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Tuesday, 22 March
The Watcher

[Hey, I just lost the first draft of this! Thanks, fucking CLEAR key! If I were less stupid, I'd probably know how to undo that, but I'm not! I'll be attacking you with pliers later, CLEAR key!]

Today I came home from work feeling a bit peckish, so I dug out a bag of peanuts from the cupboard. Sweet peanuts! Little oily things that will cling to my teeth in paste form! I began eating them in a time-honored way--particularly if you are male--which was to take a small handful in your palm, raise up your arm, and then clap your now-opened palm against your maw, letting the delicious hail of nuts clatter against your teeth and hopefully not carom down your trachea.

But I got distracted. Something went wrong: maybe I got engrossed with something on TV, or perhaps I was absorbed in some studied thoughts about current political imbroglios, or perhaps I simply got hung up trying to both maneuver my limbs while also attempting the complicated process of radiating body heat.

Instead of deftly executing a very standard peanut-eating routine, what happened was this: I grabbed some peanuts. I swiveled my arm upwards and then facewards, anticipating delivery of the nutty payload. Then I totally failed to open my peanut-filled hand. Basically, I punched myself right in the mouth with a handful of peanuts (which all cascaded down my front immediately afterwards). In pain, I stared hatefully at my enemy hand for a moment. Because yeah, that was the problem. My hand.

It sort of reminded me about my recent trouble with renting horrible movies. I wondered if I could blame my hand on those, too. Were they responsible for Van Helsing? Or The Forgotten? Unlikely. I don't know what is, but something in my body is trying to betray me. Possibly my shins. I also haven't ruled out my hair.

[Standard disclaimer here that I am going to talk about movies. If you don't want to know specifics about Confessions of a Dangerous Mind or Torque (my preferred title: Turque), then don't read.]

So we watched Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It wasn't anywhere as horrible as the movies I namecheck above, and it certainly wasn't a busted mouth and a lapful of runaway nuts (that would be another Kaufman flick, Adaptation, whose admirers I will never understand), but it wasn't . . . well, very good.

Sam Rockwell was very good in what amounted to a skilled display of mimicry, but I always think, Isn't this sort of cheating? I mean, actors are sort of supposed to observe human behavior and then take those observations onto stage or film and then recreate believable facsimiles of same. But when you've got some person that you're supposed to more or less reproduce this way--particularly if you have hours of videotape with which to perfect your mimicry, and more particularly when that person has some very well-known tics and familiar behavioral traits--well, nothing on Sam, but come on. I hope I don't sound like an ego-junkie, but really, it's not that hard. Vegas hacks have been doing this for years.

Anyway. I've been told that I'm too hard on the movie--which struck me mostly as a lot of strange shaggy-dog silliness borne from the fevered diaries of a monomaniacal coke fiend--and maybe that's so. I didn't hate it, I'll say that.

(I will say this: the cable company warned the wife and I that the movie contained NUDITY! I was really happy. Drew Barrymore was returning to her Poison Ivy years and was going to remove her shirt! Imagine my disappointment when all the nudity turned out to consist of curiously long shots of Sam Rockwell's ass. There was a lot of his ass! I was going to lodge a complaint about this, but really, it's just fair. We guys see NUDITY WARNINGS and we just assume, "Hurrah! Some chick is going to pop her top!" I think it's only fair that every now and then it means that we have to stare sullenly at some dude's butt for a while.)

Torque was . . . well, holy cheesemaking Jesus. That was quite a thing. (We watched it right after Confessions, which was sort of like reading "Maxim" right after putting down Bleak House. And while I do emphatically assert that this movie was made my syphilitic otters on fire, I also point out that the wife commented later that it was "one of the best comedies I've seen in a while."

This was undoubtedly true. The movie is essentially a 90-minute music video, but so much more. The lead character, whose name I could not possibly imagine, is rugged and tough in that Hollywood way, where he has perfect stubble, and looks as if he could really beat the shit out of some cardboard boxes. He can ride the bejeezus out of a motorcycle, though, as can every single person in the movie, which leads to spectacular sequences where people jump from moving cars onto cycle seats; people pop wheelies at 150 mph (wouldn't they suddenly turn into parasails?); and nobody seems to mind when a $20K bike gets run over by marauding hillbillies.

This was a truly great movie. For one thing, you don't have to think about one single fucking thing. The most challenging part of the movie involves a running joke (well, an intermittently dripping joke) about how the main character--the Conqueror of Cardboard--recently spent some time in Thailand. He laboriously explains to more than one person that it is, in fact, ethnographically inaccurate to refer to the Thai people as "chinks."

Really, the whole movie is like The Matrix as conceived by the producers of "Hee-Haw." In fact, they lift the whole awful "Zion as rave party" sequence from The Matrix and set it instead in some blasted desert outhouse where the band seems to be waiting for Roy Acuff to come out and praise the outlaws' beards. The entire film is deeply weird and should be seen by everyone.

[Spoilers over.]

One final note: Sandra Bullock was on "The Daily Show" tonight, promoting her new film, Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous. This on the same day that I read of her mission to do more important films, edgier films. Like what? Practical Magic?

I jerked my thumb at the screen and sneered to the wife: "I hate this bony scag." The wife made an unconvincing smile-face at me; she probably wonders how long it will be before I assault her with a corkscrew.

I would not assault my good wife. But I would mount an attack on Sandra Bullock's career. "Armed and Fabulous"? This is the equivalent of a puffy lip and a lapful of peanuts. A selfpunch in the face. A Charlie Kaufman script.

I'd rather watch Torque.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


Nice segue from treacherous body parts into film! You could have gone for the “Evil Dead” reference and considered hacking the offending item off with a chainsaw.

Comment number: 005624   Posted by: galetea on March 22, 2005 07:06 AM from IP:

Adaptation, whose admirers I will never understand

You should be beaten with wet weasels.

Also, I'd have thought you a Kaufman fan: didn't you like Eternal Sunshine and even the execrable Being John Malkovich?

Comment number: 005625   Posted by: senn on March 22, 2005 11:28 AM from IP:

Also, I'd have thought you a Kaufman fan

I'm an intermittent fan, but it looks like we are at opposite poles with where we appreciate him. I liked Malkovich a lot, and thought that ESotSM was the best film I saw last year.

You know how I feel about Adaptation. Yuck.

Comment number: 005626   Posted by: Skot on March 22, 2005 12:01 PM from IP:

sennoma is nucking futs.

*offers a huge manly bear hug*

Comment number: 005627   Posted by: norm on March 22, 2005 12:30 PM from IP:

Heh. ESotSM was easily my favourite film of last year too, but I have never managed to watch BJM all the way to the end. It fairly slams me into snoozeland. I was wavering on Adaptation until the alligators, then I realized it was supposed to be over-the-top, and the whole film made much more sense.

*wards norm off with a wet weasel*

Comment number: 005628   Posted by: senn on March 22, 2005 01:10 PM from IP:

I'll have to go back and find your take on Adaptation, Skot. Any film that actually laps itself with its own goofy premise - as Adaptation does - is fine by me.

Comment number: 005629   Posted by: MMMikey on March 22, 2005 01:44 PM from IP:

adaptation was incredibly smug and clever. so smug, in fact, that only the equally extreme cleverness was able to save it.

Comment number: 005630   Posted by: kirsten on March 22, 2005 05:36 PM from IP:

Sandra Bullock is a waste of skin. She is the "Pepsi One" of actresses. And screw Hollywood for not being able to come up with enough good ideas for movies that they have to make a f*cking sequel to Miss Congeniality.

Comment number: 005631   Posted by: porkbone on March 22, 2005 07:40 PM from IP:

Oh man... I caught Torque on the free movie channels a couple months ago, and I can't even begin to describe how awesomely silly that movie is. You're right, everyone must see it. Ice Cube should really stick to roles like the one in that movie, where he just has to sneer and give one-liners.

Comment number: 005632   Posted by: Ryan Waddell on March 23, 2005 05:43 AM from IP:

The opposite extreme of "This film contains nudity" not quite capturing the actual exposure would be the closeup of Samantha Morton's Brazillian wax job in Code 46.

Comment number: 005633   Posted by: Jim on March 23, 2005 07:29 PM from IP:

I never saw Torque but it stars a Kiwi so I get a strange defensive sense of pride when someone talks about it.

I know it's absolute trash, but I still love our Marty Henderson.

Comment number: 005634   Posted by: Kat on April 4, 2005 01:04 AM from IP:

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