Friday, 29 August 2008

I SEE “RED” ... NOT.

I was poking about a movie site earlier in the week and came across trailers for 2 films, "The Girl Next Door" and "Red", both based on books of the same name by Jack Ketchum, an author I'd never heard of ...

From 2007, “Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door” Trailer

From 2008, “Red” Trailer

So I did a bit more poking about and, from the looks of it, Ketchum is someone I definitely need to get acquainted with (given the type of things I occasionally like to read, examples of which are here and here) ...

"The Girl Next Door" is based on an actual case from 1966 which was brain-numbingly horrific in nature, and incredibly disturbing. I'm not sure how "satisfying" it would be as a movie but happily, from the tone of the trailer and reviews so far, the makers appear to have decided against churning out another entry in the ghastly "torture-porn" genre, cf the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises, opting instead for a bit of substance over spillage.

Curiously enough, another film, based on the exact same crime, was also made last year starring Ellen Page and Catherine Keener. This one is called "An American Crime", and was made for Showtime. Keener was nominated for an Emmy for her role earlier this year …

From 2007, “An American Crime” Trailer

Neither film has been released in Australia. I can't even find a tentative date for a DVD release.


Why can I not watch these two fucking films here? Fair enough, "Red" is still doing the rounds of various film markets, so it's a bit early in the day to have a whine about that, but both "The Girl Next Door" and "An American Crime" have been released already and are now on DVD, but as far as Australian moviegoers are concerned, we can just fuck off and go watch crap like "Don't Mess With The Zohan" or "The Love Guru" or fucking "Prom Night" instead.

This just shits me. Also, can you believe that my local Blockbuster hasn't even decided to put "Teeth" on their shelves? What am I supposed to be watching, "Martian Child"?*

Here's another one that, despite excellent reviews, we probably won't be seeing ...

From 2008, “Martyrs” Trailer

Outside of the recent Melbourne Film Festival, no one will probably get a chance to see "Inside" either ...

From 2008, “Inside” Trailer

And the much-admired Spanish horror film "[REC]", while it had a brief run at a couple of film festivals this year, won't make it to cinema or DVD either, I suspect. We may not even get the dubious honour of seeing how the Americans fuck up the remake, of which the original directors had this to say, "I would prefer them to release our movie as an art-house film in the U.S., and not to make a fool of themselves by copying it."

Now, before someone tries to write me off as a sociopathic gore 'n' guts lovin' ghoul, scientific journal "Behavioural Neuroscience" has another explanation that makes a great deal more sense ...

And my favourite film of all time is Bruce Beresford's "Tender Mercies".


So there.

Take your assumptions as to my sanity and sensibilities and … and …

Oh, never mind.

*Well, I might … John Cusack’s not too bad, I guess.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


- Thing is, people want it to be a period thing … they should think about it now.

- Bring it up to date …

- Yes, bring it up to date, do it now.

- Okay.

- So. Is, then … Is … “Casablanca” “the” place? Or is it “a” place?

- If it’s a place, then it’s a nightclub, right?

- But the nightclub is called “Ricks” …

- So you got a guy called Rick runnin’ a nightclub called “Casablanca” … that works for me …

- But what happens? Where is he that something can happen? … No. It has to be that it’s the place.

- Exotic, like.

- Yes. So stuff can happen. Foreign stuff. Nobody’s gonna give a fuck about some guy runnin’ a bar called “Casablanca” in Pittsburgh. You see, the old one, that’s World War II, for Christ’s sake. No-one’s interested in that stuff anymore. It’s history.

- History. Pfhht. That’s just for dusting.

- You need new foreign stuff … Arabs 'n' shit. There’s Arabs there.

- They can be sneakin’ around …

- Doin’ Arab stuff.

- With guns ‘n’ shit.

- And the letters of transit … from the original …

- I’m trying to think …

- … They can be something else. Something … ancient, yeah? Rare shit. Ancient. Holy. Dangerous shit ... Old, holy, dangerous shit. Huh?

- You get some Dan Brown thing happening there.

- Yes. Some Dan Brown thing … that worked for him. So. We got Ilsa trying to get this ancient, holy hoodoo out of the country …

- It’s cursed. If the hoodoo’s cursed, you could get some “Mummy” action in. Sandstorms, like that. After all, it’s the desert, let’s fuckin’ use it while it’s there.

- I dunno I want a “Mummy” thing goin’ on … Anyway, this old hoodoo don’t belong in Arab land, it was stolen, blah blah blah, has to be returned to its rightful place, blah-de-blah-de-blah, and they gotta smuggle it out, but first they need Rick to pull a few favours with the military, so they can get … you know … the thing out … without, without, er … you know, getting searched and stuff.

- Is it a military hoodoo?

- No, it’s a holy hoodoo.

- Why does the army care?

- Who’s army?

- Theirs.

- They’re Arabs. It’s all the same to them.

- How does he pull favours?

- I don’t fucking know. He just does. Fuck, I mean … they’re fucking Arabs, y’know?

- Fuckin’ way to run a fuckin’ military.

- What can I say? It’s why it works out … if they knew what they were doing, they’d do it, we wouldn’t have a story.

- We wouldn’t have a fuckin’ paycheck.

- They’re Arabs. They fuck it up.

- Our guys win.

- What else? … We get Blanchett for Ilse, Clooney for Rick …

- Clooney’ll wanna have a few pals along.

- I don’t care. We’ll let him have David Strathairn for Captain Renault. Maybe we could get Brad Pitt or Matty D. for the Victor Laszlo part … he’ll go for that. Fuck, maybe he puts some money in. Huh?

- Steve Buscemi does the Peter Lorre part.

- That’s fuckin’ excellent. I like that.

- Thank you.

- No. No, really, that’s good. What about, in that vein, what do you think … John Goodman in Sydney Greenstreet’s role?

- Fuck, yes. I can see that. They’ve both worked together before anyway, haven’t they?

- I dunno. Have they?

- In the … the, the, Coen thing.

- Huh?

- The Coens.

- …

- The Coens.

- Yeah.

- You know.

- Yeah yeah yeah yeah … Yeah … Anyway, if they’ve worked together before, it’s good. They’re already friends. You see?

- Very smooth.

- As it should be.

- …

- …

- “McCasaburger”.

- Huh?

- “McCasaburger”. The burger. Tie-in.

- Nice.

- A true taste of the desert.

- What would that be?

- I dunno. I’ve never eaten a burger in the desert.

- Fuckin’ flies …

- Maybe … I think maybe they can just make it, you know, deserty by putting some fruit on it. …

- Dates with meat … Do dates go with meat? What’s an Arab fruit?

- … An’ a new sauce.

- Hommous!

- Perfect!

- Right

- Okay

- …

- …

- Fuck. We’re really good at this, you know?

- Yes. Yes, we are.

Monday, 25 August 2008


Hollywood, have I gotta fucken concept for you ...

A remake.
“Some Like It Hot”, the Billy Wilder thing from the 50’s. It’s time is due.

Adam Sandler and David Spade taking on the Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon roles respectively, Jessica Simpson in the Monroe part and Chevy Chase updating the George Raft role of Spats Colombo.

Bringin’ the story up to date for the kids, Sandler and Spade will now be playing two nightclub DJ's who witness Chase and his mob take out a rival gang over a multi-million dollar ice deal and decide to go into hiding by posing as a couple of female backup dancers in Simpson's teen-sensation electro-pop touring variety show. Much hilarity ensues as our hapless pair of wanted witnesses struggle to maintain their disguises and their dignity as they find themselves sharing tour digs with some smokin'-hot babes who ain't afraid to let it all out whenever the mood takes them! Think of the tittage we can get on the poster! … Sandler and Spade also get the chance to deliriously bust a few moves in some sizzlin' and sexy Simpson routines that'll have audiences howlin' for "Some Like It Hotter" for next summer! … The soundtrack’ll go crazy, we can do a buncha clips. Think of the tittage … We got some cameos, too …
Macauley Culkin will be doin' a bit as a hitman in Chevy Chase's gang; Jackie Chan's in it ... he'll do some stuff, you know, that stuff he does; Kirstie Alley's playing the tour manager ... Jim Belushi we got too ... um, people from all over, you know. Jason Alexander ... like that.

Rodney Dangerfield will play the part of Spade's love-blind paramour that was made famous by Joe E. Brown in the orig -

Dangerfield's dead?






We'll get
John Candy, then.






Martin Lawrence?


Fuckin' excellent.

Anyway, Lawrence takes Joe E. Brown's part, and Paris, Posh and Rhianna are already lined up to play some of the other girls in the roadshow.

Shawn Levy's directing, Joe Eszterhas is on script.

Good, eh?

What's not to like?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


From “Rebus Flatbush’s Famous Fables & Folk-Tales from the American Mid-West”

“A cautionary fable for chin-dribblin’, crotch-fiddlin’, one-tooth banjo-playin’ retards, imbeciles, idiots, and egg-suckin’, overall-wearin’, straw-chewin’ dumb-ass inbred cretins and backward halfwit morons everywhere.”

Once upon a time, Rebus Flatbush found 'imself with sum important bizness to attend to at Ol' Mammy Wineshack's House a’ Joy up the Ol’ Baccy Road outside a' Dogpile, so he thought to leave the boys at Uncle Jack's place down at Lickass Town fer a few days ...

But what Rebus di'nt know at the time wuz that fer well over a year now, the strangest lookin' idiot creature any man's a'ever set his peepers on either in this lahf or the next had bin wandrin' in an' out of poor ol' Jack's patch a’ turnips with nary as much as a howdy-do or a may-I-please, an' ol' Jack was gittin' a mite itchy in his brain about it ...

And sure ‘nuff, later that very same day, while's Uncle Jack was tendin' to his pint-sized an’ summat sickly lookin’ melons and the boys were messin' about with the hawgs, that damn stupid thang came a’scuttlin' an' a'cluckin' an' a'spurtin' it's way inta the weed bed agin ... an' ol' Jack let fly a series a’ curses an’ ‘jaculations sumfin' evil at the sight a’ that mangy retard afore he whooped at the boys to come an' have a looksee.

"Hey Feetus, Teetus and Meatus! You boys leave that hawg alone for a minute an’ wipe yerselves off an' come have a gander at this goshdarn funny lookin' moron chicken that keeps a flappin' about mah patch a’ dirt!"

"Eeeee-ewwwwwwww", said Feetus, "Wassat thing there thass a' spurtin’ green stuff all over the turnip patch, Unca Jack?"

"Why Feetus", said Uncle Jack, "thass a bahl duck."

"A bahl dick?"

"No boy, a bahl DUCK. A bahl DUCK. (Damn it boy if you ain't ever had nothin' but wood on the brain since you were jest a little fella) ... This 'ere funny lookin' imbecile chicken looks lahk it's been born with it's bahl duck on the outsahd 'stead a' on the insahd!"

"Thass one goshdarn retarded lookin' chicken, Unca Jack", says Meatus.

"Well, boy, 'pearances ain't ever'thing, y'know ... (An' yer momma's plenny a' proof a' that, thass fer sure, boy)."

Uncle Jack cackled a bit at his own li'l joke, 'gratulatin' hisself on his smarts, an’ so he gave 'hisself an' extra large chunk of Jolly Roger chewin' baccy, and then blew off the last remnants a’ that mornin's meal through the hole in his coveralls he'd had made jes fer that very purpose.

"I'm gonna call that chicken George Jnr, Unca Jack", says Meatus.

"You do that, boy, though if I have any sayin' in the matter, that dumb-lookin’ thang ain't gonna 'ave a name fer much longer."

And then, whiles Uncle Jack wuz a musin' on the various ways an' means that he maht use to rid 'imself a’ the curse a’ this dirty ol' spurtin', stupid chicken, Teetus came a scootin' outta the shack yellin', "Uncle Jack!! Uncle Jack!! You gots to come insahd!! Quick!!"

"Wassup, Teetus?"

"Why, Ol' Woman Moses done gone and got herself stuck on the four-poster again! She got the lockjaw sumfin' feerce!"

"Dagnabbit all to heck! ... Ol' Man Moses's bin dead all year now, an' that ol' gal's brain's so rattled she's got to humpin' an' a’suckin' at those bedknobs as if he were still raht there aside her! ... You boys keep an' eye on that spurtin' chicken an' make sure it don't scare the hawgs none whiles I fetch the denture solvent an' pull her off those things afore she sucks all the varnishin' clean off ..."

Anyhoo, after takin' care a’Ol' Woman Moses an' her oral fixations an’ givin’ her dry ol’ lady bits a dustin’, Uncle Jack wandered back outside ta give some thoughts as ta how ta deal with this vexatious tarnation that were the devil's spurtin' imbecile chicken ...

Which is when he noticed sumfin' he ain't a’ever noticed afore ...

When that thang a' spurted its stuff alls over the turnips, the turnips died. But ... when it spurted its stuff over the melon patch, those things thrived. So Uncle Jack got the boys to lasso it's scrawny neck with a buncha ol’ crusty rubbers tied together (he wuz savin’‘em up to use fer Chris’mas stockin’s fer the boys, but danged if this weren’t a mite more ‘portant) an’ then he tied them rubbers 'round a big steel stick and planted that stick raht there in the melon patch an' that ol' devil chicken ran about that stick spurtin' it's bahl all over where the melons were supposed to grow and, lordy lordy, grow they did! Them things got so big, Uncle Jack won hisself firs’ prize in the annual fair up in Frottage County that very year, a first-class ticket on a steamer to Cleveland.

An’ later on, when that ol’ dumb chicken had run out of green stuff to spurt, Uncle Jack took a mahty big mallet an’ mashed it’s mangy ol’ body flat as could be, stuck a coat-hanger up it’s be-hind and used it fer a weather vane.

Yessiree now, Ol' Uncle Jack might not have known all that much 'bout the ways of stupid, spurtin’, dirty ol’ dumb devil chickens, but danged if he didn’t have a magic way about him when it came to tendin’ hisself a fine patch’a melons.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


A couple of weeks ago, deliberately and very much on purpose, I decided to waste 3 bucks and 90 minutes of my life watching Shawn Levy's pointless and unremarkable remake of "The Pink Panther", with Steve Martin starring as Inspector Clouseau.

It was pretty crappy, actually, with Jean Reno wandering around looking thoroughly perplexed and just as equally bemused by the proceedings he's found himself a part of. Perplexed no doubt by the total absence of a reason for his character even existing, and bemused by the sizable stacks of cash he was probably being paid for turning up. However, when you're an actor in such a notoriously volatile and fickle industry and you find yourself confronted with the choice of a quality role at scale or a minor role in a piece of crap for a slice of a squillion ... turn up, take the cash for the crap, and fuck off quietly, I reckon. One of the more tiresomely stupid rhetorical questions often asked by idiot critics of actors is "What on earth was he/she thinking when they did this?" Well, what they were probably thinking was something along the lines of, "I need money for food so that I may live".

According to John Cleese in a
Comedy Channel special (6 parts on YouTube), Steve Martin may have been thinking, "I need money to buy some art ... This'll do." Fair enough. Actually, I'm all for Steve Martin making a whole bunch of crap whenever the hell he feels like it as long as he throws in a "Shopgirl" or "Bowfinger" or "L.A. Story" every few years.

Or writes another memoir that's as good as
"Born Standing Up".

As some critics have noted, it's easy to forget that Martin has been at his "trade" for over 40 years now. For an entire generation, he's just that white-haired bloke who plays dads in middle-of-the-road light comedies, not the "wild 'n' crazy" guy from the 1970's who used to play to stadium-sized crowds whilst wearing an arrow through his head and making balloon animals and singing stupid songs about dead Egyptian kings. Those days are long past and it is those days Martin's book deals with.

Without getting all sappy about it, he looks back at his youth, his childhood, his early days as a magic and comedy act, his subsequent breakthrough success and his decision to leave stand-up comedy with a warm, clear eye, refreshingly free of the type of impotent nostalgia and dreary sentimentality that so often mar show-business autobiographies with their over-abundance of self-serving schmaltz and who-cares-now apologia. Instead, there's something warmly and appealingly melancholic about the best of Martin's work, and it's a quality apparent here. By melancholic, I do not mean sad or depressed or even kind of blue. It's what happens when you look back at a thing, at a point in your life, regard it with fondness, know that it is gone and feel a sense of wonder at what has been lost and left behind. Even Martin, early on in his book, writes that he regards "Born Standing Up" more a biography than an autobiography as it is about a person "he once knew".

That “person” once worked in a shop at Disneyland. He did stand-up for years and years in all sorts of rickety and subterranean little clubs, often working 5 shows a day, sometimes to no audience (he had to be seen doing an act through a window so people might be encouraged to wander in for a look-see). He wrote for the then cutting-edge television satire of
“The Smothers Brothers”. He also wrote for “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour”. Yes, that’s right, Sonny & Cher had a “Comedy Hour”. He hung out with Laurel Canyon hippies. He once opened for a folk-duo who, a few years later, wound up morphing into the Eagles. He did Johnny Carson’s show. He dated Linda Ronstadt, but was so intimidated by her looks and “street-smarts” that on the 8th or 9th date, Ronstadt asked him if he often dated girls and deliberately tried not to get them into bed. He opened for Ann-Margret’s act in Vegas once and met Elvis Presley backstage. Elvis congratulated Martin on his “ob-leek” sense of humour and then proceeded to show him his guns. Elvis had an “ob-leek” sense of humour too, you see.

Then he became a success, playing to stadiums of tens of thousands of people, selling squillions of records. And eventually he realised it was all becoming a bit pointless doing small moments of comic business that would be lost on anyone beyond the second row and that having your own catchphrases hollered at you by a horde of strangers before you’d managed to get a word out yourself wasn’t particularly satisfying.

So, he decided to put it to rest, and went about doing other things.

As Billy Connolly notes in the same Comedy Channel special, it was a brave, some might say foolish, move to make. You’re going from a known quantity at the peak of success in your field to just another face on an 8x10 in the crapshoot of feature filmmaking. Martin could’ve milked his stand-up act for years. He could’ve wound up playing any RSL he felt like. And for a percentage of the door, too. Instead, he threw the world a loop and decided to dance and mime his way through Herbet Ross’s 1981 adaptation of Dennis Potter’s
“Pennies From Heaven” for his second feature. Nobody saw that coming, that’s for sure.

“Born Standing Up” is not written as a “comic” book, but it is often laugh out loud funny, especially when Martin describes the evolution and impact of many of his sketches which were not as randomly thrown together as one may think, but were, rather, often painstakingly deliberate in nature, directed and informed by Martin’s early university studies of philosophy. He always seems to know exactly what he’s doing.

I hope he writes another book soon. Or sometime. About films and film-making, perhaps. He’s very good at it.

But he’s not particularly prolific these days, though. At least not to the extent that he was during the 1980’s. It was 8 years between “L.A. Story” and “Bowfinger” and 6 years from that to “Shopgirl”. He’s provided the storyline for a Don Cheadle drama called
“Traitor” this year, so that may prove interesting. But he’s only one of three screenwriters on his next feature film, to be released next year, which probably means he just wrote a few gags or a bit or two …

Martin’s next film is
“The Pink Panther 2”.

Oh, well.

That’s a bit of a bugger, eh?

Primary production has been completed. It’s directed by Harald Zwart. Harald made a Norwegian film in 2006 called
“Lange flate ballær” which translates as “Long Flat Balls”.

How about that?

Jean Reno’s in it once again, too.

Jeans’ agent is very, very happy.

After all, he eats so that he may live.

From 1981, Steve Martin & Bernadette Peters from “Pennies from Heaven”