Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tipping my hat to Heath Ledger

I have to admit I was never a huge fan of Heath Ledger. Being a pretty hardcore movie buff and having a healthy interest in screenwriting, I absolutely have to recognize his talent, but none of his films really captured my interest beyond a fleeting hour or two of entertainment. "Brokeback Mountain" was well-acted and, what the fuck, I'm not going to sit here all uptight and say I didn't watch it. I watched it, I considered the implications to the broader human condition for a few minutes, and then I went on with my life. Whatever.

Bottom line: He was a good actor, but never in anything I feel I need to defend to the death in a battle of cinematic tastes. Some would say he was an incredible actor, and I won't argue with them. From what I've read he was purely dedicated to his craft, which I can respect and admire, and at the same time extremely troubled by his shattered relationship, which I can understand. He fell into drugs -- not exactly a new concept in Hollywood, or in any other facet of society -- and ultimately paid the price for his addiction. It's fucking sad, but so is any needless death of a 20-something. At least he didn't collapse into the public eye and make an ass of himself like some celebrities. At least he kept his dignity in the face of despair.

So it's because I respect Health Ledger as a guy following his passion and as a decent actor that I take special issue with the Westboro Baptist Church -- no stranger to my scorn on this blog -- and its mission to picket his funeral. Of course I'm not surprised; the church members are hysterical religious fanatics, and undoubtedly they view Ledger's role in "Brokeback" as a ringing endorsement of gay culture. One could even say that where Heath Ledger was passionated about his dream (acting), Westboro members are passionate about their dream (gay bashing):

A fundamentalist church whose members demonstrate at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and believe God hates gays will protest the Academy Awards and the funeral of Heath Ledger, because the actor played a gay cowboy in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain."

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., are trying to find out where the 28-year-old actor's funeral will be held and have already made signs to hold outside the Oscars that read "God Hates Fags and Fag Enablers," "Heath in Hell" and "Mourn for Your Sins," Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the church's controversial founder Pastor Fred Phelps, told ABCNEWS.com.

Though Ledger was not gay, the church believes he "misused the giant megaphone given to him by God Almighty to speak the truth about fags," Phelps-Roper said, and instead "used his position of prominence to say God is a liar and that homosexuality is not an abomination."

With cheerleaders like these, I'm just glad I play for the nonbelievers. The people on my team won't be attending any funerals with Christian propaganda. Every time I see these people in the news it reminds me why I'm an Atheist.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A few candid views on the movie "Cloverfield"


An open letter to producer J.J. Abrams:

I have few words in my vocabulary to describe Cloverfield.

It was fucking awful. FUCKING AWFUL.

When I was in high school, my friends and I would tote this shitty, first-generation camcorder around, recording our various antics and witty banter (or as witty as you can get when you're like 16 years old). En route to our aforementioned places of merry-making, we would often walk, run, jump, etc. In transit, the video would shake like a motherfucker. When we watched the finished product, usually consisting of things I hope never surface when I run for senator, it almost looked as if we had a senior citizen behind the camera.

This is what Cloverfield is like. One and a half god-awful hours of teenage-mentality idiots running around New York with a fucking camcorder while a giant sea monster the size of Manhattan eats buildings and shits out these creatures with big jaws that appear to look like walking mosquitoes. I say they APPEAR to look like walking mosquitoes because, between the fact that the screen was grainy through most the movie and the fact that I had to keep my eyes closed for fear of VOMITING ALL OVER THE GUY NEXT TO ME, I only actually watched a total of about 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes was enough. Five minutes would have been enough. Not seeing the fucking movie at all would have been enough. You know what happens when you look at a shaky camera for a prolonged period of time? NAUSEA. EXTREME. FUCKING. NAUSEA. During the times when I couldn't look at the screen because I felt like my insides were revolting like a dictatorship, I was watching the steady stream of people leaving the theater, most likely en route to the bathroom to VOMIT.

Do you hear that, J.J. Abrams? TO VOMIT.

This has been done before. Remember the Blair Witch Project? Shaky camera, spooky forest, retarded ending. Ring a bell? It's already been done, man. The only thing you added to the genre of Shaky Vomit Movies is a CREATURE THAT EATS THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. Oh boy!

As for the creature, I don't get that either. Is it a dinosaur? Is it an alien? Is it a mutated fish? WHAT THE FUCK? If it's been living in the ocean for a few million years, slowly evolving into an efficient killing machine, then did it not realize until now that there is a continent full of delicious humans? Was it just waiting for the right time to attack? Is it pissed off for something we did? Does it have hemorrhoids? In the Blair Witch Project, they never actually showed the witch. It was up to the audience to draw its own conclusion. Maybe there's something to that? Especially if your monster looks like a PACHYDERM.

I want my fucking money back, J.J. The only reason you conned people into seeing this horror show of cinema is your absurd viral campaign on the Internet. Congratulations, douche bag. You sucked me in like the rest of the now-very-nauseated public, but your fucking movie still SUCKS. I hope your children get motion sick and yack all over you when they watch it. I would pay money to see that. In fact, you should make that the sequel, because judging from the groans and people FLEEING THE THEATER FROM YOUR MOVIE, watching children vomit on you is probably the only way you'll get anybody to see anything you produce EVER. FUCKING. AGAIN.


The public

p.s. I still love Lost!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Live blogging from the depths of irrelevance

Folks, until this junction in my life I've been operating under the basic assumption that the end of humanity would be signaled by three clear signs of the coming apocalypse:

1. Rudy Giuliani would be elected president

2. Zac Efron from "High School Musical" would make the cover of Rolling Stone (already come to pass!)

3. I would catch myself humming along to a Justin Timberlake song on the radio (OK, listen, "Love Stoned" is pretty fucking catchy, so I don't want to hear about it.)

As much as I've relied on this list to keep myself optimistic about waking up in the morning, I'm afraid it's being trumped by a much more sinister and pernicious force: CNN has a Britney Spears live blogger at the Los Angeles Courthouse.

That's right, a (respected?) global news agency actually has a PRODUCER staking out the courthouse, making regular updates about whether Britney Spears has arrived for her hearing about getting back visitation rights for her kids. It's comedy gold, yet crushingly depressing at the same time, like a Carrot Top show. Consider these gems (emphasis added):

CNN Producer Jack Hannah is live at the Los Angeles Superior Court this morning coordinating CNN's coverage of the latest in the Britney Spears-Kevin Federline child custody case. He is contributing reports throughout the day as events unfold at the courthouse.

At times, the blog appears to be a self parody, as if the producer KNOWS he's full of shit for being there, but is hoping to make it look like the rest of the media are the real idiots:
11:20 a.m PT:

Members of the media have been asked multiple times to keep the noise down. Apparently there are other cases being heard at this courthouse. Go figure.

11:32 a.m PT:

On her way back into the courtroom, Anne Kiley, an attorney from the Spears camp, said she had "no comment" when asked if she knew if Britney is going to show up.

Members of the media out here are now commenting how nice Anne Kiley's shoes are.

Most of it, however, is just plain ridiculous. Like somebody-call-the-coroner-because-journalism-is-dead ridiculous:
10:32 a.m PT:

The attorneys for both sides are taking a short break.
Federline's attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, walked briskly past members of the media and held up both hands as if to say, "Back away, I have nothing to say yet."
There are media outlets from all over the world. As I type this, a lady is sitting next to me speaking German.

Omigod! German?!? How chic!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Some thoughts on Iowa

Well, what can I say about the Iowa primaries that won't be repeated today by every political junkie with as much as a pair of eyes? I guess I could pre-empt what is sure to be an industry full of fawning, starry eyed journalists who will undoubtedly call this a surprise upset bound to rock the political landscape at its very foundations.

I say this because, really, the Iowa caucuses weren't that surprising. After all, Mike Huckabee came in second in a straw poll in Iowa last summer, months before he was even considered a serious contender and surely way before anybody conceived it possible that he could beat the quintessential Ken-doll-of-politics Mitt Romney and insane Republican fascist Rudy Giuliani. If he was doing well back then, it stands to reason that he would be doing even better after voters had a few more months to expose Giuliani as a vile opportunist and Romney for, well, just being Romney.

That being said, it would be less of a surprise to me if Huckabee loses New Hampshire. Not only does he not have the well-oiled political machine of Romney, nor the power behind his message (what, exactly, is Huckabee about besides religion, anyway?), but a new poll shows him at a sizable disadvantage. In fact, a whopping 40% of New Hampshans have an unfavorable view of him. I'm not sure, but it could be that Huckabee is a fucking batshit crazy religious zealot who compared abortion to the Holocaust. I'm just saying.

As for Barack Obama, his victory is of little surprise to me, as well. I was on the fence between Hillary Clinton and Obama until recently, but just based on my own perception of how both candidates portray themselves, Obama seems to be much less full of shit than Hillary. He also has inherent advantages in regard to general electability: His last name isn't Clinton (and people seem to finally be in the mood to give a new family dynasty a shot at leading the nation); he's extremely charismatic; and he's a man. I don't agree that the "man advantage" is a good thing, but I truly think that voters -- in all their irritating glory -- are at the point where electing a black guy is more favorable than electing a woman. Part of my reasoning here is the fact that Hillary Clinton's sex seems to constantly come up on the campaign trail, yet nobody seems to be talking about the fact that Obama is black. For example, recently people were talking about how Hillary Clinton looks too much like an old woman, yet I've never heard anybody say that Obama looks too black. Perhaps sexism is more chic than racism these days. Who knows.

Anyway, Obama just comes off in the media as a younger, more energetic, more independent and more optimistic politician. Clinton comes off as militant, ready to draw battle lines and fight Republicans with gusto in order to influence a new direction for America. Obama, on the other hand, is succeeding very handily at coming off as somebody who will change this country simply by being an incredible leader. And when the landscape in American politics is such that voters fucking despise politicians more than any other time in history (not counting that time when we rejected the monarchy), I think a glimmer of hope at ending the petty bickering is refreshing, even for the cynics.

And lord knows I'm one of those.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holiday hiatus

Now that the holidays are over, and I've sorted and cataloged my staggering payload of gifts, I will be updating once again. Stay tuned!