Thursday, March 30, 2006

V FOR VENDETTA -- Goat's Droppings

I measure movies by how often I look at my watch. I didn't look once. This is a good ol' slice of libertarian, mental chewing gum that will con multiplex morons into doing some honest-to-god thinking. I'm glad I didn't read the comic book. I was able to just see it as a new story. The film was thoughtful, challenging, and appropriately ambiguous. It took the "Phantom of the Opera" shtick to new levels. Two horns up.

Friday, March 24, 2006

V for Stop It Already with the Clever Review Headlines

So how does the film version of “V for Vendetta” shake out? Not enough action for a comic book fantasia, not enough tension for a political mystery/thriller, nowhere near enough mental fodder for a lesson in social control vs. anarchy (which, and I apologize for saying this, The Comic Did Better). If it any part of it works, it’s the outcry against homophobic government policies. The masked V rattles on a lot about what revolutions need and which Shakespeare quotes go well with pummeling government thugs, but his wordiness (which The Comic Did Better) doesn’t always work on screen. V’s credo doesn’t seem as central as Valerie’s, spelled out in the notes that Evie finds during her imprisonment and torture. Valerie’s need to hold on to her humanity by loving someone--even someone she’s never seen--comes across as more noble than V’s need to demolish Big Ben.

The film version of Inspector Finch (who TCDB) comes off as boring, and in need of the LSD that his comic book counterpart took during his vision quest at Larkhill. The comic also had this woman (Helen?) humiliating one of the government leaders behind closed doors and forcing him to lick her shoes, and I missed this nasty reference to Thatcher in the movie.

Taking out V’s speeches on anarchy make all his violence seem closely related to the cruelty of the fascist regime he’s fighting against. Indeed, V’s love of theatricality, his doomed travails in the service of his holy idea, and his enthusiasm for destruction nudge him toward the death-fascination of National Socialism. I don’t see how the filmmakers could have included V’s discourses on order passing through chaos into anarchy, but they needed something to set V apart from his foes, aside from his strong dislike of them, and his preference for the music and books they’ve banned.

Well, go see it. It’s not a perfect film, but kudos to Los Wachowskis for getting middle America to shell out to see a film that spits in the face of gay-bashing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lou Fine's Galley of Heroes

One of the greatest comic book artists of the Golden Age--and a favorite of my favorite, Jack Kirby--was Lou Fine. He combined clean draftsmanship with exciting action and an otherworldly imagination to create some of the greatest covers in comic history. His little-remembered supermen included the Ray, the Black Condor, the Green Mask, and the Flame. For legions of his bound damsels, about to be sawed in half or electrocuted or fed to giant insects or transformed into freaks, Fine's heroes had a knack for bursting through walls or leaping over parapets at just the right moment.
It's Kirby's dynamism meets Burne Hogarth's anatomy plus Alex Raymond's beautiful lines.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Borges, you lying fuck!

Recent headlines have cast the veracity of certain authors into question, but writers have been scribbling lies and creating elaborate untruths for a long time. Take Jorge Luis Borges, whose short story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" is one of my faves. (I even made a link for it in the column to the left.) In the story, a narrator finds a copy of "A First Encyclopedia of Tlön. Vol. XI." which describes a fictional world; the book is a product of a secret society perpetrating an elaborate, multi-generational ruse. I just learned of Umberto Eco's refutation of Borges' story, which asserts that Borges himself was part of the ruse to keep circulating information about Tlön. Here's the clever part; by writing and publishing his story, Borges assured that any further discoveries of Tlön documents would be regarded as poor Borges imitations.

Even Eco had it wrong, though; the truth is, There Is No Borges.


Mice are in my home.
They lick traps clean, but unsprung.
Boxed wine calms my fear.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Want to win a partner over? It's quite easy!

1. Yawn frequently in your lover's company. This shows that your partner is a soothing presence who puts you totally at ease. This is especially important if they are speaking of matters deeply important or moving to them. They need to know that you are completely comfortable when they are sharing.

2. Remember, as with many attack dogs, men take direct eye contact as a threatening sign of aggression. Avoid it at all costs.

3. People in love naturally nurture, and need to know that all of their partner's needs are being satisfied. Combining the senses can communicate this idea very powerfully. The mating urge and feeding urge are closely connected. While orally loving, try mumbling the words, "Reuben sandwich." You'll be surprised at the results! Also, try romantic music, like the theme to THE A-TEAM. Imagine yourself as George Peppard, that handsome devil, and imagine your partner as Mr. T. Then think about that episode where they make that impromptu weapon that shoots cabbages. I swear to God, this was an actual episode. Remember how they always had to give Mr. T's character powerful drugs to tranquilize him into flying in a plane? He was a brave, noble warrior, and yet was afraid to soar with the eagles. I bet those drugs they gave him were "roofies." What in the hell were the A-Team doing with date-rape drugs? They were all dashing rogues, in no short supply of feminine company. They loved it when a plan came together. Surely, they wouldn't have needed something like roofies to score chicks. Even Murdock was okay-looking. So why did they always give Mr. T date-rape drugs? What the hell else did they do to Mr. T while he was being flown about the globe? That poor, poor man. He loved them like brothers. And he trusted them while they just made a fool of him. I pity the fool.

4. Lovers like surprises. They show that you care. Unexpected love notes or small-but-thoughtful gifts can ignite magic in the bedroom later on. But women -- the brainier gender -- don't like mental stimulation to end when crossing the bedroom threshold. They love a sustained sense of dashing mystery. To engage her mind as well as her body, try to mumble the names of other women during foreplay. Preferably family members. Younger, more attractive siblings or elderly relatives are equally good choices. What about the names of co-workers? To really go the extra mile, sneak a peek at her high school yearbook and later moan some names of the prettier girls in her graduating class. This simply shows that you are paying attention to her need for mental stimulation. Remember, the brain is the most sensitive part of the human body.

5. As Eve Ensler has taught us, many women are unfortunately raised with negative views of their more intimate parts. Men, too, grow up with similar concerns. As lovers, it's our job to combat these negative stereotypes by embracing the whole person, and letting them know that they are completely beautiful, everywhere. Still, no none has yet to combine Febreze and a personal lubricant. So that's a money-making tip.

6. Women need to know that a circle of true trust is established in their love lives. To create genuine emotional intimacy, keep GIRLS GONE WILD videos playing in the background. Frequently telling her that "these are the kinds of women I'm thinking about when I make love with you," shows that you trust her with your inner wishes and feelings, completely. And trust is the ultimate sign of respect.

7. Good tip for men: reaching the pinnacle of your intimate experience, bellow manfully, "Ah, Bernard!" Just trust me.

8. Women love men who respect them, and part of respect is treating her as an independent, able individual, fully capable of taking care of herself. Trust the advice of feminists. For instance, it is a feminist truism that, ultimately, the woman is responsible for her own orgasm. So don't sweat it. Fretting over her "needs" is a sign of condescending disrespect.

9. Remember, couplehood is a partnership. You are equals, and nowhere is this more true than in the bedroom. Love and sex ONLY work when both partners extend the extra effort to make them work. It's 50/50, all the way. Pointedly remind your partner of this when impotent. Mentioning this shows your willingness to share. The ensuing discussion will help you reveal your deepest identities, and thus, bring you closer as a couple.

10. More and more, women love the icon of the gay man -- a figure who integrates the better halves of the male and female personas. We have a lot to learn from gay men. To show that you're a 21st century male, have a lot of gay sex. Get people to take photos. Litter the home with them.

11. There is nothing more romantic than the mythos of seafarers. Naval allegories have a swashbuckling quality that hints of mystery and charm. To maintain this atmosphere, men should refer to their manhood with feminine pronouns, in much the fashion that sea captains refer to their ships. For example, if your lover wishes to follow a session of lovemaking with yet another session soon after, feel free to say things like, "Well, we'll see. I didn't know I'd be taking her back into battle so soon." Remember, treat your penis like a lady, and she'll always bring you home.

12. The time between giving the mating signal and actual consummation can feel like an eternity. Let your partner know how eager you are to shorten that "eternity" by saying, "Let's get this over with."

13. REMEMBER -- for women, intimacy is a spiritual and emotional joining, as well as a physical act. Truly satisfying experiences leave a woman forever changed. Violent sobbing and confirmed statements of deep regret and resentment toward you demonstrate that you have, indeed, provided a life-changing experience. When you hear these -- and you will -- feel confident that this is her way of saying that you are an unforgettable lover.

Happy loving!

Near Midnight Goat Droppings...

ITEM! From IMDB....

MPAA Confirms: It Was a Very Bad Year

The MPAA disclosed Thursday that Hollywood suffered its worst year at the box office in nearly a decade -- even as marketing costs soared, especially for small films. In its annual box-office marketing report, the MPAA said that the number of admissions dropped nearly 9 percent to 1.4 billion, the lowest number since 1997. The overseas box office also fell 9 percent, according to the report. Strikingly, the report noted hat the costs of marketing small specialty films increased 33 percent, rising to $15.2 million from $11.4 million the previous year. On the other hand, the average cost to produce a movie fell 19 percent to $23.5 million.

Hey, here's a hint. Make better movies.

Hollywood, a town that could screw up a slasher movie. You know, in the 70's, even the bad movies were at least entertaining, for the most part.

GoatBoy's Rant-a-riffic Week of 3/6-10 Pt V: Brokeback Redux Redux

ITEM! A bitter argument ensued with a pal over this BOREBACK mess. One set of musings from the Jaundiced I...

My pick for the best gay-themed film of 2005 was Don Roos' HAPPY ENDINGS, a film I enjoyed immensely.

I feel that it is extremely important that the story of men such as Jack and Ennis to be told. That is a very sad chapter in culture from which we've not yet escaped... but we're making progress. My feeling simply was that the actual filmic execution was lifeless. There were certain illuminating facets of the story which were also lost, and that sapped some of the story's final impact.

I quizzed a number of gay friends who were similarly puzzled by the appeal of this movie. I am glad that the film has become a rallying point, and is bringing up good conversations. I feel that gay culture is now enriching mainstream society in the same positive way that black culture did in the 20th century. If this movie helps that, then I am glad. I just wish I liked that movie more. I'm in the mood for indignant outrage at meaningless things, and were I to like that movie, I could get pissed off over the CRASH victory.

Ron Zombie was robbed!!

GoatBoy's Rant-a-riffic Week of 3/6-10 Pt IV: Brokeback Fatigue

ITEM! A friend of mine pondered why BOREBACK didn't win Oscar (or Felix). He suggested that people suffered from "Brokeback Mountain Fatigue" or "BM fatigue." I replied...

I would say "BM fatigue" (an hilarious phrase, given all that it suggests) had a lot to do with it. BROKEBACK swept everything else, and there was just a combination of, "enough, already," with "too often we forget movies that don't get released in November/December." Add in a good dash of, "it's just a better movie."

And it is just a better movie. You'd love it. Honestly. Many good dramas are Great Films, but they're chores to watch. CRASH is invigorating. For me, it was a movie ten times more supercharged than SITH.

I am sorry, but I am pretty much officially now a Liberal. I never thought it would come to this, but Donald Wildmon and Dubyah have left me no choice. I'll never get in bed with Michael Moore. (Would there be room?) I believe in the all of the first ten amendments, including numero 2. I'm not uncomfortable with removing really evil dictators who hate us and replacing them with less evil dictators who temporarily like us. But if it takes voting for Hillary to get the pendulum to move back, I'll do it. And I shudder at having typed that.

I say this simply to qualify what I am about to say.

If there is one place where there is no bias against gays, it's Hollywood. The implication that Hollywood is a place that is conservative in terms of gays is laughable. The other awards that BM won all came out of Hollywood and/or its affiliates. There is no significant Hollywood/New York ideological schism. The damned thing won everything else. Does it have to be Prom Queen, too?

What's really funny about this instance is that it's not a case of Hollywood fluff beating out some movie of political weight. It's not as if GLADIATOR or TITANIC beat BM. It's not as if WALK THE LINE beat out BM. It's not even as if SIDEWAYS, a movie about the frustrations of *hetero*sexuality, beat out BM. It's a movie about the challenges presented by racial bias and assumptions, with no easy answers. It was already a PC movie! (Although some challenge that, as Roger Ebert has noted. I guess some white people have to explain the black experience to producer/star Don Cheadle. Maybe Ang Lee can enlighten him.)

Gay culture is enjoying a huge, post-AIDS renaissance. And that's wonderful. I think we're twenty years (a relatively short time) away from legal gay marriage. We'll have it before pot or prostitution are legalized. Gay culture is adding positive flavor to mainstream culture the same way that black culture did in the Fifties. It's genuinely exciting, in the way that black culture (via Elvis, etc) was a very exciting addition. A gay cultural influx doesn't mean rampant same-sex sex or analphilia. It just means that things once arbitrarily enjoyed by just one gender (cooking, sports, childcare, fashion, art) can now be enjoyed by both. It's also an understanding that love and sex are not confined rigidly. This doesn't condone irresponsible, abusive, or deceptive behavior. It just says that maybe we should rethink our definitions of victimless activity beyond what was strictly necessitated by a formerly agrarian culture. Advanced societies have always loosened up about "the gay thing" not because they somehow slide into iniquity, but because there is enough distance from agrarianism that economies are not based on how many fieldhands you can birth.

GoatBoy's Rant-a-riffic Week of 3/6-10 Pt III: Blockbuster Bust

ITEM! It's time for another anti-George Lucas rampage...

From imdb...

Lucas: "The Blockbuster Is Dead"

Movie mogul George Lucas predicts Hollywood will soon start shifting away from mega-budget blockbusters in favor of making more independent films for less money. Alongside Steven Spielberg, Star Wars creator Lucas is cited as being chiefly responsible for the blockbuster phenomenon that has gripped the movie industry for the last three decades. But he now believes big-budget films can no longer be profitable and are going out of fashion, as evidenced by this year's Academy Award nominees, including independent movies Crash and Good Night, And Good Luck. Lucas tells the New York Daily News, "The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie. Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with King Kong. I think it's great that the major Oscar nominations have gone to independent films. Is that good for the business? No - it's bad for the business. But movie-making isn't about business. It's about art. In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies. I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million."

There are several elements going on here. The biggest one is that, if you make good movies, people will go see them again and again. KING KONG and REVENGE OF THE SITH were not good movies. And they still made money. KONG may have cost $207,000,000, but its worldwide gross is currently $538,000,000. And that's before DVD sales. REVENGE cost $115,000,000, but has a worldwide gross of $848,000,000. I guess those are piddlin' numbers in Hollywood, but only with Enron-level accounting.

So, I can only imagine what money KONG and SITH would have made were they any good.

George, if independent moviemaking were bad for business, the Weinsteins would be out of work. And they're not.

George, what you need to come to grips with is that people go to the movies to see great stories. I always assumed the CGI would make everything cheaper, but clearly that's not the case. Two good episodes of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA cost a fraction of what SITH and KONG did, but are just, flat-out, better, more engaging ways to spend two hours of fantasy entertainment. Many would argue the same for SERENITY -- poorly distributed, marketed, and small-niche-appealing though it was. Look at what Harve Bennett did with STAR TREK II, budgeted at a fraction of TMP, but powered by Nicholas Meyer's ideas and direction.

Want a blockbuster, George? Instead of putting two unmotivated, boring characters around ten digital lava pits, put two well-written characters around one "fake" lava pit and have them say and do interesting things for interesting reasons. Instead of ten CGI characters, use one cleverly-crafted puppet. Or an interesting guy with a latex forehead. I don't hear anyone complaining that the original Yoda was not CGI. Instead of hiring Tom Cruise for WAR OF THE WORLDS, cast a good TV actor and trust the story and director to "sell" the public with a good picture. Bang, you just saved tens of millions of dollars. Did STAR WARS have any "hot" stars? No. Neither did JAWS, honestly. JAWS just had *good* actors. Hell, that's how the "blockbuster," in the modern sense, got started.

Do the math, George. Big budgets do not necessarily a blockbuster make. And if anyone killed the blockbuster, you're in the top ten suspects list. I will be more than happy to trade SITH and KONG for smaller, better movies.

I can't tell if George is happy or sad at the news he reported. All I know is that, of the films he's directed, the smaller-budgeted ones have been better movies.

I don't think the blockbuster will ever be dead. And lord knows, I love self-indulgent filmmaking. But if this all does something to ward off *boring* self-indulgence, then I'm all for it.

"Brain candy" (no, not the Kids in the Hall movie) is the ultimate "eye candy." Otherwise, kids wouldn't love bedtime stories, which have no special effects, no big name actors, and no CGI.

GoatBoy's Rant-a-riffic Week of 3/6-10 Pt II: Oscar Death Montage

ITEM! Where the hell were Al Lewis, Darren McGavin, Don Knotts, and James Doohan in the Oscar death montage?

Friday, March 10, 2006

You want he should leap a tall building?

I'm hardly the first person to point out that Superman is Jewish (and not, as some would proclaim, a Methodist), but I am the only person I know who has spent years ranting to anyone who will listen that the Superman mythos contains elements of Jewish esoterica, with Exhibit A being the Man of Steel's contentious relationship with Mr. Mxyzptlk. An all-powerful and all-obnoxious visitor from another dimension, Mxyzptlk can only be defeated if he is made to say or spell his name backwards. Thus Superman's knowledge of Mxyzptlk's name is the only means he has of dealing with him. Mxyzptlk is probably kicking himself for telling Superman what his real name was.

Is it too much of a stretch to see parallels with the Secret Name of G-d, a moniker so powerful that only the High Priest of the Temple knew it, and only he could say the name one day a year in the most sacred chamber of the temple? Like Mxyzptlk, the Old Testament God existed in another dimension, needed to be appeased or he would cause trouble, and could be controlled to some degree through a knowledge of His name.

A related theory in the world of Supermanistics holds that Mxyzptlk is a thought experiment, proposing what would happen if the Being known as YHWH were persuaded to say His own name. Would the Celestial Voice, invoking the Celestial Name, generate a mega-explosion of... Godness? Would it restart the universe? And if YHWH said His name backwards, would that cause Him and the universe He created to cease their existences?

If you don't have an answer to these questions, then you need to read more comics.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

GoatBoy's Rant-a-riffic Week of 3/6-10 Pt I: Boo Hoo Brokeback

Unearthed Arcana from my (sh)e-mail files, mostly in the name of being a sore winner...

ITEM! GoatBoy's post-Oscar ravings...

How sweet it is!

Rarely does the Academy do the brave thing and get it right. Despite the hype. Despite the art community's love of All Things Boring.

Dances with Wolves clobbered Goodfellas. Terms of Endearment wiped out The Right Stuff. Forrest Gump trumped Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption. Titanic sank LA Confidential and Boogie Nights. Gladiator slaughtered Traffic. The weakest of the Lord of the Rings movies dwarfed Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, and Last Samurai. Million Dollar Baby KO'd Sideways, Saddest Music in the World, Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kill Bill 2 -- all better movies.

And this goes back even farther. The Oscars are riddled with WTF moments. OLIVER!, anyone?

But there was justice last night. Crash wiped out the PC fave, Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback was a story so dull it could only have come from modern literature. The New Yorker, no less. Wanna know why I avoid reading modern lit? It's because it has all of the ascetic lifelessness of Brokeback Mountain. It's so rare that justice prevails, and a lush, emotional, unapologetically vibrant film grabs it. I'm sure Clint Eastwood is planning to film a loaf of hardening bread as his response, and I'm sure critics will love it. If someone wants to put Ambien out of business, Clint Eastwood and Ang Lee should team up to make a movie starring William Hurt and Andie McDowell.

As I often say, the best movie of 2005 was a toss up between MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS.

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