didn't ask questions, he just slaughtered people when his superiors told him to. His methodology was cruel, and it was a delight to see Malcolm Reynolds pierce his cold exterior. While the movie didn't tell us so, you can't help but think that once it was all over, he threw himself on his sword.

Optimus Prime

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"Each Autobot under my command owes me ONE HUNDRED Decepticon faces! And I want my faces."

Optimus Prime was once the icon of heroism. He stood next to Superman on that pedestal of goodness, representing truth, justice, and the American way. But, director Michael Bay has re-imagined Optimus Prime for a whole new generation. What we have now is a psychotic war criminal who brutally executes unarmed prisoners, tears his enemies apart with extreme prejudice, and has a psychotic fixation with cutting and tearing off the faces of his enemies. A brutal monster who does this with the slogan of "freedom is the right of all sentient beings." He's Dick Cheney's wet dream of the American hero on steroids. All he sees is death, blood, and flames.

Vincent Volaju

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"Is there an indelible line between sanity and insanity? Or do they change, from one into the other, without the slightest provocation? We'll find out that the world itself is insane."

Finally, we come to Vincent. Crazy people seem to be popping up quite a bit on this list. But what happens when that crazy person has a weapon of mass destruction that he can use to end all life as we know it. A man who is walking in a living purgatory with no memory of his former life. A cold monster who should have died years ago, and now he wants to go to Heaven. Oh, and he can physically kick just about anyone's ass. I loved this character, and I loved Daran Norris's performance.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Teenagers with attitude

So, Harlan Phoenix requested I write a mock article about Power Rangers. Now, I don't know a damn thing about Power Rangers, but, I guess I'll give it a shot. If this isn't funny, it's his fault. If it is funny... then something is deeply wrong with you. I'm disavowing all responsibility for this one.

Disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about the Power Rangers. I am sure there are thousands of people out there that will be enraged by the facts I gloss over, or get wrong, and will feel the need to correct me. Please don't bother, it's not so much that I don't know, I also don't care. This is a mock article, and the views and opinions expressed here are all jokes.

So the Power Rangers were a media juggernaut that lasted much longer than it should have, and resulted in the cancellation of higher quality TV shows. A friend of mine, upon seeing an ad for them on the "Gargoyles" DVD set likened it to inviting a murderer to speak at a funeral.

The basic plot is this. Some wacko, over the top space cunt escapes from a bucket on the moon. She has weird hair, and wears Madonna's cone bra. Upon her release, her plan is to take over the world.

Following this, a creepy floating head in a jar, I don't know his name, so I'll call him Daryl orders his not so ambiguously gay robot to get off the phone with that Autobot, Tracks, and "recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!" ....

... Whoa, whoa, whoa... Hold it right there! Teenagers with attitude? To fight giant monsters and metal boob cones? Okay... not my first choice, but we'll go with it.

But now comes my next question. You asked for teenagers with attitude and this is what you got? Those were the whitest, most straight-edge teens in the history of television! Even the non-Caucasians were totally white!

I know Daryl lives in a jar, and has probably never seen the outside world, but if this is what he considers attitude, then he needs to watch more television. Urkel had more attitude than these vanillas. Kirk Cameron had more attitude than these ice cubes, but I don't think Kirk Cameron would agree to pilot a giant robot dinosaur. Kirk Cameron doesn't believe in dinosaurs. Daryl is a blasphemer.

So, we have a dull and uninteresting Red Ranger (who has gone on to retire and do gay porn... which kind of makes him interesting); a Blue Ranger who is a nerd as well as a super martial artist (in other words, he's every phony internet tough guy on xbox live); a Yellow Ranger who died in a car crash (no, I am not heartless enough to make a joke about this); a Black Ranger... who should be called the Oreo Ranger, again, totally white (so, he's Ninja Obama); and the Pink Ranger who is a total cunt (she went on to star in "Felicity" and has not been seen since... fanboys are still waiting for the Playboy photoshoot).

There was also an EVIL GREEN RANGER who became a good guy and was involved in some weird scandalous triangle with the Red and Pink Rangers... which was not kinky enough to be a ménage à trois because they're too vanilla for that. But, as near as I can tell the Pink Ranger was a homewrecker, because everyone knows Red and Green cum together... like Christmas!

And that's the team. They pilot their Voltron rip-off dinosaur robots and save their non-Los Angeles, non-San Diego, non-Sunnydale Southern California community from the Space Cunt's giant monsters every single day. And when they're not doing that, they're being bullied by two, leather clad retarded fat guys while hanging out at a juice bar... a juice bar, where all the teenagers with attitude hang out.

Eventually, the Space Cunt's action figure stopped selling, and she got replaced with the new baddie, the evil Lord Zedd. Lord Zedd was supposed to be some new, unstoppable threat, but, well, unless you're Dr. Manhattan, you can't get away with walking around naked 24/7. He was so naked, he didn't even have his skin.

Okay, I am going to check TV Tropes' page on this shitfest of a TV show. Give me a few moments.

Okay, so Lord Zedd and the Space Cunt eventually get married. The sex they have must be even creepier than Jonas Venture Jr's and Sally Impossible's skinless, freak sex. But wait, there's more... the wedding is a JEWISH WEDDING! Our evil overlords are Jews. Is that why Daryl is their enemy? I was never clear on that.

Now, I know some of you will say, "Daryl isn't racist. Look at his multi-ethnic team of teenagers with attitudes!" No, they were NOT multi-ethnic. They were the whitest team ever. They were whiter than the Fantastic Four! The Black Ranger may as well have been a white guy in black face.

But, this show can't be some kind of white supremacist propaganda, I mean, it was owned by Haim Saban who is both Jewish and a Zionist. Unless he was too busy rolling naked in mountains of cash with Swedish supermodels to notice, and just signed the checks. Actually, considering that Harlan Phoenix just told me there was an entire season that was pro-racism, this may have been the case.

Still, no matter how you slice it, this pro-racist turd went on for seventeen seasons. All along, these "Teenagers with attitude" being guided by their mentor, Daryl, who I can only conclude is the disembodied head of Heinrich Himmler... he must have felt bad that his dead Fuhrer didn't have robot dinosaurs in his war machine.

Haim Saban, you are a disgrace to God's chosen people.

Youth of America, you should have watched "Gargoyles" instead. Imagine all the seasons and the spin-offs we could have gotten.

There Harlan, you happy? I wrote up your mock article. Now pardon me while I never waste brain cells on the Power Rangers ever again.

Edit: I know I asked not to be corrected or enlightened, but someone sent me this, and I had to share:

Yes... Lord Zedd is a Space Jew. You think that's fucked up? You wanna know what his plot for the Christmas Episode was? His plan was to hijack Santa's workshop and replace all the toys with ones of his own design, that would brainwash all the good children of the world to be evil. This toy could only be called...a hypno-dreidel.

The evil space jew's plot was to ruin Christmas by giving out dreidels

I'm going to go lie down now.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards.

I'll do something a little different this time, publish my Twitter feed for the day, and add some commentary at the end.

* 12:11:26: Ever have your phone off for a day, only to turn it on and get bombarded by twitters?
* 16:07:11: RT @ConanOBrien: Hey gang! Look for me at the Oscars tonight. I'll be in the parking
lot, wearing my prom tux and listening on the radio.
* 17:50:09: I'm calling it now... "The Hurt Locker" walks away with the gold statue.
* 18:44:35: RT @JamesUrbaniak: Nice directing choice. Ethan Coen as "Jew in audience."
* 18:49:39: And the Oscar for best supporting Actor goes to... Christoph Waltz! This is excellent!
* 18:55:53: RT @JamesUrbaniak: Ryan Reynolds really pushing the Serling-esque pauses there.
* 18:58:29: And there's Ed Asner. Good luck, Ed
* 18:59:20: "Up" wins best animated feature. Anyone surprised? Of course not, it deserved it.
* 19:00:39: Alec Baldwin... you're not funny.
* 19:02:29: Two songs nominated from "The Princess and the Frog" and neither one of them sung by Keith David. Where is the justice?
* 19:05:44: Captain Kirk is representing!
* 19:09:21: RT @JamesUrbaniak: .@toddalcott to his son Sam, 8. "District 9 is a little too weird for you now." Sam: "A little too COOL."
* 19:12:22: RDJ and Tina Fey... Iron Man and Sarah Palin!
* 19:16:05: And here I had my fingers crossed for my boy, Quentin.
* 19:16:29: RT @JamesUrbaniak: .@toddalcott: "Ethan Coen politely applauds."
* 19:20:37: Hee hee, John Hughes... mullet.
* 19:41:57: "Star Trek" -- Academy Award winning Feature. Woot!
* 19:47:26: Who was that bitch that ran up on stage?!
* 19:50:52: "Precious" wins best adapted screenplay. Saw that one coming.
* 19:53:49: Gordon Willis is the greatest cinematographer that ever lived. End of story.
* 19:55:35: Lauren Bacall still looks radiant.
* 20:00:36: Congratulations, Mo'nique.
* 20:20:04: Some great horror choices so far.
* 20:31:03: If Avatar can't beat "Hurt Locker" at technical awards... it's safe to call this one.
* 20:37:41: Demi Moore... Hollywood's hottest MILF!
* 20:41:04: Was really happy to see David Carradine up there. He'll always be Bill to me.
* 20:52:45: "Up" won Best Score! Did not see that coming, well done!
* 20:54:46: VSX: I'm rooting for "District 9" but it'll be Avatar
* 20:57:27: RT @jvfriedman: RT @nerdheroine: We couldn't let Bacall and Corman speak but we had time for these dancing people? I hate you #oscars
* 21:06:14: RT @JamesUrbaniak: Finally, it's not about the politics, it's about the porpoises.
* 21:09:30: Wow, Keanu's beard looks stupid.
* 21:24:51: "Play it, Sam!"
* 21:32:47: Calling it now Jeff Bridges takes it and..... I'm right!
* 21:33:11: The Dude abides
* 21:41:47: Damn, Sandra Bullock looks so much like Jen, it's scary.
* 21:49:04: Sandra Bullock wins an Oscar the day after she wins a Razzie! Awesome, awesome, Jen's look-a-like!
* 21:56:28: Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow. It's over, btw.
* 21:59:12: Best Picture: "The Hurt Locker" ... I called it.
* 22:28:45: And now, I'm back to updating this thing three times a day at most.

It was very predictable this evening, but I am quite pleased with the results. I'll admit, I was in the "anything but "Avatar"" camp. And to see James Cameron lose to his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, was beautiful. But, that's not the only reason she deserved it. "The Hurt Locker" was a very powerful piece of cinema. It may have not been the crowd favorite, but the crowd likes to see Christians fed to lions.

But, I'll admit, I'd have been quite pleased if "Inglourious Basterds" pulled off a surprise upset. That film was amazing on every level.

Aw well, I'm still very pleased. It was either "I Am Woman" or "The Bitch Is Back." But Cameron lost, so the former won out. So, we don't need to hear another speech by James Cameron where he masturbates his own ego... he'll heave the uber special edition audio commentary track on "Avatar" to do that.

And on one last personal note, Jen, for those of you who don't know her, is Jennifer L. Anderson. A close friend of mine for thirteen years now, and I wasn't the first, fifth, or twentieth person to point out that she and Sandra Bullock look a like. So, I think it's cool that the doppleganger of my very beautiful friend gets honored in such an amusing way.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"Inglourious Basterds"

Now, I have no delusions that this will win Best Picture. It'll either be "The Hurt Locker" or "Avatar." While I'm rooting for the former, if "Basterds" pulled off a surprise upset, I'd be quite happy. But that's not why I'm here now.

People are misinterpreting this movie by saying the Basterds were “savage” and “sadistic” and “as bad as Nazis.” There wasn’t a hidden anti-Semitic message in the movie, Tarantino just wanted to make us think by providing three dimensional characters. But in spite of that, the bad guys were still bad and the good guys were still good.

Was scalping Nazis bad? No, they were already dead. Many bodies became much more mutilated during wars; getting burned, blown up, etc.

Was carving Swastikas into Nazi’s heads bad? No, it was an obvious reply to Nazis who had Star of David tattooed on Jews.

Were they as bad as Nazis? Not by a long shot, the Nazis tortured and killed defenseless civilians for the dumbest reason. The Basterds were there to kill killers.

Yes, I realize some Nazis were drafted and didn’t want to be there but if they had any backbone they would have turned traitor like Hugo Stiglitz. We were not meant admire the “brave” Nazi that got his skull smashed in with a bat. Tarantino was throwing our concept of courage and loyalty into question. That guy was brave and loyal, but who was he loyal to? People should stop holding bravery in such high regards and pay more attention to how good of a person you are. Private Zoller wasn’t such a good person either. He wasn’t “in love” with Shosanna, he just wanted to get in her pants. If found out the truth about her being Jewish he would have ratted her out in a heartbeat.

Hugo Stiglitz was the only good Nazi in this movie. He may be a fictional character but his story was not unique: There were quite a few cases of German soldiers turning traitor when they realized how sick Nazism was. In my opinion Stiglitz was the most heroic character in the movie; I hate it when people say he was a psychopath.

Brad Pitt’s character wasn’t a psycho either; Aldo was justified to his hatred for Nazis. The rope scar on his neck tells us a lot about his past. He has a southern accent and the rural south in the 1940’s was not a pleasant place for Jews or black people. Aldo's rope-scar couldn’t have been from a legal execution because he wouldn’t have survived. It must have been from an attempted lynching by crazed rednecks. He has dealt with anti-Semites before and has a good reason to hate them.

I find my biggest problem with the movie is that I wish it was real. I wish we had plugged Hitler and Goebbels while they sat there masturbating their egos instead of letting them commit suicide.

This movie was about justice. I, for one, cannot muster sympathy for people who commit genocide against another race of people for no other reason than that you feel you are superior. The only German in this movie I felt even a moment's sympathy for was Wilhelm, and even that was mainly for his son.

Even Zoller was about as unsympathetic as it gets. He stalks a woman, brags about his sniping skills and the fact that they made a movie out of it, has her abducted so they can have lunch together, and then forces his way into her projection room so that he can rape her. Anybody who suggests that he was really a nice guy obviously didn't get the point. He could be charming, but he wasn't in the war because he was drafted and didn't want to be there. He was in the war because he was a Nazi.

Now, in real life, if I watched someone get beat in the head with a baseball bat I'd probably throw up. I certainly wouldn't have it in me to do it myself. But there was something very cathartic about watching it happen to a man who willingly sided with a genocidal, racist monster like Hitler.

There are modern-day "peace-mongers" who seem to think that peace at any cost is justifiable. They are wrong. There are evil men who do not wish peace with you. They wish to either rule you utterly or destroy you. Hitler was one of those men. Any who would side with him willingly deserve what they get.

It is beyond backward to look at a film that depicts the oppressed rising up and beating the shit out of their oppressors and declare that they must be "evil" or "as bad as the Nazis." Were they killing and scalping Nazis because they thought themselves superior? No, they were killing and scalping Nazis because the Nazis had done that and worse to them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jon Stewart Looks Taller on Television...


So, I booked these tickets back in November. But anyone who knows me knows how big a fan of Jon Stewart I am, and how big a fan of "The Daily Show" I am. He's smart, funny, witty, and calls out the bullshit that is the theater of politics, government and media every single day. Yes, he has his biases, but he doesn't let that affect how he runs his show. He called George W. Bush on his bullshit, he calls Barack Obama on his. And the media... gotta love it.

Anyway, I woke up a little late this morning. Slept like a baby. Mostly because I was up all night the prior evening. So, I quickly jumped in the shower, got dressed, and my brother and I hit the road.

We arrived in Manhattan and briefly looked for this parking lot that the e-mail notice from TDS said would validate the parking. Well, it's nearly impossible to see the address numbers, so we ended up at this parking lot across the street from the studio. They told us to get the ticket stamped and that's it.

So, since we had time, we went to McDonald's for lunch, then walked it off by walking to Times Square and back to the studio. Also, you know the economy sucks when the Times Square' Virgin Mega Store is out of business.

We got back to the studio and stood on line for a couple of hours waiting for my friends, Nick and Jill to arrive. The stand-by line was insane, let me say. Loud and insane. Robert Pattinson (that sparkling vampire) was the guest tonight, just to give you an idea of what that line was like. Although, considering that Nick and Jill were very late, if either one of them said they couldn't make it, I'd have gone over to there and auctioned off the ticket. You just know there had to be at least one person on the stand-by line who drove twelve hours for the chance to see him. I may hate "Twilight" but I certainly know how to exploit it.

Anyway, Nick arrived, and Jill arrived shortly before the cutoff. We went in, and security hear was even tougher than at the "Colbert Report." I had to go through the metal detector twice, because I missed a dime. They're tougher than any airport.

Jill, btw, was wearing a t-shirt that said: "And Buffy Staked Edward." No "Twilight" fans here.

We ended up with kick ass seats, directly in front of Jon's desk. The warm-up guy came out to pump up the audience, and finally, Jon himself came out. On that note, I want to say, Colbert had better music in his studio than Jon did.

Jon asked opened up with a Q&A with the audience. I actually had a question that I didn't ask. My question would have been why John McCain (who was once his most frequent guest) hasn't appeared in ages. I suspect there's been a falling out and I was curious. But I decided not to ask. If it's a bit of a sore spot, I didn't want to be that guy. I'm sure Jon would give a straight answer, but I just didn't think it was appropriate.

At one point, Jon mentioned how handsome Pattinson is and that when people see him [Jon] on the street, they ask him if he's sick.

Jon's opening bit was brilliant. He blasted Senator Bunning with golden footage of the guy being a massive dick. Then he went after New York's idiot governor, David Patterson, followed by Congressman Rangel, and then Nancy Pelosi.

Following that was a brilliant segment on Samantha Bee trying to help an unemployed man with a 13.5 inch penis a job that's not in pornography. It was Samantha's funniest segment in ages, and it was fun to watch Jon watching this thing and cracking up. BTW, the penis was unblurred when we saw the bit in the studio.

Then, Robert Pattinson came out. Eh... he didn't make much of an impression on me either way. Jon was hilarious, as always. I came for Jon. But Pattinson seems like a decent guy, even if he didn't have all that much to say. He's obviously more annoyed by the "Twilight" craze, but didn't want to insult his fans.

After the interview ended, we had to re-film the first two minutes because the interview ran a little bit long, so they're broadcasting a shortened version.

Then Jon told us that Pattinson is a decent guy who could easily get away with being a dick, but isn't a dick. And that Pattinson likely impregnated every girl in the audience. Well... not Jill... she was wearing a death threat. ;)

Jon walked off the set to our massive applause before coming back out and telling us we don't need to applaud anymore.

Afterward, we exited the studio and a staff member told my brother that we had the wrong parking garage, and they couldn't validated the ticket.... and remember, this is Manhattan.

So, we went to the parking lot and I started arguing with the attendant. I refused to let my brother pay $23 for parking when we were told $10 with validation. Well, I won this one... we left paying only $10. I've got great haggling skills.

We came home, and now I'm watching the episode to see if I can spot us.

It was fun.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fandumb....

Well, this is something I've been wanting to discuss for a while. Why are some fans out there completely allergic to having to use their brains? Some of them need to have something completely spelled out for them, and if they have to think, well, then they nitpick instead.

I see this a lot when fictional characters are actually written realistically. If their actions are complex, some of these fans have no idea why. It seems like they need their TV characters to behave like one-note, obviously scripted, predictable robots in order to understand something. The sad thing is, I know critical thinking and literary interpretation are on a public High School's curriculum. Hmm, maybe they flunked those classes.

Another thing that gets on my nerves is when these shallow gene pool fans take every statement a character makes as gospel truth. The very notion that a character can express an opinion, or make a statement, without knowing what they're talking about is a foreign concept.

Take for example, "Gargoyles." In one episode, Demona declared that she knows every remaining gargoyle. Many fans took that as fact. People have referenced it in discussions. The idea that she is full of shit never even enters their heads, and when you enlighten them on that idea all of a sudden they're brains shut down, and I've seen some complain about "bad writing." No... it's realistic writing. People lie all the time, or are full of shit all the time in real life. Why not in our fiction too?

I've also seen some fans take issue with the idea that they should be required to work a little while watching a program. Rather than do that, they like to complain about writers being lazy instead. This happened recently with the season one finale of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" where, just because we didn't see every waking minute and detail of Spidey's search for Eddie Brock, it was decided that he didn't bother to look for him. Weisman had to step in with Word of God to correct this. But the word "lazy" still gets tossed around.

So, what is it? Is it wrong to make your audience use their brains? I, for one, don't think it is. But I like to exercise my gray matter.