Ugh, shit, okay, so. Christ, what is this.

Scarlett Johansson’s in this – you like her – and she’s wearing a fur coat, and she’s all over the damn place: in the ocean, in the forest, in a car, way up above someone, where it’s white, where it’s black, where it’s gold, where it’s red, in the club, in her skivvies, and it all amounts to some kind of goofed-out creepazoid bugfest. Everything in this trailer screams “spooky-ooky weirdo junk for frightfreaks and boobastanks.” It’s all upside-down or on fire, and there’s eyeballs and elephantmen and black goop that sucks down a whole guy. The whole maroney gives me the jeebie macgreebies, I can’t make asses or elbows of it, and Apple Trailers has “no synopsis available.” What’s a boy to do?

Mostly, all this nutso hoodaloo brings to mind another surreal romp I saw just the other night, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, which is very roughly about a gaggle of folks trying to get to the top of a holy mountain where wise men live in order to overthrow them and become immortal (I know, aren’t we all). Under The Skin has a mountain, too, but Tron is on it. Excelsior, Tron.

Like the two minutes of Under The Skin up there, The Holy Mountain is packed choc-a-bloc with the most heinously left field imagery that’ll make you stand up and go, “ah jeez what the.” Like Under The SkinThe Holy Mountain's got plenty of eyeballs, goop, deformed individuals, meaningless babbling, and all the copulation and fluids you could ever want.

Where The Holy Mountain distinguishes itself, as big budget bafflements go, is that just about every mind-nuking thing you see actually took place somewhere at some point so someone could film it. In the Under The Skin trailer, all we get is a lot of trick bunko and computer hokum and somebody maybe actually on fire. Pardon me for yawning. Meanwhile, inThe Holy Mountain, somebody partially buried like sixteen horses so they could film the part of the movie where there’s landscape with a bunch of partially buried horses. Under The Skin is supposedly “a grand statement on what it means to be a human being,” but for all its shudder-butter sounds and images, nothing in the trailer suggests that anyone partially buried even one horse to make it. You can just tell.

(Sidebar: does the amount of blatant animal cruelty on display in The Holy Mountain [a lot - like fifty toads and lizards wearing intricate pre-Columbian outfits get full-on blown up by explosives] detract from the experience? Sure, but remember, they euthanized every Air Bud in front of the cast and crew after filming wrapped, and nobody raised a goddamn word of protest, so get down off your high horse and partially bury it.)

Does all that automatically make The Holy Mountain a better movie than Under The Skin's gonna be? Nah, but dollars to doughnuts, nothing ScarJorough Country does all dead-eyed in her perky fur coat will be in and of itself more interesting than a green-haired middle-aged woman cradling a python wearing a knit rainbow python cozy, because somebody put in a lot of time knitting that cozy for the python and then the python wore it. I know I'm comparing apples and oranges here, but the apple's all wrinkled and throbbing and hissing somehow, this apple's really freaking me out, whereas the orange has LSD in it, which might be why the apple's doing what it's doing.

Look: when I got done watching Holy Mountain, I misread the credit for a sound guy named “C. ROBERT FINE,” as “CROBERT FINE,” and so thoroughly zonked was I by what I’d just seen that it made perfect sense to me that a guy would be named Crobert, like he would write “CROBERT” on his nametag so it would say “MY NAME IS CROBERT” and people would say to him, “Hey, Crobert, how’s the wife?” Can Under The Skin make me think that Crobert is a regular name for a normal guy? Somehow I doubt it.


Thursday, April 3, 2014


These days, young adult literature is the best literature there is, because if it’s good enough to be worth reading you can just wait and a movie of it happens. Sometimes even four of them! The best one is The Hunger Games, but the second best one is apparently Divergent. You might think that they’re similar, but they’re not, because they’re different. Divergent is a multichromatic spectacular about a different dystopian society built after a different war that pigeonholes and oppresses people differently along different criteria, overthrown (probably) by a different blonde moonfaced actress whose name this time is Shailene Woodley, who is famous enough that when you Google her, it auto-suggests “feet.” Good on her, and good on the foot fetish community for continuing to recognize rising talent.

Shayleen Wouldleigh plays Tris (short for either Tristopher or Kattriss) Tristofferson, a young franchise whose character traits are about to be determined by the society-wide test of Which One Are You. Which one you are is a big deal, because it determines your fashion palette, and a drained skin tone is the ultimate sartorial no-no. Winters are put into Dauntless, so called because they lack daunt. Autumns are put into Candor, a bottled city presided over by Superman. Summers are put into Bunk 22, with the cool counselors. Springs are made into a nutrient-rich gruel. No one wears pink ever.

Protagonists, though, are Divergent, which means that they’re the protagonist. Tris finds out that’s Which One She Is after shooting back blue curacao and busting up out of an aquatic lie-cube. In another trailer she has to tackle a dog or something but I don’t think that’s canon. It’s all a little heavy-handed with the Christ imagery, if you ask me. Divergent is what you are when the test doesn’t work on you, and it’s the worst thing you can be in this world, because Kate Winslet said so. In Myers-Briggs terms, Tris would be a TCBY. I identify with Tris, as I once took a career aptitude test and it told me I should be spayed. Um, hello? I’m a boy!

To survive, Tris has to join the Black Leather Big Boys Shoulderpad Club, lead by Gale, a hot guy she met when she jumped off a building into a bigass pit, the traditional gathering place of hot guys. He puts her through a rigorous two-stage training sequence where she learns to keep tension in her vagina and conquers her irrational fear of having knives thrown at her. With time, Gale opens up to her and reveals his character traits/righteous ink. “I don’t want to be just one thing,” he says, “I want to be brave, and selfless, and intelligent, and honest, and kind.” Oh boo hoo, buddy, we all want to be five things, but at the end of the day, there can only be one Captain Planet.

You can tell that Sheilean Wudlie plays a powerful female protagonist because once her love interest enters the trailer she says fewer than ten words to his all-of-the-rest-of-them. The truly powerful need not use speech. It’s unclear from the trailer, though, why being Divergent is so dangerous, especially since Tris mostly just goggles about, wide-eyed and slack-of-jaw. It might be that Divergents have an inborn aptitude for heinous mischief, like the infamous dybbuk of Jewish folklore. It might be that they have the all-too-uncommon common sense to invest in gold and vote for Rand Paul and that frightens the establishment as it damn well should. It might be that they just think they’re too cool for the variety of icebreaker games and team-building activities that Kate Winslet has planned. Unfortunately, we’ll just never know.


Friday, March 14, 2014 — 1 note


Back in 2008 or whenever – psych, it was less than a year ago! – The Purge took the world by storm with its schlocky, stalk-y, Hawke-y twist on the “one crazy night” genre pioneered by The HangoverThe Hangover II and Project X: Teen Hangover. Trapped in a futurific cyber-house on the night where all crime is legally legal for twelve hours, Ethan “Hawkeye” Allen was forced to rig up a bunch of wacky, elaborate contraptions to repel a cavalcade of murderous masked intruders, in a schlocky etc. twist on the “Home Alone” genre pioneered by real-life home invasions, and America ate it up just barely enough to get a sequel greenlit.

The Purge: Anarchy takes its setting from the original and its subtitle from the number one fear of the late 1800’s. Driving home after a long day of stock photo modeling, a pair of pretty white non-entities abruptly find themselves in a living nightmare when their car breaks down right in the middle of their favorite Neon Trees song (who, by the way, are currently suing Spotify for failing to accurately list their genre as “Old Navy commercial”). “We’re gonna be okay, just like always,” The Guy assures The Girl, utterly failing to check his privilege. And then, impossibly, things gets worse.


An emergency broadcast system announces the commencement of the annual Purge. “This is your emergency broadcast system, announcing the commencement of the annual Purge,” it says. “All crime, including murder, will be legal for 12 hours.” Whoa, I think we know what someone’s favorite crime is! Somehow it also becomes dark and stays that way the whole time (eclipse?). Then, with a whoop and a holler and a burst of government-mandated ironic choral trailer music, the Purge starts. Quick, no time for a plot, just run!

You can do ANYTHING during the Purge. You can blow up a building. You can ride a dirtbike looking real frightful. You can drink a beer on a school bus with your shirt off, like you did in the good ol’ days before your court order. You can put a lady’s makeup on your creepazoid mask for extra panache, or roll backwards with your stank face on, or label yourself “GOD,” whatever urges your Purge. You can even do whatever’s going on here:


The Guy and The Girl use this freedom solely to run away and look scared, when they could be committing tax fraud, or mail fraud, or insurance fraud, or sodomy. This strains an already-tenuous premise. Based on their total lack of characterization and apparent impotence, I just can’t see them surviving to the post-Purge pancake and bottomless Bellini brunch. Maybe they’ll wind up in jail. Wouldn’t that be wild?

Hey, fictional government, here’s an idea: How about take all the money you’re probably spending on Purge clean-up and just buy everyone a pillow to scream into? No more dirtbike psychos, just good, common sense. Consider it for the inevitable threequel.

The trailer leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination, which is a great strategy for if you’re making a movie without an imagination of your own. All I can say for sure is that the film will be predominantly orange-brown and feature lawless behavior of a reprehensible sort. No Christian should have to watch this.



Thursday, March 6, 2014 — 2 notes



Fertility starts in the mind.

My directorial debut, co-written with and starring some of the best comic talent at Princeton University.


Let’s play a game of pretend. You are an actor. You’re a pretty damn good actor. Let’s say your name is Smell Gibson. You’ve made some truly classic movies. When people think Smell Gibson, they think epic scale without reliance on CGI, unforgettable climactic moments, and thunderdomes. You are on top of the world, buddy. But then your career starts to hit snags. You say a few things about the Jewish people that among some circles might be considered totally fucking awful, and as a follow-up, you put out an unbelievably huge film which pretty much depicts those same things. You suggest that your ex-wife be raped by some black gentlemen, but not before she gives you a much deserved MOCHJ (mouth-on-cock handjob), because come on, priorities, people. Smell Gibson starts to get a rep as an erratic, hateful alcoholic, and nobody likes erratic, hateful alcoholics unless they are sexy and wealthy and appear on magazine covers. You need something that will save your Smelly bacon.  What should you do???

A.) Make an all-too-allegorical movie about a man whose life and family are falling apart getting his life back on track.
B.) Do the above, but make the means by which your character gets his life back on track a stuffed beaver puppet that he finds in the trash that he manipulates with piss-poor ventriloquism.
C.) Do the above, but present it in the trailer with a completely straight face and not even a hint of irony.
D.) Do the above, but pepper in completely irrelevant subplots that will just serve to distract from the magnificent spectacle of you talking to own hand in a thick Australian accent.
E.) Come on. Are you even trying to keep your lips still? Come on.
F.) Do the above, but sleepwalk through the movie with the sort of dead-eyed stare that suggests that you are so out of your gourd on liquor and pills that you are not just phoning it in, but text messaging.
G.) Do the above, but make the title a kind of weird but also sort of outdated sexual term, like something a big burly construction worker stereotype would use, just to make everyone a little bit uncomfortable asking for a ticket at the theater.

The answer, of course, is no, you goddamn idiot, what in God’s name do you think you are doing, and also, this multiple choice test wouldn’t pass any standard of academic rigor.

So here we are with The Beaver, which is basically a complete ripoff of R.L. Stine’s classic, Night of the Living Dummy, except that that one featured actual ventriloquism, except that the only way to make ventriloquism less exciting is to present it in writing. Like, here’s how you would write out ventriloquism:

My name is Smell Gibson, and I am an actor.”

Who said that?” said Jenny, “I could not tell because you weren’t moving your lips.”

This beaver on my hand said that,” said Smell Gibson, “And also, blow me.”

Also, in Night of the Living Dummy, the dummy tried to murder people, sort of. The beaver in The Beaver just doles out tough love and is completely horrifying.

Don’t even get this trailer started on what happens when Smell Gibson comes into work with his beaver buddy. We’re looking at not one, not two, not three, but two whole collective gasps. This black woman up front? Sheabsolutely cannot believe her eyes! Whereas this Asian coolster off to the side couldn’t give less of a shit. He’s seen it all. Whitey on the right looks a little surprised, but he’s actually gone deaf from all of the Vicodin he stole from his parents’ house, so he doesn’t actually know what’s going on, and is just trying to play along.

Here’s a better idea for a movie than this terrible idea for a movie: Smell Gibson plays a man who’s stricken with depression. His wife’s pulling away from him and his kids can’t respect him. Then he finds a puppet in a dumpster with some fantastic bangs that teaches him a valuable lesson: Never say never. It would be called The Bieber and, in being a one-note pun, it’s got about as much depth as this movie does.


Sunday, January 2, 2011 — 4 notes