I Want to Support Theater Releases, But the Movie Going Experience is Poor

I just watched Kick-Ass 2 on HBO and I know it didn’t do well in the theaters which means that Kick-Ass 3 probably won’t be made. It’s a shame because it would make a nice trilogy. According to Wikipedia, Chloë Grace Moretz is quoted as saying it was the second most pirated movie for the year 2013. However, in that same article we get: The film was a box office success grossing more than double of its budget but failed to gross more than the first movie.

So it made back it’s investment and then some, but for producers it’s not worth the risk or time to double the budget. Most likely, when the money is split among the various parties it doesn’t amount to a lot. After all, a million here, a million there doesn’t go as far as it used to.

I would love to support theater releases of movies I want to see and promote with my hard earned cash, but it seems like every time I go to the theater there’s some assholes ruining the experience or a mom has brought their entire clan of 5 year olds who run and scream through the aisles. I essentially gave up. Why ruin my first time watching a movie when I can wait for it to come out on HBO or Netflix and watch it on my big screen TV? It may not be the big “big” screen with ultra fancy surround sound, but that doesn’t matter when I can relax and not have to listen to people talking behind me, teenagers yelling sarcastic comments, or screaming kids.

I’m not sure what the answer is? My second job when I was in my early twenties was at a cinema so I know about all the audience conflicts that happen. I once had to tell a rather large mom with 3 kids to quiet down due to another patron’s complaint. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence or say sorry, she just stared straight ahead like I was a dick for even asking. Then there were  two guys who got into a yelling match over who the hell knows and neither of them would move from their seats to another location to avoid further arguing. We eventually had to call the police to sort it out. And of course, we had the teenagers and college students sneaking in beer which only prompted them to be louder than usual.

I suppose if I ran a movie theater I would end up like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld which is not good for business. It’s not that you have to be quiet in a theater, but your noise should be related to what’s on the screen. If it’s a funny movie, by all means laugh–just don’t try to take over the entertainment by making your own cracks. And for the record, you assholes who think you have talent by cracking jokes and making stupid comments? You don’t have talent! That’s why you’re not on the screen and someone else is.

BTW: In Kick-Ass 2, Jim Carrey really transforms himself into Colonel Stars and Stripes. I wish he wouldn’t have pulled his support for the film because it had nothing to do with school shootings. Kick-Ass is a parody of hero idealism and even as the comic books and films are fantasies, they throw in plenty of plot points with reality checks. You can get really fuckin’ hurt trying to be a hero. On the other hand, with the trend in superhero patrols around the United States, as technology advances and makes the idea of powers into reality I don’t expect this idealism to go away. I think it is going to become a reality. Imagine if you can write apps for an exoskeleton? Or surround yourself with drones that are controlled by your brain?  The only thing stopping a wave of new superheroes is federal and local law enforcement. But then Batman never played by the rules…

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‘Death Wish Club’ Movie, Brilliantly Bad

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That’s the only way I can describe it! Brilliantly bad! I was mesmerized at how bad it was and yet, whoever made it must have known it because they kept putting in brilliant little jokes here and there and the most bizarre plot twists this side of a David Lynch film. Death Wish Club has to be part of your collection if you truly love bad films or even just eighties suspense films.

DWC starts out with narration by a rich asshole who wants to love someone, but not be loved. So he goes to the local carnival and tosses one hundred bills down a young female’s shirt selling popcorn. Her name is Gretta. Then the popcorn is tossed aside and she goes home with him. Apparently selling popcorn or living with a sugar daddy is not enough for Gretta so she makes softcore films which captures the eye of a pre-med student named Glen. He becomes infatuated with her film presence and has to find her.

And he does, playing keyboard at the Manhattan Club, a drinking establishment with a band in the back–owned, of course, by the sugar daddy. From there, our pre-med student Glen becomes romantically entangled with Greta as Greta exhibits a personality disorder where she changes into a man named Charlie White (following this so far?). To add to the fun, the sugar daddy and Gretta are part of an exclusive death wish club and invite Glen to join. The club meets to experience the thrill of someone potentially dying amongst the members. They devise methods such as releasing a deadly insect in the room or a machine that sends out random electric shocks, one of which is deadly.

The film is absolutely ridiculous and hilarious! I enjoyed every bit of it and I wasn’t even disappointed by the ending that went nowhere. That’s because by the time you get half way through you realize the producers must have blended two scripts together: one about a woman with a personality disorder and one about a club that jerks off to death.

If you don’t already know, this is the full film that was edited into a short story for Night Train to Terror, another really bad film. In Night Train to Terror, Satan and God meet up and Satan tells stories while some teenagers breakdance in the next car down. All of the stories are fast edits of films that were never released except for Death Wish Club and the only reason you continue to watch the hacking up of footage is because it highlights nudity, violence and gore. Pardon the pun, but the reason you can’t turn it off is it is a “train wreck” (ha! I kill me.).

Unfortunately, Death Wish Club is out of print. It was one of those releases you found in the video store on VHS in the late eighties and later on as a DVD in the nineties before video rental shops went extinct. I was able to buy a former rental copy at Amazon and it appears that there are about 8 more copies listed at the time of this writing. HOWEVER, Night Train to Terror has been rereleased and as a bonus they include the entire film for Death Wish Club, AKA Gretta. So you can get two pieces of cheeze for the price of one.

Are You Snarky or Just a Bitch?

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I tend to get along with most personality types, but I’m realizing more and more there’s a fine line between snarky and bitchy–and this doesn’t just relate to women. I’ve met some bitchy, judgmental men too. Today I found myself annoyed by a snarky attitude that crossed the line into “bitchy mean.”  Instead of a clever, witty reply to a comment I made that maybe would have added to the humor, the reaction was mocking and seemed to miss the point of the jokey atmosphere. This person was not the only one involved and the joking regarding the resemblance of a certain food item to a certain anatomical part started much earlier in the day before this person was even aware of the intended humor. My comment was simply to include them which is what I do with all people I like to hang out with. However, they seemed to be the only one who found the joking immature and lashed out with fake, sarcastic laughter aimed to demean me for having a smile on my face. And it’s not because they were offended by such humor; they have inconsistently laughed at inappropriate jokes some of the time and other times made value judgments on such jokes (“You’re so immature. You’re such a perv”).

Have you ever been in a familiar crowd where you assume it’s safe to use innuendo or tell an off color joke because it’s been used before time and time again? And then someone who’s not always there calls you out on it by rolling their eyes, acting like you’re the only pervert in the room and exclaiming, “Oh good one! You must be real proud of yourself.” It makes you feel like an idiot and it’s a huge mood killer. I do my best to only use innuendo or wink-wink, nudge-nudge comments with friends–people I like and trust–who use the same humor. I know risque humor makes some people feel uncomfortable and I try to avoid that for the sake of sensitivity at work or places where there may be families, etc. Unfortunately, I misjudged this person’s ability to joke around and this wasn’t the first miscalculation as it has happened before. They’re off my list! In the future I will avoid any further comments in their presence as their snarky, borderline bitchy response was uncalled for.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I grew up in a conservative, repressively religious household where such humor was frowned upon. Considering I had an attraction to humor and cartooning, it was the worst sort of atmosphere to deal with: always having to watch my tongue or keep jokes to myself or not get caught watching movies or TV shows that made any references to sexual humor. Maybe that’s why I feel if you can’t handle adult jokes about sex, you’re the immature one. It means everyone has to treat you like you’re the kid in the room who is only allowed to hear G-rated material. So when someone snarks back at me that I’m immature for laughing at adult humor I really just want to say, “Grow the fuck up.”

And if you’re reputation is to be snarky, at least be good at it. A snarky attitude fails if you don’t have the wit to back it up. Otherwise, you just come off as a mean bitch.

All in all, the way to enjoy humor is to roll with it and not be uptight.

 

John Denver Clone

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My parents recently went to see this guy, a John Denver tribute artist. I don’t know, are we really going to try to resurrect all our favorite musicians and actors from the past with lookalikes? It’s popular in Vegas–I get it–but Vegas is about cheesy acts, drinking and losing your money. The John Denver artist, whose real name is Ted Vigil, sells an album of him singing John Denver songs…? Why wouldn’t I buy the original albums? After all, if I’m a fan of John Denver I want to listen to John Denver.

The same thing with a concert tribute. It’s one thing if you had a Beatles tribute band or a Kiss tribute band because it is a stage performance and they’re often trying to capture an era (like the Beatles in the sixties). But John Denver was not what I would call a stage performer with costumes and glitz, etc. He sat down and sang to you. I know this because, my Dad the fan, took me as a kid to see John Denver. And the original man was entertaining enough because he simply talked between songs and then sang his hits. For a tribute, someone who is acting like John Denver? I don’t get it? I’m sure Ted Vigil is a talented singer and if I looked like someone famous and could pull off their voice to make money I understand doing it. It’s no slight against him. What I don’t understand from a music fan perspective is why would I invest time and money into a faked version of the original? At best, I could see him singing some new songs in John Denver’s voice which might cause some interest.

A friend and I got into a debate on this one–yes, a very pointless one–and I said what if this was done with movie remakes? Not only would the movie be remade, it would be remade with an actor that looked exactly like the original actor. The example I gave was what if an Al Pacino look-a-like redid Serpico? And she said, why not? Well, what’s the point of doing that? An Al Pacino clone may be able to redo the movie and make you think he’s Al Pacino, but if I have any sort of brain in my head I would go back and watch the original movie with the original actor.

So the same is true of John Denver. I would want to listen to his original music. If I want to see him in concert there is plenty of footage and specials. But to go see a look-a-like/sound-a-like  in concert?

In the future, we will see digital clones of deceased actors doing new movies. I believe that makes sense. I think cover bands make sense for the bar scene. John Denver clones? I guess we can expect more of the same as there is a niche for everything and judging by the comments under his CD people seem to love a knock-off. As for me, I’ll listen to the original John Denver, which is odd to begin with as I was and still am into heavy metal, and to listen to JD you have to get into a sickly sweet sentimental mood. Maybe Ted could reboot the Oh God movie series?

The Critics are Making Me Want to See ‘Tammy’ the Movie

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I hadn’t even considered seeing Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy” movie until I heard Michael Medved’s bashing of it on the radio. If you don’t know who Michael Medved is he’s a conservative talk show host and movie reviewer. When Medved played a sound clip of the movie for the fast food robbery scene after droning on how unfunny it was I found myself laughing at the clip. Next day I saw another reviewer on our local news bash the film and play a clip about eating chips and I laughed.

So maybe these clips are the best scenes for the film, but I’m starting to become skeptical of the critics’ reactions. I keep hearing things like: “Why is she making so many fat jokes?” Why isn’t the film smarter?” “Why so much toilet humor?” “Why such dark material?”

News flash to reviewers: these are not good reasons to bash a film. Basically, what you’re saying is you don’t know why the film is bad. Lowbrow humor is lowbrow humor, it may not have been meant for you.

In the shit economy we’ve been dealing with since 2008 with unemployment and an obesity epidemic why would you not expect someone to exploit it for laughs and even sympathy. As far as dark material, that’s obvious too and humor doesn’t have to be optimistic or overly “ha-ha.” We’ve been through some dark times and the forecast for the middle class on down never seems to be good. I like clever humor too, but I’ll embrace toilet humor if it makes me laugh and appeals to my cynical mood. Maybe the film was aimed towards people who are not happy with how life has been treating them?

I guess now I’m going to have to see the film as I don’t trust these critics. If it sucks so be it, but it sounds like it’s no worse than a cheezy eighties film with a cast from SNL or screwball comedies like Porky’s. Those flicks were hit or miss on the laughs and yet overall they still made us want to watch. Did critics at the time of release like those films? Probably not, because they made their livings as movie critics–which isn’t a real job! Professional critics don’t live in the real world, I’m sorry to say, and these days there are so many wannabe Eberts that they often try too hard to be a “critic.” What the hell is so important about one person’s opinion on a movie versus another? This is why I tend to read audience comments versus critic reviews to get a feel for how the movie did on release. 

After all, some films become minor comedy classics like Tommy Boy. I wonder how much we would have laughed if Chris Farley didn’t encourage humor about his weight or intellect?

‘Winged Migration,’ Faked Scenes for the Sake of a Good Story?

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Winged Migration is a “documentary” from 2001 which I finally saw after actually giving the DVD as a present to a bird lover almost 6 or so years ago. I put “documentary” in quotes because this is actually a nature tale and it doesn’t appear the filmmakers would disagree though they didn’t dispute the documentary title and they didn’t refuse the Best Documentary Oscar nomination. “Nature Tale” is putting it lightly. It doesn’t fall into a fictional story so much as a reenactment.

The debate on the line between reality shows and faked shows has inevitably left me jaded about any reality show and documentary films are no different. I realize a documentary can have a spin–an editiorial viewpoint–based on the editing and narration. Michael Moore is a good example, and his movies become disappointing once you realize how much spin he used to the point where the audience is misled as certain events never happened or they were filmed out of order and reassembled into Moore’s storyline. A nature documentary doesn’t really need a spin unless you’re advocating to stop man-made climate change or some other cause involving social responsibility or politics. Winged Migration doesn’t have a cause, but it is scripted and has what I would call the equivalent of ad-libbed scenes. I don’t think it counts as a documentary. It may be light on plot–migration happens every year and can be treacherous–but it’s still a planned story.

Here’s some of the many reasons why: 1. A large percentage of the birds were raised and imprinted so that the camera crews could get close enough with a variety of vehicles. In other words, they were filming pets. They even brought birds over from one location to another in order to initiate a migration or film in certain locations. 2. The crew intervened on certain shots where nature would usually take it’s course. The main example is the scene of a sea bird with a broken wing hopping around as it is chased by crabs. The end shot of the crabs eating the bird never happened. They rescued the bird and threw the crabs a fish (which is what we see). Nice for the bird, but a trick played on the audience. 3. Planned sequences such as a grouse about to be run over by combine harvesters (which most likely never happened) or the staged shot of a goose stuck in oil (which apparently wasn’t oil but a mix of vegetable oil and milk) or possible blue screen shots to add backgrounds or place one scene over another.  I’m also certain that the parrot escape from an exotic trapper on the Amazon river was faked (a scene too good to be true). 4. Added on top of everything is the claim made in the film that no special effects were used–to make us think everything we see is real–and it’s a bit disingenuous, especially when we see migrations over obvious CGI backgrounds (the distant shots of the earth). What they mean is no special effects were used to create the flying birds and as such should have been more specific.

Documentaryfilms.net has more information on the trickery used. Some of it is speculative, but a lot has been verified.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the film–as a story and for the amazing film shots! And I’m sure there was a lot of hard work that went into it including wild scenes that were not planned (what I call the ad-libbed ones). But I would contend that we should avoid calling it a documentary. Disney used tricks back in the Fifties/Sixties with True-Life Adventures, only they really did concentrate more on plot with their narrations. This is the same thing and I don’t think you can excuse it as educational or that birds aren’t really trained actors, etc. It’s not real, at best it’s a reenactment with an assortment of pets, staged scenes, editing and some genuine wildlife moments. It’s not the same as an entrenched film crew hanging out with several flocks for 5 years to capture wild migrations as they happen.

SIDENOTE:  Snopes verified that Disney faked a lemmings suicide where they actually drove lemmings off a cliff in one horrible example. Their documentary helped perpetuate a myth that lemmings are suicidal when they don’t normally run off cliffs in the sea. They may have accidental deaths when migrating but it’s not a herd mentality of “let’s kill ourselves!” When I learn about such incidents and faked scenes in wildlife documentaries it becomes frustrating for those of us who like to be exposed to reality and not an interpretation of reality. I suppose it may be better for us to get off our asses and go traveling.

‘Coonskin’ is a Strange Blaxploitation Film

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Ralph Bakshi is a mixed bag when it comes to his animated films, and usually they are not full animation but a mix of live action, rotoscoping and scenes that cheat the viewer out of animation time (because of a limited budget). Coonskin, made in 1975 is no exception, but it is still compelling. I can’t figure out if it’s racist or making fun of racism? Considering that it was in cooperation with known stars Barry White and Scat Man Crothers  and there are numerous jabs at white people and a nude “very white” Ms. America, I don’t see how you can call it racist. A better way to put it is Coonskin is racial and the elements in it are not “black and white.”

The story is pretty much a blaxploitation plot: Randy and Pappy are busting out of prison and waiting on their buddies to come stormin’ in with their vehicle so they can get away from the watchtower guard. To pass the time, Pappy tells a story about a black rabbit (with nods to Brer Rabbit) and his friend Brother Bear and Preacher Fox. The animated characters go to Harlem where they punch, shoot, kill and cheat their way to the top, including taking on a corrupt cop and the mafia.

Where’s the redeeming value? Well, that’s where the lack of black and white comes in. I’m not sure? I can say there is definitely some biting satire on America in the form of a strutting Ms. America, a nude woman with a painted on flag. She’s seen denying a black man any pleasure and when she does open her legs he gets killed by “the clap.” On the other hand, what’s with all the drawn stereotypes? And why are the mafia henchmen mainly “queer”? Or is it to show homophobia among Italians because only the straight son was chosen to kill the black rabbit?

What kept me watching the film was the sheer ugliness of the characters. The mafia godfather is disgusting and many of the character designs are questionably drawn with stereotypical black lips and faces so dark they blend in with the backgrounds. And what the hell was up with the Italian mother being shot and turning into a white moth or was it meant to be a butterfly? Somebody was smoking something.

Okay, obviously, Bakshi was inspired somehow. According to Wiki, part of his Jewish childhood was spent in a black neighborhood. His friends were black, his dad did business with black people, he watched black movies and he even tried to attend a segregated school with black kids but was removed by police to a white school (to apparently avoid riots by white people). It only makes sense with the blaxploitation craze of the seventies that an alternative artist like Bakshi would attempt such a film. He even hired black animators which were not widely used at the time. Another thing to note is that “Coonskin” was not his title. Bakshi wanted to call the film “Harlem Days.” It was the producer who insisted on such an inflammatory title.

As for all the stereotypes, Bakshi didn’t want to go the safe route. He wanted to exaggerate the stereotypes to such an extent that they were no longer racist but a reflection of what once was now being stomped on. He treats the Italians so bad due to the mafia worship that came from the movie The Godfather.

So Coonskin is either genius or bullshit. Probably, it’s a bit of both.

If You Can’t Put a Grocery Cart Away, You’re a Lazy Dick

Am I being too harsh in calling people who leave their grocery carts in parking spots “dickheads”? I just don’t understand how hard it is to push the cart a couple of feet and put it in the return section for carts? Takes me less than a minute. I’ll even take a cart back into the grocery store if there is no section in the outside lot for them. While it makes sense for the store to provide them so we pile in the food, I still consider a grocery cart to be a courtesy provided by the business.  And I hate trying to find a good parking spot only for it to be blocked by an abandoned grocery cart.

What’s worse is this photo I took of–not one–but three grocery carts left in a handicapped spot.

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Who does that? Was it three different handicapped drivers who did not have enough mobility to push the carts into the section for them? Or was it some lazy ass, inconsiderate shoppers who are perfectly capable of putting their carts back? It’s no wonder obesity is up if we can’t even take the time to put a grocery cart away.

Conversations with My Cat–Not a Hero

I was just told about a cat who saved a child from a vicious dog attack, see the video below:

Then I look down at our family cat, named Sinclair, and shake my head. All he does is beg for food and I literally will engage him in conversation:

“Meoowrrr!”
“I just fed you.”
“Mew?”
“Yes, I did. An hour ago. You remember?”
“Mew? Mew?”
“Don’t play me. You already ate.”
Pause…
“MEOWRR!”
“Shut the fuck up!”

Then my wife comes in and tells me not to swear. It is pretty amazing that a cat can pick up on your language enough to interact with you. …But it’s all an act to trick you into thinking he’s providing very good reasons for food. All of the responses mean the same thing though, so to translate:

“Feed me!”
“I just fed you.”
“Feed me?”
“Yes, I did. An hour ago. You remember?”
“Feed me? Feed me?”
“Don’t play me. You already ate.”
Pause…
“FEED ME!”
“Shut the fuck up!”

Later on, after we’ve settled our differences, I get purring, which of course means: “Massage my entire body even though I haven’t done jack shit all day long.”

I will give Sinclair kudos for killing a spider once (he ate it). However, waking me up at 4 AM before I have to leave for work every day has eliminated those kudos a hundred times over.

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HBO’s New Show with John Oliver featured a Literal Dick

[SPOILER ALERT] I’ve watched John Oliver three times now on his new HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and it is hilarious; biting satire that you can only do on a premium cable show where no one is worried about the FCC. I was extremely amused at last Sunday’s show where our good host showed two different attack ad parodies, one of them aimed at Mitch McConnell. The reason being is that my significant other next to me was flashed an old man’s shriveled up dick. In fact it happened several times in relation to Mitch’s supposed member. Finally she said, “Enough already!”

This clip on climate change is from the same episode, no dicks involved, but if you get a chance to see the full episode 3 you will be squeamish with laughter.

 

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