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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Brett Ratner

"I asked for Doritos like ten minutes ago, guys..."

Dear Mr. Ratner, 

And I use the Mr. with great hesitation. 

I see your publicity stunt, and I raise you this one. And seeing as how I can guess you're the kind of man who sits at home Googling himself, in more than one sense of the word, I have no doubt you'll eventually run across this, love the attention, and carry on writing your next masterpiece. As a true auteur of Hollywood, that's just what people like yourself do. 

So, I'd like to offer you a piece of advice. Actually, several pieces. Put down the jar full of cookies and glass of whisky, sit up proper, and pay attention. 

1. Using the word "fag" in a Q&A? This isn't 1964. You can't just throw around slurs like that. If Rep. Larry Taylor (Texas, R) can't get away with saying "Don't Jew them down" to an insurance representative, even after apologizing immediately, what in the hell do you think you'd gain by waiting a few days after spitting out the word "fag" during an interview? When you are producing the Oscars? And you're the only reason Eddie Murphy was chosen? Because he hasn't been funny in about ten years? 

2. Don't do the Howard Stern show. It's a breeding ground for civil suits. 

3. If you do in fact go on the Howard Stern show, it's probably not the best idea to talk about having sex with Lindsay Lohan for a few reasons - one, she's being turned into a sex toy. way to go, player. two, you're producing the Oscars. three, apparently, she was "very young" when you two bumped uglies. Are we talking Parent Trap young or Mean Girls young? And on behalf of Olivia Munn, whom you falsely claimed to have sex with three times and then recanted a few days later kind of like your apology for saying the word fag during an interview, I'm going to imply that you Googled yourself during The Parent Trap. Multiple times. 

And I apologize for implying that Brett Ratner is, was, or will ever be a pedophile, and that he may or may not have but probably might have maybe masturbated to Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap. 

See? An apology right afterward. Should I not have said it? I shouldn't have said it. But, I did. And I can't take it back. But, I apologized immediately. My agent didn't have to bribe me with Reese's Pieces and Asian massages. 

from 16 year olds. 

God, I did it again. My b. 

4. You shouldn't be allowed to answer any questions about filmmaking after you put your name on X-Men: The Last Stand. I mean, really, dude. 


5. And this is really more for the Academy's sake - why on Earth did you pick Brett Ratner? At least it's not too late to fire him and plead on your knees for Bill Condon and Jon Stewart?

Sincerely, I'd like to wrap this letter up with a well-wishing for Ratner. 

You've claimed many times that you don't like condoms, but that you now use them. Is it because of a certain Lohan that you apparently bagged when she was teething? Or because you've taken a page out of your own douche-book when it comes to being careful about STD's. Remember how you joked with Howard Stern recently about forcing women, or apparently, toddlers, to go to the doctor to get checked for STD's before they're graced with your noodley appendage (sorry, FSM, couldn't resist the pun)? Yeah. That's gross. 

Also, remember how you claimed publicly that a scene in New York I Love You where a kid loses his virginity in a tree was based on you? I totally believe that. It's kind of like how I had the time of my life at a dance camp in the Catskills. 

Wishing you nothing but the one girl you regrettably don't ask to get checked, 


The Human Centipede - parts one and ew

Disclaimer - yes, these films have been given no stars. Are they the worst movies ever made? No. That honor belongs to Red Riding Hood and Pumpkin. However, are these films completely devoid of any merit, and bordering on the brink of Guantanamonian torture? Damn straight.

So, not since I was too lazy to post two separate articles for The Fighter and True Grit, I give you my second two piece review.

First Sequence - 0 stars. Why? Really?

100% Medically Made-Up

You know that series of movies that Lionsgate puts out? The "8 Films to Die For", or the off-shot "After Dark Films" series? This midnight movie wannabe sits comfortably in that zone of quality. And having seen a great handful of those films, I genuinely enjoyed two. I wish I had genuinely enjoyed this, but the lack of joy (even for his own craft) that director Tom Six - and apparently that's his actual name - injects into this experiment makes it absolutely unwatchable. I've no qualms with the darker side of independent horror. In fact, I consider it some of the best cinema around. It's the creation of neo-Grindhouse art that I so greatly appreciate. But, at least that has some joy in it. It isn't made solely to piss on its audience, nor is it made to make a point. Six, who seems to be channeling pre-Rampage Uwe Boll, takes what could have been a modern Grindhouse masterpiece and turnes it shock-theater piece of the worst kind - banal. 

Six has stated that he loves making movies that push boundaries and that pay no mind to political correctness. So, disregarding the film's World War II allegory, we'll take him at his word. Here, he has crafted a film so vile and yet so uninteresting, that he seems to not only be disregarding political correctness, but he seems to be disregarding his own mission statement - push boundaries. Do something that hasn't been done before. Be original. Two dimwitted American girls get a flat tire on their way to a club. They run through the woods and stop at a creepy German doctor's house. He poisons them and performs torturous acts. Boiled down - two teens get tortured by a crazy man. Even more boiled down - Saw, but with a pinch of Frankenweenie.

What follows past the basic plot is just as insulting to any given viewer: the cops come, people die. And, somehow, we're afforded room for a sequel? In which Tom Six promises to make this one look like My Little Pony? Okay. He's just trying to egg us on at this point, right? I hope so. What I'm hoping for in a subsequent viewing is a glimmer of tongue-in-cheek that maybe I just somehow missed this time. There's no way anyone involved could have been taking this so seriously. Except... Deiter Laser spent the entire film's production completely in character, a la Daniel Day-Lewis. And Six went so far as to apparently have a surgeon as a consultant so that the film would be "100% medically accurate", a claim that has been rightfully laughed at by anyone who has ever played Operation in their lifetime. It loses its reputation as "the sickest midnight move ever made" by showing little to no violence on camera. Attempting maybe to join the ranks of Scarface and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in Most Violent Movies of All Time, Except We Barely See Anything. The thing about those movies though is... the violence implied is frightening, and still palpable. This is just stupid. Ridiculous, and stupid.

The most frustrating thing about this movie, though, isn't the three teens making up the centipede, none of whom can act, nor is it Deiter Laser channeling the love-child of Klaus Kinski and Tommy Wiseau, nor is it the lack of passion Six seems to have for what he's doing. It's that the film really does seem to have an err of self importance. Like what its doing is necessary, rather than just needlessly repugnant on just about every human level. The film gives what it offers, if ever so slightly. And it, of course, comes complete with its own drinking game - every time Deiter Laser molests something off camera with his eyes, take a shot. So, it'll be a popular Halloween even. Count me out, though. I'd rather dig through my old VHS tapes from when I was a kid and watch that Mark Summer/Haunted Mansion movie that was on Nick.

Full Sequence - 0 stars. And here we go.

Porky's Revenge

When you're fifteen minutes into your movie, and your college thesis could be about how bad it is, you know you have a problem. When Police Academy 4 is funnier than your unintentional comedy, you know you have a problem. When the laws of physics, nature, or mankind don't apply to your film that doesn't take place in space or in the future, you know you have a problem. And when your film is directed by Tom Six, you've just wanted ten bucks. 

And you have a problem. 

Just like Tom Six does. I have a hard time digesting this man's career. I'd put career in quotes, but I like the quotes gag too much to degrade it. And his career is enough of a gag already. This man has built a cult empire on the premise that films don't actually need to hold artistic merit, nor do they need to even strictly be films, but more pastiches of everything black that can reside in a person's soul. Which is fair, and that can be considered art, I suppose. If done with artistic merit. And, pro-tip for Six - just because you say it's art, doesn't mean it isn't still The Human Centipede (Full Sequence). 

Here's a basic rundown of this film - there's a guy named Martin. He looks like a popover and is obsessed with the movie The Human Centipede. Also, he was raped by his dad as a kid, and his mother is physically and emotionally and verbally abusive. Martin finds his escape in Tom Six's "vision" (see when it works, kids?) and decides he's going to kill a bunch of people while trying to make his own 12 person-long human centipede. With a stapler. He even goes as far as to contact the star of the first film, the admittedly more-talented-than-she's-gotten-credit-for Ashlynn Yennie by telling her that she's in the running for a Tarantino film. But, in actuality (and this isn't a spoiler, merely because the poor scripting gives it away), she's in the running for head of Martin's centipede. And, one by one, Martin throws down.

And that's the movie. At least the first one had an actual plot. There's the aforementioned World War II allegories and everything. It can be talked about. This film, much like footage of a train wreck on, or even Two Girls One Cup, is meant only to be looked at, vomited over, and passed around like a naked picture of your hot math teacher in high school. Yes, hot math teachers do exist. Probably as some weird butterfly effect offset to balance out the existence of this film. I mean, God has to give us something, yes?

The film was banned in the UK simply because of the idea of the plot, and that it might actually happen. In public, Tom Six criticized the banning, stating that the film was art. Then, ten minutes later in a different public, drinks were on him because he got what he wanted. Which is kind of like when a sick kid coughs on a toy and then "shares it" with another kid. Mission accomplished, and Six's cooties were spread just like that. The film became a media bug zapper and once it was criticized, all he had to do was say "art" and then talk about the third one. Six's promise for the Full Sequence was to make the First Sequence look like My Little Pony. I can only imagine that the Final Sequence will make the Full Sequence look like the First Sequence, all while making me look like an amnesia patient for sitting through this cinemabortion a third go 'round. 

Yes, I'm a little bitter. 

I'd like to take a moment (just sit right there) to tell you (how I became the prince of a town called Bel-air) about some of the more... unspeakable moments in the completely uncut version. 

Deep breath. This is where it gets gross. And, yes, this is one fat spoiler.

Our villain masturbates with sandpaper. Up close and personal shots of teeth being knocked out one by one with a hammer. Peoples lips are stapled to other peoples anuses. Someone, like the first film, poops into someone's mouth. And that someone is forced to eat it, and repeat the cycle through 10 other people. Our villain wraps barbed wire around his genitalia and anally rapes a woman. Like... that doesn't even fit into the story. A woman gives birth, and then the newborn baby's skull is crushed by the gas pedal of a car. A skull is smashed in, and we see it and the aftermath, with a tire iron. After being stapled to someone's anus, someone has the foresight to rip themselves away from it. You ever have to pull a staple out of your skin (for some weird reason)? Imagine that, but it's about twenty staples and its your lips. And you're attached to some stranger's ass. 

And that's not all! 

We're also treated auditory flashbacks of child molestation! On screen blowjobs. Blood gushing gun wounds (in places where, realistically, blood really wouldn't flow like that). An actual centipede is placed in a man's rectum and he tries to fish it out. Throats are cut, hookers are shot, there's a skinhead, it's all a big mess. 

And I'll be honest - that's not even the most gruesome part. It's that the villain, Martin (Laurence R. Harvey) is practically naked for about 30% of his screen time. I'm not generally one to point out physical flaws to make a point about a movie. I generally consider that to be a cheap shot and it speaks volumes of the person writing the review. But, the goal of a horror film is to create atmosphere, right? We've all learned that together. So, part of the atmosphere is adjusting the presence of what you see on screen. The appearance, in other words. The film is shot in black and white, rightfully so. Six gets a point, there. Like, half a point. But, never mind. He shoots Harvey as the embodiment of sloth, and completely sinful. Harvey is asthmatic, blubber-laden, and sweatier than anyone has a right to be. His appearance has been adjusted with the sweat and lighting of the film, therefore, it's fair game. And seriously, Tom - you didn't have to have him be a sweaty, fat, naked loaf just for us to be uncomfortable. I mean, you crushed a baby in front of us. Think about it. 

The Room

If we're awarding stars based on sheer camp value and enjoyability, then this would have been the easiest four star review I'd ever written. But, we're not, and it isn't. Therefore, we treat this as we would any other film. 

As a critic, I think that the most important part of the job is to be able to assess a film's worth, piece by piece. That means the acting, writing, cinematography, directing, all the down the list until you hit make-up and the key grip. (pro-tip: a key grip is in charge of shadows and camera rigging, basically). Unfortunately, once you're at least 30-seconds into The Room, a now midnight masterpiece written, directed, starring, and produced by shaggy auteur Tommy Wiseau, you'll realize that even the key grip didn't show up for rehearsals. 

It's astute, really - making something so bad that it's perfect. Sometimes, movies are just plain bad. Take Pumpkin; the film that, for nine years, I championed (?) as the worst movie ever made. Or, even, this year's Red Riding Hood, which dethroned it. Barely, but damn. When I judge whether a film is truly awful, there's one factor I have to consider. Were the filmmakers actually trying? Wiseau himself claims that the film is an intentional black comedy, and that this was the reaction he was expecting. But, there have been, albeit anonymous, reports from cast members that Wiseau is genuinely a few french fries short of a Happy Meal and that this was a serious attempt at filmmaking. I don't think we'll ever know, to be perfectly honest. Consider - the original writer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show said the same thing. And look at it now. 

Our "film" centers on Johnny. He's a banker, apparently (we learn that about thirty minutes into the movie, I think). He's engaged to Lisa, who... is in computers? Or maybe she just plays on the computer, as she never leaves the apartment. But, Lisa is having an affair with Johnny's best friend Mark. Mark does nothing, even though he always tells people that he's busy. There's Lisa's mother, who has breast cancer, but is constantly told not to worry about it. There's Denny, Johnny's all but adopted weird kid neighbor who apparently sells drugs, I think maybe. And there's that one guy in the end. And that's all we know about that one guy. 

This movie, for all intents and purposes, was written on post-it notes, shredded in a moment of blissful realization, and then reassembled when the demons repossessed Wiseau's body. 

In all actually, it's hard to review a film like this. I can simply say "wtf" and leave it at that, but that almost wouldn't be fair. For a film as jaw-droppingly awful and near-blatantly infuriating, there has to be something more I could say. I could detail the film's excessive plot holes - such as the disappearance of a supporting character in the middle of a scene that is never explained. I could call it this generation's Manos: The Hands of Fate. I could denote the musical choices for the four sex scenes that take place in the same half hour. I could talk about Tommy Wiseau's nude shot. Or how Lisa is consistently called sexy and beautiful through out the film. Or how Johnny is the most. friendly. guy. ever. 

Or I could say the one positive thing I could about the film. While over the top as hell, that's pretty much what it feels like to be cheated on. They got that right. 

Everything else? Don't worry about it.