Sunday, May 26, 2013

LOOKER (1981)

I don’t get plastic surgery. It’s like some sort of strange mutilation procedure that future historians will look back on and be unable to comprehend. Why would (mostly) women spend big bucks to make themselves look like a radiation experiment from some Z-grade 50’s science fiction movie? I’m not saying that people should be proud of who they naturally are, or that people who are obssessed with their looks are shallow (which are both true). No, it’s that I find it nervewracking and disturbing that the world is being infiltrated by hybrids of human and plastique. It’s like the Stepford wives are showing seams from botched repair jobs. Oh, and fake tits count. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it yet again: I like tits, not bags filled with chemicals. Any asshole can go under the sink and fill a bag with chemicals. You don’t need a woman for that. 

Perfection is in the eye of the asshole with unrealistic expectations, and these expectations are mostly set by the advertising industry. A studio that produces commercials has even gone so far as to quantify “perfection” as a series of minute plastic surgery adjustments that are imperceptible to the naked eye, a far cry from the more typical giant ass implants or whatever. Four aspiring commercial actresses get these changes done by brilliant plastic surgeon Albert Finney in order to land these commercials. Maybe if have to get fat monster lips in order to stay in business, it’s time to get out of the business. 

Anyway, for some unknown reason, these women are murdered soon after. That is, they are only worthy of death once they are “perfect”. Whoever is doing the killing uses a light gun (sort of a supercharged Nintendo Zapper) that freezes the victim and wipes the intervening hour from their memory. You know those stories about people experiencing “lost time” where they were supposedly abducted by aliens and their anal probe memories were erased? It’s sort of like that, but you can shoot it out of a gun. That’s fucking technology right there.

When four of your patients end up murdered, people start asking questions, and those people wear badges and eat donuts. So, to save his own ass, Al decides to investigate. He is our guide through the confused technology of the film, which most importantly includes the studio where these commercials are filmed. The ads employ a similar technology to the light gun, where the T.V. signal zaps the schmucks at home into believing they actually need a Meat Hydrator in their lives (it turns beef jerky into regular beef per Janeane Garofalo*). Big Al is occasionally zapped by Tim Rossovich, light gun wielder and former NFL player, momentarily freezing him on his quest. Why he doesn’t just shoot him with a real gun is a bit perplexing. Even if Tim is anti-gun, he can just beat him to death. He played linebacker. I’m pretty sure he could take an aging Albert Finney. Either way, the culprit behind all of this societal disease and murder is the advertising industry. I’m not surprised. Not in the least. 

Unfortunately, the movie becomes obsessed with its own technology, rather than exploring the ideas behind the technology. A world class satire is huddled in the corner, overwhelmed by light and flash. While it sounds like I’m knocking the movie, keep in mind that if the script lived up to its satirical potential, IT WOULD BE THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE**. Barry De Vorzon (with Sue Saad) handle the amazing soundtrack, and the movie is maybe the best portrait of early 80’s ritzy L.A. caught on film. It’s like the movie is a world created entirely from Playboy Magazine ads circa the early 80’s (I read Playboy Magazine for the ads cuz the tits are fake). 

The movie aspires to be a scathing critique that uses the medium of Hollywood excess to point out the evil molding power of commercials, a level of irony few Hollywood movies would ever achieve, outside of the likes of Douglas Sirk, Brian DePalma, and Paul Verhoeven. Instead, we have a movie that is amazing as a piece of techno-pop art that also manages to sorta kinda point out that plastic surgery and T.V. commercials are complete horseshit. Maybe that’s not such an obvious point to those already blinded by the light. 

*Janeane did a promo for Comedy Central where she was hawking the “Meat Hydrator”, the opposite of “Snake Oil” Popeil’s “Meat Dehydrator”. What happens when you go crazy with the Meat Dehydrator and are up to your knees in beef jerky? Well, you pick up the Meat Hydrator and get your beef back. Here is proof that I’m not making this up.

**sorta kinda 

P.S. If you have a record player, make sure you pick up the self-titled debut album and swan song by Sue Saad and the Next.  I guess you could listen to it on Youtube like a pussy, but whatever works I guess.


Friday, May 17, 2013

My Three Year Anniversary!

It's kinda crazy to think that I've been blogging for three years. That's an eternity in internet time. Now that everybody is doing the Tumblir thing and the Facebook stuff and the Friendstering out the wazoo, it feels like I'm a dinosaur clinging to outdated technology, producing long winded screeds in an era of 30 second media bites. 

Nevertheless, I've changed with the times by posting more screen shots and GIFs and shit. But rest assured, I will continue to write long reviews about movies nobody gives a shit about. My posting has slowed down considerably this year because I am a busy boy with a proclivity for cat naps, but I will try to post something at least once a week. You can't rush genius folks. Rushing genius only leads to garbled nonsense, crushing disappointment, and splitting headaches. 

So, I'd like to thank all of the cretins that have read any of my stuff over the past three years. I'm sincerely touched that you have nothing better to do. Really I am. Without you folks, this birthday party would be pathetic and sad. Now, here's a toast to three more years.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


So my eyeballs are chugging along, watching this Hollywood-ized story about a rape trial. We hear various accounts of the rape incident throughout the movie, like a white trash rashomon, but finally get to see it deep into the third act. Jodie Foster gets drunk at a bar, does some sexy dancing, and is then raped by three douchey sleezeoids right on top of a pinball machine. I was kinda buying the movie up to this point, but now I have to call shenanigans. 

No rape tilt? 

Once I was playing pinball as a kid, and I got frustrated and smacked the side of the machine, and a tilt alarm went off and I ran away. If the machine in the movie had went off like it was supposed to, it might have halted the rape, as the bar owner in the adjacent room would’ve heard someone messing with the game and came running in and yelled “NO GANG RAPE ON MY PINBALL MACHINE! TAKE IT OUTSIDE!”. While hardly a heroic breakup, this at least would’ve allowed Jodie time to get away before things got EXTRA rapey. In this world of drunken male pigishness, some men rape, a few cheer on rape, and the rest stay out of rape’s business. 

Anyway, like I was saying, we hear all of the different eyewitness accounts throughout the movie without actually seeing the incident. This is how justice works, where you usually don’t have the actual crime recorded on film (except for an open and shut case like that Rodney King…oh never mind), so you have to rely on testimony and evidence. We are allowed to make up our own minds as to exactly what happened, as truth in justice is never absolute. 

However, once we actually see the incident in the case of The Accused, a very detailed account mind you, we know exactly what happened, making the justice system irrelevant in our minds. We know who is guilty of what and why, regardless of the process. It’s the film’s way of tying up loose ends and giving us closure, just as the music swells when a guilty verdict is reached. Imagine 12 Angry Men showing us EXACTLY what happened right before the verdict. It has a way of nullifying all of the work of the jurors up to that point in the mind of the audience. 

The guilty verdict is also a bit misleading. Jodie is raped to holy hell, barely able to speak because she was being choked at the time. She is a simple white trash girl with simple values. She doesn’t want a cash settlement, or even a book deal. She wants to see these three fuckers nailed to the wall. In other words…justice.  Her attorney, Kelly McGillis, tries to appease her wishes. 

However, she quickly realizes that Jodie is not much of a material witness. She was both high and drunk at the time, has a criminal record and, worst of all, has a personalized license plate saying SXY SADI. It’s an unfortunate fact that a woman with the word SEX on her license plate is more likely to get raped then ones who do not. I guess men see the word “sex” and then see a female associated with that word and put two and two together and come to the conclusion that this woman is advertising. A bit literal minded, me thinks. 

Well, since Kelly realizes the chance for victory is slim, she accepts a plea bargain for the three rapists of “reckless endangerment”. She celebrates this “victory” with her yuppie lawyer friends, and Jodie crashes the party in angry fashion, having only heard about it on television (while working as a baseball themed waitress, which we need more of in this country, for the record). Jodie has good reason to be angry. Not only did Kelly not consult Jodie on her decision to except the plea bargain, she didn’t even bother to tell her afterwards. Granted, she’s an assistant D.A. and not hired directly as a lawyer by Jodie, but I think some basic communication would’ve been common courtesy in this case. 

Kelly takes this conversation to heart, and tries to earn victory for Jodie by attempting to put away the dudes that cheered on the gang rape. This hardly seems like “true justice”, but Kelly points out that, if the cheerleaders are convicted, the rape will be on file in some form, rather than just a case of “endangerment”. Seems like some semantical wordplay to me, except that it could set a precedent that would prevent guys from cheering on gang rapes in the future, at least state wide, but then gang rape cheerleaders will just move to another state. But hey, a start is a start. 

Well, this change of heart is conveyed with the most boring cinematic trick in the book: the lawyer montage. Kelly stays up all night, eyeball deep in case histories, looking for an arcane case or obscure legalese to nail some sleaze to the wall. Of course, her male pig district attorney yells at her and threatens her job for even contemplating such a case. However, he makes some sense, however theatrically. If you can’t prosecute rape, how are you gonna prosecute the cheering on of rape? She is also clearly doing this out of feeling bad for Jodie, and well know a lawyer with feelings about other human beings is a lawyer destined to fail.  The Accused is loosely based on a real case, but this turn of character and resulting decision reeks of forced Hollywood heroism and closure. Then again, my knowledge of the inner workings of the legal mind mostly comes from repeated viewings of Soul Man

So, basically, what we have here is another mostly boring, Hollywood-ized courtroom drama. What makes it stand apart is Jodie’s performance, both appropriately amping up the white trash tics while keeping things rooted in the character’s emotional turmoil, and giving it a New York method mumbler edge. My favorite bit of acting from her is the scene where she calls her nagging mother and wants to tell her about the rape, but can’t bring herself to do so. 

The movie also introduces a rape paradox that may have been cutting edge circa 1988 (or hopefully just common sense). That is, a drunk slut deserves as much legal protection from rape as a nun, yet a drunk slut is going to have a hard time winning a rape case. Perhaps a combination of forensic science and the proliferation of camera phones will help us eventually close this gap. 

Personally, I think sluts are awesome and, maybe I’m in the minority, but not only do I think that they deserve equal treatment, but I’ll go one step further and say that they should be protected as national treasures, or at least be given a substantial tax break.  The sad reality is that, if sluts keep getting raped, pretty soon there aren’t going to be any of them left, and that is a sad America I don’t want any part of. So, do your part my fellow citizens and punch rapists in the balls or at least alert the authorities. Together we can fight this scourge and protect the most esteemed segment of our population.