Tuesday, February 28, 2012


There's a big boxing match and the arena is filled with people eager to watch two guys beat the daylights out of each other.  The announcer does his thing, the referee tells the fighters not to punch each other in the balls, etc.  The bell rings and....one fighter goes to one knee and lowers his head to the other, declaring "Oh my Lord, I pledge eternal fealty to thee."  Something like that.  The other boxer tells him "rise and take your place at my side. blah blah"    Other boxers come from the dressing rooms and audience and enter the ring, drawn by a call unheard by non-boxers.  They all pledge allegiance to the main boxer who gives a speech then sets them all loose on the audience.  The boxers start beating the shit out of audience members and there's a general stampede for the exits.  Cops draw out their batons and battle with the deranged fighters.  Not sure where this is going.


The filth encrusted sidewalks of San Francisco become mysteriously spotless one morning.  The city did not clean them, obviously.  God did it.  Satan awakens simultaneously in the minds of a hundred bums and junkies, who are delighted at this blank canvas and the renewed opportunity to show their contempt for the world and the way it has screwed him over.  They assemble in a military-like formation and march to the sidewalk in front of the Wells Fargo near 9th and Market.  In unison, they drop their pants and unleash the contents of their bowels onto the sidewalk.  Immediately, at the moment their effluvia touches the pavement, all begin shuddering violently as if seized by a powerful electrical shock, then drop unconscious to the pavement, which has become spotless again.  See, God decided he'd had enough and would no longer allow Satan to befoul the streets through his human agents--this is a means of exorcising Satan from their souls.


Hugo is a pretty dull movie with fantastic set design and 3-D effects.  It has some kid who lives in a bustling train station back in olden tyme Paris or some place like that.  Like all movie kids, this one is plucky, resourceful, blah blah blah.  He fixes clocks around the place, steals shit, and runs from Borat, who wants to throw him in child prison.  There's a mean old guy and this robot that mostly doesn't do anything.  The old guy has a terrible secret which the movie endlessly delays revealing, giving him numerous opportunities to express his anguish, as the story creeps toward it's less than fantastical conclusion.  Everybody is redeemed at the end and we are meant to be enchanted.  Snore.

In terms of technology though, this flick is outstanding.  It's worth sneaking into the theater for 20 minutes or so to check out the movie's use of 3-D, which is unlike what I'd seen before.  It uses it for depth and texture, rather than as a gimmick to make you dodge your head to the side.  Wet cobblestones look realistic, for example, as does moisture glimmering on a wooden railroad tie.  Pretty cool, but ultimately it does not redeem this lugubrious movie, made all the worse in that it's marketed as a family movie.  Take your kids if you want to give them a nap.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Woody Allen's 502nd movie, 12am in Paris, takes place in the present by day, and olden tymes by night.  Owen Wilson, who shall hereafter be referred to as "Dicknose," plays Woody's surrogate (Wilson has this misshapen nose that looks like a man's ding dong, in case you don't know what he looks like).  Apparently the director finally deems himself too old to appear in his movies with hot young actresses as love interests.   Dicknose plays a romantic or something whose fantasy to live in 1930's Paris comes true each night, when he hobnobs with lotso historical artists, writers and painters.  They talk a lot of art and philosophy and stuff, which is cool for a fairly mainstream offering like this.  Woody makes Dali come off as a buffoon, which I didn't care for, since his screenplay gives cinematic head to all the other historical guys.  I've always thought of Allen as a jerk anyway, so why act offended, right?  It's an ok movie though, very cute.  Lots of old ladies in the theater.

Tree of Life is this boring movie I was hoping would be a lot more sci-fi, since in the ads you saw gas giant planets, nebulas, dinosaurs and other neat things, but the bulk of it is slice-o-life rural Texas.  There's this family with three boys, a cute mom, and a total asshole dad.  He doesn't rape or beat the kids--nothing like that.  He's just this stern father, and you get many opportunities to observe him being stern and dislike-able. It seems like you often see these dramatic flicks with dysfunctional people, but you never get a sense of, say, why the cute mom would have wanted to fuck this dour asshole in the first place, much less marry him.

Another good example of this is the movie called Take Shelter, which is about some psycho who hallucinates the world's coming to an end.  Come to think of it, it's the same actress from Tree of Life who is married to the nut case in Take Shelter.  He's this  unsmiling, mumbling blue collar dude who dutifully performs his role as husband and father and all that, but doesn't exhibit anything resembling a likable human personality--you get no idea how he could have landed a hot piece of ass like the chick from Tree of Life.  These movies expect you to just accept that these people love each other so they can get on with showing you all the bleak shit the filmmakers love so much.  

This isn't to say ToL or Take Shelter are "bad" movies, per se.  They're just both kind of a drag unless you really commit to engaging them on their own terms.  


This is my pick for best picture out of the nominated movies.  It has George Clooney as this guy whose wife is a vegetable in the hospital after a boating accident.  He's got some other heavy shit going on too, as well as two teenage daughters who give him a hard time. 

The key thing in this flick is a lack of flashiness in terms of direction and the actors' performances.  This is material that could have easily resulted in some big time Oscar showboating bullshit, but George Clooney keeps it together as a level headed guy keeping it together in the face of tragedy and familial disharmony.  The teenybopper chick is solid as the older, bitchy daughter who gets schooled watching her father carry a heavy weight.  Even a dopey surfer dude has a nice character arc.

This said, it's a really, really sad movie that will totally bum out lightweight film-goers who think the purpose of all entertainment is to soothe, or to help one "escape reality."   You know the kind--they're so far removed from reality in a movie theater, they jabber throughout a movie as if they're in their own living room, oblivious to others trying to watch at the same time.  Fortunately, these bozos can often sense when something might not be the feel-good-movie-of-the-year and stay away accordingly.  Clooney may be a big star and dreamboat, but he has a well-established history of doing challenging stuff, which might also keep them away.  shrug

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The Artist is this flick over which all the movie critics are crapping their drawers.  It's about this famous actor with a big long nose who performs in silent movies back in the stone age.  He meets this cute chick and gives her a start in the movie biz.  As "talkies" become popular, her career eclipses his because he's stupid and refuses to make talking movies, whereas she's savvy and goes with the flow.  A bunch of shit happens, then there's a happy ending.  Oh, and there's a funny dog in it too.

Maybe a more appropriate thing to say about the critics is that they are cooing over the movie like it's a little baby in a crib.  It's cute--cute as can be, and harmless, but there isn't much in the way of substance or gravity.  Worse still, it's not even very funny.  It's a nice little entertainment, but nowhere near the "best movie of the year" status it has garnered recently.