I have had something of a bad run with movies lately. First, I tried to watch the original Get Carter with Michael Caine, which was, as far as I was able to plunge into the movie, the story of a very quiet man who rides a train a very long time, in order to have low-volume conversations with almost no context in high-ambient noise bars. He then stares with great big blank eyes at a corpse the worlds narrowest coffin and handles a shotgun briefly, before being interrupted by Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals: Cheez Whiz and Hot Cocoa Pot Roast for 15 in a flash.
I don’t have a problem with movies that start slow. That’s a lie, really, because I do have a problem with movies that start slow, but it’s not that I need two beefy german bondage boys named Sturm und Drang to kick me in the face in the beginning of a movie. I just need something, some vaguely compelling reason to be interested in this story. The Station Agent is a perfect example – You wanna talk about a slow start? Hell, that whole movie is slow. But it compelled me to watch, and I was rewarded for it. Get Carter could only have compelled me if I found compulsive mumblers interesting, and I do not.
In it’s wake, I chose to watch the movie Domino, the quasi-factual (in that there was a person named Domino Harvey) story about the inability of the toothsome but waif thin Keira Knightley’s inability to adequately proofread screenplays for “the turd factor”. The otherwise enjoyable romp set against the background of oversaturated and contrast-modified southern california had a lot of delightfully forced sexy bits, including but not limited to some kind of sex-for-information program early in the playbill, and some later naughty talk between Knightly and the ever lovely (and likewise decisionally delayed) Lucy Liu, and then the long (overlong) drawn out mescaline fueled, crashed bus desert romp with Choco, played by Edgar “My career was too young to die” Ramirez. Then the movie does the unthinkable… IT GOES FURTHER OFF THE RAILS. You see, in the middle of the directors vision of how a mescaline desert orgy is supposed to go (not very accurate, I gotta tell you), The Turd Factor rolls up in a drop top CaddalincolnTownboat. That’s right. Tom Waits. He pulls up in the middle of drugfucking and lays down some totally deep (and by deep I mean retarded) shit (bullshit). They all pile into his car and drive off of one car wreck (the bus) and into another (the rest of the movie… HO!! SICK BURN). Seriously, they randomly end up back in town and proceed to stand by while their long trusted Afghan driver packs explosives into where the money should be, steals the money, and nobody thinks it’s odd, even momentarily that the previously exposed explosives expert duct tapes something with batteries in it to his hand. I can only pray that the oral/anal sex that the producers got from the various hookers and hangers on that came with The Waits Experience was worth blowing their money-wad over (OH SNAP THAT WAS SO GOODS). I’m not saying that Waits isn’t destined to be an actor… Simply that he’s not ready just yet. Give him some time, and maybe he’ll get up to Bowie standards. It’s highly unlikely though, as he is a talentless hack. He should pray that he dies in a fairly obscene and not easily explainable way, so that his catalog will increase in value through the novelty of his death, because otherwise he’s going to end up right on the same shelf as Wilco now that they’re all dead. Wait, they’re not dead yet? Regardless, I still have one steaming shitpile to talk about.
Smokin’ Aces. I know, I know, this was supposed to be one of those review things where I dance around the issue and try to talk about all the good parts of a movie before I tear it down, but that is impossible with Smokin’ Aces. They turn over their hand and show you the twist, smearing it in your face, in the first 10 minutes of the movie. They then repeat this act every 15 minutes until the credits mercifully roll because apparently someone told them it was clever. It ends with a twist-within-a-twist that rivals only the knock knock jokes of a two year old for complexity and depth, and NOWHERE… NOWHERE does the action meet the promise of the premise. I mean, really, you have a half dozen hitmen converging on a single target, HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE TONS OF ACTION? The biggest issue with the whole thing is that, like a truly horrible pile of shit, it has recognizeably good bits scattered through it. Corn kernels and bits of apple, maybe the leg of a GI Joe or part of your remote control, just strewn. The scene where Chris Pine (as Darwin Tremor) is playing mush-face with Ben Affleck’s corpse (something I have fantasized about too) and assuaging himself of guilt? Perfect. Kevin Durand mooking about with Maury Sterling like a pair of drug addled chimps? Great. Alicia Keys playing black girl that everyone wants to have sex with? Naturalistic as hell. But the rest of it is pure, creamy dogshit. Common is sadly playing a serious role here, up against Jeremy Piven who is mailing it in even more than the screenwriter. That poor gentleman who had cheek stabbing treatment spends time doing character development and learning how to speak like someone, in this wonderfully belabored scene, then he is flushed down the toilet without another word. Bat-Manuel goes not-quite over the top in his scenes, even though the situation clearely called for “turn it to 11”. And I was just fomenting my hatred for both the writer and director and it turns out they’re both the same guy, Joe Carnahan, the guy who got picked to direct Killing Pablo, one of my favorite non-fiction books. Fucking great. Thanks a lot Hollywood machine, please continue to grind my dreams into a fine paste.