Saturday, April 22, 2006

BAD FILM



I have recently gone through 5 movies at the theatre. This list is starting to already go stale, so I will put it up now before it falls completely off. My boy Matt and I are always lamenting about how modern film tends to be mediocre at best. There is nothing really on the horizon that has me IN CHECK. I mean really. The buzz is on SNAKES ON A PLANE. That is how far we as an audience have sunk in a YEAR. Episode 3 was on everyone's tongues last year. Exactly a year ago, people had hope for something to shake them. Now we are waiting for Sam Jackson to yell "Somebody get these mother f&^%*ing snakes offa this motherf*%^king plane!"

In short, we suck.

We have the Da Vinci Code coming.
We have that Scanner Darkly rotoscoped flick...and what else? NOTHING, DAMMIT.

The last time I really felt that "got to got to got to go" about film was definitely Episode 3. People talk smack about that film, but hey, fakkem. That stuff was entertainment. So in respect to the people I just dismissed, I will use Episode 3 of Star Wars as my template. I've got five films to work over here, and up against a mediocre no-academy-award-for-special-FX-film like Star Wars Episode 3, I should be doing alright, que no? THINK AGAIN.

First to bat? SHE'S THE MAN.



Let me put some context to you. Amanda Bynes is a funny kid. She really is. I will watch the Amanda show any time it is on. I don't have cable, so when I find it on, I find it on at someone else's house. She is good in doses. She is cute, she has timing. But her latest movie sucks. The plot has to do with a girl who wants to play soccer at her school. The girl's team at her school has been nuked, and she can't play on the guy's team. Amanda pulls a fast one and insinuates her way into her brother's school by pretending to be her brother while he is off cutting class in Europe.

Just that right there is an over the top bitter pill. It is hard to believe. So I will scratch anything General Greivous does in Episode 3 out for that stuff.

Amanda's insinuation requires her to dress/look like a boy. That stuff DOES NOT WORK. She looks like a cherubic 10 year old male prostitute AT BEST. There really isn't much about her that is masculine at all. Bravo for Amanda, boo for the film.

So I will throw in the Emperor revealing himself to Anakin and the ensuing battle with Mace Windu, I'll throw that in here just to make it even.

The last straw that made SHE'S THE MAN fall to pieces was the genitalia/breast baring passage in the middle of the final soccer game at the end to prove who was exactly whom. Amanda didn't look at all like her brother she was supposed to be imitating. I was at a loss here, because everyone in the film had no problem with this.

This scene can nix out the new Vader standing up at the end of Episode 3 and screaming "NOOOOoooooooooo!"

Bottom line? She's the Man is a horrible film.

Episode 3 > She's the Man.

Next up? ICE AGE 2


Ok, for the record, I downloaded Ice Age 1 a few years back. My kids watched it a coupla times on the comp screen. I have never stayed awake through the whole thing. That film is a damn lullaby. It knocks me right out.

Enter the release of Ice Age 2.

Matt was rolling with us on that wonderful afternoon. My babies were in the mix and so was my wife. I paid full pop for everyone and we went in and grabbed our seats. Yzzy got the grandpa size popcorn and it was on.

The only thing that made me want to see it was the little acorn hoarding rodent that peppers the beginning and end of Ice Age 1. He is a cute little set of bookends around a serious REM drenched nap. Well, acorn rodent dude was there. I guess that the idea that the little acorn rodent and the rest of the cast should cross paths in the film was on the minds of ALL in production. So the plot is bent around a serious meltdown, and this damned rat chasing his acorn right into the plot.

I will throw in all of the horribly written Lucas maneuvers in Episodes 2 and 3 for this. There were some serious reaches in order to make it look like he had Episode 3 in his head back when he was filming Star Wars in '76. I will say to my grave that Lucas had no such plan, and keeners who weren't around for the release in '77 will argue. FAKKEM, they can have it now, because I am giving it to them, in the spirit of ICE AGE 2.

I don't fall asleep in movies. The last time I did that was when I took my son to see that Godawful Pokemon movie. I saw the Snorlax on the screen and I was fakking DONE. I haven't blacked out that hard until the Ice Age franchise hit the market. What I am trying to say is that Ice Age 2 put me to sleep. I had factors to keep me awake too. I had my kids. I had a tub-o-greasy-corn. I had Matt. I had dropped close to forty bucks. Nope, it was a night-nights situation.

The only sleepiness that I felt during Episode 3 was when Anakin and Palpatine went to that weird fireworks show. But the dialogue was pretty cool, and it kept me awake. Ice Age had no such dialogue, but I will toss this scene out in order to keep it fair.

ICE AGE 2 ends with the potential for another episode. The only good thing about the film is Jay Leno's cameo and the vultures who are on the death tip, waiting for these stupid-assed dinosaurs to die so they can get some lunch.

Ice Age 2 was a boring, horrible little film. The computer graphics were on point, but come on, up against Episode 3? NO CONTEST. ILM rules. Period.

Episode 3>Ice Age 2

Next up?
INSIDE MAN



Ok folks. This one hurt me.
I have been following Lucas' career as long as I have been film conscious. Similarly, I have been following Spike Lee's career for as long as I was "decent R-Rated movie" conscious. There is a story about me following "non-decent R-Rated movies" but you don't want to hear that.

Lucas started by telling us of an everyman who overthrows the galactic empire with some faith and some goofy friends.

Lee started by bringing us some racist Italians slangin pizza in the hood. For you keeners out there, I haven't seen SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT (rape scenes aren't for me, yo). I have seen SCHOOL DAZE, but that doesn't count. I will cancel both of those out, as I will cancel out American Graffiti and THX-1138.

I was waiting for Episode 3 with the sickness. Lucas was going to take me back to that wonderful world that I know and I have countless plastic action figures to help me remember it.

I was awaiting the INSIDE MAN with a similar sickness. Lee was going to take me back to his twisted racist world where New York is reduced to epithets and Jody Foster was going to grace the screen. I had seen the previews, and I knew that Agent Starling had officially grown up. Homegirl was looking hot. Willem DeFoe was up in there too. And let's not forget Denzel Washington or Clive Owen.

Lucas' problem? Too much plot. He had to squeeze every last thing that he had done for 30+ years into a film and make it coherent.

Lee's problem? Too little plot. He had to squeeze a film treatment into a 2-plus hour movie and make it coherent.

Here is the Inside man in a nutshell. Bank gets robbed. There are hostages. There are red herrings. Jody Foster finds out some truth about the bank owner. No one gets killed. There are more red herrings. The people that rob the bank mix in with the hostages and go free. Oh, but there is an INSIDE MAN underneath all of this. There is lots of profanity. There is a scene with a kid playing a version of Grand Theft Auto that I would love to get my hands on. Someone gets beat down behind a frosted glass door. The hostages are told to strip, but the camera ogles the females. As far as I know, the men didn't strip. I could go on. It is painful and it is simple.

Here is Episode 3 in a nutshell. There is a young man who is being deceived every where he turns. He is in the middle of a full-on war and those who are closest to him are messing with him. He is in love and his wife is preggers. No one can know that he has a wife or has procreated for that matter. Homeboy is in over his head and he proceeds to destroy his entire world in the process. It is painful and it is poetic.

Bottom line? Denzel out acts Samuel Jackson. However, Natalie Portman is hotter than Jodie Foster. Clive Owen is a better actor than Ewan McGregor and Willem Defoe outacts Yoda.

So what we have here is this: The Inside Man had the actors yet Episode 3 had the story. Episode 3 completed something and Inside Man left me feeling empty and used at the end.

Spike still managed to bring his race issues to the surface and Lucas brought back the wookies.

Spike left holes and questions that I could drive a Jawa Crawler through. Lucas closed it all up. People aren't happy with the way he sutured it, but hey, at least it was sutured. Inside Man is a gaping wound. If there is a scene that I would sacrifice as disjointed in Episode 3 in comparison to the general disjointedness of Inside Man, I would offer up the scene where Padme gives birth to the twins. That trash made no sense. Nor did the "force-choke" Anakin put to her prior to her labor.

Episode 3>Inside Man

Next up? V for Vendetta



I know some people swear by V for VENDETTA, but I am not one of them. This movie was complete rubbish. I have seen better futuristic fascist films. Heck, I have even seen better fascist films set in the far past, like say, STAR WARS EPISODE 3.

V for Vendetta was a complete waste of my time. It was advertised as an ass-kicking special FX manifesto from those transexual Wachowski brothers. That wasn't the case AT ALL. TALK TALK TALK. I wanted some action. As Matt said, "There are only two money shots in the whole film". He was right. What have the Wachowskis done for me lately? I dropped CINEMA CASH on all of their Matrix films. I will even defend Matrix 2 if you catch me while I am drinking. I even watched BOUND. I even thought that Bound could be good if they had just gotten up offa the soft-porn aspect of it. The Wachowskis are some hit and miss asshats. The Matrix was heroin. It made me think. But ever since then, those guys have been tripping up in their own fecal matter. The problem is that there are too many fanboys out there saying that the ropes of feces that the Wachowskis are throwing at us are actually tasty, nutritious things that should be marketed at Trader Joes. These fanboys are the exact bitches that tricked me into seeing this lump of pap. I want a comic book movie. When I think comic book movie, I am thinking SIN CITY. I am thinking HULK (yeah, get me drinking and I will argue that one too). I am not thinking about a didactic documentary on the fall of America. I wanted movie magic. I wanted the MONEY SHOTS.

I can't count how many money shots are in Episode 3. I simply cannot. The opening scene where Obi-Wan and Anakin fly right into the heat of battle is just for starters. The money shots continue until you have a surfing lightsabre fight over some lava on Mustafar. The money shots in Episode 3 own V for Vendetta OUTRIGHT.

Who is actually saying that this V for Vendetta is a good film? It is pedestrian. These fanboys need to be rounded up and tormented like the homosexuals in V for Vendetta.

It does have one good thing though, and that is Natalie Portman. In all fairness, I like Natalie Portman with a shaved head eating toast with eggs cooked into it over her Padme role. I have a thing for that futuristic worn out LL Bean look that the Wachowski bros have in their films.

V for Vendetta is a joke. Peter Mayhew wore a more convincing costume than Hugo Weaving and that stupid-assed carnival mask.

The destruction of the clinic that created mask-boy was lame. Crash landing General Greivous' ship at the beginning of Episode 3 takes that scene out for free.

Mask Boy Homie V has issues I am sure, but his issues are nothing like the human condition trash Anakin is wrestling with.

V for Vendetta has a political system with a dirty toothed old man barking orders from a television monitor. Episode 3 has the DEVIL HIMSELF running the universe and no one knows it.

V for Vendetta has a law against homosexual love.
Episode 3 has Jimmy Smitts looking like he would be put to death in V for Vendetta.

The comparisons are eternal here, except one thing: ACTION. V for Vendetta tries by putting mask-boy homie V masks on an army of fools and having them storm parliament. That is a complete and utter joke in light of the MAHFAKKIN CLONE TROOPERS.

Go to hell Wachowski Brothers. Go directly to hell. Do not pass go, and don't make another movie. You clowns SUCK. I can think of some cooler twins. How about Luke and Leia?

Episode 3> V for Vendetta


Next up:
Lucky Number Slevin



Ok.
After slugging it through those four previous bastions of mediocrity, I have finally met my match.
LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN IS BADASS.

The film keeps you thinking. There is a strong plotline running underneath it all. Morgan Freeman? DELIVERS
Bruce Willis? DELIVERS
Ben Kingsley? DELIVERS
Lucy Liu? DELIVERS
Stanley Tucci? DELIVERS
Even prettyboy Josh Harnett is on point. Mykelti Williamson delivers "bubba with a gun" and you will know what I mean when you see him.

This film is an homage to the USUAL SUSPECTS if I ever saw one. It is a story about revenge. Bottom line? It takes Episode 3 out at the KNEES on plot. The plot here is thick, and it is luscious. There are obvious parts to it, and there are obscured parts that aren't so obvious. Josh Harnett is getting mistaken for his buddy whom he is visiting. You never meet his buddy within the Harnett context, but you feel for Josh, because his nose gets broken...TWICE. Josh is smarting off here and there to people with guns. You watch and wonder why he is being such a smartass with these people who continually pummel and debase him. Then, stuff starts to make more and more sense. Slap Bruce Willis in there with a role as cold as his role in Sin City, and you can sit back and enjoy the feeling of dropping your cash wisely on this sucker.

Bottom line? Dialogue drops Episode 3 to the floor and lines it up for a death bow. The dialogue crackles. It sounds real. None of that "This is where the fun begins" trash that drips off of the lips of the stiff actors in Episode 3.

What Lucky Number Slevin is missing is a money shot. Something that you say "Dear Lord, I wish I will be able to see something like that at some point in my pathetic life!!!" Sure there is action, and sure there is a lot to bend your brain around. But I am going to take Slevin out right now with two words: ORDER 66.

Order 66 is an all-encompassing pastiche of Star Wars violence where the Jedi get swarmed on by the mahfakkin Clone Troopers. It is brilliant. The John Williams score underlying the whole thing will bring tears to your eyes. You are watching the old, decent regime getting OWNED. These guys don't just die. They bounce off of buildings. They explode. They take too many shots to the torso. You know while it is popping off that the new is coming through, and that the new regime is going to TEAR THE ASS OUT OF THE GALAXY.

Where Slevin fails is REPLAY VALUE. I will watch Episode 3 again and again for the rest of my life. It is that good. There is enough magic onscreen to keep me enthralled perpetually. Slevin doesn't have that power WHATSOEVER. What Slevin has is 2 or three good viewings at best, and then that DVD will go up on the shelf. Then someday you will remember it as you tell a friend about it, and you will loan it to him and you will never see it again.

What can I say? Lucky Number Slevin is worth your big-screen attending money. The rest of the films in this blog (Less Ep 3) are rentals AT BEST.

Episode 3> Lucky Number Slevin.

Slevin was actually in the running though. Yeeeaaash.

All of these people that were talking all of this mess about Episode 3 last year need to check themselves...because there really isn't that much going on out there now, or recently. Come on...King Kong? America still has problems with the negro, and NO, it wasn't Episode 3 status. Narnia? PARK THAT TRASH RIGHT NOW. I have all of these kids swearing by LOTR and all of those little kids have no idea that in 20 years, the Star Wars franchise will still be standing and LOTR will be a flicker in the background. Maybe a flicker like classic Bond films, but nothing to watch again and again and again.

Why have I been sitting here typing for the past hour? I am going to go load up Episode 3. That movie is SICK.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

[FAK THE] Community Bank



Attn: Harry Wardwell, Senior VP, Branch Admin
PO Box 450, 301 Main Street
Salinas, CA 93902
Phone: (831) 757-2274 x446
Fax: (831) 759-8593




As the premier local bank for Monterey County, Community Bank of Central California combines the highest level of personal attention with outstanding banking products and services.
"U.S. Banker" magazine (July 2003 issue) ranks Community Bank as one of the best-performing mid-sized financial institutions in the nation! The Bank has also received the Findley Reports' highest rating of "Super Premier Performing Bank" for thirteen years straight, 20 consecutive "Five-Star Ratings" from Bauer Financial Reports and the Blue Ribbon award from Veribanc, Inc. Added together, these are extraordinary achievements in banking, unmatched by any other financial institution in Monterey County. [If this is unmatched banking in Monterey County, then someone needs to shoot me in my fakking face.]







Let me tell you a tale of financial woe. It starts way back when big banks started taking over our cute little banks in downtown Salinas. I can't even remember what our first bank was called, but it got taken out a few times before Washington Mutual finally rested its fat ass on the spot. Washington Mutual is one of those heartless institutions that gives you a $35 charge for asking why you got a $35 charge in the first place. The place has no spirit and no heart whatsoever. I wish they'd filmed HEAT there. I love it when DeNiro socks that bank manger in the face and sits him down and tells him to let it bleed. I'm gonna go cue up that scene and watch it real quick before I finish posting this.

*back* So we moved up the street a bit to Bank of America. Now you know we had to be slumming to pull a move like that. B of A is one of those big, mean-spirited corporations bent on handing out barbed wire enemas to whomever it is that steps to them. I musta dropped 2-300 dollars in service charges to those fools. Every time, I could poke a hole in why I had been saddled with such a charge. I could put my fist through the hole and flip a flool off. But hey, when you are up against a corporation, and the lackey on the other end of the phone-line says that he is sorry and invites you to have a good weekend, there is little you can do. Sure, I can bark at him and ask to speak to his superior (and God as my witness, I did this several times) but the bottom line is that they get their kicks by handing out $35 service charges. THEY GET THEIR KICKS DOING IT, MAN. Once you realize that they are getting financial wood off of your woes, it all comes into focus. Then you have to think about moving on. You also have to think about turning your self defense into some offense.

So we did think about moving on. We started to screw back. I am not even going to mention my damned fluctuating interest rates on my damn Bank of America credit card. Late payments were nebulous. If I posted them online by midnight, it was their discretion whether it was going to be called a late payment or not. More often than naught, it would be, because then suddenly we would be at 35% or something ridiculous. This last month when I was in Missouri was the last straw. I was long distance, calling from a hotel room trying to get someone to make a transfer from my chequing account to my Visa in order to bypass the late charge/interest increase that these bastards like to throw down. They put me on hold until their office closed. I hung up and called back, and I got the "our office is currently closed" recording. Furthermore, the episode of the Sopranos on HBO was the lamest thing I may have seen in this millenium. Bad night.

Oh yeah, self defense to the offense? Check this out: I ain't paying my Visa bill. B of A can roll that stuff up and jam it up their collective corporate sphincters. I have hit up a debt consolodation company and I will pay them $900 to tell B of A that their sick-ass interest rates inflicted upon yours truly is something that they will never get their soft-palmed hands on. These lawyers are going to get B of A the principal and that will be that. I am glad to do it too. I am on a 2 year plan that is going to wash my hands of this trash. I feel like Priest when he tells Reardon that he has hired white killers to take out the Reardon family if Priest so much as chokes on a chicken bone. Credit rating? Like I am going to be buying a house in the near future? A start-up here in Salinas is going for $400, 000. Actually, if I find a house for $400,ooo it would be something condemned. FAK A CREDIT RATING. Plus, the white killers/lawyers that I have hired will have my credit rating back on track after I get done paying off the principal with the bitches at B of A.

So we pulled out our anchor and went deeper into oldtown Salinas for a new account. The Community Bank. Did you read the title of today's blog? FAK THE COMMUNITY BANK. Let me break it down for you with the kind of sickness that'll make you reach for some Tums. We started the new account almost 5 weeks ago. I have yet to get my bank card from these tricks. Yes, I said trick, like prostitute. That's what banks are, prostitutes. I totally get it now. What does that make me? A very excited pubic lice. But I digress. At first I was excited to get a new account and get my financial game back on track. And damnation, wouldncha know I expecting a raise too (which I just got yesterday)? It seems like the perfect time to have a new bank and clear up some of my ugly financial cobwebs. Well, that ain't the freaking case. Jeremy, the kid who fired up the account, forgot to submit our bank card request forms.

So, no chequing card yet. But hey, I have cheques. Those stellar employees at the Community Bank hooked us up with some generic looking things that I have to fill my name and address out on. I am serious, they look like the play cheques that my parents used to have us fill out in order to get our allowance [remember that Casson? Remember how the bank never had your money when you wanted it? EXACTLY]. I went to Nob Hill last week to write a cheque and I was deserted by my teller who ran off to the manager. The manager played the shell game where he looks at me from five aisles over and determines if I look like I am good for the hundred eighty I am skating the cheque for. I was rolling with Matt too, and Matt was rocking the facial piercings that prompted the 50-something bagger make a comment on pain. Fortunately, the manager and I happen to talk about trivia every time that I run into him. Nob Hill was a success.

Staples was not. Yzzy wanted an MP3 player. Yz had found an ad in the Sunday paper and was ready for the bigtime. She showed me the ad, and I gave it the glanceover. I had no idea where there was a Staples, but she went into the Yellow Pages and figured it out. She had done her homework, and she'd dug into her drumset savings for the thing. I was down to back her up. Yzzy's favorite song for a long time was ANGEL OF DEATH by SLAYER. The kid needs her music, and any little girl of mine that can appreciate showers that cleanse you of your life deserves a fakking MP3 player POINT BLANK. She handed me the cash and sent me on my befuddled way. I figured I would do it on a break from work the next day. Then I had the bright idea that since I DON'T HAVE A FREAKING CHEQUE CARD that I would pocket the cash and write a cheque. Staples pulled a sick-assed 1, 2 knockout combo on me on Monday. The first was that there is a rebate, so the advertised price was technically wrong. Yzzy hadn't given me enough cash. The second was that the lady (who had a moustache BTW) wouldn't accept my cheque because I had to write my name on it in the address section. Doesn't California law require that cheques be accepted no matter what? Ohhhhhh snaps. I just thought about the racist angle of the moustachioed lady. Poor Yzbiz. She had to wait another day. I had to hit her up for twenty more bones and keep my fingers crossed for the next day that Staples hadn't sold out. I was able to drop the cash at Staples, and moustache had to go into the warehouse and find the thing. It was satisfying to drop cash. It was good to teach Yzzy how to load up music from my 20 gig file. Bt the problem is that I CANNOT ACCESS MY CASH. I work in Monterey, and my money is in Silly nuts. FAK THE COMMUNITY BANK.

Today is Saturday. My wife went in there and demanded the damn cards earlier this week. Those clowns have had 20 business days to get me my damn card. NO SOAP. Payday is coming up and I am going to Wells Fargo if something doesn't shape up soon.

That, or keeping it all under my bed, old school style.

My opinion? See the fakking title of this fakking blog.

*edit* it is 4 days since I blogged this and still no bank cards. FAK 'EM IN THEY STUPID ACES.