Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Blog with 50 pounds of headlines stapled to its chest

Two of my all-time heroes be rackin' up Frequent Blogger miles lately and are cleared for takeoff to your Fascination Zone (I think it's time to go to bed):

Carrie Brownstein likes q-tips, hates precious music (mirroring my tastes exactly)
Tom Scharpling reviews every James Bond movie ever; mocks Bill Parcells lookalikes.

Also, I thought either No Country For Old Guys or There Won't Not Be Blood would have Movie of the Year honours locked up, but it turns out I'm Not There is a contender too. More on that later. Don't read any other blogs til I get back... not even the ones I linked. If you do, I'll be able to smell it.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I don't know if I've ever known anyone - including me (not to be confused with the villainous, wraithlike Not Me) - who actually enjoyed this dumb poem. I suppose it's only fitting that they've adapted it into a supremely goofy-looking entry in the "I'M-YELLING-LIKE-BRAVEHEART" genre of film. One thing's for sure, I highly doubt Crispin Glover's performance as Beowulf's monstrous, large-tailed foe Grendel tops my own portrayl of the creature from my Old English literature class in college. Like most of the class exercises from this period, I don't recall what the point was, but everyone had to form groups and act out scenes from the material we had read that semester. I was assigned to portray the scaly villain Grendel, perhaps because my icy paleness fostered rumours of reptillian blood that hounded me throughout my scholastic life. This in-class performance entailed (ho ho) fashioning an elaborate costume that consisted of a fierce nametag pointedly identifying myself as the waste-laying monster, and a prop tail sewn together by a cowed classmate from old pillows or something.

While Sir Dwight Sheckman, the author of Beowulf, portrays Grendel as a fierce killing machine in the early stanzas, I called upon my Methodd* training to unlock the diffident nature at the character's core; disposing of my enemies with appropriately wry nonchalance rather than unseemly vigor. When I was called upon to convey Grendel's panicked terror during his losing battle to Beowulf, I let forth the thundering, soul-shattering utterance, "Ow, my tail;" a moment that so rocked my classmates they had no recourse but to laugh to ease the unbearable dramatic tension in the room. Finally, once I, GrendelChris (the line where my character ended and I began had become distressingly blurred), was dispatched to the icy depths, I compounded my character's misery by intentionally getting my tail caught in the door following my dramatic exit from the classroom. Needless to say, word of my world-beating performance reverberated across select portions of the campus for a good hour or so after class.

But if I may quote one of Sir Sheckman's own lines to reflect the aftermath of this event, "We mayest be thru with Grendel, but Grendel sureth ain't thru with us." I found, dear reader, that one cannot disappear so deeply into the mind of a monster without sacrificing a part of oneself. But what black inner morass spawned in place of my old self? To this day I cannot say, except that it may be nestled in the liver. All I know is, the urge to don The Tail and swat at passerby remains strong, and on some languid nights it's all I can do to summon the strength to supress it. Will I manage to keep the monster at bay? Will Crispin Glover finally pay me some much-deserved royalties? And how will Auntie Anne's pretzels figure into future events? Stay tuned...

*a style of acting that utilizes a concentrated lack of effort to uncover a powerfully incompetent form of dramatic truth; not to be confused with the the "Method" taught by Lee Strasberg, which mainly involves excessive twitching and biting the heads off rodents.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You can't help but compare yourself against the old bloggers.

Cormac McCarthy's recent chat with the Coen Brothers in TIME revealed that over the years, whenever he wasn't building shelter or memorizing antique dictionaries, he had time to see at least a few movies (appropriately enough, he's a Malick fan). Maybe he had at least a flickering thought of a film adaptation in the back of his mind when he was writing his atypically brisk thriller No Country For Old Men, the only one of the six McCarthy books I've read so far that seemed tailor-made for the screen; what with its cattle gun-and-air tank-wielding supervillain, its outrageous but not-undigestible violence, and its ambiguously gay wizards and witches. Thankfully, the Coen Brothers were of course smart enough to realize the potential for cinematic greatness there on the page, provided there was no excessive tinkering. Of course, I read plenty of fretful comments on the intertubes about how the Coens would supposedly ruin the material with their "wink-wink approach," as if that's all they ever bring to the table, and as if McCarthy's work were 100% humorless. I would think both author and filmmakers are at least somewhat bemused, for instance, at the sheriff in No Country who laments the presence of "kids with green hair and bones in their noses" on the streets of small Texas towns, even if the concern for our decaying world is real. So if it looked to you from the previews and trailers of this movie that the Coens nailed it, they did. Well, you could argue the ending is somewhat deflating, but it worked for me, and reminded me how No Country can be seen as a pre-apocalyptic prelude to The Road.

Now bring on the other film of 2007 that looks like some fantasy movie draft pick, There Will Be Blood. Kudos to Paul Thomas Anderson for turning one of the two phrases that guarantee box office success into an actual film title (the other one being There Won't Be Balls).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Just in time for Halloween!

The Shining recently topped some British poll of the scariest horror movies (just take my word for it - don't stifle me with your link orthodoxy, man). This despite the fact that only the beginning of the movie is all that creepy. The rest of it is mostly about Kubrick making a hotel look cool and Jack not having to worry about being too high to act that day. Not that I'm complaining. I could have picked a much scarier #1 than that though; In fact, I think any of these classics would do in a pinch:

Mr. Blandings Builds Your Grave (1950)
The Betamax Throttler (1982)
Friend of Blacula (1978)
The Hag I Saw in Saginaw (1925)
Alien vs. Pitchfork (2005)
It Smudged My Boat Shoes (1998; available for sale on
The Baconator (2007; released for a limited time only)
Weekend at Cthulhu’s (1989)
Kraftwerk Treffen Sie den Wolfmann (German, 1977)
Adult Kickball Slaughterhouse (2010; actually a script of mine)
www.yourbrainsbeenslashed/slash/ (1999)
The Cripple That Went Out During the Day (1935)
We Are Zombie Marshall (2007)
Jerry Lewis Meets the West Memphis Three (1994; never released; believed to be destroyed)
MAC and Me (???)

As a side note, you should avoid these at all costs:
Brunch of the Dead (1990 remake)
Don’t Pick Up the Phone Unless It’s Me 2: What Did I Tell You?!? (1974)
The Critic-Murdering Spectre (working title; M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)