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Jesus and Kirk do Darien Lake: Kingdom Bound 2004 - Ken Barnes

Puberty and Bad Politics: Alt Press Crumbles Under BEAST Sanctions - Al Uthman


The DNC Shuffle: Special Dance Instruction Chart (plus page 3)

Dead/Not Dead? A BEAST Quiz

Same Sex Marriage Ban: Gay? - Scott Borchert and Dan Cory

Joel in Jail?: The BEAST Poll



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© 2004 The Beast


The Village **

 

Everyone knows that with an M. Night Shyamalan movie there’s a “big secret” or an “incredible plot twist.” These secrets are so important and shocking to the movie that it’s illegal to reveal it to anyone who has intentions of ever seeing one of these movies.

Shyamalan was ruined for me when his first major movie, The Sixth Sense, came out. All I knew about it was there was a twist ending and within 72 hours of its release, some hippy named Zippy (no shit) blew it for me. It sounded fun, but when I ultimately saw it, it was like playing a video game with the cheat codes on: mildly fun, but not mind-blowing.

So whenever Shyamalan put out another one of his two-hour long “Twilight Zone” episodes, I always made sure to get the hitch before I got taken for eight bucks.

So, since the words “Samuel L. Jackson’s the bad guy” and “water kills the aliens” have saved me sixteen some-odd dollars over the last few years, I figured I’d had a good run and that it was time to give back…

Viewing the trailers for The Village sparked no interest whatsoever in me. A bunch of puritans living in the woods, and in mortal fear of monsters. And for once, the trailers did justice to the movie. Shyamalan gives us a gorgeous-looking movie where nothing gorgeous or even interesting really happens. Everybody acts somber and boring, with the exception of Adrien Brody as the village idiot, who must have been the only one having fun during the making of this movie.

About forty-five to sixty minutes in, you reach a point where nothing could possibly happen to keep you interested, and as a result you will leave the theater with no opinion on the matter. Not even the twist. Walking out of The Village is exactly what it’s like being on Paxil: you don’t feel bad, but you don’t exactly feel anything else either.


The Manchurian Candidate ***

A few weeks back when I was on “The Greg Sterlace Show,” Greg, his lovely co-host Paula, and I sort of attempted to get into a debate as to why there was a remake of The Manchurian Candidate being made. Not much of anything came of that debate, with the exception of Sterlace calling me an idiot, and the 1962 version of the movie something to the effect of “a crappy Frank Sinatra vehicle.” When Mr. Sterlace came out of character between segments, he asked me, “yeah, why are they remaking that?”

I like to think I learned something that day. Something about showmanship. I think that Greg was trying to put on a show, and perhaps Manchurian Candidate director Jonathan Demme is trying to add to the really big show that we’re going to have coming up later this year with this satire. That big show being the presidential election.

You see, The Manchurian Candidate is more than a typical remake of a movie; it’s a pigsticker to the ribs of the today’s system, a goodnight story conspiracy theorists tell their kids when they tuck them in at night.

Updated from the sixties, communists are replaced by corporations as the villains and Korea is traded for Kuwait. In most cases, it goes without saying that the original’s always going to be better than the remake, but usually the deciding factor for me is how interesting it ends up. And as much as I love to complain about remakes, The Manchurian Candidate is one of the better ones out there.


Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle ***

This one was an iffy one for me. Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle looked like it could go the way of the less-than-known Road Trip or the atrocious Dude, Where’s My Car? I know these movies aren’t gunning for Oscars. I know they’re not trying to do anything more than make people laugh. And if they don’t, fine! But if they do, you’ve got yourself your own personal goldmine my friends.

Chances were that Harold and Kumar was going to be roadkill grilling on the radiator of a pickup truck. After all, they did make it a point of mentioning that this movie was made by the director of Dude Where’s My Car? (I still have flashbacks about the wretched day that movie first entered my life. It was even worse with the person you’re watching it with looking over at you the whole time trying to figure out of you like it. Waiting for that look of approval. It’s like you’re eating a casserole or dessert they made from a recipe in Redbook.) Normally, I don’t like harping on that sort of thing. Even directors I love have done movies that are flat out crap. Guy Ritchie did Swept Away, David Fincher did Alien 3, and The Coen Brothers did Intolerable Cruelty. Every movie these guys ever made wasn’t a total abomination.

So with that said, I will say that Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was pretty damned funny. It’s just two guys having an odyssey a few states away after seeing a White Castle commercial. It gives you a few nice surprises that the previews don’t let you in on, thus restoring your faith in the modern idiotic comedy.

While I can’t say it’s the best comedy I’ve seen in a while, I can say that Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle is one of the better ones. For optimum viewing, I’d recommend some libation in the parking lot, and buying tickets ahead of time, because, frankly, who really wants to be bothered waiting in a line to buy movie tickets after they just drank a twelve-pack in a half an hour? Do what you like with your life man, I’m going into the theater and eating the two double cheeseburgers I smuggled through in my back pockets.


Thunderbirds 0

You know that things are bad in H-land when the only ‘60s TV show left you can think to turn into a movie is based on a British kids’ show, with puppets, that only lasted 32 episodes. Frankly, this is the kind of thing I knew one day would come from Bill Paxton, but Ben Kingsley as a character named The Hood? That’s like getting shit-faced and putting the title of your Bentley up in a game of back alley dice.

As for Thunderbirds, it’s a low-level Spy Kids knock off and making such a knock off this soon after the last Spy Kids movie is like trying to get the jewelry off a dead body at the wake. At least give us some time to forget the things you’re ripping off and give us the illusion that it’s something new when you finally do “liberally borrow” from it.

Clearly, you don’t need to see Thunderbirds to know that this movie shouldn’t have been made. But let’s consider some other ‘60s TV shows ripe for the picking…

1)      “The Munsters.” I see Vin Diesel as Herman, Gary Busey as Grandpa and Carmen Electra as Lily.

2)      “The Addams Family.” I know what you’re thinking: It’s already been done, dummy. They even did a sequel. How much lamer can it get? I know all this, but what about a remake of a remake? Who’s ever done that? Plus you can give the late Raul Julia his due with a cameo from beyond the grave. Just CGI him in!

3)      “Adam 12.” No one’s ever heard of it before, so you don’t really have to worry about being unimaginative! You can do casting by running a reality show to cast the movie. Two birds with one stone! I love this town!


The Bourne Supremacy *1/2

I liked The Bourne Identity for a few different reasons. It’s always somewhat interesting to see someone discover that they’re a trained killer and outwit his would-be assassins. The look on Matt Damon’s face right before he beat the shit out of two European cops said it all for me. When you get a surprisingly good cast and add a top-notch director to give what could easily turn into a typical unimaginative espionage movie an enema to cleanse the Clancyness out of it, you’re cooking with gas.

Pardon the pun. I really didn’t mean it.

But what our smog-saturated friends in Southern California don’t fully realize is that a sequel to a good movie is not and was not necessarily necessary. Oh I know that there’s a series of these books out there, but there’s a series of James Ellroy books out there too. Try and make money on those instead.

 But now we’ve got The Bourne Supremacy and, with it, the remainder of said cast, but we lack the original director who held the original together. Doug Liman is replaced with Paul Greengrass, who must have been smoking green grass when he set this flick up. Either Paul or his director of photography has a serious case of Parkinson’s disease. I say this because most of the action is either out of focus or bouncy (the arteurs will no doubt call this “documentary-style filmmaking”) to the point where popcorn and nachos at the concession stand should be replaced with Dramamine. The brilliant Chris Cooper’s role is replaced with the equally talented Joan Allen and her power-bitch hair—delivering her empty calorie dialogue lines perfectly straight-faced while playing sports coach to get his/her ass who has to answer for this mess off of the chopping block.

Watching Allen and Brian Cox is probably the highlight of the movie. While Matt Damon didn’t exactly level me with his subdued performance, I do respect him for the fact that he didn’t show off even in the slightest. The action for the most part pales in comparison to that of The Bourne Identity. I’m always prepared to ingest a certain amount of bullshit whenever I walk into an action movie, but the car chase toward the end of the movie was sillier than roomful of ferrets on LSD.

The Bourne Supremacy is the typical sequel chasing the dragon--looking for all the thrills that the original delivered while just leaving the theater eight dollars poorer and sadly disappointed.


Catwoman (no stars whatsoever)

After viewing Catwoman, I wrote two reviews. I was torn between the two because as a film critic, I feel the need to inform my readers (as ungrateful as they may be) as to what kind of a painful experience they are putting themselves up for.

Review #1

Remember that late-‘90s movie Steel with Shaquille O’Neal? It was based on a character from the Superman comics that was one of four replacement Supermen after Superman briefly died in the early ‘90s. It’s story really had nothing to do with the comic and if you’ve never heard of the movie, there’s a good reasons for that—you’ve never heard of him unless you followed that particular storyline and the movie was a fate worse than death. As you can imagine, it flopped.

But Catwoman has something of an edge on Steel. People are familiar with her from the ‘60s Batman show and more recently from Tim Burton’s 1992 underrated Batman Returns. Initially, hearing about it, I knew that the movie would have nothing to do with the Batman character from which the character of Catwoman was originally spawned. She was a cat burglar with feline powers (I think) whose arch-nemesis was the caped crusader himself. Batman Returns kind of touched on this.

“But screw all that! Let’s take an interesting R-rated character, sex her up to the nines as far as PG-13 will allow, and stick her in a truly terrible movie. Rehash some of what Burton did, but put her up against the evil owner of a cosmetics company and his over-the-hill wife. We’ll have everybody act like third-rate versions of ‘60s horror actors and call it irony! We’ll also get a eurotrash director with one name! It’ll be brilliant! Brilliant I say! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!”Warner Bros. Film exec in charge of development

If you’ve seen even one trailer for Catwoman, you’ll know that it’s that out of control car that you see coming a mile away, and you’ve got plenty of time to run or at least get off the street.

Dennis Hopper was once asked by his son why he made the movie Super Mario Bros. Hopper explained that he needed to buy him shoes. To which his son replied, “I don’t need shoes that bad.” I know that everybody’s got to eat, but if they did this movie for reasons other than sustaining themselves, shame on Frances Conroy, who is otherwise brilliant on the HBO series Six Feet Under. And as for Alex Borstein, who you may know as the voice of Lois Griffin on Family Guy…why?

Review #2

Why..?


Napoleon Dynamite *

All I knew about this movie was that it was about a geek who’s happy to be left alone. I also knew that this was one of those movies that’s going to be trendy and probably pasted on a three-quarter page ad in Artvoice because it’s the must-see movie of the year.

So I donned some jock clothing and walked, carrying two of the biggest imaginary pails of water I could find. I stole a pick-up truck and went to the theater. I started with anyone who was nerdy-looking in the slightest (especially anyone with a Weezer t-shirt on) and told them to go rent Welcome to the Dollhouse instead. Then I’d give them a wet Willie, wrestle them to the ground asking “whyyahittinyourself?whyyahittinyourself?” and call them a “fuckin’ faggot geek pussy” or some variation thereof. I really should’ve played football in high school.





 

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