Archive for the ‘South Park’ Category

Reading Digest – 13 November 2012   Leave a comment

“A hundred thousand for a picture of Britney peeing on a ladybug!  Imagine what a photo of her crapping on a squirrel is worth!” – Kyle Broflovski

CNNlogo Atlanta is flush with the truly pointless this morning:

Bieber Latenight A celebrity break up plus Jay Leno and David Letterman doing their jobs, and that’s before we get to:

Ooh Catfight And:

Julie After Dentist

Here’s what I don’t get.  The video of the kid being stoned after getting her wisdom teeth removed is labeled “Distraction”, but the one about the celebrity relationships and the two about comedy programs doing comedy aren’t.  Very odd editorial standards they have there. 

DailyCallerLogo Carlson’s House of Wingnut Welfare continues its mission to bring light spank material in a proper, conservative manner:

NBA Cheerleaders (Probably Obama Voters)

Coming tomorrow, which hospitals have the sexiest nurses and a revealing look at bras: which work better, front clasp or the other kind?

DailyBeastLogo Balancing the sex versus the more important security and political connotations of something like the still expanding Petraeus story is a tricky job for even the most reserved and intelligent of news outlets.  This is not how you do that:

Paula!

We’re already reducing a person who isn’t accused of anything except unapproved sex as “Paula” and referring to her interactions with another woman, about whom the news knows even less, as a “cat fight”.  Not that we should expect sobriety and intelligence from Newsweek Jr.:

Secret Affair Tips for Discerning Sparkly Vampires

ABC Logo Mickey’s News Club is also working the celebrity beat this morning:

Weight Loos, Famous People, Click Bait!

There’s nothing quite as click worthy as extreme weight loss plus fame, but that doesn’t make it informative, and last I checked the word “News” was still part of the title down there. 

Posted November 13, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, South Park

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Reading Digest – 8 November 2012   Leave a comment

“What, do you think I want to be here?  I hate this place.  But it won’t let me leave.” – Wall-Mart Manager

CNNlogo It certainly didn’t take CNN long to revert back to normal.  Their lead story is the bullshit “Fiscal Cliff”, of which, unsurprisingly, they appear to have only the barest understanding:

Compromise or confrontation?: Fiscal cliff will need quick attention

The actual article contains no useful reporting whatsoever, it’s just a series of back and forth quotes from public statements

Republicans said higher rates would damage the economy, while Democrats said it was the only equitable way to tackle the debt.

Congress faces an end-of-the-year deadline before massive spending cuts kick in and tax breaks begin to expire, including the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of December. The fiscal cliff also includes so-called sequestration — automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to trigger at the beginning of 2013 if Capitol Hill fails to create a deficit-reduction plan.

So, both sides do it, and terrible things will happen if they don’t compromise.  Got it.  And the fact that these things can be just as easily fixed after the deadline as before?  Nothing.  Anything about how nothing irrevocable happens or even how “cliff” is a terrible and misleading metaphor?  Nada. 

Beyond misunderstanding that, they’re back to their usual collection of uninformative time wasters:

Celebrities, Wal-Mart, Fat People

CNN’s featured stories include Wal-Mart having a sale, a celebrity working on a new television show that may or may not ever get made, and what bachelor parties look like in the Czech Republic.  The mind reels at how any of this is news. 

FNLogo Meanwhile, in winger land:

Boo-Hoo Media

Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell summed up the campaign news coverage by calling journalism “roadkill.” “The media lauded Obama no matter how horrendous his record, and they savaged Obama’s Republican contenders as ridiculous pretenders,” he wrote.

And who penned this litany of media horror?

Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how wingnut welfare works.  Get billionaire sugar daddies (Boone Pickens Fellow) to sponsor your front group and give you a fancy title (Vice President for Business and Culture), then write an article that cites as one of its main pieces of evidence a quote from your boss (Media Research Center President).  The guys in charge get their asses kissed while the intended audience is bamboozled by stuff that looks official and well thought out but is actually as authoritative as the guy on the street corner screaming about people stealing his thoughts. 

DailyCallerLogo Speaking of wingnut welfare, the lead story at Tucker Carlson’s shop:

Pyramids of Porn

“Pyramids of Porn”?  What does that even mean? 

usatodaylogo Oh, for fuck’s sake:

Please Your Masters!

The whole thing is an ode to the Confidence Fairy (“make investors happy, boost confidence and get the markets and economy moving again”), but there’s plenty of banker boot licking as well:

3. Roll back onerous regulations. Stiff regulations imposed on banks, oil exploration companies and coal companies by Obama are crimping economic growth, corporate profitability and business opportunities in these industries, says George Schwartz, president of both Schwartz Investment Counsel and the Ave Marie Mutual Funds.

"He’s got to roll back the regulations if he wants to create jobs, boost the economy and help generate wealth," he says.

I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to say, “Please, sir, may I have another” after something like that. 

PoliticoLogo No.  Bad Swampgas Daily, bad:

2024 Primaries Are Only A Dozen Years Away

Reading Digest – 30 October 2012   Leave a comment

“What are you doing?” – Eric Cartman
“We’re in line for the spook house.” – Butters Stotch
“Line?  Line!  I hate lines!” – Eric Cartman

CNNlogo Even with their hurricane coverage, CNN can’t resist a little celebrity gossip:

Hurricanes of the Rich and Famous

The story includes such useful and informative insights as:

@ryanlochte: Due to Hurricane #Sandy the @90210 episode is postponed until November 5th. Hope everyone is safe up north!

And:

@Jon_Favreau: Stay safe, East coast. #sandy

And, oh yes:

@snooki: Ahhhhh our power went out!

FNLogo Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of hurricane will keep FOX from accusing others of not being as unbiased as they are:

Twitter Bias Is Biased

And what was this particular thought crime?  It was to crack a joke on Twitter about Romney aids spamming an endorsement:

Late last week, CNN political reporter Peter Hamby clearly showed his partisan stripes by tweeting his apparent irritation at a flurry of Tweets he must have received from Mitt Romney staffers and supporters gleefully trumpeting the front page of last Thursday’s Des Moines Register. In response, he sent out a snarky Tweet of his own, “any Romney/RNC staffers not tweeted Des Moines Register front page yet?  @KevinMaddenDC is keeping score,” he tweeted.

To the re-education camp with him!

NPRlogo Apparently the hurricane didn’t keep all of NPR’s story monkeys busy:

Lines, How Do They Work

It’s a story about lines, and while it is just as vapid as you’d think, it also manages to contain both this:

And because there is in the idea of "the line" an understood premise – and promise. It’s an inherently American notion that some day, at some point, if you are polite and patient and play by the rules, you will move to the front of the line. And at last it will be your turn. And you will finally get your chance to do what you want to do.

And this:

Lines Around The World

Different societies, of course, exhibit different queuing cultures, according to sociologist David R. Gibson of Princeton University.

They couldn’t even write a story about waiting in line without it being so mushy headed and poorly written that it contradicted itself.  Lines: too challenging for NPR.

DailyCallerLogo Carlson’s House of Wingnut Welfare knows that this storm is only an excuse for the media to continue ignoring something Obama said at a party in 1984 . . . when he was living in New York!:

Obama-Cane

Was Hurricane Sandy a dastardly Chicago-style plot to destroy evidence that Obama was receiving instructions from the KGB while he was a student at Columbia?  We’re just asking questions.  Speaking of the routine obsessions of Tucker & Friends:

I Like Hurricane Butts and I Cannot Lie!

They are consistent, you’ve got to give them that. 

Posted October 30, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, South Park

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Reading Digest – 24 October 2012   Leave a comment

“Rob Schneider was an animal, then he was a woman, and now Rob Schneider is: a stapler!  And he’s about to find out that being a stapler is harder than it looks.  Rob Schneider is, The Stapler, rated PG-13.” – Movie Announcer
“Weak.” – Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski

CNNlogo This is the entirety of CNN’s featured stories this morning:

Feature Presentations

That’s twelve stories, of which three are about cute animals and three more are about celebrity naval gazing.  Of the remaining six, one’s a free ad for Apple, one’s a video of the space jump that happened a week and a half ago, and two are odd human interest stories.  That leaves two stories, one about an Arby’s worker who got fired, which is kind of news, and one about the shot Pakistani school girl, which isn’t even a CNN story, but rather a link to Time.  Their “Election Center” is just as bad:

Election Presentation

There are eleven stories there:

  • Three are just worthless opinion pieces (the two marked opinion and whatever crap David Gergen is signing his name to these days)
  • One is about other people’s spoofs of the debates
  • Two more are about the style of the debates (body language and “best moments”)
  • Two are about campaign minutia (Romney’s son apologizing and Obama going to MTV)
  • And one is about Obama’s hair!

That’s nine stories, leaving just a quote from Romney “We can’t kill our way out” and another incident in the ongoing Red inability to understand consent (Candidate: Rape pregnancy God’s will) that could qualify as actual news.  None of these stories involve any original reporting or serious analysis of the race.  There are reasons viewers of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are better informed than cable news viewers.  Info-free collections of nothing like CNN’s homepage this morning are among them. 

FoxNationLogo The nationalists have given up on putting their own spin on things and just started quoting Romney:

Mix Metaphors Much

Of course, “Camp”s don’t take on water, but what’s a little metaphor mixing between friends, eh?  And besides, it’s not like Romney’s campaign is the only piece of anti-Obama news this morning:

Makin' Crappies

That’s right, Obama has lost the vote of Rob Schneider, one time supporting cast member on Saturday Night Live and occasional player in terrible comedies where he becomes a carrot or a stapler or something.  Romney victory is now assured. 

Alex Cross: Dumb, Dull and Sequel Ready   Leave a comment

“Token, stop giving Tyler Perry money or he won’t go away.” – Eric Cartman
“I can’t help it.” – Token Black

Top Line: Alex Cross is a poorly constructed, paint-by-number, PG-13 action flick.  The script is awful, the performances range from supremely disinterested to flat out terrible, and, worst of all, the action sequences are dull and rote. 

Who (probably) should see this movie: Tyler Perry fans and bored action movie fans. 

Who (probably) should not see this movie: Everyone else. 

Box Score:

Runtime: 1h:41m – For all it’s manic pacing, it still manages to drag in places.

Actual Start Time: Showtime + 17 Minutes

Friday Morning Demographics: 30-40 people (which is a lot)

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity

All those things are true, and everything is done right up to the limit that the MPAA will allow, except for the language, which is as clean as the Thanksgiving Day parade broadcast. 

Should Be Rated: PG-12

Three Stars:

  1. Cicely Tyson – Perry’s Mom: 
    Gets in a few decent lines that try to add a little emotional reality to this movie.
  2. Yara Shahidi – Perry’s Daughter:
    Manages to emote in the few scenes she’s given.
  3. Kevin Hall – Perry’s Stand-in:
    Really this could be anybody, there isn’t a whole lot of actual acting in this movie, and since this guy was in a ton of it, why not?
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +1 (Probably slightly more fun this way than when it’s on basic cable until the end of time)
  • -1 (Not by much, though)

Final Score: 2

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • -2 (As forgettable as Hollywood formula movies come)
  • -1 (See above)
  • +1 (Mildly interesting as a case study in Tyler Perry’s megabucks career)

Final Score: 3

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • -2 (Doesn’t even try to pass)
  • -1 (Not one of the female characters even makes it to one dimensional)
  • -2 (And most of them meet gruesome deaths the horror of which is crassly papered over to maintain the precious PG-13 rating)

Final Score: 0

IMDb Sez:

Director:

  • Rob Cohen:
    Has a long track record directing these kind of mid-budget, low-concept action movies: Daylight (1996), xXx (2002), Stealth (2005), etcetera.  Probably the most fun movie on the list is Fast and Furious 1, which isn’t a good thing.

Writers:

  • Marc Moss:
    Has a two entry IMDb page, for writing this and for writing Along Came a Spider, the last Morgan Freeman Alex Cross movie.
  • Kerry Williamson:
    This is his only screenplay credit. 
  • James Patterson:
    The guy who wrote the Alex Cross novels. 

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 10% Top Critics: 0% Audience: 59%

Notes:

  • As you can see from the disparate Rotten Tomatoes scores, this kind of cookie cutter cop movie is almost designed to aggravate critics, but regular people who just want to shut off their brains for a couple of hours won’t care about all the specific problems.  
  • The script is godawful.  It’d be just plain bad given the number of ludicrously stupid ideas and cliched characters bumping into each other, but it makes that extra effort to be truly terrible by trying to cram serious emotional moments in cheek by jowl with bad comic relief and worse macho posturing. 
  • Oh, and it’s drowning in cliched, unexplored subplots.  Will the little girl play piano again?  Will Perry take that new job?  How’s the chief’s run for mayor going?  The movie contains all of these things and more, and treats each one to exactly three scenes so we can have face meltingly predictable setup-conflict-resolution on each. 
  • Tyler Perry is a very talented guy whose abilities do not extend to dramatic acting.  Despite his character going through an almost cartoonish amount of drama, his demeanor and facial expressions range somewhere between “annoyed in dentist’s waiting room”, “grimacing means I’m angry”, and “sleepy”. 
  • Matthew Fox is worse, though.  He never gets past petulant. 
  • There is quite a bit of heavy acting talent in the movie, but without exception it’s shuffled off to wretched little minor characters.  Edward Burns (Perry’s comedy sidekick) spends most of his time on screen going through the motions with a look on his face like “I am getting paid for this, right?  You guys know you can’t write me out of the sequel, it’s in my contract.” 
  • Jean Reno (creepy rich guy), Giancarlo Esposito (local mob boss who’s not all bad), and John McGinley (stereotypical top cop who yells a lot) all spend their brief time on screen looking just as disinterested as Burns. 
  • The movie ticks off character and action cliches like they’re on a checklist.  Perry and Burns even get the “you’re off the case, McBain!” speech from McGinley in one of the most perfunctory scenes in a very perfunctory movie.
  • Reno has to get through so many pieces of trite dialogue in his first meeting with Perry that they actually had two scenes with them back to back. 
  • And yes, the end fight scene involves someone getting kicked in the balls, why do you ask?
  • Seven Psychopaths joked about how movies like this don’t have anything for their female characters to do but get shot.  Well, Alex Cross goes them one better and has two of them tortured to death, albeit in a titillating, chicken shit, off screen PG-13 kind of way.
  • The movie starts with one of those really sloppy, network-TV level chase scenes where some nameless bad guy is fleeing from cops, shooting wildly, and eventually gets tackled by the hero.  That sets the tone for the movie’s many rote, nonsensical and bloodless fight sequences. 
  • That RPG explosion in the trailer?  It looks even faker on the big screen.

Bottom Line:

Alex Cross is as bland a Hollywood movie as you are likely to find.  Underneath it all there was probably a pretty cool murder/detective story, but that movie would need to be rated R, star someone else (Morgan Freeman comes to mind), and drop the noxious slapstick buddy comedy crap that resurfaces every fifteen minutes or so.  Instead, this is a beach novel with some dark ideas crammed into the bright, gooey and nonthreatening container of a formulaic Hollywood action movie.  Terrible things happen, but none of the characters really react to any of it.  There are lots of explosions and gun play, but none of it is memorable or exciting for the simple fact that it’s all so childishly unreal. 

The movie has three basic moods: action, sweetness/comedy, and deadly serious.  Unfortunately for the audience, it fails badly at the first and third, while still feeling the need (this is Tyler Perry, after all) to cram in the second.  Worse, it switches between the three so clumsily that it’s hard to enjoy any of them even in their limited capacity.  One moment they’re lamenting a gruesome death, and the next they’re back to being wise crackin’ good guys hot on the tail of their villain.  

There’s a reason Hollywood cranks out bland movies like this one, however.  They don’t cost much to make or market, and there’s enough audience interest in a bankable star (which Perry is) and a proven franchise (which Patterson’s Alex Cross novels are) to all but ensure that it won’t completely bomb, which is pretty much the only way it can lose money.  That’s also why the movie ends (and trust me, this is not a spoiler) with Perry and Burns heading off to bust more diabolical bad guys in the sequel. 

Assuming they keep it up, Alex Cross will eventually find its natural home as the Friday night kickoff to a Perry-as-Cross marathon weekend on TNT or FX sometime around 2019 or so. 

Movies Deemed Commercially and Demographically Similar Enough to Merit Trailers Before Looper:

The Man With the Iron Fists – Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! 

Flight – It’s bad enough when the trailer shows you the whole movie.  It’s worse when you see that trailer so many times that you begin to hate the damn thing before you’ve even seen it.

Parker – Transporter 4 still looks like plenty of dumb fun.  I’m not sure about Michael Chiklis as the bad guy, though. 

Lincoln – Get bent, Spielberg. 

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 – Thank fuck, it’s over. 

The Last Stand – California may have taken one for the team with that whole Schwarzenegger as governor for seven years thing.  He appears to have picked up in the unwatchable twilight of his career right where he left off.  The Golden State probably spared us several terrible movies.  (Note: I’m not saying it was worth it.)

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Posted October 19, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Box Score Cinema, South Park

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Reading Digest – 16 October 2012   Leave a comment

“People of South Park, do you declare shenanigans on the carnival people?” – Officer Barbrady  
“Yeah!” – People of South Park
“Okay, carnival people, do you accept this decree of shenanigan?” – Officer Barbrady
“What the hell are you talking about?  This whole town is screwy.” – Line Ride Photo Woman
“Well, that settles it, everybody grab a broom, it’s shenanigans!” – Officer Barbrady

PoliticoLogo You knew this was coming:

Presidential Debate: Five things to watch

As usual, the five are mind foggingly stupid, and many of them aren’t even “things to watch”.  Certainly items like “4. For Romney, be the change agent” and “5. For Obama, don’t overcompensate” sound more like unsolicited advice than a viewer guide.  I do enjoy the passive aggressive need to justify all this nonsense that underlies the opening sentence:

It will live up to the hype when President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney meet for the second presidential debate in a town hall format tonight at Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y.

There’s nothing like a confident assertion that something will “live up to the hype” coming from the Swampgas Daily, which is responsible for quite a bit of said hype in the first place.  It’s like a carnival barker who’s worried that you’re going to chicken out and not pay the five cents to see the pageant of the transmundane. 

CNNlogo Atlanta thinks it’s national news that people were paying for sex in Maine:

Slatternly Maineiacs

This is their lead, national story, a prostitution bust that doesn’t involve anyone in public office, or even anyone famous.  Fuck you, CNN.

FNLogo FOX has always placed a premium on numerical illiteracy, and this morning they have a doozy:

I Want a Robot Squirrel

First of all, 325 grand for a robotic squirrel seems like a bargain.  Secondly, it’s not until the very end that the article acknowledges that this is a tiny amount of money, though that’s after this choice nugget:

The report spotlights widespread abuse of the food stamp system – including an exotic dancer who earned more than $85,000 a year in tips, but also collected nearly $1,000 a month in food stamps while spending $9,000 during that time period on "cosmetic enhancements."

What the hell is wrong with FOX’s editors that they have the government subsidizing a “food stamp” stripper to the tune of $85,000 and didn’t put it in the headline.  For shame.  CNN would’ve pounced on that shit. 

FoxNationLogo This is, near as I can tell, not a joke:

Coin Toss-mentum

The link, I hesitate to call it an article, details four coin tosses, of which Romney’s people won three.  This is what the nationalists have been reduced to in their never ending quest to show Obama failing and Romney succeeding: coin tosses.  The report on Romney having better weather at his events is probably coming tomorrow.

Posted October 16, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, South Park

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Seven Psychopaths: A Love Note To Movie Geeks   2 comments

“Gacy, you numbskull, what’d you kill him for?” – Ted Bundy
“I didn’t mean to!” – John Wayne Gacy

Top Line: Seven Psychopaths is a wonderfully violent screwball comedy of the first order.  It also one of those conspicuously clever movies that’s about itself being a movie, but for the most part isn’t annoying about it. 

Who (probably) should see this movie: People who liked In Bruges, Christopher Walken aficionados, and film geeks.  Definitely film geeks.

Who (probably) should not see this movie: People who didn’t like In Bruges, and anyone looking for a regular shoot ’em up gangster movie. 

Box Score:

Runtime: 1h:49m – Feels about right.  Drags a little toward the end, but it’s deliberate, so it’s not bad or anything.

Actual Start Time: Showtime + 20(!) Minutes

Friday Morning Demographics: ~10 people, almost all dudes.

MPAA: Rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use

There’s some entertaining violence, and brief almost playfully obligatory boobs, but this movie is very good natured about everything.  There’s nothing terribly disturbing.   

Should Be Rated: PG-16

Three Stars:

  1. Sam Rockwell – Lead Psychopath: 
    Plays the delightfully batty dog borrowing lunatic who sets everything in motion with a nice balance between being in-movie crazy and winking at the camera.  Also gets in several well done venereal disease jokes, which is always a plus.
  2. Christopher Walken – Secondary Psychopath:
    Actually gets to play someone other than himself for once.  He’s still Walken, of course, but he gives a good, solid edge to a pacifist Quaker.
  3. Colin Farrell – Idealized Screenwriter:
    Once again, Martin McDonagh has managed to coax a good performance out of Farrell.  His part isn’t as deep or interesting as it was in In Bruges, but it’s pretty good and he doesn’t get overly twitchy or cutesy. 
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +2 (Solidly entertaining from start to finish)
  • +1 (XKCD made fun of it this morning, so people are paying attention)

Final Score: 4

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +1 (Contains way too many self referential movie jokes for a respectable movie geek to not see it)

Final Score: 6

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • -5 (Doesn’t even try to pass)
  • +1 (Does have quite a few excellent, if minor, female characters)
  • +1 (Does so deliberately and mocks itself for it (See: Notes))

Final Score: 2

IMDb Sez:

Director:

Writer:

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 84% Top Critics: 72% Audience: 87%

Notes:

  • I’m not sure what’s with the lower score from “Top” critics.  Maybe they thought the movie didn’t parody itself enough, or did it too cutesy?  I dunno.  The other two ratings make much more sense. 
  • Fans of Boardwalk Empire will enjoy the opening scene with Arnold Rothstein and Jimmy Darmody. 
  • The movie maintains a healthy balance between sending itself up and delivering the foul mouthed gunplay that is the real reason everyone’s here. 
  • Colin Farrell plays your typically idealized screenwriter fantasy: handsome, charming (when he wants to be), hot girlfriend, cool alcohol problem, the whole schmear.  It’s one of the movie’s subtler self referential jokes.
  • Tom Waits does his usual acting thing where he sits there looking odd and creepy and then acts odder and creepier.  That you know it’s coming doesn’t make it any less fun to watch.
  • Bechdel Note: Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko may have been required to spend more time at the photo shoot for the poster than on set, so miniscule are their roles.  However, the movie makes a point near the end about how movies like this never give their female characters anything to do but get shot.  Does it still count as sexist if you’re being deliberately and self consciously sexist as a way to expose the sexism of others?  Again, I dunno. 
  • Related to the above, we know from the get go that the dog is going to be okay, because, as the movie itself points out, in this kind of film you can’t kill the animals, just the women.  Otherwise people would be upset.
  • Woody Harrelson somehow manages to keep maybe the weakest part in the movie from becoming too much of a cliche for even all this meta-snark to cover. 
  • I poked my head into the early showing of Atlas Shrugged II: The Middle Part on my way into Seven Psychopaths.  Word on the street was that they upgraded from Manos-level production to Puma Man since the first one.  If so, their money might (ironically) have been well spent, there were a few people in the theater.  

Bottom Line:

Seven Psychopaths lives up to its name; there are indeed seven of them, and they are all rather reckless with their lives and the lives of others.  That the whole thing is wrapped up in a Colin Farrell character who is also writing a movie called “Seven Psychopaths” could’ve easily led the movie down an overly serious path of infinite reflections and naval gazing (ahem, Adaptation), but McDonagh keeps things light and entertaining throughout. 

The movie may best be understood as a commentary on not only McDonagh’s first movie, In Bruges, but other films that play around in the “gunplay and black comedy” area.  The whole story is so ridiculous that he may have simply concluded that the only way to salvage any dignity out of it was by poking fun at himself for making it and us for watching it.  To that end, Seven Psychopaths strives above all for laughs, overt and subtle, and is that much better for doing so. 

With Walken and Farrell coming along for the ride, Sam Rockwell is the beating hart of the movie.  He gets plenty of opportunities to switch gears mid-scene (look I’m psycho!, now I’m charming!), and he pulls them off without it becoming cartoonish or expected.  Walken gets to play a more disciplined and determined man, and goes through the movie with a sense of detached bemusement that also doesn’t feel like pandering.  Farrell isn’t given much to do besides alternate between incredulous and scared, but he pulls of both and doesn’t become annoying despite being a walking cliche: the hip, cool, kickass writer of his generation.  That the whole thing is a gag certainly helps.

Ultimately, Seven Psychopaths is a movie by a film geek for other film geeks.  Conventions will be mocked and played with, but also executed well.  Jokes will be made at the expense of both the audience and the man behind the camera.  And above all, you’ll find yourself laughing at strange and terrible things, which is exactly what this kind of film is supposed to deliver. 

Movies Deemed Commercially and Demographically Similar Enough to Merit Trailers Before Looper:

Identity Thief – Cute, topical comedy with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.

Movie 43 – Could be entertaining.  Certainly the cast is promising, but there’s a reason they never actually made a sequel to Kentucky Fried Movie

Flight – This looks pretty bad, though if it turns out to be a civil rights movie for alcoholics I could get behind it.  Also, it might be a mistake to show us the entire damned movie in the trailer.

Alex Cross – Madea will kill you.  Like Flight, suffers from “Let’s show everything in the trailer” syndrome. 

Lincoln – Still looks wretched, bordering on unwatchable.

Parker – You might as well call this movie Transporter 4, but it looks like a decent way to kill a couple of hours in the middle of January.  At least they got Statham an age appropriate female lead in Jennifer Lopez. 

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Reading Digest – 5 October 2012   Leave a comment

“It’s the kindergarten teacher, Miss Stevenson.” – Kyle Broflovski
“The blonde?” – Detective
“Yeah.” – Kyle Broflovski
“Some young boy’s having sex with Miss Stevenson?” – Cop
“Yes.” – Kyle Broflovski
“Nice.” – Cop
“Nice.” – Detective

FoxNationLogo This morning on FOX Nation, everyone gets laid.  First, there’s inappropriate school sex:

The Important Thing Is She's Blonde and Has Tits

This is as purely a FOX headline as you can get.  There’s a question mark, they called the woman in question a “Buxom Blonde” (which is roughly the same way YouPorn gets people to click on things), and they called it, for no reason whatsoever, a “Sex Romp”.  But wait, there’s more:

The Librarian Is Interested in Your Stacks

This one has just as much tabloid appeal, and gets bonus points for sticking it to those perverted East Coast elites.  Can’t send your daughters to Harvard, Princeton or Yale now, they’ll make porn in the libraries, gobble free contraception, and vote Democratic.  But it’s not all porn and forbidden love, it’s also attributing all good things in the world to Mitt Romney:

He Also Raised Bowling Averages and Lowered Mini-Golf Scores

The actual story is even funnier, because it boils down to a quote from some guy in The Wall Street Journal.  That’s good market analysis!

usatodaylogo McPaper has a different teacher-student sex story, but they’ll never get any pageviews with this bland garbage:

Teachers accused of ‘hooking up’ with students

Take a page from the FOX playbook and sex that shit up.

DailyCallerLogo Apparently, from inside the wingnut welfare bubble, all Obama voters look the same:

Young Ingrates No offense to the women in that photo, but none of them look to be in their early 20s.  I guess Tucker & Friends are as incapable of seeing age as they are of seeing race.  Coming on Monday, Romney will connect with young Latino voters while they run a picture of Cesar Romero and John Travolta.  In other important news:

News Flash - Women Have Breasts

I get the tabloid desire to snap and/or publish pictures of the pretty and famous.  But there is a really odd line of thought behind copy like “this is what Robert Pattinson sees”, it’s as though they think they’ve gleaned some deep insight into other people’s personal lives with the shocking information that adults sometimes get naked together.  I understand the sales angle there, but it still feels like two ten-year-olds giggling over the unfathomably awesome nastiness of something as routine and harmless as second base. 

Posted October 5, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Reading Digest, South Park

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Looper: Time Traveling Hitmen and Psychic Powers (Together at Last!)   1 comment

“Aaron, I’m standing at the time portal, which scientists say follows Terminator rules.  That is, it’s one way only and you can’t go back.  This is in contrast to, say, Back to the Future rules where back and forth is possible, and, of course, Timerider rules, which are just plain silly.” – Harrison the TV Reporter

Top Line: Looper is a fantastic movie.  It’s got an inventive and unique science fiction universe that it uses well, and while it suffers from a few problems here and there, overall it is excellent, consistently entertaining, and generally a great deal of fun.

Who (probably) should see this movie: Science fiction and gangster movie fans, anyone who liked Brick or The Brothers Bloom, and noir detective fans generally. 

Who (probably) should not see this movie: Those who aren’t big fans of any of the above genres and/or movies.  What you see is what you get with Looper

Box Score:

Runtime: 1h:58m – Feels about right.

Actual Start Time: Showtime +17 Minutes

MPAA: Rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content

The language was actually pretty tame, but it did have the rest of those things (bless its heart), plus dead kids, so yeah, for once the R is pretty well deserved.  But that shouldn’t stop eager beaver 15 year olds from seeing it.  I would’ve loved this movie when I was 15. 

Should Be Rated: PG-16

Three Stars:

  1. Bruce Willis – Old Joe the Hitman:
    John McClane didn’t need to be there with the rest of the retirement home gang in those Expendables movies.  He is still perfectly capable of pulling off an action role without it being ironic.
  2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Young Joe the Hitman:
    Premium Rush is great as the younger, more inexperienced version of Willis’ elder badass.  He’s steely and cool when he needs to be but still young and impulsive when necessary.
  3. Emily Blunt – Shotgun Wielding Farmer Mommy:
    Plays the rural, futuristic femme fatale for this particular detective story with verve and heart.
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +1 They actually had midnight showings of this.
  • +1 The kind of movie that’s much more fun with an audience.

Final Score: 4

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +2 Flat out good movie.
  • -1 Good or not, it’s still a niche film, so there’s no burning need to see it.

Final Score: 5

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • +1 Emily Blunt is fantastic and gets a role with just as much complicated backdrop as the Old and Young Joe the Hitmans. 
  • +1 In a movie with a small cast, she gets major screen time.
  • -3 That said, never comes close to passing.
  • -1 Piper Perabo and Tracie Thoms can act, I’ve seen them do it, shame they don’t get to do anything but sashay around and serve coffee, respectively.

Final Score: 3

IMDb Sez:

Director:

  • Rian Johnson:
    Wrote and directed Brick (2005) and The Brothers Bloom (2008), both of which are lots of fun.

Writer:

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 92% Top Critics: 95% Audience: 91%

Notes:

  • As you can see from the Rotten Tomatoes numbers, there is wide agreement that this is an excellent film, I will not offer much dissent.
  • The movie has two futures, one thirty years from now and the other thirty years from that.  The nearer future is where we spend almost the entire film, and it is a very well done future.  It’s believably depressing, suffers from plenty of problems you could see growing out of the ones we have now, and has some very nice touches of desperation (small and large). 
  • It is, however, a mainly white future where women don’t seem to do much other than wait tables, mind the kids, and entertain. 
  • That said, it’s a very rich world.  You could easily set a series of comic books there. 
  • Like any good film noir buff, Johnson is acutely aware of all the little plot elements in his story and how they foreshadow one another and work together.  You could pick at things here or there, but for the most part the plot works well, which is especially impressive in a science fiction world where lesser movies tend to change their rules halfway through to suit the plot.
  • People from the past can send messages to their future selves by carving messages into their own flesh.  (+20 cool points, Achievement: Flesh Message Unlocked)
  • The minor character henchmen are very good, but the anonymous cannon fodder henchmen suffer from a very pronounced case of Incompetent Henchman Syndrome.  At one point, an armed guy runs into a room where gunfire has just been exchanged and doesn’t draw his gun until Gordon-Levitt is already kicking his ass. 
  • Special commendation goes to Pierce Gagnon, the little boy who plays Blunt’s son.  Kid can act, and has some great lines. 
  • Yes, Deadwood fans, that’s the guy who played Jack McCall in Season 1 and Francis Wolcott in Season 2.  (Johnson also used Eddie Sawyer as the narrator in The Brothers Bloom.)
  • Demographic marketing exists for a reason.  I was one of about a dozen guys, mostly pathetic single men, at the early Friday show.  The showing of Pitch Perfect that let out at the same time appeared to have contained about the same number of people, but was entirely female. 

Bottom Line: Looper is an exceedingly well done genre picture.  In this case, it’s a standard film noir plot with wiseguys, hired goons, hot dames, and lots of illegal activity, but with the added twist of time travel and people with telekinetic powers.  That’s a potent mixture that could’ve easily been mishandled, but Rian Johnson is, for the third time in a row, completely on top of his game.

The movie has a very involved story to tell and a very unusual world in which to tell it, but keeps things moving at an entertaining clip.  There’s plenty of action, suspense, cool reveals, slick dialogue and all the other trimmings that make movies like this fun to watch.  There are enough elements moving along to keep the final twist pretty well obscured, and it never gets bogged down with backstory or distractions.  As with most noir movies, there are a couple of “wait, what?” moments where something doesn’t quite fly, but for the most part they’re minor. 

Willis and Gordon-Levitt are both fantastic, and do a very good job of giving Joe the Hitman recognizable traits even when one of him is thirty years older than the other.  The rest of the supporting cast, from Blunt’s psychic mommy to Jeff Daniels’ cynical, seen it all mob boss is just as at home.  Even though many of them hardly get more than a couple of scenes, the script gives even the minor characters at least some depth. 

All in all, Looper is the kind of movie that critics tend to wish Hollywood made more of: original, inventive, well written and acted, and entertaining in ways that don’t leave you feeling like you’ve seen it all before.  The cast is solid, the effects are well done, and the script is cool.  That’s a hell of a lot more than can be said for most movies, and Looper deserves every bit of praise it’s getting.

Movies Deemed Commercially and Demographically Similar Enough to Merit Trailers Before Looper:

Cloud AtlasIt would be so cool if this movie doesn’t suck, too bad it looks like a higher budget remake of The Fountain

Mama – Speaking of visually cool movies that look like they kinda suck, Guillermo del Toro takes a crack at the “creepy little girl” horror genre. 

Sinister – The house is still haunted and the family is still unsuspecting.

Lincoln – Tony Kushner’s involvement is intriguing, but this looks just godawful.  This is a discussion for another time, but if you were evaluating Spielberg exclusively on his post-2000 movies, he’d be a middlebrow hack.

Red Dawn – Much like the original, this could be fun provided you have enough booze handy.  Also like the original, it looks so unbelievably stupid that actually drinking “enough booze” might lead to permanent incapacitation. 

Zero Dark Thirty – The ethically wretched but probably entertaining movie that will someday have a book written about how wildly inaccurate it is.

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Posted September 28, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Box Score Cinema, South Park

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For a Good Time, Call…: A Buddy Comedy With Girls and Phone Sex (Awesome!)   Leave a comment

“Hi there, I’m Amanda.  What are you up to?” – “Amanda”
“Oh, hi, I just, uh, thought I’d give the hotline a try.  What are you doing?” – Randy Marsh
“I’m making a pan roasted chicken.” – “Amanda”

Top Line:For a Good Time, Call…” is a fantastic comedy and a very good movie to boot.  It’s very funny, doesn’t drag out its inevitable ending, and is well acted through and through.

Who (probably) should see this movie: Anyone who’s ever had an orgasm they didn’t feel bad about.

Who (probably) should not see this movie: Those who have not, especially weirdly prudish people.

Box Score:

Runtime:1h:25m – And good for it.Start Time: Showtime + 15 minutes
MPAA:R – “for strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use”Feh.  There is a lot of masturbation, but that’s hardly adult material, most Americans start doing that in junior high.  All in all, it’s a very chaste sex comedy.  There’s no nudity, and while the language is a little raunchy, it’s nothing kids can’t hear on South Park.  The only drug use is marijuana, which is already white-people-legal in most places and might be all-the-way-legal in like three states before this movie gets to home video, so that’s hardly something worth shielding from the kids.

Should Be Rated: PG-12

Three Stars:

  1. Lauren Miller – Upper Middle Class Manhattan Stereotype:
    Miller pulls off the more complex of the two lead roles as the one who thinks of herself as above phone sex.  Miller co-wrote the movie (so her character is, naturally, ambitious and literary minded), and gave herself plenty of opportunities to shine.
  2. Ari Graynor – Lower Middle Class Manhattan Stereotype:
    Graynor gets the shallow party girl who’s not as hardcore as she pretends to be and makes her believable and sympathetic when the time comes.
  3. Justin Long – The Only Mostly Stereotypical Gay Girls Friend:
    Pops in and out of the movie like some Shakespearian sprite, but does his part well.
Need to See In Theater (Baseline: 2):

  • +2 Flat out good movie.
  • +1 Good comedies are always better seen with an audience.
  • -1 There’s nothing here that won’t play just as well on your television in a few months.

Final Score: 4

Need to See Eventually (Baseline: 5):

  • +2 Again, flat out good movie.
  • +1 It’s a funny sex comedy.  This was practically made to be a date night movie.

Final Score: 8

Bechdel (Baseline: 5):

  • +5 Passes Bechdel Test Easily

Final Score: 10

IMDb Sez:

Director:

  • Jamie Travis:
    Canadian who’s only done a bunch of obscure indie stuff and shorts.  First time in the big chair.

Writers:

Rotten Tomatoes Sez:

All Critics: 59% Top Critics: 63% Audience: 74%

Dots:

  • Those Rotten Tomatoes numbers are all terribly low.  This is a fantastic film.
  • Seth Rogan’s cameo is a reminder that he is often much funnier when not asked to carry the story.  It’s almost worth the price of admission.
  • How can you not love a movie that contains lines about a job being “filled by nepotism” and “that’s a lot of dildos”?
  • They even snuck in a successful pedophile joke!  That’s not easy to do.
  • This movie is what the overly discussed HBO show Girls is trying so very hard to become.  It’s goofy and wacky and feminine all at the same time, but, unlike Girls, For a Good Time, Call… isn’t foolish enough to think that weird and maudlin are the same thing as profound and dramatic.
  • I’m not sure if this exact concept is durable enough to support a sequel, but if Miller and Graynor want to make another buddy comedy together, I’d pay to see it.
  • Mimi Rogers and Don McManus are wasted on rail thin uptight parent parent roles that probably had to be there but weren’t a great deal of fun or fleshed out beyond the bare minimum.

Bottom Line: For A Good Time, Call… is a very funny movie that follows a standard buddy movie template by having two people who can’t stand each other become partners and then friends.  It stars two women, so it ends with hugging and declarations of love instead of the more traditional drink and a slap on the back, but it executes the formula exceedingly well, with plenty of comic adventure and screwball characters, and it doesn’t linger over the inevitable falling out and reconciliation that drag down the last third to half of so many other comedies.

Along the way are an absolute ton of sex jokes, catty wordplay, sex jokes, pop culture gags, and sex jokes.  The movie doesn’t get bogged down with any unnecessary subplots, but does manage to work in plenty of amusing side characters, only a few of whom are, ahem, gentlemen callers.  Nia Vardalos is the harsh boss at the literary agency, Sugar Lyn Beard is another phone sex operator, and Martha MacIsaac provides some perfect comic relief to keep the third act from becoming dreary and overly dramatic.  In the gentleman caller division, Kevin Smith plays the worst taxi driver you’ve ever had and Seth Rogan steals a scene as a masturbating airline pilot who would rather delay his flight than delay his orgasm.

All those distractions are a great part of what makes For a Good Time, Call… so consistently fun.  The movie has a story and sticks to it without any obvious forehead slapping moments, but it is primarily concerned with watching Lauren Powell and Ari Graynor enjoy themselves as upwardly mobile ladies of the city.  They laugh, they learn, they say wonderfully filthy things.  All in all, it makes for a very good movie that is very much worth watching (provided you don’t think non-procreative sex is a sin or something, then you might not like it).

Movies Deemed Commercially and Demographically Similar Enough to Merit Trailers Before For a Good Time, Call…:

The Sessions – Whether or not this sucks will depend greatly on the drama/cutesy : funny ratio.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Your standard coming of age comedy about kids coming to terms with things.  The trailer wants you to know it comes from people behind Juno (2007).  Remember what I said about the drama/cutesy : funny ratio above?  Goes just as much for this one.

Anna Karenina – Your standard historical costume movie that makes Americans think everyone in the past spoke with a British accent.  This one comes with the added artistic pedigree of Tolstoy, so get ready to pretend that you read and/or remember it.  This isn’t so much Oscar bait as an Oscar meal.

Pitch Perfect – I remain apathetic about this movie, but if it’s actually as self aware as the trailer makes it seem, it could be very watchable.  It’ll depend greatly on whether or not its nearly two-hour run time is justified or filler.

WARNING: The comments section is a spoiler friendly zone.  By reading this with your inner monologue, you have waved any right to bitch about spoilers in perpetuity throughout the universe.

Posted September 14, 2012 by Charlie Sweatpants in Box Score Cinema, South Park

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