Archives for posts with tag: review

This month I watched the film Visioneers, starring Zack Galifianakis and Judy Greer.

visioneers

Jeffers morning to you all.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I selected this movie. Really, the thing that made me pick this one was the cast. I like ZG. He’s a funny guy. He’s also kind of weird, so I figured that any movie featuring him as the starring actor is going to be a little off-beat.

Welp. I was right. This one is definitely well off the beaten path.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this movie. It’s just…different.

Visually, I would place this somewhere between American Psycho and American Beauty. There are many scenes that are just…barren. Austere offices and homes with neutral tones. For the first half of the movie, colors are washed out. The only time they ever seem to pop is on a television program or in a dream sequence.

In terms of narrative and plot, this movie reminded me of Mike Judge’s work. It was a little more heavy handed in some respects, but there was definitely a clear sense of social satire similar to Idiocracy‘s or Office Space.

Basically, Visioneers is about a world where intimacy and independence are rapidly disappearing commodities. People spend all their time worshiping television personalities, binge eating, and being productive employees.

Everyone lives in constant fear of…well…exploding. I don’t mean that as a metaphor- people fucking explode in this movie.

And what’s great about this plot element is that everything is permeated by a thick layer of tension and anticipation. It could happen at any moment and people go to great (absurd) lengths to avoid it.

It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as people explode because they’re stressed (and repressed, and forced to behave as a cog in a machine) and they’re stressed because they might explode.

A lot of the humor in this movie comes from the sheer absurdity that is played with a completely straight face. The very first scene has the main character greeting his coworkers at the Jeffers Company with a good morning and a middle finger, which has become the “Jeffers Salute.”

There were some issues with pacing, and as I said before, things were pretty heavy handed in some respects. But in all, this is a pretty good movie. I would say if you’re looking for something watch and reflect on a little, Visioneers would be a good choice.

I have recently had the pleasure of reading Chuck Palahnuik’s Invisible Monsters.

Flip this cover over and you get a sad old lady with a head injury.

Flip this cover over and you get a sad old lady with a head injury.

The name probably sounds familiar because he is also the writer of Fight Club.

There is actually a funny bit of history when it comes to Invisible Monsters and Fight Club. See, Chuck wrote Monsters first and got rejected because the publisher said that the book was too graphic and disturbing (they might have had a point).

So, Chuck, in a fit of spite, wrote Fight Club as a kind of “fuck you” in order to show them just how graphic and disturbing a novel can be.

Of course, the publishers loved it and Fight Club became wildly successful and pretty much catapulted him into the spotlight. Naturally, they gave Invisible Monsters  a chance.

And I’m glad they did.

Invisible Monsters is a remarkable book. Told in the first person, it follows a supermodel whose jaw gets blown off in a bizarre turn of events.

Of course, there’s nothing to be done to repair her face, so she pretty much just walks around with her tongue hanging out of her open throat hole.

Because nobody wants to look at the horror that is her face, she calls herself an invisible monster and soon teams up with a transgendered woman and her insanely attractive male companion. The three of them then tour the country stealing pills from the houses of wealthy people.

I know the plot doesn’t sound like much, but that’s because I’m explaining it linearly. The narrator jumps around from past and present, making things much more interesting as questions are posed then answered. The plot is not the crown jewel of this novel.

Palahniuk has a gift for writing first person narration. It feels like I, the reader, am having a conversation with this character (even though she can’t talk, you know, cause of her jaw…). She’s telling me her story. And even though she skips around and gets side-tracked, I’m hooked.

The cast is colorful, from the narrator’s bombshell transgendered mentor, Brandy Alexander, to her paranoid parents who can’t get over their gay son’s AIDS related death.

Chuck does a great job of weaving a common thread through such a diverse crowd- everyone suffers from self-inflicted wounds, caused in part from an effort to reinvent themselves.

Identity plays such a huge role in this story, as the characters are constantly changing their names and background stories. They mutilate their bodies in an effort to adapt themselves to the image the have for themselves. Some even do it just to stave off boredom,unwilling to live an ordinary life.

All of them are trying to reinvent who they are. All of them are trying to write their own stories.

And it’s a breeze to read. I mean, I would sit and knock out fifty pages without even realizing it. The writing is just so damn accessible. And Palahniuk does a great job of teasing readers with questions and answers. I kept reading because I wanted to know who these people really were and the flow of information came at a trickle until the very end.

Overall, this was a great book and I was glad that I read it. Did I like it more than Fight Club? No, but it’s a great read in its own right. If you liked Fight Club, I would definitely recommend it.

It’s rare to read a book that makes you want to go out and write. Most of the time, this motivation comes from how terrible a book is. There are instances few and far between where a book is so good that it makes a writer strive to write something half as good.

William Gibson’s Neuromancer is one of the small number of books that fall into that elusive second category.

First Edition Cover

First Edition Cover

I can’t succinctly explain why I am so enchanted with this book. It could be that it’s a seamless blend of Sci-Fi and Noir, two genres that are very dear to my heart. This combination is described as “cyberpunk” but I don’t think that really does the blend justice, and Gibson himself has tried to distance himself from the term, so I mention it here with some hesitation. Neuromancer is, at its heart, a thing of its own.

It could be the vivid description of this futuristic Earth in slow decay as people distract themselves with sex, drugs, and the endless sprawl of the matrix (a crazy, immersive version of the internet).

Oh yeah, let me mention that this book was MILES ahead of its time. Neuromancer was published in 1984 and written on a fucking typewriter. Yet Gibson predicts things like widespread use of the internet, body augmentation, and cryogenic storage.

Then there’s the plot. On top of everything else, the reader gets a tight heist/mystery with more than a few twists and turns.

And the characters…I was really blown away with how well rounded they were for a novel that appeared on the surface to be completely driven by plot. And I couldn’t believe how fucking sad I was when everything was over, because things didn’t turn out the way I wanted or expected.

Finally, the writing itself is nothing short of spectacular. Maybe that’s why Neuromancer sports one of the most famous opening lines in the history of modern fiction:

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

I don’t think there’s a better way of setting the scene for the madness and bloodshed the reader is about to witness. All packaged in a simple description of the sky.

Yeah, so I guess I’m done gushing. Neuromancer is an amazing book and everyone should read it. Get it here.

Pictured here: nothing to watch.

Pictured here: nothing to watch.

I have decided to start a new monthly segment called “What’s On Netflix.” Not the most clever name, but at least it’s to the point.

Have you ever found your looking at the Netflix browse screen complaining that there’s nothing to watch? If so, guess what? You’re a fucking asshole.

There are literally thousands of hours of media on Netflix to enjoy, all available at the push of a button, and you have the cojones to piss and moan about there being nothing to watch?

Well, I got news for you, you spoiled little brats, you’re not going to be able to complain much longer.

Because, really, what you mean when you say “there’s nothing to watch” is “I don’t feel like stepping out of my comfort zone.” And fine, whatever, you don’t want to gamble with two hours of your life.

So, I’m doing the gambling for you. In this monthly segment, I will watch a relatively obscure movie on Netflix (recommended by YOU) and then review it, thus saving you from the bad movies and pushing you toward the good ones.

This month, I watched the movie Pi, recommended to me by my roommate, Dan.

Pretty much what the movie is like.

This poster really captures the experience.

Pi is the breakout film of Darren Aronofsky. You might remember the name because he also directed Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, and the newly released Noah.

Pi was his first film to hit theaters and you can definitely see the flight path of his work.

Pi is shot in high contrast grainy black and white, making everything seem all the more surreal, as though it were a fuzzy memory or a bad dream.

The film follows Max Cohen, a brilliant young man with a mind for numbers. However, Max’s passion borders on obsession as he works to find a pattern in the apparent chaos of the stock market, which is somehow connected to a mysterious 216 digit number.

As the movie goes on, Max becomes more unhinged, experiencing nightmarish hallucinations and bouts of paranoid psychosis. While he struggles to keep his head, he is also pursued by people who are interested in using the 216 digit number for their own ends.

Now, I’m not gonna give everything away, but I will say that Pi’s ending is way less depressing than some of Aronofsky’s other films, so there’s that.

I definitely enjoyed this film. Even if some scenes were slow, the pure aesthetic of what was on the screen was enough to keep me entertained.

Pi

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Produced by Darren Aronofsky, Eric Watson, Scott Vogel
Screenplay by Darren Aronofsky
Story by Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette, Eric Watson
Starring Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Samia Shoaib
Music by Clint Mansell
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Editing by Oren Sarch
Studio Protozoa Pictures
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release dates July 10, 1998
Running time 83 minutes

Check this one out.

Be sure to send recommendations for next month to my email

I’ve made the decision to include guest posts on my blog from time to time because I know many talented writers and artists and want to A: show the world how talented they are, and B: receive partial credit by having them post on my blog. So, here’s the first of what will hopefully be a long succession of guest posts here: Michael Ostrow’s Five Funniest. Enjoy.

The Office – Diversity Day (S01E02)

“You’ll notice I didn’t have anybody being Arab. I thought that would be too explosive. No pun intended. But I just thought, “Too soon for Arabs.” Maybe next year. Um… You know, the ball’s in their court.”

With the pilot of The Office being quite literally a remake of the pilot from the British series, “Diversity Day” is the U.S. series’ first real go at it. And one hell of a go it is. The episode centers around the coming of a speaker to teach the employees of Dunder Mifflin about the importance of tolerance and diversity. Or so we think: it’s later revealed that the speaker, Mr. Brown (not a test, that’s his real name), only needed to collect a signature from boss Michael Scott. All the other signatures? Just so he could save face in front of his staff. With a sour taste left in his mouth, Scott decides to do his own diversity day. And the results are amazing. The peak of this episode involves a note-card-on-the-forehead type game, where instead of famous people, everyone has to guess which race they have. These scenes are a gold mine of hilarious exchanges, such as Kevin and Angela’s “Wanna get high?” “No.” “I think you do… mon.”, or Pam and Dwight’s “OK, if I have to do this, based on stereotypes that are totally untrue, that I do not agree with, you would maybe not be a very good driver.” “Aw, man, am I a woman?!?” The Office always hit the nail on the head when it comes to typical human behavior when put in an uncomfortable situation, and this episode in particular really pushes the discomfort, see Michael Scott doing an insanely racist imitation of an Indian convenience store owner to Kelly Kapoor, finally, or (who else) Scott asking Oscar Martinez if there’s something “less offensive” than Mexican he can call him. After all, there are certain connotations. If someone ever asks you to show them the line between racist and hilarious, just show them “Diversity Day” and they’ll understand.

Seinfeld – The Pez Dispenser (S03E14)

“You’re breaking up with me?”
“I… am breaking up with… you.”
“Wow.”
“Shocked?”
“I really am.”
“Never expected this did you?”

What did Seinfeld do better than pointing out the quirks of human socialization? And what, if anything, pointed out the quirks of human socialization better than Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s 90’s TV sensation? This episode finds George Costanza dating a woman, Noel, who is by all accounts (George’s most of all) well out of his league. Sensing that he would soon be dumped, George take’s pal Cosmo Kramer’s “incredible” advice and decides to outmaneuver her with “a preemptive breakup”. And it works. George now has all the hand. The scene where he pulls off the breakup is marvelously revealing of George’s true inner piece-of-shit: he goes in thinking that at best he would be escaping this relationship with his dignity intact, and soon finds himself saying that Noel should be thinking about him at all times when she plays piano. What a guy. The other subplots of this episode hold plenty of water in their own right: Kramer’s attempts to market a cologne that smells like the beach and Jerry being forced to host an intervention (it’s not a surprise party!). The culmination of this episode, though, has to be when George finally gets his comeuppance. After finding out the George’s close friend Elaine was laughing through one of her recitals, Noel gives George a taste of his own medicine and dumps him on the spot, leading to one of the classic exchanges of the series: “You can’t break up with me! I’ve got hand!” “And you’re going to need it!” It’s almost a sin to have to choose one episode of Seinfeld, as there are plenty of classics that never fail to leave me in stitches, but the astute social commentary and overall hilarity of “The Pez Dispenser” make it my choice for this countdown.

The Mighty Boosh – The Nightmare of Milky Joe (S02E06)

“Ahh, take care Bollo. I’ll never forget you. We’ve had some crazy times here, have’t we… hehe. See you.”
“See ya, Harold.”
“Howard.”
“Oh, yeah.”

In a series which made its name from its absurdity, “The Nightmare of Milky Joe” stands it’s ground as a truly bizarre, and truly hilarious, bit of comedy. This episode finds Howard Moon and Vince Noir setting sail for the U.S.A. to make it big as musicians. Their plans hit a speed-bump, however, when they get thrown overboard when the captain finds Vince cutting his hair in the middle of the night. After some time stranded on a desert island, a sense of isolation sets in and forces our protagonists to go to extreme lengths to deal with their loneliness. This manifests itself in Milky Joe, a coconut on a stick Howard shares deep discussions with about jazz and Sartre: Milky even does a series of lectures on geology. Unfortunately for Howard, he soon finds himself one upped by Vince, who fashions himself not one, but two female coconut people to keep him company. Men have needs, after all, and Howard soon procures one of the two female coconut people and the two form a happy relationship. No, no, not happy. An abusive relationship. Howard is being abused by his coconut wife, and soon finds himself in hot water when he accidentally murders her when he finally decides to stand up for himself. Remember: stands up to an abusive coconut on a stick. Things snowball out of control for our heroes, as the pair find themselves in coconut court after working together to try and hide the corpse, and Milky Joe turns on them, delivering a scathing testimony against Howard’s character. The Mighty Boosh knows absurd, and “The Nightmare of Milky Joe” is like an absurd layer cake, with each absurd layer just that much more absurd than the one before.

Community – Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design (S02E09)

“There he is… what the hell is this?!”
“Latvian independence parade. … Don’t look at me, they had the proper permits!”
“Dang it! We lost him! Luckily, I sent the diorama car to the chem lab to have the explosive analyzed, we can -“
“Isn’t that him playing the trejdeksnis?”

I fell in love with Community as soon as it aired back in 2009, with it’s blend of smart, witty writing and zany circumstances blending nicely for some excellent comedy. And no episode exemplifies this blend more than season 2’s “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”. The action begins with Jeff Winger being confronted by the dean of Greendale Community College about a certain independent study he was doing that semester: Conspiracy Theories in American History. While the topic sounds viable, sure enough, Winger’s ploy was completely bogus, he even stooped so low as to say he was doing the study under the guidance of a certain Professor Professorson (supposedly it’s Dutch for ‘professor’). Determined to fight his way to his own bitter end, Winger takes Dean Pelton, as well as an interested Annie Edison, to where this Professor Professorson’s office supposedly is. And much to the viewers, and Jeff’s surprise: he exists. While Jeff is satisfied to simply chalk it up to dumb luck, Annie is not so easily sated, and launches a full scale investigation, finding out that Professor Professorson was actually a student who faked a class and wound up having to fake a whole night school as his lie snowballed out of control. The episode culminates in a wild series of double crossings and fake outs, with the coup-de-grace being a local police officer showing up to warn the group about the dangers of fake guns. And not without reason: in 100% of fake gun related shootings, the victim is the one with the fake gun.

Spaced – Mettle (S02E03)

“What’s that?”
“It’s an axe.”
“It’s a bit dangerous, isn’t it?”
“Yeeaaaahhhhh.”

While most know about the brilliance of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright, and Nick Frost through works such as Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, it was the TV series Spaced where the trio made their start, employing the same reference-laden humor that endeared us all to Shaun. In “Mettle”, three subplots find three of the show’s main characters all with their, well, mettle put to the test in various ways: Tim and Mike forced to rebuild a sabotaged robot which they were planning to use in robot wars, Daisy needing to put in an actual day’s hard work, and Brian having to come up with a last second installment for an art gallery after Paolo Vincenzo pulled out. This episode is full of pop culture references, Daisy almost leads a revolt against the wicked manager of the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”-like restaurant in which she finds herself employed, and Time and Mike seek revenge against their robot saboteurs in an underground robot-wars arena (the first rule of robot club is you do not talk about robot club. The second rule is… no smoking). The lifeblood of this episode is in Brians escapades, knocking himself unconscious with a can of paint as he was searching for the last missing ingredient for his gallery installation. Things go swimmingly for our protagonists, landlady Marsha Klein even goes so far as to Brians piece “a knock out”, much to the chagrining amusement of Brian himself. Tim and Mike get their revenge, and Daisy escapes her job with dignity intact as well. Though the series was cut short before it had the chance to end well, in this particular episode, everything does.

(This clip isn’t actually from the episode, but it’s still amusing)

And there you have it, my top 5 most entertaining episodes of TV comedy. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and if you ever have the time, give some of these a watch. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.

I just recently finished reading a book written by Aldous Huxley called Island. You may remember Huxley as the writer of The Doors of Perception and Brave New World.

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence - those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse. And while you people are overconsuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster."

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are overconsuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”

Island is similar to Brave New World, in that, it addresses many of the problems that exist in our world. However, it is not a dystopian novel, as it is not presenting the reader with a stylized version of our society. Instead, Huxley shows the reader an ideal society, a utopian world where the citizen’s freedom and happiness are maximized.

I have to say that I didn’t read this book quickly. The ideas were very interesting and important, but were also overwhelming. But I guess that’s how things always break down, you either get a good story without much substance, or something substantial without any bells and whistles.

This book did get me thinking about how our society works though. Huxley emphasizes this concept of a fully functional human being throughout his novel. The goal of his fictional society is to foster the growth of a fully formed human- a emotionally mature, self-aware, productive member of the community.

This, in turn, got me thinking about our society and the human beings that we shape. I don’t think we’re very good at making people in this part of the world. I look around and I see so many who are maladjusted and angry and unhappy. So many who don’t understand their unhappiness and rage against everything around them. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t count myself outside of these numbers. After all, I was raised in the same environment.

There was one line in Island that really resonated with me:

“One third, more or less, of all the sorrow that the-person-I-think-I-am must endure is unavoidable. It is the sorrow inherent in the human condition, the price we must pay for being sentient and self-conscious organisms, aspirants to liberation, but subject to the laws of nature and under orders to keep on marching, through irreversible time, through a world wholly different to our well-being, toward decrepitude and the certainty of death. The remaining two thirds of all sorrow is homemade and, so far as the universe is concerned, unnecessary.

More than half of all of our problems are homemade. What a thought. It’s almost funny until you realize how true it is. But that’s just the way things are. That’s the way the world works. That’s the cosmic joke that’s being played on humanity- we have all of the tools to make ourselves happy and free, but instead we choose to make ourselves suffer by our own hand.

But how do we make things better?

Huxley prescribes meditation, compassion, and early knowledge of the facts of life. In his fictional island of Pala, the citizens combine medicine and psychology and spirituality to create a utopia. Of course there is still work and unpleasantness, the 1/3 of suffering that comes with being human, but on the whole everyone seems happier.

Yes, this is a work of fiction. But I think there’s a lot to be taken away from this book. Especially with respect to how to look at ourselves and how we raise our children. It’s not very long, under 300 pages. It is dry, but the message is important and worth hearing. Give it a read if you’re looking to think.

Pick it up off of Amazon here.

Science Fiction will always hold a near and dear place in my heart. I think it’s a shame that this genre doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in literary circles. There are many works of Sci-Fi that are thoughtful and whose sole purpose is to make the reader consider humanity’s role in the universe. My life and my way of thinking have been irreversibly shaped by Science Fiction. So, naturally, I had some high expectations when I picked up Dune, one of the best-selling pieces of Science Fiction ever written.

First Edition Cover of Frank Herbert's Dune

First Edition Cover of Frank Herbert’s Dune

I have to admit, when I first started reading this book, I wasn’t enjoying it. To me, it blurred the line between Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I don’t know what it is about Fantasy. When I first began reading books, Fantasy was my wheelhub. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lost my taste for the fantastic. Even in the midst of the wild success of Game of Thrones, my interest in Fantasy is as tepid as ever. Even though Dune is a Science-Fiction novel, it has many influences from Fantasy. Frank Herbert built an entire world complete with its own language and culture.  I was immersed in this world and didn’t want to be bothered with learning about it. There were too many ridiculous made-up names and places that were difficult to keep track of. Even when I was three-quarters through the book, there were characters that I kept confusing with one another because their names were stupid and made up.

Despite my distaste for Dune’s Fantasy influence, I came to enjoy reading it. Very early in the book, I realized that Dune was a book that was going to make me think. On the fifth page of book, I ran into a quote that really resonated with me:

“Animal consciousness does not extend beyond the given moment nor the idea that its victims may become extinct. The animal destroys and does not produce. Animal pleasures remain close to sensation levels and avoids the perceptual. The human requires a background grid through which to see his universe. Focused consciousness by choice, this forms your grid. Bodily integrity follows nerve-blood flow according to the deepest awareness of cell needs. All things/cells/beings are impermanent. Strive for flow-permanence within.”

This passage stuck with me because it so eloquently summarized a personal belief of mine- that our animal impulses are destructive and that the only way to avoid extinction as a species is the power of focused conscious thought.

And as I kept reading, I came to enjoy learning about the world of Arrakis. Frank Herbert did an amazing job of making the reader want more. There was a unique blend of dramatic irony and genuine mystery, which kept me guessing in the best of ways. The culture of  the Fremen was fascinating and rooted in logic. Because Arrakis is a desert planet, water is held sacred by the natives. This detail in the novel also connects to one of my favorite books, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, where water is held in a similar elevated position.

There was only one thing I didn’t like about Dune after I finished reading was that I felt it didn’t end on a very conclusive note. I suppose everything was wrapped up, but I didn’t feel satisfied when I read the final line. But, I guess that’s because Dune is the first part in a massive series of books, so the ending of the first book is really meant to lead the reader into the rest of the series.

Overall, Dune was an amazing read and I’d recommend it to anybody who is looking for an exciting read that will entertain and inspire thought. Go ahead and get it off of Amazon here.

Last night I had the pleasure and privilege of attending an advance screening of the upcoming movie Seven Psychopaths.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the theater, as the trailer isn’t very clear about the movie’s plot other than the fact that there are seven psychopaths and Colin Farrel, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and Tom Waits are in the movie.

However, I now understand why they chose to make the trailer so ambiguous: the plot’s too damn complicated to explain succinctly in two minutes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This movie is no Primer. The story’s course of events are easy to understand. It just takes the full run time to fully grasp. I’ll try to summarize the plot without giving too much away.

Colin Farrel plays a struggling alcoholic writer who is trying to write a movie called Seven Psychopaths.

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate how brilliant this is. Part of the reason why Seven Psychopaths is such an entertaining movie is because of how self-aware it is. One part that really struck me was toward the end of the movie when one of the characters has a small speech about how the movie is going to end his way. Pretty damn clever.

Anyways, so Colin Farrel’s best friend, Sam Rockwell, along with Christopher Walken, steal the dog of a completely insane mob boss, Woody Harrelson, and hilarity ensues. The other three psychopaths work their way into the movie as well, but they’re not as important.

This plot may not seem like much, but there’s a whole lot more to this film than the main plot line. There are tons of flashbacks and imagined sequences as characters either tell the stories of their past or as Colin Farrel bounces ideas off of others for his own movie.

Then there’s the cast. Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken tear the screen up. At a few points, Woody is chewing on the scenery, but all for a good laugh. Walken’s performance is out of this world: hilarious in all the right places, but touching and powerful in others. Colin Farrel does an all right job, but he more or less plays the straight man in this one. Sam Rockwell, on the other hand, plays the role of the trickster who gets the events of the plot going and keeps it going. While definitely outshone by Harrelson and Walken, Rockwell definitely does a great job, too.

The one thing that I found kind of weak about this movie was that there wasn’t much of a female presence on the screen. There are definitely some strong female characters in the story, but they don’t even get top billing. The two women who do have their names on the poster might have a total screen time of five minutes. But again, the movie is self-aware enough to acknowledge this. At one point, somebody comments on Colin Farrel’s script, saying that all the women either die or only talk for five minutes, and Farrel replies that that is his way of saying that the world is hard for women. The writers of this movie knew that the role of women in their film was weak and so they addressed it in the movie. Goddamn that is sharp.

In all, Seven Psychopaths was an extremely clever film with a whole lot going for it. It’s definitely one of those movies that you can watch over and over and catch something new every time. Well worth the price of admission. I’d be so bold to say that in a few years from now this movie will reach a cult status similar to that of The Big Lebowski.

 

This weekend, between getting black-out drunk and smacked in the face with the spliff plank, I had the opportunity to watch the last fifteen minutes of a  movie called Encino Man.

As you can expect from any movie that features Brendan Fraser and Pauly Shore in the same zip code, it was horrible. No, worse than horrible. Dreadful is really the only word that can fully capture the shitiness of the movie. And this is overlooking the fact that this movie was made in the mid-nineties, which is a separate layer of shitiness in itself.

And while I didn’t watch the entire movie, I figured out the plot from those painfully long final 15 minutes before Supertroopers came on. Basically, Brendan Fraser is a caveman that Pauly Shore and friends find and introduce to 20th century living. Of course, this makes them extremely popular at their high school until it all comes crashing down when the school bully finds out the truth. In the end, nobody cares that Brendan Fraser is a cave man and everyone goes to a party after prom and gets laid.

Yep. That’s right. That is the plot of a movie that grossed 40 million dollars. And once the credits finally rolled, I said to myself “Who actually likes Pauly Shore?” I mean, is there one human being on this planet that is actually happy when they see Pauly Shore’s face on the big screen? Is there a single diseased mind that is so fucked up that it actually produces serotonin and dopamine upon hearing that tell-tale “Hey, Buuuuuud-deeeeee”? Clearly, there must be since Pauly Shore is in more than one movie.

See, the thing about Pauly Shore is that no matter what role he’s supposed to be playing, he’s always Pauly Shore. Sort of like how Christopher Walken is always Christopher Walken, Nicholas Cage Nicholas Cage, and Bruce Willis Bruce Willis. The thing that makes Pauly Shore so exceptional is that he’s horrible.

His voice is one of the most obnoxious out there and he never has anything smart or clever to say, making him a verbal double whammy. It’s always just “Ahwooooh!”  or “It’s the Leaning Tower of Cheezah!” It’s pretty clear that they really take their time in crafting lines for this guy.

Pauly Shore’s suckiness made me realize something about fame and fortune. It turns out you need literally 0 talent to become famous. I guess I should have realized this based on the fact that Paris Hilton exists, along with all the other people who don’t do anything except for being stupid, sloppy, whorish harpies who don’t bring anything to the table. But Pauly Shore is what really made it click for me.

Clearly being famous has little to nothing to do with talent, skill, or personality because there are so many people who don’t have any of those things. Yes, the ones who are talentless are barely famous, but people who have never met them still know their names.

I was talking with one of my friends this weekend about my future as an artist. I was telling him that I had a feeling that I would not experience success as a writer in my lifetime.  I still can’t quite verbalize it, but the reason for this feeling is somewhere between not being a good enough writer and nobody recognizing my brilliance until it’s far too late. But after having this Pauly Shore epiphany, I realized that I definitely have the potential for success.

If somebody who sucks as hard as Pauly Shore can experience success as an artist, and I use that term very loosely when applying it to what Pauly Shore does, then fame and fortune are well within my grasp. All I need to do is keep writing, keep reading, keep improving, and I’ll get to where I want to be.

Like most people, I have an abundance of time. Eighty or so years left to fill in with whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I do things of a scholarly nature like studying Russian, writing, reading, ect. Things that’ll generally make me smarter, if not then at the very least make me appear smarter. But most of the time I waste my life with stupid-ass distractions. Facebook, Twitter, Call of Duty, looking at pictures of cats on the internet, making blog posts. These things can be described as massive fucking wastes of time. Really really fun, but massive fucking wastes of time nonetheless.

Among the things that I enjoy wasting my time on are movies. And movies are one of those things that toe the line between Massive Fucking Waste of Time and Beautiful Work of Art. Some movies go beyond entertainment. Some movies are right up there with Classical literature.

Take Black Swan for example. Black Swan was all about Natalie Portman’s descent into insanity, due to her pent up sexual frustrations coupled with the paranoia that her understudy, Mila Kunis, was trying to steal her part. Beautiful movie with tons of thought and symbolism put into it.

However, the movie that I saw this weekend was not of the likes of Black Swan. Not even close. The movie that I saw this weekend was called Sucker Punch. And before you raise your eyebrows and give me that judgmental look that I’m so used to seeing. Yep. That one right there. Fuck you. I knew going into it that Sucker Punch was by no means going to be as good as Black Swan. I knew that it was going to be an action movie. That is, tons of violence, big tits, and flimsy, if not non-existent, plot.

But Sucker Punch was so bad that I can’t help but bitch about it on the internet. And yeah, I’m spoiling the movie, but believe me, you’ll thank me for having saved you two hours of your life better spent looking at pictures of cats on the internet.

First off, every action scene in this movie doesn’t actually happen. They are all actually metaphors for…wait for it…. the main character’s dancing. Let me just say that again. The action scenes in this movie were a metaphor for the main character’s dancing. And not just any type  of dancing, either. Her dancing was so sexy, so stimulating, that she was able to hypnotize men while her hooker friends steal shit from them in order to escape.

That is seriously the plot of this movie. Some whore dances for guys and imagines an epic battle while her friends steal shit from them so they can escape the whorehouse. Now, the movie didn’t start with this plot. It starts with the main girl (who isn’t named until the hour and a half mark) getting taken to an insane asylum, where she is nearly lobotomized. Then the setting suddenly changes from insane asylum to whorehouse. Literally just like that, making the twist at the end painfully obvious. That is, the entire whorehouse ordeal (90% of the movie) was all in the main girl’s head and she actually just gets a spike in the eye.

Now, this movie wouldn’t be that bad if it wasn’t for all of the typecasting of genders. All of the women are vulnerable little bitches and all of the men are raging sexist douchebags that can’t keep their dicks in their pants for two seconds. Seriously, there’s like three attempted rapes in this movie. But all that changes when the main girl comes along. She empowers her beat up hooker friends with her dancing and gives them the courage to steal shit so they can make their daring escape. Meanwhile, she has crazy violent fantasies of shooting German zombies and killing dragons with her katana. Seriously.

Did I say that the movie wouldn’t be that bad because of that one thing? Man, was I fucking wrong. The acting was god-awful. The lead looked like one of those creepy Japanese sex dolls made to look as realistic as possible but is still clearly not human. You know the ones I’m talking about. Plus, there was no characterization. Like at all.  The characters had the same amount of personality throughout the whole story. No growth of any kind. So, scenes that were supposed to be really dramatic and heartfelt, like when one of her hooker friends die, didn’t mean anything to me. I was just like “Eh, what’s one more dead hooker?”

Shit, there was barely any dialogue. It was like the writers of this movie planned to get together to write the dialogue, but instead got really fucked up the night before and were too hungover to get to work, so they made the barely literate intern do it. Or they just said “Fuck it, we’ll throw in tons of CGI and everything will be fine.”

This movie was a waste of two hours. The action sequences were alright, I’ll give them that, but they were too few and too interspersed with absolute horseshit to have any redeeming quality. If I had paid to see this movie, I think I would’ve had a rage stroke.

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