Ashik Kerib

1988 Paradjanov movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A poor minstrel falls in love with a rich gal and then wanders all over the place having various misadventures, most of them colorful.

It's lucky for us that the U.S. and Soviet Union stockpiled nuclear weapons during the Cold War because if we had decided to attack each other with color, it would have been hopeless. This is my fourth and likely final Sergei Paradjanov joint (that's what he called them), and like the other three, this is an unusual but wonderful experience. This is very obviously filmed on a tight budget, but Paradjanov overcomes that with his creative spirit and visual eye. Admittedly, I was frustrated early. It either took this story about this minstrel a while to gain momentum or I just needed to be warmed up a bit. My suggestion would be to try to find a Paradjanov short to use as foreplay before letting one of his features seduce you. This not only looks great; it sounds fantastic, too, with a soundtrack rich in Georgian folk music, the only kind of auditory daffiness that could fit a lot of this imagery. Observe: lots and lots of camels and guys with unibrows, beard thievery, a guy with fuzzy dice hanging from his crotch, birds and more birds, evil spirits arriving on ponies. Visual bliss if you ignore some of the most stilted acting you'll ever see and a story that didn't make a lot of sense. That acting. Yeesh. It was like a church group performance with even less of a budget. This movie might have the cheapest special effect I've ever seen, by the way--horse flight simulated with a close-up of a spinning globe. Oh, with a couple of dudes blowing shells in the only way shells can be blown into--gaily. My favorite scene features a guy sharpening knives while a guy spins a colorful umbrella behind him and to his right. It's a beautiful shot anyway, but then the camera pulls back and you have all these women undulating on the ground in the foreground pretending to be snakes. I think it's symbolic. Which reminds me--for a movie that is supposed to be a children's movie (I read), this is sure heavy on the symbolism. I don't think children can think this abstractly. And there's also a sex scene where some clowns toss a curtain over a man and a woman before the shell blowers do their shell-blowing thing and a guy starts throwing doves around. Yeah, that's exactly as spicy as it sounds. Ashik Kerib is more flawed than the other Paradjanov movies, more meandering and choppily incoherent, but if you're hip to the guy's cinematic voice, you'll be glad you popped this in. If I get married again, I'm having a Paradjanov-inspired wedding and reception, by the way.


1990 gangsta movie

Rating: 19/20

Plot: Henry Hill rises up the gangster ranks and marries his sweetheart.

I don't think gangsters are very good influences. Just look at all the curse words in this movie! I do like the influence that I think this had on movies that followed it. Sure it's got some impersonators that pale in comparison, attempts at carbon copies that lack the distinctive voice that Goodfellas has. But for the most part, I think this did more good than harm in Hollywood. Minor quibble though: Shouldn't it be Good Fellows? This movie is electric from start to finish--from the in medias res buffoonery dealing with the contents of car's trunk to a conclusion where Henry's selfishness is more depressing to me than surprising. Electric. Most electric is Joe Pesci's off-kilter performance. That guy's best when he's completely losing control, and he gets plenty of chances to show off here and help create these iconic moments that become those movie moments that everybody remembers. Everybody else--and I mean everybody else--is also great. DeNiro's performance is as flawless in this as in those Fockers movies, but it's that kind of performance where he doesn't even look like he's doing anything special, deceptively so. The other guy on the cover, wide-eyed Liotta with his aw-shucks face makes a likable enough protagonist but he really works more like a straight man to a lot of wackily-inflated caricatures. And then there's the periphery characters, each adding a little shading or color to this consistently entertaining look at the [under]world of gangsters. I never realized how funny gangsters were. Technically, Scorsese's a master. The guy knows how to tell a story visually without getting in the way of things, but there are some standout scenes where his camera maneuvers in ways that shouldn't be logistically possible, like during Henry's first date when the camera follows them from their car to the table or a scene from Henry's point of view where he walks through a restaurant and we're introduced to all these colorful figures, including the guy who says everything twice. I also really like how this is all humanized a bit, or maybe softened, by focusing a little on the female characters including Pesci's mother (the one with an awesome painting that I'd love to hang in my house) and Mrs. Hill. The duo-narrators really give this story another dimension about 1/3 of the way into the film. This is one of those movies that seems about half as long as it actually is.

Note: "Beyond the Sea" is in this. For those of you who care about the numbers, that's the 27th movie I've watched this year with that song in it somewhere. This movie has a big soundtrack, by the way.

Another note: When I am beaten to death by a guy with crazy eyes, I don't want it to happen a while a Donovan song plays in the background, especially a wussy lame one like "Atlantis". Well, wait a second. That song does kind of rule. I'd prefer being beaten to death during a playing of "Atlantis" than "Mellow Yellow," I guess.

If I got to pick a song to be beaten to death to, I think I'd go with Sammy Davis Jr.'s version of "MacArthur Park" or something by Sonny Terry. How about you?

Bound for Glory

1976 biopic

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Woody Guthrie has to ride the rails after violently disrupting Uma Thurman's wedding. Along the way, he becomes a folksinging sensation and a voice for the common working man. But will his past come back to haunt him as Uma is hot on his dusty trail in her efforts to get her revenge and. . . Kill Woody!

So here's David Carradine as Woody Guthrie. He's really solid, especially when he's got a guitar, although I'm not sure I always buy him as a down-home kinda guy. I'm not sure if it was director Hal Ashby's intention or not, but Carradine stands out so much from the rest of the people on screen. And then at the same time, he doesn't quite stand out enough. Anyway, I like Carradine as the titular folky. Bound for Glory is a very good-looking movie, adequately filmed through a layer of dust for the scenes in the Dustbowl and a layer of grime for the train scenes. I like movies with lots of train action, and although there was a lot of time devoted to Woody's time hobo-ing it around, I really really likes those parts, probably because of my secret dream to someday be a hobo. Ashby and Carradine do a good job of illustrating Guthrie's importance to the folk without really getting into his importance on music in general, but that's likely because this is all based on Woody's autobiography. And because of that, you wonder how much of this you can really believe and how much of it is self-bloating. Ashby's version of Guthrie's story moves along languidly which gives somebody interested in this sort of material a chance to really absorb the setting and its characters, but I'd imagine this would get a little boring for a lot of viewers. Randy Quaid, by the way, plays a migrant worker. Why do I always assume that guy is much younger than he actually is. I just looked up his filmography and noticed that he was a Klansman in Birth of a Nation! A good look at the life and times of an American icon.

I'm Gonna Explode

2008 Mexican movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Roman makes a joke that only Maru laughs at, so they decide to run away from home. Well, sort of. They run to the roof and camp out, sneaking down when the adults are away to snag some food.

Like Roman and Maru for the bulk of this story, this movie goes nowhere. The kids are likable-enough misfits, and there are a few cute moments that are almost funny--the Harold-[and Maude] -esque talent show performance, the camp-out right above the parents' noses. But I'm Gonna Explode is too almosty. Like a reality show with shakier camera work, this goes through a lot of the minutia without really being interesting, revealing, funny, dramatic, or really anything else. Roman and Maru are almost eccentric enough to be interesting, but they barely stand out in their own story. This is Bonnie and Clyde without any character, stuttering story lines, and with a lot less misbehaving. Well, they do it at one point. I guess religious folks would say that's worse than robbing banks or killing people, right? I just wish this one had a destination instead of just meandering and plodding in that almost intriguing way. Maybe it needed to explode?

Funny Man

1994 horror-comedy

Rating: 6/20

Plot: Max beats Christopher Lee in a poker game and wins himself a mansion inhabited by a mischievous guy wearing a rubber mask and a ridiculous codpiece. The titular funny man begins harassing the new owner and his family and some random hitchhikers, including Velma and a black Yoko Ono, who show up.

First off, Christopher Lee's name might be on top of the poster, but he's in this movie for about five total minutes. So if you're going to check this out because you're some kind of weird Christopher Lee completist, be warned. The bulk of Christopher Lee's work is at the beginning during a poker game, my favorite part of the movie. Not only did it have a line that is one of my favorite things to say at the poker table ("Shit or get off the pot."), there was a bit of dialogue that I'm going to start saying in every single poker game I find myself in--"I've seen amputees with better hands than this." In my opinion, by the way, Max gets what he deserves in this movie because he slow-rolls Christopher Lee in the hand where he wins the house, and you just don't slow-roll Christopher Lee. The jester demon thing that inhabits the house is irritating. I did like his entrance--all loud percussive music ending in a thumbs-up of all things. That was pretty awesome. Funny Man isn't funny at all which makes the title not only misleading but an outright lie. He urinates on a van and plays soccer with a severed head, so sure he's the type of troll-faced demon jester you'd want to have at your parties, but he's more obnoxious than he is funny. And he repeatedly breaks the fourth wall which I'm sure the makers of Funny Man think is clever. The violent gags probably wouldn't please fans of the genre, although I did sort of enjoy seeing the character dressed as Scooby Doo's Velma get hers. The story seems pieced together, just gag stapled to gaggy gag, choppy and poorly paced.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Little Fockers

2010 comedy sequel

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Jack Byrnes' health is failing, and after his other son-in-law proves unworthy, he turns to whatever Ben Stiller's character's name is to become the family patriarch. Oh, and Ben Stiller's character has children now, the titular fockers. Ben Stiller's character does some things that are mistaken as other things, and Jack loses faith in his son-in-law before a bunch of things happen that are sort of similar to the other movies.

I had completely forgotten that I watched this about a month ago! I enjoyed watching it about half as much as I did the other two movies. Did anybody ask for Little Fockers? Did anybody--even the biggest fan of Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Mother Fockers, Fockin' Crazy, or Fock This Garbage--love these characters so much that they just had to have another couple hours with them? Or is this just Hollywood trying to force-feed us crap? Here's a case of a movie where I like almost all the people involved but didn't like the movie at all. Ben Stiller? I like him. He's funny, and as I've written here previously, I wish I had hair like his. Owen Wilson? Like him. Dustin Hoffman, even an old Dustin Hoffman who's obviously just collecting checks at this point in his career? Like him. Barbra Streisand? I adore her! She's fabulous! Hoffman and Streisand's characters livened things up in the middle piece of this trilogy actually. DeNiro? Come on! It's DeNiro! Jessica Alba's underpants? I'm a big fan! They all try hard enough, but they've got a halfassed script and a predictable and flat story to work with. I'm not sure because I wasn't invited to co-write this thing, but I bet they finished a rough draft, had a few beers to celebrate, sat down a few weeks later for a rewrite, and decided that they didn't need to put any more effort into it because Owen Wilson was going to make it all funny no matter what and people would see the movie anyway. "We can just show Robert DeNiro looking all serious and Ben Stiller falling in a hole or something during the previews and people will line up!" Any comedy that has more bad child actors than laughs is in trouble. More bad child actors and about seventeen thousand more "God Focker" jokes. Seriously, DeNiro et. al. should be ashamed of themselves.

The Birds

1963 fowl movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: This slut buys some love birds and makes the trek to Bodega Bay to hand-deliver them the guy she currently wants to sleep with. Suddenly, seagulls and crows begin to attack humans for no good reason. Oh, snap!

"Are the birds gonna eat us, Mommy?"

Again, Hitchcock does a lot of subtle things with the camera here that enhance the experiences and set this a few notches above your standard birds-attacking-people-for-no-good-reason movies. The Bodega Bay setting is often framed so perfectly, and there are a lot of interesting visual perspectives you're not used to seeing. I'm not sure if Hitchcock was trying to show you things from a bird's eye view or not, but it kept things naturally uneasy. I also like the decision to use no music at all in the movie, just those exaggerated, almost comic bird sound effects. I saw this one as a kid (I think at my dad's house) and some scenes just never leave the mind--the creepy school children song chanted while crows gather on the monkey bars, the shot of the dead farmer with his pecked-out eyes, the seagulls floating into the overhead shot of a fire in the middle of town, that horrifying Tippi-in-the-phone-booth scene. Speaking of Tippi, I'll still contend that the scene where she's attacked in the attic is the most erotic five minutes ever filmed. I also love the scene where a bird puppet attacks Rod Taylor's arm, and the Night of the Living Dead-esque drama that unfolds as the characters hide inside their boarded-up house. Another great Tippi shot: the quick cuts between a moving line of fire and Hedron's slightly-changed expressions as her eyes follow the flame's movement. And who wouldn't enjoy watching so much footage of birds attacking children? Seriously, what's better than that? Speaking of that, I could understand an argument that the special effects in this are dated, but I really love them. They're dated in a good way! This movie also has a great stunt when a guy pumping gas gets hit in the head with a bird and falls down. The final shot--the car driving off with the lower half of the screen covered in bird and the upper half a gray sky with sun rays slicing across--is also really beautiful. There's an interesting subtext that takes this out of B-movie realms with poor Mitch and the women in his life--the old flame, the feisty aggressive new fling, the oppressive mother, and the little sister (what an age difference!). It'd be fun to look at the birds as symbols or examine this movie from a feminist perspective, but I'll save those kinds of thoughts for the next Disney cartoon I watch.

[Too Much Information Alert!]: The first time I pleasured myself, it was while watching that birds-attacking-Tippi scene. That wasn't at my dad's house. He showed me that when I was three, too young to masturbate. Speaking of toddlers, I tricked Sophie into watching this with me by telling her it was Rio. She didn't seem to enjoy it very much.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World

2011 biographical documentary

Rating: 16/20

Plot: An exhaustive look at the life, the work, and the spirituality of the best Beatle.

There's an honesty to this film that I really like. I know George Harrison didn't make this documentary about himself, but the accumulation of all this previously-unseen footage was his, so although the decision to not hide a lot of the scars just feels like his decision to me as much as it was his wife's or Scorsese's. And yeah, a lot of this does almost feel like a 3+ commercial for George Harrison, almost like a visual essay detailing all the reasons why George should be Saint George Version 2.0 or something. The one who wouldn't dare hurt a dragon. But instead of only painting a picture of Harrison as this mystical figure and focusing on how spiritual he was, it refuses to hide his shortcomings. Still, I would think it would be nearly impossible to watch this and not respect and like the guy, maybe the best example of a human being who is so perfectly flawed.

I thought this seemed a little scattered at the beginning, and I wasn't really sure where Scorsese was going with things. We had a description of George's Beatles "audition" on a double-decker bus, stuff about the break-up, and a little about his boyhead in the first ten minutes, and I wondered if this whole thing was going to be this frustratingly disjointed. It isn't though, just straightforward chronological stuff that thankfully ignores a lot of the stuff that's been covered or shown again and again in other Beatles documentaries. There are a lot of touching moments, especially the stuff at the end about his death and the relationship with his wife, and since George was the funniest Beatle, there are a lot of funny parts, too. My favorite moment might have been Ringo's joke: "How many Beatles does it take to change a lightbulb?" Pause. "Four!" Lots of Ravi Shankar. I love that guy and the other "giggly little Indian guy" too, and I really enjoyed Ravi's description of god and devil music. Also the applause after sitar tuning at Bangledesh. Oh, my other favorite moment was a story Tom Petty told about ukuleles. "He had a lot of ukuleles in his trunk."

I'm not sure there's anything all that revealing in this documentary, and it is really long. Beatles fans, and especially fans of the best Beatle, will like it just fine. I did learn that Phil Spector might be the ugliest lesbian that I'll ever see. See? Maybe if I had learned to be a better person by watching this documentary about a guy I'm convinced was a really good person, I'd have given this a 20.

By the way, there's this quick footage of a random guy wearing a bow tie and manically singing a song where he asks "Who wants to die?" I'd love to know who that is.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Old School

2004 comedy

Rating 8/20

Plot: A triad of grown men, all unhappy in different deep-down way decide to form a fraternity to recapture some of their glory (hole) days. Hilarious!

The Cardinals advanced to the World Series. I teared up a bit, wandered outside the hotel, and graded some papers. Following the award presentations, beer drenching, and celebrations, Old School came on, and Gene wanted to watch it. Again, forgot my promise. I don't think I'd ever be in the mood to watch this movie, but I was in a good enough mood to let Gene have his way although not sans trousers like he suggested. I had time before the movie I was really excited about watching came on, and First, I can't believe this came out in 2003. For whatever reason, it seems like it's been around forever like plagues, evil-doers, people making bad decisions, and AIDS have. No, this movie is not as awful as AIDS, but it's also probably not as funny. Luke Wilson's as likable as any Wilson brother or any Baldwin brother, but he needs funny material if he's going to be funny. Look at him in those Wes Anderson movies and then watch this. He's the same guy with the same amount of talent, but he just doesn't work here. And Jack Bauer is going to be pissed when he watches this and finds out what you did to his daughter, Luke. Will Ferrell never works, probably because of that stupid face. I don't like Vince Vaughn's face either and his work in this isn't as funny as what he did in that Psycho remake. In fact, I don't think I really like anybody in this movie except for Patrick Cranshaw. All 8 points I'm giving this movie are for Patrick Cranshaw actually. And just when you don't think the cast can get any more unlikable, the producers of Old School throw Snoop Dogg and Andy Dick at you. Andy Dick! I imagine the type of people who would care about the characters in this movie or let out a laugh or two would probably also be the same type of people who laugh at Andy Dick's name.


2010 comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: John, played by a guy named John, meets beautiful Molly, played by a woman named Marisa, at a party and they hit it off and later "do it," an act that I imagine would be absolutely amazing for at least one of them. John, recently divorced, finds Molly's home and meets her titular son, played by Barry's favorite actor. Cyrus is an older child but a needy man-child who still lives with and is attached to Mommy. Molly's new friend and her old son don't get along very well.

Boy, I thought I was hating this one, and ol' randy Ghost Gene and I were really only sticking with it with the hope that Marisa Tomei would be naked at some point since she usually is. John C. Reilly brought his Will Ferrell game to the opening of this, really hamming it up with some drunken antics at a party. By the time he urinates on a plant, I was disappointed that he was in another of those types of movies. You know, the types where characters urinate on plants for comic purposes. An early scene with Reilly pleasuring himself, a scene that ends with a nice shot of his posterior if you're into that sort of thing, didn't exactly set the right kind of tone either. But once Tomei, who isn't naked at all if you're into that sort of thing, enters the story, things get a lot better and Reilly actually gives a nice layered performance and never overcooks the comedy. Tomei is very good as this character on this balance beam. It's a delicate performance, and you connect with her and feel for her without her having to do much that seems too much like acting. You know who else isn't half bad here? Jonah Hill, who plays awkward almost like it's a diagnosable mental illness. He's also not naked, by the way, but there is a scene where you see more of his legs than you'd probably care to see. His Cyrus never really feels all that real to me, more a movie character in the vein of Macaulay Culkin's in The Bad Seed, but it works to create the right kind of awkwardness. I've written more than once on this blog about how modern comedies are more awkward than funny, but this one, like other independent understated comedies (Punch Drunk Love maybe), manages to work. I could have done with a better ending and a little more Catherine Keener. I also thought the score was oppressive.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Man on Fire

1987 movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A former CIA guy is hired as a bodyguard for a little girl for reasons that I must have missed. Anyway, he does a terrible job at it, and some thugs kidnap her while he gets an ouchie on his leg. When he recovers, he takes off to find her.

This original Man on Fire (I didn't see the original during my 134 movie "man" streak last summer either) is stuffy and spins its wheels. It spends a lot of time building up the relationship between the principals, and once it finally does, it throws a few action scenes at you before ending in a way that isn't all that satisfying. Despite the lengthy exposition, I never really bought their relationship, and it actually got a little creepy as it progressed. The creepiest moment is when the bodyguard guy quotes Of Mice and Men and then imitates the little girl's voice. It's really weird. And then you were jerked into a vague sort of action thriller. You do get to learn what happens when a white guy (Joe Pesci) sings Chuck Berry. Attempts to connect all this schmaltziness by connecting it to Steinbeck's Lenny and George seems halfassed. I'm not sure how I felt about the sort-of pretentious shots of a hanging lamp and swinging curtains that bookend this story. I was admittedly distracted during this Urine Couch AM Movie Club selection because Gene Siskel's ghost wouldn't stop asking, "Where's the black guy? Hey, Shane? Where's the black guy?"


1992 Disney cartoon

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A lengthy public service announcement in the French symbolist tradition about how teenagers should, instead of engaging in premarital sex, pleasure themselves. Aladdin grows tired of rubbing his lamp and getting his genie all over the place and decides to try to get in Jasmine's pants. After all, she seems willing with those little half shirt things and not even attempting to hide her pussycat. Eventually, Aladdin's "snake" gets loose and havoc is wreaked.

Seriously, Disney was so subconsciously dirty during this period (see Little Mermaid). Look at the symbols: soaring towers, water (female genitalia symbol according to most dream symbolism books), snakes, phallic genies with pubic beards, lamps being rubbed until they ejaculate, magic carpet rides (so that's what the kids are calling it these days?), a monkey transforming into an elephant (a boy's first erection?). Sick stuff, Mickey.

If you want a great animated feature with Aladdin in it, try The Adventures of Prince Achmed. If you want something a lot louder and a lot more colorful, go for Disney's Aladdin. This really is an entertaining Disney feature with a lot of fun visual gags and some really good songs. It rips off Superman's flight through the city with a magic carpet ride only Aladdin doesn't try to guess the color of Jasmine's underpants. (Or just pants as the say in some parts of the world.) Robin Williams' manic voice work is fun the first time you watch this, but subsequent viewings show you that he's just stomping all over the production. Still, it adds a spunk to what otherwise might have been a same-old/same-old version of this story. I liked Jafar as a villain when he was talking to Gilbert Gottfried and messing up Prince Abooboo's name, but when he turns into a genie at the end and starts making a series of puns that would make C3PO groan, it became clear that this script needed some editing. OK, I'm going to ask you to pause so that you can fully appreciate what I did with the C3PO reference there. I want you to let that want sink in a bit. Part of Disney's appeal is that they're able to take stories that are thousands of years old, inject them with some life, and transform them into something new. Despite a lot of annoyances that get in the way of this being really great, they do a good job with that. One thing I do like about this one compared to most Disney princess/prince movies: the romance is between a pair of well-developed characters rather than one developed character and a prop. Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty have a princess and a guy who might as well be a life-sized cardboard cut-out of a prince. Beauty and the Beast and this at least make the prince characters real, probably because they're titular. But my question: Is Aladdin really all that likable? Jafar's considered the bad guy because he's evil and all, but Aladdin is the one whose deceit causes all the problems anyway. As I say with a lot of Disney protagonists, kids could learn a lot more life lessons if Aladdin would have been punished in the end.

Summer of Nicolas Cage Movie # 19: Season of the Witch

2011 witch movie

Rating: 8/20

Plot: While looking out his window at the many sights to see and the different people to be, Mr. Leitch decides that he has to pick out every stitch because a rabbit's running in the ditch. Oh, no! Must be the season of the witch! He looks over his shoulder, and summer cat is looking over its shoulder at him. It's strange.

A movie based on a Donovan song? Starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman? With the cute-as-a-button Claire Foy spending the majority of the movie in a cage? Sign me up!

Nicolas Cage rocks the long hair and pretty much makes that face that you see on the poster up there throughout the entire movie. He and co-star Ron Perlman, the latter who should be pissed since I didn't see a single poster with him on it although his character is equally important, both swing a mean sword, slicing off goon-monks' heads and watching the life poof out the top of them in CGI dust spirals. I'm also not going to complain about getting to see Ron Perlman headbutt Satan because that's pretty awesome. But their performances are really wooden in this completely stiff period horror film. Ron Perlman's also only got a single facial expression. They and the entire movie are flat, devoid of personality. You know what this movie is like? It's like one of those t-shirts you can buy at a gas station, one of those with a giant cougar against a backdrop of stormy skies or a pair of dolphins penetrating a wall of bitchin' fire. It looks like the best shirt ever until you actually put it on and realize you bought it a two sizes too small and that your nipples distort the cougar's face and the fabric gives you a rash. And then you're sitting on the curb after finding out that you're four dollars and thirty-five cents short of being able to afford a sandwich at your favorite sub sandwich chain and that's the exact amount you spent on the shirt. A little girl and her mother pass by and the little girl says, "Mom, look at that crying man's shirt," and you decide that you're going to take your own life. That's what this movie is like. Dopey dark special effects puttering around during action sequences with outcomes that I have no interest in. All with this really big music whenever anything happens, apparently because my eyes alone can't tell when something really big happens. I hate that. It's like the filmmakers think that I'm stupid. There is the aforementioned headbutting-the-devil scene and another scene where, if you use your imagination a little, kind of looks like Nicolas Cage having sex with Satan. But you have to ignore the fact that they're both being really stabby throughout the whole thing. I also dug those bird gas mask things. But now I'm working pretty hard to find anything to like about this movie. It's a pretty joyless experience.
Question [Spoiler Alert!]: How did the girl end up naked at the end? Did I miss something?

Idiots and Angels

2008 adult cartoon

Rating: 16/20

Plot: He goes to work, he's mean to people, and he hangs out at the local bar where he lusts after the owner's wife. And that's about it for our protagonist until he wakes up one morning to discover wings growing on his back. They seem to have an effect on him--making him do good--so he desperately tries to get rid of them. Others try to figure out ways to exploit the wings for profit.

Easily my favorite Bill Plympton feature. Or featurette for that matter. See the color on the poster? Those are pretty much the colors you get throughout the film, but they're beautiful grays and they work well with the dream-like nature of the strange, Bukowski-esque plot, helping to set a definite tone and bringing a focus on the character and his flighty plight. I don't think there are any spoken words, just sound effects and a soundtrack provided by Pink Martini and Tom Waits. But there's still a lot of dark humor featuring the artist's usual shape-shifting characters who we get to spy on at their humorously lowest lows. Regardless of what I generally say about Plymptoons, I do like the way he animates character movement, and here, they move through his typically bleak settings in grossly poetic ways. Plympton's surreal hand-drawn animations are often very ugly, appropriately as ugly as human beings, and whereas I usually think they work better in small doses, this one just connects. I'll have to reread Marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" to find parallels.

Gulliver's Travels

2010 comedy

Rating: 8/20 (Emma: 7/20; Abbey: dnf)

Plot: It's Jonathan Swift's classic piece of satire, filmed exactly as he intended it to be filmed. Jack Black, a mail room loser infatuated with the pretty girl on one of the upper floors, tells a few lies, plagiarizes a few lines, and winds up on a boat in the Bermuda Triangle to write a puff piece about his travels. He ends up shipwrecked and in the land of the diminutive Lilliputians. Oh, snap!

Wait a second! I was supposed to watch this in 3D, presumably because a three-dimensional Jack Black is going to be funnier than a boring old two-dimensional one. After a cute little animated opening which tricked me into thinking this would be better than I thought, we get Jack Black doing his Jack Black thang. Ad nauseum. You've got to give the guy a lot of credit--he tries really really hard. He takes material that isn't any good, hoists it upon his shoulders, and trounces across the screen in an attempt to carry it. His act's just gotten old though, and by the time his story in this reaches it's big musical conclusion, he's just become a giant parody of himself. The writers of this (you know, Jonathan Swift et. al.) fit the classic Jack Black pattern: make him really sad, then really loud, then repeat. After a preposterous set-up that is poorly written enough to take it completely out of reality, you get to the fantastical part of the story where some so-so special effects become the star. You get some really lame robot foreshadowing (How to build your own robot? Like that's gonna happen!) and the silliest product placement (a giant cola can) that you'll ever see. This also has to be the high point in Billy Connolly's career--being urinated upon by Jack Black. Connolly is the funniest thing about this movie, by the way, but his role is very small. Pun possibly intended. I liked Chris O'Dowd, too. He plays the villain and does a lot more with poor material than could have been reasonably expected. His character is the villain, but I'm not real sure how anybody's going to end up rooting for Gulliver in this. He lies, he's selfish, he's lazy. He commercializes Lilliput and gives bad advice to Jason Segel. When he's getting that wedgie from the robot (yep, that's the type of movie this is), you're almost rooting for the robot. Scratch that. You are rooting for the robot. At the end of this movie, the characters are trying to introduce a catch word "Boosh!" which I think might be a Cat in the Hat influence. Let me end this with a couple-few positives: 1) The stunt coordinator's name is Stink Fisher. 2) Anybody with a giant Amanda Peet fetish is likely to be satisfied. 3) There are some Lilliputian reenactments of Star Wars and Titanic (the funniest scene from Titanic where Rose tells Jack she'll never let him go and then immediately lets him go) that are kind of cute.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Green Zone

2010 liberal propaganda

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Matt Damon's sent to Iraq to look for Weapons of Mass Destruction, but he can't find any and starts whining about it.

I really wish this didn't have any music. As soon as the big music comes in (and really as soon as Matt Damon's big face is on the screen), I'm reminded that this is just a big Hollywood movie. I kept asking myself, "Who's that girl? She looks so familiar!" which, after I found out who that girl was, reminds me that it's been too long since I've seen the American version (read: superior version) of The Office since "that girl" was Holly. This movie sort of just goes through the motions, depending more on a subject matter that some might consider controversial. The actions scenes are filmed well, and I'm saying that despite the amount of shaky camera use. And the acting is really good from top to bottom although somebody with a smaller face than Matt Damon easily could have filled those combat boots. I was really impressed with Brandon Gleeson and Khalid Abdalla, and I always like Greg Kinnear for reasons that I can never explain. The movie lags and drags a bit and isn't really ever as thrilling as it needs to be as a thriller or as revealing as it needs to be as a revealer, but Gene Siskel's ghost and I weren't unhappy that we sat through it.
I befriended a mentally-challenged prostitute while watching this movie, by the way. I'm pretty sure drugs had taken away her ability to make words, and I could barely understand anything she said. I do know she didn't seem to have any real interest in watching the rest of Green Zone with me. Said it would cost me fifty bucks!

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Get Him to the Greek

2010 crude comedy
Rating: 8/20

Plot: Aldous Snow--a rock 'n' roller recovering from a bad break-up, a critically-lambasted album, and a drug habit--needs help getting to a music venue for a big show. The titular him and the titular Greek for those of you keeping score at home. The boring Jonah Hill, an up-and-coming record label intern, is sent to retrieve him. Apparently, a of lot college kids are entertained by this sort of thing.

I think I get the appeal of Russell Brand, but he bothers me. It just doesn't seem like he has to try at all in order to make the funny happen. Jonah Hill? I don't get this kid. Why's he famous? This movie was more loud and crude than funny. It's one of those cases where they search around for that line and then try to see how many times they can cross it instead of worrying about being clever. I did like Puff Daddy though. There's something I never thought I'd type.

Have you seen this one, Barry?

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Catching Hell

2011 television documentary

Rating: 16/20

Plot: A story of scapegoats. A few years ago, the Chicago Cubs looked like they might be ready to finally break that Curse of the Billy Goat. Mark Pryor was pitching well, they had a semi-comfortable lead heading into the 8th inning, and were just a few outs from tasting their first World Series action since the end of World War II. But hold on! A nerdy Cubs fan, a fit thrown by Moises Alou (a guy who pissed on his hands instead of wearing batting gloves--look it up), and a botched double play ball dooms the lovable losers once again and makes one poor sap the most hated man on the North Side.

First off: Mark Pryor. Steroid casualty?
Secondly, Bill Buckner sure cries a lot.
Thirdly, this is all God's fault anyway. If he would have made Moises Alou over fifteen feet tall, none of this would have happened.

Steve Bartman is an intriguing figure. How he's managed to keep away from cameras is beyond me. The people behind this documentary treat the footage of Bartman grabbing for that baseball like it's the Zapruder film. They break everything down like it's crime footage, and you get to see the after-effects from multiple fan-recorded angles which is cool. I remember watching this game and feeling bad for Bartman then. I'm a smart enough baseball fan to ignore the fact that Bartman's hand touched the ball and see that almost anybody else in that seat would have done the same thing. Well, not me. I'm a smart baseball fan. I was also laughing hysterically because I don't like the Cubs or their fans and think it's hilarious when bad things happen to them. You know, like Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano. I didn't figure that this poor guy was going to survive the night though. And there was just something about the way he just sat there with those stupid headphones and ignored the world while Fox cameras kept showing him over and over again that makes him an almost iconic figure. Seriously, he should get a statue. The descriptions and reenactments of Bartman's "escape" from the ironically nicknamed Friendly Confines was gripping, and the sociologically insight (the mindset of obsessive sports fans, the behaviors of drunk Cubs fans) is enlightening. As an investigation of the idea of scapegoats in sports (not surprisingly with two of the worst fanbases in MLB) with connections to Weepin' Bill Buckner, this was revealing. As a narrative documentary, it's completely gripping, so much that when it came on again immediately after the time I watched it, I went ahead and watched it again. One more thing: I kept expecting to see (the first time--not the second since I'd already seen it) an interview with Bartman himself, like it was building up to this big moment where he gets to explain himself. This is for sure more fascinating without it though.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

2004 cartoon

Rating: 11/20

Plot: Somebody's stolen King Neptune's crown, and it's up to Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick to save the day.

This movie doesn't try to do anything that the television show doesn't do which is probably why you'd call it successful. The animation retains the simple old-school style with little-to-no setting details but with a manic creativity that makes up for it. I don't like the Spongebob characters as much as most people it seems, and just like the little fifteen minute stories that you get on the tube, I lost interest pretty quickly into this one and didn't perk up again until David Hasselhoff's nipples made a cameo appearance. Spongebob just doesn't do much for me which begs the question once again: What am I missing here? Why do so many people around my age dig this show? Is pot required?

By the way, during the squid-guy-taking-a-shower scene (hot, by the way), I'm pretty sure there was a Frogs' song hummed. That's awesome! And there's a Ween song at the end, so it's got that going for it. And I had to give this a five point Jeffrey Tambor bonus. And Alec Baldwin's in it.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: The A-Team

2010 ass-kicker

Rating: 13/20

Plot: The titular team is sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. They promptly escape from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem--if no one else can help-and if you can find them--maybe you can hire The A-Team.

Got five words for you that might, if you're the type this might appeal to, sell The A-Team: they fly a fuckin' tank. Sure, sometimes you read something like that and find out later that it's not nearly as awesome as it sounds. Not this time though! The action sequences in this use up more bullets than several other action movies combined and have this ludicrous energy that makes this a lot of fun. It's like the makers of this finished writing the scene where Murdock is flying a helicopter upside down and said to themselves, "Why stop at ridiculous when we can go for batshit insane, fellows? Let's juice it up!" And this is juicy, folks! Maybe it's not the greatest of movies or even the greatest of action movies, but it's a ton of fun, sneaky smart, and worlds better than the last vile television-show-from-my-childhood-turned-movie. Great start with a cool introduction of Liam Neeson's Hannibal and T's doppelganger engaging in some fisticuffs filmed with not so much a shaky camera but a blurry one. Then, you get some The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly-style name introductions. Pretty cool. There's Bradley Cooper again. That guy's got this special gift where he has this natural chemistry with anybody else on the screen with him. All four have it though. I don't remember the television show well enough to know if it did this, but I really liked how the action scenes were broken up by shots of Hannibal and the other three explaining the plan. This is alternately funny and action-packed, and even though things get a little too goofy at the end, the plot was pretty solid. I may have watched this twice at the motel, and I'll definitely look forward to seeing the sequel on the urine couch.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: The Dukes of Hazzard

2005 idiocy

Rating: 3/20

Plot: See a synopsis for pretty much any of the television episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard but stretched into twice the length. Boss Hogg wants Jesse Duke's farm, Daisy Duke's got long legs and a vapid expression, and Bo and Luke drive their car around really fast. Honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk-honk. (Now go back and read that again to "Wish I Was in Dixie."

The good ol' boys, according to Waylon Jennings, were never meanin' no harm, but I'm not completely convinced the makers of this film version of the television show weren't. Or were. Too many double negatives and too much time for me to spend in Hazzard County to figure out what I even typed there.

Here's the biggest issue that I have with this movie: Johnny Knoxville--a guy I like when he's lighting his balls on fire or shoving toy army soldiers into his anus; also, a guy with a charisma and natural charm and good looks that could have made him a star if he would have made better decisions--and Seann William Scott--a guy with not only too many first names but too many N's in one of them--recreate the Duke boys as really unlikable characters. The television cousins were rude but always retained some likability. You rooted for them even though they were breaking some rules because they were firmly on the good side. These Duke boys are impossible to root for. They're jerks. And really stupid. You'd expect a character played by Jessica Simpson to be stupid, but I don't remember the Duke boys being so dumb. Or maybe Bo was. I don't remember. Actually, there's not a single performance on this that I enjoyed. Jessica Simpson looks good enough. Just ask Gene Siskel's ghost's erection! Willie Nelson looks confused, almost like he's wondering how his career hit such dismal depths. Watching him on the little motel television set me made really sad. Burt Reynolds? He's obviously just showing up for the paycheck and isn't half the actor that the porcine Sorrell Booke. I mean that literally and figuratively. M.C. Gaines doesn't even attempt that "Goo-goo-goo" giggle that the great James Best's Rosco P. Coltrane had. They even found themselves a Waylon Jennings imitator. There's just no spark to these characters. They go through the motions, sort of look like the original characters, and get in the same car crashes. But they very obviously are not the same characters and this Hazzard County is not the same world that the television show created.

Or more than likely it is but desperately needed to be half the length that it was with a few commercial breaks. I need some breaks from all the car crashes. As it is, it's one of the most mind-numbing pieces of crap I've ever seen, and I really feel more dumber for spending time with it. My vote for most ridiculous moments: Anytime Bo Duke talks to his car. I half-expected there to be a Bo Duke/General Lee sex scene at some point. I would have given it a five point boost.

Sidebar: I was talking about this movie and t.v. show with a black friend of mine. My token black friend so that I can make a few racist remarks every now and then and defend myself by saying, "It's ok because I have a black friend." It's the same reason that I'm friends with a gay guy, a little person, and a Republican actually. And a mentally-challenged guy. They're my entourage. Anyway, this guy's about my age and talked about loving this show as a kid without having any idea that a racial undercurrent was there. I always wondered growing up whether this show had any black fans. My black friend (See? That almost makes me a better person just for typing that!) said he remembers a recurring black character on the original series, a guy who was always in the big city they would sometimes go to. He didn't have any lines though. I think there should have been an episode where Bo and Luke interact with some black guys. The scene would freeze as they stand face-to-face and Waylon Jennings would say, "Black guys? The Duke boys sure are in trouble now!" and then that banjo riff would play. It'd be the ultimate cliffhanger because black people are really really dangerous. And I can say that because I have a black friend.

I'd be surprised to find out that this movie had any fans, by the way.


2011 talking animal and talking Kevin James movie

Rating: 6/20

Plot: The titular zookeeper is really good at his job, but he's not so good at love. Luckily, the animals he's been so good to at the zoo are willing to help him attract the attention of his dream girl. But will he like the guy he has to become in order to make that happen?

I think movies with Kevin James in them are become exponentially painful. This one's got talking zoo animals, ones slightly less humorous than the ones in Madagascar. Nick Nolte's a gorilla, Cher's a girl lion, Sylvester Stallone's a boy lion, and Judd Apatow--a guy with nothing else to do?--is an elephant. Adam Sandler gives one of the most annoying voice performances you'll ever hear, and Don Rickles is a frog. And I know what you're thinking--man, that's quite the collection of comedic geniuses! So you'd think one of them would stop everything during the recording session and give the director a heads-up. "Hey, this isn't very funny at all. And I should know because I'm Sylvester Stallone and/or Cher!" The increasingly ubiquitous (wait a second--not sure something can be increasingly ubiquitous) Ken Jeong's in this, too. Hollywood seems to be doing it's best to find this guy things to do. Same with Kevin James. Look, it seems like he's a nice guy and all, and I don't mind nice guys doing well for themselves. But when King of Queens ended, I just didn't think he had that "it" that would make it possible for him to carry a movie. So it's no surprise that he can't. Hollywood writers just keep giving this guy different jobs (zookeeper, mall cop, mailman, butcher, baker, candlestick maker), throwing a girl (or two) into the script, and hoping a comedy erupts. There's a lot of fat-guy-running-into-things slapstick if that's your bag, but I couldn't find a single laugh in this. And when the zookeeper gets his girl (no, that's not the end; the end is more predictable than that), things get entirely too preposterous. The animal-talking effects look stupid, and there's the most egregious product placement I've ever seen. At one point, the movie's plot steps aside to make room for a T.G.I. Fridays commercial.
Watched this at school with 7th graders. They laughed a couple times, but didn't seem to like it very much either. I didn't have time to get their ratings.
Quick, readers--can you think of a memorable Kevin James moment?

Four Lions

2010 terrorist comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Four inept Jihadists in London go through terrorism training and plan for a headline-making suicide bombing.
Four Lions is the kind of movie that had to have been made on a dare.
"Hey, Chris Morris. I bet you can't make a comedy about suicide bombers."

"I could."

"Oh yeah? Well, I double-dog dare you to!"

This is darkly hilarious look at a topic that isn't really all that hilarious. And I'm sure that some folks accidentally stumbling into the theater to see this watched with mouths agape and were a little bit offended. The best kind of comedy offends sensibilities anyway, right? This movie is just stuffed with one liners and funny slapstick, and the payoff at the climax featuring the terrorists in mascot-type costumes makes me giggle just thinking about it. The dialogue's spoken with thick English thug accents and is filled with all this slang that made catching all the jokes problematic. I think that just means that I have to watch this again soon. I really liked the actors in this, especially the guy who played the leader. The lions' rapport was great, almost like they've been working on stage for years before filming like the Marx Brothers or something. I'm not sure how much of this was improvised, but it's got a little Spinal Tap feel, and although it's not quite that faux-documentary style, it's got a camera style that does make you feel like you're watching a true story unfolding naturally. Well, except it's really really silly. Funny stuff, and you should see it if you get the humor in acts of terrorism.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: Public Enemies

2009 gangsta movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: The John Dillinger story.
Did you know that John Dillinger's penis is in a jar in an Indiana museum? I remember going on a field trip with my fourth grade class (Indiana history was year) and my teacher pointed it out to us. "Look at the size of that penis!" she said. And it was impressive!

I didn't like this movie very much. Any movie that makes John Dillinger's penis seem dull is a poorly-made movie in my book. Or my blog.

To be completely fair, I had trouble staying awake during this one, and Gene Siskel's ghost kept nudging me awake and saying, "Psst! Penis!" to wake me up. Nothing I saw makes me want to stay awake if I ever get a chance to see this again though.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: The Sunset Limited

2011 conversation

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A black guy stops a white guy's suicide by train and takes him to his apartment to discuss their philosophical differences. Black (that's his name--check the credits!) is a reformed criminal with a firm belief in a higher being; White (seriously, they don't get real names!) is a nihilist who sees the world as an unhappy place that he should just escape from.

I kind of liked this, but I didn't like-like it. Samuel L. Jackson is really terrific, giving a powerful performance as White. Or maybe he was Black. I don't know; Gene Siskel's ghost and I were arguing about that. Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed, isn't bad exactly, but he's kind of overshadowed by what Jackson (or maybe Jackson's character) is doing. The conversation, a darker My Dinner with Andre-esque stream of words, is philosophically interesting, but it lacks cohesion and doesn't make me feel like I've actually gained anything by eavesdropping on the two for an hour and a half. The biggest issue is it never really feels like an actual conversation as opposed to a couple actors sitting down and exchanging scripted verbosity. Yes, that's precisely what it is, but it should still feel natural, right? The problem might be that the two actors are so recognizable. Still, this is worth watching if you've got the time. I just wouldn't recommend it in the lobby at the motel where I work at 4:00 AM when you're already depressed because somebody took your couch away.

Day of the Animals

1977 public service announcement/horror movie

Rating: 5/20

Plot: Global warming has made all the animals on some mountain insanely violent which sucks for the group of hikers who happen to be on that very mountain. Leslie Nielson takes off his shirt.

That's right. If you've ever wanted to see Leslie Nielson without his shirt on and playing a straight role, this is the film for you, my friends. This is a politically important motion picture, by the way, because it's the only source from which Al Gore and his scientist friends gathered information for An Inconvenient Truth. And it's an entertaining B-horror movie. You know this is going to be a winner from the get-go with the creepy clinky clunky music and shots of menacing animals. I knew I was about to see more stock footage of animals than I'd maybe ever seen in any other movie and apparently get a warning about ozone layer depletion at the same time. Quickly, a pattern develops in this movie: hiking footage, close-up of a wild animal, hiking footage, close-up of a wild animal, hiking footage, close-up of a few birds, and son on. Yes, it's as boring as it sounds. There's one amazing, almost avant-garde shot that has both birds and people hiking on the screen at the same time. I really liked Roger Barnes as Ranger Tucker. Barnes looked and sounded familiar, so I looked him up, probably remembering him in some deep part of my mind because he was in both Pete's Dragon and High Plains Drifter. He's the type of actor who can pull off a line like "Gimme a piece of that apple pie and dump some ice cream on it" while still managing to sound like a bad ass. He also gets to be the only human in the best scene in Day of the Animals. Actually, what am I saying? It's probably the best scene in any movie ever! "The rats have gone crazy!" Indeed, Roger Barnes. Watch that scene in Ranger Tucker's kitchen and try not to have nightmares about rats jumping on your face. Speaking of nightmares, let's get back to Leslie Nielson without a shirt on. I'm not sure if it's losing his shirt or the whole global warming thing, but something turns his character completely crazy. That's when we get to see what an actor Nielson is. Watching an angry Nielson (sans shirt) hitting foliage with a big stick, tossing middle-aged women around and calling them bitches, yelling "you little cockroach!" at pre-teens. I guess the lesson is that Leslie Nielson is more animal than human. And during a climactic scene where Nielson fights a bear? Jen actually checked to see if I was erect at that point. Nielson's character also changed the Lord's Prayer forever, for me at least. "Our father who art in heaven, you made a jackass out of me for years!" C'mon. That is awesome! Jon Cedar plays Frank, poorly. His death scene is a classic, actually containing the words "Help me! Help me! I'm dying! Aaahhh!" Other great scenes involve a guy doing a W.C. Fields impression (just what the film needed actually), some nifty bird attack special effects, and a woman falling to her death which is likely the worst blue screen effect I've ever seen and probably will win my end-of-the-year special-ed effect award. Toward the end, it nearly turns into Night of the Living Dead with dogs. Dogs and a guy who looks a lot like Elton John. And yes, that's as awesome as it sounds. The whole thing ends with [Spoiler Alert] guys in metallic suits that look like they came straight from that Residents music video. It's all highly recommended if you're into crappy movies or, as I mentioned, have always wanted to see Leslie Nielson's glorious nipples.
And to answer your question--yes, I was erect!


2011 animated bird movie

Rating: 12/20 (Abbey: 1/20; Emma 1/20; Sophie: ?/20)

Plot: Jesse Eisenbird, a librarian's pet macaw, wants desperately to get laid, so he travels to the titular city of sin to find himself a feathered whore. He meets a hot little blue number named Jewel and winds up talon-cuffed to her after a kinky sex act gone wrong. Smugglers are after them, and flightless Eisenbird has to learn to adapt to a harsh new existence in the wild while trying to find his librarian friend.

During a mating sequence, the ornithologist naturally plays Lionel Richie's "Say You, Say Me" because "Lionel Richie works every time." Love that. I also liked the colorful and musically vibrant beginning sequence that opened this movie. Rio de Janeiro provides a lively backdrop to the goings-on in this cartoon from the makers of Ice Age. As seen in Ice Age, those animators know how to create moods with setting details. This covers pretty much everything you'd expect a movie taking place in Brazil to cover--soccer, slum life, colorful parades. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time liking this movie for very long despite my love for both birds and color. I enjoyed most of the voice talent, especially Jemaine Clement and (ahem) Jesse Eisenberg, but I had a tough time connecting with the characters. Especially the human ones. I didn't like how the CGI people looked in this movie, and the human characters all looked like they were overacting. There are also a lot of songs in this, extraneous songs that do nothing more than make the movie seem way too long. The movies got some jokes that the kiddies might enjoy, and a lot of action sequences that zip by very quickly (admittedly, ones that are animated really well), but I'm not sure there's much for adults to appreciate in this one. Watch Rango instead.


1929 gangster melodrama

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Chick the gangster's released from prison and joins up with his old pals. He also starts dating the daughter of a police officer, a woman who will eventually be the titular alibi after a policeman is murdered.

Bad sound on this release didn't help matters, but it's a dated and boring gangster movie anyway. But I was definitely irritated by having to turn up the television to hear the dialogue submerged in all this scratchiness only to be startled by these jarring loud sound effects. This one goes through all the 1930's melodramatic gangster motions and has a lot of shots that are secretly becoming my favorites in old movies--the forced personal space invasion where the camera demands that characters awkwardly stand about two inches from each other during conversations. There are some nice moody sets, downright expressionistic, and a neat car-driving scene with bad special effects that somehow makes it look really cool. Policemen with percussive nightsticks though? What the hell was that all about? And boy, Regis Toomey sure is bad in this. He plays drunk very poorly, almost like he got his inspiration from watching a cartoon where a bear gets drunk or something, and he's so bad that there are scene where he's getting looks from other actors. They were clearly what-the-hell?-you're-ruining-the-whole-movie looks. Either that or I imagined those looks.

Liquid Sky

1982 low-budget sci-fi flick

Rating: 8/20

Plot: Some aliens you can't see come to earth in search of drugs, disturbing some nice lesbians in the process.

I don't like the color of the 1980s. There are a lot of cult movies that I really like, and there are some that I really hate. I failed to connect with Liquid Sky at all, saw it as a barely-moving and pretentious bunch of silliness. Cardboard cutouts of the actors in this would have probably shown more emotion although I will say this--those cats can dance! Ah! That's what this reminds me of--Breakin' as directed by Derek Jarman but with lesbians, an irritating electronic score, and a complete lack of breakdancing. This probably fair since he had nothing since he had nothing to do with any of this, but I'm going to go ahead and blame David Bowie for this one. Or my brother. It's the exact type of movie I would have tried my best to love as a teenager, but it bored me to technicolor tears as a middle-aged man.

Urine Couch AM Movie Club: All About Steve

2009 comedy

Rating: 9/20

Plot: Crossword puzzle writer Mary meets a camera man for a CNN-like news channel and becomes convinced that they are made for each other. Despite his complete lack of interest, she and her red boots follow him all over the country.

File this under Awkward instead of Funny. Now I did sort of like the parodying of network news, the representation of these news people as nothing more than vultures scrambling around and hoping for tragedy. Thomas Haden Church's character was almost funny. Geraldo also has a cameo, and that guy is always funny. It was as if the makers of this movie said, "Uh oh. This movie's goin' nowhere, guys! Somebody summon Geraldo's mustache!" Sandra Bullock won a Razzie for her performance in this and famously showed up to accept. But you know what? It's not Razzie-worthy stuff. In fact--and you can accuse me of being silly for thinking this--I didn't think she was much worse than she was in that movie about the fat kid playing football. The problem is more her character. Sure comedy seems to fit on Bullock about as well as those ridiculous boots, but the things the writers of this make her character say in the name of so-called humor makes her character not only irritating but almost impossible to care about. I want to type something about DJ Qualls here, that weird looking little guy with the nose, but I can't think of anything to say. And I'm pretty sure Bradley Cooper is in every other movie that I see these days. I'm really not sure there wasn't a good movie idea here, but with all the tornadoes, Wild West hostage situations, and other too-crazy shenanigans, this just got too goofy, and the cliched and slapped-together crossword connections grew tiresome. Yes, bonus points were awarded for Geraldo's mustache. I'd love to see a biopic about that mustache, by the way. Not Geraldo--just the 'stache. Bradley Cooper can play the mustache. Get crackin', Hollywood!


2005 Shrek rip-off

Rating: 11/20

Plot: There's a Goody Bandit on the loose somewhere in a fairy tale forest (Psst! It's more than likely Andy Dick.) and after a disturbance involving Little Red Riding, her granny, Puddy from Seinfeld, and a portly lumberjack, a police bear gets their stories and attempts to get to the bottom of things.

I swear that I saw this on a plane and sort of enjoyed it. Maybe it's just the rare movie that is better seen several thousand feet in the air. I do like the Rashomon structure as well as a few of the copious film references. More than a few of those (Matrix again?) were tired. The animation has an unfortunate ugliness with plasticky characters and a backdrop that looks like it's straight from an early 2000 video game. Additionally, the characters just don't move right, and their faces lack any personality whatsoever. The voice work, although the cast seems to be doing its very best (Andy Dick sounds like a transvestite), just doesn't work either. I don't like the movie's style, and the humor is really all over the place. It's almost like they threw in snowboarding grandmothers and every sort of quirky character they could think of in order to appeal to everybody, the throwing-darts-and-hope-some-stick strategy of comedy writing. Unfortunately, the movie just isn't very funny at all. My least favorite character was that annoying singing goat until Twitchy was introduced about ten minutes later. Add some yucky songs to, I'm guessing, pad the length so that it's movie sized. My biggest question: Would most children even be able to figure out what was going on in this movie?


2010 old man movie

Rating: 11/20

Plot: A cute French journalist nearly dies, going so far that she even sees the light, but lives to write about it. A kid deals with life after his twin brother passes away. And Matt Damon, a guy with an extraordinary talent, tries his best to live a normal life. They're paths eventually connect.

But boy, do you have to wait a long time to get there! And "there" doesn't turn out to be very revealing or insightful or moving or really anything. Eastwood channels his inner-Shamalammadingdong and winds up with something that lacks a narrative flow and, more significantly, any real emotion. There's nothing really wrong with the performances (cute Cecile De France, even-cuter Matt Damon, the McLaren twins) or the way this is shot. It just doesn't add up to anything, nothing more than a squelchy fart from Eastwood's old man bathroom. Any bonus point that a surprisingly touching Richard Kind performance might have given this was wiped out instantly by Jay Mohr's presence. I could do without that guy.


2002 superhero movie

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Young Peter Parker deals with puberty and tries, despite having a "grandmother with benefits" relationship with his grandma, to get it on with the neighbor girl. He has an affair with a spider and begins developing some superhuman abilities, like the ability to beat up Randy "the Macho Man" Savage. Meanwhile, his best friend's dad keeps turning into Metallic Elf Man and tries to kill everybody. A whole bunch of characters get the chance to say "With great power comes great responsibility." And the audience wishes they were watching the one with the tentacle guy instead.

And the Academy Award for Best Use of a Retired Wrestler in an Action Movie goes to. . .Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Actually, I'd give him best actor, best actress, best picture, whatever the guy wanted. Yes, best picture because Randy "Macho Man" Savage is Spiderman. Out of the 12 points I'm giving this movie, the late wrastler represents 11.5 of them.

Time hasn't treated Spiderman very well. The story, the Spiderman-origin story, is tired anyway, and although I liked some of the human element in the story and thought Tom Cruise made a pretty good Spiderman, I would much rather read the comic book or watch the old cartoon version of this. But those special effects! They look awful, just so cartoony, especially when Spiderman or the green guy are doing there thing in broad daylight. The darkness of the city covers up the limitations of the special effects, but Spiderman's floppiness (he suffers a bit from Superman Leg Syndrome) just looks silly when the sun's out. Speaking of Superman, this is an obvious attempt to capture some of the magic of that superhero movie, but it just doesn't work and the novelty of seeing Spiderman dicking around with his new gifts early in the film wears off about as fast as Tom Cruise's lone facial expression in this movie.

Question of the Day: Who do you think would win in a fight--Macho Man or El Santo? Wait! Don't answer that. Either way, you're going to make yourself a powerful enemy.

Urine Couch Sans Couch A.M. Movie Club: Twelve Monkeys

1995 simian treat

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Bruce Willis's head is sent back in time on a dare to see how many monkeys he can fit in his trousers. Or pants. Or whatever. Somehow, an Elvis impersonator and a pixie are involved, and some French guy gets shot at a train station. The pixie's got her hand down the front of Elvis's trousers AND pants (natch) and Brad Pitt can't stop giggling. They retire to something called a cold room. Bring on the dystopian funk!

All I know is that I show up to the hotel job and the urine couch is gone. No warning, no nothing. There are a pair of chairs in its place, but they just don't suffice because Gene likes to cuddle. The chairs just aren't the same, but I can get paid to do nothing while sitting on any piece of furniture and don't care all that much.

La Jetee's probably better although it doesn't have wacky Brad Pitt. Heady sci-fi with maestro Gilliam turning all his funhouse mirrors upside down. Bruce Willis's butt is in there somewhere, Mom, and I'm pretty sure during this stage of his career, that was in his contract. Honestly, I need to see this again again because I had trouble keeping my eyes open in the new chair. I'm having a tough time keeping my eyes open right now, too.
OK, this is now the next night. I believe I fell asleep soon after typing that sentence about not being able to keep my eyes open. It's either that or a criminal from 2030 or whenever traveled back in time and erased my post.

OK, it's the next night again. I think I might have African Sleeping Sickness. It's really getting in the way of me meeting my number one goal: meeting all of my goals.

I think I'm going to have a Terry Gilliam movie marathon some time and watch all of his movies back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, even the bad ones. I'm also going to make a spreadsheet and keep track of all of the nouns that end up in his script and see what statistical data I can come up with.

I'm really bummed about the couch. Somebody mentioned during the funeral that the guy from corporate did not approve. Good bye, couch. May you rest eternally in a urine-soaked heaven. Maybe some day I'll see you again if people and couches are allowed to interact in heaven.

Eric Clapton needs to write a song about that!