Sunday, December 25, 2005

King Kong: Big Giant Apes Do It Better (Peter Jackson, Director)
Oh man, King Kong is so great!

Firstly, Industrial Light and Magic can just hang up their laptops and go home—the CGI effects in Kong are the best I've ever seen by a factor of at least ten. Don't get me wrong, you can tell it's computer graphics, but it's just so well done that it doesn't matter. Kong himself is completely believable, as are all the various snarly dinosaurs, creepy insects, giant bats and all the rest of it. Too, too fantastic.

King Kong is also a very artistic film. You can tell that every frame has been thought out, and some are masterpieces of composition—yellow and red planes dive against a blue sky; a map floats towards you in the extreme foreground as a lighted ship disappears over the horizon and into the mists—it's all very arty and beautiful, which appealed immensely to my inner graphic designer.

The casting is perfect: Jack Black's jittery intensity is perfectly controlled as a compulsively self-absorbed 1930's film director on a desperate mission to save his failing career. Adrian Brody, (who seems like an odd choice for a leading man, but somehow always makes me believe), really works for the time period. And Naomi Watts...damn, what can I say? She blows Faye Wray and Jessica Lange completely out of the water. I know that this is sacrilege to say, but Naomi beats Faye, her performance will now and forevermore be The One. And of course, as with his Gollum in The Return of the King series, the amazing Andy Circus did the body movement work for Kong's CGI effects; he also has a smaller role as the ship's cook, and turns out an effecting performance in one of the film's most freaky moments as well.

It's been said many times about the original: King Kong is really a movie about man's place in nature. Jackson's film gives loving tribute to ideas about the sorrow and damage inherent in manifest destiny. But, it's also a film about sex and what it means to be a man. Little blondie can't help falling for the big ape: he's just risked life and limb to save her from big scary dinosaurs, and he appreciates sunsets as well. Hell, I'm in love with him! Blondie represents the impossible male ideal of female perfection: all porcelain fragility, she understands him without words; she's someone to fight for and to protect. Kong and Brody represent different aspects of the masculine ideal—one is a rough brute with a deep soul, the other is exactly the same but with a veneer of Victorian era chivalry. Oddly, Brody comes off as the lesser man, Kong is The Dude.

One thing: King Kong is hella scary, do not take small children to see this movie. The feral islanders were more frightening than any orc, and some of the dinosaur scenes are way too terrifying for little kids, (but, also pretty funny too, there's a scene with people, ape and tyrannosaurs hanging in vines that was beyond hilarious.) There's a bit with giant insect worms that made the scary monsters from the Alien movies look tame. I'm a pretty mature filmgoer, it takes a lot to phase me, but I actually shrieked once or twice during this film. The three-plus hours just flew by.

My Recommendation?: Go see Kong pronto, you'll still respect yourself in the morning. It may just be the perfect movie, and a true representation of just what the first film makers had in mind when they first put light to celluloid—it's got everything: love, strife, high seas, dangerous natives, giant insects, dinosaurs with huge teeth, dreamy girls and manly men...and one giant ape with a heart of gold.

Snack Foods? Here's a popcorn movie if there every was one, but go easy on the soda pop for the first hour or so, you don't want to miss a thing.

Breakfast on Pluto: Even More Big Gay Fun (Neil Jordan, Director)
This was one enjoyable movie, and also works as a kind of anti-Brokeback Moutain. You know how on Mythbusters, Adam Savage says, "I reject your reality, and substitute my own"? Well, this movie illustrates that idea more than anything I've seen.

Cillian Murphy plays "Kitten", an Irish boy, abandoned by his glamor-puss mother on the church door steps, and then raised in indifferent squalor by a "hairy ass" foster mother and her sour daughter. Turns out Irish Boy is kind of a fairy: he dresses up in his sister's dresses and puts on makeup while watching old Mitzi Gaynor movies on the tellie. When threatened with public exposure and humiliation he purrs, "Promise?"

Irish Boy learns to sew and grows up in trannie glory, surrounded by friends who love him (and each other) without judgement. He leaves home in search of his phantom mother, and has various adventures (including a hilarious bit in a children's amusement park featuring Brendan Gleeson in a rodent suit), depending on the kindness of strangers who are won over by his fey charms. Bad things do happen, but Kitten soars above them, weaving his own fantasy version of events where nothing "serious" ever happens. The movie is even filmed as a series of chapters, each one cheerily titled so as to reassure the viewer that nothing too horrible will happen.

In fact, horrible things do happen, but Kitten refuses to acknowledge them. Mistaken for an IRA terrorist and beaten for days, Kitten eventually charms his captors, and in a very funny chase scene, refuses to leave prison, only wanting to return to his "cheery little cell". Everyone he meets eventually falls in love with him, and we the viewers do too.

Cillian Murphy is a consistently interesting actor, and he seems to be avoiding the typecasting pit that has plagued fellow Irish actor Colin Farrell. Colin may be a scruffy bad boy favorite of american party girls everywhere, but give me Cillian any day, he's just more interesting to watch; and unlike Colin, he seems to have a bit of a filter on his acting choices. Plus he makes a damn pretty girl.

My Recommendation? It's the feel-good movie of the year! Unless you are homophobic, this movie will give you the happy feet in the end, and, especially at this time of year, there's nothing wrong with that.

Snack Foods? Pancakes, in fact, potato pancakes, 'cause it's an Irish movie. Pancakes and whiskey, yeah, that's the ticket.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Memoirs of a Geisha: Snore (Rob Marshall, Director)
What can I say? Unlike what Hollywood pundits think the public wants, I personally love long movies. I don't want to go to the expense and hassle of driving to a movie, possibly paying for parking, and then have the whole thing over in 86 minutes. I've said "No" to movies on principle, just because the running time was too short. That being said, MofaG is at least a half hour too long. A young girl is sold into slavery at a geisha house, makes friends and enemies, meets her mentor/future love (yuck!) when he buys her a snow cone on a bridge...becomes geisha..there's a war...but...too late, I'm asleep. For a story about such an interesting subject, not much goes on in this film. The scenery is beautiful, the Japanese architecture is amazing, kimonos are elaborate, geishas are beautiful...but...snore. For such a long movie, not much seems to be communicated.

Part of the problem is the film's star, Ziyi Zhang, who's demure screen presence has worked so well in other films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and last year's amazing Hero (yes, the one with Jet Li; it's still beautiful beyond belief). Here she needs more expression: we never really know what the character is feeling. Michelle Yoeh does a better job as her geisha mentor, and Gong Li eats up the scenery with gusto as the star geisha who feels her beauty and influence fading. The movie does a reasonable job of suggesting the endless struggle for dominance in this secret world of women, but I wanted to leave the theater with more of an understanding of geisha culture than I got. Apparently geishas are not supposed to love or feel joy or have lives of their own, but somehow this is still better than being a farm girl or wife. Or something. They don't have sex either, unless they are bad girls. They exist as "moving works of art", serving client men for the good of their geisha mothers and to pay off their purchase price. Really, that's it?

World War II comes off as an afterthought, more of an inconvenience in this geisha's path to fulfillment with her man. And, I guess it was in the book, but how is falling for a 10 year old girl and then sponsoring her geisha training and debut not kind of totally creepy?

It's already been mentioned that Japan is unhappy that all three female stars of the movie are Chinese. Director Rob Marshall has said that he needed "name stars" to carry the movie—way to go Rob! That's really adding insult to injury! The movie is also in english, and listening to Ziyi, Michelle and Gong Li struggle with the language is distracting. I would have much preferred subtitles...but then, do these actresses even speak Japanese?

The whole set was built on a Hollywood sound stage, but looks nicely authentic. The costumes, makeup and sets really are beautiful, and worth part of the price of admission on their own. But, at the end of the two and a half hours, my butt was cement and I was cranky and unsatisfied. Bad geisha.

Also: going downtown in the week before Christmas is a bad idea. Humanity sucks. Ho ho, sock in the jaw, if you ask me.

My recommendation? Wait for the director's cut on DVD. Maybe a new edit or additional material will leave a better impression. Plus, you can pause and go pee or whatever, and avoid Mister Lead Butt and The Bladder of Doom. Or better yet, go rent Hero, which is an even more beautiful film that won't bore you.

Snack foods? Sushi, 'natch.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Brokeback Mountain: Big Gay Fun (Ang Lee, Director)
Mama's all crampy today, and so she's not feeling at all good—more like death warmed over, as a someone in my family used to say, so that's why I've been a bit mute the last couple of days.

The kid and I went to see Brokeback Mountain on Friday. The theater was packed, and the 7pm show was already sold out at 4pm. Of course, here in Seattle, they are only showing it at two theaters, (both of which are in Capital Hill, our version of the Big Gay Neighborhood, which is kind of stupid, if you ask me). We ended up in the balcony, and because of bad acoustics at The Egyptian coupled with Heath Ledger's close-to-the-chest performance, I could only hear about 60% of the dialog. Still....

What can I say? Two smoking guys getting it on in woods? Hey, If I was Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, I'd be all touchy-grabby too. Damn, hot boys getting down and dirty, could it get any better? Gay boys and straight girls agree, "No, it could not."

Actually, Brokeback Mountain is pretty much your standard bodice ripper romance, but with dudes and nice scenery. It many ways, it reminded me of last year's Cold Mountain: pretty people pine and yearn in pretty places. One big difference was that Brokeback Mountain has more snogging, and there's nothing wrong with that my friends. Actually, even if the stars had been a hetero couple, the on-screen sex was fairly explicit; not over the top, but not phoning it in with discreet cuts to the moonlight, either. Like Cold Mountain, this is a good movie, nicely shot, with attractive, appealing star-crossed lovers overcoming (or not) obstacles to their love. That fact that the stars are both men doesn't change a thing. A lot has been said of how "brave" Heath and Jake are, but I think, phooey to that, it's about time. I give credit to both boys for their natural performances—many actors would be all precious about their love scenes, "Ooh, look at me being all actor-y as I kiss this man!", but Heath and Jake made it completely believable.

Heath's Ennis is the quintessential American Man—rough and masculine, the strong, silent type. Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack is more of a puppy, rough housing and always ready to see the bright side. The film seems to be suggesting that Jack is not being realistic; at one point Ennis says, "If this thing takes us at the wrong time or place, we're dead", and he therefore keeps their encounters to one or two "fishing trips" a year.

And here is the problem I have with this movie: we follow our heroes over twenty years from 1963 to 1983, through squalid marriage, working for daddy, kids, divorce, and playing it "straight". Now, I know that Wyoming and Texas are definitely not gay-friendly, even today. Matthew Shepard's beating death in Montana shows that the fears of the characters of the film have validity, then and now. But, the movie takes place in a bubble; it's as if the rest of the country didn't exist. The Civil Rights movement, The Chicago Seven, the Women's Movement, Disco, Punk, Gay Pride parades...none of these things exist in this movie. There's no mention of a world not populated by American Gothic cowboys and rodeo princesses. Jack tells Ennis, "If we get our own ranch we can be happy like this always". Now, I can't believe that two men that loved each other this passionately couldn't wake up one day and say, "Hey, let's move to Northern California and open a western-themed antiques store." Even in Montana, people would have heard about developments in the blue states. So, that bit bothered me all through the movie. Why didn't one of them say, "Hey, what say we get out of this dumbfuck state?"

My Recommendation? See this movie right away. It's a good movie, and if enough people see it, maybe more Hollywood actors will come out of the closet, so to speak. I'm sure this movie won't play too well in Montana or Texas, but hey, there's other places. Come on over.

Snack Foods? Foot long hot dogs of course! Sorry, hee hee.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kong Can Wait
As much as I'm dying to see King Kong, we are going to wait until December 25th to see it. Our family tradition is to see a movie every Christmas day, and then go eat Chinese food. King Kong will be nice and long and full of crashes and explosions and people running around getting eaten, so it will be perfect for Christmas. So, just in case anyone is waiting with bated breath for my review, breath in. (This is a moot point, because no one is reading this blog anyway. I'm so lonely.)

In the meantime, start prepping those eggrolls. I'll have some other movie review for you tomorrow. I personally am all a-flutter for gay cowboys, oh man! Two hot dudes getting in on in the bushes, I am so there. More later.

South Africa is Laughing at Us
So, South Africa has recognized same-sex marriage as constitutionally legal? They are now officially more progressive than we are! God, what next? When our “family values” begin to sound just like those of the Taliban, we are in trouble, don’t you think? We are bringing the Iraqi’s the same values they already had at the point of a gun! I have to lie down now.

White Elephant Strikes Again, Now With More Tusk!
Well, I did it: I mailed a box containing, 1) A Hideous Vest, covered in gold and silver beading; 2) Sweater Vest Thing, basically a cube of heavy gray cable knit; 3) Assortment of Pot Holders of Doom, which are three rounds of thin fabric with festive plastic hoops attached, I assume they are for tiny people who like having burned hands; and, 4) A glittery Christmas card stating “Seasons Greetings” in a holiday-friendly loopy typeface. I boxed is all up nicely, and took it the post office, where they gave me quite a bit of trouble about not including a return address. Apparently it will be illegal to send mail without a return address starting January 1st. Okay. Well, from now on I’ll just use the address of my old job for this purpose. The bitches deserve it. Anyway, doing this made me happy all day (I'm easily amused), and was totally woth the $4.01 it cost me to mail the thing.

So, Robert E. Lord of Shoreline, I hope you like your presents. Everyone else, there’s still time! Send someone at random your most hideous household trinket, object d'art or monstrous assault on fashion, then sit back and bask in a cleaner household for the greater good. Of course, if you are a good person, you will donate to Toys for Tots or your local food bank. If you are good. Otherwise, do this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Syriana: Most Disturbing, 2005 (Stephen Gaghan, Writer and Director)
Syriana is the best example of a recent trend: fact presented as fiction. As Richard Clarke said recently on The Daily Show about his book The Scorpion's Gate, "People find the truth easier to digest when it is presented as fiction [or words to that effect]". Syriana is fiction, but it feels like the real deal...and left me feeling disturbed and distressed.

Syriana opens with a silent blue-washed scene of men waiting for a work bus in a dust storm. When the bus arrives, there isn't enough room for everyone, and the men begin to push, their raised voices carried away by the wind. A single hammer held stiffly by the side of a leg suggests the possibility of sudden violence. This is the middle east.

Despite what you might think from the presence of George Clooney and Matt Damon in the trailer, this is a movie without stars—we follow the story of several characters, but there is no one main player. Each character has their moment, but which of these are connected? At first, it's difficult to tell, and you have to pay attention to follow what's going on. Supporting actors, (including the film's only two female characters of any consequence), make the most of their moments with pitch-perfect performances. Take note—pee before you go see this one, and don't go out for more popcorn, like the idiots next to us who kept slogging back and forth all through the movie to acquire more and more food, and who then left a tidal wave of garbage for the ushers to clean up. Assholes.

Syriana is a assembled from a series of seemingly unrelated moments strung together in a way that feels disconnected and random. An idealistic lawyer loses his religion; a corporate golden boy spits vitriol as he uses the accidental death of his son to close a deal with an oil-rich prince. A young Pakistani, stuck in a nameless gulf coast country with no job and no prospects is entranced by a charismatic mullah with stories of glory in heaven and protection for family here on earth. In a painful scene, we see his video will outlining what he wants done with his body; his final act a blaze of light which leaves no doubt there won't be a body to bury. This is a world of men, where both the powerful and the weak are helpless—their prospects are equally uncertain and liable to change without warning.

I don't know how much of Syriana is true, but I suspect all of it is. We know that the Bush administration currently has teams looking for ways to go to war with Syrian and Iran. We know that the big meta-national companies really are running things, and that governments are being used to further corporate expansion and to pad the bank accounts of a handful of powerful families, both here and in the middle east. God, I feel ill.

My recommendation? See this movie, but don't expect the standard plot with a "problem, resolution, happy ending" format. This movie will not spoon feed you. And on that note:

Snack foods: None. This type of movie you want to discuss with your friends afterwards over some sort of great ethnic food, save your money for that. And please, if you must have popcorn, don't be jerks and leave garbage for the theater staff, 'cause that's just rude, and you don't want to get on my bad side. I will hunt you down.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Gay Marriage
I really don’t get the whole same-sex marriage debate. Surely it’s a no-brainer? If rights are offered to American citizens, per our constitution, they have to be offered to all citizens, right? Otherwise that whole “freedom for all” thing in the Pledge of Allegiance just makes us look like hypocrites. It seems legally and morally obvious to me that rights should be extended to all Americans, equally. If you really want to keep same-sex couples from getting married, you’d have to ban marriage for everyone, and that would put a crimp in a host of marriage-related industries, be bad for business and make your mother cry.

Personally, I’m not a fan of marriage—at least half the time, it leads to divorce. You couldn’t sell a car that crashes half the time, right? Here, buy this toaster oven; it will only burn down your house 50% of the time! Sheesh.

As for all the “abomination unto God” arguments, please, spare me. I don’t keep up with organized religion or anything, but I’m pretty sure Jesus had things to say about tolerance and loving your fellow man ‘n stuff. What happened to that, bible thumpers?

Some conservative types have tried to spread the falsehood that gay parents mess up and abuse their kids…hmm. Seems to me that all the kid drowners, beaters and starvers I’ve heard about in the news lately have been breeders, every single one. As for the much-ballyhooed “sanctity of marriage”, talk to me when dreck such as The Bachelor, Paradise Island and America’s Littlest Groom are no longer on the air. When marriage is a regular game show prize, I’d say the sanctity has pretty much left the building.

Besides, isn’t marriage supposed to be socially stabilizing? When people get married, buy homes and have kids, they create better neighborhoods and local economies, right? That’s why we give tax breaks to married couples. And, all those extra marriages would be awesome for the wedding planner, travel and real estate industries.

So come on everybody! Get on the gay marriage bandwagon. It’s good for gays, it’s good for straights. It’s good for America, god damn it.

Nation-Wide White Elephant Holiday
My mom likes to send me things she gets at thrift stores and church rummage sales. She tries to honor what I hope she thinks of as my quirky and creative spirit. Or she hates me. From the type of thing she sends, I’m not 100% sure which it is. I’ve been the recipient of a giant orange sweatshirt covered in some sort of metallic gold goo. I’ve gotten a blouse so horrible only a blind albino rhinoceros would consider wearing it. Once I got some sort of moo-moo thing that appeared to be made out of crochet doilies. This season, I got a vest only suitable for the craps dealer at the Liberace Memorial Flame and Casino in Las Vegas (a place which ought to exist, if you ask me). On the other hand, my mom has never sent me a sweater with a fuzzy Christmas tree, or a reindeer hoodie with real bells attached. She has standards, after all. (God, I hope she never reads this.)

I was joking around about how we ought to have a white elephant party so that we could unload some of these items, and then Stephen Colbert and his team of writers at The Colbert Report had the brilliant idea of doing a national white elephant: open the phone book, pick someone at random, and send them a present. I wish I could say I'd thought of this idea, but in any case, I say let’s do it. What a great way to get rid of that horrible stuff that’s clogging up your closets, and also bring abject random fear and confusion to your fellow human beings? Let’s make it a new national tradition, sort of like spring cleaning, Extreme Holiday Edition. I don’t have to remind you not to put a return address on the package, right? You are all smart people.

Our First Victim
Okay, getting phone book…close eyes…open book…point…okay. Robert E. Lord of Shoreline, Washington, you are in for one confusing gift. Won’t that be fun? Think of all the enjoyment you’ll derive from grilling your relatives to find out who sent you a gender- and taste-confused sweater and three sets of frilly dish towels with the Velcro straps? What a great way to while away those painful family dinners, possibly leading to cathartic fist fights and the beginnings of feuds that could last for years to come, ultimately saving you from having to attend all those unnecessary family reunions and weddings. You’re welcome.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bee Season: Adults Are Fucked Up

Last night, me and the kid, again desperately in need of distraction and that whole "gettin' outta da house" thing, and since we'd seen almost everything already (not Chicken Little, that's just not gonna happen), and that, despite the fact that her mum could have almost been like a totally famous ballet choregrapher once, the kid flat out refuses to see Ballet Russes, so...Bee Season was it.

Now, don't get me wrong, Bee Season looked okay. But, I have this long-standing hatred for Richard Gere. That guy has always given me the creeps, even in Pretty Woman, (which he was totally phoning in, not that I blame him there). I know he's all buddhist and shit, which I totally support, but he's always seemed to have his head so far up his own ass that his eyes are brown. Well, they are. [Why is this post becoming so potty? Oh well.] The point is, I hate Richard Gere. He ruined Chicago, or at least the parts he was in. He's so stuck up and sanctimonious. And probably because of that, he's pretty much perfect for Bee Season.

Spoiler alert: I'm about to tell you what happens. Skip to the end if you care.

The synopsis is: cute, intellectual, quasi-euro professionals Saul (Gere) and Miriam (the always incomparable Juliette Binoche) have a couple of kids, careers at Berkeley (he apparently teaches Kabbalah Studies and she peers through microscopes), and one of those perfectly art-directed wood paneling and Shaker furniture homes that Hollywood pretends people like this could afford. They've got a couple of talented kids, the younger of whom seems to be developing an affinity for spelling. And that's good, because mom is emotionally distant, and dad only notices the kids when they do something exceptional. Both kids are impossibly fragile, perfect and broodingly dreaming looking.

And while I'm on the subject, the son is played by Max Minghella, son of Cold Mountain director Anthony Minghella. According to IMDb, Max is 20 years old, which is good, because, he's totally do-able. You know that dewey, creamy, dreamy quality some boys get right before they learn to grow beards and become men? Damn. I knew a boy like that once when I was 22, and was great, even if I was technically breaking the law. Sweet.

Anyhow, compliments of some nifty CGI, the daughter starts to spell really, really well, dad takes an interest and decides she's some sort of Hebrew saint. Son gets involved with a cuddly Hari Krishna hippie girl (played perfectly by Kate Bosworth in a bit part), and, because of childhood trauma, mom begins to go quietly but spectacularly nuts. See, mom likes to drive around until she finds a house she likes, break in, and then steal something inconsequential that the homeowner is not likely to miss. It turns out later that she's building a massive chandelier sort of deal inside a storage unit. Why is it that in Hollywood movies, the insane are always so darned artistic?

Well, as the kid moves up the rankings of the spelling bee kingdom from local to national, all the other players progress in their own, quiet desperation. Dad is obsessed with the daughter's spelling skills, and begins to train her in secret Kabbalah mysticism, even though he keeps saying it's dangerous to do so. Mom gets caught and goes to the funny farm. Son pouts. The daughter has visions and convulsions. Is she a mystic, or just an epileptic? It's not clear. In the end she throws the nationals in the 11th hour, dad cries tears of bitter shame, but mom smiles in the nut house, magically connecting with her daughter through the television screen. Is she somehow cured? It doesn't matter.

Now, I have to say, this was a good movie: beautifully acted, nicely filmed, cool effects, do-able boy, Juliette Binoche, what have you. But, ultimately this is a movie about how parents fuck up their kids. Saul didn't care about his daughter, just about what her skills meant about him. Miriam tries to be a loving mom, but tender moments at bedtime are not enough. I've personally seen parents ruthlessly push their kids to succeed at all costs before, not so much for the kid's sake, but for the parent's own bragging rights. Somehow spawning a talented kid makes the parent more valid. God, those are really selfish reasons to mess with your kid. I hate it.

As we left the theater and my evening progressed, I couldn't get past the bad feelings this movie left. I think the film makers were trying to say something positive about love, family and redemption, but all I was left with was sadness. Parents are assholes.

My recommendation? See it anyway. But love your kids for who they are and not what they can do for your ego.

Bee Season snack food? first I thought oatmeal: bland and nutritious, but a bit icky. Or corn nuts. But now I'm thinking challah bread. "I ain't no challah back girl...", hardy har har. (Okay, apparently nobody but me thinks this is funny, damn.)

Later last night I watched the Victoria Secret Christmas Fashion Show, which was supposedly Tyra Bank's swan song as a runway model. I'll believe that when I see it. Tyra looked really pissed off during the whole thing, maybe because her thighs were flapping to the wind machine during her runway walks. One girl got her shoe stuck in a crack. No bras fell off or anything. The whole thing was oddly boring, even with alien girls traipsing around in snazzy underpants. Oh well.

Happy vegging boy's n' girls. Speaking of Tyra, I'm off to watch America's Next Top Model and Lost, yippee. And the new season of Project Runway. I'm such a slut.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Derailed: The Title Says It All

Here’s how desperate I was to see a movie yesterday: I saw Derailed for the second time. My daughter wanted to see something, and I’d already snuck out the week this clunker opened while she was out doing something more socially acceptable, like hanging with her friends.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would have seen this movie now matter how bad the reviews were, because if you ask me, Clive Owen is proof of the existence of god. Staring hungrily at this gorgeous honey is what got me through a second portion of Derailed. For those of you who don’t know this dreamy British treat yet, damn, get with the program. What a pretty, pretty boy. I first noticed Clive Owen in the BBC mystery show Second Sight, which is about a bad boy DCI (which is what the Brits call their police detectives, apparently), who is losing his vision but is trying to hide it because that would interfere with his job or something, and sexiness ensues. You’ve seen him as the assassin in the Bourne Identity (where he walked all over Matt Damon, despite barely having any speaking lines), and as the guy with the wind-swept hair who needs a car with a bigger trunk in Sin City. He’s so beautiful it takes my breath away, and I’ll happily pay hard cash money to see him in pretty much anything, which is good for Clive, because since Hollywood discovered him he’s been taking roles in stupid drivel like this bit of forgettable carnage. Knowing that Derailed was a clunker, why didn’t I insist that we see a different movie? Because I’ve already seen almost all of the movies available this week, including Zathura, (and I didn’t even have a kid with me, damn!), that’s why. Don’t hate me because I’m pitiful. I did draw the line at Usher’s In the Mix and Yours, Mine and Ours—I do have some standards, despite what you think. This is how Derailed came up for grabs again.

Derailed tells the story of hardworking Chicago ad man Charles Schine (he’s shiny, get it?), who has a pretty, generic little wife (Melissa George, rocking oddly huge eyebrows) who doesn’t really like him anymore, and a pretty, generic little teenage daughter (Addison Timlin, rocking pretty much nothing) who’s dying of Type I diabetes and needs some sort of expensive new treatment that costs as much as a Lamborghini. On the commute to work, Shiny Boy Dad ogles some sexy black-hosed legs (Jennifer Aniston, looking more haggard than we are used to, for which we can blame Brangelina I guess), and is amused to observe all the other suits on the train doing the same. The next day, Mom empties out Dad’s wallet while they are both rushing off to work, Dad ends up not having train fare, and low-and-behold, Sexy Legs offers to pay for him and off they go. Meet Cute leads to Long Lunch, which inevitably ends with the furtive “Gee honey, I have to work late tonight” cell phone call (have you noticed how often cell phones are key plot elements these days?) Sexy Legs balks during the cab ride looking for hotels, gets out the cab all distraught, but somehow right in front of a seedy hotel which she decides is better than the Radisson or whatever. Did I mention it was raining? This is how Jennifer’s purple silk blouse gets transparent. Enjoy it frat boys, because that’s about as much naked as you’ll get in this flick. Sexy Legs and Shiny Boy get a room and proceed to get busy, when All Of A Sudden, scary-but-handsome French thug LaRoche (the also very dreamy French hottie Vincent Cassel, [who is married in real life to World’s Biggest Cupcake Monica Bellucci]), bursts in and beats up Shiny Boy and takes his wallet and then proceeds to “rape” a bleating Sexy Legs repeatedly (and blurrily) while Shiny Boy bleeds on the floor. Sexy Legs pouts and whines and refuses to go to the police afterwards to protect her family from shame and divorce, and pretty soon Scary French Thug is blackmailing Shiny Boy for all Sick Daughter’s medicine money, and well, before the film makers want us to, you, I, and the corner grocer all know that Sexy Legs is in on it. Oh yeah, Xzibit is French Thug’s henchman for no good reason, other than he gets to rap to Shiny Boy and wear a bellhop’s uniform and die, go figure. Fellow rapper RZA has a bigger role as the office-mail-boy-slash-expendable-plot-device. “Whatever.”

Anyway, Shiny Boy learns some street moves, kicks some ass, gets his ultimate revenge on French Thug, and Sick Daughter gets her medicine money back. After all the ass whooping, Generic Mom is now at least willing to touch her husband on the chest over the closing credits, so I guess it was worth it. God I feel used.

My recommendation

Avoid this movie at all costs, unless you are an active member of the Clive Owen Stalker Club. (You know who you are, bless you.) Fans of Jennifer Aniston beware—this movie does her no favors, and actually made me think Botox might be a good thing, even though I’m against plastic surgery on principle. Those are some nasty jowl lines on her in this flick, damn!

Derailed snack foods? Do it like the Canadians and get some french fries covered in gravy, because after this stinker you’ll need something greasy and horrid to get rid of the taste. You’ll thank me later.

I, Mistress Squidia, am a total whore for movies, films, La Cinéma, or whatever you want to call it. I’d rather be sitting in the dark, watching almost any drivel that Hollywood has squeezed out this week, than being a responsible adult who holds down a job, pays bills, does dishes, or whatever. I’m actually looking forward to seeing Fun with Dick and Jane, that’s how far gone I am. Going to a movie is like a little mini vacation in my head, and there’s no finer pastime than sitting in the dark being inside someone else’s vision, however retarded that vision may be. Hollywood may think that they must court that 18–34 frat boy demographic, but Hollywood is dead wrong—they want me instead.

[The only downside of today’s film going experience is the other people in the theater, who as time goes on, are becoming even bigger morons than ever before. Lately, all the same idiots who cut me off on the freeway are following me to the latest new release and talking back to the screen, answering their cell phones seven to twelve times during the movie, smacking their lips loudly, and kicking my chair. This has to stop, because I hate you.]

I also watch a lot of TV, and usually have a book I’m reading which I carry around with me everywhere so as to not be more than an arm’s length away from sweet, sweet mental distraction. As such, I’m I believe that unlike most of you, I am uniquely qualified to discuss almost any type of pop culture and give you my opinion on movies, television, Paris Hilton, celebrity pets, and what type of snack food goes best with each. As you can see, I am qualified and you are not. That’s what makes me Mistress Squidia, Media Whore, and you my slave. Read on, dear slave, read on.