Friday, October 19, 2007


So yes, it is true that I have been avoiding the Transformers movie for a while.

I had a few reasons for this. For one I pretty much know it will suck. There is very little to debate with this. The other big reason is the fact that I do love Transformers. I was a fan of the show as a kid and still to this day love the original animated movie. I, like many people my age have quite a few fond memories of the mighty Autobots and the villainous Disepticons and I knew from the very first trailer that Michael Bay didn't give two craps about the show or its lineage. Whereas I and countless others would love to see a TRANSFORMERS movie, Michael Bay just wanted to make a GIANT ROBOTS ATTACKING EARTH movie (hence his lame t-shirt). But in my eyes, the two are not one in the same.

I stand by this sentiment as I hesitantly begin to watch the film.

Last night I torrented it (I couldn't bare the thought of actually paying to see celluloid disappointment).

I'm going to watch it now and keep this as a running commentary of my thoughts as i do so.

If the lameness of this film kills me- you will know what did it. You will know it was the sheer hackery of "Mr. Bay and His Ridiculous Robots" (as I will now refer to the film.)

Okay. here goes.

0. Not a good start. It's kinda hard to seem bad ass when the big Hasbro words come on screen- grungy metal font notwithstanding.

1. "Before time began there was the cube."

Is it lame that I am already annoyed at the film's lack of proper continuity? Maybe it's just the fact that it is actually Peter Cullen that is reading this little monologue- regardless, I'm annoyed. Yes I will give you that the complicated history of the show/comics is a little steep but seriously, taking the concept of energon cubes in this direction seems kinda stupid. What was wrong with "The Matrix" (not the movie)? I wish it would once again "Light Our Darkest Hour."

Does anyone else find it strange that the random Spanish speaking guy was talking about eating alligators? Was he orginially supposed to be from the Bayou and in a hasty re-write they grazed over the fact that alligators are actually NOT a part of a balanced Mexican diet?

I also find it laughable how obvious the make-up is on these "war worn soldiers" - who apparently were smearing oil all over themselves in the hot Iraqi desert. Oil fights. The true horrors of war.

3. What is it with every Michael Bay movie and this music. Has anyone else noticed that the man has used the same score for his last 10 movies? I miss "You got the touch."

4. "You sure she didn't just fart?"
Classy. You know, as good of an actor as Josh Duhame is (ummm) even HE can't wipe the vague look of embarrassment off of his face as gives this line read.

5. "Have your crew step out or we will kill you."

Apparently as super advanced as the Disepticons are, they haven't mastered that pesky "fake pilot" glitch that is always such a dead giveaway.

I know I shouldn't be distracted by this but- I just wonder where they got the models to make the holograms for this cause this guy looks like that Dad on the show about the family with the father in the military? What that show called? I forget so I'll just call it "Captain Dad" ...yeah that sounds about right.

6. My first look at a Disepticon.


I sure hope all the other Transformers don't look so much like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.

You know when I was a kid I don't remember them looking so bug like... even the Insecticons- who were SUPPOSED to be bugs. This will make them have so little personality. I am pretty sure their faces all look this jumbled and crowded (two adjectives I didn't think I'd use when describing something based on an old 80s cartoon.)

7. "Okay, Mr. Witwicky- you're up."
And here we have our hero. Shia LaBeouf. Great. Why does he already seem like a bumbling character from a 1950s movie starring Jerry Lewis?

If it was that movie the teacher would fit right in. Gimmie a break. Did this nerd EVER exist? Sweater vest, 50s glasses, bow tie, balding AND nasally voice? "People! Responsibility." All he is missing is the white tape on the bridge of his eye wear.

The fact that Michael Bay can make a film have this much forced exposition so quickly is truly heroic.

What high school still has show and tell? Does no one find this strange?

I know that I shouldn't love the stock "evil blond football boyfriend" but I do. They are like a fine wine- which is ironic because I don't drink. NEVERTHELESS- They are a staple of any lame movie involving teens. They are the most unrealistic characters that are so overwritten and overacted. It's just funny to me how far bad movies will go to make you hate someone so quickly. Everyone of them is always so two dimensional that you worry that if they turned to a profile the cardboard cutout would blow over. They are always SO beefy and SO dumb and SO prejudice against our scrappy hero.

I'm not saying there are not bullies in real life, but are they ever so easily definable? It takes a person ONE line nowadays to make one into Johnny from Karate Kid. If I can do anything with my films, I hope to make the bullies seem even just slightly more human.


Why would Shia LaBeouf's character be talking about this stuff? His Grandfather? The Arctic Circle? I'm confused- lost in a haze of information that Michael Bay has told us we need to remember for the sake of the plot.

Did we really just have a random flashback to Shia's grandfather in the Arctic? Does Michael Bay have any clue what he's doing because already it feels like he's just making it up as he goes along. "AND THEN WE CUT TO A FLASHBACK OF AN OLD GUY WITH A FROSTY BEARD AND HE'S YELLING STUFF!"

8. "He wound up going blind and crazy in a psycho ward, drawing these symbols and babbling on about some uhh giant Ice Man that he thought he discovered."

Subtle LaBeouf Real subtle.

Gee- I wonder why he would divulge such personal family information to a class of kids who all think he's a joke? Do you think it will come up later? The musical sting sure makes me think so.

9. I'm so glad that they made a reference to "The 40 Year Old Virgin" - way to seem relevant to the kids Bay.

10. Did Bernie Mac just call that old woman a bitch? 'Seems a bit harsh. I'll go easy on him though as it appears that he is some type of war veteran (hence the shiny dog tags).

11. Okay okay okay, I really don't want to nit-pic too much but I'm confused as to how Bernie Mac could actually sell a car that just magically drove onto his lot. He didn't have the title for the car or any kind of proof that he ever owned the car in order to sell it. How did Shia LaBeouf take it off the lot?

12. Did Bumble Bee transform into his robot form, go into a highway gas station and buy the "Bee-Otch" air freshener or is that part of him that transforms too?

13. I find it amusing that even just the shot of Bernie Mac getting up was a good enough excuse for Michael Bay to use his heroic "rising and circling" shot. Way to waste your signature shot on one of "the original kings of comedy" Bay.

I wonder if the shrill noise that shattered all those windows also shattered Bernie Mac's ear drums? Am I mean because I wish that it had? How great would that be if there was a 10 minute deleted scene in which Bernie Mac's ears bleed and he flips out because his life is just not the way that he wanted it to be- "And now THIS happens! AGGGHHHH!!!!"

14. "NSA's recruiting right out of high school these days."

I love how much Hollywood has fallen in love with the idea of hip nerds and high school hackers. How many movies are gonna use this plot device? Can we please see an action film involving the government and computers that doesn't have one of these? Remember when Ryan Phillippe played one in that movie AntiTrust? Tim Robbins was in that. Excuse me, ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Tim Robbins.

I also love how no one else seems to notice how out of place the hot blond Australian hacker is. I'd like to spend a moment imagining her spending hours in her room, isolated from the world, becoming a world class hacker while all the other, more pretty blond Australian girls went to parties and got boyfriends.

Okay I'll say it: Jon Voight needs to be put to sleep. He's been crying for help since Anaconda.

15. Great. A peek inside Shia LaBeouf's room. This is always a treat. Let's pause it (17:28) . I love to look at the teenage hero's room because it tells us so much. Not only about the hero but also the filmmaker's lack of connection to a realistic kid's room. There are always randomly incongruent band posters- "Oh, he's the kid who likes both Nine Inch Nails AND Snoop Dogg?" and as I'm sure we'll see, an endless amount of expensive accouterments. Do you remember LaBeouf's room in Disterbia? It was about ten grand short of being Ritchie Rich's room. There were so many expensive and contemporary toys just lying around, placed ever so carefully as to look tossed about and disheveled. My gut tells me that this room will be no different.

Hmmm. There seems to be industrial shelves as though he lived in a "cool warehouse" of some kind. The ever present random computer stuff. He's got a giant fish bowl for some reason. I see what looks to be a foosball table. Wow- here's something I haven't seen since the last movie starring anyone under 25, on his wall is a DANGER: KEEP OUT sign. This has been a tradition since the Nickelodeon days. Somehow every set designer got the idea that kids all have stupid signs like this in there room.

16. You know, as lame as LaBeouf is in this film, I still don't buy that he's lame enough to have "LadiesMan217" be his screen name. Do you think that anyone that worked on this film has ever actually BEEN online? But maybe I'm wrong, maybe LaBeouf is just a really big Tim Meadows fan.

Even that Dog feels stupid. I can tell.

17. Whoa- that car just let out a huge plume of smoke. Doesn't the father think that 4000 bucks is a bit steep to teach his son a lesson about "his first car" if it's just gonna break down minutes after he takes it off the lot? Or do you think that it's just BumbleBee teaching the dad a lesson about caring for his lawn more than he cares for his own son? That Bumblebee, he's such a rascal.

18. Tyrese is a red beret? Wow. They are the toughest of the tough.

19. "What's you book about? Sucking at sports?"

Isn't that the kid from Elephant? Yikes. Wait- what? Why is he climbing that tree? What's going on here?

Man- watch out LaBeouf. That guy has a backwards baseball hat AND a sleeveless shirt. That means he's tough.

20. "I can't even tell you how much I'm not your little bunny."
You tell him honey!

Poor kid from Elephant- LaBeouf just ditched him. Here's another deleted scene, the scene where poor "Miles" has to walk for four and a half hours muttering "What a prick! He just totally ditched me! Why am I even friends with that A-hole?"

21. "I was wondering if I could ride you home-UHH- give you a ride home!!"
I hate when that happens. Oh wait- THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

LaBeouf's cheesy Porky Pig stuttering is embarrassing to us all. I hope he knows that.

22. What was the point of that whole "the car breaks down" scene. Were the screenwriters plotting this out and saying: "Then the car fakes like it's broken down- but it's not- so they get out of the car and look at the engine AND IT'S AWESOME! Then the girl says 'I'll fix your car' but then decides not to and walks away and then LaBeouf gets back in the car and it starts! Another clever song plays and she gets back in the car!"

Wow- when I say it like that it makes so much sense.

Why is BumbleBee so preoccupied with getting LaBeouf laid? Seriously, what's up with that? Doesn't he have like- some kinda mission or something?

23: "I think umm... there's a lot more than meets the eye... with you."
OH F*CK YOU! Is this suppose to make me happy? 'Cause it doesn't. At all.

24. Soundwave is lame- the joke about George Bush is lame- the fact that on AIR FORCE ONE a woman sees a random boom box in an elevator and isn't freaked out (because uh, IT COULD BE A FREAKING BOMB?!) is lame.


26:Why does Jon Voight suddenly have a Southern accent? He didn't have that before!

27: Soundwave talks like a Jawa. I'm sure this won't be annoying in 5 seconds...

No wait... I was wrong.

28: It was a good thing that BumbleBee headed to that random construction site. It's also a good thing that he is so covert that he doesn't notice the owner he spent so much time trying to get a date for is following him and discovering his secret.

29: Where did the dogs go? They just disappeared.

Seriously, there is no reason why she is not modeling. She's WAY too hot to be a hacker.

31: I think the stupid cop is Endless Mike from The Adventures of Pete & Pete. I'm really glad that Michael Bay included this scene. It really moved the story along.


Uh oh, glasses guy just bit it in the desert. I had the Scorpion transformer when I was a kid. He was huge. I wondered back then what exact machine the Scorpion either was or turned into. Aren't the Transformers supposed to be jets and cars and stuff?

Because let's face it- a robot in disguise as a giant Scorpion isn't much of a disguise at all, is it?

33: "There's only one hacker in the world who can break this code"

Uh oh. This does not bode well. Who is it gonna be folks? Who indeed?

34: Oh crap! It's Anthony Anderson. This movie just keeps getting worse and worse!

35: What happened to LaBeouf's bike? Did they just want him riding a girl's bike randomly? This doesn't make sense.

This wasn't supposed to make me laugh, was it?

35: Here's another deleted scene I want to see: The girl crying on the ground after LaBeouf practically clotheslines her off her Mo-Ped!
"Ahhh. I just need a minute. I think I shattered my pelvis when you through me off my MOVING MOTOR SCOOTER!"
"Oh. Okay. Sorry."
"I'm s-sorry."
"Umm. We should probably run away now."
"Okay. Let's use my Mo-Ped to escape- oh no, we can't because when you dragged me off, it crashed and is broken now! I HATE YOU!"

36: What kind of metal are these Transformers made out of? As a person who has totaled two cars in my life, I know how easy it is to seriously jack a car up. These guys are doing flips and stuff. I ran into a light poll once and it demolished my car.

37: Wait- where did LaBeouf's pants go? What the hell is going on? Did Soundwave steal his pants? Why? I'm confused.

And how does Megan Fox know where they keep their metal saws at the 2nd random construction site to be featured in this movie. Doesn't this take place in LA? Why does it keep going in and out of suburbia and into downtown LA and then for some reason the City of Industry?

38: Man. LaBeouf kicked Soundwave's head REALLY far. And this kid couldn't play football? That was a heavy metal object that he just practically launched into orbit.

39: So they learned to talk from the radio? Uhhh- what channel was Optimus little rant about "The Cube" on?

40: So if Bumblebee can just swap bodies any time he wants - who the hell was driving the new car and where did he go once Bumblebee changed into his car? That doesn't make any sense.

Or- wait- do they mimic the cars they see? I don't get it.

This is bad storytelling Bay. Transformers shouldn't be this confusing.

I guess this is all too much for me because all I'm thinking is: I wonder what the kid from Elephant is doing right now. Hmmmm.

41: "This is easily a 1000 times cooler than Armageddon I swear!"

1. Uh, you are such a douche Michael Bay. Self referential stuff is below even you.
2. Almost ANYTHING is a 1000 times cooler than Armageddon.

..except Deep Impact.

42: Yeah kid- that giant robot is the f*cking tooth fairy. Good job.

It's a good thing that there were those giant trees for the giant robot to hide behind.

43: "But you can call us Auto-Bots for short."

So I guess it's just BumbleBee who is forced to use that lame 'radio' gimmick. 'Sucks for him.
Uhh. Jazz is SO LAME. I remember he was voiced by Scatman Crothers. He's gotta be rolling around in his grave right now.

44. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?! EVERY AUTO-BOT IS LAME AS CRAP!!! IronHyde just said: "I just wanted to show him my cannons." and then Ratchet just basically said: "Oh, the boy is horny!" This is really really bad. Even for a movie with Anthony Anderson.

45: It's always useful to have that eye laser thing for simplification of stupid exposition. I wish every movie had that. The Godfather would be so much shorter.

46: Well Frosty Beard is back. Great.

47: Man Anthony Anderson is one fat f*ck. He just ate that whole plate of donuts.

48: "That's gonna rust"

Apparently auto-bots don't like to get pissed on. Why was that exchange so freaking long?

Honestly I am getting kinda pissed. Why doesn't LaBeouf just tell him about saving the world?! Who the f*ck cares if the parents see the giant robots that are trying to save the world?

Was the mom just talking about masturbation?!

CRAP!!!! THIS WHOLE THING IS TAKING TOO LONG!!! We've been at the house now looking for these glasses for like 30 minutes!!!!

Did the mom just make a dirty pun with the 'bush' line? Man this movie sucks.

49: What the hell is John Turturro doing in this film? Did he not get the memo that Anthony Anderson was in it?!

I do not get why Michael Bay was so insistent in putting this much humor in the movie- all of which is totally devoid of actual HUMOR.

50: "So what do you kids know about aliens, huh?"
I would love to get a count of movies where one character awkwardly fakes a laugh when intimidated and the intimidator laughs WAY too hard in response then suddenly stops. I guarantee you that almost every movie on that list would suck.

This film would be no different.

Seriously though, this is one of the weirdest performances that John Turturro has ever given. And this is Barton Fink we're talking about.

51: Is Shia really that pissed about the girl having a record? Why? Who cares? Didn't he just like her because he thought she was hot? Why get all moralistic all of the sudden.

52: Am I watching a transformer piss on John Turturro? Is that what I am seeing right now? Because if it is- I think I'm gonna be sick.

53: Man our government sucks. They just lost a GIANT ROBOT.

54: So they're capturing BumbleBee. I hope no one looks up and sees Optimus hiding under the bridge. It is kinda funny how they got away from the cops for like two seconds and then got busted again.

Optimus is now holding the glasses. They magically became HUGE. A minute ago he held two people in his hands, now he's holding a pair of tiny glasses so either his hand got small or the glasses grew to gigantic proportions.

55: "Auto-Bots... Roll out."
It sounded much cooler back in the 80s.

And as far as the deep message about freedom or whatever nonsense Optimus was talking about, that never sounded cool- even when I heard it ten seconds ago. Wait- ESPECIALLY when I heard it ten seconds ago.

56: So Megatron wanted to use Earth's technology to make a new army? But he landed on Earth in the 1930s. Umm, I hate to tell him but our technology wasn't all that great then. I would love to see an army made up of old Model Ts and Bi-Planes.

Soundwave would have to be one of those old record players with the big cones attached.

57: No one is watching the room where the switch to the turn Megatron on is?

58: I love how these army guys have no problem with treason, they just pulled guns on a federal agent like it's nothing.

59: This movie has some of the worst CG I've ever seen. I kinda wish that I could say that John Turturro just being in this movie is computer generated. Sadly, that is not the case.

60: When I first heard that Frank Welker wasn't going to do the voice of Megatron I was a little disappointed. Now I see that he was just the smarter man. Distancing himself from this movie might be the smartest move of his career.

61: I'm watching a transformer on what appears to be some kind of inline skates. How the mighty have fallen.

It's just sad seeing John Turturro trying to act like an action hero.

63: "Just listen to me- you're a soldier now!"
These big fights between the transformers don't feel epic at all. They should. Right? I think so.

How do Transformers feel pain? They're robots! It's like that Simpsons joke where the robot catches fire and screams:
"Why?! Why was I programed to feel pain?!"

64: There is something sort of jacked up about having plane Megatron crashing into a building. I know that 9/11 was 6 years ago but still- maybe it was something to be a little sensitive about.

65: "Is it fear or courage that compels you fleshling?"

Where did Megatron learn to talk? With lines like "I smell you boy!" you'd think it was from crappy movies about transforming robots like... well, like this one I guess.

66: "One shall stand. One shall fall."
Actually with each classic Transformer's quote, it hurts a little less.

67: I love how Optimus never considered the concept that if putting the cube in his chest would kill him it might kill Megatron too.

I guess it took those Shia brains to figure that one out. And he's a genius.

All the same, Megatron went down like B.

68: I know I'm supposed to be sad that Jazz died but seriously, he was SOOOOO lame. I'm glad he's dead. Good effing riddance to bad effish rubbish.

69: "You talk now?"

BUMBLEBEE: "I wish to stay here with the boy."
OPTIMUS: "If that is his choice."
SHIA: Uhh- I kinda don't just want half a car if that's cool. Sorry."

70: Uh- so the kids make out and the Transformers just watch? That's kinda creepy.

71: Wow. Linkin Park brings us to a close. How appropriate. One dated, out of touch turn deserves another I suppose.

So that's it. I finished the movie- in all of it's pathetic glory. I'm left with so many questions- like what happened to John Turturro? How many people died in this P.G. 13 movie? What happened to the kid from Elephant? Do you think he lived to climb another tree? What about that fat guy who was running around talking about old Michael Bay movies? Is the hot Australian hacker okay? Will she ever find the power to over-come her insecurities and leave the comfort of her computer to be united with her one true love, Justin Long from Die Hard 4?

This movie is like an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

...No wait, on second thought, it's just a steaming pile of sh*t.

Sleep Well.


Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Today I read an interesting interview in GQ.
Well, actually is was a re-post on my subscription to GQ was rejected due to massive "un-coolery" (their words, not mine).
Nevertheless, it was an interview with Francis Ford Coppola and here is an excerpt:


"I met both Pacino and De Niro when they were really on the come," Coppola tells GQ's Nate Penn. "They were young and insecure. Now Pacino is very rich, maybe because he never spends any money; he just puts it in his mattress. De Niro was deeply inspired by (Coppola's studio American) Zoetrope and created an empire and is wealthy and powerful.

"Nicholson was — when I met him and worked with him — he was always kind of a joker. He's got a little bit of a mean streak. He's intelligent, always wired in with the big guys and the big bosses of the studios.

"I don't know what any of them want anymore. I don't know that they want the same things. Pacino always wanted to do theater ... (He) will say, 'Oh, I was raised next to a furnace in New York, and I'm never going to go to L.A.,' but they all live off the fat of the land."

Not one of the actors would comment (De Niro and Pacino were on the set of Jon Avnet's crime drama "Righteous Kill").

Some might ask Coppola how he has challenged himself lately. He admits he has been focused on his vineyard and on his resorts in Belize and Guatemala. He's coming out with an art film, "Youth Without Youth," for the first time in 10 years, a period when he has mostly executive-produced daughter Sofia 's pictures and, ironically, De Niro's "The Good Shepherd" last year.

"I think if there was a role that De Niro was hungry for, he would come after it. I don't think Jack would. Jack has money and influence and girls, and I think he's a little bit like (Marlon) Brando, except Brando went through some tough times. I guess they don't want to do it anymore.

"You know, even in those days, after 'The Godfather,' I didn't feel that those actors were ready to say, 'Let's do something else really ambitious.' A guy like (38-year-old "Before Night Falls" star) Javier Bardem is excited to do something good: 'Let me do this' or 'I'll put stuff in my mouth, change my appearance.' I don't feel that kind of passion to do a role and be great coming from those guys, because if it was there, they would do it."


This got me thinking. I think I agree with him. And as far as those who would claim that he is being hypocritical, I don’t know if I totally see it that way. On the one hand, yes, I do think it is important to remember that this is from the director of JACK- but let’s not forget that this is a filmmaker who has always taken big risks for his art. He has put his own money into his films repeatedly- even after having lost it many times over. You gotta respect a man who is willing to do that. Let’s also not forget that he has invested in many amazing filmmakers over the years- producing many amazing, risk taking films. Everything from American Graffiti to Jeepers Creepers (child molesting directors aside).

Most importantly however, is the notion that I agree with which is that it is better to take a ten year absence from filmmaking then make ten years of Showtime, Two For the Money and Something’s Gotta Give. Does it take more courage to do this? Debatable. I’d say yes but it is arguable that at least in making bad art there is always the slim chance that you could perhaps ACCIDENTALLY make something good- or that maybe there was something other than the money that motivated those actors to take those roles. The chance to work with another actor (Diane Keaton? Dustin Hoffman?) or director (Andrew Niccol?) they respect, a screenplay that was of some amount of quality at some point before studio meddling (15 Minutes?). These arguments might have some weight if it didn’t seem like Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson didn’t look so bored while they did it.
When I watch a movie with some of the more exciting actors today like Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell and (as Coppola said) Javier Bardem- you can see that they love what they are doing, even when the movie is subpar. I defy you to watch a Christian Bale movie and tell me that he is not good in it- or at the very least giving it his all. The only problem with this is that it can give you a career or great performances in busted- or at very least, deeply flawed movies. Example: 3:10 To Yuma, American Psycho, The Machinist etc. This brings up another part of this debate- which I call the “Daniel Day-Lewis Factor” – in which you have an actor who has so much integrity that he only makes one movie every five years or so as long as it is one he is passionate about thus created a nigh flawless resume (the exception being Gangs of New York – which I will give him because… uh, it’s a Martin Scorsese movie so… why wouldn’t he do it?).

The bottom line for me is that De Niro, Pacino and Nicholson all have the power. They can nod and get movies made. Even someone with what is almost universally called the 2nd greatest movie ever made like Coppola doesn’t command as much power as any one of those three. Movies are made because those guys agree to do them. Films are crafted around these men and their larger than life personas- allowing them to go through half a career without even really having to act at all. Let’s be honest, when was the last time that any of these guys made a movie wasn’t just filled with the same old tricks that they’ve been pulling since the mid 80s. The intensity button (De Niro), the manic energy switch (Pacino) and the smarmy charmy lever (Nicholson). In fairness though, About Schmidt had probably one of the very few Nicholson performances that hasn’t just been Jack being Jack in a VERY long while. But, my point remains the same.

Why haven’t these guys, with so much power and say-so in the industry, with the first pick of any script in the entire industry, with enough money and clout to give 1000 visionary directors their shot- what have they accomplished? Flaccid movies like “Analyze This/That”, “The Recruit” and “Anger Management”.

Where are the amazing films that gave these guys their power? I mean seriously, we’re talking about the guys who made “Taxi Driver”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”! These are the guys that built a career on making classic films that broke rules and boundaries.

Frankly, there are more people that should be on that list of people who somehow in the course of the last 20 years lost their creative spines. If you google the phrase “greatest living actor” a list by Empire Magazine will show up and guess who the top three are?

Here are the top 20:
1) Robert De Niro
2) Al Pacino
3) Jack Nicholson
4) Paul Newman
5) Marlon Brando
6) Anthony Hopkins
7) Morgan Freeman
8) Dustin Hoffman
9) Clint Eastwood
10) Sigourney Weaver
11) Gene Hackman
12) Harrison Ford
13) Sean Connery
14) Meryl Streep
15) Ian McKellen
16) Christopher Lee
17) Sidney Poitier
18) Robert Redford
19) Alan Rickman
20) Judi Dench

I guess the list is old since Brando’s long dead- but even so, let’s just take a look at it, shall we? How many of the people on this list still have their integrity intact? Newman, Eastwood (even though I am not a fan, at least he hasn’t so willingly participated in garbage), Weaver (though she is a woman and for better or worse, aren’t given as much of a chance to sell out- but she DID defecate all over her cred by participating in one of those direct tv classic film parodies/sacrileges for Aliens), Hoffman (maybe… MEET THE FOCKERS!) Hackman (kinda… HEARTBREAKERS!), Streep, Poitier, Redford (Sundance has pretty much sainted him) and Dench. Now for the others. Hopkins. Freeman. Ford. Connery. McKellen (and of course the top 3) – when was the last time that any of these a-holes actually gave a damn about a movie or took a chance or even turned in a performance that posed any kind of real challenge? Can anyone honestly say they’ve even been surprised by a performance by ANY of the people on this list- even the ones that I exempt? Seriously?

And another thing- what the eff is CHRISTOPHER LEE doing on this list? We are talking about THE Count Dooku, right? The guy is like iconic for over acting! If they built a statue of him out of solid iron, it would STILL manage to gesticulate wildly and probably include a speaker that would boom out dialogue in ridiculous pseudo Shakespearian vernacular. It’s like he has two settings: “Off” and “Mustache Twirling Arch Villain”.

And as far as Alan Rickman goes, yes, we all loved Hans and his little dance as he fell from the top of Nacatomi Plaza. So- fine, he can stay.

But where is Day-Lewis? Where is Ben Kingsly? Tom Cruise, Ed Harris, Michael Cane, Richard Dreyfus and again, CHRISTIAN BALE deserve to be one here. Has anyone who voted on this list even SEEN movies before? Even Christopher Plummer deserves to be on that list before Christopher Lee! Hell, Christopher Rock deserves to be on that list before Christopher Lee does.

I could go on and on- probably segueing into directors who have sold out or somehow lost any sense of seeming relevant to the world outside of making weak or easy or just films that almost seem like forth generation copies of copies of their former selves. Spielberg? Lynch? Lucas? Burton? DEPALMA (who was never any good)? Stone (who once prided himself on being controversial and culturally acute)?

To say nothing of the last generation of interesting filmmakers who have already seemed to lose their spark (I’m talking to YOU M. Night!- I'd add the Coens but it looks like No Country for Old Men will be a return to form for them).

The only respectable filmmaker left who seems to still challenge himself is Scorsese and at least thus far P.T. Anderson and David Fincher- but only time will tell. William Friedkin won me back with "Bug" but he made a whole bunch of crap too. Even filmmakers I like have lagged a bit (Wes Anderson) and relied on stylistic crutches that have in some ways kept them from growing. Soderberg and Van Sant are sorta tricky, switching off on big obvious films to small almost overly insular movies about- well, who knows what (although I loved Solaris and even liked Elephant a little bit too.)

Is the only way to maintain true artistic vision to die before you get the chance to screw your legacy up (see: Stanly Kubrick)? I sure hope not.

ANYWAY- I’m rambling. The POINT is that I agree with Mr. Coppola.

This leaves me with only one question:
Why the hell did I lose the Zoetrope screenwriting contest, Francis?! TWICE?!

What ‘up wit dat?!

Sleep Well.


There is a hemmorage in your mouth.

So the deadline for submission to the Dashboard Confessional video contest has finally past. Thus begins the chronally challenged “judging” period where, no doubt, a few of the interns at Vagrant will pick their top four favorites. It is never easy to understand what exactly the judging criteria will be- or if my video will get booted because they made one intern work through lunch thus giving him or her a low blood-sugar induced headache and thus he/she was just too pissed to do anything but piss on every video he/she sees. It’s frightening to know that the fate of my video lies in a jeopardy that could have easily been avoided if someone had just packed a few fun sized Baby Ruths when they left the house that morning.

As far as the “chronally challenged” line- I say this because the deadlines of these contests always seem to have some sort of sincere weight but the timeline given as to when those who bust their balls to make said deadline will find out the results are always incredibly relaxed. If I’ve seen it once I’ve seen it a thousand times. No matter how prestigious the contest, no matter how many years it has been in operation, it never ceases to amaze me how disorganized they can be- posting results sometimes MONTHS late! It also seems like more of these contests would be “high tech” enough to be able to if not inform those who did not win via e-mail, then at least send out a bulk e-mail to everyone that the winners have been announced. I have paid money to enter countless contests and only months after the posted announcement date has passes dropped by their website and found a list of winners buried three news bulletins down.

For this and so many other reasons, I hate these contests and I worry that this will be no exception.

That said, Keir asked me if I wanted to make a short for another contest sponsored by YouTube. I said yes. Why? Because I am a glutton for punishment.
A stupid, stupid glutton for punishment.

Also I’m ugly.

Just kidding.

Sleep Well.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Subbing at South Gate High

Right now I’m sitting at South Gate High School. I’m “teaching” 9th graders. Their assignment is to find the definitions of a list of words and write them down. Tough stuff. Then again- one girl asked me what “antagonize” meant. She pronounced it “anti-ganize”.

So here I am. Not much to do. I tried reading for a bit but I was starting to dose after a while. Next I have lunch and then I will be showing a video ominously labeled “ENRON”, which I’m sure will interest the kids for the 92 allotted minutes.
Yeah. Sure it will.

Since I started this blog I’ve been posting close to once a day- which has left me with very little to talk about at the moment. I’m even tapped out on my always stimulating thoughts on music and what I am currently listening to. Wait- hang on…

Okay. I had to tell the kids to “lower it” which sounds just as authoritative as you’d think.

I’m not looking forward to lunch. Peanut butter again. Also the remnants of confetti sized chips located at the bottom of the “family size” bag of Doritos that has been filling sandwich bags for my lunch for the past two weeks. Then I have a couple of malformed fun size Twix bars that I bought thanks to an early Halloween candy sale.

I wonder why they call them “Fun Size”? It seems to me that to most kids, the idea of a candy bar being “fun sized” would translate to it being abnormally large. Personally, I don’t think that it being half the size of a regular or “less fun” version would qualify as something to be excited about. But maybe that’s just me.

Finally, the complete my lunch is a small bottle of Orange Gatorade. I think it was meant for kindergarten aged Soccer players and T-Ball games. It, like the rest of the contents of my lunch was on sale. Little midget Gatorades, dwarfed in my hands as if they were regular sized and I was just a giant. Like the candy bars, this too has an odd label emblazed across it: “ALL-STAR SIZE!” Apparently everything that is on sale at Vons is either much smaller than its regularly priced counterpart or much much bigger (in the case of the freakishly large bag of Doritos that is apparently capable of feeding an entire family).

I have been taking place in a war for the past few months. Someone is buying every single package of the tuna fish that I like. The little drain-free pouches of “chunk-lite” tuna in water. Every time I go to the grocery they are out. Sure, they have PLENTY of the pouches of tuna in sunflower oil or the albacore kind- both of which have the taste and consistency of cat food- but someone buys the tuna I like by the gross. Plus they NEVER get a new shipment in. When they do, within a DAY it is immediately exhausted. It sucks because I know that due to the many other styles and brands of tuna available, it looks, to the untrained eye as though there is enough tuna options to feed a small finicky army but the kind I like is ALWAYS gone. I must not be the only one. But what I am trying to figure out is whether it is just one or two other people- or whether everyone is like me and finds tuna soaked in sunflower oil as repulsive as if it were soaked in vomit. The oil just gets all over your fingers and gives the tuna the odd after taste. As though I chased it with a bottle of Crisco.

I find it amusing how often I have to pretend that so much of this school crap matters. I was just interrupted by a young girl asking me if she should staple just the two worksheets together- or all three. If not, should she staple just the first two and then paperclip the last one to the others? This kinda thing happens a lot and it is important that I nod thoughtfully before saying whatever option pops into my head first as though it were almost Biblical.
“Hmmm. Well, let’s go with just stapling the vocabulary but I’ll just collect all three at once.”
“Oh- so… Just the vocabulary?”
I can tell by this girl’s voice that she has the wrong idea.
“Well- just staple the vocabulary, I’ll be collecting it all but you only need to staple the vocabulary together.”
“Oh, okay. So just staple the vocabulary.”
“So we don’t need to hand in the other stuff?”
“MISTER!” I hear from across the room. “Do we have to hand in everything?” says a kid wearing a single iPod earphone “covertly” like he’s fooling anyone. But before I can answer the girl at my desk turns to him and yells:
Sigh. And then I have to explain it all over again. This time with the use of monosyllabic words, physical demonstrations and explanatory hand gestures.

I can’t figure out where the problem lies- am I just really bad at this? Are the kids really this dumb? Or perhaps the problem is really just laziness. They would rather not pay attention for a long enough span of time to understand what the directions are- opting to waste far more of not only their time but my precious sanity as well. Granted the “stapling” question plays a factor, something that I should have foreseen and just asked that they hand it all in.

Most of the class will not hand anything in at all. This is typical. Probably because the kids know that none of the work that they do today will matter- or even be looked at,. Let alone be graded. I wonder if this upsets the teacher at all though. The knowledge that when they are absent that the kids know to disregard any plans the teacher may have made- no matter how well meaning or well planned they were. Do they blame me? Think I’m a sucky sub for not getting on them more? I hope not.


So, lunch was as much of a disappointment as I thought it’d be. I’m now in period 3 (of my 4 hour and a half long classes). We’re watching the “Enron” video- which is predictably one of those “Scandal of the Week” movies that CBS used to make. It’s terrible. The dialogue, the acting… everything. It’s called “The Crooked E.”

In one scene two characters kiss and immediately one of the kids shouted “he’s gonna get laid!” and the class erupts in laughter.

Some woman is speaking with the most fake southern accent I’ve ever heard. Isn’t a southern accent like the easiest accent ever?

Making these kids pay attention to this is a losing battle. Anyone could see that. Why did this teacher think these kids would care about Enron? Even I don’t care about this and I’m not an 11th grader surrounded by peers and members of the opposite sex while drowning in hormones. Plus everyone of them has iPods and cell phones and PSPs and Sidekicks. How can this humble Enron video compete?

It seems strange but I’ve counted now and this class room has four- yes FOUR “Hair” posters. Presumably because she is either a very big fan or the play or an ex cast member. Possibly both- but then- who’s really a fan of “Hair”?

In the movie, there is a meeting of Enron employees, their middle management boss is explaining what the company does saying: “So say your company goes bankrupt- what do you do? We’ll, that’s where Enron comes in. We insure your company so that the fall out isn’t so bad.” To which, the young new upstate askes “What if Enron goes bankrupt?” The group goes silent- the boss somewhere between severly confused and intensely upset- but before the upstart can be answered, he smiles and yells in someone’s face: “Ya-haa!” to, I guess represent the company’s devil may care, impervious machine attitude. He is then told by his boss to: “Get outta here you crazy kids! GO MAKE SOME MONEY!” Subtle. Very subtle.

Oh my gosh- Brian Dennehy plays someone named Mr. Blue. This is awesome.

It gets better. Shannon Elizabeth plays the part of “Courtney” and she is- as expected, amazing.

The upstart just made a 50 million dollar deal. Everyone in the film seems to care- but in a way that seems so totally unconvincing.

Some security guy just took half of my class, saying that they wouldn’t be coming back today. Weird.

Uh oh. The upstart is getting cocky. He just bought an expensive car. His wife Courtney has a bad feeling. He tells her: “Honey, don’t be silly! Enron?! We’re UNSTOPPABLE!” But the camera lingers on Courtney as he walks away- her face shows concern… and what do you think this ominous music could mean?!

The upstart just closed the big deal. He’s singing “Taking care of business” victoriously.
The kids seem to like this for some reason.

Some handicapped girl came in with a helper and told me that she’s supposed to be my ‘assistant’ but then about 5 minutes later left. Her helper told me that she was feeling dizzy. What was that all about?

Its kinda funny when a student looks to me and tells me: “I don’t get this movie.” To which I say, “well, have you been paying attention?”
“Well, it might help if you did.”
“No. I’m just not gonna do this” she says, pointing to the video worksheet.
What do I do in this situation? I don’t really know. So I just shrug and say “Alright, well you’ll only get a zero.” But really, what does that mean? She won’t get a zero. A zero in what?

UH OH! All the employees are investing in Enron. The music is pretty scary. This can’t be good. None of the class is watching or cares even a little. I can’t say that I blame them. Why are we even watching a movie about Enron in an 11th grade English class?

The upstart is staring to put Enron’s doomed future together. It’s all coming together. This movie has me hooked. It’s so much better than I was giving it credit for- even Shannon Elizabeth deserves an Oscar! I’m so glad that I get to watch this whole thing again next period. SO GLAD.

Brian Dennehy is back. You can tell that he is embarrassed to even be in this flaming turd. He’s been in it for a total of 3 minutes so far. Three pride swallowing minutes to be sure.

The upstart got mad that Courtney didn’t understand virtual assets. She just called him a virtual ass. Ouch.

I wonder if in a film like this is really good acting might stick out and actually seem really bad. I can’t imagine a great actor reading these lines and not looking stupid. Only bad actors seem to be able to read them and make sense. What a strange conundrum.

What the crap?! The upstart is realizing he’s screwed and behind him is the sound of slowed down demonic laughter. What is going on?!

Enron just collapsed- but the upstart made up with Shannon Elizibeth to the tune of cheesy country music. I guess it all turned out okay. That’s nice.

The movie ended. The credit music was a bad cover of that Pink Floyd song “Money” – how appropriate. How expected. How cliché.

The period ended to. I got back 3 worksheets out of 22. Swell.

Now a new period. A new viewing. I can barely contain myself. I get to follow the adventures of all of my old friends at Enron. Yipee. But in all honesty, I can’t wait to watch the demonic laughter scene again. Heh.

Well- as scintillating as I’m sure this blog has been for you I think I’m gonna wrap it up.

Blah blah blah.

Sleep well.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Take these rings, stow them safe away I'll wear them on another rainy day.

1. I've decided that I want to turn one of my old scripts "A Life Unusual" into a graphic novel so I've been looking for artists that may want to work on it with me. I'm kinda stoked by the idea!

2. The new Weakerthans album "Reunion Tour" is AMAZING! I am so glad that i have it. The whole thing is great! I'm trying really hard not to burn myself out of the album too quick- which is kinda hard because i want to know all the words by heart right now!

3. You ever get the feeling that none of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lyrics make any sense? I do. I don't know, maybe they are just 'above me' or something. all the same, i like them- I just wish that I could really grasp Karen O's words. I feel like every time I come close I lose it- why do "maps" not love them like she loves them?

4. I met Brendon Small last night - he of Home Movies fame. Very nice. I kinda had to hold my fan boy in. He was pretty laid back and I was trying to seem cool as i slowly unspooled my many questions and bits of praise. It took so much strength not to scream "I WANNA PARTY WITH YOU!" - until I realized that, actually, I kinda was. Me and Ruby and a few other cool comics (Ron "Mr. Lynch" Lynch.) were just sitting around a table hanging out. I am so used to having to explain how much I admire someone's work in the span of 5 seconds (before they either run away or have me escorted away from their office, vacation house or 5 year old daughter's birthday party). I had so much more time here. I got to hear a pretty sad story about M. Night Shamalan. Possibly just a rumor but possibly not. Apparently he has a habit of dangling parts in his films in front of aspiring actresses and then firing them if they spurn his sexual advances. Yuck. What a let down. Man, you'd think I'd be used to my heroes letting me down but it still stings a little every time (even after they've made Lady in the Water).

Sleep Well.


Monday, October 1, 2007

The Furniture's Returning to its Goodwill Home.

Tiny Bits of News:

1. The Weakerthans are putting out a new album. I'm downloading it now. The two tracks on the Epitaph Records website are really good. I'm super pumped to listen to this for the next few months. I really needed a new album by them- especially right now. I have been in a Weakerthans mood of late.

Also- I am going to be putting out a Weakerthans/My Autumn Friend remix EP. On their site they have some "karaoke" mp3s and I plan on using those to mess around with. It's kind of an experiment for me. We'll see how it sounds. It's kinda just more for me so that I can maybe trick myself into thinking I've worked with them in some way.

John K. Samson is one of my most favorite and admired lyricists. I really love his words. I hope one day mine might be at least one tenth as good as his.

2. Jimmy Eat World has a new album coming out. Who knew? What a stealth album release. It comes out in like a week or something. I downloaded the 'demos' which, if they are anything like the Futures demos, they will be the exact same songs just with a click track counting the songs off. They sound pretty finished to me. Good stuff. Better than the last album I think. The only gripe I have is that the new version of "Carry You" is not nearly as good as the old version- at least I think.

3. Bottle Rocket and Rushmore are screening at the New Beverly cinema on October 7th-9th. I am way stoked. Way. Stoked.

4. Annie Hall and Manhattan are also gonna be at the New Bev on October 19th-20th. Again, way stoked. Way. Stoked.

5. I watched A Winter Observed again last night. I'm pretty proud of that movie.

6. my nose itches.

7. agh. still itching!

8. Ahh. There. All better.

Sleep Well.


PS- Here are some of my favorite John K. Samson/Weakerthan lyrics:


My city's still breathing (but barely it's true)
through buildings gone missing like teeth.
The sidewalks are watching me think about you,
sparkled with broken glass.
I'm back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know will never take me anywhere but here.
The stain in the carpet, this drink in my hand,
the strangers whose faces I know.
We meet here for our dress-rehearsal to say " I wanted it this way"
Wait for the year to drown.
Spring forward, fall back down.
I'm trying not to wonder where you are.
All this time lingers, undefined.
Someone choose who's left and who's leaving.
Memory will rust and erode into lists of all that you gave me:
a blanket, some matches, this pain in my chest, the best parts of Lonely,
duct-tape and soldered wires, new words for old desires, and every birthday card I threw away.
I wait in 4/4 time. Count yellow highway lines that you're relying on to lead you home."