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Tuesday, 26 April
See? Saw.

Hello hello! Sorry it's been longer than usual, but . . . well, fuck "but." I didn't have any motivation for a few days, so I didn't write anything. But now I'm motivated! Sort of! See, the wife and I have watched a bunch of bad movies over the past couple weeks, and I'm anxious to complain about them. If you see a movie title that for some reason you don't want spoiled, skip the section, because I'm going to complain about them in detail. Well, the ones I remember. And the ones I finished watching. Anyway.

As I've mentioned before there are Bad Movies--movies that everyone knows are rotten the very first time you see a trailer, or even hear about it . . . a sequel to XXX? With Ice Cube? A family comedy with former XXX Vin Diesel? These are obviously going to be real gobblers. And then there are the movies that really should be good, and you watch them, and they take a shit on your sneakers, pick your pockets, and run off with your money while you stare at ruined suede.

I Heart Huckabees falls in the latter camp. This "existential comedy," as it is sometimes called, is of course neither: the phrase itself is a pseudointellectual oxymoron, a little in-joke to the audience that signals that it's time to give an arch smile and remember that one time in college that you had to read Nausea and hey, it wasn't funny at all!

Neither is I Heart Huckabees. It is, in fact, far less funny than even Sartre, which is saying something. At least "No Exit" had a nihilistically funny punchline: Hell is other people. In Huckabees, hell is Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin. Other actors in the film like Jude Law and Naomi Watts seem to try to do the sensible thing during all the pallid, miserable clowning going on around them, ducking the metaphysical custard pies flying about, but that just leaves poor targets like Marky Mark, who has no defenses at all against the awful onslaught of the Hofflin, and just seems horribly picked on. At least, that's how it felt at about the 45 minute mark, when we turned off this horrible movie and shot some heroin into our gums.

Nobody should ever see this film.

If you're hungering for a more glossy comedic treatment of repugnant people, you might turn instead towards Sideways, another film by Alexander Payne, a director who is apparently endlessly fascinated with people who are, pretty inarguably, complete shitheads. Lots of my friends really liked Election, a film I found completely cruel and unfunny, so maybe I missed something. Then came About Schmidt, which the wife claims made her sterile. And so along comes Sideways, a cheerful road movie about a couple of never-been losers looking to drink and fuck away a pre-wedding excursion into wine country.

The forthcoming bursts of infidelity are handled with purest unconcern: the director doesn't seem to care, nor do the characters: it's a guy thing, right, to want to get some last-minute sex right before marriage, right? And plus, who cares? The bride is obviously a shallow bitch anyway. Who could possibly condemn this doomed fucker's last wish for some final illicit screwing?

Hmmm. Am I so old-fashioned as to suggest: Anyone?

Look, it's not even that I didn't enjoy the movie for what it offered at the time. It is occasionally amusing, and has some much remarked-upon good performances, etc. etc. It's just another damn movie with some pretty rotten things to say about its characters (and so, us), and it either hopes you don't notice them, or it disingenuously pretends they aren't there in the first place. I leave it to you to decide which is worse.

Getting away from movies that at least take a stab at relevance, we can now move on to the movies that have no pretension at all about being good in the first place. (At least I hope to hell not.)

The Grudge is another one of those Japanese-remake-movies-featuring-yet-again-dead-people-who-will-hassle-you, and also with the little creepy girls, and also with the hot blonde actress that all the teenage boys are praying will take off her shirt, and no, she will not.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is the not-taking-off-shirt gal this time around, and she spends her time mostly gibbering in fear and not taking off her shirt. The most interesting observation I have about this film is that nearly every anemic scarelet to be found somehow revolves around hair. So, if you are endlessly freaked out by . . . hair . . . uh, this one will fuck up your whole world. For the rest of us, this film is about as unnerving as cleaning the bristles of your hairbrush for two hours.

Ocean's Twelve is beneath mention, and has the sneaky rotten tang of Soderbergh cannily filching the studio's millions of dollars so he and his gang of Li'l Rascals could all take a nice European vacation. Oh, and send along Catherine Zeta-Jones! Brad thinks she has a hot ass!

Even further beneath mention--several hundred feet of geological strata beneath it, honestly--is the reprehensible, unwatchable Exorcist: A New Beginning. Or whatever it was called. Poor Stellan Skarsgaard, moping around . . . someplace while . . . uh . . . . horrible things happened.

Look, I'll level with you. The next day, the wife said, "I know I drank a lot of whiskey last night, but I have no idea if we finished that movie." I replied, "I don't either." We came to embrace the theory that our brains were simply driving us to drink in self-defense. "MUST PROTECT SKOT-SHELL! MAKE SKOT-SHELL DRINK TO SAVE BRAIN! NOT CARE THAT LIVER COMPLAINS! EXORCIST MOVIE KILLS US!"

This finally brings us to my last film: the sublime, superb, unassailably magnificent Saw.

Here, finally, was a truly wretched movie; so wretched, in fact, that it was completely enjoyable, and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to deranged afficianados of filmic rottenness like myself in a hot second.

Saw takes approximately no time at all establishing its provenance: it so desperately wants to be Se7en that I wouldn't be surprised if in the DVD extras it featured its director giving a smoking handjob to David Fincher. Like Se7en, (which I really like, to be honest) the film assumes that really inventive depravity is a valid substitute for artistic creativity, and therefore gives us yet another uncatchable psychopath with a knack for ridiculously elaborate murder games, such as crawling through a maze of razor wire, or deactivating a jawbone-ripping bomb-mask. (Really.) What really impresses me about these killers, though, is: Where the fuck do they find all that great warehouse space? And how do they pay the rent?

"So I hear you're interested in our dank condemned building."


"Are you a developer?"

"No. I plan on constructing elaborate murder theater involving kidnapped victims."

"I see. And how would you like to pay for the deposit?"

Saw is embarrassing, wonderfully so, on a lot of levels. But mostly, it's the performances, which range from Cary Elwes' jitter-tastic, moan-a-riffic, unconvince-o-matic soprano shrieks to Danny Glover's (oh, Danny) growly rowly "I'm so obsessed I could just sweat!" baritone. Poor Glover looks like the director simply bought him underwear three sizes too tight and then turned the poor bastard loose.

I'd like to say I'm not going to watch this shit any more, but who's kidding who? Of course I will. What else would I write about?

And besides. Sometimes it's fun.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


I Heart Huckabees made me crazy. I was waiting and waiting for it to turn a corner and become the movie that so many people had recommended to me. It never happened. When it ended I felt the same emptiness that Punch Drunk Love left me with. Where was the movie that everyone else was peeing themselves over?

Comment number: 005736   Posted by: Melissa on April 26, 2005 12:20 PM from IP:

I believe movies like Huckabees and Punch Drunk Love are hyped mostly by people who go see all the other wretched drivel pumped out of Hollywood's cesspool.

Let's face it, to somebody who thinks Adam Sandler is a comic genius; or who actually bothered to set foot in a showing of anything featuring a Saturday Night Live alumnus from the past, oh, 8 years or so (and this is a lot of people); a movie can be pretty stupid or poorly made and still look like Casablanca compared to what they usually subject themselves to.

I also believe that many people think if they didn't hate a movie, but didn't really understand it either, it must be a work of genius. They seem to discard out of hand the idea that maybe the movie was poorly written or edited, and is, in fact, bad.

I actually liked Sideways, by the way. There's not much there, and the hype is WAY beyond its quality, but it was pleasing to me in that "small movie" way. Just don't go expecting another Gone With the Wind. Actually, do go expecting that--you will probably be pleasantly surprised. I hated that movie.

Comment number: 005737   Posted by: bikeboy on April 26, 2005 12:50 PM from IP:


Comment number: 005738   Posted by: dayment on April 26, 2005 03:59 PM from IP:

I forced the missus to watch The Core this past weekend... She didn't find it as horrifically and unintentionally hilarious as I did, but at least she hasn't filed divorce papers yet.

Comment number: 005739   Posted by: MMMikey on April 26, 2005 09:51 PM from IP:

My mental thought process while watching Saw:

"Hmm, that guy kinda looks like Carey Elwes... well, if Carey Elwes had gotten old, paunchy, and had a really bad accent.... hey.. wait. Oh god, that IS Carey Elwes. He must have really needed money."

However, there is nothing wrong with getting drunk and watching horrible movies. We had a Showgirls drink-a-thon, and while my liver hated it, I had a bunch of fun.

Comment number: 005740   Posted by: Natasha on April 27, 2005 11:36 AM from IP:

I'm so glad to hear that I Heart Huckabees is as horrible as it looks. Now I don't feel obligated to see it. I love Naomi Watts, but not THAT much.
I'm also glad to hear someone NOT spooge all over Sideways. I can't think of a movie I'd pay more not to see. I love Sandra Oh, but not THAT much.
Saw was sort of awesome, though. Sometimes "good" movies are just no fun.

Comment number: 005741   Posted by: CG on April 27, 2005 02:02 PM from IP:

Oh thank GOD. I finally feel so validated in how much I hated that heartless movie "Election" and therefore subsequently refusing to see "About Schmidt" and "Sideways" no matter how much I love Paul Giamatti. I thought "Election" was ugly and cold - and if it had been really fun I might have been able to forgive it, but it wasn't, it was just relentlessly hateful. You are the only person that I have heard share this opinion. Kisses.

Comment number: 005742   Posted by: Leslie on April 28, 2005 03:23 AM from IP:

That is strange. I loved I Heart Huckabees. I thought it was incredibly funny. I believe, in Sideways, the idea was that his friend was kinda sick. He seemed insane and pathetic. I'm pretty sure the movie did not register approval for his problem. He also got his ass kicked. I didn't think Sideways' script was great but the acting was excellent.

"I also believe that many people think if they didn't hate a movie, but didn't really understand it either, it must be a work of genius."

But I liked Huckabees because it was funny. I don't believe in genius.

Comment number: 005743   Posted by: Miel on May 2, 2005 10:41 PM from IP:

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