Thursday, July 9, 2009

Celebrity Death Parade, Coming Attractions and Popular Bullshit

I haven't been writing on the internet much recently. This is due to a variety of factors, the primary one being disinterest and a busy schedule. Writing about movies has the added problem that I haven't been going to a lot of movies this summer, since nearly every big blockbuster film I was excited for turned out to be a big, steaming pile of dog shit in my good-times frittata. Subsequently, almost every film I've seen in the past two month has been something I checked out from the library (I worked in video stores for too long to enjoy actually paying to rent movies), which means I've been watching real, god-honest, good movies that make most of the current product look like rejected kindergarten art projects from the Land of the Retards.

Not even some major celebrity deaths were able to get my interest up. First there was Ed McMahon, who died of being fucking old back in June and whose death mainly served as a way to remind people that he wasn't dead already (I don't think they even had to update his Wikipedia page). Then Farrah Fawcett went and later that same day, as if the world of celebrity were clearing out its most insignificant inhabitants, Michael Jackson kicked it. And is if to give us one extra at no additional cost, TV pitchman Billy Mays died in his sleep a few days after that, apparently just to fill the urgent need people have to make jokes about his passing.

As I've state many times, I have no interest in whether any of these people live or die. Their deaths matter to me as a media observer, and I find people's reactions to the event interesting, if often irritating. Jackson was the biggest of the bunch and his death has been the elaborate freak show you'd expect, with people chanting and praying and dancing over his corpse like they're trying to raise it from the dead for one last performance. I never fully bought the whole "child-molesting" thing about Jackson (if someone would have taken him all the way through a trial without settling out of court for absurd amounts of cash, I might have given his accusers the benefit of the doubt), though I did find him creepy and uncomfortable to listen to. His death has basically served the purpose of letting lots of people, who wouldn't have said so otherwise, admit that they like his music. We'll talk about how important he was for a few weeks and then all breath a sigh of relief that his past accomplishments will no longer be tarnished by the long, extended tabloid fever dream that was the last two decades of his life.

But moving on...

Coming Attractions

There are a couple of releases coming out Friday, with one of them being another entry into this seemingly endless summer pain parade and another working to make this horrid cinema season worthwhile.

In the latter category is "Bruno," the latest from "Borat" creator Sacha Baron Cohen, in which he pretends to be a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion reporter in order to make an ass out of himself and others across America. As anyone I've dated will attest to, I'm a big fan of awkward pauses and uncomfortable silences, so this might actually get me into the theater, even if it feels like Cohen is scrapping the bottom of his character barrel.

Also opening is "I Love You, Beth Cooper," a 1980s style teen comedy from Chris Columbus, one of the blandest people to sit in a director's chair since somebody put a cardboard cut-out of Martin Scorecese behind the camera as a joke (it went on to direct the bulk of "Gangs of New York" before anyone thought to take it down).

Top Ten at the Box Office

1. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" was created with care and love by the biggest group of petulant assholes this side of a Hummer rally. The film is exciting and thrilling in the way getting your nuts caught in a lawn mower is exciting and thrilling. Sure, it will get your adrenalin flowing, but in the end you'll be in pain and you'll just wish the whole thing had never happened.

2. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which was not only computer animated, but apparently also computer written and computer directed. I'm fairly certain that no actual human beings were involved in the creation of this film or any of its predecessors.

3. "Public Enemies." The story of John Dillinger and FBI agent Melvin Purvis, as played by two terminal psychotics. I might actually go see this, as soon as I have more than two bladder-busting hours to spend watching gangster movies.

4. "The Proposal." This movie doesn't actually exist and there is nothing you can do to convince me otherwise. Even if I went to the theater, paid for a ticket, sat down and watched this film all the way through, I would still not believe that it exists. My memory would just tell me I went and saw the new "Star Trek" film again.

5. "The Hangover." So this is basically "Memento" but done as a comedy about a drunken weekend in Las Vegas? Just so long as we're clear on that point.

6. "Up." My problem with Pixar films is that they're fantastic, but the intended audience means I can never enjoy them in theaters (going to a theater with children is like going to church with howler monkeys duct-taped to your head). If I buy or rent the films, they make me feel like the kind of weirdo who owns children's films but not children. I feel like I need to hide them when I have guests over, but somehow having children's films hidden around your house only makes it so much worse.

7. "My Sister's Keeper," which manages the twin marketing goals of being both depressing and inconsequential.

8. "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3." When I can look at a new thriller and decide not to see it because it lacks the screen presence of Walter Matthau and Martin Balsam, then there is something seriously wrong with the film industry.

9. "Year One." So?

10. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." This isn't a film; it's a brain injury.

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