12 days of movies

A Christmas Quest To See All The Movies

Month: December, 2013

The 12 Days of Movies Awards – A Journey into a Highly Scientific Method for Determining Filmographic Merit

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For those of you who are unaware, I spent my last 12 days trying to see every movie in theaters, and then I wrote a little blog post about each film that I saw. If you scroll down, yeah, right down there, you can read all of these things that I wrote. Some of these posts are similar to real movie reviews, some of them are more like vomiting on my keyboard, some of them I was just trying to be funny. I’m not sure really why I did any of it. But one thing I do know is that on day 7, I committed to giving out awards when I finished.

So yes, now comes the promised ®12 Days of Movies Awards, the world’s only movie spree awards given on a Friday in December, making it, among other things, very, very important. Pay attention my Sony Pictures Ltd’s and Focus Featureses. This could potentially affect your annual reports and year end balance sheets in epic and unpredictable ways. As this blog regularly commands a readership of up to 23.5 unique visitors on a near-daily basis, the honors and rebukes given out today could have dire consequences for some of the world’s richest and most influential film studio executives.

These are dark and foreboding times in Hollywood, where record high December temperatures and a ramping up of the Santa Ana winds are keeping our movie-industry friends sweaty and on the edge of their California King beds, their shutters rippling and releasing freaky sounds throughout their ugly architectural pastiche mansions. Steven Spielberg is frantically clicking refresh on this very webpage at this very moment, praying to whoever his freaky Hollywood Deity is that he is spared our wrath.

Stevey, baby. You don’t have to worry. I didn’t watch any of your movies in the last 12 days. You can relax.

Did I ask for this power? Yes. I begged for it. And it was given to me, I think. Now that I have it, I have my regrets, I’ll admit it. I don’t want to piss on anybody’s hard work, I know how much effort goes into making even the worst of movies. I worked as a lowly assistant in the production office of probably one of the worst movies ever made (I don’t know for sure because it hasn’t been released anywhere yet, but I’d say that itself is not a very good sign), so I know that even making a terrible, giant piece of worthless shit takes a lot of long nights and brutal days.

But you know what, here at the ™12 Days of Movies Awards, our crack staff (which consists of me and this huge ass pot of coffee) don’t give out awards for effort! We’re not your mom saying “wow, what a good job honey,” when we find one of your turds on the carpet! We don’t care about your self-esteems or your ability to not off yourselves before New Years, that’s your therapist’s job, and honestly, I hope you have good ones because hheeeeerree weee goooo!!

Most Medically Accurate Depiction of Alcoholism
Saving Mr. Banks

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Listen darling, you should probably move because I’m about to jettison blood out of my face and onto yours. Sorry, I’ve been drinking.

In Saving Mr. Banks, Colin Farrell plays P.L. Travers’ Dad in some flashbacks from her childhood that take place Australia. Farrell, the actor, is Irish, but he speaks with an English accent in the film while the rest of his family sounds extremely Australian. I don’t know what’s going on with that, it’s never explained.

But the reason this movie is winning this award is the extremely scientific way that that effects of abject alcoholism are portrayed in the film. Farrell’s character is a bit of an escapist, and like the Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins, works as a bank manager. So, that’s like, a real-ass job, and he decides to just drink a little whiskey all the time to deal with this. But then that little bit of whiskey turns into a lot of whiskey, and, anyone who has a cursory knowledge of modern medicine can attest, this results in projectile vomiting blood into handkerchiefs. And then, being forced to bed rest and home-confinement due to the blood persistently leaking from his face, he is forced to give up the drink. And then, as all alcoholics do when their superman-juice is taken away, he fucking dies.

Hats off, Saving Mr. Banks. It takes a lot of guts to portray stark, medical reality like that.

Best Wizard
Dumbledore – The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

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Best Actor (Female)
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

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Listen, I do feel kind of queasy about the institution of giving out a separate best Actor and best Actress award, because it implies that they are different classes of performances. They aren’t. But if I have two, I can mention more people and give out more awards, thus severely and deeply impacting the careers of more people. Which is all I want, really, to utilize my unquestionable and immeasurable power before it all dries up.

In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett is excellent. From the monied way she speaks to her unraveling through alcohol and pills, it’s all very convincing and well done. But the most impressive part of her performance is the wide variety of faces she is able to make. In the picture above, you can see her “insane and racked with deep emotional pain and confusion” face.

The “Most Aware She’s in a Dumb Movie and Giving an Appropriate Amount of Effort” Award
Natalie Portman – Thor: The Dark World

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“Haha, yeah, this movie is fucking stupid.” – Natalie Portman

Best Actor (Male)
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

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It’s not OK to use black people as furniture

Best Animal
Doby the Shark – Anchorman 2

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Doby comes in and totally outshines his furry costar, Baxter, in Anchorman 2. His riveting performance leaves little doubt that he will soon be given the lead role in the probably-coming Jaws reboot.

Best Tit
Olaf the Snowman – Frozen

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Olaf beats out Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle and all the girls from the Wolf of Wall Street mainly due to his sheer volume of nudity. The (snow)man literally never puts on clothes the entire film, and his three, vertically arranged tits are a fascinating addition to an otherwise kid-friendly Disney product.

Worst Attempt at a Regional Accent
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

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“Yeayuss, I won sompthin’!” – J-Law celebrating her victory, still in character for whatever reason.

Worst Driver
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

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In The Wolf of Wall Street, Leo’s character Jordan Belfort manages to total a Ferrari while wrecked on Quaaludes, whip through traffic while getting a blowjob, crash a mercedes while high on cocaine with his daughter in the car, horribly and precariously (while high, again) crash land a helicopter in his freshly sodded yard, and convince his yacht captain to drive through a horrible storm, leading to the ultimate sinking of the ship off Italian waters. Do not let this guy drive anything. 

Best Cinematography
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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See? Look how cool this shit is.

Best Director
Steve McQueen – 12 Years A Slave

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Best Film
Dallas Buyers Club

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I realize that “Best Director” and “Best Film” are kiiindd of the same award, really. What does a director do? Make a film. What is a film made by? A director. It’s an infinite loop of ridiculous logic, but I felt like these two movies needed to win these two awards. They were my favorites of the bunch.

I decided to divvy up the awards with Best Director going to 12 Years a Slave because I feel like his visual and stylistic Direction is really the most outstanding part of the film, whereas with Dallas Buyers Club those elements aren’t really as obvious, but the movie itself is still excellent.

That’s it for the awards, folks!

I would like to thank all 23.5 of my readers and I hope you all have a happy 2014.

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DAY 12 – The Wolf of Wall Street

“I am actor look at me act so hard wow”

Oh, my confoundedly oblong albondigas grandes! Sweet Jennifer Lawrence’s buttered cheeks and squinty eye holes! It’s finally over! The 12 days are finally over!

It’s going to be a long, long time until I watch another movie, or eat another Rolo. All these fucking actors and their fucking faces. All their screaming and spittle-run cheeks and fucking millions of dollars worth of emoting, all this bullshit story telling, none of it intellectually stimulating or worth anyone’s time. Why are we supporting this industry, America? Why?! Why are you all trying to hurt me?!!?

Oh wait, I forgot. This is the last day. Pardon me. Ahem. I’m okay, dear readers, nothing to see here.

Okay, so The Wolf of Wall Street. Cool. Yeah. A movie. Cool. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, alright. Neat. Neato.

In the first five or so minutes of the movie, Leo snorts coke off a stripper’s butthole, which is, you know, something I had always hoped to see. And there he was doing it. Right in front of me, and God, and everybody, and somewhere in that room where that scene was being filmed was 71 year old director Martin Scorsese, yelling at Leo to make more noises while he buried his nose in this actress’s ass, and really, It’s all just great. So great. All I had hoped for, really.

So then the film takes us back in time with a surprisingly non-intrusive voice-over and Leo is working for (a still a little weird looking, from Dallas Buyers Club) Matthew McConaughey (which, thanks to this blog, is a name I can now spell perfectly), who is your classic douchebag rich stock broker guy. We all hate rich people, right?

Anyway, so McConaughey teaches DiCaprio to do drugs and jerk off a lot, so really McConaughey is like DiCaprio’s slick older brother. But then, Black Monday happens and the firm goes under, so DiCaprio is back being a poor schmuck with nothing going for him. That is, until he learns about selling Penny Stocks from some dudes in Long Island. Then he runs with his as far as it will go, picking up an always-happy-to-co-star-in-an-adaptation-of-something Jonah Hill, whose character is unabashedly married to his first cousin.

Anyway, they build a big boiler room brokerage and make tons of money illegally, until it all comes crashing down when the FBI gets involved. In that way, this movie was a lot like my time in High School.

Along the way we get some real good laughs. Like, hearty, deep-down laughs, you know? And there’s a lot of naked people (which is nothing like my time in high school). Which is okay by me. It turns out most people are naked at some points in their lives, why not have some of those times be on camera for my entertainment?

I feel like this movie was just a big, multi-million dollar project to let Leo really act his ass off. You can tell that many of the scenes just consisted of getting Leo in front of a bunch of extras and letting him go to town. Or saying, “OK Leo baby, in this scene you’re really high on Qualuudes, win us some fucking oscars!” and then Leo like rolls around on the ground and moans and then there’s the aforementioned spittle. I mean, the end result was pretty good. It could have been a lot worse.

The movie, however, was three hours long. Three hours. So many things happened, and Leo did so many actings, that I can’t remember them all. And, according to reports, the movie was cut down from like four hours or something. Four hours?! How long did it take to shoot this, nine months? Nine months of Leo spitting on stuff/people? Was Peter Jackson involved? I’m confused. Where was Dumbledore?

Anyway, my advice to all of you is go read a fucking book, for chrissakes. Or take up knitting. Or see this movie if you really have nothing else going on. It’s pretty good, but how good is a pretty good movie if you have to watch twelve of these goddamn things in a row?

Answer: IT’S OVER OMG YES

Notes

1) No

2) So glad this is over. It felt like a full-time job. Except, I didn’t get paid and no one gave a shit.

3) Tune in tomorrow for some very bitter awards that I will be giving out.

DAY 11 – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Step one: Listen to this song.

Step two: Imagine that you are me (I know, unpleasant, huh?) and you are lugging your substantial self to the Oxnard Plaza Cinemas 14 every  day to see a movie, and that before every one of these movies, you see the same two commercials. This one (featuring the song above) and an alternate cut of this St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital spot where Robin Williams says “he should be fighting video villains, not cancer cells,” and then it shows some kid with cancer, and then some more celebrities that I don’t know say “give thanks” in at least two languages.

Now, which of those two commercials do you think drove me to the brink of suicide on a daily basis? Which one of these two commercials featuring a hispanic actress whose name is not important (or, knowable) saying “Da las gracias” caused me to literally plug my ears with my fingers a couple times and try to think pleasant thoughts over the rising dread in my soul?

Ok, I feel bad for those kids, but that infernal music (same as in the link I provided above, should you dare to click it)The goddamn infuriating  rhythm of those corny, canned lines. What kind of organization that claims to do good for people could create such a horrifying, grating piece of shit commercial? Every day it was a struggle, a fucking guantlet of loathing just to get through that thing.

But you know what? Every time it played, that Secret Life of Walter Mitty MovieTickets.com commercial came on afterwards, with that cool, fake Arcade Fire uplifting music, and it kind of made it okay. It took the queasiness out of me, eased me into a less horrified and disgusted state of mind, prepping me for the forthcoming film. So, for that reason, I felt like Secret Life and I had a little something, even before I saw the movie. I felt we would get along just fine.

And we did.

The movie, I think, is comprised of really thoughtfully composed images that were specifically made with the big-screen in mind. Huge, wide open expanses fill the screen (think the train shot from Dr. Zhivago). Walter does a lot of traveling in this movie, across the world and across the screen. You don’t need to get close up on an actors face when the screen is 20 feet wide (how television is shot), you can, as director Ben Stiller understands, put your subject (even if its yourself) a mile away and have him occupy just a fraction of the composition.

Have a bunch of shots like this (which are beautiful) and play some mid-2000’s indie rock over it (like, The Arcade Fire song “Wake Up,” which sounds an awful lot like that song from the trailer above) and you pretty much have yourself The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s fun to watch.

The movie, however, made me feel uneasy for about half of the second act. I wasn’t sure if Walter’s international adventures were real or part of his inner “secret life.” For awhile I felt sure that the entire action of the movie was taking place in his head. I was eventually proven wrong, but still, the fantastical montage that opens his first flight to Greenland left a lot of room for doubt, which I filled up unhesitatingly (with…doubt. I can’t write anymore).

I liked this movie. It was nice. A nice movie is not so unwelcome when you’re seeing all the movies, trust me. It doesn’t boast any overwhelming intellectual depth or stunning emotional truth, but it’s nice to have flash before your eyes on a Christmas Day, and that’s good enough. Ben Stiller has a good, freewheeling grasp on the crafts of filmmaking and comedy, and his direction is grand, epic even, in scale.

Notes

1) I ate a lot of turkey today. And two pieces of pie. And three pieces of fudge. And two rolos. That’s not so bad, right? I feel weird. Someone hold me.

DAY 10 – Blue Jasmine

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“So stop worrying, and let me have you sign a bunch of incriminating documents making it lucky for you to even walk away penniless like you ultimately will.” – Alec Baldwin

 

How the hell can Woody Allen make a new movie every single year? Not just make, but write and direct. I can’t even walk into a gym on an annual basis. I don’t think I even lifted a single weight last year. I wrote a screenplay once. It was horrible. And that was 4 years ago. Oh, and I tried to direct a short film one time too. It was too much work, so I gave up. 

It was a short film. 

So, for Woody Allen to shit out movie after movie, year after year, and have some of them (including that incredible run starting with Annie Hall) be truly special, is incredible and infuriating. I love and hate Woody Allen. The man is something like 14 times my age and he probably makes love more vigorously and energetically than I could even imagine, to this day. Every year, a new movie of his comes out, and the question always is, “is it good?” Apparently Blue Jasmine is one of the good ones. 

His 2011 offering, Midnight in Paris, though also dealing with the empty social lives of the ultra rich, was a film full of wide-eyed optimism and pure bliss. But Blue Jasmine is just the opposite, and it truly is a tragedy in the classic sense.

“I’ll sign anything, I’m very trusting,” Cate Blanchett says fatefully, the latest actor to stand in for Woody Allen’s classic neurotic character, this time, a spoiled-rotten New York socialite (named Jasmine) hitting rock bottom after her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin) gets caught squandering other people’s investments. Allen’s writing is so distinctive that you can hear his voice speaking these words, and its always fun to see him peaking through his actor’s performances.

Again, I really hate this guy. 

Speaking of Cate Blanchett, she is really great in this movie. Her American accent is better than mine (she’s Australian), and only slightly worse than Alec Baldwin’s.

Also, good things keep happening for Louis C.K., who has been in two of my 12 movies so far, and two of the high-classed ones, at that (A David O. Russell and this Woody Allen movie). So, we can add him to my list of hate. 

Notes

1) We have a new entry for The 12 Days of Movies Best Tit Award in the form of one of Alec Baldwin’s pre-divorce mistresses’ appearance without a bra at some party.

2) It’s funny that Cate Blanchett plays the Blanche character in this movie openly based on Street Car Named Desire. Is this funny? Maybe I forgot what funny means.

3) I know these blogs keep getting shorter. I’m losing it, people. Really losing it. 

4) I just want this to be over.

5) I hate all movies now.

6) Is it possible to just hate an entire art form? Are movies art? Or just these soundtracked series of images that I stupidly vowed to write 12 blogs about? What’s the difference, really? 

7) Merry Christmas!

DAY 9 – Thor: The Dark World

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Oh yeah! Another sequel!

So, I couldn’t think of anything to write about this movie. Watching it was…a chore. So, I invited my Dad to write this blog post for me. His work is in regular type and my comments are in italics. 

Thor, though he has maintained his physique in this sequel, spends too much time in overly lit realms, which kind of works against the title of Dark World. We would have enjoyed seeing more of him smashing about in small towns, lost in the desert, searching for his hammer, and smashing cups of coffee instead of rock monsters.

My Dad is referring to the first movie, where almost all of the enjoyment came from seeing Thor trying to integrate himself in the human realm, awkwardly navigating the concepts of coffee and not being a giant blonde douchebag. It’s hard, I know, buddy.

In this version he may lose a parent or two, but he maintains a firm grip on his hammer the whole time which makes his enemies seems pretty impotent during the adventure, which includes alien ships, lost car keys, pantless scientists, morphing, merging worlds and awkward first dates with British clientele from Match [dot] com.  Our favorite parts of this version were when he hangs his hammer on a coat rack and catches a ride on the metro.

Which echoes the first film. But really, these “parts” really only a couple seconds at most.

As far as Jane Foster goes, talk about being in the wrong quantum place at the wrong quantum time. I guess the whole universe does revolve around her, but, come on, only two kisses?  There was more passion when the pantless scientist hugged Thor after welcoming him back to earth to court Jane, our heroine, and scientist in waiting. Also,

I had no ideas that a few spare parts from Home depot and some broken lightning rods, and old, 80’s style remote controls could have such an effect on eliminating aliens and containing the evil essence we all have heard of in ancient norse and greek lore – Aether.

I think this is sarcasm. No one has ever heard of this. It apparently turns regular matter into dark matter, which is bad and stuff for some reason.

Watch out, for any black, mind controlling, smoky substance, for if you stumble upon it, Mr. Spock’s evil cousins, the dark elves will come-a-courting, and try to hunt you down. I think it would have been more politically correct to call them beige toy makers who lost their moral compass. (I don’t get this joke. Oh, Elves.) It seems like we only have a small pool of badguys and creatures to choose from lately – elves, over-sized intimidating gorks, (gorks?) rock creatures, hoblets, goblins, and goblets, and a few inept humans here and there.

The movie really does make space geography much easier to understand. You have nine realms of nine kingdoms that basically are always at war except for hundred years here and there after one conquers the others. And then there’s earth, where you may find an earth girl of your choice to keeps things interesting – just make sure she has a PHD in astrophysics, and every 5000 years these worlds all line up so you can kick the living crap out of the realm of your choice.  For in the beginning, the world was dark and without void, but Aether roamed about, looking to cause trouble, or at least inspire Marvel comics for a few movie ideas. Also, did they really have to have Loki morph into Captain America?  Doesn’t that guy have enough residuals already, really? Loki is quite the trickster – I think he will make a fine Norse King for ‘Van Halen’ – he does have that Rocker look down.

Notes

1) There were entire 20 or 30 minute stretches of the movie completely devoid of dialogue and featuring huge, CGI action sequences. It was so boring, my goodness. The very last action sequence at least had a good “hook,” the rest of them could have been deleted. Should have been deleted. 

2) I told my dad to try to write like me, so apparently, this is what I write like. I’m so sorry, America. (Just kidding, I thought it was funny)

3) BREAKING NEW DAD-NOTE

If a movie is like 80% special effects, they really aren’t that special anymore, are they? Watching this movie was like having 340 days of holidays a year and maybe working every other monday.

Good Point.

DAY 8 – Frozen

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I think we’re all aware of Disney’s biggest new year’s wish: to make the most money with a single movie as possible.

They used to do this with a lot of hard work and brainstorming. Example: shit, we got a movie about a flying elephant. How can we use this to print more money? Oh, I knowflying elephant rides in our theme park. We have a theme park? Yes, based on the popularity of our films. Oh. It must be free then, right? Since we’re a principally a movie studio. HAHAHAHA get this asshole out of my sight. 

Frozen is not a bad movie, of course, as it represents Disney’s latest attempt to print money in perpetuity. It really can’t be bad, that would defeat the point. The idea is to enchant the hearts and minds of a generation of children, and then to exploit the feeling of nostalgia that they feel about the film for the rest of their lives. It’s part of the same series of Walt Disney Animated Classics that produced such stalwarts as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland. All three of those are movies that are still making Disney money, even though they were made in 1959, 1937, and 1951 respectively. 

So, what does the 2013 version of this endeavor look like?

Like a goddamn masterpiece of marketing.

Frozen is a big mix of every good marketing idea that Disney could think of. It should be called “Synergy! The movie.” It follows the formula of some of the latest big money drawing franchises with a young female protagonist and a love triangle (a la Twilight and Hunger Games), and here we have Princess Anna and Prince Hal, the boy she falls in love with at first sight, and Cristoff, the peasant boy who she is forced to rely on. However, Prince Hal turns out to be the embodiment the Machiavellian ideal of a Prince, which, is a total spoiler. Sorry about that. So, unlike the agonizing twists and turns that make other love triangles 3 movies long, this one sorts itself out quite nicely by film’s end.

Another bullet point that Frozen hits is being a musical. Disney knows from past experience that including catchy, memorable songs will keep young girls singing those words all throughout their lives, highly upping the nostalgia factor of the film. Also, this movie includes such a high amount of songs that it could easily be adapted for the stage (I’m positive this in the works) and, maybe produce a radio hit. I was watching the movie, and the ice queen started singing a chorus that sounded straight from the Katy Perry Power Ballad songbook, and, of course, over the credits a slightly auto tuned arrangement of the song started to play, even removing all of the tricky chord progressions that are present in the film version of the song and replacing them with a simple repeating I-V-vi-IV. Which is like, you know, probably going to be on iTunes playlists everywhere.

Lastly, the movie is a bout a frickin’ ice queen and her relationship with her sister! Ice? Frozen!? This movie was basically tailor-made to be translated to the popular Disney-on-ice property. No more awkward adaptations of Finding Nemo scenes for ice-skating! Frozen even ends with an ice-skating scene!

Anyway, the movie was enjoyable. Had some good laughs, some good feels. It started off the with classic UP! strategy of just dumping a bunch of sadness on you right off the bat, and then spending the rest of the movie trying to make it up to you. Like, oh sorry, did I ruin your day? Here, have a talking snowman (on store shelves soon), it’s gender non-specific banter will make it up to you!

Notes:

1) Now, Disney waits. If this movie does what it’s supposed to do and make a healthy amount of money at the box office, then it will move ahead with all it’s parallel properties plans. Expect to see broadway, Disney on Ice Tours, new attractions at the theme park, toys, everything.

2) As for the songs, there was like one really memorable one about building a snowman, for me anyway. I know little kids mind’s are capable of latching on to just about anything. I mean, we still think The Lion King had great songs.

Newsflash. It didn’t.

3) The main character’s sister, Elsa, has powers that are pretty much on par with any major deity. She’s scary as fuck. She can build anything out of snow or ice, including giant monsters, freeze arrows in mid air, put life-threatening curses on her sister TWICE on accident, and cast Norway (or wherever) into a permanent winter. Also, all the men in the movie dress like the people in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. 

DAY 7 – Dallas Buyers Club

Same Aids

Man, I love this town. I keep getting older, and the girls just stay the same AIDS. Wait…that’s not it….

Oh no! Shit! Dammit! Another movie I actually like! How can I make fun of it? Shit!

Dallas Buyers Club is a great movie. It just is. There are no ridiculous fake accents, all the actors do a great job, Matthew McConaughey lost a lot of weight, the story is riveting. Shit! Why? Why did I watch it? No!

OK, so the movie.

Ron Woodruff, whose life the movie is based on, was a real person, and most of the information gathered on him was collected by one of the screenwriters for the film, Craig Borten. Borten recorded a reported 20 hours of interviews with Woodruff a month before he died of AIDS in 1992. It took 20 years to get this movie made!

Anyway, the Dallas Buyers Club was an illegal venture by Woodruff to get experimental AIDS treatment drugs from all over the world to people suffering from the disease in Dallas, because the only drug fully approved in the US at the time, AZT, had some pretty nasty side effects. But before that, he loses all his friends, hits rock bottom, all that good stuff. It’s fun! Also, when the movie moves towards the lawsuits and dealings with the FDA and DEA, unlike in American Hustle trying to depict the ABSCAM controversy, you actually kind of understand the gravity of the situation. Thousands of people’s lives were at stake.

As I began to mention earlier, all of the acting in the film is completely non-transparent. Even Bradford Cox from Deerhunter comes in and like, really nails his part. And Jared Leto, who I want to hate so much, plays a really convincing gay transvestite. What the hell! This isn’t funny! Shit! Please help!

So yeah, try to see this movie. It’s a good ‘un. Expect to see it mentioned in the…wait…am I doing this now?

Yes I am.

I am now officially announcing the 12 Days of Movies Awards, which will be handed out on the 13th day, after all the movies are watched. Some categories to be expected are: Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Tit, Worst Movie, Most Befuddlingly Bad Acting Performance, Worst Writing, Most Odd Side Effect Depicted of Drug Use, and much, much more!

Notes:

1) From now on I’m watching the worst movies I can find, or at least the most non-pretentious, blockbuster wannabe type films. Frozen, Thor 2, god, I wish Robocob were out already.

2) What’s fun to do in Los Angeles? Or in California in general. These past few days I’ve just been sitting inside, staring at the walls, reading YA fiction. I need some goals here. I thought writing about 12 Days of Movies would take up all of my time, but really I should have known better. I can somehow half-ass just about anything.

3) I’ve already planned out half my Frozen! post. I haven’t seen the movie yet, nor do I even know what it’s about. That isn’t stopping me from coming up with ideas.

4) Jennifer Garner has some ears on her, huh?

5) I think Dallas Buyers Club really works well on a lot of levels. It somehow manages to address the painful and time-appropriate truths about the capitalistic nature of our healthcare industry, homophobia, desperation in the face of death, the questionable wisdom of new-agey type medicine, and above all how crazy it must have been to experience the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic, when just a spirit of death was moving through the world, just seemingly selecting people at random and ripping families and communities apart. Before this, the sexual revolution of the 60’s was left unchecked, and then after, as seen in ole Matty McConaughey’s character’s struggle with his libido, one suddenly feels like it’s better to keep it in your pants.

Have you ever found a bump where there shouldn’t be a bump? Or maybe some odd discoloration, something silently taking root in your body, changing it? And how awful and confusing that felt? Now, imagine if your blood was suddenly ravaging itself because of something reckless you did three years ago, which is when Roodruff, as he indicates in his interviews, thinks he contracted HIV.

In the movie, after he’s diagnosed, even though the main character is in denial for a bit, he still refuses to pass on the disease in any way, and it’s all very riveting to watch, to watch this character be forced to change (from a seeming sex-addict type) by sudden and extreme circumstances. I like this idea, whereas in most narrative fiction we’re taught to make the character change slowly, in this, a snap of the fingers and then BAM! change now or be a monster! It’s a fascinating narrative shift.

DAY 6 – American Hustle A.K.A. The Return of Roll Face

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Oh my goodness! The 12 Days of Movies are halfway over! Oh, how does the time fly. 

Oh, look who’s back. It’s Jennifer Lawrence. How good to see you again. Your cheeks are looking marvelous, I must say, round and shiny as always, as if freshly basted by a heavenly baker with a fluffy white mustache. I see you’re not wearing a bra. Thanks for that. Oh you’re doing a bad New York accent? Good, good. 

Great.

In David O. Russell’s latest reshuffling of the actors he always uses, we have a fat Christian Bale and a braless Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence doing some mean stuff to an in-form Bradley Cooper (maniacal, wide-eyed, hair full of tiny curlers?). It’s the 70’s. Everyone has accents on top of accents. For some reason Amy Adams’ character is from New Mexico but has a bad New York accent that is then half the time covered up with a bad (on purpose) English accent. It’s all very weird, I wish they had all gotten fat for their roles so at least we would have something to talk about. 

This movie, for whatever reason, failed to be interesting. It has all the elements one would want: the A-list actor with a huge shift in body weight, period appropriate soundtrack, a love triangle, J-Law’s befuddling facial features, Amy Adams in very revealing outfits, Robert DeNiro speaking Arabic (a classic cinematic STAPLE), but it was just…boring. 

I’ve heard it said that, in narrative drama, when death is in the room, things become a little bit more…fascinating. But death never walked in the room in this movie. Death was never even on the same block. 

In the only situation where any of the characters were in any real danger, the scene takes place away from the action, and then the danger is related via flashback. The whole movie seems like an explanation, or an apology perhaps, for the words that appear on screen when it begins: “Some of these things actually happened” (or something like that). I guess the audience is supposed to be shocked or amazed, but, really? Some things happen in New Jersey with a con man and the FBI and we’re supposed to care? It felt like Russell and crew were just taking pieces of some true story and trying to turn it into a movie without getting too Hollywood with it. 

Final Notes:

1) I spent the entirety of this movie waiting for it to get to the point. The point was that only Christian Bale can pull off doing accents that he doesn’t actually possess in real life.

2) Whatever happened to the I Heart Huckabees David O. Russell? You know, the director that made weird movies with Jon Brion soundtracks and had Mark Wahlberg riding a bicycle and competing philosophical frameworks and, you know, fun?

3) Louis C.K. appears as an exasperated FBI middle management type, and his performance was entertaining, for me. In his first scene, it seemed like Louis could barely keep from laughing out loud, even though he wasn’t saying anything funny. But, as the movie went on, he learned to keep it together and actually brought real, empathetic life to his character. 

4) Due to a lack of reading materials available to me at the moment, I ended up reading the entire third book of the Hunger Games trilogy after seeing the movies (there are two copies in this house for some reason). I gotta say, I enjoyed some of the action sequences, but the writing was really uneven, and it felt rushed. It seemed like Suzanne Collins was racing to meet Scholastic’s deadline for the book the entire time, it had a really “this happened then THIS happened and then, would you look at that, this is happening right now!” And then of course there were like 8 instances of book J-law saying something like, “and then I went crazy, so I guess they had to sedate me again.” And then I went crazy? And then I went crazy?! This is how bestsellers are written?? Also, it was jarring to be cooped up in Katniss Everdeen’s stilted first-person perspective for the entire story. I think (this will be controversial) that the story lends itself better to the film medium, where we can shift focal characters occasionally and look at actors doing things instead of reading this featureless prose. 

DAY 5 – Saving Mr. Banks

12 Days of Movies

“You sign this right now, or I’ll cut your stupid English bitch-face right off your stupid English bitch-face.” – Tom Hanks

OH MAN! FINALLY!

I think that I, like pretty much every single other person on the planet, has been waiting with bated breath to have this one simple question answered: “How did they get the film rights to the Mary Poppins books?”

Dear readers, I’m sure that you, like me, have had many horrible sleepless nights pondering this one question. It has gnawed at you. Eaten you from the inside. You try to enjoy your life, you go through the motions, but really, what’s deep inside you is the burning question. “How did they do it? How did the Disney corporation get P.L. Travers to sign that document?” You’re looking at the menu at the restaurant but all you see is release forms and when the waiter comes you just scream in her little, witless face, “DO YOU KNOW!? DO YOU KNOW HOW THEY DID IT?”

You, like me, I’m sure, have written piles of letters. Sent emails. Filled out comment cards at Disney World. “TELL US!” we all scream in unison, write in large print. “TELL US HOW. IF YOU COULD TELL US IN THE FORM OF A BIG BUDGET MOVIE STARRING TOM HANKS AS WALT DISNEY, IT WOULD BE EVEN BETTER, BUT REALLY, YOU COULD JUST TELL ME PERSONALLY I DON’T CARE!”

Well, my dearest friends, we can officially stop begging ride operators in the Epcot center, groveling at the feet of employees at the Disney store. The company has finally made a film to pat themselves on the back for a job well done on making a movie 50 years ago, and they called it Saving Mr. Banks. 

Thank Christ. I was beginning to think I might die not knowing. If Hell could burn any hotter, I don’t know how.

So, the movie does star Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, which is cute. I never met Mr. Disney but I’m pretty sure he had to be exactly like Tom Hanks. Then we have Emma Thompson as giant bitch P.L. Travers, who is apparently also a little australian girl with a really alcoholic Colin Farrell father who never appears to be drunk, but we know he is, because he coughs blood up a lot, and you know, that’s what people do when they’ve been drinking.

Anyway, blah blah blah, Tom Hanks makes Emma Thompson get on a horse, B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman write all the songs from Mary Poppins (this part was fun because you get to see Jason Schwartzman sing songs from Mary Poppins) and then she finally signs the document because Walt Disney manipulates her traumatic childhood experiences into a reason to sign her books away. Or something like that.

Teaches you to rip off things that aren’t out of copyright, Walt. Yeah, better go remake some more ancient European Fairy Tales, turns out living authors are just horrible, and you have to like, talk to them and stuff. Yuck!

I’m really looking forward to the sequel, “Saving Mr. Hanks,” where Tom Hanks has to get Tom Hanks to sign over his autobiography so Tom Hanks can star as Tom Hanks in the film version.

NOTES:

1) Paul Giamatti again?! This man will literally take any job, and I don’t blame him.

2) I thought Mary Poppins was from like the 40’s, not the 60’s. I think I might be stupid.

3) I was really hoping that, when P.L. Travers forces her way into the premiere at the chinese theater, the movie would just continue with a full-uncut viewing of Mary Poppins, with like a frame around the screen, so it could be a movie within a movie. I know someone will end up making this version on Youtube.

4) I hope Disney makes a movie explaining the making of Mighty Joe Young. Would love to take a behind the scenes fictional look at the group-think insanity that must have produced that piece of shit.

DAY 4 – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

After taking a brief hiatus yesterday to view a non-sequel movie, let’s continue with the part twos, shall we? The theaters are just fucking full of ’em.

Anchorman came out in 2004. I was in high school, in Arlington, Virginia. I went to the mall cinemas to see the movie, alone. Before the film began, some kids (my age) behind me started throwing popcorn at me, and I became infuriated, because, you know, what the hell man? I lumbered up to where they sat, and asked, as bad-assedly as I could muster, “Do we have a fuckin’ problem?” They said no, and I went back to my seat. Then they threw more popcorn at me. I, feeling put in my place (I am not a badass in any way, this has been clear ever since), ignored it, and tried to enjoy the movie.

In the 9 years following that day, seemingly everyone you’d meet would quote the movie, “I’m kind of a big deal.” Or, “I’m going to punch you in the ovaries, that’s what I’m going to do.” Everyone. Some people without even knowing it. This movie was a cultural, perhaps even a linguistic, touchstone. How could a sequel, coming nine years later, possibly compare, possibly follow in those footsteps?

Well, it turns out it could follow it up OK. 

Anchorman 2 wastes no time launching into director Adam McKay’s patented style of modular humor, where certain reaction lines (or lines in general) are written to be completely interchangeable with another, and the cast and director try out lines rapid fire, one after the other during filming, and then in editing they try to pick the funniest one. When Anchorman came out, and even far into the years of Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, this style kind of flew under the radar, and the movies it produced felt fresh and cutting edge, but now, long after the secret of the method is out, it’s hard not to really notice it when one of these modular parts come up, and it’s pretty distracting. Anchorman 2 is, consequently, more successful at producing laughs when the events are scripted and situational, for me anyway. How many times could an extremely random reaction line (“Sweet Odin’s Raven!”) possibly be funny?

Anchorman 2 is largely devoid of any real overarching conflict, except maybe the change in the news industry that Ron Burgundy unwittingly sets in motion: the dumbification of 24 hour news networks. Ron Burgundy seems to be the major villain here, he who first decided that a random car chase in the Mid-West constituted the main material of  a prime time news broadcast, or that news should be not about what people “need to hear, but what they want to hear.” This sequence of dumbing down the news, with the help of the still-hilarious news team (except Champ, Champ isn’t very funny in this movie, sadly), takes a huge part of the movie. But, things get really awesome when the plot takes a serious left-turn in the third act, and it’s inventive, weird, and so good. Just what the whole movie should have been in the first place.

Anchorman 2 successfully avoids falling into the trap of merely re-hashing the structure of the first film, the plague that made Hangover 2 such an awful fucking experience for everyone involved. There is however, a necessary reboot of the news-team brawl, except this time it takes on a global scale, and ratchets up the weirdness a notch further than expected. Again, lots of guest stars make appearances, but sadly Jim Carrey’s Canadian news anchor falls flat with a comedic conceit directly stolen from the internet.

RANDOM NOTES

1) Things from the trailers and characters seen in Conan clips and stuff are just completely absent from the movie. Apparently, McKay and company had to edit a lot out to get that PG-13 rating. A scene where Ron reacts to the possibility of a gay man existing is just nowhere to be found.

2) More ADR weirdness in this one. In the trailer, Ron has trouble hailing a cab in NYC, and says “It sure is hard for a white man to get a cab in this city,” but the movie changes it (replete with obvious lip-flap) to “It sure is hard for a proud mexican man to get a taxi,” which is a call back to an earlier joke in the film.

3) It’s hard to write funny things about a comedy.