Friday, February 26, 2010

Today was a fairytale.

"I'm a sheriff.  She's a doctor."

  • I love when angular Los Angeles/Aussie actors dress up like small town, Iowa hicks with hearts of gold.
  • I love Timothy Olyphant and his impossibly long torso.
  • I kind of love The Crazies remake.  There's no gay subtext or male nudity to speak of.  It never goes out of its way to be subversive.  It is an example of how enjoyable a horror movie can be when you take a simple premise, cast actors who understand tone and context, and shoot it well.  I had to go the bathroom the whole time but never left my seat.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jesus Camp

"Go forth, you, and bring me the husband!"

I am one of those funny bunnies who have only lived in or immediate to major cities (Boston, NYC, and Los Angeles, respectively). Thanks to Stephen King, however, I never need to leave my urban bubble to know all about our great nation. For instance, I know that Colorado is a state where people get snowed-in and go crazy, chasing their families through expansive hotel suites with axes. Maine is where inattentive mothers allow their toddlers to roam into traffic, if only to resurrect them in ancient Indian burial grounds. In a country populated with killer clowns, sycophantic obese women, and vampires, the scariest place may be the most unassuming. Nebraska. A state where religious zealots ban National Public Radio and the use of contraceptives. Where gay children run wild and unattended, channeling all of their confusion and whimsy into misreading bible verses (much like their adult contemporaries, Ted Haggard et al.). Nebraska is home to the Children of the Corn (1984). If I may, please allow me to turn your attention to a few of the most precious gems waiting to be unearthed upon a closer inspection of this horror classic.

1. Peter Horton is raped by a cornfield like that lady in Evil Dead.

2. There's an evil preacher/perpetual man-child named Isaac and he looks like this:

3. At one point, Peter Horton asks Linda Hamilton for a rag. Linda proceeds to grab the nearest child, rip off half of his cardigan, then hand it to Peter.

4. This bitch.

5. Isaac.

6. Watch for the contempt Peter Horton for Linda Hamilton. Aside from being openly disdainful of her throughout, he never looks in her eyes.

7. Malachai has beautiful hair.

8. Peter and Linda run over a little gay boy with their Oldsmobile. They put his body in the trunk, then walk away and leave the car behind.

9. Isaac. His may be the gayest performance in the populist horror canon. This film is best enjoyed with a vanilla milkshake from the Jack in the Box. Please note that the o-x in "box" make the shape of one of those Jesus fishes. Think about it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

brother's keeper (aka: anatomy of an adolescent romance)

"You care more about that car than you care about me."

I'm going to tell you a story about love.  High school love.  Once upon a time, Dennis and Arnold were best friends.  Dennis was super popular and athletic and everyone loved him.  Arnold was mysanthropic and clumsy.  Outside of his relationship with Dennis, his only friend was his dominating mother and she was a hateful shrew at best.  Dennis made sure that Arnold was taken care of.  He would pick him up every morning in his perfect Dodge Charger and they'd sing along to ABBA songs.  He was always there to protect Arnold from hoards of knife-weilding, crotch-grabbing bullies roaming the high school for lunch pail yogurt, and he was constantly trying to bolster Arnold's fragile ego.  Dennis didn't mind that Arnold wore glasses or had no disposable income to speak of and Dennis was not afraid to face off against Arnold's overbearing mother.  Dennis was the perfect boyfriend.

"I know what I am."

Even though girls were always throwing themselves at Dennis (Kelly Preston, in particular, setting herself up for a long life of unrequited love with homosexual men), he was content to just spend his time with Arnold. But, despite all of this care and attention, none of this was enough for Arnold.  Without any skills or passions of his own, Arnold felt stifled by their relationship.  He needed to branch out.  He needed an identity.  Dennis suggested that maybe he wanted to be with a woman, but Arnold didn't want a woman.  Arnold wanted freedom.  Arnold wanted a car.

What he found was a 1958 Plymouth Fury left rotting in the woods. Her name was Christine (1983).  Arnold was smitten.  While two boys may feel comfortable being together for a period of time, this doesn't always mean that both parties are gay.  Even when both parties are consensually gay for each other, the dynamics that arise between two men are complicated and often treacherous.  Competition, vanity, aggression, demonically possessed cars - if not kept in check, these things can tear a couple apart.

At first, Christine seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for our couple.  Arnold became instantly more confident with every repair he made to her weathered exterior.  He even found himself some cute vintage outfits and contact lenses.  Soon enough, though, he was acting aloof, staying at the junkyard with Christine night after night without even a telephone call.  After being left alone with Arnold's bitch mother on date night, Dennis took the hint to move on.  Unfortunately, this wasn't just a matter of Arnold not being gay (he is).  The issue at hand is Arnold's need to prove himself - his need for validation.  All the years of being taken care of by Dennis had made him resentful.  Like a bratty teenager towards an overbearing parent, Arnold began to act out aggressively towards Dennis.  During a big football game, Arnold consciously showed up at the field late and with a girl, awkwardly kissing her for the whole school to see. Dennis is not only broken hearted, but the distraction leaves him open for a good tackling by the offensive team, leaving him near paralyzed in the hospital.  How rude!

"She's not my girlfriend."

Ultimately, there was no saving Arnold from himself.  Dennis saw a good heart lying underneath the greasy hair and broken frames but Arnold couldn't let himself be loved, no matter how much he wanted to be. It doesn't matter if you're in high school or if you're thirtysomething, you have to take care of loving yourself first - only then can you be ready for the perfect boyfriend.  It's not about cars or money; it's about being comfortable in your own skin.  Be nice to each other, boys.  Remember, it's not a contest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Best Little Coal Mine in Canada

"No women in the mine!"

Congratulations, kids.  Another Valentine’s day came and went and we’re all still here. I, for one, adore the holiday. Valentine's day is my own personal new year's eve upon which the rest of my year hinges. I love a handmade card and a Whitman’s sampler. I love decoupaged hearts in pink and red atop paper lace doilies. Years may pass, but still nothing says “I care” like a fresh pig’s heart left in a Tiffany box on the doorstep of the object of your affection. 

This time of year makes me nostalgic for all the great romantic scenarios: making love in the woods just before being hung upside down by my belt and having my throat slashed; covering my ears to mask the deafening roar of rattling chains while being chased by cenobites through austere, art deco hallways; having Freddy tear into my arteries at the wrist and ankle, puppeteering me like a marionette in a mental health facility; and, best of all, having our annual crafting party in the old, abandoned coal mine.

Allow me to point you in the direction of a little art film that I know of. This is a film that’s tasteful enough to open on a couple making love whilst wearing full mining gear (the woman pouts her lips, caked in hot pink lipstick, stroking the man’s breathing tube ever so suggestively while his gloved hand gropes a heart shaped tattoo above her left breast). This is a film that merits discussion. This is My Bloody Valentine (1981).

I grew up in a fishing town where people had kids at seventeen , drank at the pubs every night, and never washed their hands. Being the fanciful little boy that I was, I had no interest in a story about rural, working class folks with dirty faces. Despite having been transfixed by My Bloody Valentine’s VHS cover, the last thing I wanted in my horror was verisimilitude free of washboard abs, high-waisted jeans and shaggy hair. 

Like my now well-worn dvd copies of Thirtysomething, My Bloody Valentine was a film that required me to grow up a little in order to appreciate it.  There are no teenagers experimenting with their sexuality, there's no angst, no fashion.  The median age of the protagonists is somewhere around thirty-three.  This is a movie about the kids who didn't "make it", the kids who never left the fishing town.  Townies.  Townies who love to dance.  Who am I to say that these kids don't deserve to be served up hibatchi style by a pickax wielding maniac just as much as anyone else? 

My Bloody Valentine is not just a two-bit slasher film, it's also a morality play. No one should have to work on Valentine's Day. One year, while the town of Valentine Bluffs was having its annual dance, a couple of miners were left working the night shift. A terrible accident left one of them, Harry Warden, trapped under piles of rubble until he went criminally insane. Like a modern day Maleficent, Harry vowed to slash his way through the entire town should they ever have another dance without him (talk about a drama queen!). Twenty years have passed since that fateful night and the kids want to dance! They have had it with living in the shadow of some tired queen with a mask fetish. Having decorated the entire town to the hilt, they go ahead and have a Valentine’s bash to end all. But, like all embittered queens, Harry holds a wicked grudge and the body count rises!

If you have been known to get hammered on Molson Ice and meander off to the local coalmine to sleep it off, this movie is for you. If you like Roseanne, you’ll love My Bloody Valentine.  Should you enjoy ancillary characters who are inexplicably dressed in 1950s sock hop attire or various, elaborately staged scenarios involving the removal of the human heart, run don’t walk! The many similarities to Friday the 13th(1980) were not accidental. Friday' was a big hit for Paramount and they rushed 'Valentine into production (6months from script to release). While My Bloody Valentine is a bit more layered in its structure and character development, Friday the 13th is hands down more glamorous and iconic. I may have grown up, but I still prefer my slasher movies to be like my life, a bit heightened and gorgeous to look at.

Friday, February 12, 2010

wishful thinking

This weekend, let's all pretend that Gary Marshall's Valentine's Day is a bait and switch remake of Happy Birthday to Me in which Sydney Bristow and Jessica Biel go on an estrogen fueled killing spree.  They kill the shit out of people for ninety minutes, then they get drunk on red wine while Julia Roberts disembodied head lies watching over the empty place settings formerly reserved for everyone else on that god-forsaken poster.  It's still a better movie than Shutter Island.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

third wheel

Has your best friend ever dated a girl that you can't stand so you wind up seeing him less than you normally would just to avoid her ugly sweaters and ill-conditioned tips?  You know very well that, despite what you tell your other friends, she's not actually retarded, so she can tell you hate her.  But it's not like you're gay for your bestie and so you just leave it be; you don't even launch into a dramatic dialogue as it starts to rain, causing your nipples to poke out of your Donna Karen top.  Listen, if you ever thought that maybe you should try and make an effort to connect with your bestie and his hateful cunt girlfriend as a couple by taking a day trip, don't go skiing.

I've never been skiing and I certainly won't be skiing any time soon after seeing Adam Green's Frozen (2010).  Bobby Drake left Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and he's living as a stoner from Boston who loves his bestie, Kevin Zegers, and hates his bestie's girlfriend, Emma Bell.  Like any good episode of Three's Company, circumstance finds them trapped on a ski lift together where they have no choice but to resolve their differences and talk it all out!  Then the wolves begin to circle...

Even though I may not be wild about this film, Boston is very well represented with references to Papa Gino's (anyone from Boston knows that no birthday was complete without a hand-made pizza and getting to play "Oh Industry" on the jukebox) and dialects that come and go (this is an affliction that true Bostonians suffer from - we don't always go around talking like Shutter Island day players).  Frozen is thoughtfully plotted and thoroughly disturbing.  I was so curious as to how it would all turn out that I barely minded the fat people who were having full blown intercourse in the row behind me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

a cure for seasonal depression

When I was a little boy, I refused to go anywhere without my Hardy Boys coloring book. I was also unreasonably fixated on Dynasty reruns in my adolescence. One day my mother walked in on my stories and justified my obsession by explaining that "All the boys love Fallon."