Oof

Other than the James Bond films, I typically don’t pay too much attention to new releases. But I was so blown away by Midsommar that I’ve been loosely following the career of Ari Aster. Originally called Disappointment Blvd, the trailer for Aster’s next film Beau is Afraid has recently dropped, and, well, I gotta say…Beau is afraid for Beau is Afraid.

Perhaps I should be glad that the same guy who made the short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons is getting carte blanche in Hollywood, but a cursory glance at the history of filmmaking will tell you that’s almost never a good thing. Ever heard of Heaven’s Gate?

Damien Chazelle is the latest victim of this curse of talent. You make a few great films on a modest budget and suddenly you’re the toast of the town. Producers then give you $100,000,000 to do whatever you want and you create a three-hour, self-indulgent mess called Babylon.

Not to say that Beau is Afraid won’t be interesting. One man’s unfortunate adventure to visit his mother sounds like a hoot. But here’s the problem: it’s also three hours long!

Very few movies across history deserve to be that long; maybe, like, five total. And if there’s any genre that absolutely should NOT be that long, it’s horror AND comedy. Audiences should stand up and say to Hollywood: if you can’t tell a good story in under two hours, you don’t deserve to be making movies.

That’s a hill I will die on.

But maybe Aster has earned the benefit of the doubt. Allegedly, we’ll be shown Phoenix’s gigantic (prosthetic) testicles. Maybe when his mother says “I am so sorry for what your daddy passed down to you,” she’s referring to his abnormally large wang? So this might be a story about the burdens of having a big dick. If that’s the case, then I think three hours are warranted (because I can relate, of course).

But if we really wanted to maximize Aster’s talents (Hollywood, if you’re reading), here’s my suggestion: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Producers have been trying to adapt that book for years, but the truth is that it’s nearly unadaptable. UNLESS you have someone like Aster’s sensibilities. Clearly, much of the novel would be cut out, but Hollywood needs a horror film director to tackle that material. Moreover, you need a director that’s willing to pull the trigger on disturbing subject matters. For a guy that made a short film about a dude that sexually abuses his father, Ari Aster is just the man for the job 👍

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz (Part VII)

“I can’t believe they granted you a conjugal room,” Susan said.

Bill was busy setting the candle light and pouring wine. “And they gave me alcohol too,” he replied, “maybe things aren’t so bad.”

Susan pulled out a chair, sat down, and looked him square in the eye. “I’m not having sex with you, Bill,” she said, “besides, I’m already seeing someone.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Because it’s John.”

Bill looked down at the ground and shook his head. “Goddamn it,” he uttered.

“There was no good way to tell you,” Susan said.

Bill walked over to the window then glanced at the small Christmas tree in the corner. “Well Merry Christmas to me,” he replied.

“But I did bring you a gift,” Susan said as she dug through her bag. She pulled out a picture of him and his grandfather at Mount Hood some 15 years earlier. “I know that this was the last picture of your grandpa before he passed,” she continued.

Bill took the photograph and turned his back on Susan. He was silent as he recalled the memory of that day. After several awkward seconds, Bill spoke up. “I haven’t seen this picture since the day it was taken.”

Susan said nothing.

Then Bill turned around. “Why John?” he asked. “Don’t you two have a history? Isn’t the government watching you two like a hawk?”

“Maybe,” she replied, “but I don’t care. I think we always had feelings for each other.”

“But you guys aren’t up to the same old shit again? You just got out of prison for Christ sake!”

“I don’t think I should discuss this with you right now.”

“You are! Fuck. I hope they don’t have this room bugged!”

Susan threw up her arms. “Let’s drop it,” she yelled, “I was hoping this would be a happy visit. But obviously you’re not mature enough for this conversation.”

Bill began drinking directly from the wine bottle. “I guess not,” he replied.

The two uttered nothing for a few minutes. Finally, Susan stood up. “I don’t think I’ll be coming back,” she said, “you seeing me probably isn’t good for your rehabilitation.”

Bill didn’t reply.

“I wish you luck in the future,” she continued, “when you’re released, if you know what’s good for you, please don’t reach out to me. Do you understand?”

He nodded.

Susan knocked, then a prison guard unlocked the door and let her out. Before she exited, she turned around. “Merry Christmas, Bill,” she said, then departed.

Bill held the bottle of wine in one hand, and the photograph in the other. Then the prison guard stepped in the room. “You still have access to this room for a few more hours,” the guard said, “do you wish to stay here?”

“No,” Bill replied, “please take me back to the cell.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz (Part VI)

Bill kept wiping the sweat from his brow as he waited for Dr. Effington. The nurses once again attached the heart shock device to his chest. After 10 agonizing minutes, the psychiatrist walked into the office.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Lorenz,” she said. The doctor rolled her chair just feet away from Bill.

She was wearing the same boring brown skirt that went past her knees. Bill had seen her don that same outfit hundreds of times. Though slightly relieved…because he thought this might be a normal session…he couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

“That’s quite alright, doctor,” he replied, “I’m sorry for taking out my penis and trying to touch you last time.”

“Given the circumstances, that’s quite understandable,” Dr. Effington explained, “but due to safety concerns, I cannot permit you to touch me. At least not yet.”

Bill wondered what she meant by ‘not yet’.

The doctor pulled out a folder and began looking through her notes. “Now last time we spoke, we were discussing your family life,” she continued, “I would like to explore that further.”

Bill sat up in his seat. “Wait a minute,” he replied, “I’d like an explanation for our last meeting.”

She closed the folder of paperwork in her lap and removed her glasses. “I’m sorry, Mr. Lorenz. But I can’t disclose that at the moment,” Dr. Effington said.

“Why not? It’s my treatment. Don’t you think I’m owed an explanation?”

“All of this will become clear in time. Now please, let’s return to the subject at hand.”

“Doctor, you stood completely nude in front of me. I’m sorry, but I’m gonna have questions.”

“Your psychological makeup is quite unusual, Mr. Lorenz. And unusual problems require unusual solutions.”

“Then I cannot participate in this treatment if I’m not given an adequate explanation.”

Dr. Effington sat up and readjusted herself. She ever so slightly slid up her skirt and uncrossed her legs. For a long half second, Bill could see she was not wearing underwear.

He sat stone faced as she continued her questioning.

“Mr. Lorenz,” Dr. Effington said, “I need you to trust me in this matter. Now please…tell me about your relationship with your mother.”

Bill began to feel sweat beading down his back. “Uh…,” he stuttered, “there’s not much to tell. She OD’d when I was 15. My father was also a junkie and he ran out on me. I was raised by my grandfather.”

“Did this ever make you feel alone? Guilty?”

Bill chuckled as he began rubbing his face. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” he said.

“What did you do to address these issues?” The doctor asked. She again placed her pen up to her lips.

“Uhhhmmm…I’m sorry, Dr. Effington, but I know you’re not wearing underwear.”

“I know you know.”

“Could I see more?”

Dr. Effington moved her fingers down her blouse. “Possibly,” she replied, “but I need you to answer my questions. Were you angry after your mother’s death? How did you cope?”

“Of course I was angry,” Bill said, “I was angry at the world.”

“Is this how you became involved in politics?”

Bill paused for a moment. “I…I don’t know,” he replied.

“Did you ever have any romantic relationships?”

“I don’t think I was ever good with women.”

“Well, what can you tell me about Susan?”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Troma’s War (1988)

If you knew nothing of this movie (as I did), you’d think that this movie was meant to be a genuine action thriller that was repurposed into a comedy.

Also known as 1,000 Ways to Die, the plot revolves around a group of plane crash survivors that get caught up in an armed conflict on an island. Various characters include a deranged Vietnam vet, a blind woman, a saucy Latina, a (probable) British secret agent, an asshole Wall Street broker, etc. Apparently this was Lloyd Kaufman’s response to the glorification of war and violence during the Reagan era.

I’ll admit, the opening few minutes are quite funny. Through the credits, we hear a voiceover from the pilot calmly and casually inform the passengers that the plane’s about crash and the opening scene depicts a woman losing her shit as she watches people flail around while on fire. It sounds horrible, but it accurately sets the tone for the rest of the film. We watch as the survivors slowly evolve into full fledged commandos as they fight a hodgepodge syndicate of terrorists and communists that occupy the island.

There are a few lines here and there (“I don’t know if the guy’s psycho, or just crazy”) that might crack you up. But there are also a few moments, like an interaction with a villain where a priest’s tongue gets ripped out, that feel a little too real. Of course, that was the filmmaker’s goal. However, the satirical points never quite mesh and honestly it mostly feels like an awkward mess. When compared to other self-aware 80s parodies like Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke Em High, Troma’s War falls short in my view.

That being said, I’ve been waiting a long time to see something like this. Whenever I watched Apocalypse Now as a teenager, I’d always laugh at the thought of replacing Wager’s Ride of the Valkyries during the helicopter attack with a bangin 80s soundtrack, complete with synthesizers and electric guitars. Suddenly the complexion of the movie would change. So thank you Lloyd Kaufman, I guess, for thinking the same things I did.

Yellowlights: the autobiography of Beau Montana

Matthew McConaughey’s autobiography is the most deranged thing I’ve ever read. But it inspired me to write my own.

Here are some highlights:

Yellowlights by Beau Montana

This isn’t an autobiography in its usual sense. I don’t remember much of anything. And I’m not talking about a few instances here and there. I mean NOTHING.
I grew up in a family that always told each other “you’re the biggest disappointment of my life.” And we meant it. 
My mother held my head under the waters of the Ohio River and said “this is all part of God’s plan.” She was later arrested for possession of illegal methadone. 
I’m not a victim.
When I was 27, my therapist shoved tennis balls up my ass and I shit green fuzz for weeks
I’m an eternal optimist.
When I was 43, my brother pulled down my pants at the bowling alley and everyone laughed at my little penis. 
I’m not in denial. 
Everyone gets to choose their own past. All it takes is a few weeks in the Mojave Desert surviving on wild mushrooms and peyote. It doesn’t hurt to be stupidly good looking either.
You need to get over your trauma.
If I whined and cried about having crippling alcoholism, diabetes, dyslexia, dementia, delirium tremens, and diphtheria, I would have never had the courage to apply to Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (then get rejected by all of them). 
This book serves as my love letter…and suicide note…to life….
…AND to my love of black tar heroin. 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Let Kick-Ass be the next James Bond. I don’t give a shit.

It probably won’t be him though. Barbara Broccoli and Michael “G” Wilson are likely to pull another Daniel Craig and go for an actor you might’ve seen before but didn’t suspect. As they should, by the way. The Craig maneuver was controversial at that particular moment, but it paid off.

In all likelihood, it will be a non-white actor. Anti-SJWs have bitched about this, but it’s really not that big of a deal. Yes, in the books, the character was white. But let’s be honest: except for From Russia With Love and Casino Royale, the books are kinda shit. James Bond has been a way more influential cinematic character than a literary one. Really the only prerequisite for an actor to take over the role is that they be from the British isles or a former protectorate (except the US or Canada). And it should always remain that way. I will riot the day they announce a Canadian James Bond. So in all honesty, the only actor I’d LOVE to see as 007 is Idris Elba, who has unfortunately aged out of the role. He’s about as Connery-like as one could be.

I will say this for the 32-year-old Taylor-Johnson however: he’s married to 55-year-old director Sam Taylor-Johnson.

He’s a man of my own taste.

The war is over

And I’m still standing mother fuckers!

But today’s kinda an emotional day for me. This was the first time I stood up against authority…and WON. But where there are victors, there are also losers. And it will take time for these wounds to heal.

Yet today’s a new day at the toilet factory. And you can rest assured that I will always stand up for your right to shit.

May god continue to bless America

Born for Hell (1976)

What an unusual movie.

In this Italian-German-French Canadian-English-Russian-Mexican-Brazilian-French-Belgian-Swedish-Regular Canadian-Honduran-French Polynesian-Zimbabwean-Pakistani-Sri Lankan-Vietnamese-and Aleutian co-production, a veteran of the Vietnam War finds himself in war torn Belfast where he begins to torture a household of nurses.

The first hour or so is not what you would expect from something in the “horror” genre (as Tubi categorizes it). In fact, it feels more like a commentary on the situation in Belfast. Furthermore, the perpetrator of all the crimes comes across halfway sympathetic. Not only does the villain get plenty of character development, but so do the nurses who are portrayed as more than faceless victims. That being said, there are a few indications that something is ‘off’ in the first half. Any good horror film should prepare its audience for what’s about to happen: after a bombing at a church, the main character couldn’t have given less of a shit; there’s a strange interaction with a child in a park; and a middle-aged prostitute dances topless under threat. Nevertheless, the first half of Born for Hell feels like a gritty documentary-style drama, in the same vein as The French Connection or The Battle of Algiers.

Even the torture scenes are a bit unusual. Sure there are the usual rapes, stabbings, and strangulations. There’s nothing especially creative about the deaths in that regard, which might come as a disappointment to some. But the villain isn’t typically maniacal about it. In fact, Sometimes he’s quite polite (“follow me, if you don’t mind”). It’s the performances of Mathieu Carriere and all the nurses, from Carole Laure onwards, that really carry the day.

Perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into this movie. In all likelihood, it was a tax write off for a bunch of international businessmen. But conceptually, this was an interesting idea. Sure, this story was inspired by a real event that took place in Chicago. Yet I like to think the filmmakers were reaching for something higher here.

Much like how The Deer Hunter tried to capture the madness of war through suspenseful scenes of Russian Roulette, I’ll suggest that the torture scenes at nurse’s house serves a similar function: senseless killing pushes men to the brink of insanity and they take out that frustration on innocent women.

I don’t know.

But when viewed in this light, Born for Hell fits in nicely with the 70s Cinema canon.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz (Part V)

“Does this come with a shot of bourbon?” Bill asked. Junior was handing him a cup of coffee through the cell door. Bill’s hands were shaking uncontrollably.

“For that, I’d have to get approval from Dr. Effington,” Junior replied.

“Forget it then,” Bill said as he lifted the cup to his lips.

“Jesus, Bill, what did they do to you in there?”

Bill was still too horrified to provide any detail. Dr. Effington had absolutely cut him to the bone. “What kind of prison is this, Junior?” he asked, “Just let me do my time, Goddamnit!”

“You should know by now that this isn’t a prison per se,” Junior explained, “it’s more of a rehabilitation facility. In this brave new world, the reformed department of corrections believes that everyone, including you regardless of your past deeds, have something to contribute.”

“What the HELL is so rehabilitating about….,” Bill caught himself before he let out too much information. “Dr. Effington’s methods are unethical,” he continued, “I don’t how she thinks that will rehabilitate me.”

“Bill, just tell me what’s going on,” Junior said.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Is she torturing you?”

“Not necessarily.”

“Is she violating your person in any way?”

“Look, just drop it. I have another session with her tomorrow, maybe it will go better. At least I know what to expect. But you revolutionaries are some sick fucks. I’ll never understand any of you.”

“A lot of people would say the same things about you,” an irritated Junior replied, “at least Dr. Effington hasn’t killed anyone.”

Bill sat stone cold silent on his bunk.

“Look,” Junior continued, “it’s a new world. It’ll take time for you to adjust.”

“Why does everyone keep saying that?!” Bill yelled.

“This may sound stupid, but I believe in you. You’ll put it together some day.”

“Just fuck off, please,” Bill said as he began to rub his temples. He was still feeling side effects of the electric shock from the day before. Junior nodded and walked away.

Bill pulled out the box of leather goods from under his bunk. He looked over a particular shapen object that he created using crude materials found around the facility. Then he continued toiling away at it, just to pass the time.

TO BE CONTINUED…

New Year’s resolutions

First off, fuck 2023

Secondly, if you recall, 2022 ended on a cliffhanger: I was in the midst of war with management at the toilet factory (which is going terribly btw).

But it’s occurred to me that times are a-changin’. If your career ambitions are to be middle management, you’re fucked. In this modern workforce, your subordinates are probably more educated, more experienced, and more knowledgeable than you can ever hope to be. Pulling wool over your employees eyes isn’t as simple as it once was. In short, a middle manager is a paid fool; your job is to fall on the sword for your superiors.

So next time management tells you that you “demonstrate potential” or “show leadership capabilities,” look em square in the eye and say “do I look like a fucking moron?”

Of course, my loyalty can always be bought. So you want me to step up? You’re gonna have to pay me.

But anyways, my new year’s resolution is to read more and do more drugs.

What are your resolutions? 😀