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284 MOVIES (released titles only)

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#50- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

#100- Black Swan

#200- Mysteries of Lisbon

Last- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1

MOster Stream




I’m really not looking forward to this. 

The sky just went from red to blue and the fucking twat is narrating and I can hear her one facial expression in her idiotic words.  “Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies,” and then the werewolf takes off his shirt because the twat is entering the family of vampires to stay in the Kingdom of Childhood.  What an excellent message.  But everybody is happy except the wolf, who tears off his shirt to tear up his face.

So they’re arguing about shoes and elaborate weddings and things and I’m not clear if they just jumped ahead in time or if they simply sent the invitations three days before the wedding.  The worst part about this movie is that there will not be any tits.

So Broody is now in her room and she’s packed boxes and look! There’s a painting of a dog but I’m wrong.  She’s not going for that she’s going for the stupid dream catcher from the other immature asshole.  And of course she turns around to find the jackoff himself standing behind her.  I need new nicknames, and fast.  He’s been waiting a century to marry her but they’ve known each other for like a month and a half.  It’s time for him to tell her some big secret.  He hunted people in the 50s, appropriately during Bela Lugosi movies.  (That’s not really appropriate, for the record.)

I guess he thinks he’s Dexter or something, as he goes after people who were going after women, or so he thinks.  I really like his Jimmy Olson outfit.  In watching a 1:1 exchange between them I can only think of whatever that viral video was, where they replaced the dialog with other mundane mumbling.  Why the fuck are her teeth so big?  Apparently she’s not yet capable of courage or sacrifice, because she’s not a vampire.  So other asshole vampires are making a bachelor party for him.  It’s a hunting expedition!  And they’re all able to jump up to the window!  Because they’re vampires!  And that makes them awesome!  This music is just about as bad as the dialog.  She still has the same fucking facial expression.

As they leave, I bet it’s time for the fucking werewolf to show up.  She’s still ignoring the painting of some kind of dog with floppy ears.  From this distance, it could be a two-year-old’s painting of her face.  She’s not having a bachelorette party, because she doesn’t have any friends anymore, so instead she turns off the light to diddle herself to a vision of their wedding.  I’m sorry I was wrong about the wolf showing up.  Instead it’s a dream of the Evil Vampire Coalition.  Her hand is bloody and he’s laughing, because apparently she killed all the guests.

These women are all dressed up to look dumb.  Mopey has a “blatant lack of respect for mortality.”  They have a big picture frame hanging on the wall of all the vampires’ graduation caps.  The father, who might have come to his senses, calls it weird.  He’s wearing a tuxedo from 1974 and he’s mean to her mom, of which I also approve.  I do not approve of the mondo fucking hair clip—her “first family heirloom”—and does her mother even know that they’re vampires?

Dress time!  Dainty, insulting, girl clapping time!  Stock string music time.  Trees that shed flowers are all over this place.  And, oh yeah, people from high school, before we’re back to Face.  (Her name is Face for this movie.)  The dress drags on the ground.  Someone is holding the camera, lavishing this dress that some person is really proud of.  Flowers.  Hands clasping elbows.  Face Face Face Face Face Face Face Face Face Face.  Other people are happy for her because they’re really dumb.

[Leila says “Who are those people?”  Extras.]

This is interminable.  It’s actually going at less than real time.  Why is the officiant a mortal?  He made a half-assed motion to make everybody sit down.  At least the ceremony itself is short, even if it is edited in exactly the same way as about 75% of every fucking wedding scene in the history of shitty movies.  They do.  Are they going to fuck now, even though the core will be softer than an orange’s?  First they have to kiss.  Again, they’re all by themselves.  These metaphors are so phenomenally subtle, it’s like I need an Enigma machine.

Applause.  Daddy is still upset.  I don’t want to be the extra in that band. High school people again, staring at the cake.  Every idiot wolf except for the idiot wolf who’s .01% better for her than the idiot vampire is hanging around.  Wheelchair Wolf Leader doesn’t want Reasonable Dad (Dad will be Resonable today) to drink with his daughter.  More vampire cousins.  Somebody’s name is “Urina?”  Urina is pissing all over the wedding.  That’s actually appropriate (except of course the U is really an I.)

Who’s this asshole giving a speech?  I’m not connected enough to know if there’s continuity here or not.  Bella won’t be sleeping, because this guy’s brother is going to be pounding her senseless.  Cut to Reasonable, of course.  High school girl is giving an awkward speech.  Reasonable is giving an awkward speech which is very typical.  This editing is making me just want to close my eyes, but I don’t know if that would be better.  Now her mother is singing, “go to sleep.”  Is that about enduring this ridiculous scenario?  Wow is Cedirc a shitty actor.  (He’ll only be Cedric until I think of something better.  You people will have to keep up.)  Seriously, why is his hair two different colors?  Toast. Face. Toast. Face. Toast. Face.  “We’ll start with forever.”  All the vampires toast, and now everybody is dancing like morons.  How long until the vampires get too drunk and start doing supernatural acrobatics?  He bought her a present.  It’s far in the woods.  Apparently Cedric conspired with the Wolf (I don’t like that but I don’t care).  Maybe Cedric just smelled him.  Face says everything is perfect, because now Whiny is there too.  (We’ll keep Whiny.  I remember enough to remember that he’s been whiny through all these fucking movies.)

Stupid lamenting bullshit that doesn’t mean anything.  He threatens to trash the party.  There are a bunch of other werewolves there to stop him.  I think it would be a much more interesting movie if it turned to a 90 minute bloodbath.  This is boring, not least because it doesn’t mean anything to the story.  There are tears in the Face.  Whiny is being appropriately passive-aggressive.  I guess she’s not going to be a vampire until after the honeymoon.  Now he’s being actively aggressive. 

Fighting over the fact that the Vampire Cock will kill the Face.

People are throwing rice at them now.  Her mother is giving her dumb advice.  Her mother doesn’t need a nickname; I’m extremely confident that we won’t see her anymore.  I’m up to 1200 words, and I’m told we’re only 10 minutes in.  That makes me very sad.

It’s going to be strange for Reasonable. It’s going to be stranger for Face.  There’s no point in thinking about the logistics of a virgin vagina accepting the MASTERFUL COCK OF THE VAMPIRE, so I will do my best to stop with that immediately. Now they’re in a Volvo.  Why can the vampires not afford a Mercedes or something?  Are female vampires’ genitals just as dangerous to mortal men as vampire cocks are (/would be)? Whiny is whining as a wolf now.  They’re in Rio, with Jesus.  Of course.

Dancing in the street in Rio.  They even kiss stupidly.  Ooh!  A boat!  Are they going to the South Pole?  That’s also an icy phallus.  Isle Esme.  I guess they have servants, because the house is completely ready.  I like the door to the house, seriously.  He asks, “Wanna take a look around,” as she is looking around.   There’s the bed!  Oh your gosh!  They’re looking at each other across it.  I really hate watching them act.  They’re procrastinating.  He’s getting undressed, and she’s running to the bathroom to psych herself up.  The music is now super fast and supposed to be dirty. Why the fuck is she brushing her teeth?  And her hair, before she goes swimming?  That’s perfect.  I hate her.  Some idiot packed sexy underpants for her and she can’t deal with the sexy underwear.  Why is the floor of the bedroom ceramic tile?  Skinny dipping in the ocean does not sound like the best way to warm up for sex.  I guess he’s been standing in the ocean, facing the moon, for the past hour of her dumbness in the bathroom.

Wow blue screen.   Wow.  Blue screen.

Apparently they’re supposed to have sex in the water to stop him from destroying her body with his penis?  Oh, maybe not.  Now they’re in the bed.  Being a virgin on your wedding night is really stupid for the girl, regardless of partner.  He’s breaking the room to stop breaking her?  I guess she survived.  The music is also whiny.  There are feathers on her face.  She’s still alive, and not wearing really dumb contact lenses, so she’s not a vampire yet.  If a better actress were playing the role, her eyes in the mirror would be saying, “I’m a woman now.”  I don’t know if this editing is her memory of the fucking or a montage of additional honeymoon sex.

He asks how she’s hurt and she’s trying to hide it from him.  Sex bruises are OK, though.  I like sex bruises.  I know I’m dirty and I like sex and I like boobies and everything, but I’m not talking about sex more than the movie is.  I truly wish the movie wasn’t talking about sex.

He’s sorry he hurt her, and she’s not.  She thinks he’s ruining everything by apologizing and thinking about it.  She’s really stupid if she can’t imagine sex gets any better.  It was the best night of his existence, too.  It’s sunny out.  How come he’s not sparkling?  And she’s mad because he won’t give her the dick anymore.  And I’m confused because I thought they were worried about the cock itself and not just the fact that he can’t help but squeeze her shoulder.  Dumb.

She keeps trying and he’s laughing at her.  Oh, look!  A waterfall.  Is it symbolic?  No, but she climbs on his back to jump down a supernatural distance. Because that’s safer than squeezing her arm.  Also, they play chess.  But he still won’t play sex.  I really hate this movie.

Now she’s winning at chess.  So she thinks that means she can jump him.  What’s up with this editing?  Oh, yeah, it’s a dream.  And now she’s crying because he won’t do her.  I think I know she’s already pregnant.  Or is she?  I don’t know.  But she’s literally begging him for it.  Why didn’t the sister put a dildo in with all that lingerie?  I guess he’s giving in. Whiny is watching other people play (European) football.  He’s not allowed to kill Cedric even if Cedric turns Face, even though that would be breaking the treaty, because this other asshole won’t let her.  Oh, look!  The servants, who are appropriately suspicious of them.  They have legends about him. 

Why is he wearing that shirt?  I’ve lost my steam in complaining.  He left her alone now in this mansion, with some kind of food.  She’s cooking strange stuff.  Maybe this means she’s pregnant.  I don’t know.  I don’t care that much.

Yeah, she’s pregnant.  She’s puking.  She doesn’t want him to see.

Twilight.  Brought to you by Tampax.

Why did she bring a gigantic box of tampons on her honeymoon?  OK.  I guess they’ve been gone a long time.  I’ll actually give them that one.  And now we finally know that she’s pregnant.  The movie should end here.  If it did I would have to buy a lottery ticket.  She’s already showing.  This is that whole super-fast thing that I heard about.  Her phone works on this fucking isolated island (also: south of Rio is not really warm), and it’s not a satellite phone, and the idiot Vampire with the long-distance sight thingy is already calling her.  This is excellent.  Except not really.

“Carlisle (I was wrong above – this is Doctor Vampire calling), I swear.  Something just moved inside me.”  And it’s not your brother.  So now Cedric steals the phone and is talking about her in another language and mysteriously packing.  That’s the foundation of an excellent marriage, right there.  Communication.

WHY DO THEY HAVE TO LEAVE THE CAMERA ON HER FUCKING FACE FOR SO LONG?

Long, lingering montage of her accepting the fact that she’s pregnant.  I’m sure she’ll rationalize it to happiness soon enough, instead of regretting the fact that she got married at 18, to a vampire or not.  The woman is yelling at him in Spanish.  But she won’t help him.  He’s going to have to turn her.  How is this a surprise?  The music is even worse now.  No, it’s not.  It can’t be.

The woman tells Cedric to kill Face.  Does she mean to turn her or to actually kill her?  Probably the latter but the former will happen.  He’s referring to the fetus as a thing, unironically.  He broods.  She’s either mad or also brooding.  I can’t tell because she can’t act.

She picks up her phone, pushes the power button, and calls someone (another vampire?) to ask for assistance.  Are they really riding a motorcycle, or is that Whiny?  I can’t be sure because the rider is wearing a shirt.  But it is, in fact, Whiny.  Whiny is rude to Reasonable.  Why is this other Chief Werewolf Wheelchair in a wheelchair?

Whiny is rude to Doctor Vampire, too.  I would like to have the salary of the editor of this movie.  Big reveal, for all you fucking dumbasses out there.  But not yet…  Now.  How are they going to have this make sense to the mortals.  Nobody knows what “it” is.  They’re searching legends.

The makeup people do a much better job of getting her to look like shit than she does of acting like she feels like shit.  Apparently she wants Doctor Vampire to “turn her at the last minute.”  So Cedric, who is now blonder, is asking Whiny to talk some sense to her.  But if he fails do to so, and she dies, Whiny gets to kill Cedric.  So why would he bother with this shit?  Dumb.  I’m sorry that this section isn’t as funny as the beginning.  I’m more ambivalent to the shittiness of the movie by now.  It’s kind of like Stockholm Cinema Syndrome.

She’s calling it a miracle, because she’s pregnant, and she thinks it’s a boy.  He’s still being a retard, but she’s just as stupid if she thinks she’s strong enough to bear the spawn of a demon.  He’s too much of a whiny piece of shit to actually be constructive.  He’s walking out.  Is this the passive-aggressive werewolf version of tough love? 

Finally, he rips his shirt in turning instead of taking it off! That excites me.  They’re superimposing her face on his as he thinks about all these things that weigh on his mind, and he’s causing a traffic accident.  Except that this is Twilight, so no bystanders will die.  Instead, he’s calling the wolves together for some reason?  Even though they all supposedly know that this is OK according to the treaty (or something, because technically it isn’t).

But it’s locationally-appropriate for them to meet in a lumber yard.  Why are they talking as wolves?  They want to kill her to kill the baby because they think the baby will kill all the people.  These CG wolves growling at each other are rendered well, and still utterly unbelievable.  I thought he was trying to usurp power, but instead he’s leaving.  I think the wolves are going to attack now?  So is he going to be a traitor and tell the vampires?  Now there’s some sort of moral discussion with this secondary wolf character and Whiny.  He’s getting on Whiny’s nerves, and I know the feeling.

Wow, direction!  Whiny is now in league with the Cullens.  I guess there’s a whole WOLF REVOLUTION going on now.  “Alpha” Wolf’s sister (who, if I recall correctly, wants Whiny) has betrayed Alpha in order to share the plan with Whiny to share the plan with the vampires.  All these politics are confusing.  

Anyway, instead of a head-on attack the wolves are surrounding the Cullen Compound and biding their time.  And they’re still talking wolf politics, passive-aggressively.  I was right that the sister wants Whiny.  Are there no eligible bachelors in this town?  I guess she’s just desperate for some kind of imprint.  Are all these movies and books really THEIR love story?

Lyrics.  Grumble.

Twilight.  Brought to you by Yahoo.

Montage of internet-based vampire spawn research.

Twilight. Brought to you by Apple.

Vampires and rebel wolves are becoming friends.

Face has a cracked rib. Cedric is upset.  Doctor Vampire has a secret diagnosis: the fetus is not compatible with Face’s body.  Her heart will give out before she can deliver.  Why don’t they just turn her, already?  Cedric won’t love the baby if she dies in childbirth.  He’s actually mad at her, because she’s deciding what to do with her own body.  They have a very complete medical setup in this house for a bunch of immortal, invulnerable beings. Is she doing a water birth?

Cedric’s eyes aren’t colorful in this shot.  I'm too ignorant to know if that's a continuity problem or not.  She’s shivering, lying alone on the couch.  Whiny gets to warm the Face.  He makes a big show of going to her—to touch her with one hand because that’s super-effective—and then chill her with passive aggression.  It feels complete when they’re both in the room. I think she really wants a three-way.

The telepathic one is trying to interpret the thoughts of the fetus.  Whiny thinks that the fetus wants blooooooood. All the other vampires are leaving, so they can do the DP thing before she dies.  Pregnancy hormones are the best.  No.  That would be too entertaining. 

Instead she’s going to drink a glass of blood.   They’re covering a continuity error with ADR, “This’ll make it easier to take,” as she puts a soda cup to her lips.  Face says the blood tastes good, and Cedric smiles?!  How does this make sense?  And eleven seconds later she’s getting stronger.  I never knew Port Charles was in Washington.

She’s on the phone with Reasonable, lying to him quite inexpertly; but he’s only a local sheriff, and not too used to deciphering when people lie.  He wants to see her, because he’s her father.  This is really stupid, even within the context of a Twilight movie.  I think she thinks that was her goodbye call to him.  She did not handle it well.

Face and Cedric love each other.  That’s nice.  Apparently the first year of marriage is the hardest, especially when you get married after knowing each other for nineteen minutes.  Cedric is starting to bond with the fetus telepathically.  The fetus is developing like a human fetus, except that things like knowing the mother’s voice cannot be accelerated because they take multiple instances of exposure.   

The fetus also has emotions, which feti don’t because they don’t really have perceptions.  I’m stopping this now.  To continue would be like questioning the general suspension of disbelief in a religious text.

Whiny sees happy family time and is jealous, until Doctor Vampire interrupts them to impart the dire news that they’re out of blood to feed the fetus, because nobody else in the house needs blood and they didn't realize they were running out until they were out.  Or some other contrivance.  Whiny appreciates that the Vampires like each other.  He’s going to sacrifice himself to rob a hospital or something?  No, he’s going to have a discussion with the people.  Why is the lighting changing?  Is it a compression problem, or is it supposed to be something about the way they think?  It can’t be a compression problem; it’s too consistent.

Oh, he was distracting them so the vampires could run to get the blood, so I was kind of right the first time.  And he’s also lying about killing the fetus.  It’s an interesting tactic. 
Vampire-werewolf fight, for which I’m barely prepared at the keyboard.  Jumping, etc.  Punching.  Biting.

Wolves can’t jump ravines.  That was a stupid plan by the wolves.  Whiny’s ruse is up, but they’re not back with the blood yet.  This seems like a pretty big mistake.  The vampires don’t spend money on fancy cars.  Why don’t the vampires have a helicopter? Or turn to bats?

Now they’re going to talk about baby names.  Hooray.  If it’s a boy, EJ.  Edward Jacob (Vampire Werewolf).  And there’s Renesme.  That doesn’t make any sense, but it’s not worth being upset over when talking about this movie.  The blood falls and the fetus wants to come out to drink it?  This is dramatic.  They’re giving her morphine intramuscularly and expect it to work immediately.  They’re doing a C section with no local?  Someone wanted to make her a vampire.  Why do they have to get the fetus out before they can change her?  This editing is very confusing.  I guess the baby is out.  Cedric’s face is bloody, anyway.

All of a sudden there’s no urgency to change her, even though her stomach is a gaping hole torn apart by a vampire.  This baby is certainly not a newborn, but it only took six weeks (?) to grow, so that’s OK.  The baby bit her.  I don’t know if that’s enough to change her in this mythology.  If there’s any deity around this world in which we live I won’t find out until my commitment subjects me to watch the sequel.

But I’m probably not that lucky.  Whiny is doing CPR before they inject her with something to turn her.  I don’t understand why they don’t just bite her.  I don’t understand that science.  I’m sure I said something not too long ago about how I’m being stupid.  Whiny wants to make Cedric suffer because Face is dead instead of killing him.  He just breaks promises left and right.

Wolves in the background.  Why is this movie not over yet?

Her facial expression playing dead is exactly the same as it is playing alive, i.e. much more appropriate for the scene.

Now Cedric is biting her all over in another attempt to turn her.  Whoah!  Camera in the veins.  She’s had so much of this shit I don’t know how she won’t be a super vampire.  This is boring.
The baby is moving.  Whiny is smelling things and being generally an asshat.  Chief Wheelchair does not approve of killing Whiny.  The wolves are only jogging, instead of sprinting, and their shirts are on; so you know it’s not REALLY a big impact on the story.  Back at the Manor, Whiny has resolve.  Is he going to try to kill the baby?  Yes, but it’s OK because the baby knows.  The baby looks right at him.  Maybe it will start talking.  This flashback implies that he made some other promise to protect the offspring.

Face is not moving yet.  The wolves are coming, and I don’t understand how they ever thought there were enough vampires for this fight.  Why are some of them just growling and others biting people?  I don’t know, but I do like the idea of punching a werewolf in the face.  Maybe I’d have a better chance of good jibes if the editing was more comprehensible.  I will say that that shirt-rip sound effect was excellent. 

Pause the fight!  Whiny imprinted on the baby?  So now the other wolves can’t hurt the baby.  “It’s their most absolute law.” 

A red sun rises.  Blood has been shed this night.

Her heart is still beating, but that big pile of morphine they jabbed in her calf is causing difficulty in distributing the vampire fuel.  There’s that face again.  You know: the one she uses when there’s a camera in front of it.  More internal blood camera shit, because nobody watching this movie knows what’s going to happen next. 

I really thought it was over that time.  Instead it’s a memory montage.  All the shittiest frames of all the shittiest scenes in the past however many shitty movies flash before us.  Also, she remembers what her parents looked like when she was three months old.  Vampirism is great on the brain.  She must be swimming in omega 3s now.

And, a shot of every fucking face on the “good” side leads to…



A wish for colon cancer on Bill Condon.
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Django Unchained



Django Unchanined (2012)

Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Starring Christoph Walz, Samuel L. Jackson, Jaime Foxx, Kerry Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio,

Synopsis
After retrieving (buying) the slave, Django, from some resellers, Dr. King Shultz, a bounty hunter, employs Django to identify some people he’s been tracking.  Django has personal experience with these men.  After completing their transaction, the two agree to a business partnership that will end with Shultz helping Django locate and free his wife.  The two quickly become friends.  During their rescue plot, feces and fans collide.

MOster
I know many of you (one in particular) will feel that I’m prejudiced in favor of Mr. Tarantino.  I can’t concern myself with such matters.

For me, as a Tarantino person, the movie is defined in the way that it diverges from expectation.  You might think that King is just another Landa at the beginning of the movie.  You might expect a chilling monologue from him.  You might expect a beautifully staged one take scene.  You might expect cartoonish departures.  You might look for a twisty timeline or a set of plots that intersect at a key moment.  I expected each of these things, some of them almost to the last frame.  I don’t feel that the denial of these pleasures was a cheat, because this is not a pleasant movie.

The story here is not very complicated.  It goes from point to point.  They have their little commissions, they grow together, Django learns things, they become fast friends.  They enter their final task with a plan, and the plan doesn’t play out as expected.  The little things within that story are what sets it aside.  The way we see Django learn and the way we infer that he’s learned pair with each other perfectly.  “Let [reading this] be your lesson for today,” communicates volumes both about how Django is learning and about how their relationship is growing.  The chemistry between Walz and Foxx is undeniable, and in the earlier scenes it’s easy to see them having fun with each other.

Even though it’s not as tricksy as some of his earlier stuff, it still shot like Tarantino.  It’s still amazing to behold where it’s supposed to be.  Framing sets the tone in a way that he and few others can do.  As always, the music is its own character.  From fake-ish, modernized “western” songs through to anachronistic hip-hop everything has its place in this film.  Actors have a chance to react, to emote.  The number of characters who don’t pontificate is much larger than the usual two, and the camera lingers in a way that never feels forced.  When we know that someone is watching someone else, we feel it in the shot.  When we’re watching a conversation as an outside observer, we get exactly enough expression to understand what’s behind the eyes.

Speaking of the actors, this is a movie that is bursting at the seams with perfect performances.  Walz is dependable as always.  Foxx and Washington are each short on words, but each is a full character.  DiCaprio really owns his disgusting fec, replete with haughty laughter at inappropriate moments and glances that know his hand is atop the bat.  But Jackson, holy fuck. Jackson.  Early in his performance I felt like I was getting a caricature of Cosby.  That feeling dispelled about 20 words in.  There’s such depth to his performance that he puts emotions back on the page.  Stephen has his own roles to play, but they’re all coming from the same place.

This film represents a significant advancement in the maturity of Tarantino.  To call it an exploitation film is to pigeonhole it unfairly.  While it shares characteristics with such films it is so much more in every way.  It is a thoroughly gory, visceral experience.  Some of the violence is unnecessary, but it all serves the story.  It all drives to a climax which is breathtaking to behold.  My heart was racing for 10 minutes after the end of the credits.

Quentin is an adorable auteur, and he’s an intolerable interviewee.  To hear him talk about how this movie changes the discussion of slavery in America makes me want to vomit.  Unfortunately, it’s true.  I’m white, and in the middle class.  I went to a decent high school and I studied AP US history and we spent a fair amount of time on the Civil War.  My education did not include the sorts of things we see in this movie, and I have no doubt that they happened, and far worse.  We view slavery in an abstract way, how people were made to do things and sold to other people and had no control over their lives and lived in horrible conditions.  We don’t think about the implications of humans as property.  Those people were treated worse than cattle, worse than dogs, worse than lab animals.  This was a Holocaust in America.  I can watch just about anything, because I can suspend just about any disbelief.  This is terrible to behold and totally believable.  Every American should see this film.

Spoilers
There are two performances that make this movie.  Shultz starts as a man who’s kind of given in to slavery.  He despises it academically, but until he goes in with Django, even in his position he doesn’t see the things that happen. He doesn’t see the two men egged on to kill each other.  He doesn’t see people literally torn apart by dogs.  He doesn’t see young women put in the “hot box” for two days, with no sustenance.  His arc is not something that we’ve seen from Tarantino before.  In the earlier movies, everybody is pretty much in on the violence.  Nobody turns away.  (I can think of one exception to this, and that makes my point even stronger.)

Dr. King tries not to turn away, and he fails.  He just can’t take it.  In Walz’s most perfect scene he snaps completely.  He can’t stand listening to the Fur Elise played on the harp as lives are being sold.  He can’t stand to touch even Candie.  And he breaks.  It’s at once exhilarating and heartwrenching.  Everyone could have gotten away if he had just shaken the fucker’s hand, but he couldn’t do it.  He couldn’t stand to touch such a piece of garbage one more time. Killing Candie was his imperative, his destiny.  He knew it would be the end of him and he did it anyway, and the way Walz plays it is utterly moving.  As I watched his face, I almost lost it in the theater.  Thinking back to it I’m welling up now.  It’s clear in my head days later.  His heart undoes his mind undoes his strength.  In its way, it’s as difficult to watch as the scene with the dogs, or the one on one fight scene.  It’s a beautiful scene in every imaginable way.

Then there’s Jackson.  Stephen is even more despicable than Candie, because he’s totally in on Candie’s game while KNOWING that he’s every bit as good as Candie is, as are all of his fellows.  He’s fully complicit.  He knows what it means for Broomhilda to stay, but he’s more interested in saving his OWNER money than in letting the young flower go.  He manages the torture of other slaves, to make his life just a little more comfortable.  He’s the embodiment of the character that Django plays, and that irony is not lost as he sets Django up for the worst fate imaginable, far worse than the castration that was almost finished.  He does it with glee, because Django dared to upset his place in life, his comfort, his seat at a desk, his handling of his master’s money. We watch him make these decisions.  We see his face decide to do these things and then we seem him take to them with glee.

I would like someone to interview Jackson about his performance.  I would like to know how he felt about it, and how he kept it together.  To play this role as a black man is very important to the movie, and to our culture.  But I can’t think about what it must have done to him.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Modelland

Modelland (published 2012)
Written by Tyra Banks


Synopsis?
In a universe that contains an analog for Earth that is governed by a global fashion monarchy, beauty is the most important attribute.  To be selected as a member of Modelland is the fate of an envied few.  One apparently-unlikely member of this few is named Tookie de la Crème, and she doesn’t have the most ridiculous name in the book.  She calls herself a “forgetta girl” because nobody ever notices her, to the point where she literally lies on the floor and waits for someone to step on her.  Her mother has less love for Tooke than she has for either her younger sibling, “The Myrracle,” or a strange porcelain doll; and Tookie seems destined to be cast away like so much garbage to make a living in one of the factories that support the all-powerful fashion industry.  Her father hates her because he hates her mother because while he was performing an intricate trapeze act a flash of light reflected from Creamy’s (her mother’s married name is Creamy de la Crème) makeup mirror and caused a crippling fall.

The day that new girls (only girls are considered worthy enough for this honor) are “selected” to attend Modelland is called, of course, The Day of Discovery.  On this particular Day, even though her more-favored, easily dopey sister  has been training for her life, Tookie is selected by the Triple7 Intoxibella Ci~l (pronounced “seel”) to join this illustrious academy.  The rulers of Modelland and the select Intoxibellas are imbued with magical powers, such as the ability to pause menstruation and, the ability to teleport, and the ability to essentially do whatever the fuck the story demands.  There are numerous magics and magical artifacts, none of which has an impact on the arc of the story.
Tookie’s tribulations are many.  Eventually her self-confidence improves by an iota or two and she’s set to graduate.  Simultaneously, her mother and Myrracle are working to cross the barrier between the world of the plebes and the mountain on which Modelland sits.  There is a climax in which the relationships between some of the characters are revealed.  Some of them may live happily after.  I sincerely hope nobody ever finds out.

There are a few other subplots, left hanging in the wind like the threads of a torn dress, or the straps of Cinderalla’s lost Manolo.

MOster, the only person in any house of which he is aware stupid enough to undertake this task

There’s no way to look at my completion of this task that doesn’t include incredulity.  The fact that I started it—that I, in fact, paid for two licenses to the material—is difficult enough to comprehend.  The fact that I decided that I must see it through is… well, maybe that part is believable, because I *am* MOster after all.  The fact that it took me THIRTEEN MONTHS, during which I consumed no other written fiction, is silly beyond reason.  I implore you to look upon this entire endeavor with derision.  I did not take one for the team, because there is no team worth mentioning who would have been exposed instead of me.  There is no justification for the fact that in addition to reading the Drivel of the Banks at a snail’s pace I withheld from myself all other art in this medium.  And yet, I’m publishing this with the expectation that three or four of you will consume it and the hope that said number may approach S7even.

Alright, I’m going to try to tone the style down now; but I’m writing about Tyra Banks.  Yes.  I am writing about Tyra Banks.  I have to try to do something to justify this, or to offset it.  Like these few hundred words are a carbon credit against her hundred thousand.

When I write about movies (or, at least, those about which I care) I try to talk about the elements of a system and then the system as a whole.  I’ve done the same thing with the couple of books I’ve reviewed on here.  It is difficult to disentangle from this offal the various junk foods that entered the intestine that is Tyra Banks’s brain.

Critically, the best-executed element of this work is characterization.  There are three or four main characters and maybe a dozen secondary players.  The main characters have separate voices, motivations, fears, and foibles.  Tookie is sheepish, kind, generous, and noble.  She’s naive.  She’s supremely beautiful but too humble to notice it.  She’s the surrogate of the author in the worst way.  She’s not a believable human being, but she has recognizable traits.  Her mother truly is a cunt.  She’s deplorably selfish and vain, manipulative beyond belief, bitchy enough that people concede leadership to her because it’s the path of least resistance.  She, too, could not exist as a person.  There are no people like her anywhere.  The “Ci~l” character is probably the most interesting, in that she vacillates wildly through varying forms of generosity and bitchiness, intellect and stupidity.  In fact, the overarching stupidity of each character is their acceptance of the Modelland ethos their disregard of how harmful to the rest of the world their participation is.  This is not intentional on the part of the author.  The author is too stupid to realize that she’s glorifying the villains.  The most admirable characters in the book glorify the villains.

The rest of the characters are archetypes either borrowed or created.  The “villain” of Tookie’s life, Zarpressa, is really just a run-of-the-mill high school bitch.  She has a clique that feels better than everyone else even in the space of Modelland.  The .01% of the .01%, in her own mind, even though her parents are poor for some unexplored reason.  The characters who bond to Tookie, each similarly extracted by the disobedient Ci~l on the same tDoD—everyone speaks in abbreviations in this book—are defined by a single characteristic and an affectation of speech.  We don’t really need to talk about them, though, because they don’t matter enough to even get a passing mention in the last 10 chapters.  Even the street urchin with whom Tookie bonds before she leaves for the mountain is dismissed easily, and with no real end to her story. All these characters do is serve to show Tookie as slightly more confident than someone, slightly wiser than a fucking boulder.  The love interest is tacked on and generic.  He wants to be an architect but is settling for a role as a second class male model at the nearby school, Bestosterone.

Yes.  Characterization is the part of this book executed with the greatest competence.

Most of the story of this book is irrelevant.  The idea is that Tookie learns something from her tribulations.  Each of these challenges plays out languorously, and few of them are connected temporally.  And none of it really matters to the end, because she doesn’t learn anything.  She’s exactly the same person at the end of the book that she is at the beginning, except that she’s willing to kiss her boyfriend.  She still loves her mother, even though when her mother thinks she’s on her deathbed she asks for the doll rather than Tookie.  She still can’t stand up to Zarpressa, even though she was directly involved in the crowing of the new Bella Donna, who is essentially the ruling authority of the world.  Have I mentioned that she has authority to kill and maim whomever she chooses with impunity, the power to convert people to immortal robots as punishment for minor transgressions.? We’re supposed to believe that now that Ci~l is the new Bella Donna the world of modeling will be a better place, but her actions 30 seconds later bely that notion quite clearly.  She’s so manic as a character that we have no idea how she’ll act, if any of her earlier ideas of changing the system will remain with her.  This could have played as a tragic lesson in the corruption of power.  Instead it’s left at a climax with no denouement.

There are attempts at urgency in this book.  They fall flat uniformly.  Sure, there are things that play quickly; but there are no stakes in those scenes.  Any time we’re supposed to be invested in the outcome the author goes out of her way to use as many muddy words and tangled concepts as possible to get her point across.  There is no economy in the storytelling because if there were there would be no book.  There are no mixed metaphors because there’s no concern with the real world.  Nothing is relative to anything.  If there’s any true success in this work it’s that as every letter passes through the reader’s mind it feels covered with the author’s atrocious arrogance.

I have no question that Tyra Banks penned the manuscript personally, and I imagine the character of the junior editor on whose desk this pile of words fell having a much more interesting arc.  Staring with delight in the sheepish eyes of the person who works for the person who owes whomever a favor, and learning in a few bamboo-cage days how the world really works.