Archive for March, 2014

Western Watchins #71

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With the stink of last week’s Gang of Roses 2 still hanging in the air like a ghost’s asshole I needed to remove myself, and my next review, as far as possible from that stench. Really far. Like back to 1903 far. Back to one of the earliest remaining examples of a motion picture in all of motion picture history. It cost $150 to make, only lasts about eleven minutes and is completely silent. It is The Great Train Robbery and it is greatly enjoyable.

The wilds of New Jersey stood in for some nondescript western location in this film but because all the bad guys, and every one of the posse that would eventually hunt them down, wore cowboy hats our minds tell us this action must take place far from the civilized Eastern seaboard. There’s also tons of gunplay which of course happens out on the unruly Western frontier. So the stage is set and set to be robbed. It’s not really a spoiler if it’s in the title and I for one wish that kind of honesty still pervaded the cinema today. But I reckon “White Man’s Guilt Will Win Us An Oscar” just doesn’t sound as artsy as “12 Years a Slave.” I know I’m horrible but I’m also fairly sure no slaves read this blog so no one’s going to be offended anyway. Not as offended as this guy at least.

 

 

He was going to prove he could run faster than a bullet but it’s at this exact moment he realized he could not. He was actually shot for trying to start the “Y.M.C.A.” or for being a pussy. You choose, based on whatever helps you sleep better at night. Seriously, the bandits were just robbing the passengers up until Johnny Sprintstoslow ran off and got killed just to move the narrative forward. And move it did! Not a word, not a sound from this film and yet I was engrossed from start to finish. Because I cared. Most movies today can’t seem to reach that kind of emotional attachment relying instead upon slick graphics, product placement and A-list a-holes to put butts in seats. A plot? Who needs it when a robot that can turn into a truck decides it’s a cool idea to ride a dinosaur instead. And what’s character development compared to hundreds of nameless Jedi on the screen at once? Even though The Great Train Robbery doesn’t put any names to the faces or leave us with any terribly fleshed out folks you are still rewarded for investing in this sawed-off cinema classic.

You’ll be concerned when the lonely train station telegraph operator dude gets beat down and tied up! You’ll possibly be more concerned when whatever the hell this is comes through the door to save him:


 

It’s supposedly his daughter but fuck that. She moves with all the grace of a Nosferatu and carries a huge knife for some reason. I suppose it was a different time and you’d send your kid to school dressed like a garbage bag bogeyman while brandishing butcher level cutlery but it still wigged me out a bit. Still the point remains, I was right there in the room with that guy and his demon child thinking “oh the bastards that did this are gonna pay!” And as soon as his one day serial killer of a kid cut him free he was off to rally the troops. Who were having a hoedown.

 

 

Look at this poor prick dancing a lively jig as several assholes do that old shoot-at-the-guy’s-feet-to-make-him-dance thing probably for the first time actually. And those assholes all chase him off and laugh at him and then dance with some ladies. Then that train employee guy shows up and he’s all like “Jesus Christ my kid is probably going to grow up to be a serial killer” and also “shit man, the train’s been robbed!” And then you realize all those dancing assholes are going to go track down the bad guys because those assholes are the good guys! Nothing one dimensional here, no sirree. The filmmakers could have just shown us the bandits jumping the train and then some marshals making things right. Instead we learn that the posse members are men of action and dancing assholes! They’re also pretty good shots or rather they just shoot the shit out of everything till all the dicks are dead. Stay with me now, don’t go getting your dicks and assholes confused! We did that the last two elections and fucked ourselves so hard as a country we’ll be tasting shit, semen and socialism for years to come.

 

 

Folks stood up back in the day, for right or for wrong, but they stood up and did what they felt they had to do to make it in this world. A few generations later and it seems most have evolved past the need for a spine, content to slither about, heads down and hearts empty.

When life’s parceled out to you that’s no life at all.

Not that a life of crime is to be admired per se but I’d rather regret a few things I’ve done during my life than regret not living each moment to the fullest as I saw fit right then and there. We all have choices to make. The Bandits in The Great Train Robbery made theirs and dealt with the consequences. Sometimes in glorious partial color. 

 

 

It’s 1903 and not only am I seeing moving pictures convey a complete narrative but now parts of it are in color? Brainpan blown! Yes, a few prints of the old G.T.R. were released with colored elements. In the chromatic sense, not in the Roots sense. And if you’re not at least cracking a smile right now it’s probably because that huge stick up your ass is touching a nerve or something. Everyone used to make fun of everyone and now we live in a world where Ellen DeGeneres can’t poke fun at drag queen idol Liza Minnelli for maybe actually being a drag queen in disguise at the Oscars. That’s a real damn shame and also “drag queen in disguise” already sounds like a better premise than Transformers: Age of Extinction.

All the special effects in the world can’t spruce up a film with no purpose. The Great Train Robbery was already cake so those few garishly dyed moments were just a little extra icing for the crowd. I saw a totally black and white version the first time and prefer that unsweetened offering to the variant one. A climactic shootout with orange and pink gunsmoke doesn’t work for me because it’s like watching everyone get murdered by cotton candy. And all the cotton candy I’ve ever known was delicious and not at all pestilent.

Oddly hued gimmicks aside, The Great Train Robbery well earns its 4 rounds this week. It feels like one of those lazy afternoon adventures you made up and played out as a kid. It’s great and great for many reasons. It’s straightforward, exciting, funny and even managed to shock me with a few instances of unexpectedly brutal violence. I’ve always thought beating a man to death with your bare hands before crushing his skull with a rock is a classy and timeless way to end anyone and this movie efficiently proves my argument. This great, great, grandparent of modern movie magic still has a few things to teach anyone who’ll listen. Hollywood could sure stand to lend an ear for a minute or two. Short but nonetheless spirited, they certainly don’t make them like this anymore. Bang.

 

Haikuesday

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Isn’t it Tuesday?

Time will always get away

So spend it fully

 

 

Western Watchins #70

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If you’ve ever seen a movie so bad it had you thinking “man, this is really bad” then it wasn’t Gang of Roses 2: Next Generation because that one will have you thinking “when did I die and go to hell?” To even call this a movie is quite a stretch (that it’s a sequel is probably a crime.) It’s actually more like a series of vignettes wherein several goddamn terrible actors ply their trade with several goddamn worse ones. By the end of it all I was wishing I was dead. And by the end I mean the beginning. Netflix should file this under its own unique category so right next to “documentaries” and “foreign films” you’d have “what the fuck are you thinking?”

Gang of Roses 2: Next Generation stars Brenda Dumas Aboxorocks, Kylie Cuntfaking Actmawyouttefapaperbaglia and Wiz Khalifa. I did not make up at least one of those names. And “stars” might be too strong of a word. The only true star in this film was not a single fucking person in this film. And don’t go blaming the script because I can assure you there wasn’t a script. Here’s one of the outlaw heroines looking for it:

 

 

Any clue where it is girlfriend? Didn’t think so. Spent all that writing money on craft services and push-up bras. Or maybe just the bras because craft services would imply that someone on set was there practicing stagecraft and that wasn’t the case at all. Every single performance was so colossally retarded that Corky from Life Goes On could do nothing but stare and think “there but for the grace of God mother fuckers, there but for the grace of God!”

This whole film stunk of vanity project as if the director had just picked a random weekend to rent out the Paramount Movie Ranch and told all his hip-hop friends to show up with their girlfriends. Like Amber Rose here:

She’s a socialite. I think that means she gives good head. She sure as shit can’t act and is using some flashy neck garb in this scene to try and cover up that fact. Historical costume accuracy be damned right? I can guarantee you Miss Rose thinks “period wardrobe” somehow involves tampons. And if you though she was just doing that Keanu Reeves I’m-a-smart-dude-playing-a-dumb-ass gimmick hang on after the credits for the blooper reel when all your uncertainties will be put to rest. For fifteen minutes by the way. Fifteen fucking minutes of honest mistakes after an hour and seventeen of unforgivable ones. Not during the credits, in addition to them. But if you made it that far you might as well just go ahead and watch to see that behind the scenes everyone was just as miserable making this film as you’ve been watching it. But perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps if you were to view Gang of Roses 2 and find it riveting I could only say that you are a stupid, stupid, stupid…stupid…

fuck.

Take this scene for example:

 

 

In this scene, and many more just like it, nothing actually fucking happens. I believe the filmmakers were relying on witty banter, in lieu of expensive action, to move the story along but when one of the better exchanges is: 

“I heard you was gunned down in El Paso.”

“Yeah. El Paso, Missouri, Tennessee and every other big city.”

You realize this film is going nowhere fast. Probably because people don’t know the difference between cities and states. From start to finish you realize that the only marketable skill anyone involved with this production had was the ability to cluster more fucks together in one place than you’ve ever seen in your life. It wholeheartedly rivals Hooded Angels though that cinematic abortion still reigns supreme only in that I found the monumental incompetence of Gang of Roses 2 at least mildly entertaining now and again. Still, do not take that as an endorsement. Do not under any circumstance allow yourself to see this film. Some suggestions on better ways to spend your time would include burying a loved one or finding out if your test results are negative or positive.  

Gang of Roses 2: Next Generation is awful. 1 empty round in the cylinder, useless as a fart in a firefight. There has not been this much unexpected fuckery in a motion picture since Caligula. One of Gang‘s actors was supposedly on Saving Grace, unfortunately this movie doesn’t have a one. Even more unfortunately, a third (and mercifully final) installment in the series is in the works. According to the director he wants Part 3 to “rise up to the expectations” of the previous two films. That’s like saying I want the next time piranhas eat my dick to be just like the first two times piranhas ate my dick. And no one wins in that situation, except for dick eating piranhas I suppose. So amigos ride true, ride hard and ride away from this film.

Only way to save your sanity.

And quite possibly your dick.

 

Haikuesday

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This poem’s for me

Take a breath because you can

Exhale and create

 

 

Western Watchins #69

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I hope that everyone who reads my blog understands what a fine line I skate anytime I put pen to paper as it were. I’ve always found most formal movie reviews to be blathering affairs garnished with big words meant only to impress and not truly inform. On the converse, much of the blogosphere today is riddled with such tactless obscenity as to make any points made lost amongst the digital dross. So when I sit down to write I am often torn. Not a slave to the fashions of other authors but one certainly to my own dual sensibilities. Do I rely on my well read experience, unique outlook and surprisingly tender emotional approachability…or do I fall back on the “fuck”? Was a particular movie so amazing that I could only describe it as distinct, challenging and pleasantly abstruse? Or, to put it the other way, did it make me feel as if my balls had been placed into a pneumatic paint shaker that then shook my delicate sack to the point where I simultaneously shit, pissed, vomited and ejaculated all over myself because my soul had been made so full of transcendent joy I had no choice but to forcefully expel the excess in any way possible?

See my problem?

Equally at ease in a shrine or a strip club, a lover of knowledge and despiser of those knowledgeable, I respect civilization as long as it doesn’t make you too civilized. So when a film comes along like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford perhaps you can forgive my desire to commit clear and inspirational thoughts to this page in the hopes that you might understand how affecting it was and how heartsore it made me. And perhaps you’ll forgive the occasional poop joke that is attempting to do the same.

And now we can properly begin.

The Assassination of Jesse James is like sitting outside of a haunted house as the sun sets off in some undefined distance casting its mournful and waning glow on any long dead spirits you spy moving about the grounds. It’s a historical phantasm, a film of frightful melancholy that will unsettle and stir you even as you watch it all sitting calmly and unnaturally still.

 

 

Look here for instance, you know it’s just a promo shot. You know it was taken in this century. You know Hawkeye is standing near a Terminator and slightly behind Tyler Durden. And yet every celebrity evaporates so completely into their respective roles that you become Jack’s total suspension of disbelief. You become part of this ghost story and all the chills that come along with it. I noticed very early in the film, about halfway through the movies only true action piece, that my mouth was hanging open and wide. The “action” wasn’t even really action, moving slower than sap in the dead of winter at night on the bottom of the ocean, but I was so enamored at what was really nothing more than images that my body reacted without my conscious involvement. Watching Jesse you get the same feeling you might get wandering around an art gallery, it all looks a little different because it’s from a different time and everything is gorgeous even when it’s ugly. You wonder how the artist did it but you’re glad you don’t really know, content with the illusions and no need for explanations.

 

 

This movie conveys such a despairing desolation it makes Christina’s World look like a trip to goddamn Disneyland. Plus you already know where it’s headed and that’s into the back of Jesse’s head. That foresight grinds on you like an intoxicated woman at closing time wearing a tube dress she’s outgrown by thirty pounds or so. And those heels! Lady do not wear heels if you can’t fucking walk in them! A woman who can walk in heels, regardless of any body, beauty or behavioral issues, can catch you with her first foot fall. That convincing ‘click-clack’ rattles something in your id and you can suddenly imagine watching her walk anywhere as long as it ends in a blowjob. The producers of Jesse capture and shake you up too (minus the blowjob.) You’re a fly on the wall after all the gunsmoke has cleared the air, invited past the legends and dime-novel fluff to look in on privy parleys and glimpse this imperfect man in the midst of his imperfect friendships. It’s as pure a look as you’re ever likely to get and one whose veracity even Jessie’s remaining kin vouch for with verve.

At its heart The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the story of two men: one who was, and one who wanted to be. Brad Pitt’s Jesse is good but Brad would look heroically roguish taking a shit so it’s impressive when anyone can step up to the plate and commence to steal all the scenic bases like Casey Affleck did. I’m not even sure if you can steal every base from a batting position because baseball is not hockey or professional wrestling so I don’t give a shit but I do know that Casey was creepy as most every fuck.

 

 

Imagine a less genial and more socially inept Gollum and you’re halfway there. His villainously vacant stares made me recoil so hard that one of my balls still hasn’t re-appeared from wherever it went. I’ve only seen sickening desperation like this once in my life and that was at San Diego Comic Con as thousands of people sold hours or even days of their lives at great cost to their sanity and hygiene to make sure there were among the very first to see some footage everyone else would see on YouTube twelve seconds later. Pathetic. Both the swag-whores and the Robert Fords. Like a shadow made of grease and unfulfilled ambitions Affleck’s assassin slides around behind and below his idol. I know a few folks like that. Those bipedal piece-of-shit kind of people who are so empty their only hopes and dreams are the exact ones you have. Why self determine when you’ve already determined the self you want be, even though it isn’t you at all right? It’s an awful way to exist and when you eventually have to scrape them off the bottom of your shoe like the shit they are they hate you for it. But they hate themselves even more.

That depth of hate will help you to make all the worst decisions of your life. That depth of hate led Robert Ford to put a bullet into his friend Jesse James while his back was turned. You know Jesse was a bandit, a bad man, an outlaw, so at that moment you don’t fool yourself with all the folk hero notions. You realize he got what was coming to him (perhaps in just the way he wanted it if you’re a right speculative individual) but for good done and evil too you know he was always the man he wanted to be. There’s a stormy paranoia in Pitt’s portrayal right behind the eyes and right next to a soft self-confidence that few possess.

The single quality separating these two men, the very reason that one would violently adore and despise the other, is that one always knew where he stood and the other never figured out how to stand on his own two feet at all. One stared down destiny with strength, the other with sniveling.

 

 

The historical facts alone make for a moving drama but paint a poignant picture like the one the producers did all around those larger than life figures and you will be disquieted. That train shot above, part of the “action” piece I was referring to earlier, is considered by the cinematographer, Roger Deakins, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. I agree, and was spellbound, but the whole movie is one fantastic, near colorless tableau after another.

 

 

Your attention is held with so little distraction that you’re allowed to focus in on what’s really important in this movie, and in life: yourself and the people you choose to surround yourself with.

The scenery, the set pieces, the violence, none of it is glorified and when that’s all boiled down you’re left looking at human beings, the decisions they made and the results of seeing those decisions through. It’s fucking powerful as fuck. Wrap it all up with a queerishly phenomenal score from a cameo-ing Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and you’ll likely be sitting there just like I was by the end of it. Sitting there like this: 

 

 

If I had to sum up The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in one word it would be “haunting.” If I had a whole sentence it would be “sweet and savory mother of all fucking amazing movies that couldn’t have been more terribly haunting unless a ghost had commenced to fuck my face during the credits!” Boo Berry blowjobs and quality reviews, it’s what to expect when grazing your eyes here on the leaves of grass that are my blog, and I’m proud of that. 5 rounds this week loaded respectfully into the cylinder. Do yourself a favor, watch this movie. Find some lazy Sunday morning, find a hangover or some other general malaise, pop this movie in and live through the turbulence, the tranquility and above all the truth.

Only way this story could be told, and you know it’s the only way to ride. So get to it amigos. 

 

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