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Wednesday, 30 March
These Eyes

Well, I was all set to go last night with some writing, but evidently the site's "host" needed to "switch servers" or "degauss the router" or "oil the packet switches" or "beat off" or something else I "totally don't understand," so I had to wait a while.

(I'm kidding a little bit, of course. I really do understand beating off.)

As usual over the weekend, the wife and I watched a couple of terrible movies. I watch these things so you don't have to, people!

The reality is actually more disquieting than that flip comment, though. I've started to ask myself: Why? Why do I watch these fucking horrors, time and again? And there's really only one explanation: I enjoy it.

How is this possible? What could I ever find enjoyable about such miserable spectacles? Why would I clap my hands in anticipation of two hours or so of being subjected to such insulting tripe?

The two easiest answers are: 1. Since the overwhelming majority of the movies out there are going to be grisly and foul, you might as well accept that and try to enjoy yourself, and 2. It's so much easier to make snotty fun of these rotten things than it is to engage with a decent film (should you find one), so it's easier to simply avoid the latter. In other words, I apparently seek out terrible films to make fun of them rather than take the bother to think about genuinely good ones. Basically, I'm terrifically lazy and kind of an intellectual coward.

(Oh, I'm just being self-lacerating for the fun of it. But I really am very lazy.)

Let's get to the terrible movies! As usual, turn on your spoiler-vision if you don't want the alleged plots of either Gothika or Alien Vs. Predator somehow ruined.

Gothika

As the film opens, the viewer is presented with a real showdown of powerhouse acting: Halle Berry (a psychologist--oh boy!) is talking with Penelope Cruz (a ca-razy person--oh God!); Halle is all businesslike and cool and smarter than hell, and you know this because she taps her pen efficiently. Berry is all about nuance, at least with pens. Cruz is totally bent and has some tale about being raped by THE DEVIL, which is nutty, but you really know she's a loon because then she takes a page out of the Christian Slater Acting Handbook and frenziedly slaps her forehead a couple times. The viewer then thinks, "Oh, man, this broad is fucking out of it. She's stealing from Christian Slater, for God's sake."

(This was where I turned to the wife and said, "This is going to be a great movie.")

And it was, but not for any reasons the filmmakers intended. It's a standard-issue "the dead must hassle the living until the living fix whatever gripe the frankly pushy goddamn dead are in a snit about" thing, with the usual what-the-fuck elements, like 1. If the dead have all these powers to hassle the living, why the fuck don't they use their hassling-powers to take care of their own shit? And 2. why do they always menace (or, in the case of this film) physically assault the hasslees so relentlessly? (Twice!) And 3. Why are the hassling dead so goddamn cryptic all the time? In Gothika, Berry's dead hassler carves up her arm with a meaningless message that won't make sense until the end of the film. This instead of, I don't know, not carving it into her arm and maybe writing it on paper? Or just manifesting yourself and explaining to Halle Berry, "Look, you have to avenge my icky, silly death, or I will hassle you forever. Here's what to do. I helpfully wrote it down on paper, rather carving it into your flesh. Get going!" I think I'd be motivated.

The answer is clear: the dead are just a bunch ofj peevish, self-serving, dissatisfied assholes. I can't imagine why Hollywood filmmakers would be so interested in them.

Alien Vs. Predator

I had really high hopes for this one in terms of being just horrible as hell, and I must say, it was a lot less awful than I expected. I mean, yes, it's a brainless handjob of a film with sorrowful acting and a completely threadbare plot, but for all that, it was pretty entertaining! Certainly more so than the morosely pretentious Gothika. Even the title is better and more utilitarian: Alien Vs. Predator! Well, okay, there you go. Gothika? Except for a penchant night scenes in the rain, there was no reason for that title at all, leaving aside the irrelevant "k" in there. It was about as Gothic as a ham sandwich. (They should have called it Hamm Sandwyche!)

Anway, AVP. Befitting a movie that wears its geek in-jokes on its tattered sleeve (I found references to The X-Files along with several DUH gags that pointed at the Alien and Predator movies, and there were probably dozens of others that I missed), it features Lance Henriksen, the Man Who Can Appear In Any Movie At Any Time, As Long As It Is Probably Horrible. And also a faceless army of cannon fodder (depressingly, one of them was the stupid guy who shit the bed in Trainspotting) who diddle around waiting for page X in the script when they are either eaten, impaled, crushed, shot or facehugged.

Also in evidence: Mommy Alien, whose mucus-tastic egg-laying scenes have given so many foley artists so much joy over the years; a pointless buried pyramid that a la Cube (aha! Another sly reference!) shifts internal formations every ten minutes; and of course, a puny human vermin that HAS TO PROVE HER WORTH to one of the rampaging Predators bent on exterminating the Aliens. (The Aliens, you see, are captive practice dummies for the Predators to hunt. Why the Predators settled for hunting total pussies like humans in the Predator films is mercifully left unexplained. Never mind that this is sort of like Navy SEALs opting out of a training mission in order to go kick the piss out of first-graders instead.)

All that said, AVP was, as I mentioned, pretty entertaining. It was far better in execution and pacing than, say, something analogous like Jason Vs. Freddy, which I realize is really, really faint praise. And it was exponentially better than the dismal Gothika (I'm really hung up on that crummy, mystifying title now), whose merits are limited to, frankly, the idea of Halle Berry being set on fire.

Hey, wait a minute! I can pitch this movie! Cruz Vs. Berry! One of them gets set on fire!

I'd totally watch that.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

Haha... I felt mostly the same about AvP. It seemed to me that at least the premise was good (ok, maybe reasonable), but I felt the execution was lacking.

Still, entertaining. I guess people just enjoy trainwrecks.

Comment number: 005651   Posted by: Dave on March 30, 2005 07:35 AM from IP: 12.109.16.140

Degaussing one's router is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of.


                                                                            My housemate Netflixed AVP and, true to form, I decided to skip all the plot crap (having already read BenLau's excellent summary) and go right to the Predator-versus-Alien scenes. This is because I'm too lazy to even watch bad movies in their entirety. I frequently just skip right to the money shot, as it were. In this case, I was glad for this, because the DVD was hopelessly damaged and the fight scenes were totally unwatchable. If I'd had to sit through an hour of plot only to find that the whole point of the movie (see also THE TITLE) was nothing but distorted pixels and weird mooing sounds I would've been pig-biting mad. As it stands, no pigs were bitten, and I was able to get on with my life.

Comment number: 005652   Posted by: flamingbanjo on March 30, 2005 10:42 AM from IP: 64.65.181.81

Everyone will hate me for this, but: I know you can find a better word or phrase than "pussies". In a fair world it might be funny but in this world it's just another kick in the teeth to your female readers.

Comment number: 005653   Posted by: senn on March 30, 2005 11:28 AM from IP: 137.53.84.32

Hey Senn,
Do you ever refer to an unpleasant person as "a dick?"

Just curious.

Comment number: 005654   Posted by: flamingbanjo on March 30, 2005 05:28 PM from IP: 216.254.16.115

senn, are we supposed to listen to the rhetorical stylings of someone who refers to dog feces as "nards"?

xox

Comment number: 005655   Posted by: norm on March 31, 2005 08:53 AM from IP: 64.65.174.18

Hey flamingbanjo,

were you born that way or were you dropped on your head as an infant? What part of "in a fair world" is giving you trouble? Just curious.


(xoxoxNorm, you nard fondler, bite me.xoxox)

Comment number: 005656   Posted by: senn on March 31, 2005 10:06 AM from IP: 137.53.84.32

Dropped on my head repeatedly. I was a slippery, slippery baby.

See, what confuses me is the phrase is "in a fair world it might be funny," because I stupidly thought that when something that makes me laugh it is funny, but I guess that isn't right. I now see that something is only funny if it couldn't possibly offend anybody anywhere, and does not contain any offensive connotations centered around the genitalia of any historically oppressed group.

At some day in the bright future, long past my lifetime, when the world is fair, calling someone a "pussy" might be funny. But until that day, I pledge to only find humor in insults that directly reference the genitalia of the Oppressor.

As you are groping around for the proper non-offensive insult to apply to me, might I suggest the gender-neutral "asshole?"

Comment number: 005657   Posted by: flamingbanjo on March 31, 2005 11:42 AM from IP: 64.65.181.81

OK, fb, I guess there's a level playing field everywhere, and you're never offended by anything. I'm just a free-range scold looking to out-liberal everyone.

Or, you know, screw you.

Comment number: 005658   Posted by: senn on March 31, 2005 01:11 PM from IP: 137.53.84.32

Hey Senn: Peace. I don't mean nothin' by it.

I'm just saying please don't tell me I have to wait to laugh until the world is fair because I need to laugh now while it isn't. Fair enough?

Comment number: 005659   Posted by: flamingbanjo on March 31, 2005 02:24 PM from IP: 64.65.181.81

Haven't seen AvP yet (and I'm probably going to), but Gothika was such a pile of horseshit. Mind you, I hate Halle Berry, so I might be slightly biased, but...wow, what a stupid movie. Not the good kind of stupid, either.

If you're actually looking for a good movie eventually, Maria Full of Grace wasn't bad. Better than most of the shit I've seen lately.

Comment number: 005660   Posted by: CG on April 1, 2005 11:04 PM from IP: 70.18.200.223

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