Category Archives: Movies

Zydrate comes in a little glass vial

So, I went to go see Repo! : The Genetic Opera last night at the Clinton Street Theater.

Let me get this out of the way. Repo! is not good. It’s a bad movie. One of the audience members around me said that it was introduced to him as “Soon to be the worst movie of the year”. This is probably unfair, given the scope of shit that Hollywood produces, but it is not a Little Shop of Horrors. It’s not a Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s not even a The Craft. But the director, who was there for the screening, came out and read one review that called it “A movie without an audience”. And that, given that it completely packed the Clinton theater, at 10pm on a Monday, is total bullshit.

Comparisons to The Rocky Horror Picture Show are as inevitable as they are correct. The same crowd that showed up for this could easily have been there for Rocky. Some of them may have been there the previous night FOR Rocky. Drama fags, chunky goth girls, guys with neckbeards and leather dusters, the crowd had them all in droves.

Visually, the movie was 100% on target. It looked like Bladerunner and the video for Closer had a baby and smeared it down with some drippings leftover from a Tokyo Gore Police set. Anthony Head’s Repo Man is a fantastic character concept, executed perfectly. Ditto Sarah Brightman’s “Blind Mag”, stunning concept, amazing makeup. I don’t even really need to go on, sufficed to say – if a movie could make me happy on visuals alone, this one would have done it.

Story. This movie had a linear story. There were no twists, no turns, no detours. Even twists and turns they had options on, they chose not to take. It was like a playground slide. Not the crazy spiral one, just that one made out of stamped tin that goes straight down and deposits you into the credits. The universe was painted very thin, presumably all of humanity only lives in this one town now. The whole setup was laid out in a storyboard (a beautifully drawn comic-book style storyboard I might mention) in the first four minutes. The ending doesn’t make much sense, nor should you particularly care about it. Evil characters stay uniformly evil. You find out that one of the “good” characters is evil about twelve seconds in. The most interesting character (Graverobber, played by Terrance Zdunich, who will win the Academy Award for “least likely name” this year) got panned by the camera three times and largely ignored. He was, of course, absolutely throw away as far as the plot was concerned, but I understand why they were loathe to leave him out, because you immediately wanted to know more. As a matter of fact, I think that the story might have been better had we followed HIM around instead of listening to Rotti Largo (how can you _not_ love Paul Sorvino) sing about his idiot children (I could not make out a single word that Pavi Largo/Nivek Ogre sang/said in the entire film, this will be addressed in the next section).

The singing. OK, I know, this says Opera on the box. I shouldn’t be looking for a musical… but I am, seriously. That’s what people are looking for. They want a Musical. You know why? American english does not work very well in a full operatic setting. Especially when people are singing against an accompaniment of rock music, and also singing “over each other” in traditional Opera style. Fully two thirds of the “big” musical numbers were incomprehensible auditory mash. Every time Anthony Head opened his mouth, there was an electric guitar swell that obscured the first half of the sentence. And, instead of using a traditional operatic method, which breaks conversations from their normal “Hey” “Hey” “Want coffee?” “Sure” staccato into longer expository verses, conversations held with long stanzas, they decided to just have everybody sing everything. So, a conversation like this.

“Hey, dad”
“Hello, Shiloh” (again, I point out, the rock swell caused me to hear her name as Shadow for the first hour… HOUR of the movie)
“I am pretty tired.”
“Yeah, me too”

Would all be sung. No rhyme, no meter, just “Hey, daaaaaad!” “Hellloooooooooo”

There were three notable musical numbers which were very well done. Graverobber’s “Zydrate comes in a little glass vial” was pitch perfect, as was Shiloh’s “I’m 17” song, and then the Repo Man’s “Night Doctor” bit. Everything else was a little mashed together, or just felt kind of pointless. I really can’t say I liked any musical number that had Ogre/Pavi in it, but that might be just because straining to figure out what the fuck he might have just burbled out was annoying.

In the end, I don’t know. I wouldn’t necessarily have picked Rocky to be as long lived as it is, but I think this has cult classic written all over it. The costumes are easy enough to make yourself out of stuff from Hot Topic and Goodwill, it’s got adequate singalong potential. Do I think it’s a movie without an audience? No. Do I think the audience is very big? No. But I do think it’s a crime that this movie can’t get wide distribution when a shit sandwich like Ultraviolet gets put into hundreds of theaters.

In short, if it’s coming to your town, it won’t kill you to go catch a glimpse of what your kids will be throwing toast at in 20 years.

On making comic book movies…

Are you sitting down? Are you ready? We’re gonna make a comic book movie. What? No, somebody already did that one. No. Not that one. No. Listen, shut the fuck up. No, we’re not doing that one. Stop it. Somebody gag him. There. Gag too tight? No? Perfect.

As I said, before I was so rudely interrupted. We’re gonna make a comic book movie. Stop grunting. Kick him in the balls. OK. Stop vomiting, the gag isn’t gonna move and you’re just gonna choke. Stop. Seriously just stop fidgeting. Pay attention, this is important. We’re gonna make a comic book movie. You aren’t seriously grunting another comic name, are you? OK, just stop. Think more edgy. No, that’s just gross. No, the Japanese are doing just fine there, thanks. No, edgy. OK, fine I’ll just tell you. It’s Mike Millar’s Wanted. Never heard of it? Perfect. OK. Here’s how we’re gonna do it.

See this guy right here? He’s a big fan of the series. He’s got no experience with screenwriting though so we’re gonna kill him for wasting our time. Yeah. Ew, no. Just, just get rid of the body. But this guy here. You see him? This guy… this guy is our boy. Yeah, him and this idiot twin attached to him. Yeah, they’ve got serious blockbusters under their belt. 2 Fast 2 Furious! And something else. Maybe like some porno thing. I’m not sure. But he’s got skills. And here’s how we’re gonna get this party started.

OK, Screenwriters, line up. Any of you ever heard of Wanted? No? Great. If I find out you’re lying so help me I’ll kill you all. OK. Take a look at this cover. Take a good hard look at it. You see it? You see how edgy it is? Perfect. Now we throw the book away. Yes, you heard me right, we just throw it away. Trust me, if you’d read it, you’d understand it’s better this way. We’re thinking Nobody McNobodyson as… I don’t even remember his name in the book. Something. Anyways, Angie Jolie plays The Tits and Morgan Freeman plays God or Destiny or something. Go, just go go go. Write.

You… stand up. Take that gag off him. You… start directing.

The Incredible Hulk

There has been a spate of gushing praise for Ang Lee’s fucking horrible Incredible Hulk movie recently, and I’m not so sure I get it. Are you just trying to indicate that people are stupid and the universally panned film was somehow brilliant? I’m here to straighten some of these delusions out.

No, he didn’t capture the tone of the original comics. No, he didn’t follow the source material more closely than this new movie. No, he didn’t generate a brilliant tension. No, he wasn’t being daring. He ignored every fucking iota of the canon storyline, even the brilliant bits, for a slow moving slog through shit. The effects meandered the full spectrum from sub-par to laughable. The entire thing smacked of someone trying to piece together a Hulk storyline from a prepared portfolio of clippings and bullet points, it had no soul, and the character moments were as real and vivid as the intro to low-budget porn. And that’s why it failed miserably in the box office, in the rentals, and moved from big screen to small screen to tiny plastic box to footnote in fucking history as quick as a wink.

Get Carter, Domino, and Smokin’ Aces…

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.