Guns and girls.

This is going to be a very nerdy post: Three reviews of things, the first of…

The Miserable, and the wretched.

Saw Les Misérables yesterday.

Honestly, a musical is not my cup of tea, but the movie was just fine. I have familiarity and appreciation for the story, and the musical, from my youth, so I was curious to see how it would be adapted, and like everyone else, I had heard good things about the performances of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. I suspect they’ll both get Oscar nominations, but Anne Hathway is the one with the real shot here. She does a lot of heavy lifting with the relatively limited role of Fantine and even in her short time here no one hits the strides and the heights and depths that she can plumbs so easily. Jackman is good, but not as good as her. Plus, he’s got the unfortunate timing of potentially being nominated for Best Actor in the same award season as Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.

I dreamed a dream.

Tom Hooper, however, is as boring in his direction as he was in The King’s Speech, and possibly less so. Somehow that film was both nominated and managed to win the big awards, but I don’t think that will be the case here. Especially not in a year that produced a Lincoln, a Zero Dark Thirty, and a Life Of Pi.

Anyway, minor flaws of the film that aren’t so minor: Way too fucking long and not interesting enough to sustain that length. The stuff towards the end with the June Rebellion was dreadfully boring, and anytime Jackman, Hathaway, or even Russell Crowe as Javert weren’t on screen, you found yourself checking your watch. I did enjoy Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (she’s just doomed to always play the gothic clown now, isn’t she?) as the Thénardiers, and they did provide some much needed comic relief to the film, but their rendition of the film’s second most memorable song was pretty boring.

Anyway, my second review is of…

Mad hilarity, merciless action, dark cynicism, and incorruptible bravery.

Gun Machine, the new novel by Warren Ellis.

This is a fun, slightly nuts book, which is the usual from Ellis. His first novel, Crooked Little Vein, was a silly but interesting little pulp travelogue through America, and Gun Machine comes from a similar place, but it’s more of a harder crime novel. This is Warren Ellis sodomizing writers like James Patterson and Ed McBain with his ideas, sort of.

The premise is simple: A cop stumbles upon an apartment filled with guns, hundreds of them and nothing else, and each crime can be traced to a different unsolved crime. Somebody has been keeping these guns all this time as trophies.

I believe I read somewhere the book has already been optioned to be developed into a TV show, which is… exciting, I guess. Granted, they’ll take the premise, and they’ll tone it down. They’ll have to. This book is a little nuts, and filled with a lot of little minutiae that’s probably closer to the harsh reality of crime in a big insane urban cityscape, but not the kind of thing that the flyover states are ready to tune into from their local affiliate. The first scene of the book, for example, involves the main character’s partner getting half of his face blown off by a shotgun blast delivered by a ranting naked man.

Gun

That said, there are lots of little ideas and the basic premise that could easily translate into a very interesting serial procedural. That, and I would like to see the type of characters that Ellis writes on either the small screen or the big screen, as they’re usually broken, mouthy creatures who are incorruptibly brave (a nice way of putting it from the Wired review quoted as a blurb on the cover) and very good at what they do.

Half of this book is written in the parlance of the internet, almost as if Ellis got tired of scanning the internet landscape and fueled some of that excitement and anger into a writing frenzy. At the same time, as a fan of his comic books and ideas shared in various places online, I am excited to see him evolving in a new medium, but I can’t say that it feels like he’s challenging himself here. But I have to say that I would secretly like to see Ellis tackle one of his nonfiction books that have more than one foot inside music theory and hauntological futures (which he is working on, thankfully), or maybe some kind of insane sci fi novel – I would love to see Warren Ellis become the new Harlan Ellison – or really get into TV, writing for Doctor Who or resurrecting Quatermass, something like that.

The second review being of…

Victorian values.

“The Snowmen,” the recent Doctor Who Christmas special.

I miss talking about Doctor Who, here or anywhere else. I really need to develop a venue for that, but as far as this episode goes, in short: This was a merely so so episode with great characters in it. Matt Smith is always good and shining with the Doctor, and only improves as he continues to play the character, and Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are welcome ongoing returns to the series, and I can’t say enough nice things about Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara, who is mysterious and a serious breath of fresh air. If I’m being honest, I may be doing this post solely to post pictures of her.

That said, this episode was not great. The webisode prequels were more interesting than a good deal of the regular plot of the episode, and I thought it was brave that the threat that the characters were facing down was given an extreme back seat to the character moments.

More guns.

Steven Moffat’s writing is always great, but if I had one major criticism of his tenure on Doctor Who as the showrunner it would be that everything feels too rushed. I assume that the fickle nature of television and the constant need to up the ante is what causes that, but as much as I enjoyed season 5 as the shakedown cruise for a new Doctor, companion, and way of looking at the show, season 6 seemed very rushed, big on set up and small on payoff, possibly because the payoff had to be pushed forward, forward, forward. Part of me wonders if a lot of that was necessitated by the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

That special lead to a lot of new additions in the Christmas special, including the introduction of Smith’s face in the main credit sequence (which I’m positive they’ve been threatening since he took over the role) and a redesigned TARDIS console room that brought back a lot of the blandness of the poorly executed production design from the show’s earlier regenerations in video with rubber monsters back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Cosby sweaters and scripts

And I’m as curious as the next person about some of the big things to come, like the presumed payoff of the First Question, but eventually it could get tiring to constantly finding situations for characters to say, “Doctor… Who?”

Anyway. That said, I’m looking forward to the second half of the current season and the (re)introduction of Clara, Mark 3. I suspect that she’ll be everything that we had assumed and hoped that Amy Pond will be, and I’m really looking forward it. The show regenerates each time a new Doctor steps out of the ashes of the previous one, but as they keep rightfully so telling us, the show is about the companions and the view they provide, and it really feels like the show could come to life again with the addition of Clara. I’m excited.

Remember.

Tzimtzum, or: Here There Be Tygers.

Grrrrrr.

I saw the Life Of Pi today. Just a few quick thoughts…

1. It was good. I have never read the book, and usually avoid even transcendentally good and well hyped books if reviewers promise that they’ll make me believe in God. It’s not that I’m worried about being brainwashed or that I can’t see the quality in the writing or story even if I don’t buy into the message or belief system, but it’s usually that I have eviler, and usually more stupider things to read. Ha ha!

2. I can gather, in a similar vein, that the film is very close in its adaptation of the novel, but leaves the novel’s ending less ambiguous. No spoilers here, not til the last thought.

Bioluminescent.

3. The film is really quite good, and I say that having had no expectations of it going into it. I mostly went into this film, curious to see what was going on since you’re already hearing a lot of potential Oscar buzz to it. The Oscar buzz isn’t off the mark.

4. This definitely will be (or at least should be) a Best Picture nominee. I wouldn’t be upset if it was a Best Picture winner, either. Also, best cinematography, which is possibly a no brainer since so many of the visuals are just gorgeous. I want to see Lincoln nominated for Best Picture, but I think that Life Of Pi is certainly a better film, which is saying a lot. Also, Irrfan Khan deserves a Best Supporting Male Actor nomination, and possibly a win.

5. As for the ending, and here there possibly will be SPOILERS: I took something slightly different away from this movie – which is one that you’ll walk away from needing to do some thinking on – than others, I believe. When the narrator of the tale, the older Pi, gives the Writer a choice between which of the two stories he prefers: the one that is mostly like the real story, the grim tale of human beings under extreme duress, or the tale full of magical realism and refugee animals sailing across the ocean, the Writer of course chooses the story of the boy and the tiger. That is, of course, the story that anyone would choose or prefer. The inference there seems to be that therein lies God’s existence. We create God. We bring our lives to him, the details, and we weave a powerful watcher of our existence, and find the meaning there, in the fiction, not so much in the way our lives were lived, but in the way our lives are retold.

The life of Calvin.

“Blood’s been spilled to afford us this moment.”

Five things about Lincoln:

1. It’s a very inspiring, and in many ways, uplifting movie. Quality filmmaking, which is never a surprise from Spielberg. Not only is he the most successful commercial filmmaker (at least alive) but does any one else actually consistently make films at this par? Certainly not to the volume of Spielberg.

2. It’s interesting to watch this film and now with utter certainly that Daniel Day Lewis will be winning a Best Actor Oscar for it. It’s strange how happy I am that Liam Neeson left this project after having been excited for so long that he had been attached to it.

3. It’s funny how charming his Lincoln is. The strange, unkempt hair, the weird way he walks, the fact that he’s always sitting, wrapped in a blanket. He’s both disarming and endearing in a way that makes you root for him. A simple demeanor, hiding so much complexity, moving from scene to scene pouring out love and looking almost as if the ceaseless weight of the world will crush him.

4. The way the movie ends, moving around the President’s fate, is really quite interesting, I think. The film is incredibly, wonderfully, and painfully accurate to our American history, you almost wish that at the last second Abraham Lincoln could have tilted his head to the side just in time to miss the fatal bullet and someone how been saved. They can do that kind of thing in movies, right?

5. Maybe he could live on and go and fight vampires or some kind of shit like that?

The Oscars are on tonight, right?

Blah blah blah I am not excited about the Oscars this year.

I am not excited about trying to celebrate the bleakness that was Film in 2011. There were a few solid, good movies out there and a lot of… Sigh. A lot of trying to grasp at relevancy. A lot of trying to fit in while dumb down. It’s in my DNA to care about the Oscars and to be curious about winners and bitch about nominees and what have you, but the urge is just not strong enough this year to watch. Normally, when this flaccid about the Oscars, I’d at least watch the opening, then turn away, and check back in during the last hour, but this year… This year I’m going to follow Benjamin Light’s lead, and perhaps just keep one eye out on twitter, tumblr, and, shit, I don’t know… Yahoo! news, maybe? Ugh.

But I know. “Another guy bitching about being unenthusiastic about the Oscars.” How boring, right? Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m just not there. But like A. O. Scott said, “Oscar cynicism has become its own special form of Oscar hype.” Too true, I guess.

So anyway, I’m going to put up a thing here of my predictions of winners this year – just cause. Just cause it’s in my DNA, as I said. Review, debate, ponder, ignore, do as you please. Let’s look at the Top 7 Categories of Oscar Interest:

Best Picture

And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight In Paris, Moneyball, The Tree Of Lie, and War Horse.

Fuck me. I’m not feeling any of this. Y’know, last year they added an additional 5 nominees to the Best Picture potentials and somehow The King’s Speech still beat out The Social Network.

Let’s talk about movies that don’t have a chance here: Midnight In Paris, The Help, and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. And Moneyball. I’ve seen Midnight In Paris, and it was okay, a fun little film, Woody doing Woody nicely, but Oscar material? No. Sorry. And that right there, ladies and gents, is the Theme of this year’s Oscars. Moneyball is a solid, good film, but nothing about it is strong enough to win an Oscar. But let’s not shit ourselves, we all know where this is heading: The Artist vs. The Descendants.

I’ve not seen The Artist because I think that I might rather watch paint dry on a mirror. I am enamored by old, classic Hollywood as much as the next amateur film geek sounding off from their internetastic soap box, but I’m not that hard up. The Descendants was a solid film, and it was about cancer and infidelity and bringing a family back together and a girl cries underwater. This is all Oscar material. I want The Descendants to win. I want that (I guess), but I suspect that The Artist will take it. Why? Because I think that the Weinsteins are going to prove to us yet again that money trumps talent every time.

Best Director

And the nominees are: Woody Allen, for Midnight In Paris. Michel Hazanavicius, for The Artist. Terrence Malick, for The Tree Of Life. Alexander Payne, for The Descendants. Martin Scorsese, for Hugo.

The winner will be: Alexander Payne.

I’ve seen some people predict a split and predict that The Descendants will win Best Picture and The Artist will be the Best Director choice, but… Nahh. I can understand an argument in which you judge the Act of Directing to be different from the Completed Product/Finished Film, and yet… those two should be so intrinsically connected that I would think that the Best Director winner would automatically cue you in to the Best Picture winner, but… What do I know? Everything. Nothing. Everything. Nothing! I don’t know.

Best Actor

And the nominees are: Demián Bichir, for A Better Life. George Clooney, for The Descendants. Jean Dujardin, for The Artist. Gary Oldman, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Brad Pitt, for Moneyball.

Again, I’ll admit that I have not seen The Artist, but I’m not enthused to (and I’ve long nursed a suspicion that you could judge all Oscar movies and their corresponding performances by the trailers, as weak of a suspicion though that may be), and I have my doubts about that being a Best Actor-worthy performance. I haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, only because it wasn’t playing anywhere in a theater remotely around me (thank God it comes out on DVD in March), but I like the idea of Gary Oldman winning, you know, just to fuck with people. IYFF, Hollywood. And Brad Pitt is a solid actor, always, and will someday have a performance that will be more than worthy a Best Actor statue, but to me, that performance wasn’t happening in Moneyball. So… George Clooney.Yeah.

Yeah. Sure. Yeah. That’s my pick for the winner.

I mean, c’mon, he’s the closest we have to real, functioning Hollywood royalty these days.

Best Actress

Glenn Close, for Albert Nobbs. Viola Davis, for The Help. Rooney Mara, for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Meryl Streep, for The Iron Lady (as Maggie Thatcher). Michelle Williams, for My Week With Marilyn.

Sadly I’ve only seen one of the movies that had one of these performances, and because I am a huge dork and Fincher fanboy, it was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rooney Mara’s performance was very strong in that film, and equal parts very alien and very, very humanistic, at least compared to the terrible Swedish adaptations of those novels, but I don’t know if I think there’s a Best Actress performance there. And I doubt the Academy thinks so either.

I suspect you’ll see this award go to Meryl Streep, because she does a physical change and she plays the British Godzilla we call Maggie Thatcher, but I’d be okay with either Glenn Close or Michelle Williams winning, especially Michelle Williams, to further propel her along on an interesting career.

Or Viola Davis, just to make people spit out their drink when this award doesn’t go to an old white lady with blonde hair.

But, even still, my prediction: Meryl Streep.

Also, did I read this all right and Shailene Woodley is not nominated for anything? Seriously?

That makes me want to cry underwater, yo.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh, for My Week With Marilyn. Jonah Hill, for Moneyball. Nick Nolte, for Warrior. Christopher Plummer, for Beginners. Max von Sydow, for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

My suspicion/hope: Christopher Plummer. Beginners was, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, one of those movies that I really wanted to see last year but just never got around to seeing for whatever reason. I have a good feeling about the movie, I guess.

Runner up suspicion/hope: Kenneth Branagh.

Third choice: I don’t know… Max von Sydow? Though, that said, I would strongly like to see Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close win nothing.

Side note: I originally mistyped that was “Extremely Cloud And Incredibly Loose.” Ha ha! Anyway. Here is another picture of Michelle Williams in pseudo-Marilyn mode (because we want those hits to be through the roof on this post):

I doubt Nick Nolte will take it, just because… well, who saw that movie? That’s the one with Bane vs. Uncle Owen, right? Whatever. And JONAH HILL, ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME!?!? I suspect his inclusion here is just the work of some jokester in the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences wanting to see if anyone actually even reads this shit.

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo, for The Artist. Jessica Chastain, for The Help. Melissa McCarthy, for Bridesmaids. Janet McTeer, for Albert Nobbs. Octavia Spencer, for The Help.

My suspicion: Man, I don’t have a clue.

Octavia Spencer?

This is a picture of Bérénice Bejo:

And this is another:

Anyway, I have not seen a single one of these movies, so this is a real guess. The Weinsteins want to buy Best Picture awards, so I don’t think they care about Best Supporting Actress awards. And Jessica Chastain… I don’t know. I feel like she’s someone, like Jeremy Renner and Sam Worthington, that somebody in Hollywood really, really, really wants to make happen, so you’re going to see them crammed into a lot of shit. Kind of like how Spielberg adopted Shia LeBeowulf for a while and shepherded him for a while until that plane crashed into the mountain. And Melissa McCarthy? Is her performance worthy of an Oscar or is this someone trying to say that these awards are “relevant” and capable of being “edgy”? You tell me.

I was going to cover both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay, because I am a writer nerd. I collect all the Screenwriter Trading Cards! But the nominees for Best Original Screenplay are boring as shit this year, so instead…

Best Adapted Screenplay

And the nominees are: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, for The Descendants. John Logan, for Hugo. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon, for The Ides Of March. Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, for Moneyball. Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

My suspicion: Sorkin and Zaillian.

No, I take that back. My suspicion: The crew from The Descendants. Partly because a Google image search for “Sorkin COCAINE” came up with a lot of boring hits, but also because…

The Dean from Community with an Oscar? That’s total LOL worthy. That’s EPIC LOLZ FOR DAZE worthy. There’s an amazing meta-in-joke on a future episode of Community (whatever that looks, tastes, feels like) there. Shit, you might as well just had Jim Rash host the ceremonies this year in character as the Dean from Community. I mean, cause why the fuck not?

I read something somewhere the other day that said that they suspect that Alexander Payne develops his projects based on where he could film them, and that made me LOL hard.

Runner up guess: The duo who adapted John Le Carre.

Closing thoughts: The Ides Of March, based on the play, Farragut North, was an okay film, but just okay. Clooney and Gosling and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and even Evan Rachel Wood were all just okay in it. There wasn’t a whole lot to chew there. Sadly, I feel like The Ides Of March are more out of place here than even Moneyball is. Also, I don’t think the guy that wrote Star Trek: Nemesis (which, you’ll remember, or not, starred Tom Hardy as Captain Picard’s clone) should be allowed to be nominated for an Oscar. Sorry, bro.

Final category: The Host.

Billy Crystal? Ugh.

This seems like a direct continuation of The King’s Speech winning last year. A return to the tired and the slightly boring. Granted, the Oscars is always a conundrum, and a study in contradictions. The old classic Hollywood vs. the new, the exciting, the experimental. And I think the celebration of those sides is always lost, or the mix is always wrong. The artists who are always pushing this medium forward aren’t being celebrated and encouraged and appreciated like they should. Last year’s debate of The Social Network vs. The King’s Speech was really about the New vs. the Old, and guess what? Boring won. (I’m going to guess that perhaps Weinstein $$$ didn’t hurt that debate tipping to one side over the other.)

Okay, and I don’t hate Billy Crystal, with all the changes they made and their attempts to “revolutionize” and update the Oscars, they’ve basically already said they’re in trouble. An infusion of new blood wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I’m sure there’s equally vanilla hosting options out there, ones that are still something new to this operation. Maybe. Maybe not.

Anyway, Brett Ratner producing was just too bizarre, as was the idea of Eddie Murphy hosting, which would’ve been interesting, but ultimately a pipe dream. An insane, fascinating pipe dream, but Eddie’s gotten too weird with his ego lately. Maybe he could have co-hosted with Scary Spice? Or maybe not. Speaking of Eddie and Scary Spice…

Benjie Light and I discussed this before, but I don’t think that James Franco and Anne Hathaway being chosen as hosts was necessarily a bad choice, but the bad choice was to make them work (with an unfair division of labor because Franco was obviously stoned the whole ceremony and Hathaway was trying to compensate) with the same tired staple of Bruce Villanch jokes. There’s got to be better, edgier, and quite frankly, smarter and safer host choices out there. At least a host that can pick their own joke writers. A Jon Stewart, perhaps? Or Tina Fey? Donald Glover. I’m just spitballing here, but I’m liking it.

Anyway. Tonight’s the night. Let’s see where we end up…

Who is Natalie Portman fucking these days?

Came across this gem on the internetz the other day:

Oh, that gave me quite the chuckle.

And, from that, I have some points to share with you, all of them only barely related to each other…

1. The other day, while speaking to Benjie, I was just bullshitting and joking around, as I am wont to do, and I retorted to something or other that I should start a single serving website called Who Is Natalie Portman Fucking These Days?

I think I actually called it Who Is Natalie Portman Dating Now? in that conversation, but let’s get right to the bottom of it: No one cares who you’re dating. Or, if they do, that’s only half as interesting who you’re actually fucking.

2. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. They’re still married. They have stayed married for five years past what the expiration date on that joke should’ve been. Congrats! You’re boring celebrities! But now we find out that he’s fucking around or perhaps they’re in an open relationship, whatever. Whoever you’re walking down a red carpet with will always pale in comparison to who you’re rubbing your genitals on. Of course we wish it wasn’t that way, but it is. Right?

1, continued: Meanwhile, Natalie Portman has certainly had an eclectic dating history. I don’t know all of it, which is probably a good thing, but Moby, for one. When I heard about that way back in the day I thought, “Well, great, that’s when I reach for my revolver. Ha ha. Bad joke, sorry.

But she also dated Devendra Banhart, which is… Well, regardless of whatever it is, that’s a thing that happened.

Perhaps she dated Hayden Christensen, an actor of dubious charm, too. I remember that was rumored around when they were filming the Star Wars prequels.

Though, again, were they dating or were they just killing time together while stuck in Australia spending hours and hours surrounded by green screen on movie sets? You can hardly fault an actor for the sexual shenanigans they get up to while filming a movie down under, methinks.

Also, Jude Law. Maybe. Face it, straight dudes, whoever that young ingenue that you have a masturbatory fantasy about, well, Jude Law’s probably gotten there first.

And, possibly Sean Penn. That’s weird, and kind of sad, but I’m not one to judge. At least it’s not Mickey Rourke, you know.

Some fashion designer/former male model or a British millionaire. Or Ryan Gosling or Gael García Bernal. Who cares? Those are less than tremendous choices for an inamorata.

John Mayer. Let’s just be thankful that, as far as I know, she hasn’t gone down this street yet. Thank God. That’s the kind of dead end that far too many cars have ran out of gas on or broken down on. I sincerely apologize for comparing women to cars in that metaphor.

But, speaking of John Mayer, there are a lot of things Natalie Portman is: a competent and incredibly inspiring actor that’s fun to watch, an Academy Award nominee, a good role model, a Harvard graduate, Jewish, someone with an Erdős-Bacon number, a director, a producer, a democrat, a vegan, a fashion designer (she has her own line of vegan shoes), a nonbeliever in the afterlife (good for you, Nat), someone whose birth name is Hershlag, an outstanding spokesperson and fundraiser for many fine organizations and causes around the world, a friend of Lukas Haas, a fan of NBC”s new hit comedy, Outsourced, and fluent in Japanese, German, French, and Arabic.

And thankfully there are a lot of things that Natalie Portman is not and one of those Jennifer Aniston.

And, of course, I made up the part about her liking Outsourced. Nobody likes that show.

I just typed “Natalie Portman” and “boyfriend” into google the other day and was informed that she is presumably currently dating a professional ballet dancer.

3. I really want to see Black Swan. It looks interesting and kind of b-movie cheesy brilliant. That perfect sweet spot where artsy films meet b-movie plots and Roman Polanski-esque level creepiness (I’m referring of course to the director’s movies, which I’m a fan of, and now his IRL creepiness).

4. Benjie Light and I were discussing that the other night and ruminating on what a poor year it’s been for movies. Also, we were kind of upset that we find ourselves having to say that thing every single year, it seems.

But 2010 has especially been strange since it seems like The Social Network, which is a fine, solid movie, will probably have serious Oscar potential (certainly Best Adapted Screenplay, but I’m talking Best Picture here too, party people)  just because we’re not going to have a lot of just stupendously great movies to nominate. Black Swan will probably be there somewhere in the Best Picture nominees too, I bet.

That said, I’d still prefer to see Aronofsky doing Superman rather than Zack Snyder, but that’s also kind of like saying I’d like to keep typing rather than sticking my hand in a blender, I know.

from here.

5. Because of The Social Network (and it’s strong success), I think a lot of blogs are having to step back and get a little meta maybe and also start thinking about the story of themselves. The amateurs map themselves onto the percieved personas of your Mark Zuckerberg/Jesse Eisenbergs and your Eduardo Saverin/Andrew Garfield/Peter Parkers, but that’s something you do after running around in the yard and peeing on plants and right before it’s naptime.

The big leagues is analyzing yourself, really getting into the dark and nasty places of your own blog/website, the twisted nitty gritty of your own origins, and pondering who’ll play you when your story of internet conquest hits the big screen.

Seriously, blogs o’ the interwebz, I am posing that question to you.

Benjie Light and I were contemplating that the other day ourselves. In a fucked up scorched earth production of the Counterforce story, we’d probably cast Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau as ourselves. But that’d be just so we could be dicks to each other about it.

Or, the recession era variation of that casting would probably be Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, I guess. And directed by Ron Howard. Ugh.

6. And Jeff Goldblum as Occam Razor.

7. And Kristen Stewart as Peanut St. Cosmo.

8. No, I’m just kidding about that. I wouldn’t even presume to guess at who could capture the bold essence of either Peanut or Maria, nor do I want to risk my testicles in the gambit of making a choice they’re not pleased with. They know who should play them far better than I could ever hope to guess, I imagine. That is, of course, if they’re too busy to not play the parts themselves.

9. But if they don’t comment on my fucking post then I swear to God I’ll combine them into one amalgamation character as played by Christine Hendricks!

10. You could probably cast any old twink as August Bravo. As long as they smell like straight up mayonnaise (that’s an inside joke that you don’t really want to nor need to get too inside on, believe me). Or maybe his favorite character on Mad Men (see above)? Or maybe one of Will Smith’s kids?

11. And, August Bravo, before you even say it…

…trust me, it could be worse. It could be Vince Vaughn playing you.

12. That said, I’ll say this in defense of Vince Vaughn: He’s probably the hardest working actor in that particularly bleak game of comedy films these days. Unlike the Owen Wilsons of the world, Vaughn is the long distance runner in this game. Just look at a sleazy guy like Bradley Cooper and tell me that you honestly think he’s got Vaughn’s stamina at this shit. No fucking way. That said, I’d say that Vince Vaughn is a lot like Magic Johnson in that he’s not necessarily great on his own, but he’s a great team player. If you pass him the ball in a really interesting way, then he’ll do something extra interesting when he shoots for the basket. And a little sleazy, as that’s the default of where his comedy riffage always seems set at (but still feeling classier than your average Bradley Cooper… anything). If he’s got no one to work with then it’s just a sad study in a man running up and down the court while dribbling.

13. Extreme side note there: I feel like every time I see a picture of Winona Ryder now, I’d describe the look on her face as if you had literally just caught her in the act of shoplifting.

14. In conclusion: Going back to point #1, Vince Vaughn, thank you for not being John Mayer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’ve gotten pretty fucking close to that territory more than few times, but you’ve still yet to fully cross that line and we appreciate it. I don’t think I could quite believe you as the romantic companion of Natalie Portman, but then again, I’ll believe just about anything these days.

“That’s kind of like getting fired over the internet.”

So, I watched Up In The Air over the weekend…

The movie, directed by Jason Reitman, starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick, is a fine one. Not exceptional, but well done. Good, but nothing Oscar worthy. Smart, but not all that smart, if you know what I mean. And that’s a good meta statement, I believe, to sum up the younger Reitman’s filmography as a whole so far.

But my real question for you, for those of you who have seen the movie, that is…

I can buy pretty much everything else about his character – and not just buy, but understand – but, is it me or doesn’t George Clooney’s character seem more than a little naive about women throughout the whole film?

The Ides.

Today is the day you were warned about.

Honestly, I just like saying: “Beware!” And telling people to beware various things. Like, “Beware those calories!” Or, “Beware Justin Bieber!”

Recently on Counterforce:

We’ve been comparing things, things like the manic pixie dream girl vs. the amazing girl, Heroes vs. Battlestar Galactica, and Kirsten Dunst vs. Kate Hudson.

We’ve got plenty of our favorite news items and lots of mad linkage to share with you.

And we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

We’ve been watching – what else is new? – this brand new and final season of Lost: “Dr. Linus,” “Sundown,” The Lighthouse,” “The Substitute,” and “What Kate Does.”

And, in doing so, we’ve been trying to get inside the minds of characters like Jack and Sayid. But perhaps they’ve been getting into our brains instead?

Speaking of television: Nip/Tuck finally ended, but the singularity still looms on the horizon (and perhaps on cable TV as well).

Oh, and the Oscars came and went again. We talked about afterward and talked about it quite a bit during the ceremony.

I read Tao Lin’s first collection of stories and then talked a little about short stories in general for your amusement.

The lovely Karen Gillan as a soothsayer of sorts in Doctor Who.

People tend to believe that God believes what they believe, we learned, and then we watched a bit of Chris Marker’s documentary about Andrei Tarkovsky.

Conrad talks about two of his favorite things: Prince and Kevin Smith (but more so Prince than Kevin Smith, he assures me).

from here.

Oh, and my iphone is apparently waiting to me, amidst the sea of pornography, sex pills, and mortgage help that the internet is just dying to offer me.

And our very own Maria Diaz, who’s been rocking it at SXSW this past weekend, got herself wifed up for the purposes of partying and let me DJ the party, and you were cordially invited to the event.

Fun fact about The Ides: It’s the 15th day of the month, but only in March, May, July, and October. In every other month, it’s the 13th of the month. The Roman calendar is really so weird.

All this talk of soothsaying and foretelling has me thinking… Here at Counterforce, when we’re not complaining about shit, we’re typically just slicing up bits of our subconscious, things that we like from all over the place, and sharing them with you. Sometimes it’s planned, and sometimes it happens on a deadly whim, but I wonder… Perhaps we should be planning and sharing what we’re planning more beforehand, teasing you a bit… Hmm. Maybe, right?

Or, more dangerously, just throwing out random things at the start of a month, or any time period, and then talking about them at some point, in some way. Maybe the topics are user generated, or just things the author knows nothing about but have always been abstractly interested in, I don’t know. And then they go off and learn something about that topic, or maybe they don’t. But they find an angle and attack it. Maybe it’s predictive blogging, maybe it’s something else.

OR! And this, this right here, is insane, but let me start earlier… at work, sometimes, when we’re bored, my co-workers and I will play a game, a silly, stupid game that we call “The Wikipedia game.” We generate a large group of topics and subjects, then you pick two randomly. You go to one of those topic/subject’s wikipedia pages, and utilizing only links on that page, you have to, in five clicks or seven clicks (or whatever) or less, you have to arrive at the second topic you picked. Think “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon,” but more infotastic and time wasting. Mind you, I”m just talking out loud here, so maybe this is lame, but what if blogging was like that? 

Your movie sucks.

Roger Ebert!

“I lost faith in the Oscars the first year I was a movie critic–the year that Bonnie And Clyde didn’t win.”

-Roger Ebert, 20 questions with Playboy.

He’s not Pauline Kael, but you know what, he doesn’t need to be. Film review is a tricky patch of dangerous woods to get lost in. Nobody is going to share your thoughts and feelings on a film more than you are, with your own voice, so your best best is to find someone close. For me, there’s probably four or five reviewers I always check for a movie, sometimes just because I want to dip into the quality of their words and their opinions, and while the critics on that list shift from time to time, Ebert is always on there. I’d say that he and I agree something like 93% of the time on a movie, and that’s even better than you can get from your friends sometimes.

Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz.

For example, I just got a text from a friend telling me how good Transformers 2 was and have I seen Knowing yet because they thought the trailer looked really, really, really, really, really, really cool.

Unrelated, email me if you want to be my friend. Please be interesting and not sucky. And have good taste in movies?

I grew up on Siskel and Ebert at the Movies and their simple thumbs up/thumbs down. Too simplistic a criterion sometimes, sure, but the there were two things I absolutely loved about their show: It was for the regular people and the reviews were based around having a modicum of intelligence. Were you Joe Average movie goer who wanted to know if a movie was good or not? Great, they could tell you. Were you a snarky pretentious film major who wanted to talk about metaphors and eros being sick and the shapes of regrets in the shadows and the male gaze? That’s cool, but you could slum it nicely with Siskel and Ebert.

Another thing I loved about those guys that I didn’t realize to much, much later was the fact that they probably hated each other:

Sometimes the bigger the asshole you are, the more authoritative you seem. In that regard, Gene was like us and Roger was a prick. Catholic and Jew. Good cop and bad cop. Holmes and Watson? Close, but no. Together, they were Tango and Cash, even though one looked like a car salesman and the other looked like an old school lesbian.

Remember when they guest starred on Jon Lovitz’ horrendously underrated The Critic back in the 90s?

Ha ha, Brilliant!

“Dammit, Gene, I’m not Roger! I’m never gonna be Roger! I wish I were!”

Ah… RIP Siskel.

RIP sleazy porn mustache:

Also, Roeper fucking sucks. Seriously.

Some of my favorite bits of Ebert:

- Dated Oprah way back when. Credited with suggesting to her that perhaps she should go national? And then she became one of the most powerful entities in the universe.

-His favorite actor is Robert Mitchum and his favorite actress is Ingrid Bergman.

-He actually went to the other side of the biz and co-wrote three films!

And they were wonderfully horrible: Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens, and Up!

Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert, OG film people, in 1970.

And no, not this Up:

Though that does look like a crotchety old version of Ebert, right?

-By the way, that quote referenced in Austin Powers: “It’s my happening and it freaks me out!” is from Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.

-He’s written more than 15 books (some just collections of his reviews) and his column is syndicated to over 200 newspapers. And in 1975, he became the first film critic to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

-In 2007 Forbes magazine named him “the most powerful pundit in America,” taking a lovely shit on even bigger windbags like Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly.

-He has his own film festival! And it’s charmingly called Ebertfest.

-I’m so jealous of that last bit (though, to be fair, even no talent hacks like Harry Knowles have their film fests so really, it’s no big deal, I know) that in a few months I’ll be hosting my own film fest: Marco Sparks Beyond Thunderdome! Email me for details.

-In 2005, Rob Schneider criticized a Los Angeles Times reviewer for giving an unfavorable review to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and said that the reviewer was unfit to comment upon the film because he didn’t have a Pulitzer. Ebert then stepped in and said that since he did have a Pulitzer, he was qualified enough to say to Schneider: “Your movie sucks.”

-They later mended fences as human beings when Ebert had some health problems.

-He’s a big public supporter of Werner Herzog, even as Herzog’s popularity has waned. In a move of special thanks, Herzog dedicated his 2008 film Encounters At The End Of The World to Ebert.

-Back in 2004, while guesting on Howard Stern’s show, he predicted that the then-junior senator from Illinois, a guy named Barack Obama, would be very important to the future of this country.

-in 2002 Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has had a slew of health problems relating from that, including having a part of his jaw removed, causing him to lose his ability to speak (but not the ability to write, so suck it, Clive Barker). This is hardly one of my Ebert greatest hits, but I love that he not only has one of those computerized voice systems (think: Stephen Hawking) but that for a long time, he programmed it to speak for him in a British accent and he named it Lawrence.

-Oh, and let’s not forget that he sometimes chills with party animals like the eternally classic Peter O’Toole and the forever skeezy Jason Patric:

And then, of course, there’s always…

The Brown Bunny.

Yes, the Vincent Gallo movie. My personal take on it: This is a really bad movie, almost unwatchable. But if you do watch it, you can kind of – if you squint and are hopeful – see what Gallo was going for, and see that he has a filmmaker’s soul somewhere within (though he may have snorted it off of someone’s asshole). Sadly, you can also see his dick.

But back in 2003, Ebert saw the movie at Cannes and said that it wasn’t just bad, it was the worst film in the entire history of the Cannes film festival. Upset by that, Gallo then cursed Ebert health, and put a hex on him, wishing that he got colon cancer.

Ebert, in response: “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”

Gallo then, in response to that, took the high road and mocked Ebert’s obesity, saying that he has the physique of “a slave-trader,” to which Ebert came back with: “It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of The Brown Bunny.

They’ve since worked out their differences and have probably even hugged a few times.

The best of Ebert’s reviews for films that recieved zero stars:

- “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

from the review of Freddy Got Fingered.

- “Caligula is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length. That was on Saturday night, as a line of hundreds of people stretched down Lincoln Ave., waiting to pay $7.50 apiece to become eyewitnesses to shame…’This movie,’ said the lady in front of me at the drinking fountain, ‘is the worst piece of shit I have ever seen.’”

from the review of Caligula.

- “Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes. … Does this sound like a movie you want to see? It sounds to me like a movie that Columbia Pictures and the film’s producers … should be discussing in long, sad conversations with their inner child.”

from the review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

- “I like good horror movies. They can exorcise our demons. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t want to exorcise anything. It wants to tramp crap through our imaginations and wipe its feet on our dreams. I think of filmgoers on a date, seeing this movie and then — what? I guess they’ll have to laugh at it, irony being a fashionable response to the experience of being had. … Do yourself a favor. There are a lot of good movies playing right now that can make you feel a little happier, smarter, sexier, funnier, more excited — or more scared, if that’s what you want. This is not one of them. Don’t let it kill 98 minutes of your life.”

from the review of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

- “Dirty Love wasn’t written and directed, it was committed. Here is a film so pitiful, it doesn’t rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent… I am not certain that anyone involved has ever seen a movie, or knows what one is.”

from the review of Dirty Love. And last, but not least…

- “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

from the now infamous review of North.

I’m glad Roger Ebert’s still with us, I really am. And more importantly, I’m glad he hasn’t stopped doing what he does best: going to the movies and reporting back to you what he’s found there. He’s treated the public like a friend and shared wonders and horrors with them. He’s the reviewer for everyone. He can talk to you, he can talk to the people smarter than you, and he’s not too scary for the people who are dumber. And he’s waiting there in the dark for the projector to start.

And I thought my jokes were bad

I feel like I should say something about the Oscars. I didn’t even watch them this year. I was almost surprised that Heath won. The Academy are just the kind of assholes who would piss all over a no-brainer like that. I didn’t see Slumdog, but I still think Wall-E was the best movie of the year.

The Peanut St. Cosmo of tomorrow

The Peanut St. Cosmo of tomorrow

This year, Mickey Rourke got nominated for playing a washed-up, has-been, hard-living tool and co-star Marisa Tomei joined him with a nod for playing an aging hottie who only gets paid when she takes her clothes off. Acting?

Seth Rogen, posing with an unidentified escort

Seth Rogen, posing with an unidentified paid escort

PS. Watchmen looks like hot sweaty ass. Like watching someone film their own taint. Dear Zach Snyder: you know how you use that camera move where it’s all slo-motion and then it speeds up for a second and then it’s all slo-mo again? That was worn out by the first Matrix sequel you fucking hack, go back to directing commercials. Still, I think all the blame for the Crisis of Bad Directing in Modern Cinema can be traced back to Peter Jackson. Once upon a time, gratuitous slo-mo and goofy theatrical over-acting were recognized as such. Then this kiwi sheep fucker comes along and people confuse good source material for a good movie.

How can anyone take the Academy seriously when this bloated piece of shit won an Oscar for Editing?

How can anyone take the Academy seriously when this bloated piece of shit won an Oscar for Editing?

Oh, and Quentin? What if, instead of making exacting pastiches of bad movies, you picked your balls up off the floor and dared to try to make a good movie next time?

In other news, I came across this on Salon.com. Fucking right-wingers. I really don’t know how american society is expected to function when a good 25% of the country is fucking crazy. Oh noes! A black guy won an election (in a fucking landslide)! Let’s start “war-gaming” for the coming Civil War!

I think we can take them

I think we can take them

Stupid Republican fucks think they’re being “disenfranchised” because they got their asses kicked in an election. Never mind their 8 years in power when they totally fucked up the country. It’s too bad the Senate GOP didn’t follow through on their “Nuclear” option a few years back. ‘Bama could be ramming every bill he wants through congress and telling the GOP to go fuck themselves. People didn’t vote for Obama because they thought Republicans should be listened to.

hacked3

Anyway, read that article. Sometimes Glenn Greenwald is annoying, but he does a great job there pointing out how ideologically bankrupt the GOP is. Buncha stupid tribal motherfuckers.

Meh. the downside of Democracy.