Skeetin

I’m a little under the weather so I’m just gonna phone this one in.

But I was doing my annual Paul Schrader marathon when I got to Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. A few thoughts: 1.) it’s a shitty movie but 2.) Vittorio Stararo was the DP?!!! How did that get past me?

And it’s such a shame that this film didn’t work because it is very much in line with the themes that occur throughout Schrader’s work. I haven’t bothered with the retooled Exorcist: The Beginning, but I’m glad Schrader stuck to his guns and at least attempted to make a cerebral film rather than make a run-of-the-mill horror. That’s what made the original Exorcist so interesting: director William Friedkin stated that it never occurred to him that he was making a “horror film” (he could be bullshitting though).

Schrader probably should have had a bigger say in the screenplay. Much of the introspective philosophical back-and-forth that, in my opinion, slightly bogged down The Last Temptation of Christ (which clashed with Martin Scorsese’s rather “extroverted” direction) would have been quite effective for Dominion. Additionally, the event that caused Father Merrin’s lack of faith should have been revealed later in the movie. And while there was some good stuff with the British colonial troops, I felt that there was no payoff for any of it.

(Plus the special effects REALLY sucked ass)

I also saw Touch for the first time. I don’t remember a damn thing about it other than Skeet Ulrich was in it.

Whatever happened to that guy? That dude was like, super fucking hot. Shouldn’t he have had a bigger career?

Were people disappointed to find out that he wasn’t Danish?

Breaking bad on Wall Street

Yeah, like everyone else in the early 2010s, I was addicted to Breaking Bad. It came at a turning point when we started evaluating the male ego in art and storytelling. Many bitch about this paradigm shift, but honestly it’s given me a fuckton of creative fuel to write my dumbass stories.

Without it, I wouldn’t have a writing career at all! So thanks Breaking Bad for all the digital trees I’ve wasted on the internet.

But as time has passed, it’s obvious that there were problems with the show. Now I try to evaluate art by the intentions of the artist. So what were the showrunners trying to do here?

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/breaking-bad-creator-vince-gilligan-231701266.html

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/breaking-bad-skyler-hate-vince-gilligan-1235347122/amp/

Apparently, creator Vince Gilligan didn’t know either. While I think everyone involved did their jobs in the most competent and effective way possible, in my opinion, there was a fundamental difference between Gilligan’s vision and Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White/Heisenberg.

I base this opinion on zero research, but hear me out…

I’m assuming, when the show was pitched, that the thrust behind the story was to watch the protagonist turn into the villain. At least this is what drew me into the show. But if that’s the case, we run into an age old Clark Kent/Superman problem.

Philosopher and film theorist Slavoj Zizek, while discussing The Joker, claimed that the real identity of a superhero IS the mask and the person beneath it is the alter ego. Or, in other words, the MASK is what permits us to be our true selves.

In that sense, Heisenberg-the “MASK”- is really what Walter White is. If Heisenberg was ever wearing a mask for a disguise, that mask was the man Walter White. Therefore, Walter White…or, more accurately, Heisenberg…was ALWAYS evil.

I’m glad all of that makes sense.

But the problem is Walter White doesn’t always ACT like the bad guy. In fact, he’s usually shown being a loving father and Jesse’s guardian. Sure, he poisons a child, watches a woman choke to death, etc etc. but Walter White…probably due to Cranston’s acting choices…seems to signal horror at some of his decisions. In fact, if memory serves, he shows a sigh of relief when he learns that the child WON’T die from the poisoning attempt.

He even begs for Hank’s life for fuck’s sake!

Would Gus Fring, Walter White’s arch nemesis, have done that?

Fuck no!

And therein lies the fundamental problem with Breaking Bad: the audience never severs its sympathy with Walter White. Nor, I would argue, were they ever encouraged to do so.

Was this a deliberate choice by the showrunners? Was Cranston too damn competent at his job? Did anyone think any of this through?

I don’t suppose that this undermines the quality of the show. It’s just annoying to consider while re-watching it. The show seems to fail at meeting its own objective.

In fact, this concept…displaying a totally deplorable character in the most engaging way possible…has been successfully done before. Perhaps you remember it: The Wolf of Wall Street.

To be fair though, Martin Scorsese has a knack for this kind of thing. In fact, the movie that put him on the map, Taxi Driver, does something similar. The audience is exposed to a deranged world of a protagonist, we even empathize with him to a certain degree, but we can’t ever imagine coming to his defense (as fans of Breaking Bad have done many times before with Walter White).

With the Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese “let’s you in on the joke.” Jordan Belfort is an over-the-top nutcase, and Scorsese allows you to indulge in his depravity, but you know that the end will come crashing down at any moment.

Scorsese isn’t afraid to “pull the trigger”…or show you the moment when a protagonist looses his grip on reality.

While Walter White certainly had his over-the-top moments, the audience is never encouraged to lose sympathy for him. This is reinforced through the writing. White should have never of begged for Hank’s life, his relationship with Jesse should have been established as being purely manipulative and nothing more, his role as a father should have deteriorated, etc etc.

Perhaps that’s the limits of television. When you spend five or more seasons with a character, it’s hard NOT to have sympathy for them.

But it always felt as though Walter White never quite broke bad.

‘the internet ruined everything’s’ canon of greatest films ever made

You know what the internet needs? Another list of greatest movies.

So, in no particular order:

The Deer Hunter (1978): I’ve discussed this movie at length numerous times. I think it’s the greatest example of the power of filmmaking.

Robocop (1987): For the simpletons, this is just another 80s action film. For those that know better, it’s the greatest satire ever made. But each time I watch it, the more horrified I become. The idea of “Robocop” is terrifying. Imagine getting killed in the most violent way, then you get revived and made property of an evil corporation and begin to struggle to understand who or what you are. Hollywood is a lesser place without Paul Verhoeven.

-The Thin Blue Line (1988): This, along with Errol Morris’ (currently known for directing Chipotle commercials) Vernon, Florida are my two favorite documentaries. This is the story about a killing of a Dallas cop and a man getting rear ended by the justice system. I love Randall Dale Adams. He’s an everyday dude that took an unfortunate trip to Texas. We’ve all been there.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982): Yes, I’m a Trek fan. While every nerd has seen this movie dozens of time, I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves. It’s not really sci-fi, it’s more of a Shakespearean tragedy in space. In many ways, this film revived Trek. And director/writer Nicholas Meyer, who knew nothing of Star Trek prior to this, deserves credit.

Dances With Wolves (1990): I will go to my grave saying Kevin Costner deserved his Oscar. Fuck Martin Scorsese.

Taxi Driver (1976): We all know Martin Scorsese is a genius. And Paul Schrader may be the greatest screenwriter of all time. In the era of angry, lonely young men roaming the internet, this movie was well ahead of its time.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): if you’re gonna do science fiction, do it right. Everybody knows this movie. And because this movie rightfully gets the credit it deserves, we take it for granted. But, to this very day, it is the most ambitious film ever made.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974): I love movies that satirize a very serious situation. It’s kinda like Dr. Strangelove, albeit this film is dealing with a much less serious subject: the taking of hostages. Every actor is great, but Walter Matthau was an unusual talent. His face alone could carry a film.

No Country For Old Men (2007): The best movie made in the last 20 years. Cormac McCarthy may be the greatest living author and it ain’t easy adapting his work for the big screen. The nihilism, the existential themes, Javier Bardem, the vast, empty Texas landscape… “okay, I’ll be a part of this world.”

Blood Diner (1987): Most fans of the B-movie, cult genre are familiar with this film but it should be more widely known with general audiences. Probably the funniest fucking movie I’ve ever seen.

another shot @ the title (part vi)

“This proceeding has been a disgrace to the Los Angeles Superior Court, to the State of California, and to the justice system as a whole,” the judge ruled. “I have no choice but to rule in favor of the plaintiff. James ACHOO 🤧…excuse me, I sneezed…will get full credit for directing AND writing Like A Fart in the Wind. But do not count this as a victory James. With your reputation for belittling and suppressing governments and various newspapers around the globe, I deem you to be a menace to society. Unfortunately, this is a civil case and not a criminal one. But I have seen the final cut of this film. I am doing Dallas Howard Austin Antonio and Pee-Wee Weepee a favor for not giving them credit for this picture. I can’t think of anything worse than giving you, James, sole credit for this disaster.”

“Thank you for your ruling,” I said to the Judge. “But with all due respect, I believe you to be a bitch that wouldn’t know art if it bit her in the cunt. I believe this picture to be my finest work….far exceeding This Tastes Like Ass. Court stenographer, take note: Like a Fart in the Wind will be the greatest motion picture ever made. Thank you and good day.”

I walked outside the courtroom where Pablo greeted me with a cigar and bottle of brandy. “You were brilliant,” Pablo said. “With the attention that the case brought to the project, this movie is on pace for being the highest grossing film ever made.”

“Any publicity is good publicity,” I replied.

I lit up the cigar. “You know Pablo,” I continued, “I just want to thank you for bringing me back into the game. If I went on with retirement, I would have been dead in a year. Now I feel more alive than ever.”

Pablo cracked open the brandy and we began drinking at the courthouse. “James, you’re a rare talent,” he said. “After this film succeeds at the box office, I have the feeling that this will be the beginning of a beautiful partnership.”

We both patted each other on the back and shared a few laughs as we walked down the courthouse steps and into the beautiful California sunset.

****

From the Idaho Statesman

He Will Never Work in This Town Again“ says Steven Spielberg

By Dick Shaftsburg

“Hollywood is in a panic over the abysmal opening weekend of Like A Fart in a Windstorm. It grossed $1,500 against a $10 Billion budget.

Produced by Kathleen Kennedy of Trainwreck Productions, and directed by (name redacted due to ongoing legal disputes between the individual and the Idaho Statement. Henceforth, he will be referred to as the “Director”), the project was fraught with problems from the beginning…from various court cases to the death of its leading actor, Christian Bale.

Critics panned Like a Fart in a Windstorm from the beginning. Leonard Maltin stated that, “I’d rather have tweezers shoved up my pee hole than watch this shit again. Christian Bale deserved better.” Even Roger Ebert came back from the dead to ask, “Who was the leading character? Was it Christian Bale? Or was it his disgusting ass cheeks?”

After her firing from Trainwreck Productions, Kathleen Kennedy has become the first woman to have been exiled from the United States to Saskatchewan, Canada, often called the “hairy taint of North America.”

Meanwhile, the Director has gone missing. Given his obscene wealth, he’s likely in Namibia where Prime Minister Wesley Snipes has named him Finance and Defense Minister, as well as Attorney General.

Given the poor box office performance of Like a Fart in the Wind, it is unlikely the Director will return to Hollywood. In addition to his professional troubles, he is also under investigation by the EU, UN, and FBI for allegations regarding human trafficking, racketeering, and bribery of numerous foreign governments.

“If I had known that I was going to be in the same profession as him (the Director),” explained acclaimed Hollywood legend David Lynch, “I would have prostituted my asshole years ago.”

“He’s a disgrace,” said Martin Scorsese. “Just a total disaster, just like Shutter Island.”

THE END

another shot at the title (part iiI)

This Tastes Like Ass is obviously a modern classic,” said Bryce Howard Dallas Antonio, the screenwriter, “but I think it lacks the nuances of some of the earlier postmodern classics from David Lynch and Martin Scorsese.”

Dallas showed up to the pre-production meetings wearing a tweed jacket, a derby, and a walking cane. I wanted to smash that cane right onto his dick.

Sets were going up. I had enough on my plate. But Dallas insisted on following me around.

“Do you like David Lean?” he asked.

“Yeah, he was hott.”

“What’s your biggest influence?”

“I don’t know. Alcohol?”

I was signing papers left and right. I was too busy to listen to this shit. After Dallas called Smokey and the Bandit the most overrated movie of the 70s, I grabbed him by the jacket.

“Listen here shitwad,” I said, “you’re right out of film school. You know who I am? Google my name. I may have diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and a venereal disease that doesn’t have a name, but I can still kick your ass. So listen to my advice grasshopper, watch your ass!”

The executive in charge of production, Jimmy Greco, saw what was happening and rushed out of his office. He waddled his fat, Jerry Stiller-lookin ass right up to my face. “You can’t touch the screenwriter!” he screamed. “That’s against WGA rules!”

He then straightened out Dallas’ jacket and ran a hand through his hair. Afterwards, he pointed his finger at me. “Listen here buster,” Jimmy said, “if you pull a stunt like that again, I’ll have your ass!”

“Oh you want my ass?” I replied. I dropped my pants. “You want my cock too?” I turned around and started twirling my penis.

“You’re a fool,” Jimmy said.

“I’M the fool? The only fool here is that idiot screenwriter!”

Jimmy escorted Dallas away. The cast and crew stood around gawking.

“Everyone back to work!” I yelled and pulled up my pants.

I took out a cigarette and walked up to Pablo. “Take it easy, James,” he said.

I lit up the cigarette. “How did the contract negotiations go?” I asked.

“Great!” Pablo replied. “You’ll be pleased to know that you’ll move up the billionaire’s list.”

“I’m a billionaire?”

“James, you’re one of the richest men in the world. You have real estate holdings all across the globe. You even own the deed to the Kremlin for fuck’s sake!”

“Isn’t that a bar in Tallahassee?”

***

I was having brunch with Brett Ratner when Kat slapped down a newspaper. The article read “NOTORIOUS FILM DIRECTOR EXPOSES PENIS…AND ASS…TO CAST AND CREW.”

I looked up to Kat and she began speaking in a monotonous, scripted voice. “The board wanted me to tell you that if you do that again, they will remove you from the project. Please be more considerate of the crew,” she said.

She never made eye contact.

“Kat,” I replied, “as you know, I run my sets a little differently. Besides, per our agreement, I was allowed to change the script so that the entire jury would be nude throughout production. Bare cock will be all over the set. What difference does one more make?”

“This is the position of the board and the production team,” she said, still refusing to make eye contact.

I shrugged. “Very well, will that be all?”

“That is all,” Kat replied and began walking away. Then she stopped. “There is one other thing…”

She turned around and looked me in the eye.

“We are already running over budget,” she continued. “We are having trouble securing funds from the European market. Would you be considerate enough to loan $900,000,000 to help cover pre-production costs?”

I thought for a moment.

“Sure I’d be happy to give you nearly a billion dollars,” I said. “But in return, I want to make more changes to the script.”

TO BE CONTINUED

the last temptation of christ-a film by martin Scorsese

A lot of people don’t know this about me, but between laughing hysterically at shit and cum jokes I obsess over the historicity a man named Jesus of Nazareth, aka our Lord and Savior.

I even read the New Testament in Koine Greek (it’s a lot easier than you think).

For the record, I’m not a “mythicist”-or those that believe Jesus was a myth that the Romans or later believers fabricated. That’s stupid. Modern archeology and scholarship affirm that Jesus almost certainly existed.

Sure, some of my opinions my be a little bit outside the mainstream. I tend to agree with John Dominic Crossan’s assessment that perhaps Jesus’s ministry needs to be viewed in light of Roman authority. The Roman’s notoriously ruled with an iron fist. Jesus, by contrast, appeared more as a pacifist that appealed to neighborly love. His “Kingdom of God”, which Jesus almost certainly believed was going to be on earth rather than in some supernatural realm, directly challenged Roman Rule. So in many ways, Jesus was more than just a religious figure-he was a political one (not that anyone distinguished between the two in those days). Could this be wrong? Sure. But I think this view is worth taking seriously.

When viewed in this light, Jesus’s message remains just as radical today as it was in the first century AD: it was a direct challenge to the violence of the era.

But another interesting perspective on early Christianity is how it provides insight into the nature of radical politics: it starts off as fringe then branches off into rivaling sects before becoming mainstream. Once it becomes mainstream, it becomes orthodox and therefore conservative-if not authoritarian-in nature.

I’ve always thought that this subject, the “real” Jesus, would make an excellent film.

Unfortunately no such film has been made.

So the next best thing is Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.

Is it a perfect film? No. I can appreciate some of the modern characterizations of Jesus, the Apostles, Judas Iscariot, and so on. But Paul Schrader’s dialogue comes across as academic, which at times undermines the effectiveness of the story.

But Scorsese’s frenzied take on a familiar story is refreshing. Of course Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack might be one of the best in film history (a hill I’m willing to die on).

What I love most about this movie though is it’s influence on my favorite film franchise: the James Bond series.

“The fuck are you talking about?” you might ask.

Think I’m crazy? Well you’re right. But I’m also correct.

Watch the final act of The Last Temptation of Christ. Then go watch the final act of Casino Royale.

Coincidence? I think not.