Month: April 2010

Kick Ass

To be honest I wanted to make a mediocre pun out of the title but my mind went dry. Sorry about that.

If you look up Kick-Ass on IMDb and check the genre of this movie, you get a list of: Action, Comedy, Drama. Frankly, that’s exactly what this is. A super movie about super heroes.

Within the first five minutes of the movie, it is well established that this wasn’t going to be a typical sob story with a cliche plot to a driving victory leaving us with a happy conclusive ending.

David Lizweski is exactly what his last name suggests, a total loser… ski. Total lame-o at school, with lame friends, lame glasses, and a lame awkward life. He dared to ask a question no one ever thought to ask, “Why don’t people go be super heroes?” It’s not a bad question actually. David even brings up Bruce Wayne. No superpowers, just super stuff. So David decides to hit up a generic online store in his generic MacBook pro and order a scuba- I mean super suit. His first attempt at fighting crime? Well, let’s just say everyone thinks he took it up the butt. No, that is not a figure of speech. His little incident turns everyone towards the belief that David is gay, including the girl of his dreams. David plays the gay card, and I can’t blame him; WHO WOULDNT?!

David gets the guts to go out again. Thanks to our technologically filled generation, David’s superhero antics are caught on camera, and everyone LOVES him. An overnight sensation to say the least. This just happened to be at the same time a drug dealer/mafia leader finds out a superhero is killing his men. You can guess where this is going.

The last tidbit I’ll say is that this movie has one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen to date. If you check out the movie you’ll know what I mean.

I’m just glad Nicholas Cage is going to have some money to pay off those loans.

Go see this. NOW.

Schizophrenia + Dumb People

It’s not very often that a movie leaves me confused… but people… I’m confused as a motherfucker.

Releasing next week in Peacock, it’s got all the A-list talent you could ask for… Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins), Susan Sarandon (Lot’s a good shit), Ellen Page (Juno, Whip It),  Bill Pulman (Spaceballs) and is edited by Sally Menke. But it’s releasing straight to DVD. This made me scratch my head.

About 50 minutes in I began to see why. This is a hard movie to sell. We have the schizo that’s fighting himself… but he can’t control what he’s doing and doesn’t even know… sometimes what he’s doing. The way it flip flops between him knowing and not knowing about his alter ego put ME in a tizzy, so I can only imagine what will happen to the average moviegoer.

Let me explain the movie to you real quick… I think Wiki did it better.

John Skillpa, a quiet bank clerk living in tiny Peacock, Nebraska, prefers to live an invisible life. This might have to do with John’s secret: he has another personality no one knows about, a woman, named Emma,who each morning does his chores and cooks him breakfast before he starts his day. Then, in a moment, everything changes. A train caboose runs off its tracks and crashes into John’s backyard and destroys more than the weathered planks of his wood fence. When neighbors descend on the scene, they discover Emma for the first time and mistakenly believe her to be John’s wife. This launches John into the glare of the spotlight and eventually shatters the delicate balance of his sanity. He must then fool the town into believing him and his alter ego are man and wife. But a young struggling single mother, Maggie, knows John’s secret and holds the key to his past and sparks a battle between the personalities.

That’s the wholllllllle hour and a half.

But there is a bright spot. A VERY bright spot. Cillian Murphy. I haven’t seen much of him since he played Scarecrow back in the day, but I remembered why I liked him so much. He really gets into his roles, and boy did he ever here. John/Emma got to a point of being an actual, BELIEVABLE character… though I’m surprised no one in that town noticed… Ellen Page showed up just as a plot point/random girl doing what she can to survive.

Strong performances and picture perfect setting keep this one afloat. But the horrible direction and writing give me the opposite of a hard on. If you like fucked up movies about schizophrenia. This is right up your alley.

B

If you need a class to tell you HOW to write… you shouldn’t be.

Just to sound like an elitist asshole for a minute (an elitist asshole who is correct.) I see a lot of writers groups… and wait, you already know my stance on writers groups. So let’s move on to writers seminars and shit.

Why the fuck would I EVER pay someone 500 bucks to tell me how I should be writing? This is part of the downfall of the craft of writing, everyone is concerned with making a buck, they didn’t stop and think about making something that’s…. I dunno, creative? But to pay someone hundreds of dollars for such trivial, mundane… and WRONG advice is just retarded. If you’ve ever done such a thing, payed money for some “professional” to tell you what to do, please pay me a hundred bucks so I can tell you how fucking stupid you are.

I swear, whatever happened to just learning what works for YOU? Oh wait, I guess that takes way too much work.

I’ve said it many times screenwriters by nature are extremely self centered, looking for that sale… again, losing focus on what’s important… writing something you can at least be marginally proud of. Asking other screenwriters for advice on how to do stuff not format related is a huge mistake. Asking folks to read and give their thoughts is one thing, but asking how it should be done is another.

I don’t think Michael Bay and M. Night  don’t make very good movies, but I do give them an assload of credit for bringing the passion into their world.

I think a big reason behind all of this is the fact that people are afraid to fail. But guess what? As a writer, you have to fail again and again and again and again until you stop sucking. If you’re not willing to give that kind of commitment, stay the fuck out of that line of work because you’re just making that shit cluttered.

Artistic Integrity, Where’s Yours Mr. Perry?

I’m really big on movies (no duh, I got this blog). But there’s something that really irks me. And I was discussing it what a friend of mine after he mentioned the new Tyler Perry movie.

This motherfucker is a horrible filmmaker.

Mr. Perry made a splash with his Medea plays right here in Chicago… yes, it’s more black people in fat suits pretending to be women because that’s apparently the only way our race can get a laugh out of anybody. And he continued to recycle the SAME OLD SHIT over and over and over again. As his checkbook grew, in true Tom Clancy style, his writing suffered as he spent more time being a fag with lame book tours and being on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He spends a lot of time talking about his roots and shit growing up in Chicago blah blah blah. However, he fails to mention how much he loved his work back then and how he strived hard to come up with something good. When he got that, it’s like he stopped trying and just rode on rehashing his already pedestrian affair many more times…

I may just be hating on a black man who’s made his money. But that’s just it. He’s made his money, but what’s next. There are two black directors with enough clout to get a big movie going, Spike Lee and Tyler Perry. Yes, there are plenty of other black directors out there, like John Singleton who I think is awesome. Also Mario Van Peebles who works on one of my favorite shows Damages. But they can’t really get the money or the studio backing the way those two can. And it pisses me off that they have this chance to do what many of us would kill for… and get lazy. Just because you’re a black director and black people will go see your shitty movie just because it was made by a black guy.  The African American film community is retarded but that’s another topic. That’s one of my biggest fears as a writer/director. Being labeled as an “African American director” next to clowns like him. That’s basically a professional death trap.

As intellectuals and professionals (Us writing and film folk) know it’s not always easy to come up with or no thing or put a creative spin on something pre-existing. But I think the millions of dollars you get paid SHOULD be a motivator. But maybe I’m just stupid.

It’s so sad, because I’m sure he’s actually a decent writer, he’s just sold out. That’s why I tend to shy away from big studio films these days. There’s nothing like watching the labor of someone’s love on screen. There’s an honesty to it that brings a smile to your face. Something I don’t see from any of Perry’s films. At least with Spike, I can always see a hardcore effort. Not always a good movie… but I can see him trying.

So yeah, Tyler Parry, you’ve so fucking sold out. I will never pay to see one of your movies and I will tell everyone I know to do the same. You’re just awful. Thanks.

Hydro Fucking Ponics

Edward Norton has a tendency to be in movies where he’s fighting himself (Hulk, Fight Club) battling his demons to overcome the evil inside. Well that’s not happening this time. This time, he’s also playing his twin brother in Leaves of Grass.

Written by Tim Blake Nelson (who ironically playing “The Leader” in the latest Hulk film) writes and directs this indie tale of a college professor (Norton) who returns to his hometown in Oklahoma after learning of his twin brother’s alleged death. To his surprise, it was all a ploy to get him to come to visit, and get him out of paying for an expensive ass hydroponic weed lab. The plot gets kinda complex from here, but let’s just say it’s got Jews, hicks, and a crossbow.

Fuck yeah crossbows.

Susan Sarandon, who is sadly underused in this movie, plays Norton’s drugged out mother living in an old folks home… and really dosen’t progress any farther then that. This is really the movie’s only flaw. But it’s forgiveable.

Weeds of Grass most likely won’t get a wide release for obvious reasons. But it’s a great thriller… even if you’re not really into thrillers (like me). Sarandon, like I said, was underused here. But it’s quite okay, Norton’s dual performance is all you’ll really care about anyway.

B+