Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
And says his prayers by night,
Can become a wolf
When the wolf bane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright.
The monster-as-victim strategy to horror movies often make the most emotionally complex. This is especially true for that oft ignored sub-genre of horror: the werewolf movie. The inherent tragedy. The inner conflict. The violent sex. And the eternal loneliness his secret curse brings (the best werewolf stories involve the lone werewolf, ostracized from everyone around him, marginalized – as opposed to the recent trend in werewolf movies that involve their living in packs.). The werewolf is man with literal inner demons.
Sadly, there are very few decent werewolf movies, and those few are required to undergo comparison to the granddaddy of werewolf movies, The Wolf Man. Unlike most monster legends, the modern werewolf mythology was born in film – making it the classic monster most aligned with cinema. As a result, werewolf movies are best served when they adhere to the rules set in that movie:
- A werewolf will only change under the influence of the full moon. (For real purists, the autumn full moon.)
- When he changes, bloodlust and animal instincts will overcome all rational thinking.
- A werewolf can only be killed by a silver object – generally a silver bullet.
- Werewolfism is always allegorical for some, hidden aspect of the lycanthrope’s personality – usually sexual.
- Like vampire movies, werewolf movies are loaded with sexual imagery and metaphors.
- Werewolf stories should always be tragic. There is no cure for lycanthropy, other than death.
The following is a list of some of the higher profile werewolf movies around, and how they measure up.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
How is the Victim Transformed? Grandfathered werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? By this point in the movies (the fifth movie in the Wolf Man series and the eighth in the Frankenstein series), Lon Chaney, Jr. is effortless at portraying the Wolf Man as a poor, misunderstood, and tortured anti-hero who has been bludgeoned with a silver-tipped cane, encased in ice, shot with a silver bullet, cured, and yet still remains a werewolf. Especially frustrating since Bela, the original werewolf who turned him, died quite easily.
Are the Rules Followed? The moon is full a hell of a lot. At least three nights in a row. The Wolf Man “death” (while inconclusive) has nothing to do with a silver bullet. However, this is the most awesome example of why werewolves hate vampires. Sadly, Dracula’s reflection shows up in mirrors willy nilly! And a werewolf bite no longer spreads the curse from victim to victim.
Who Can You Trust? Abbott and Costello.
Coolness of Transformation: It looks just as it did in the first four Wolf Man movies. It’s grown pretty absurd how the Wolf Man always finds a way to sit perfectly still while he transforms.
An American Werewolf in London
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf attack on the Moors.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Excellent. A stranger in a strange land with a strange problem. And of course, the curse kicks in just as he meets a pretty girl – cementing the sexual awakening aspects.
Are the Rules Followed? Yes, and even mocked. There is a new rule: if someone is murdered by a werewolf, they must walk the Earth as the living dead until the werewolf who killed them is dead – adding to the werewolf’s already mounting feelings of guilt.
Who Can You Trust? Your undead best friend, even if he is advocating suicide.
Coolness of Transformation: So fantastic, it won an Oscar. Aooooooooooooo!
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Not very well, the victim is a jerk. What makes this movie worth seeing is the performance by the dog. Seriously, the dog is the protagonist. And he out-acts most of the human beings in the movie.
Are the Rules Followed? They bother to explain that any moon will cause a transformation, not just the full moon, but regardless, there’s that same shot of the full moon – night after night after night after night . . . The guy even looks at the full moon one night without transforming immediately. Foul! And as for silver bullets, you can just kill a werewolf by “blowing the fucker’s head off” with any ole bullet.
Who Can You Trust? Don’t trust the dog. He’s on to you.
Coolness of Transformation: I don’t even know how to describe the effect being used here, but it is the worst yet. Still, I kind of like the actual werewolf itself. As fake as it is, it towers over everyone and moves and quick fluid motions.
How is the Victim Transformed? Unknown.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Metaphor? The werewolf element of this Forrest Gump knock-off lasts less than two minutes.
Are the Rules Followed? He transforms during the full moon and a silver bullet is kept in the tummy of a clown just in case.
Who Can You Trust? The clown with the gun in his belly.
Coolness of Transformation: We never see the transformation, but the actual wolf looks fairly convincing. I sure didn’t need to see Danny Devito without his shirt on.
Blood and Chocolate
How is the Victim Transformed? As far as I can tell, it’s hereditary. By the way, this movie blows.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Werewolves are supposed to be loners. They don’t hunt in packs!! Bah! Bah, I say!
Are the Rules Followed? “You show no respect for the rules. Without them, we cannot survive.” Most of the dialogue in the first twenty minutes of this steaming pile is nothing but rules this and rules that. They transform at will, but this gives them the advantage of doing a sexy strip dance before changing.
Who Can You Trust? That hot young werewolf-know-it-all.
Coolness of Transformation: Slow-motion, sparkly poop.
Extra beef: A lot of talk about prophecies. I fucking hate prophecies.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf
How is the Victim Transformed? This is not a werewolf movie.
How Does the Metaphor Play? It’s about a dude, who wears a wolf mask, and has a pet “beast” that ravages the countryside. It plays in the same way Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde does. This “victim” actively embraces his beastly side. But here the beast is not within himself; it is an actual physical creature that he keeps in a cage. The two sides are separated into two bodies. But really, the dude isn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy in his everyday life, so it doesn’t play at all.
Are the Rules Followed? Not applicable. The beast (which is most likely a lion) wears armor and comes out whenever it is unleashed. Day or night. However, the silver bullet mythology is adhered to.
Who Can You Trust? No one. Everyone is a suspect.
Coolness of Transformation: The monster reeks of too much CGI.
The Company of Wolves
How is the Victim Transformed? Undetermined.
How Does the Metaphor Play? This is more of a fairy tale, than a horror movie. Werewolves basically represent all that is evil in the world.
Are the Rules Followed? Not really. This movie has its own drummer. It does cater to the lesser known “born on Christmas Day/Eve” myth.
Who Can You Trust? Jessica Fletcher.
Coolness of Transformation: Every time someone transforms, it’s a little different. My favorite transformation involves a wolf leaping out of someone’s mouth. Although the transformation in which someone rips off their skin to reveal a werewolf underneath is also worth a mention. In all cases, the transformation is highly animatronic. If there were a werewolf ride at Disneyworld, it would look like this.
Curse of the Werewolf
How is the Victim Transformed? His mother is raped by a crazed, imprisoned beggar. Nine months later, she gives birth . . . on Christmas Eve . . .
How Does the Metaphor Play? The first signs of lycanthropy hit with puberty. The attacks are played out like rapes. The movie is practically about a sexual deviant. It’s awesome!!
Are the Rules Followed? Aside from the unusual back story, absolutely. From the full moon to the silver bullets made from a crucifix. It even has a mob of villagers with torches! This movie is incredible!
Who Can You Trust? No one.
Coolness of Transformation: Some old school techniques at work here, but Oliver Reed’s acting is considerably more intense than in any transformation that came before it. Watch him writhe and sweat and rip his shirt while screaming – ha! It’s so absurdly amazing.
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf Attack.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Its portrayal of outcasts is so strong, it inspires one confused character to come out of the closet.
Are the Rules Followed? Kevin Williamson wrote the screenplay, which means you don’t have to follow the rules as long as you just reference them.
Who Can You Trust? Your sibling.
Coolness of Transformation: Watch real people transform into cartoons right before your eyes!
How is the Victim Transformed? Unknown. Unnecessary.
How Does the Metaphor Play? It’s not so much sexual as a commentary on man’s war-like nature. A unit of soldiers versus a pack of werewolves. Who’s more savage? Yeah, yeah, I know. The same thing was done better with 28 Days Later.
Are the Rules Followed? “Fuck the folklore. Let’s just burn them!” This movie assumes the audience knows the rules . . . and then subverts them.
Who Can You Trust? No one. It’s dog eat dog.
Coolness of Transformation: Unimaginative. I’m appreciative for the aversion to CGI, but must they look so much like costumes?
How is the Victim Transformed? Alchemy.
How Does the Metaphor Play? The metaphor of Dr. Jekyll has less to do with being different or a burgeoning sexuality than with getting in touch with your inner evil. It’s still very frank in its sexuality, though.
Are the Rules Followed? Dr. Jekyll makes up his own rules.
Who Can You Trust? Not even yourself.
Coolness of Transformation: Awesome. It won an Oscar. Officially the Oscar was for the actor, Frederic March, but I suspect it was for the transformation scene. All transformations afterward were a step backwards until An American Werewolf in London.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
How is the Victim Transformed? See the Wolf Man.
How Does the Metaphor Play? The Wolf Man, he’s one tortured dude, and he lets everyone know about. See that scar? That’s where I was bitten by a wolf. Only it wasn’t a real wolf. It was a werewolf! Ask the old gypsy woman! She knows!
Are the Rules Followed? Apparently, you can stall the Wolf Man indefinitely by blowing up the dam and encasing him in ice. And what’s with the way he comes back to life at the beginning? That doesn’t sit right at all, even though the scene is pretty damn cool.
Who Can You Trust? The pretty young descendent of a mad scientist.
Coolness of Transformation: Slightly more convincing than in the original.
“I told you: no more deaths in the house!”
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf attack on the playground.
How Does the Metaphor Play? The werewolf makes its attack just as one of the girls gets her first period – thus aligning her menstrual cycle with the cycle of the full moon. The main chick’s performance is extremely sexual -- spreading lycanthropy like VD.
Are the Rules Followed? Werewolfism is spread thru sex rather than violent attacks alone. And I’ve never seen a werewolf grow a tail before. There’s a cure in this movie, but it does precious little good.
Who Can You Trust? Your sister is looking out for you. And the hot young werewolf-know-it-all, too.
Coolness of Transformation: The transformation is slow and yucky, yucky, yucky. Which means it’s totally hot.
Yep, I’m into bestiality.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
How is the Victim Transformed? According to The Half Blood Prince, werewolf attack. Fenrir Grayback-style.
How Does the Metaphor Play? “Parents wouldn’t want someone like me teaching their children.” It falls right in line with Harry Potter’s ongoing exploration of bigotry and intolerance for those who are different.
Are the Rules Followed? Apparently, Werewolves are repelled by Hippograffs.
Who Can You Trust? Dumbledore. Harry. Hermione, you know, the gang.
Coolness of Transformation: The close-up of the eye and David Thewlis’ creepy, seizure-rific performance . . . awesome! Sadly, the werewolf itself looks like something from a video game.
House of Dracula
How is the Victim Transformed? Grandfathered werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? The doctor sees him transform, and *still* insists that it’s all in his head. Really? How absurd.
Are the Rules Followed? Couldn’t the Wolf Man have visited the doctor during a new moon? And what’s this business about lycanthropy being cured through a cranium operation? And for a bonus, vampirism is spread through a blood transfusion. It’s practically modern.
Who Can You Trust? The mad doctor’s hot hunchback assistant. And his hot non-hunchback assistant, too.
Coolness of Transformation: Same ole shit.
House of Frankenstein
How is the Victim Transformed? Grandfathered werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? More of the same.
Are the Rules Followed? More of the same.
Who Can You Trust? Not the mad doctor. For crying out! Don’t trust the mad doctor!!!
Coolness of Transformation: Same ole shit.
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf bite/ werewolf sex.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Too heavy-handed. Infidelity, domestic violence.
Are the Rules Followed? Werewolves during the day? I think not!
Who Can You Trust? Not your husband. That cheating bastard and his supernatural STDs!
Coolness of Transformation: I found the transformation pretty boring, but apparently potential wolf bait are so transfixed by the process, they forget to run for their lives as it’s happening.
The Monster Squad
How is the Victim Transformed? Unknown.
How Does the Metaphor Play? “Wolf Man’s got nards!!!” That line of dialogue is as far as the metaphor goes.
Are the Rules Followed? Yes, and there’s a quiz. Silver bullets. Lots of full moons. The Wolf Man is too easily controlled by Dracula. Oh, and he can reconnect if he gets blown up. Next time, use silver dynamite, kids.
Who Can You Trust? That creepy German guy, but he’s trying to kill you.
Coolness of Transformation: Hard cuts of throbbing make-up effects. Eh.
Return of the Vampire
How is the Victim Transformed? Apparently, he transforms under a vampire’s influence.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Everyone in the movie treats this dude’s affliction like it’s some sort of choice he’s making (which makes them assholes), when clearly he’s struggling to resist the vampire’s power. It’s a fruitless battle with no allies.
Are the Rules Followed? Not in the slightest. A vampire magically induces werewolfism? And werewolf movies are silly enough without having the werewolf speak with perfect diction. And he walks around during the day willy nilly.
Who Can You Trust? Your friends are all assholes. Don’t trust them!
Coolness of Transformation: Very long, and very lap dissolved.
Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf
How is the Victim Transformed? Exposure to moonbeams. Seriously. What the fuck is that about?
How Does the Metaphor Play? Apparently, being a werewolf is like being a NASCAR driver.
Are the Rules Followed? Not in the slightest. He’s a werewolf all the time after being transformed. Day and night. And it doesn’t seem to affect him at all. Neither a hindrance nor a help. And all it takes to transform him back is winning the monster drag race. And no tragic ending!! Heresy!
Who Can You Trust? Scooby dooby doo!
Coolness of Transformation: Even for cartoon, this is lame.
She-Wolf of London
How is the Victim Transformed? Allegedly, a family curse.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Not at all! You know why? Cause there’s no goddamn werewolf in this movie!
Are the Rules Followed? No! There’s no werewolf in this movie! It’s a lie!
Coolness of Transformation: None. There is no werewolf in this movie.
How is the Victim Transformed? Unknown.
How Does the Metaphor Play? The focus of the movie is on the little cripple boy. The werewolf is just a baddie.
Are the Rules Followed? “As the moon gets fuller, the guy gets wolfier.” As you may have inferred from the title, a silver bullet does come into play. I am a bit baffled by the werewolf’s using a baseball bat to kill rather than, oh say, fangs or claws.
Who Can You Trust? The little cripple boy trusts his fun uncle, but his fun uncle is going to blow your ass away.
Coolness of Transformation: An entire congregation of folks transform in a dream sequence. It’s mostly done through cutting and a terrible, terrible werewolf costume. I could buy a better werewolf costume at fucking Target.
Bonus points for a very young and thin Terry O'Quinn and the most unrealistic dummy ever. It rivals the “polar bear” in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The bonus points don’t help, though.
How is the Victim Transformed? An ancient curse.
How Does the Metaphor Play? This is part of a recent trend of werewolf/vampire movies that completely ignore all the tortured sexual and personal aspects of the legends and opt for a video game-like approach.
Are the Rules Followed? Neither for werewolves, nor skinwalkers.
Who Can You Trust? No one.
Coolness of Transformation: Wait a minute! There are no goddamn skinwalkers in this movie!!
Extra beef: More of this prophecy shit! Enough with the fucking prophecies!
How is the Victim Transformed? Family curse.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Teen angst. Lycanthropy equals zits or pubic hair or something like that. For a usually sexual metaphor, the whole thing feels pretty neutered here.
Are the Rules Followed? No. The bitches who made this movie have never seen a werewolf movie in their life. He can transform at will? Blood lust does not overcome rational thinking? A werewolf in the day? Playing basketball? Bah! And a complete lack of tragedy to boot.
Who Can You Trust? Dad. Stiles. Your family. The pretty girl in class that you like. The Coach. The basketball team . . . fuck it. Trust everybody.
Coolness of Transformation: A moderate take on An American Werewolf in London. Not half as awesome.
How is the Victim Transformed? A werewolf bite. Excuse me, lycan bite. Your survival rate depends on your heritage and natural immunity to the deadly toxins in the bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? There’s too much exposition and legends and prophecies for me to figure out any metaphor.
Are the Rules Followed? “The moon no longer held her sway. Older, more powerful lycans were now able to change at will.” Kind of. The full moon does initiate the transformation, but the “lycans” can transform whether the moon is out or not. The rules are mostly observed in the trumped up video game way. For instance, rather than using your grandfather’s silver bullets, we now use bullets filled with liquid silver nitrate to infiltrate the blood stream. Can you hear me rolling my eyes?
Who can you trust? Kate Beckinsale. That is if she doesn’t fucking kill you!
Coolness of Transformation: The quasi-transformation is pretty good. It mostly relies on Scott Speedman’s ability to writhe in pain/ecstasy. The full-on transformation is CGI shit.
Extra Beef: Oh, good. A goddamn prophecy.
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? In a nice bit of symmetry, everyone who is bitten is someone who hunts werewolves. So each victim becomes that which they hunt.
Are the Rules Followed? Silver bullets and full moons. Only what kind of calendar allows for a full moon on one night, to be followed by another full moon two nights later? And there’s a non-descript, Deus ex machina cure. That’s lame.
Who can you trust? Kate Beckinsale. That is if she doesn’t fucking kill you!
Coolness of Transformation: First, the victim rips off his shirt. Then he turns into a CGI cartoon. Only after that does the victim turn into a CGI werewolf. In other words, it’s pure shit.
Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory
How is the Victim Transformed? An overactive pituitary gland.
How does the Metaphor Play: There’s a lot of lust, shame and guilt going around. This movie has the metaphor down. The attacks are even played out like rapes (to an uncomfortable degree).
Are the Rules Followed? I think so. The werewolf is shot. No word on whether the bullet was silver or not. There’s an attempt at a cure that goes horribly wrong.
Who Can You Trust? The new teacher who has had experience with a lycanthropus.
Coolness of Transformation: Awful. A bad mask and hard cuts.
Werewolf of London
How is the Victim Transformed? Bitten by a werewolf in the Himalayas.
What your lycanthropy represents (or lycanthrophobia, as the movie calls it): I swear the meeting of the two werewolves is one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen. Gay. It represents gay.
Are the Rules Followed? This was pre-The Wolf Man. There’s an antidote, but don’t get your hopes up. Also, “the werewolf instinctively kills the thing it loves best.” That rule was acknowledged in The Wolf Man, but was eventually phased out of the werewolf mythology. It’s a shame, cause it was a pretty cool rule.
Who Can You Trust? Other werewolves. There’s a club, apparently.
Coolness of Transformation: The more columns you walk behind, the more wolfy you get.
Werewolf of Washington
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf attack on the road.
How Does the Metaphor Play? This movie is more of a dry political satire than a horror movie. As a result, the metaphor plays as a commentary on the nature of politics. Specifically, the Nixon administration.
Are the Rules Followed? To the letter. This movie is heavily inspired by The Wolf Man. It even recalls the whole seeing-a-pentagram-in-the-hand-of-your-next-victim thing. Still, too many full moons. Come on, people! Let’s check our calendars.
Who Can You Trust? The old gypsy woman.
Coolness of Transformation: Awful. It uses the exact same process as the original wolf man. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same charm thirty years later.
How is the Victim Transformed? (Were?)wolf attack on the road.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Jack Nicholson’s inner wolf is awakened. If any older actors could portray an awakened sexuality, it’s Jack Nicholson.
Are the Rules Followed? In addition to the usual werewolf business, Nicholson also experiences wolf-like abilities in his waking life.
Who Can You Trust? The chick with the tats.
Coolness of Transformation: Minimalistic. As if Jack Nicholson needed an invitation to overact.
How is the Victim Transformed? I don’t know.
How Does the Metaphor Play? It doesn’t.
Are the Rules Followed? It seems to attack during the day. Is anyone else worried that there are so many full moons over the course of a few days?
Who Can You Trust? No one. Everybody is so damn secretive.
Coolness of Transformation: You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Edward James Olmos strip off his clothes, crouch down on all four, drink from a puddle, howl at the moon, and prance around dangling his business at Albert Finney.
How is the Victim Transformed? Surviving a werewolf bite.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Amazingly, the metaphor is much less sexually charged in the remake than in the orignal. There's still a chick the dude likes, but he's much less of a wolf to begin with (ifyouknowwhatimean). It mostly translates as feeling out of place because you're an outsider / angry revenge. Or just as being a darkly, closely guarded secret. In any case, Talbot seems less interested in curing himself than in surviving and getting revenge.
Are the Rules Followed? It adheres very closely to the rules laid out in the original movie. However, the gypsies have a much smaller role in the remake (they're more of a red herring if anything), there's no pentagram in the hand of your next victim, and no mention of killing the one you love most . . . although that nearly comes into play.
Who Can You Trust? Not Daddy.
Coolness of Transformation: The transformation borrows a lot from An American Werewolf in London (it's actually overseen by the same make-up artist). It also borrows the close-up of the werewolf's eye from Prisoner of Azkaban. What's really awesome is the fluid viciousness of the attacks. The werewolf is a force of nature as it rips through crowds effortlessly - leaving limbs and intestines spewed across the ground. A nice balance of make-up and CGI.
The Wolf Man (1941)
How is the Victim Transformed? Werewolf Attack. By Bela, the gypsy woman’s son.
How Does the Metaphor Play? Larry Talbot was a cocky horn dog (peeking in lady’s windows. For shame, Larry!) until one full moon night. His raging sexuality and anger storms to the surface, and he forever becomes a prisoner of his own “mental quagmire.” And some major daddy issues lurking below the surface.
Are the Rules Followed? This movie invented the rules – despite numerous incongruities. The poem is even repeated three times in the first fifteen minutes! The gypsy woman lays it all out: the curse, the pentagram, the wolf bane. Too bad later Wolf Man movies completely ignored these rules.
Who Can You Trust? The old Gypsy woman.
Coolness of Transformation: Lots of obvious lap dissolves. Not too impressive.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A sci-fi series that aired on NBC in 1994-1995.
The Set-Up: The Earth has become uninhabitable. A super rich foxy chick puts together a mission to colonize a far off planet in an effort to find a cure for her sickly eight-year-old son’s condition, known as “the syndrome.” With futuristic technology that’s already outdated, they escape the mean ole government’s efforts to stop their leaving and crash on some planet 22 light years away. Once there, they migrate to their intended landing site called New Pacifica and slowly discover the planet’s many mysterious secrets. Gee, it seems someone’s been on this planet before . . .
Just so you know, in the future, all vehicles will be built by Hummer. Buy stock now!
Typical episode: An eagle cry echoes across the desert (every episode!). The group lounges around their campsite repairing things and doing scientific experiments. There’s lots of silly sci-fi jargon/exposition regarding the “rules” of the future. Antonia Sabato, Jr. has goofy visions about the planet with a funky shutter effect and percussion heavy score. Everyone reassures everyone else. One or both of the bratty kids wander off and do something stupid requiring the adults to panic. The husband, Morgan, wants a bigger piece of the pie and acts silly. Someone mentions that those Yale model cyborgs went bad a few years ago. I wonder if that will come up later . . . Clancy Brown grumbles something under his breath. The Terrians or Grendlers or human inhabitants have issue with the caravan. The doctor does some research, spouts off some pseudo-medical jargon and comes up with an answer! The Cyborg boils the adventure down to a single, easy-to-digest lesson. If Tim Curry is involved, there will be a scene where he quotes Shakespeare to himself.
A different character manages to narrate most (but not all) episodes without revealing an ounce of their personality.
The style: Star Trek plus Lost divided by Gilligan’s Island.
Similarities to Lost:
- The resident doctor is hot.
- Their fancy flying machine crashes for reasons unknown.
- There’s a married couple.
- The first night there, a dangerous creature is discovered in the forest/jungle.
- “We’re not alone.”
- Magical healing exists on the island/planet.
- Each episode focuses on a different character.
- A young boy is kidnapped by the mysterious denizens.
- A young boy has a psychic connection with their new home.
- The “castaways” meet up with a nut who has been on the island for 15 or 16 years.
- Numerous flashbacks to the crash.
- They find two human skeletons near their campsite.
- Terry O’Quinn.
- Clancy Brown.
- An abandoned cabin with a moving rocking chair.
- Ghostly visions.
- There is a mysterious transmission that has been going for many may years. 16 years vs. over 20.
- “I’m getting extreme readings here. An electro-magnetic pull.”
- Flash forwards.
Similarities to Gilligan’s Island
- The married couple is pampered and spoiled.
- The amount of scientific experiments is excessively absurd.
- A hell of a lot of people have journeyed to this island/planet.
- The show is silly and stupid.
Typical dialogue: “I’ve never seen such a rapid escalation in development. That horse, its genetic growth braking mechanism is not kicking in. If it continues growing at this pace, it’ll be dead in 48 hours.”
More Dialogue: “This passage may be a time-space fold. Think about it. We’ve said before that this planet is a living organism, with a very strong metaphysical plane. So possibly this tunnel could be part of a circulatory system. A means for the planet to transport things.”
More Dialogue: “On those Kemper one-tens, a good bump will usually lift the contacts right off the power harness.”
More Dialogue: “Well, True girl, I think that’s what happens to rain when it freezes. They used to call that “snow” back on Earth.”
Typical Tim Curry Dialogue: “Worked wonders, my friend. They won’t be going anywhere without the dune-rail’s vital organ. In days, I’ll have won them over.”
My Favorite Tim Curry Dialogue: “Why are you so wretched?”
Typical narration: “It’s like fear of the dark when you’re young. Only now being old enough to know the dark is real, and it’s coming after you. And maybe, just maybe, it is you.” <- Shades of Night Stalker.
My favorite episodes:
- 1.1 “First Contact” The show had promise. The crash. The Terrians reveal themselves. They are genuinely creepy, and I really like the effect where they rise out of the ground. The only special effect I like on this show.
- 1.4 “Promises, Promises” Tim Curry at his most evil. He’s a meanie. Antonio Sabato, Jr. narrates, but he’s barely in it. Other than that, this episode is mediocre.
- 1.8 “The Enemy Within” Terry O’Quinn in a big echoey room. I forgot that he shows up this early in the series. A traitor in their midst. A fairly uncomfortable episode. In fact, I kind of like this entire Terry O’Quinn arc. Even when Terrians are nice, they are creepy as hell. Talk about socially awkward. The allegory regarding drug abuse is lame. Cat fight! At the end, Yale rehashes everything that happened in the episode for no reason whatsoever.
- 1.17 “The Boy Who Would Be Terrian King” This episode cuts back and forth between the present, er current future, and the future future, where Uly has grown up to be a freedom fighter for the Native Americans, I mean Terrians. There’s a nice juxtaposition between 25-year-old Uly having grown apart from his mother due to politics, and 9-year-old Uly getting tucked into bed by his mother. Devon asks future Uly if they make it to New Pacifica. Uly changes the subject and doesn’t answer her. That was slick of the writers. The ending is a bit pandering, but mostly an enticing episode.
- 1.9 “Moon Cross” Sample dialogue: “This? It’s called hugging and touching. People – men and women do this when they know each other better. People limit this to their friends and their family.” Gag.
- 1.14 “The Greatest Love Story Never Told” By this point in the series, there are way too many secret sects of humans. It’s no longer mysterious when we meet people on this planet. It’s supposed to play like a wagon train western, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a western TV show I liked. Plus this episode is super fucking cheesy. And the mystical conversations in the bright white room where everyone speaks in profile – directed by Ingmar Bergman? And too many goddamn children. Fuck! I hate cutesy children! It is kind of cool to see Carnivale’s Patrick Bauchau and Clancy Brown in a scene together. But not cool enough.
- 1.15 “Brave New Pacifica” Spiders in love. I wretched up my lunch.
How many episodes were produced? 21.
Is there much continuity? There is a definite attention to continuity. Sabato, Jr. takes weeks to heal, but once he does it’s instantaneous. Guest stars generally hang around for four episodes before being written out. When winter hits, they set up camp and stay there for many, many episodes. Characters are consistent, but once the Terry O’Quinn arc plays out, most of the episodes are filler until it picks up again in the final episode. In the beginning, the mystery regarding the planet’s secrets are intriguing, but by the half way point, there is a definite here-we-go-again quality to every person they meet.
For the last few episodes, the writers drop the gimmick of having a different character narrate each episode. Yippee!
Unfortunately, a few episodes were aired out of order and remain out of order on the DVD. Thus, one character seems to be in perfect health when she fell into a coma the week before. In the two episodes that never aired, appearing after the final episode, some important shit happens. The geo-lock is found. And spring is brought about thanks to a magical whispy insect and some of the worst special effects I’ve ever seen. Considering that winter seems to be the biggest threat they face in getting to New Pacifica, I’m surprised they didn’t air the spring episode.
Why was it canceled? As far as I can tell, it just had so-so ratings. I can’t find much information on this particular show.
Was there closure? Nope. It ends with a cliffhanger, which was written to deal with the lead actress’ pregnancy. However, the series was not renewed for a second season, and the cliffhanger was never resolved.
Any unattended issues? Well, besides Devon being in a coma! Also they never make it to New Pacifica. They never come to terms with the Terrians. I suppose Riley is still a threat. Basically, there’s a shitload of unresolved stuff here.
The verdict: This show was filmed at my college during my freshman year there. Everyone was aware of it, but no one actually watched it. I think I saw more episodes of Seaqust than I did Earth2. I saw the premiere episode and just didn’t feel like watching anymore. Plus I didn’t have a TV at the time. This show makes me miss the Southwest.
The title sequence makes it look like some kind of ghetto Christian program. All sunsets and hugs and silhouettes.
The dude playing Morgan is far too goofy and adds to the Gilligan’s Island side of the scale. The main chick, Devon, is bland. The chick doctor is kind of cute. Antonio Sabato, Jr. does better with his role than I expected. Of all the actors, Clancy Brown does the best job of bringing some respectability to the proceedings. No surprise there.
This show had a lot of promise, but mostly it squandered it with dumb dialogue, iffy acting and cliched characters. For the first nine episodes, there is an ongoing mystery regarding the new planet, but at episode 10, the series settles in for more episodic, less threatening plots. And the show really suffers as a result. All tension between the characters becomes superficial and my curiosity about the planet’s cultures are never satisfied. It just feels underdeveloped and ultimately compliant.
Some of the problems I have with the series:
- Why the hell isn’t Devon more overprotective of her kid. To have juxtaposed her parenting to Danziger’s more laissez-faire parenting techniques would have been an excellent source of character development. Instead, they are both just generically overbearing the way most parents are.
- After episode ten, none of the characters they meet ever really pose a threat to New Pacifica. Isn’t that the whole point of the show – making it to New Pacifica.
- Their relations with the Terrians is way too friendly. There really needs to be more drama there – rather than just sometimes Terrians are nice, sometimes they are creepy.
- Why is Antonio Sabato, Jr able to talk to the Terrians. Doesn’t this bother anybody?
- The married couple seems to have an agenda early on, but it mostly falls to the wayside and they just become annoying and whiney.
- Sabato’s romance with the doc is nothing more than an excuse to watch two pretty people hold hands a lot.
- I never get a good headcount of how many people are in the caravan. In one episode, someone dies, but I can’t figure out who. All the usual extras seem to be there still. Battlestar Galactica posts a body count at the beginning of every episode. That might have helped here to know how many people there are at least once.
*according to some dude on the internet, the writers were all replaced mid-season and the show was changed to appeal to the Sunday night football crowd. However, I can’t find evidence of his online. The show definitely changes direction somewhere in the middle.
It could have been a good show, but it’s not. Or as the chick who plays the doctor says in the outtakes, “It’s so freaking cheesy!”
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The following polemic contains spoilers about both The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End currently boats a pathetic 47% on rottentomatoes.com – a full 25 points lower than the first film in the trilogy. Critics have regularly attacked it for being too long, too confusing, stale, redundant and illogical. Planting myself firmly at the shallow end of the cinephile’s table, I have to say that I dig the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. If anything, Pirates’ deep-reaching mythology, epic battles and sprawling cast are certainly no more confusing or illogical than The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The greatest difference being that Pirates comes with no literature that can be studied beforehand. Instead, it was born out of a desperate attempt to cash in on the name value of a forty-year-old dark ride. It certainly requires more from an audience than they might have expected to give such an endeavor. Anyone who expected another movie like The Country Bears or The Haunted Mansion must have been overwhelmed. The team that wrote it made the radical decision to craft a complicated opus with wild characters, mysterious pasts and a genuinely surprising plot, rather than the usual one-off, streamlined stories that come from such cash-ins. And I think that helps Pirates. While there is never any doubt as to how The Lord of the Rings will turn out, Pirates boasts a shitload of surprises and twists. (For all the gravitas given to Frodo’s impalement by Shelob, it doesn’t come close to the “holy shit” moment when Davy Jones stabs Will Turner in the heart.) To even further mar my credibility, I’m going to say that I actually prefer Pirates to Rings.
Whah? Chip, are you smoking something?
Yes, I am. Regardless, I find the Pirates movies way more endearing and entertaining as the black sheep cousin of The Lord of the Rings. While Lord of the Rings is always impressive and exciting, Pirates just has so much more personality. Where Rings remains respectable, proper and sentimental, Pirates goes subversive and tough – like a nautical film noir soaked in horror.
Here be a few comparisons and contrasts between the two trilogies.
The Dichotomy of Good and Evil
The Lord of the Rings is absolute in its depictions of good guys and bad guys. The good guys are the ones with clear skin and sunny towns. The bad guys are the nasty-looking crud that crawl out of the ooze and live in perpetual darkness. There is never any question that what the good guys do, they do for the good of all Middle Earth.
Pirates of the Caribbean is the opposite. It celebrates those who plunder, murder and betray. Their teeth are rotten and their clothes are filthy. The bad guys are the fancy-pants status quo. And in the end, the pirates are only fighting to survive – in order that they may continue to pillage the world unabated.
I have to say that any movie that makes a giant spider attack feel legitimately scary holds a special place in my heart. (For a spectacularly fumbled giant spider attack, see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.) And while Pirates has no giant spider, it does have a KRAKEN. Yet, the giant spider only maims the main character, allowing him to escape (lame!). The Kraken actually eats and kills the main character (AWESOME!).
Dreamy Orlando Bloom is not the most expressive of actors. He is one of the few working today who is utterly incapable of being contemporary. While it may be true that he has loosened up a bit more in the Pirates movies, he still has only two modes: stoic and squinty. So really it’s up to your particular taste:
Dark haired, slightly soiled Orlando with daddy issues - or Aryan, porcelain-skinned Orlando who says things like, “A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night.”?
Liv Tyler spends three movies lounging on a couch and fretting over her man. In the end, she does nothing more than play peek-a-boo with Viggo Mortenson.
Kiera Knightley becomes King of the Pirates. And then she makes some speech about something.
Though, to be fair, both pale in comparison to “I am no man!”
At two points in Return of the King do characters break out in song. Both are slow, classy ballads. The one Aragorn sings is in some language I don’t know. I’ll assume it’s about peace or something equally non-threatening.
At World’s End opens with a song. A dark brooding song that pirates sing just before getting their asses hanged and their boots tossed in a big ass pile. The pirate song is a battle call about rebellion and death. If I were forced to sing one or the other, I’d go pirate.
Characters come back from dead.
In Fellowship of the Ring, Gandolf the Gray bites the big one when he falls down a chasm with a Balrog. Then he reappears in The Two Towers as Gandolf the White. I don’t understand why or how this happened. Perhaps the book is clearer. Are there any consequences to his return? Nah, he’s even more powerful than before.
In Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbosa bites the big one only moments after getting an undead curse lifted. In Dead Man’s Chest, Sparrow gets dragged down to Davy Jones’ locker by the Kraken. They are both brought back as part of Calypso’s plan to release herself from her human bonds. Are there consequences? Aside from the numerous pirates who die rescuing Jack, yes. Calyspo gets released and goes batshit.
Apparently, the relationship between Frodo and Samwise is rife with gay connotations. I was unaware of this until someone told me. Still baffled by this, I can offer no specific scenes to reference.
Anyone who watches just a few minutes of Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow can’t help but notice his rather swishy walk and heavy mascara. And while he has spurred many a lady’s wrath, he still refuses that second kiss from Elizabeth.
But what’s really gay is his relationship with Lord Beckett. In Dead Man’s Chest, Beckett mysteriously states that Jack has left his mark on him. When he finally catches up with Jack in the third movie, their meeting is like that between old lovers. Beckett whispers his demands to Jack and when Beckett, holding the magic compass, asks what it is he wants, Jack replies, “Me . . . er, dead.” Later, when Will turns the compass over to Beckett, he very knowingly asks, “And what is it you want?” Will knows damn well what Beckett will think of and where it will lead them. I have no doubt that Beckett’s entire war on Pirates is the result of a love gone bad. (“It’s nothing personal, Jack.”)
In Return of the King, Hugo Weaving pulls out a newly mended sword. He does it all in slow motion with a swelling score. Viggo Mortenson takes it and caresses it. It’s very touching.
In At World’s End, some dude picks up a sword. He caresses it. As he is admiring it, Davy Jones walks by, shoves the sword into dude’s torso and walks away with it. It’s very violent.
Dead people in the water scenes
In The Two Towers, Frodo sees creepy dead bodies in the marshes. Naturally, he then becomes super-duper clumsy and falls in. He is rescued by Gollum who gives some dubious exposition about the dead bodies. Eh.
In At World’s End, Pintel and Ragetti notice dead people floating under the water in the land of the dead. They ponder what might happen if someone dropped a cannon ball on them. Woo-hoo. Unfortunately, they are stopped by a glare from Tia Dalma who then gives some dubious exposition about the dead bodies.
In Return of the King, Aragorn makes a deal with the Army of the Dead. When the army fulfills their end of the agreement, Aragorn admirably releases them – despite the fact that they could have helped them win the war with minimal casualties. As a leader, he prefers to honor his poorly thought-out agreement rather than do what’s best for his troops. After all, this is a fantasy.
In At World’s End, nearly everyone makes a deal with someone else and then totally backs out and tries to kill whomever they made the deal with. After all, these are pirates!
Return of the King gets a lot of crap for its parade of endings. While I don’t have a problem with Rings’ prolonged winding down, I can’t say I’m a fan of any of the individual endings. Upon dropping the ring into Mount Doom, Frodo wakes up to find himself surrounded by slow motion hugs and group laughter. Then Aragorn is crowned king and everything is right with the world. Oh, wait. Now Aragorn makes a speech about sharing and peace and sings a song while every claps and bows in slow motion. Now everything is right. Oh wait, now he gets to kiss Liv Tyler while everyone claps - again. Now everyone has to bow to the hobbits. Never mind that two of them didn’t do anything more than any number of humans. Never mind all the people who actually died in the fight. Let’s take this moment to pander to the audience. Now we go home. Now everything is right with – oh, wait. Now Samwise has to get married. Something he just brought up for the first time ten minutes ago. Now Frodo finishes a book full of ponderous questions and hackneyed clichés about shit going on in his heart. “The last pages are for you, Sam.” More hugs. Now some tears. He gets on a boat that is presumably sailing off to death. He claims it’s his time – which is similar to what Michael Clarke Duncan said at the end of The Green Mile when Frank Darabont realized he ran out of story. Then there is an absurd number of children. And then Samwise says, “I’m back” – which is apparently more significant than I give it credit for. He’s been home for quite a few years it seems. Or is he home from the market? The pub? I think everything is right now, though. Phew.
The wedding in At World’s End is the most awesome ever in movie-dom. It takes place in the midst of battle and boasts a body count of over a dozen people. After the battle is won, Will Turner fucks Kiera Knightley on a beach, hands her his heart – literally, a severed organ in a box – then sails off to serve supernatural duty. Barbosa steals Jack’s boat, but Jack gets drunk, fails to pick up some chicks, and then sails off in a dingy to find his next treasure – having stolen Barbosa’s map. Annie Lennox does not sing at this point.
Pirates of the Caribbean has a playfully dark tone that reminds me of the most awesome children’s literature – the kind that scars a kid and haunts him forever. Pirates’ in-jokes, post-modern references, and Wile E. Coyote-par stunts balance well with the hangings, skeletons, dismemberments, bloodletting, sword play, cannibalism, drownings, curses and other assorted mishaps. The Lord of the Rings makes precious few stabs at humor, and only induces cringing each time (I’m talking to you, Gimli!). The Lord of the Rings never allows itself to question its own absurdity. Pirates fucking revels in it.
Despite my whining, Rings is a milestone in fantasy filmmaking and could beat me up in a fight. Pirates of the Caribbean is the intricately designed anomaly in a desperately calculated mining of name recognition. Give me Geoffrey Rush’s swarthy pirate jargon over Elijah Woods’ vaguely British accent any day.
Take what you can. Give nothing back!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Fishing with John
A fishing show that aired in syndication in 1992.
The Set-Up: Lounge Lizards front man John Lurie goes fishing in different exotic locales with a different celebrity every week.
Typical episode: John Lurie and [name withheld] travel somewhere fishy, where they pretend there’s no crew filming them. While failing to fish, they discuss . . . nothing in particular. They make small talk. Express a mild interest in fishing. Talk up the locals. Tell bullshit stories. All the time, a narrator gives over-indulgent narration – sometimes creating a story when there isn’t one, sometimes trying to join in on the conversation. There is a weird montage.
Few fish are caught.
The style: Ghetto home movies with cheap editing effects for surreal humor.
Typical dialogue: “You know what? I get kind of sweet at bed time.”
Typical exchange: “Look at that.”
“Look at this blue thing. Look at that blue thing.”
“It’s a muscle.”
“But look at the blue thing.”
“What’s the blue thing?”
Typical narration: “From the depths of the jungle, the power and mystery of the fish dance has been released!”
My favorite episodes:
- 1.2 “Tom Waits” Tom Waits is a chatty Cathy in Jamaica. He gambles. He sticks a fish in his pants. A cameraman “hides” under a tarp. Waits gets seasick, then gets pissy. Per the commentary, Tom Waits and John Lurie didn’t speak again for many years.
- 1.3 “Matt Dillon” Lurie and Dillon travel to some dude’s house. Lurie translates the man’s instructions on how to do a mystical fish-summoning dance. Dillon is skeptical. He takes a nap, gets confused by his rod, and routinely ignores John. “Tacho has transformed himself!”
- 1.4 “Willem Dafoe” Dafoe and Lurie go ice fishing. They build a hut. Dafoe suggests they put their sleeping bags together. John Lurie nearly loses his hand to frostbite. Dafoe offers his armpit to Lurie. They go insane after days of cold and hunger. [spoiler] They starve to death.
- 1.5 “Dennis Hopper” Hopper and Lurie search for the elusive giant squid in Thailand. Hopper explains why he could do a sequel to Easy Rider and is amazed by Asia “or wherever we are.”
- 1.6 “Dennis Hopper Pt 2” Lurie and Hopper fall in with squid monks and Hopper nearly gets ice in his drink. Lurie makes a knot. Lurie and Hopper discuss what they don’t like in a woman. Lurie tells a creepy story from his past regarding Dennis the Menace. They get hypnotized and forget everything.
- 1.1 “Jim Jarmush” In this first episode, Lurie tries too hard to be funny. The comic rhythms come more naturally in later episodes. Despite that, the Captain’s fake voice cracks me up every fucking time. “Wrnhwrnhhr.”
How many episodes were produced? 6.
Is there much continuity? Ha!
Why was it canceled? According to Lurie’s commentary, the mysterious Japanese financiers only paid for six episodes.
Was there closure? Nothing to close. According to Lurie, if he had been able to do more episodes, he would have asked Michael Moore and Fidel Castro (to ask him if he killed JFK) to fish with him. He also claims J.D. Salinger expressed interest in doing an episode. I don’t remember if he said this in the commentary or when he was on Conan O’Brien.
Any unattended issues? They never find the giant squid. They have lunch instead.
The verdict: Lurie, rarely at ease here, does an admirable job of trying to keep his celebrity guests happy while keeping the show interesting. The result is something truly unique. The slow, hypnotic pace is not for everyone. In fact, there are very few who would stand for it. It’s like hanging out with a celebrity, only to find out they are really boring. If only the writer’s strike produced shows like this. The truly awkward, non sequitur conversations are fascinating and genuine.
This is one of the few DVDs I took with me to New York and I watched it constantly. And I made everyone else watch it on my laptop. If I had ever shown a TV show at film club, it would have been this one.
The editing is bizarre. The satirical narration is brilliant. And the scenery is exciting. It makes me want to travel. One of the best blind DVD purchases I ever made.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
AN INVENTORY OF GAY MOVIES I OWN ON DVD
And the Band Played On
I remember it being the first big HBO movie. Matthew Modine is a maverick doctor looking for a cure to the AIDs crisis! Richard Gere and Phil Collins stretch their acting abilities and play gay characters!
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes, he dies.
Hot Gay Sex? I remember no gay sex. Just gay death.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? The main dude is straight, so it’s all about straight people helping gay people. That’s fine.
Angels in America
Another huge HBO movie. According to this Mike Nichols-directed movie, all the dudes in new York are either gay or Mormon or both! And all the women have to deal with it. Lots of trippy imagery. Al Pacino plays an asshole.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes, he dies.
Hot Gay Sex? I think there was an anonymous encounter in the park.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Sure. It won lots of awards! Mike Nichols, Al Pacino, er . . . Meryl Streep.
Weird little thriller set in Argentina. Colin Firth is repressed movie buff who takes in sexy border, Hart Bochner. Sexual tension and serial killing ensues.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Depends on how crazy you are.
Hot Gay Sex? Implied bloody sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It’s a thriller about a movie buff. Besides, there’s more murder than gay sex. That’s totally fine.
Being John Malkovich
Spike Jonze’s and Charlie Kaufman’s first big movie. Cameron Diaz sneaks into John Malkovich’s head in order to have sex with Catherine Keener. Later, they have sex without the middle man.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Nope, the straight dude does.
Hot Gay Sex? Nope.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It’s about lesbians and magic portals and marionettes. Every straight guy should own this movie!
Boys Don’t Cry
Hilary Swank plays a chick playing a dude or something. Anyway, she’s sexually confused and she’s in a hick town. What could go wrong?
Does the gay chick get the shaft? Did you not read the description?
Hot Gay Sex? Yes, lesbians go at it. Booby shot!
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Frankly, the lesbians could be a little less butch. But it won an Oscar. Oscar equals straight-friendly.
Cowboys turn out to be sexually confused. For years and years and years. And years and years and years. And they never move out of hick towns.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Nothing but.
Hot Gay Sex? Yes. Heath Ledger spits on his hand before taking Jake Gyllenhaal from behind. That freaked out a friend of mine.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It won Oscars. And a straight dude directed it. He was Asian, but still!
It’s not really gay, but it was gay enough to run Paul’s homophobic ass out of the theater!
Does the gay guy get the shaft? The driveshaft!
Hot Gay Sex? No. Just hot car crash sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It’s fine as long as you’re into auto(mobile) eroticism.
The Crying Game
IRA terrorists kidnap some dude – wait a minute. It’s a secret. I’m not allowed to tell.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes, and it freaks his ass out.
Hot Gay Sex? Sure, if you’re into vomiting upon seeing another man’s piece.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It was a secret! I didn’t know! Besides, it won an Oscar. It's fine if it won an Oscar.
Jeffrey Dahmer. What a cut-up!
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yeah, but he dishes out a fair amount of shaft first.
Hot Gay Sex? I don’t remember any.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? As long as you’re into crazy cannibal serial killers.
A high school girl who happens to be attracted to girls tries to get back at her jock brother for stealing her girlfriend.
Does the gay chick get the shaft? Not so much.
Hot Gay Sex? There’s some uncomfortable straight sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Absolutely. It stars Reese Witherspoon. She’s America's sweetheart. And it was nominated for an Oscar.
Far from Heaven
A conflicted married man leaves his wife for a highschool boy and completes himself..
Does the gay guy get the shaft? No, his wife does.
Hot Gay Sex? No.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? This barely registers as gay. It’s really about straight interracial romance! Is this even okay for a white guy to own?
British gay boy comes out.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? He learns to accept himself while listening to dance music.
Hot Gay Sex? There might have been. Wait, no there wasn’t.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Well . . . no.
Two gay dudes tolerate a bunch of straight people acting out on Christmas Eve.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? No, the gay dudes come out clean. Mostly.
Hot Gay Sex? They barely touch each other.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? That’s only one third of the movie. The rest is about sex, drugs and violence. Every straight guy should own this movie!
Gods and Monsters
Gay director James Whale becomes self-loathing while remembering the good ole days of the First World War.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes. Mean old Hollywood and their homophobic ways.
Hot Gay Sex? Mostly uncomfortable sexual tension.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It won an Oscar. It's allowed.
Two school girls become friends. Really good friends. Really, really good friends. And then kill people.
Does the gay chick get the shaft? Let’s just say it doesn’t go well.
Hot Gay Sex? No. Awkward straight sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It’s directed by Peter Jackson. He got his first Oscar nomination with this. And it’s lesbians. Every straight guy should own this movie!
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Gay Perry, played by Val Kilmer, puts up with Robert Downey, Jr. as they investigate a bunch of murders.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? He never even sees a shaft.
Hot Gay Sex? The only reason we even know this guy is gay is because everyone keeps saying so.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Booby shots! Violence all over! Turn down the volume and you’d think it was perfectly straight.
Pedophile Brian Cox befriends a young boy. Lessons are learned.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Oh, yes.
Hot Gay Sex? No. Thank Christ!
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Sure – if you’re a pedophile!
Serial killer Aileen Wuornos, played by Charlize Theron, decides that having sex with dudes sucks, so she kills them and has sex with Christina Ricci instead.
Does the gay chick get the shaft? Yes, but she dishes out a lot of shaft first.
Hot Gay Sex? No. Awkward straight sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci playing lesbians! Very butch angry lesbians . . . Eh. It won an Oscar.
My Own Private Idaho
Gay hustler River Phoenix lusts after Keanu Reeves for some reason and falls asleep because he’s narcoleptic and quotes Henry IV a lot.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes. Being gay sucks.
Hot Gay Sex? Weird, abstract gay sex with older, German men.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? River Phoenix is really good in it. His best performance ever. That’s why I own it. Seriously!
Gay hustler Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes around having sex with creepy old men while avoiding his childhood friend who was abducted by aliens as a kid.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? The straight kid gets the alien probe.
Hot Gay Sex? Awkward gay sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really good in it. His best performance ever. That’s why I own it. Seriously!
The Rules of Attraction
Ian Somerhalder is a gay college student who lusts after James Van Der Beek. And he has a friend named Dick. Oh, and Fred Savage plays a druggie who shoots up between his toes.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yep, being gay sucks.
Hot Gay Sex? Do you count lip-synching to George Michael’s “Faith” as sex? I do.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Did you know James Van Der Beek has three last names. That’s weird.
Running with Scissors
Gay Augusten Burroughs is donated to his mother’s shrink’s family. He has sex with the doctor’s adopted thirty-something mentally-unstable son while listening to a nostalgic soundtrack.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? What he needs to get is out of there!
Hot Gay Sex? Not really.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Not in the least.
Some Like it Hot
Two dudes who dress in drag in order to escape gangsters go to Florida. One falls for Marilyn Monroe. The other falls for Joe E. Brown.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes, he gets Joe E. Brown!
Hot Gay Sex? Two lesbians kiss! If you count Tony Curtis as a lesbian.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? It’s Billy Wilder. Everybody should own this! Why don’t you!
The Talented Mr. Ripley
A lot of gay people are serial killers – according to the movies.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Not the ones who live.
Hot Gay Sex? No, but lots of hot gay sexual tension.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? I saw this on Christmas Day 1999 and was very surprised to find it was so gay. The trailers didn’t make it look gay. The audience was also surprised. It was like The Crying Game – except it didn’t win any Oscars. Surprise!
British musicians are sexually indiscriminate. Except for Eddie Izzard, who is really a transvestite.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? In the best way.
Hot Gay Sex? Other movies with Ewan McGregor’s penis on parade: Young Adam, The Pillow Book, Trainspotting.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Well . . . no.
Robert Downey. Jr. is a grown man who likes brooding college boys and obvious transvestites.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? No, he gets a book deal.
Hot Gay Sex? Only implied gay sex.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Sure, the main dude is Michael Douglas. Totally straight that guy. He smokes pot and gets a chick pregnant.
Y Tu Mamá También
Two friends endure a road trip with some cancer-riddled chick before finally getting to kiss each other.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? One dude vomits after the gay sex. That doesn’t bode well.
Hot Gay Sex? Gay sex, straight sex, masturbation. Something for everyone.
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? Sure, if you like Mexicans.
Gay Movies I Have Borrowed for an Indeterminate Amount of Time
British boys listen to Cass Elliot and become gay.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Actually, this may be the only gay movie where everyone is happy at the end and everything turns out fine. Does this even count as gay?
Hot Gay Sex? These are Brits! Certainly not!
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? No, that’s why I don’t.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
A tranny/hybrid sings rock songs and lusts after Michael Pitt.
Does the gay guy get the shaft? Yes, not only is he sexually baffled, he is also emotionally tortured.
Hot Gay Sex? Technically, Hedwig has sex with a dude who’s really a chick. But Hedwig is half a chick. The real question should be: Is that gay?
Is it okay for a straight guy to own? No. I’m going to return it any minute now. Any minute now.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
An animated sci-fi adventure series that aired on ABC in 1964-1965.
In the interest of full disclosure, this show could be considered to have multiple seasons. There was initially only a single season on prime time TV in the sixties. After twenty years in syndication, a handful more episodes were produced – with new actors doing most of the voice roles and an updated setting. Over a decade after that, Warner Brothers produced more episodes under the title, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. I am instituting a statute of limitations. If it takes twenty years to make the second season, it doesn’t count.
The Set-Up: In a world almost entirely populated by men, widower Dr. Benton Quest is a prolific scientist who resides on his own private island in the Florida Keys with his young son, Jonny, voiced by Eric “Otter” Stratton. Jonny spends most of his time with his body guard/tutor/”companion” Race Bannon, a young East Indian boy named Hadji, and a scrappy little bulldog named Bandit. Dr. Quest knows everything about everything, so when anything happens, Dr. Quest gets a call. He sets out with his make-shift, all male family and solves the problem.
They encounter various sinister foreigners in turbans, and savages speaking fake languages and broken English.
Villain shenanigans are afoot. Dr. Quest is called in. His family is interrupted from their beach-lounging and join Quest on his trip to a different exotic locale. Once there, Quest meets a suspicious contact. Dr. Quest allows Jonny, Hadji and Bandit to wander off and explore the local color alone. Foreigners act devious. Someone is captured. A rescue ensues. Jonny makes some glib jokes. Something EXPLODES! The bad guys meet a super violent death. Bandit barks. Everyone stands around and laughs.
A Few Facts Learned:
- Dr. Quest and one other person are the only ones who speak the Po-Ho language.
- Dr. Quest and one other person are the only ones who know the transmutation process for Xanium.
- The thread of mental deterioration is a problem for space travel, but a vine that grows only in Thailand holds the answer.
- A serow is a combination goat and antelope.
- Brazil is a pygmy country.
- There hasn’t been a pteranodon on this planet for a million years.
- The scientific name for a sea horse is Lophbrachiate.
- A ham radio signal can reach across the planet.
Typical dialogue: “What you hear and see are ultra-high-frequency sonic waves in action. Used destructively, sonic waves can demolish an entire city. Watch.”
Typical foreigner dialogue: “Him wolf. Him friend. Not like bad wolf. Him bad. Gray one kill him and drive fear from deep woods. You go now to camp. Father come back, find you gone, him worry.”
Typical Hadji dialogue: “Sim sim salabim. And all that jazz.”
Number of chicks who appear on the show: 4: three were in one episode and one other was in a coma.
My favorite episodes:
- 1.8 “The Robot Spy” A UFO lands in the desert and a giant, one eyed, spider-legged robot crawls out. It shoots “an antenna” at victim’s heads causing them to seizure and pass out. The military is called in. Dr. Zin watches from his castle hideaway.
- 1.9 “Double Danger” Jade shows up. She is the first chick I have seen so far on this show. And she could kick my ass. The show’s idea of romance is high-larious. Dr. Zin watches from his clandestine hideaway.
- 1.14 “Dragons of Ashida” Giant lizards on leashes! And they get to eat somebody. Yum!
- 1.15 “Turu the Terrible” A trained pteranodon? A creep in a wheelchair? Rocket belts and bazookas! And for once, the bad guy is white dude with no accent! There’s very little Jonny in this episode.
- 1.4 “Pursuit of the Po-Ho” This episode had such racially charged dialogue, it is edited for the DVD release. Plus nothing blows up.
How many episodes were produced? 26.
Is there much continuity? There’s not even continuity within some episodes. Dr. Quest’s field of expertise changes nearly every episode. Hadji’s character was introduced in the second episode that was produced, which was the seventh episode aired. Thusly, Hadji shows up in the second episode without explanation, but then meets the gang for the first time in the seventh episode – via an extended flashback. And then there’s Dr. Zin, who returns numerous times as an ongoing nemesis.
Why was it canceled? According to Wikipedia, the show was a hit – although it was not in the top twenty. Regardless, it was too expensive to continue producing.
Was there closure? There’s not much need for closure. There is no ongoing plot other than the prolific threat of foreigners.
Any unattended issues? Dr. Zin and Dr. Quest never have a proper confrontation, although Dr. Zin threatens, “We shall meet again, Doctor!” Who knows how Jonny’s mother died? No one seems to care. Not even Dr. Quest or Jonny.
And Jonny has some hard core woman-hating issues. These are never addressed.
The verdict: This was a show I only managed to catch a few times growing up. It was this elusive treasure whose schedule I could never get a grip on. I always liked it growing up. It was like Scooby Doo, but more violent. So I was happy when the DVD got released. I could finally see what I had been missing as a kid. Turns out I wasn’t missing much.
Knowing that this “spy adventure” series was made at the height of cold war paranoia, I expected most of the villains to be Russian, or maybe even Cuban. And I expected a hell of a lot of sci-fi technical gadgetry. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much of either. Most of the foreign villains were Arab or Asian or English or German or South American natives.
Beyond the unchecked misogyny and xenophobia, the problem with this show is that it is too damn repetitive. From the same bits of animation recycled over and over again to the cookie-cutter plots. There were times when the motivation for a villain seemed to only be included as an afterthought. But really the issues this show has with anyone who isn’t a white man is so transparent, it moves from being offensive to being comical. But for all the wrong reasons.
Top Cat is another show I would like to revisit from my childhood, but after watching Jonny Quest, I’m not interested in investing in an entire season. There was a DVD I bought of He-Man episodes. It included only the top ten fan-voted episodes. Ten episodes was more than enough. I wish some of my other childhood shows would follow that strategy.
And now I have the percussion-heavy “spy jazz” theme music stuck in my head. Forever, I fear. Ultimately, while I think the show has a poorly dated charm to it, it’s never more than a slight exploitation of foreign fears. Once you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen them all.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Last night I watched My Dinner with Andre for the first time.
Can you believe this is a real movie? It is actually two people sitting at a table. One of them pontificates for an hour while the other stares on and nods. Eventually, the second guy says, "I don't know what you're talking about." And then deflates the intellectual ephemera the first guy had been going on about all this time.
There is only a handful of set-ups, and everytime it cuts to Wallace Shawn's or the waiter's confused expression, it'as hard not to giggle just from relief of having something new to look at.
While watching the movie, I couldn't help but think of times when I'm at a coffee shop, and the guy next to me starts talking about his theories on life, the universe and everything. Andre was arguing the exact same crap that modern coffee shop Confucii relate as if they've finally broken through the illusion of modern society and its ersatz answers.
He goes on about how our current society is a modern prison, where the prisoners are the guards. That comforts (such as electric blankets) are tools to make us complacent. Etc, etc. And he's a little condescending to those whom he feels haven't caught on.
And he was saying all this stuff almost thirty years ago.
All that being said, I mostly agree with Andre and his quasi-Boehemian intellectualism. I just hate getting cornered at a coffee shop and having it force fed to me.