Sunday, February 27, 2011


I'm sure all of you tuned in last night to see James "Oil" Franco, and Anne "Water" Hathaway present the unseen, unsung heroes of the Hollywood entertainment machine with awards. Franco was acting like he was on a bad date, right? "Please stop talking about your astrological
chart and order an appetizer", his expression said. Here's the highlights, as I remember!

-Here's Kirk Douglas, just back from getting his ears gauged! You don't hurry an old man, and Douglas knows it. He takes his sweet time drooling over all the young tang (his words), and giving an award to the swearing lady.

-Then Buddy Hackett's half-cousin, "Oatmeal Mouth" played a song.

-Billy Crystal came out to show us how he is arranging his skin on his skull now. "Show Business!" says Billy. Then he introduces a crystal ball that plays footage of Bob Hope. Then "Bob Hope" introduces Robert Downey Jr. There is a CLEAR voice change when this happens. Whoever is doing the impression of Bob Hope sounds like Ed Sullivan doing an impression of Bob Hope. It is the "Inception" of impressions.

-Here's a picture of your dad and your dad's golfing buddy getting an award.

-We were treated to a "auto-tune movies" clip sketch.
A result of someone showing Bruce Vilanch what YouTube is, I guess.

-Sandra "Blind Sides" Bullock came out to do some old fashioned ribbin' of them movie stars. Sandra knows how to bring the some of her mamma's home cooked sass n brass, just like she was leaning against a pickle barrel, not in some air-conditioned theater! "Give another critter a chance to win an award!" she joked to Jeff Bridges. Bridges responded as only Bridges can.

-Halley Berry paid tribute to how Lena Horne paved the way for her to make Gothica and Catwoman.

-It was funny when James Franco came out in
a dress!

-My friend Jim IM'd me to say how much hotter Natalie Portman is now that she is pregnant. Niche fetishists of the internet rejoice. Meaning, the whole internet rejoices.

-The DVR I watched the awards on ended before the show did. I missed seeing the producer of The King's Speech thank his parents, as well as a bunch of children singing, I guess? I am not clear what the kids were going to be performing, but I dearly hope that it was a Rushmore-style musical re-enactment of the nominated films. I am just going to go with that, so please don't ruin it for me by telling me what it really was. There is no way anything is going to make me happier than imagining a child dressed as Javier Bardem singing alongside two little girls dressed as lesbian moms.

That's all the highlights! I hope you won the office pool! I hope someday to have a job, so I can participate in such "pools"!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Huh. “What would you do” indeed, trailer! Okay, so someone with a George Stephanopoulos hairdo is offering me a FDA approved (haha, sold) brain pill that allows access to all of my brain, what DO I do? (Besides having 911 on speed-dial, as your synapses will likely explode, following by your head filling with blood, due to the fact that the human body has not evolved to the point of being able to handle the amount of informational noise now coursing through it.) Hindsight is 20/20, so we can take some life advice from “Limitless”. Remember these tips:

  1. Slick your hair back. Wow! Now you are totally handsome! (Or, if you are a girl, take off those nerdy glasses!)
  2. Nothing jump-starts your “cultural appetites” like “Starry Night” by Van Gogh. If your museum doesn’t have one, just walk into a college dorm room, there’s usually one hanging next to the Belushi poster.
  3. Get the Matrix to co-author your book.
  4. Unleashing all of your intelligence and creativity will give you an insatiable need for jets, clubs and lap dances.
  5. Turn the blue lights off, turn the yellow lights on.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I’m going to give a spoiler, of sorts: Mattie Ross, the fourteen year old hero of the film, does not get raped.

Am I the only person who entered this movie, with the dread of suffering though a scene where a young innocent gets victimized? I don’t know quite why I was fearing/expecting this to happen, except for:
1) A bunch of men in the wilderness + one girl + no rules = UH OH, and
2) I was on a date.
Nothing could take the wind out of a fun evening out like a re-reenactment of sexual trauma. (It’s worth nothing that the last “movie date” I was on consisted of going to see “Antichrist” (my date’s choice, everybody), and if you aren’t familiar with the film, suffice to say there is a climactic scene where William DeFoe’s wife smashes his “Willy DeFoe” with a two by four, ONSCREEN. So I have been to a mood killer or two in my day. You also may be saying: “that movie came out some time ago, that is for serious the last movie date you were on?” Yes, it is, okay? Can we please move on?)

All right, so what DOES happen?

A young girl named Mattie Ross has recently learned of her father’s murder, shot by a man named Tom Chaney. She travels to the town he was killed in, and vows that she will catch Chaney. She finds a one-eyed U.S. marshal named Rooster Cogburn (which sounds like the set-up to a dirty joke) and asks him to track her fathers killer. But Rooster is a crusty, spittin’, outhouse-monopolizing cuss with no time for half-orphans! Everyone in this movie is a solid actor, but Bridges is KILLING it. I love the guy, but sometimes he can go on Bridges Autopilot, which involves a lot of lip-smacking and aloof charm. (See “K-Pax” for an example, or listen to my impersonation of “Bridges Autopilot”:)

Mattie starts stalking Rooster, trying to get him to take the job. She is totally “Swimfan”ing him. (“I saw on Foursquare that you checked into the old saloon.” –Mattie Ross, 2011. Somebody get on writing that screenplay.) Eventually she gets Rooster (and Frontier Days Edition Matt Damon) to stop sleeping on a potato pile long enough to track the killer.

If you are a fan of actors in hats, sweeping vistas that are cover-ready for Pretty Movies Magazine, and dialogue that sounds like everyone swallowed a Mark Twain novel, then you are going to love True Grit. I really prefer the “old-timey” Coen Brothers movies (No Country For Old Men being the exception), and am also a fan of westerns that drive home how miserable it was to be alive then. You could never get clean, and everyone was getting food poisoning, or dust lung, or the child-having-knock-me-outs.

Dentistry was also an issue, which is maybe why everyone seems to have something wrong with their mouth. Honestly, this movie could’ve been titled “True Speech Impediments”. I heard the Coen Brahs started every acting workshop by jamming various things into the actors mouths, and telling them to “dig deep” for their motivation. Here’s a guide to what they used on their cast to get it “just right”:

Actor: Hailee Steinfeld (Mattie Ross)

Impediment level: Light

Used in mouth: Semi-popped popcorn kernels

Actor: Matt Damon (LaBoeuf)

Impediment level: Moderate to heavy

Used in mouth: A mixture of kale, jerked beef and grape Now And Laters

Actor: Jeff Bridges (Rooster Cogburn)

Impediment level: Heavy

Used in mouth: Old cereal, fair-trade cotton

Actor: Josh Brolin (Tom Chaney)

Impediment level: Very heavy

Used in mouth: Chewable horse tranquilizers

Also, on another level of speech craziness, one of the movies “villains” (as “villain” as the amoral universe of Coen brother movies get) speaks in nothing but animal sounds. Even then, the untamed frontiers needed a Police Academy-style Michael Winslow sidekick.

Although this movie is great, no movie is perfect. Let’s go over the pros and cons.

PROS: Fat Matt Damon, people wearing whole animals as hats, no rape.

CONS: No John Goodman cameo, no big reveal that Bridges has a treasure map hidden in his eye socket.



Here in New York, there is no shortage of advertising.

Sometimes this is great, like when you are handed free bags of M&M's on the street corner by "street teams", who are paid by corporations to make sure that you don't forget about M&M's.

But other times, it's just endless parades of posters, logos, and branding. This is especially true when a new movie is coming out. Believe me, if you were a baby born in November of 2010, you could identify a poster for Tron Legacy before you could pinpoint who "mama" was.

Movie posters have tended to be on the very tasteful, graphic-design end of things as of late. Even the Saw sequels of the world have afforded the dignity of a campaign you could hang alongside your IKEA Bjoorg couch. Unless, however, you are making a big-name comedy. Then you get the first-year photoshop intern to hash out some piece of advertising poop.

Here are three inescapable posters that I have to stare at while waiting for my train to come. All I want to do is go home, you guys! Not look at eye-poop! Which is the worst offender? I will let you, the gentle reader decide. (click on images to enlarge, if you wish)

Look. I am a reasonable man, with reasonable expectations in life. I don't think that the latest Adam Sandler ad is going to be the next Obama "HOPE" poster. But COME ON. THE FIST BUMP BELOW THE BUTT? And just look at the two stars, lounging in the luxurious pre-installed MacBook Pro wallpaper. I can almost feel the warm glow of the setting screensaver. (This is a little off-topic, but the poster copy reads that it is "based on a French stage play". A fantasy for any playwright, I am sure. "Sacre Bleu, eef only I could zomday hav' Adam Zandlar een my play. But of course, theeze eez just a beautiful dream!")

While this is isn't some hideous design, and whatever, just two be-oo-ti-full people with perfect skin and teeth and a million dollar apartment (and a nice, oddly stacked book shelf) grinning their faces off at each other. Typical movie stuff, that. But that tagline? COME ON. Some movie exec read a blurb on Huffington Post that the kids are having "friends with benefits" sex, what with the skinny pants and the rock music today. Next thing you know, one fresh, steaming pile of script was ordered up.

As I was searching online for the poster image, I found out there is an alternate tagline that reads "Friendship has its benefits". A little more more subtle than the hilariously on-the-nose text I get to see everyday. I'm sure that they changed it for all those backwoods, gator-eating "red state" theaters,who would have heart attacks if they saw S-E-X on the marquee. Having said all that, the original title of this movie was, no joke, F*ckbuddies. I don't know how they would have handled that. Renamed it "Snugglepals" for Iowa markets?

Good god. Look at this. Again, it's just two movie stars, who cares? But seriously, REALLY LOOK AT IT. This thing is so lovingly blurred, softened, and touched up it might as well be airbrushed on the back of a denim jacket. Vince Vaughn does not look like this anymore. He looks like someone painted a face on a bruised sausage and pushed it through a striped shirt. But here he is, doing the MySpace photo trick where you tilt your forehead waaaaaaay forward so you look thin and brooding and neck-cramp-y.

Again, there is an alternate tagline on the posters in NY, and I wish to high heaven I could've found it to show you. Instead of "The truth hurts", we get: "Two best friends...nothing could come between them...or could it?"

Ha, wow. Poster, there is a saying in business: stop selling when you've already sold. I would bank any money that nothing could come between these two friends. And yet, there they stand! "How am I going to tell this guy?" wonders Vince. "Tell me what, Vince?" says Kevin. "Oh brother! What a dilemma I am in!!!!!" exclaims Vince inside his head but not out loud.



I saw Black Swan yesterday, the latest Natalie Portman movie. Although I know she has her share of haters, I've liked Portman ever since The Professional, and still had little hearts popping around my head watching her in the Star Wars prequels. (Everything else in the Star Wars prequels had the opposite of hearts popping around my head. Turds, I guess? That's the opposite, right? Also, I would like to point out that I was a child when I was watching this fellow child actor in movies, just so I don't sound like a pedo-nightmare.) Also, Darren Aronofsky! I have enjoyed his other entertainingly-presented nightmare rides of the human condition in the past! And when it's released in December, you know they are baiting the Acadamy award rod and reel with a big old wiggly worm of SERIOUS CINEMA.

So first off, let me ask you a question: would you take your mom to this movie? I ask because this movie theater was 25% sons and mothers. Now I get that you may have a totally "cool mom" who likes Vampire Weekend ever since she heard them in a car commercial. But would you sit in a theater, shoveling popcorn in your face while Natalie Portman gets repeatedly finger banged by everyone under the sun? Uh, did anyone read a summery of this movie before they just jumped on Fandango? I guess they could have only read the first sentence. "Black Swan is the story of a ballerina...OK GREAT, MOM WE'RE GONNA SEE THE BALLERINA MOVIE, OKAY?"

Portman starts off the movie as a ballet company dancer living with her mother in New York. They are ballet fanciers, to put it mildly. Have you ever been in a person's house who say, likes elephants? The rug is embroidered with elephants, and there are a million porcelain elephants on every level surface, and a giant Babar doll on the couch? Imagine that, but with toe shoes. "You sure seem to love the ballet!" You would say, inching towards the door.

Portmans mom is basically the stepmother from any Disney animated movie, who is cold and controlling and crazy. I've heard people say that they didn't like Portman's character, that she was too cold and bitchy. Uh, well, if you lived with a hell-beast stage mom who made you eat tutus for dinner (before you threw them up!), you might be a little icy too. Regardless, we see that Portman is a real work horse, and that her feet are disgusting, and what she wants most: to play the duel White Swan/Black Swan role in Swan Lake.

As luck would have it, Winona Ryder, the star of everything in the ballet, gets fired for being in her late 30's (and therefore gross). Now it's our girl Natalie in the leading role! But while her director thinks she can dance the precise, stick-up-the-butt moves of the white swan, he doubts her ability to pull off the wild, untamed dance of the black swan. (White Swans be dancin' like this: dee-dee-dee-dee! But Black Swans, they be all dancing like this: bah-bah-boom-boom!) Thus begins the pattern of the movie: people are unbelievably mean to Portman, Portman freaks out in a manner that may or may not be in her own imagination. Her mom literally locks her in the house when she isn't at rehearsal, her fellow dancers are the brat brigade, and the director of the ballet is not hesitant to employ the Don Draper method of sticking his fingers in women until his gets professional results. She also has a competitor, in the form of a hot rebel dancer. In the form of a hot rebel dancer who WEARS BLACK AND NATALIE PORTMAN WEARS WHITE NUDGE NUDGE!

Honestly, this movie is over dramatic and the symbolism is overt, but in the best way possible. Like a Japanese horror comic, with the same kind of haunted house jolts, and pretty girls with blood on them. Cool! I am never sending my daughter to ballet lessons, as ballet is apparently a kind of nightmarish body self-hatred camp for future and present psychopaths. If I wanted that, I would just have her watch (INSERT UNDER-FIRE TELEVISION SHOW POPULAR WITH TWEENS FOR SOCIAL COMMENTARY PURPOSES)!