Beast Banner December 2008
ISSUE #133
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Features

ArrowA PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE READERS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
You need to be more like us

ArrowTHE GREAT SHAME
Bush's legacy is our failure

Allan Uthman

ArrowA MILLION LITTLE PUNDITS
Memoirs of a fake political junkie
Ian Murphy

ArrowBACK TO THE FUTILE
Guess those old politics aren't so bad after all
Anchor Downs

ArrowRACE TO THE CABINET
Gentlemen, start your speculations
Steve Gordon

ArrowSTUPID, or HOW TO LOSE MONEY RUNNING A SPEED LAB
Part Too: Bongo Burger
John Dolan

ArrowTHE 25th YEAR AFTER
The nuclear winter of our discontent
Alexander Zaitchik

ArrowWE WON & THAT'S NOT A PANDA
My Epiphany in the No-Spin Zone
Allison Kilkenny

ArrowDULLEMITE
How to make fun of a black president
Ian Murphy

ArrowSMARTISTS FOR OBAMA
Fear of a Barack Planet
Michael J. Smith

ArrowTHE *TRUTH* ABOUT HUSSEIN OBAMA
Coming soon to an inbox near you
Eric Lingenfelter

Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 5
Menacing Anachronism

ArrowWaxy Beast: Music Reviews
by Eric Lingenfelter

ArrowKino Kwikees: Movie Trailer Reviews
by Michael Gildea

ArrowInsano-Scopes!
Your completely accurate horoscope, expressed cryptically in the form of the stupidest election-related lines we’ve read all month!

[sic] - Your letters

 

Punisher: War Zone

“Sometimes I’d like to get my hands on God!” -The Punisher

And the best part is it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference if that line was delivered as a joke or seriously. I still laugh with total abdominal discomfort for a good 8 minutes every time I hear that line in the trailer for Punisher: War Zone. That was awesome! That was so awesome! Sometimes I’d like to get my hands on God. Oh, that’s so rich! Shit on a shingle, man! I haven’t pissed my pants that much since Papa Jon put me in that camel clutch back in ‘87! Oh, I’m dying here! That is the funniest thing I’ve had crap in my lap since I saw those two filthy Jewish kids fighting over a penny in a K-Mart parking lot. And these kids were actually filthy. I’m talking fucked by a mud pie and teabagged by Pigpen filthy. And it was a fucking penny! And their dad didn’t break it up! None of this “have some respect for yourselves” nonsense! Is it really worth getting your head slammed in a car door and both shoulders dislocated over a penny? I know I could’ve broken it up, but they were in such berserker money frenzies that I wasn’t going near it. Oh, the awesomeness I’ve seen.

So what’s this movie again? Punisher: War Zone? For those keeping score, this is the 3rd time the Punisher character has made it to the screen. The first time had Dolph Lundgren smearing his face in molasses to achieve a five o’clock shadow before riding a motorcycle through the sewers straight to the “so bad its good” shelf at the local video store. Then 15 years later, they try some bad spaghetti western-inspired malarkey with John Travolta as the bad guy. And this wouldn’t have been that horrible, if it wasn’t for the Friends (I’m pretty sure that David Schwimmer had a cameo too) bullshit going on with the neighbors and the homoerotic fight with the Russian albino sailor scored as an operatic.

Now we’ve got something that looks like they just might be getting it right with Punisher: War Zone. The other Punisher movies were just low-rent action flicks that happened to star people you may actually have heard of. The previous Punisher attempts were merely action movies that just happened to be about a comic book character--a psychotic armed bull in the china shop version of Batman, with lots and lots of guns. This newest incantation of The Punisher looks like it’s going to give you the horns instead of the ass by making a comic book movie that happens to be full of action. Lots and lots of action. Chock full of CGI, ridiculous dialogue (“Sometimes I’d like to get my hands on God”—seriously, knock it off or I’m going to dehydrate from this excessive pants-pissing!), a serious suspension of disbelief requirement and an actual villain, in the form of Jigsaw. Granted, he looks like a guy who decided to wear a poorly-constructed mask made of luncheon meats, but the whole thing is so damn over the top and ridiculous that this movie just might work.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to actually spend anything more than 2 hours to see if this jagged belief of mine holds any water. And I don’t think I’m going to kick myself for not finding out sooner, presuming I ever do. But I hope I don’t want to... shit, here it comes... get my... thank Gahd I wore the black jeans today... hands on Gahd... oh that’s so warm... if I ever do see Punisher: War Zone. Ooh, asparagus...

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I can only theorize as to why things like a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still would happen. I can give explanations as to why a person or persons would feel the need to take a damn fine piece of vintage filmmaking and reshape it into some crap that a deluded studio executive would describe as “not remade but reimagined.” Pligga nease! What in the hell could possibly justify a remake (sorry, reimagining) of one of the best, if not perfect, classic sci-fi movies? Why? Is it because The Day the Earth Stood Still was a cautionary tale that pulled its message straight from the bowels of the Cold War and warned of the dangers of nuclear warfare? Are the then-revolutionary special effects so horribly dated by today’s standards that you’ve got to erase its memory by covering it in computer-generated cheese sauce? Didn’t Michael Rennie in the role of Klaatu act otherworldly enough for you? Okay, Patricia Neal was a bit homely in that one. Black and white were never too kind to her, were they?

Oh wait! I’ve got it! I figured it out! We’ve got another, more modern, cautionary tale to tell, no inspiration or talent to tell it, and there’s enough respect for The Day the Earth Stood Still to draw a crowd. So let’s yank that Cold War you’re going to blow each other up if you don’t stop your primitive ways Earthlings message and plug in another one. But what will you preach about? The ecomony? Nah. We don’t have to worry about a moose-hunting psychopath who can’t name a newspaper, has a penchant for putty knife make-up application and a hatred for pronouncing the letter G in polite conversation, so that’s out. Duh! The environment! If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. Oooh!

So a doughy Keanu Reeves is Klaatu, now an apparently autistic alien who comes to warn Earth that their violent actions have computer-generated consequences. Jennifer Connelly plays what I’m guessing is some kind of scientist who desperately needs donuts to fill out her eye sockets. Oh and Will Smith’s kid is playing what I’m sure is the movie’s moral compass with his childish naiveté. Five bucks says Moby covers “The Greatest Love of All.” Listen for it. The more-circulated trailer paints more of a trendy green storyline, but the international trailer shows straight-up Armageddon more along the lines of Independence Day. Gort (Klaatu’s bodyguard/companion) is now a hundred foot-tall harbinger of doom, and mysterious orbs all over the planet threaten to turn sporting arenas and 18-wheelers into ashes! And that latter trailer turned a maybe someday into an opening weekend odyssey. It’ll be a completely drunken odyssey but what the hell, I’ll bite...

Seven pounds

If you watch the trailer for the new Will Smith movie Seven Pounds, you will see a textbook example of what I like to refer to as a truly shitty trailer. Well not so much truly shitty so much as truly upsetting, and not because the content is disturbing, but because I have no idea what’s happening. What’s going on? What’s it all about? I’m getting confused and I’m getting scared. I’m beginning to feel like I’m 50 years older, out of Werthers Originals and the TV won’t turn on for me to watch my stories. I don’t like feeling this way! Make it stop! For Chrissake, how do you make it stop? If you don’t stop it I’m going to give you a birth defect! Who stole my cat? Where’s Wilfred? Where’s the phone book? I’m going to call the cops. I need to check my sugar. Where’s my cat? Tell me or I’ll box your ears, you little so and so! What’s the matter with you anyway? Are you going to answer me? Why won’t they help me at the bank? My one grandson was on TV once! My oldest’s son. I was Jack Webb’s lover! You can’t treat me this way! MAKE THIS STOP!!!

Well, that passed. Based on how morose Smith looks in the trailer for Seven Pounds, I’m guessing he got dumped or ran over his neighbor’s cat. Or maybe he’s going for an Oscar. I haven’t figured out which and I’m pretty sure Smith hasn’t either. He’s got some plan that the trailer doesn’t really go into, aside from him giving his house away if someone never calls him, so if the rat bastard who stitched this trailer together can’t be bothered to give me even a vague idea what this swirling turd is about or why I should care, I’m not going to look for a reason to see it. Bitch.

Gran Torino

Lately, the works of Clint Eastwood haven’t amounted to much (for me, at least) more than the cinematic equivalent Tom Clancy novels, cataract shades, Crown Victorias or episodes of JAG. They’re generally well done, but unless you have some Metamucil to shoot them through you’re going to have a hard time getting them down. Or maybe you just don’t care about them. For example, I haven’t seen Million Dollar Baby yet. I’m told it’s good and have heard nothing but good things about it, but I haven’t seen it yet. You know why? Because I just don’t care.
But the funny thing about Clint Eastwood is he has the ability to make you care. He hasn’t played a badass lately, and now suddenly he’s playing a cantankerous old racist codger who just happens to be a military veteran with one of the sweetest cars ever. Hence the film’s title, Gran Torino. His asshole kids are trying to stick him in a retirement home on his birthday, and to make things worse the goddamn Chinese moved in next door. And we’re on our way to becoming an episode of All in the Family with triple the racial tension and none of the humor.
Then some goddamn gang starts busting up the neighborhood on Clint’s front lawn. Then he gets out the goddamn rifle. By the way, in the trailer for Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood just looks like he’s going to throw the word(s) “goddamn” in front of every goddamn noun he can. So he scares off the gang and the neighborhood starts worshipping him like he’s Tom Goddamn Maccio. They give him beer and he even winds up knowing their names!
I’m not looking for some kind of fable about a racist prick getting a case of yellow fever and realizing all his ignorant wrongs throughout his life. I agree with the message, but that shit’s nowhere, son. I want to see Clint’s raggedy hide get all Old Dirty Harry on somebody’s ass. I want to hear him grumble about how the Chinese live in filth, pick mushrooms in the park and then make a condescending comment about laundry and the apparent lack of seagulls in the vicinity of the closest Chinese restaurant. You know, racist old people talk.

The Spirit

Okay, super quick. Seeing the first trailer for comics legend Frank Miller’s sole directorial debut (he co-directed Sin City a few years back), The Spirit, was kind of cool. It was kind of a hint that another Sin City isn’t happening, but whatever. That initial trailer looked exactly like Sin City and I was perfectly fine with that. Opens Christmas Day. Yesss!
Then I see a third trailer that looks like a tampon once used by Lauren Bacall. It sprouted legs and became a total menace. The photography with the actual actors looks like bad Lifetime Channel black and white dream sequences. Samuel L. Jackson is playing a character called The Octopus, because he apparently has eight of everything. And to top it off, the otherwise forgettable cast is rounded out by poop face Eva Mendez. There goes my Christmas.
In about two minutes, The Spirit went from a must see to a will see eventually. The guy actually playing Denny Colt looks like he uses the word “manure.” Who knows what this son of a bitch sees in the middle of the night when all is quiet. But I think the reason that I will one day see The Spirit is because it’s got the line “I’m gonna kill you all kinds of dead” in it. You just can’t say no to that.

Valkyrie

If there’s one thing that puts pudding in my socks, it’s the idea of Tom Cruise playing a Nazi. Not sure why, but if fills me with glee. Maybe its this publication’s past relationship with the man, but I can’t rule out that Cruise is playing a “sympathetic” Nazi. Either way, it sounds like a short trip to me. The movie is Valkyrie and in it, Tom plays Nazi Colonel Claus von Strauffenberg, the architect of a Nazi plan to kill Hitler and end WWII. As usual, Tom is pretty intense, but this time he’s got an eyepatch for added intensity. Intense, right?

So I’m going to be a dick and ruin it for you. You never hear about how Hitler was blown up by a bomb or died in his sleep when his Winnebago went off the road and rolled over in the middle of the night. Another never heard tale about Hitler involves his fetish for fresh warm cat shit, the barely ambulatory, and autoerotic asphyxiation. And I guarantee you’ve never heard that if Hitler did enough coke, he’d actually do the deed with a transvestite he (often) mistook for Leni Riefenstahl, or that it was by this person’s hand he was ultimately assassinated. The transsassin’s name was Lenny, if that counts for anything. (His real name was J. Edgar Hoover. Lenny was an alias. Don’t tell anyone.)

Unless the big assassination plot was to end with Hitler’s body being doused with gasoline and burned in a bomb crater next to Eva Braun’s, I’m going to guess they fucked up. Kind of how I’m expecting this movie to fuck up.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons

Come with me now, won’t you? I’d like to take you down a strange path where you will hear about the trailer of the tale of Benjamin Button, a man who was born well into his 80s and ages backward. Before you start bellowing about how this sounds a lot like Jonathan Winters’ shark jump character from Mork and Mindy, I’m going to tell you to shut up because there’s a whole other problem here. Brad Pitt plays Button and David Fincher is directing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and the last time these two got together it was for Fight Club. Now I doubt we’re going to get to watch Jared Leto get beaten within an inch of his life, and I’m guessing the audience won’t see single frames of pornography spliced into the movie, but Benjamin Button doesn’t look bad. With that said, here’s the problem:

Brad Pitt starts off (through great effects by the way) as a trollish little old man/infant not that unlike Yoda. With great cinematography, we watch Button’s life move physically backwards but emotionally forwards. And that’s cool, but here’s my problem. We’re watching a movie where Brad Pitt gets perpetually younger and better looking. What? Like I need a reminder of how irrepressibly attractive Brad Pitt is? With his chiseled features and incredibly blue eyes? Like I could forget that? As if any random magazine is going to let me misplace that notion. Other than being mocked in the most subtle and passive-aggressive of ways, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button looks pretty good. But you can see a mile off that ending’s going to be a bitch.



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