Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

Nov 2 - Nov16, 2005
Issue #87

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   
All Day Suckers
Getting fooled again
Allan Uthman

The Undoucheables
Even Fitzgerald can't cleanse media pussies
Paul jones

All Eyes on Greenland
Global Warming continues to warm the globe
Alexander Zaitchik
Scalito's Way
Supreme Court loses its swing
Donnie Dobovich
Nuclear Terror goes Primetime
But who's watching?

Russ Wellen

Why 2K?
Lucky 200th dead soldier wins free autopsy
Jeff Dean

Slaving You More
A brave new world right next to the salsa
N. Sorrenti
An Evening with Malcolm McLaren
We got to hang out with him & you didn't
Paul Fallon

FAUX-TURES
Ask Kim Jong Il
Advice from the world's most colorful super-villain

LOCAL
Judy, Judy, Judy
An interview w/ Judith Einach, Buffalo's best hopeless Mayoral candidate
Vote for Helfer or He'll Kick Your Ass
The Buffalo News' Illogical Endersement

The BEAST Blog
Irresponsible vitriol on a near-daily basis

[sic] - Letters
Wide Right
Bills Football & other sports
Kino Korner: Movies
Michael Gildea
Page 3
Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
 
 Cover Page

COMIX:
Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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The Weather Man

Nicolas Cage is a tough cookie to figure out. He’s worked his way from the bottom up, careful not to reveal his secret identity as Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew, taking small parts in even smaller movies. He worked his way up the Hollywood food chain through a series of impressive performances in equally impressive films before winning an Oscar for Best Actor back in 1995. Then it started going downhill with Cage. Con Air, The Rock, Gone in 60 Seconds. Oh sure, there’s been Adaptation and Matchstick Men since, but he named his newborn son Kal-El (Superman’s Kryptonian name), and if you read an interview with the man, you’ll get a manifesto on how to blow sunshine up someone’s ass – a truly magnificent experience if you get the chance.

Cage’s resume is two parts Hollywood crap and one part artsy splendor. Luckily, The Weather Man falls into the second category. It’s the story of a weatherman whose life and career are on the skids. Cage is such a bad weatherman that his audience throws food at him out of contempt. He’s got a not-mad-but-disappointed dad who’s terminally ill and wants to see Cage turn it all around before he kicks off.

I liked The Weather Man because I really identified with Cage’s character David Spritz. He’s a depressing guy who lives a shell of a life and is all but a consummate professional – he’s not even a real weatherman so much as a studio correspondent who reports from newswires. He does a terrible job based on the absolute minimal amount of effort as he rides a haggard wave of his own creation – with just a hint of mellow smoothness.

As you bear witness to this, you’re forced to consider that maybe Cage isn’t so hard to figure out at all. He’s a raving nut that could live on HuFu (see the Samantha Bee report “Flesh in the Pan” from the October 27th episode of The Daily Show) and gnaw on trees and live chickens in the countryside while his maddening and expensive neuroses demand that he make sequels to National Treasure and otherwise expensive action movies. But he still has enough of a soul to do something good once in a while.

The Weather Man also stars Michael Caine and Hope Davis and is directed by Gore Verbinski. You know Mr. Caine and you might know Davis from American Splendor. But Verbinski’s work you’ve seen before if you’ve caught the first Ring movie and Pirates of the Caribbean. He’s put out a reasonably nifty body of work so far for an aspiring popcorn salesman. He’s simultaneously filming parts two and three of Pirates, so it’ll be interesting to see if it turns him into a burnout for awhile like every other director who took on the same daunting task. (Except Peter Jackson.)

If you check it out on a rainy Saturday and you forgot to load up on antidepressants when you woke up you should probably hold out on seeing The Weather Man for awhile. But otherwise its worth checking out if you want better odds at the track.


Saw II

What was the big friggin’ deal?

I’m pretty sure that was the only thought in my mind when the credits rolled on the original Saw movie this time last year. It was the one that you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about. You couldn’t work anywhere around here without hearing about how fuckin’ awesome it was. Every school had at least two students in every class that had seen it and just had to tell you about it, bro.

If and when you got around to seeing it, you realized just how fucking awesome Saw wasn’t. It was a low budget byproduct whose villain was miserable because he didn’t get the role in Seven. So we’re trapped in a twisted maze of his design for over an hour and a half. We watch desperate people make painful choices. As we suffer with them, we know when they make wrong choices, they’re doomed.

Now when I saw painful choices, I mean not having to cut off a foot in order to live – I’m talking about the decision as to whether or not to see the sequel, cleverly enough named Saw II. It’s basically the same thing as the first one, except with a bigger budget and more actors to torment. Saw II reminded me a lot of another movie that was a sequel to a little shoestring budget horror picture that turned out to be a big hit. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 ring a bell? The truth is that a heightened budget can hurt just as much as it helps. As a result, the sequel looks more like a big budget version of a Nine Inch Nails video as opposed to the snuff film recreation that the original passed for.

Much like the original, Saw II is impressively unimpressive. The overall quality of the movies makes you feel like they were left, forgotten, in somebody’s trunk for at least a few weeks – both of them. Here’s the bottom line: I can sit here all day and go on about how Saw and Saw II are basically the same movie, but if you liked the first one and liked it enough to deal with it again, then you should go see it. However, if you’ve finally figured out that you don’t want to step on the same pile twice, then congratulations; you’ve taken your first step into a larger world.


The Legend of Zorro

So it’s 1998. You’ve just made a pretty decent Zorro movie. You’ve made a star out of your leading actress, you’ve raised the bar for action scenes in the future, and of course there’s plenty of room for a completely unnecessary sequel. The time between sequels works in a very similar way to statutes of limitation. You wait more than a certain amount of time to act on something and you’re – let’s skip it.

The Legend of Zorro really sucked. Actually, it truly sucked. The problem with it stems back to what was done in the ‘98 movie. Zorro gave up enough screen time to open a portal to another world, a terrible terrible place that is showcased in the newer movie. It left open the seldom-asked question: what will happen to Zorro and Catherine Zeta-Jones? Well, she became a fucking nag and gained twenty pounds. She knew what he was when she married him and carried his seed. He’s fucking Zorro! It’s like being married to a cop or a firefighter you dumb shit!

“You’re never around!”

“My son doesn’t know his father!”

“My mother’s coming to live with us.”

“Waaaahhh!”

The sorry sons of bitches responsible for this Lifetime-tinged turd turned Zorro, the quintessential avenger who inspired Batman and numerous other vigilantes, into a human being, taking away his bigger-than-God status and handcuffing him to a whining bitch. Can you imagine having to deal with that shit on top of trying to thwart some vicious prick’s evil plot? Mary Jane gave the same look at the end of the second Spider-Man film. Yeah, you knew what you were getting into, didn’t you? So they get themselves into a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario and woe-is-them. It’s enough to make you puke. I go to the movies to get away from this shit! And now it follows me here? Come on!

This movie reminded me of a situation I came across when I worked retail. I had to leave my “zone” to go take a dump. So I’m sitting on the can, and this brain-dead, socially retarded coworker come in, drapes his big stupid head over the stall and tells me I have a customer. Violated in my only sanctuary, the Big White Throne. I don’t know if I was more shocked by the new lows that general etiquette had reached or knowing that the process of excretion was no longer a social ejector seat for me. Either way, the incident served as an emotional anesthetic – allowing me to handle any emotionally battering situation that would come my way throughout the following years.

Unfortunately, no emotional catharsis or life lesson came with The Legend of Zorro. All it really did was make me realize that I have a perfectly good Zorro movie at home which I would recommend any day of the week over this one. It’s called The Mark of Zorro and it originally came out in 1940. If you want to see another great Zorro movie, check out Batman Begins.


North Country

Winning an Oscar can do funny things to an actor or actress. Take the case of Charlize Theron. She’s that cute blonde who used to star in a good movie once in a while and would get naked sometimes. Then she won the Best Actress Oscar for getting completely skanky, showing off her versatility and gaining 30 pounds. So very much like any other actor in the past who won an Oscar for doing a particular thing, Theron does something similar for her new film, North Country. She plays a mentally handicapped woman, or retard if you prefer.

Now that I think about it, everyone in North Country plays a mental case. Theron’s parents, her kids, her co-workers, everybody! It takes place in a magically back-dated place – I want to say North Dakota or Minnesota. They’ve got this really mutated way of talking. I think these were the same people who were in the Coen brothers classic Fargo. There’s a lot of you betchas and dontcha knows. I think they were in some prison camp where there’s a dominant gang of men and barely enough women to start a bowling team. Naturally, the man-children don’t like the competition (but are secretly afraid of women), and that’s when things get ugly. The men get jerky through meticulous sexual harassment and eventually it gets to the point where a big courtroom drama ensues.

The finished product is one of unparalleled comedy. I haven’t laughed this much since I saw The Sorrow and the Pity. I know (or at least suspect) North Country is trying to be a serious film that demands respect very much like its predecessors Norma Rae and Silkwood, but it’s nearly impossible to pay attention to every intricacy and subtle nuance this film attempts to emanate when you’ve been hyperventilating and sharted yourself 45 minutes ago. This movie is truly a treat! The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about to pass the torch.

Thank God for North County! I was really starting to get depressed about going to the movies there for awhile. You know what I mean. You get your W-2s together and start getting your taxes ready before you hit the theater even though the year’s not over for another two and a half months. I see people paying their bills and doing their homework at the movie theaters. To think there was once a time when you’d be able to say at least you got to see a couple of good previews out of the whole thing. Now it’s getting to the point where I see senior citizens snorting lines off of the headrests in front of them. Things are so bad at the multiplex that reviewing movies is turning into every other miserable job I’ve had over the years. This gig used to be fun, goddamn it! I used to walk out of theaters feeling exuberant and alive. Now I just feel like I’ve been violated by a postulant scabies-ridden redneck sheriff in some backwoods county where the local economy consists mainly of dollar store and gas station chain revenue.

But with North Country I got a little of that moviegoing joy that I desperately needed. There’s a lot of Oscar buzz on this movie, but I don’t know about all of that. True, there are great performances. Was it visually stunning? Absolutely. Or absolutely as much as a prison picture can be. So what will become of North Country? I can’t say. I think it will be best known with an audience of bored crystal meth-addicted  housewives who need a really good bellylaugh when they run out of gas 15 minutes before their kids get home or when they’re sick of obligatorily humping their meal ticket.


Stay

(What I’ve Learned)

Michael Gildea, Film Critic, 30, Buffalo, New York

-If something sounds too good to be true... run.

-Acquired tastes enrich your life. They’re like finding a twenty in the pocket of that jacket you’re wearing for the first time in six months. That e-mail you get from that old college schoolchum you haven’t heard from in a while. It’s like knowing that you just paid your bills and that’s one less thing you’ve got to worry about.

-Inspirational, emotionally coddling sayings are piles of steaming crap.

-Time travel should be invented for, if nothing else, the sole purpose of being able to go back ten years into the past and beat the living crap out of yourself for being a complete and total retard. Make chaos theory work for you.

-If the number of your past sexual partners exceeds your age, you’re doing something seriously wrong. Or something seriously right. Pick one.

-If you graduate high school not knowing what to do, get the crappiest job you can find. Burger King, tanning salon, whatever. Work it full time for a year straight and get as many hours as you can. You’ll have a lot of time to think about it.

-If you’re on the post as to whether or not to stay with someone, play them your favorite movie or listen to your favorite album with them. If they don’t get it, if they don’t like it, if they don’t even pretend to be interested, walk away.

-If Washington did with energy sources what Hollywood does with movies, you wouldn’t have to pay three bucks a gallon.

-I feel much better now that I’ve lost all hope.

-Get used to cannibalism.

-It’s been nearly twelve minutes since there’s been some major tragedy or natural disaster. We’re falling behind on our timetable to the apocalypse. Somebody do something!

-Certain people shouldn’t lie. Certain people shouldn’t try, but these are usually the ones who wind up pulling it off.

-Every actor reaches a point in their career where all they do is safe dogshit that’s barely worth the storage space in a Tivo or a DVR. And Ewan McGregor has reached that phase with Stay. Ladies and gentlemen, your next Peter O’Toole.

-If at first you don’t like Bob Dylan, step back for a couple of years and try again later.

-Silence speaks volumes, more than actual words. Try it sometime.

-The chef spit in your food.

-Only 4.32% of lesbians are actually attractive (or ‘lipstick lesbians’ as they’re called in the community) where as the remainder look like they can, and probably can, kick your ass.

-That’s no moon.

-Blondes have no business dyeing their hair black.

-Half-shirts aren’t for everybody.

-There is a stage in your life where you will realize that you are no longer interesting and never were interesting. You feel so much better afterward. God help your soul if you never come to this conclusion.


Doom

It’s nice to know there are a few things left in the world to which the what you see is what you get philosophy still apply. If you date a girl who smokes Marlboro reds, you’re going to be a prime recipient of some top-notch fellatio in the not too distant future. Or if someone starts a sentence with the words, “There once was a man from Nantucket,” you know you’re about to get pretty uncomfortable if your grandmother is in the room. And if a movie is based on video game, viewing it is going to be a fate worse than death.

We’ve seen Hollywood shit the bed with video game movies before. There’s been Resident Evil (twice), Tomb Raider (again – twice), Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat (twice again), Wing Commander, House of the Dead, and some other movies I don’t care to remember. Add Doom is now added to that list.

Doom the game was a landmark in the video game world because it was the original first-person shooter. It puts you more into the game emotionally and the train’s been a’ rolling ever since. But the thing that the makers of video game movies fail to realize is that these are two different media that, when combined, make for a wasteful parasite that bleeds time, money and essential energies required to make it to the credits without your genitals fearfully crawling up into the gaseous oven known as your body cavity. Video games involve an ever-mutating and evolving technology which almost guarantees that they get better as a series progresses. If you’re a fan of the Resident Evil games, you know what I mean.

But movies don’t work this way. They tend to get worse with each installment. Matrix, anyone? They’re usually redundant rehashes of the previous episodes that have been known to inspire 3-day benders in middle school students, insurance salesmen and football enthusiasts. It’s almost like watching the Discovery or National Geographic channels when the programming is replayed again two hours later.

Doom the video game was fun because it was like porn without plot. Straight action and killing! You didn’t even have to really think unless you were in some random puzzle, but it spoke to that primal part of you that needed to blast the shit out of something and couldn’t pass the background check to buy that pair of nickel-plated .45s.

But as for Doom the movie, there’s really only one way to describe viewing it: Remember the first time you went to a buddy’s house after they got their PS2? The pizza boxes on the floor? The reek of body odor? Bad 5 O’clock shadows, pit-stains and greasy hair? Admittedly, you’ll say that was nothing new, but when you asked if you could play? You’d have better luck if you asked if you could ball his girlfriend. Well, that’s kind of what like seeing Doom is like – being at someone’s house and watching them play Doom. When I run into that kind of situation, I usually just overflow the toilet in retaliation, or leave my car in the driveway and report it stolen.


Dreamer

Sometimes it takes an appearance on a late night talk show to make you realize how good an actor or actress actually is. Take Dakota Fanning, the child star who’s honing her chops up against Hollywood’s biggest players. Miss Fanning has gone toe to toe – girlo a mano – with Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro, and Sean Penn. Pretty impressive roster for an 11-year-old. You watch the kid in a movie, and she’s got icewater flowing through her veins – a veritable machine that was engineered for the sole purpose of making her parents rich or crashing hard and ending up in rehab before she hits sweet 16. Maybe both.

But one of the many things that the movies have a tendency to do is to make you lose all touch with reality as far as realizing that these are real (some of them are) people. I saw Fanning on Letterman last summer plugging War of the Worlds. She was animated, goofy – the average 11-year-old girl. I shrugged off her tenacity and dismissed her as a normal kid.

That was until last week. I saw some footage of Fanning before she was about to meet Madonna and I was convinced of one thing and one thing alone: The kid’s a fucking werewolf! Her teeth became pointed and she looked like she was just bobbing for apples in a tub full of pharmaceuticals! It was like that episode of The Flintstones where Fred fell off the wagon and became a gambling junkie again (betbetbetbetbetbetbet!). The kid was on PCP, MSG, LSD, THC and NBC. A living example of everything wrong with the US today – a miniature behemoth that could be taken down with nothing less than three shots to the chest from a .357 Magnum and a steady rotation of Kim Possible. Seeing that was like unintentionally catching your paperboy schtupping his grandmother in her womanly buttsteaks.

But when watching Dreamer, Fanning was a consummate professional. She oozed all the sweetness and sunshine her role demanded and for a moment I saw a delusional look in her costar Kurt Russell’s squinty eyes, when he wanted to call her baby and burst into tears. Fanning is a miniature Svengali who manages to hypnotize her audience with puppydog eyes and an adorable presence. To tell the truth, she almost made me forget to play Russian roulette in the back row of the theater. Almost...

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