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The Expendables: Turns Out God Loves Me After All

2010/08/15

Unfreakingbelievable.  I am astounded.  Really, considering I’ve waited an entire year for The Expendables to grace my local cinema, talked endlessly about how this was going to be the greatest thing to happen this year, and even came close to watching an entire movie starring Randy Couture (I did fast-forward a lot, so I can’t totally count it.  To hell with it, yes I can), I honestly, deep-down where my silent fears lie, beneath the bravado and calm face, right between ‘waking up with a spider on my eye’ and ‘I’d probably lose if I had to fight a clown in a duel-to-the-death to save my family’ I regrettably felt there was no way this wouldn’t fail me.

God damn, it feels great to be so wrong.  Expendables is everything I hoped and dreamed for and more.  This movie is balls-out, offer-no-apologies awesome.  I had already gotten a great feeling as I stood in line for the later UltraScreen showing (because gigantic screens were not, in fact, designed for cartoon dogs coming at me in 3D, they were designed for blowing shit up awesomely.  Period.), and I watched the early show let out;  what I witnessed was a parade of men with the type of smiles on their face that normally only appear when they realize the divorce was a good idea after all, or they just ate 54 ounces of beef.  Oh, and there was one hot girl, who looked completely pissed off, and her boyfriend, who couldn’t have given a shit less.  That made for some good promise.

What this wasn’t:  CGI heavy (maybe some blood).  Plot heavy (somehow, they managed to not insert a ridiculous ‘girlfriend/ex-love’ plot point as the prime motivator).  And while I was joking with the dudes I went with walking in that I would be perfectly fine if there was no dialogue after five minutes in, I was astounded that the last half-hour barely has any at all – just some one-liners dashed in amongst an assload of explosions, fire, and broken bodies.  And I didn’t even notice that until I thought about it later.

What this definitely was:  WAY better than it should have been.  I covered in length this past week where I suspected the weak links were going to lie – and I was wrong, oh so wrong.  Stallone knew what he was doing with each guy he threw into this beautiful homage/re-boot. 

Remember how I though Couture would suck?  Didn’t.  At all.  Granted, only had about three total paragraphs of dialogue, but they were solid, and the rest of the time he’s mostly dropping piledrivers and elbows on some nameless foreign despots. 

I also worried about Dolph Lundgren – who has a tremendously bigger part than I anticipated, playing the crazy member of the mercenary group who gets exiled and joins the other side.  He is really good as well, and plays a better sublime ‘fucked-in-the-skull’ than I’d ever thought possible out of him….I almost forgive him for Masters of the Universe.  Almost.

This was, nails-on, as old-school 80’s action as I could have hoped.  With the onslaught of CGI making comic-heroes workable on-screen, I forgot that really, with all the SpiderMan and Green Lanterns now constantly in production, they supplanted these guys and this genre, when there was room for both the whole time.  These were the superhero movies of my youth, truly – guys that came off as indestructible, and followed their own rules in order for justice to be served.  Welcome back, because based on the first night’s take, there will be more of these.

I’m trying not to drop a ton of spoilers in here, since this is brand-new, but I will say these things:  Statham is badder-assed than he’s ever been, Stallone makes the perfect mentor for him….and all the rest are perfect (and somehow, Mickey Rourke in a ‘retired mercenary’ part still manages to act the shit out of some dialogue).  I also assumed that Frank Zayas would be playing the evil dictator in lieu of Powers Boothe, and I was right – but I was elated to find the dictator was under the control of Eric Roberts, whose shit-eating grin is better than ever in this ultimate-douchebag role.  It’s as if Stallone wrote it just for him.

Best scene:  three-way= tie:  There’s an unendingly awesome Terry Crews scene that I can’t begin to describe without ruining it – suffice to say that he should play the Heavy Gunner/Demolitions Man in every movie that calls for it from here on out.  Jason Statham beats up a courtful of dickheads playing pick-up basketball.  And finally, Jet Li sets a stream on fire.  Yes, I figured out later it may actually have been gasoline, but there’s so much shit going down when it happens, I forgot the set-up and assumed he set water on fire.  And I now choose to remember it that way, don’t argue with me.

Oh, but there’s also an awesome fight between Couture and Austin, and one between Li and Lundgren and one between a dock and Statham in the gunner’s chair of a plane, and also……alright, you get it.  Look, let me sum up:  there’s only four ways The Expendables could have been better:

1) If the theatre owners made a group decision to not run matinees, and instead add showings at 2 and 4 in the morning.

2) If they also refused to sell popcorn and soda, and instead only allowed the purchase of 32 oz. cups of whiskey and buckets of nails.

3) Mandatory smoking of Lucky Strikes in all theaters.

4) Kurt Russell.

6 out of 7.  No doubt.

Instant Watch reviews: ‘Nature’s Grave,’ ‘Not Forgotten,’ ‘Oxygen’

2010/08/13

Let’s start with Nature’s Grave (2008, dir. Jamie Banks), a remake of The Long Weekend (1978), an Australian horror about Mother Earth imposing some discipline on her children for leaving their toxic little socks all over the floor for far too long.  I don’t think I’ve seen the original, except I might have seen the first twenty minutes, if it involved a station wagon blowing up.   Whatever that movie was, it didn’t snag me, and plenty of people seem to find The Long Weekend to have been a riveting little gem.  In summary, I have no frame of reference.  I’m not sure why Banks ended up turning away from the title of the original.  Possibly by the request of the original film’s director or cast, if they were shown a final cut of this version starring James ‘The Weasel’ Caviezel, some non-American (psh!) actress named Claudia Karvan, and an overweight Australian Shepherd.   

I approve of the idea of the remake.  ‘Cause it’s topical, and they did well to shoot this one largely in the jaw-dropping beauty of New Zealand, thus making the point that lest we think all is lost, here’s a little portion of earthly paradise that hasn’t yet been tourist-trashed to bits.  Unfortunately, the film errs far too hard on the side of making the lead characters unlikable.  This starts with the casting of James ‘Evil’ Caviezel, who nowadays bears no resemblance to the strange and beautiful creature he was in The Thin Red Line.  The guy makes my skin crawl now, and even though he’s supposed to in this role, there’s another layer of creepiness there, because the guy portraying this hedonistic, infantile ass probably chose this role as a proselytizing, conservative ass.  If you’re going to beat me over the head with ecological morality for ninety minutes, at least use the Leonardo DiCaprio stick to do it – it’s far less confusing.   

So, here they are: the Couple Least Likely to Get a Second Invite.  He’s an enormous tool who first appears on screen in a business suit with some kind of necklace on, casually taking practice aim at his wife’s head with a spear gun as she exits their home.  In this getup, he’s leading them off on a camping trip in a Land Rover packed with what we are told is $10,000 worth of new equipment, none of which proves useful over the course of the film.  Carla (Karvan), to I guess her credit, doesn’t want to go on this trip.  She would have spent the $10,000 on a stay at a luxury hotel in Thailand.  Also, they hate each other’s guts and someone apparently told them a trip they disagree about is the perfect setting to save their marriage.  And don’t forget the spear gun!  Aaawe-soooome! (sing-song)   

Omg...he's sitting right here, isn't he. He's right behind me? Shit.

 

His sideburns are the first sign he has no respect for nature.  And there are highlights, too.  We’ll call those together, crime #1. As they drive off for the coast at night, he very nearly rear-ends a VW van with a “Magick Happens” bumper sticker.  I think endangering hippies is count 2.  After some completely unendearing dialogue, she drifts off and he somehow surreptitiously lights a cigarette.  Doing so distracts him from seeing a kangaroo crossing sign. Here we go.  Crime Against Nature # 3: he runs over a BABY ROO.  Shot of RUNOVER BABY ROO follows.  Tongue cluck! 

Sufficed to say, the violations of the natural world get continually more egregious, and old JC digs his heels in against his wife’s demands that they take nature’s hints and go to Thailand instead.  In addition to the spear gun, which neither of them ever successfully uses, unless by “use” you mean “allow to make a space in one’s chest,” he’s brought his father’s rifle along as well.  This he uses is the following manner:  he slings it over his shoulder in a most incompetent fashion, finishes off a bottle of beer, throws the bottle into the ocean, and then  

Fail.

 

shoots it in half.  Then he points it at the rocks and shoots at a few ducks.  Sorry, “little quackeroos,” he calls them, shooting and cackling.  Later, he will shoot what we come to believe was a baby sea cow, which, if so, those things are FULL of blood.  

Ultimately, nature really doesn’t do anything scary in this film.  The couple find an eagle egg, which he jokes about eating, and an eagle swoops down and attacks him, which both he and I find hilarious, nothing more.  We don’t get to see Carla’s demise, although we do find her tacked onto a tree with a spear round.  Big whoop.  That could happen in the city. As for Jesus Caviezus, on my view, he dies not for his crimes against nature, but rather for trying to hail a semi from a position directly in the semi’s path.  Sure, a bird distracts the driver who might have otherwise been able to stop, but if I were an outback trucker, I wouldn’t have so much as eased off the gas.  It’s at least rewarding that they assigned his death a sea-cow’s worth of blood.  ROO-VENGE!  

Overall:  two stars, I guess.  Whatever. 

“Not Forgotten” (2009, dir. Dror Soref)  

Simon Baker, Chloe “Hit-Girl” Moretz, and Paz Vega.  In short, although this movie is not good visually, it has something going on.  And that thing is first and foremost Simon Baker.  Where did this guy come from?  I mean, I’m familiar with his resume – he’s not normally what I would call “edgy.”  But if you want more – I mean, if, for example, you want to see The Mentalist face fuck someone with a broken beer bottle – this film is for you.  I’ll elaborate in case you’re on the post.  

 First, it has a borderland setting, which are IRL fascinating and otherworldly places on one level and yet gray and lifeless on another, the latter of which aspect is well-suited to a film of this apparent budget.   Second, it features the cult of Santa Muerte, which is fairly fresh in mainstream American horror.  Third, there are usually two ways that movies present bourgeois-white-guy(BWG)-meets-the-underworld stories:  in one, the underworld is operating within/under BWG’s world:  Rosemary’s Baby, Devil’s Advocate, etc.  In the other, BWG stumbles or strides into the underworld:  Serpent & the Rainbow, The Lost Boys, ..uh..Farscape (stretch with me a bit here – it’s more other-worldly than under, but it works.)  This is a surprising deviation from those formulas, as Simon Baker seems to be just a nice, loving middle-class husband and father in a border town setting, but as the movie progresses, he has to enter the Mexican underworld in search of his missing daughter.  The twist is that he’s not as foreign to this underworld as we first thought, and that is revealed to us a little at a time.  It doesn’t pop like The Sixth Sense at the end, but the overall pacing is enjoyable.  It doesn’t live up to the promise of its setting, cast, or narrative structure, though; it’s filmed and edited both sloppily and harshly, and the sets are neither realistic nor artistic enough to let the movie settle into its groove.  

 Two stars.  I’d say don’t bother, but then I found a lower place.  

“Oxygen” (1998, dir. Richard Shepherd)  

Adrien Brody is usually a warning sign on Instant Watch, and I don’t exactly brake for Maura “Frowns-A-Lot” Tierney, but I will pop a U-ey for Terry Kinney, which is sometimes not good for me.  I don’t think I can be bothered to give this review a full, coherent sentence.  Gross, silly, boring, made less sense than ‘The Jacket’ and was half as charming.  Remember that shot in “The Firm” where Terry Kinney is all grief-stricken and glassy-eyed, sitting on his well-manicured lawn in a chair, his legs crossed and in neatly pressed pants, letting the sprinkler just oscillate all over his feet every few seconds?  Do that, instead of watching this movie.  

 Not only am I not going to burden your to-do list with recommended viewing, but, voilà, three more weeds pulled from the Instant Watch garden!  Enjoy, my horror-watching honeybees.

Insexts

2010/08/11

WHAM!

“Honey!”
“What?”
“I left a spider for you!”
What the hell?
I come downstairs to see a single abandoned shoe in the middle of the living room. I lift the shoe to find… nothing.
“Where is it?… Where are you?”
A head pokes up from behind the couch.
A trembling hand points to the shoe that I’m now crouched over.
“It’s right there.”
Upon closer inspection, there’s a black smear on the bottom of the sneaker. It’s half the size of a grain of rice. Looks moist. Definitely organic.
“This? This thing? Seriously?”
“Yes! It’s nasty!”
I take the shoe through the kitchen, into the entryway, and reunite it with its other half on the floor by the front door.
“Did you clean it up?”
Uh… “Yes.”… sure.
She bounds into the room to give me an affectionate peck on the cheek before returning to Amish Grace.
A light bulb goes off in my head.

This isn’t uncommon. It’s downright traditional. Fish swim, birds fly and women are TERRIFIED of vermin. Where does this come from? Little girls are taught to play with dolls and be pretty, not run away screaming from roaches. It has to be instinctual, but if it is, why is it gender specific? No one likes bugs crawling around in their shit, but a man can at least murder the little bastards while keeping his composure. The key to this puzzle is in the above exchange with me and my wife. Let’s break down the sequence of events at a high level.

1)      Woman is in distress

2)      Man resolves situation

3)      Man receives physical reward from Woman

The human female’s instinctual fear of vermin is a reproductive aide! Maybe it’s a method for choosing a caring mate. That’s the theory, anyway. It will take years of experimentation to prove.

Let’s begin!

A Scientific Analysis of Killin’ Shit and Gettin’ Some

Hypothesis: Female aversion to insects and rodents is a product of sexual selection.

Testing Method: Like the world’s most maladjusted peacock, I will stomp the shit out of small animals in an effort to gain affection. Specifically, the test consists of the following steps:

1)      My assistant, Anonymous Johnson, and I take station in a public place, such as a park or Wal-Mart parking lot.

2)      As a woman passes by, I give a friendly “hello”.

a)      If the woman avoids eye contact while passing, no “hello” is given and the test is aborted.

b)      The woman must appear to be at least 18 years of age.

3)      At the same moment Anonymous Johnson, who was walking from a different direction with a shoebox in hand, accidentally drops the box at the woman’s feet. Vermin scatter from the box.

4)      I stomp the shit out of the vermin.

5)      I proposition the woman for unprotected sex.

As a control, I will also perform solo tests without the aid of Anonymous Johnson and his shoebox full of creepy crawlies.

Science in action

Results: The table below represents data taken in and around St Louis Missouri between 2007 and 2010. The result rows indicate final actions taken against me. One attempt can result in multiple actions.

Two things jump out immediately, the first being the Mouse results. This run was cut short at 27 due to the severe beatings received. The cartoon images of scared housewives standing on chairs are all lies. It appears that a conflicting stereotypical female behavior was confirmed… women love small, warm, cuddly, furry things. To press this issue further, I tacked on the ill conceived Puppy trial. It was quite conclusive.

The second point of interest is the high Lay rate of the Spiders and Scorpions. What do they have that Roaches and Ants don’t? A level of danger. Ants and Roaches are scavengers. Spiders and Scorpions are venomous predators. This is an interesting twist. Though not disproving the theory, it certainly adds another layer to it. While there’s still an obvious connection between vermin eradication and mate selection, it seems not to be arbitrary. There’s also a genuine connection to protection against potential threats.

In response to this new information, another trial was prepared to test more dangerous scenarios. The secondary theory is that the Lay rate will increase as the level of danger increases.

(Author’s Note: The remainder of this study was compiled from meathorse’s notes by Anonymous Johnson)

This secondary test was inconclusive. The Lay count stands at zero, but in both cases the subject seemed mildly aroused by the attempted defense. I recommend that retrials of this run not be performed by individuals lacking a lion taming or general animal control background. Memorial contributions may be made to Saint Louis University Hospital, 3655 Vista Avenue Saint Louis, MO 63110.

Countdown to The Expendables, Chapters 2-8: A Power Review

2010/08/11

This seemed like a great idea a couple of weeks ago, the whole ‘watch a movie starring each star of The Expendables.  That was apparently because I mistakenly hadn’t realized that – given the dearth of true powerhouse action budgets – these guys have, as of late, not really been in a lot of real action movies.  Ah well, we soldier forward….

I’m not gonna lie to you:  I’m never doing anything this time-consumingly brutal to my soul again.  At least not until Expendables 2: Reckoning of the Apocalypse starts filming, but then I’m giving myself more time.  No man should ever sit through what I’ve sat through and live to tell the tale again.  So I looked up at the calendar today, and realized I’m three days away from life changing forever for the better, so I best purge all the ugly now.  In the interest of time, and for your own sanity, allow me to break from my tradition of long-winded expositions and just cover the meat of the movies at hand.  Strap yourselves in.  AND GO!

The Dolph Lundgren selection:  Diamond Dogs (2007).  This film accomplished the teaching of one very important lesson:  Never forget that you don’t like Dolph Lundgren.  Especially not when ‘acting’, per se, if that’s what it’s even called.  I knew I’d be in some trouble when the opening scene took place at one of those popular underground Asian death-fighting tournaments.  You know, the ones that are all the rage with the kids!  Anyway, Dolph somehow was in charge of this one – I assume because he is twice the size of every other actor in the movie.  The fighting ring gets busted, and Dolph gets called before an Asian Judiciary Committee that apparently holds their big cases in a community rec room, based on the folding table Lance Ito and two other judges are at.  They fine him 22 grand for his involvement, which he obviously doesn’t have, so he’s going to go to prison until he pays it off. Which, obviously, he’ll never do, since Asian prison wages are even worse than those in the states.  Pshaw….Dolph’s screwed.

But wait!  His little death-fighting-buddy pleads with the tribunal, and attests to Dolph’s purity of humanity and goodness of heart (as if his status as ‘proprietor of an underground beating club’ didn’t make that clear enough), and the Asian judiciary heads – a group clearly known for leniency and understanding – give him two weeks of freedom to pay back the 22 large.

And so, with the pit-fighting-shop closed up, and Denny’s apparently not hiring, Dolph is left mostly to enjoy his last two weeks of freedom because he ain’t got no job.  UNTIL!  He gets a job running a mercenary/freedom mission to earn his freedom, kill a bunch of folks, and make 22 grand just like that.  So Dolph puts together a rag-tag group of poor-at-basic-emotional-expression mercenaries, and off they go.  This is pretty much where I got off the ‘paying attention’ bus; what followed was a bunch of random quest-pursuing and a bunch of killing, mostly of the English language by our boy Dolph because this had WAY too much ‘dialogue’ to be successful and he talks like he’s got a whole peanut-butter sandwich in his mouth.  At the end, he never pays his debt, but he does turn over the treasure he fought so hard for to some Buddhist monks, and then questions his life choices.  Of course he does.  I guess it was okay if you really like cut-rate versions of Delta Force and Rambo and have sustained significant brain injuries throughout your lifetime.  2 out of 7.

The ‘Jet Li’ selection:  Warlords.  YAY!  I didn’t have to watch Lethal Weapon 4, after all!  See, Netflix Instant is reliable like that:  just when you think it’s let you down for the last time, it comes through at the last-minute, showing up with a handful of daisies and making you forget every time it’s let you down over the last month.  Then you sleep with it, and it doesn’t call you for a month, but boy those daisies sure were sweet!

So I was ecstatic to avoid the LW4 debacle, especially since Li was hardly in that, and I had just watched Edge of Darkness anyway right before we all learned again that Mel Gibson really can’t handle his schnapps (for the record:  that one isn’t too bad.  Mel plays ‘violent lunatic’ really well, it must be a gift.)  Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of the Jet Li action spectaculars I was hoping for, but rather one of his historical pieces.  Those are fine and all, but I really wanted Black Mask for the purposes of this experiment.  I want senseless violence, and you hand me ‘learning’.  Crap.

Anyhow, Warlords is majestic, big-scale and affecting, and Li proves himself to be a better actor than many of the typical action crew – at least, I think so.  I can’t speak to the dialect as this was, appropriately, in Chinese with subtitles.  It a big tale about three brothers and power struggles during the Qing Dynasty, and it’s pretty damn good.  I don’t know if any of it is true, but it seemed true, and that’s good enough for me, because I don’t like to waste my time ‘checking accuracy’.   Overall Warlords feels kinda Bravehearty in scope, and while it didn’t really hit my qualifications in the ‘dumb action’ category – way too smart for that, despite it’s incorporation of some kick-ass stunt work, and magnificent group-fight scenes –  I ‘d give it a 5 out of 7 in a ‘grand foreign historical movie’ kinda way.  Probably good I watched this after Dolph’s offering, because I felt a little like just watching Diamond Dogs was in some way being blatantly offensive to the entire Asian world community.

The ‘Jason Statham’ offering:  Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  If it wasn’t for this Guy Ritchie masterpiece, I don’t know that Statham would have ever really broken through – let’s be honest:  ‘rapidly balding, middle-aged guy’ isn’t generally the top pick in the traditional Hollywood action hero model.  Thankfully, LS&2SB, is so kick-ass that it helped blow Statham into the middlesphere, and without it, the world would be 3 Transporters and 2 Cranks short.  But don’t hold that against it.

This is a fun, amped-up, fast-paced caper film about hoodlums screwing over other hoodlums, and director Ritchie has proven with this and Snatch that he’s really good at that.  Maybe a little hard to follow the first time through, dialogue-wise, as the accents are thick and authentic, but it’s worth the extra effort.  In terms of this journey, it reminded me that Statham in a not-the-main-feature role (this is truly an ensemble piece), is still nonetheless one bad-ass shiny-headed mother.  It’s highly re-watchable, and the kind of movie that you stop on at 1 in the morning and watch to the end every time.   Everyone should have already seen this, and if you haven’t, get on it.  6 out of 7.

The ‘Randy Couture’ offering:  The Scorpion King 2:  Rise of a Warrior.  Hey, you, SK2!  I’m talking to you.  You’re guilty of some bullshit.  Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT put the biggest name in your movie, even if he is a kinda-meatheady professional fighter with a rabid following, on the front cover if he’s not the hero, and only appears in about a third of the movie.  That’s lying, and lying is wrong.

On the other hand, I get it.  Maybe you tried putting Randy in the saddle, but had to bump him to ‘dickhead villain who talks less’ when you noticed he was reading everything off of notes in ballpoint (or blood) written on his wrist, but I still don’t cotton to it.  Look, I’ll be honest, I never watched any of The Mummy movies because of my deep distrust of Brendan Fraser, nor did I watch The Scorpion King 1 – even though it featured The Rock – because of its affiliation with that franchise, so maybe there some intricate back story I missed here.  Yet, I doubt that.

This one starts out with a profile of Egypt’s greatest warrior, whose prowess in the field of battle wasn’t enough to keep him from getting the worst fucking haircut this side of Moe Howard.  Now he’s older, and his kid is going to some ‘Black Scorpion’ warrior training (seemed like a football camp, except filled with skinny poor kids apparently abducted on their way to the world’s least authentic renaissance fair).  We get about six minutes of thirteen-year-olds trying to kill each other, and then Couture stops everybody ’cause there’s a girl there!  What?  There ain’t no girls allowed in Scorpion-Death-Training-Camp!  So this giant man grabs this tiny girl by the neck and appears to be fixing to physically throw her out of the coliseum, when Warrior’s Kid tells him to leave her alone.

Rationally, Coach Sargon responds by pulling out a double-sided axe to behead the kid with, when the old man shows up.  He tells Couture not to try that kinda shit on his kid, and then the Emperor shows up out of nowhere and tells Couture to sit his stilted-talking ass down, and leave that whiny kid be.  Then he turns to SuperWarriorFlowbeeCut and tells him, it’s all good, as long as the kid goes to ‘Advanced Black Scorpion Camp’ next week.  Then Couture’s eyes turn black, and he tells BestEverFighterDad that he won’t forget this. 

Then, one scene later, some black smoke comes into BowlofNoodlesHeadedWarrior’s tent and covers him with scorpions, and that’s that.  That easy?  Why didn’t anybody think of that before?  Then the kid goes to the camp, where there’s a bunch more thirteen-year-olds wrestling and fighting with swords, only this time they’re all half-shirted.  W.  T.  F.

So at this point, I watched the rest of the movie like I watch pro-wrestling: on fast forward, stopping only for moments that seem like they might be interesting, but mostly turn out not to be.  Couture becomes an evil king, which is probably the same thing that happened to The Rock, and I wait impatiently to get to the point where the still-skinny-but-now grown up Matthias kills him.  Sometimes fast-forward isn’t enough.

 This was directed by Russell Mulcahy.  YOU DIRECTED HIGHLANDER!  WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!?   In short:  Couture does not seem to be very good at acting.  And I do mean that in a ‘compared to  Jean-Claude Van Damme’ manner of speaking.  The lower-end CGI rendering of him in a couple of scenes delivers lines more naturally.  1 out of 7, and I predict Couture dies halfway through The Expendables, because they had to figure out how to get him off-screen.

The ‘Sylvester Stallone and Mickey Rourke’ offering:  Get Carter.  I know, I said I was going to watch a separate Rourke movie, but I ran out of time, and plus Rourke in this is perfect in the eyes of this quest.  If you want other Rourke, by all means watch Rumble Fish, Barfly, Angel Heart, Johnny Handsome – they’re all great arenas for Mick to work in, and it’s a nice reminder of a time when he didn’t look like his head was a bag filled with bologna that got pummelled with air-hammers for a month straight.  For now, we go with this, because it works.

Remember when I said Stallone never stopped trying?  Here you go, right from 2000.  This failed huge, because nobody was going to see standard action anymore, and that’s a shame.  I swear I watched this before, but that was likely during my days as a professional souse, so I was ecstatic to not remember much.

Stallone plays a pro-assassin whose decent-guy-with-the-wrong-crowd brother gets killed.  Back for the funeral, Sly’s Jack Carter comes back to touch base with his family and maybe repent, but then he starts trying to figure out who killed his bro.  And by ‘figuring out’, I am naturally referring to ‘beating the living shit out of some scum’.  Awesome. 

For the first half, Stallone gets his ass handed to him a lot by a bunch of future victims.  Again, perfect action movie roll-out.  Put Carter’s back against the wall.  Don’t give him an out.  Make him get back to his roots.  Piss him off. 

Rourke isn’t the biggest guy in the villain camp, but his parts are greasier and skeevier than anybody – that’s pretty much a given in mid-90s to ‘two years ago’ Rourke, but goddamn he’s fun to watch.  Plus, it’s nice to have a high-caliber guy NOT be the main baddie, because that’s somebody extra and special to get a killin’ on the way to the end (FYI: beaten to death on a dance floor.  Cool).

Look, this isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s not nearly as horrid as everyone would have you believe.  It’s standard action fare – WHAT I WANT MORE OF, in other words.  Decent soundtrack, funky editing, and a great end build-up of Sly beating the hell out of everyone until he gets to the truth (essentially, two years ago Taken just eliminated the first half.  Good call).  And (SPOILER ALERT, JERKS), when he finally gets ahold of head scum-ass Michael Caine, I never realized how much that limey had it comin’ to him.  A lot of fun – no classic, but worth a run-through – gets Carter a 4 out of 7.

The ‘Eric Roberts’ offering:  Dark Honeymoon.  I was so looking forward to this, with its cast of Roberts, Roy Scheider, Daryl Hannah and Tia Carrere.  And I was so, so terribly disappointed.  This is fucking awful.  Not even in a ‘so bad it’s fun’ way – it blows way past that mark.  First off, the whole point of this was Roberts, right?

Five minutes.  Maybe.  That’s it.  Playing a character I have to assume was called ‘Douchebag Yuppie with Bluetooth Headset’.  He enters a coffee shop, is a total dick to everybody, then goes to the bathroom.  Later on, we find out he was murdered in the can.  Though I will say, his five minutes were PHENOMENAL.  The man makes gold out of dirt.

The movie itself is about a young newly married couple, who apparently don’t know each other.  Strike that.  It’s about a forty-year-old woman playing a twenty-year old, acting next to an actual twenty-year-old.  As soon as they head out on the honeymoon, she apparently reveals that she’s crazy-weird-religious, which had apparently never come up before, but at the same time filthy-dirty in the sack, while still talking about Jesus.  And also, she kills everyone they meet who like to get it on without being married. Lindy Booth, the actress playing her, is never going to be classified as ‘too subtle’, that’s the nicest way I can put that.  I can’t begin to express how this totally fails on every imaginable level – acting, scripting, directing….god, it’s purely abysmal.

Roy Scheider is an innkeeper, but seems to be playing every scene as if he thinks Ashton Kutcher is going to leap out and tell him he’s been punk’d.  Tia Carrere has seemingly made some seriously bad cheekbone-implant decisions, and I never got to Daryl Hannah.  I can’t express enough how much Dark Honeymoon sucks, other than to give it the deserved Zero out of 7.  Except for Roberts, he gets a 9.

Addendum:  I looked it up on IMDB.  Roberts character is named ‘L.A. Guy’.  That’s wonderful.

Finally……..

The ‘Terry Crews’ offering:  How To Rob a Bank.  This is why Netflix Instant is awesome.  As much as I love railing on end on all the horrendous mistakes available out here, the truth is, when you find something totally magnificent there is no greater feeling.  Such is my feeling on How To Rob a Bank.

The late Nick Stahl stars as Jinx, a fast-talking slacko who, in his attempt to complain about ATM service fees, ends up locked in a bank vault with a teller/robbery accomplice, whilst the robbers (led by Bush’s Gavin Rossdale – who’s surprisingly engaging) are locked outside. Meanwhile, the police negotiator played by Crews is outside attempting to gain control of the situation.  In addition, there is a ‘criminal mastermind’ working on the outside who comes into play as well.  What ensues is a variation on the traditional bank-heist film that is super-entertaining.

Crews is really great; he plays the negotiator like a blend of Denzel Washington and Reginald VelJohnson from the Die Hards.  I know that sounds weird, but it’s really fun.  The movie is fast-paced with rapid dialogue and referencing – it’s almost like Lock, Stock but without the British accents.  The majority of the interaction comes in the form of cell phone conversations between all the primaries, and while I thought that might get old, it never does.  From start to finish, How To Rob a Bank is original enough, and thoroughly exhilarating, and it might be the best find I’ve come across on Netflix Instant to date.  The moment it ended, I was immediately pondering watching it over again, and that rarely happens anymore.  I give this one a 6 out of 7, with the distinct chance I may go even higher upon re-watch.

So what did I learn?  I like Stallone.  I like Rourke, Crews, Roberts, Statham and Li.  I dislike Lundgren, and don’t see anything in Couture.  And mostly, I want Austin to get a better shot.  So all in all, these pieces add up well, and I’m more convinced than ever that The Expendables is going to be tremendous.  But what do I know?  I watch a lot of ugly.

Sucker-Punch: A Punk Rock Romance

2010/08/08

From the initial reactionary explosion, when Punk-Rock first kicked in the teeth of Rock-and-Roll, to the sagging, limp-wrist-ed slap of the present, the, (ever-expanding,) genre has ivy’ed up the walls of society; not so much dominating, and rarely threatening really, but constant. Like a stain, that refuses to yield, Punk-rock’s symbiotic tether to the dregs of man remains, firm and unyielding, a cow’s tail swat at flies. Like a mushroom cloud harvesting inmates, Punk has enveloped a myriad of previously regurgitated sub-genres, adopting humanity’s sonic bastards and eventually broken down the walls toward success. We have airplay, and album sales! (middle-finger thrust, 360 degree rotation).

Although my interest is slight, outside of my daughter’s pique, I have picked up both Singstar for the PS3 and Lips for the Xbox360, and low-and-behold, (and minor inclusion, [obviously],) we have Punk! Videogames, people. Google-it, Wikipedia, whatever your flavor, (and see MeatHorse, should you need sugar.); we are a fungus. Punk rock will seep into your walls. Granted, the lines of acceptable appearance, demeanor and taste have blurred tremendously through the ages. And although I grudgingly accept the adoption of some of the lesser-than-punk elements which have invaded our bubble, I cannot complain about the inherent expansion of access which these elements have afforded.

Punk tends to straddle the fence between Vanilla and Chocolate. One side, a beacon of information; presenting facts, (but rarely solutions). The other takes itself less seriously, widely diverging between the socially conscious and the absurd. I could easily stand up and represent the sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres, but that’s silly. Were only interested in the umbrella of Hardcore, and what ever falls below it. Anywho,  both have their cherries on top, so let’s excite the argument between this bifurcation.

With the abundance of historical stupidity available to pull from, and the obedient blindness of the general public, this first school of Punk Rock began a period of Enlightenment. It was the news, uncensored, yet full of opinions. The music may not be able to change the world in scope, but it’s splash damage will always take out a few undesirables. We are aware. Unfortunately, the more you know, the more miserable you become. To this end, much of today’s punk offerings have circumvented the confrontational ideal of exposure. In that same light however, some of the current popularity which still embraces the journalistic endeavors, like Rise Against, or veteran’s Bad Religion or, in recent years,  NOFX for instance have the support, but not enough reception. Sad really. To belch off a few faves from this pool, I must include: Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, D.O.A., the Instigators, Killing Joke, Napalm Death, Pailhead, Propaghandi, Sick of it All, the Subhumans, Sham 69 and necessarily Cryptic Slaughter.

Leaning the other way, another drop down menu of styles becomes available. From legendary Horrorcore the Misfits, to straight edge favorites Minor Threat and 7 Seconds, everything not explicitly anti-establishment becomes clear. This is were popularity really started to congeal. Bands like the Offspring, who are rarely given the credit they deserve, are very socially aware, and transpose this into their own vernacular. Less famous to some, infamous to others, groups like Gang Green and Murphy’s Law throw most things serious out the window, and concentrate on the fun of it all.  Representing in this corner of my collection, beacons include: the Anti Nowhere League, Beyond Possession, Black Flag, the Briggs, the Damned,  Devoid of Faith, Discharge,  Gauze, Husker Du, Lost Cause, Mary Tyler Morphine, The Meatmen,  Plasmatics, Poison Idea, PiL, Wehrmacht,  Stiff Little Fingers, Suicidal Tendencies, and pioneers, The Ramones.

That we have infiltrated the masses is a tarnish in its own right. What was once the righteous, clenched fist of those who refused to conform to the society of cattle we live in is now a halfway house for anything remotely left of the norm. Experimentation in music is generally applauded, but that doesn’t mean that it should be published, (even self-published,) and thrust into the hands of tweeners. Go ahead and throw an MP3 on your blog, but don’t force me to listen to your looping stream. Punk may have stopped taking itself so seriously, and therefore lost some self respect. I suppose that is to be expected. When that umbrella covers a genre with soo many splinters, you’re going to get a sliver or 2.

Alas, these warts cannot fully engulf the body. We maintain an excellent collection of bands both underground, and sub-cultural, and the majority of the scene still gets it. I would love to let my dump truck loose, and spill out an avalanche of representation, but I know that I will undoubtedly miss so very many crucial elements. I will of course mention several gems, and throw in an album cover or 2, just to keep you reading.

Growing up in Chicago made my initiation rather simple. The 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s proffered some of the best the genre as a whole could muster. I could wax lyrical for hours, but don’t wish to bore. Here are my local faves through the years: Articles of Faith, Bhopal Stiffs, the Copyrights, Decrepit Uth, the Effigies, Generation Waste, Impulse Manslaughter, the Lawrence Arms, Life Sentence, Lost Cause, Out of Order the Methadones, Naked Raygun, The Riverdales, Screeching Weasel, Sharon Tate’s Baby, Sludgeworth and Tricky Dick, although I likely missed many many others, like some of my own bands. But that’s OK. So many nights to remember, at The Iron Rail, Medusa’s, Oak  Theatre, Circuits, Club 950 , Batteries Not Included, Empty Bottle, Dreamers, the Whale, EXIT, Fireside Bowl, Fotch’s, Congress Theatre, Space Place, etc. etc. etc.

Current addictions vacillate between the revolving-door, brutish amalgam that is Bullet Treatment, the brutal brilliance of the Bronx, whom epitomize current Punk Rock, and maintain the greatest throat in the biz. Their latest effort was more of a crossover really, (not including Mariachi El Bronx), successfully, and intelligently lapping up copious amounts of Lemmy Metal, (Hey, I can throw up the horns as well,) but we’ll say the split was 60-40 in favor of the primary flavor. I’m also rarely without the subtly silky psycho-billy sounds of Nick 13 and Tiger Army. Although they  haven’t released anything new for quite some time, there’s something about the inherent stoccatto of a stand-up bass, heavy, limping rhythm, and a seriously Morrisey influenced set of pipes, which keeps them in my Zune permanently. Like the politics of old here though, my tastes change frequently. Tomorrow, I’ll hit up some classics. I’ll rip through The Misfits, and Minor Threat, get down and dirty with the Damned, and drone along with Naked Raygun.

I cannot conclude this critique with a score per se. There is good. There is bad. And there is terrible, not worth mentioning. This uniquely evolving style of music has resonated with me like no other. There are subsequent genres which I appreciate, like Classical, but nothing which can sonically, and emotionally envelop me. It is both an inspiration, a passion and a reflection of who I am. It is a movement, a culture and a response to the stupidity of mankind. It’s anger, frustration, grief, and disappointment; a napalm shower of energy and information. It’s me. However, it’s also subjective. You could easily gather momentum and attempt to sway me with some argument to the pros of Rap or Country. Of course, I’d tell you where to stick it, and move on. You can have your opinion, and I can call you a liar. I just did. :p

If you stayed with me, sorry for the long read. I had to cram over 30 years onto this page. I know, no excuses!

Coffee and Correctol–The Devil’s Cocktail

2010/08/08

Gentle Reader:

Have you ever shit yourself dizzy?  Well  until today I hadn’t either,  but all that has changed now.  I’ve been on a low-carb diet for about three months now, and have had pretty decent results as far as weight loss goes.  There is a downside, however, that I can express in the form of a joke: 

Q: What does the Atkin’s Diet have in common with a really bad bar?

A: No beer and hard stools.

After three hours of straining to produce nothing but marble sized ass-cacti, I decided that a gentle women’s laxative was in order.  The dosage is between one and three tablets for ages 6 and older.  I’m not a pansy so I figured I would need more than one, but I’m not a zealot either so I decided to start with two and if I needed more I would take it. 

After a few hours with no results, my husband, Alfred Einstein, (shout out to the Farrelly Brothers) suggested a large cup of strong coffee.  I took his advice despite the numerous volcanoes he has constructed for the school at which he teaches’ science fairs.  Let’s just say I have Mount Krakatoa… in my pants.  I did, however, manage to shed my pants before it erupted.  Thank you Baby Jesus.

After the violent outburst of three days worth of meat, cheese, and eggs (I know you’re supposed to eat salad so fuck you.  I’m sick of salad and I’m out of lettuce.  I do eat a lot of broccoli so suck it.  I swear if one diet know it all comments on this blog telling me to eat a salad, I’ll kill a puppy.  Don’t test me.  I’m fucked up like that.) I was literally dizzy which brings me to my first product endorsement:

  Lysol Neutra Air

I have a small bathroom and I literally staggered out of it.  It may have been from an electroyte imbalance caused by dehydration, but I think this stuff may have had something to do with it, therefore, I give Lysol Neutra Air an “A” for huffability.

I also want to endorse Correctol

If I had read the package before I took the advice of my husband, the amateur proctologist, I would’ve seen that Correctol provides “gentle overnight relief.”  Had I not been in a blind panic caused by three days of less than adequate peristalsis I would have never added the catalyst that caused the explosion.  I’m sorry I doubted you, Correctol.

 I do have to give some props to McDonald’s McCafe.

I don’t normally drink caffeinated coffee as I would rather take my caffeine in pill form because I feel it gives me more control over how much I am getting.  I was pleasantly surprised by the rich, robust flavor that McDonald’s coffee now has, unlike the shit they used to serve.  I usually drink a decaffeinated dark roast that has a stronger taste than the McCafe, but it really wasn’t bad.  It would’ve been nice if it hadn’t caused flames to shoot out of my ass though. 

FightingFit1.jpgFreddie Roach’s Fighting Fit

This is how I usually get my caffeine.   I like it because it makes me super hyper and I can clean my whole house in 45 minutes and still want to beat up Mexican people just like my favorite boxer, Manny “Pacman” “The Mexicutioner” Pacquiao. 

I guess the moral of the story is the same as what my father told my husband when he asked if he could marry me, which is to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  (True story.  Fuck you, Dad.) 

So this brings me to my final product endorsement of the evening:

  Generic Anti-Diarrheal.

You know how on Elvis’ birthday they always play those documentaries and people always talk about how Elvis took amphetamines to wake up and narcotics to go to sleep?  If my intestines were Elvis, Generic Anti-Diarrheal would be its narcotic.  T-minus six hours and counting since my last episode.  Thank you Generic Anti-Diarrheal.  And to my colon, a goodnight.

The Real World 2010–Ryan Sucks

2010/08/07

Welcome to MTV’s the Real World 2010.  For the one person left who has yet to watch a season or even an episode of this douchbag-whore-o-rama, let me explain.  The producers or casting directors or whomever it is that has the hateful task of casting this show, sift through hours and hours of audition videos in order to find the eight people who will occupy a really cool house with awesome stuff, and agree that in exchange they will allow themselves to be taped at all times.  Pretty basic reality format, and as far as I know, this is the first show to do this.

So fast-forward to 2010-season whatever.  I know this is the second time that the Real World has been in New Orleans because I remember the last time.  I don’t really remember anything they did, but I remember that the person I wanted to punch in the face was this Asian or Pacific Islander broad with really big lips.

I think I’ve seen about four episodes of this season and I feel like I can give a worthy critique that will allow you, Dear Reader, to decide whether you want to waste your time on this bullshit.  Before I begin I want to apologize to Matt, the ringleader of this literary dung-pile we call “Opinionated Misfits” for not posting any pictures.  Sorry A-hole, I have a life.  I don’t have countless hours to sift through the internet looking for pictures of the cast of this show.  I will, however, invite you to post as many pictures as you want on this and any of my posts.  (Since the first publishing, Matt has sent me pictures to post.  Thank you for catering to my laziness, Captain Awesome.) I will also direct those of you who give a shit to go to MTV.com and look for yourself.  If you’re reading this, I’m sure you don’t have anything better to do.

Going Left to Right

Back Row: Ryan the Fuckhead, Eric, and Preston
Second Row: Sahar, Ashlee, and Jemmye

Seated: McKenzie and Knight.

So, let’s begin:

Who invited the smart girl?  Ashlee is very pretty and very smart (for someone stupid enough to go on The Real World).  She’s also very boring.  Rather than getting liquored up an screwing strangers, she hangs around with Preston, this season’s token homosexual, and together they spend their days and nights attempting to get street interviews for a local radio station.  Unfortunately they always fuck up.  First they lose everything they’ve recorded, then the next night they lose the recorder altogether.  Luckily it’s New Orleans and the radio station guy is used to fuck ups.

Token Queer- Preston is this season’s token gay, and although he spends a great deal of time with boring Ashlee, he still finds time to get liquored up and fuck anyone who’ll have him.  He also finds time to tease and upset Ryan who you will find out more about later. 

Eric and Sahar– These two are pretty much non-entities thus far.  Neither one seems to have much of a personality or alcoholic tendencies so I don’t pay much attention to them.  I’m sure they’ll be fucking each other by the end of the season.

Person I want to screw– McKenzie   Yes, I’m a heterosexual girl, and so is McKenzie, but seeing as there are no fuckable guys this season I am going to have to go with Kenzie as the winner of the “Person I Want to Screw” prize.  Of course considering the fact that neither one of us has a penis, I should probably change it to the “Person I Want to Bump Donuts With” prize.  I’m not saying that this girl is worth jumping the fence for, I’m just saying that I want to fuck her in an “If I WERE gay” way (Are you paying attention to this Zooey Deschannel?).

McKenzie is an angelic-looking Florida beach bunny who blacks out from two beers.  This, of course, makes her an easy target for date rapists.  Everyone is already sick of babysitting her.  It’s always awesome when you live in a house full of binge drinkers and you’re known as the drunk girl.  Congratulations McKenzie!

Jemmye and Knight-  This pair of young lovers is what reality TV is all about.  I feel a strong connection to these two crazy kids because I’ve lived in Jemmye’s hometown of Starkville, Mississippi, and I currently live near Knight’s (real name is Ryan Knight, not to be confused with Ryan who sucks) home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin.  I like to think that this makes me know where these kids are coming from.

Jemmye and Knight are awesome.  Jemmye is typical southern white trash, but with surprisingly liberal views on gay marriage and the legalization of weed.  Knight is textbook midwestern podunk (All dick; no brains. Yippie!)  When North meets South, hilarity ensues. 

Jemmye still had her “white guy V-card” when she met Knight.  Knight, in true Wisconsin fashion, posted something that looked similar to a football pool on his bedroom wall and sold squares showing when he might be Jemmye’s first white guy.  These fabulous dipshits were screwing on camera by the second episode!  I love them.

And Finally… The Guy I Want to Punch in the Face  –Ryan is a total fuckhead.  I originally thought he might be the guy I want to screw, but he blew that by the end of episode one.  Ryan refused to room with Knight because he thought Knight looked like a dirty meat-head.  As it turns out, Ryan is a slob who refuses to do any chores, and he’s also a bigoted, homophobic cock-nozzle.  I hate this guy. 

Preston, bless his heart, takes every chance he gets to egg this little pussy on.  It’s not difficult because Ryan throws a temper tantrum about every five minutes.  The best thing that has happened this season was when Ryan pissed Preston off and Preston pissed on Ryan’s toothbrush.  Ryan’s next move was to call the police to have Preston arrested.  This was a total bitch move, especially considering the fact that Ryan stuck Preston’s cigarettes in the crack of his ass.

Ryan and Preston After Mardi Gras

As the season progresses it’s becoming obvious that Ryan is batshit crazy.  I loves the crazy, but this fucker has a mean streak and he needs to be stopped.  After he and Preston seemingly buried the hatchet following the piss incident, Ryan called his brother and bragged that he threw Preston’s debit card out the window and ruined his favorite hat.  What a dick. 

Ryan also originally had the hots for my pretend girlfriend McKenzie.  On the first night they all went out together, McKenzie had the nerve to speak to a guy in a bar which threw Ryan into one of his now famous tantrums.  He, of course, had no problem fucking McKenzie’s best friend who had come for a visit on the following episode.   I hate you Ryan.  I hate your stupid haircut and you suck at skateboarding. 

Did I mention that Ryan is a born-again virgin who wears a purity ring?  He’s also a hairdresser with a Joe Jonas haircut and has the nerve to get pissed when people assume he’s gay.  I guess he can’t be a virgin anymore since he boned McKenzie’s friend.  I, however, am now aware that I am the holder of many V-cards thanks to my friend Jemmye.  I was always under the impression that one only had one virginity, but according to Jemmye a person has a virginity for each race.  I have only had sex with whites with the exception of one Filipino.  I am also wondering if I am considered a midget virgin, an amputee virgin, or a toupee virgin. 

 Looks like I have a lot of fucking to do so let’s get to the rating.  I’m going to go ahead and give this season a 3 (Good).  Although half of the cast sucks, the other half more than make up for it.  Knight, Jemmye, Preston and Ryan are the whole show, and the possibility that there may be an episode where Ryan’s mouth causes him to get the shit knocked out of him is enough to keep me watching.  Enjoy!