it 2017

i watched the new IT film at the duncan caprice movie theater last night. it was quite an experience so i wanted to write it down here to capture all my various thoughts on it.

first, the theater. i’ve only been there once that i can remember in the last, ooooh, 15 or 20 years, and it was positively dead in there that last time i went. i think there were a dozen people that night. but last night — tuesday, aka cheap night — the place was PACKED. the line was almost around the block, like i remember from going to movies as a little kid. it was almost nice to see such a classic sight except for the fact that 99% of the people in line were duncan’s lowest mutants. what a collection of underbites, acne-faced and horny teens, skull sweaters, and all other manners of unnerving sights.

the line moved notoriously slowly. when we arrived, we were just outside the door but it took a half hour for us to get in and get seated. there were only maybe 15 people ahead of us in line so they must have had their ‘B’ team on last night. among the staff was a skinny, 60-yr old, leather-faced, bandana-wearing biker/welder, and a baby-faced, early 20’s, 6’5″ overweight fella who wore surgical gloves with all of the fingertips cut off and was stressed to the tits, sweating like a pig. it seemed like this tubby gent was the one running the show. the young woman who served dana and i must have been brand new because she had no idea what she was doing, but she was very nice so i didn’t mind her at all.

the signs for the snacks were incredibly shitty. the stock popcorn and coke images were just slightly different on each sign, sometimes positioned poorly so one obscured the other. the generic candy bar on the sign had a wrapper that only said ‘chocolate.’ and these appeared to be professionally made signs, specially made for that particular sign holder. it was so lousy that we were incredulous.

the decor of the theater is amazing. nothing has changed since i was a kid. so many oranges and yellows and reds. painted bricks, gross carpeting. fantastic.

on to the movie: believe it or not, i liked it. it certainly wasn’t a great, substantial film like the exorcist or blade runner but i thought it was fun and entertaining. i was surprised by and liked all the gore, and finn wolfhard stole the show with his performance. i also liked how the local bad kid, henry, was made to appear more mentally unstable than in the original IT in 1990. that makes more sense with him being institutionalized in the ‘adult’ portion of the film. i liked some of the sound effects, and i liked how pennywise’s blood floated. that was a small detail but i thought it looked neat, kind of dream-like.

but what didn’t i like, you ask. well, let me tell you.

  • the new pennywise the clown. that was pathetic. i’m so sick of this ‘face down/eyes up/”this is my creepy look” aesthetic, and pairing it with a clown is just even more typical. the thing that made tim curry so great as pennywise was that he managed to be creepy without acting creepy. he spent a lot of time in the original just being a legit clown but somehow made that scary, and that was special. the shit i saw last night tried way too hard and failed miserably.
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if you look up pics of bill skarsgard’s pennywise, he has this STUPID FUCKING LOOK ON HIS FACE IN EVERY SINGLE PICTURE, EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT SCARY AT ALL. besides that, what murderous person would make such a face, and why? it’s absurd.

  • period incorrect lingo. the film is supposed to be set in 1988 but early on, we hear the boys say “best…feeling…ever” while dumping their school books into the trash. but no one started using that lame, overdone line until well into the 2000’s. it’s a millennial thing, obv. the rest of the film was pretty accurate with it’s 80’s details but that one really pissed me off. what bothers me even more is that the film makers may have been aware of all this but used it anyway since it would allow the film to connect with a younger market. god damn it, how artless. i remember the stranger things tv show suffered from this very same problem.
  • mean parents. all the parents we were introduced to in the new IT were over-the-top mean, like so mean it was ridiculous. it was totally unbelievable and unnecessary. what was the point of that, to make all adults seem bad? why?
  • CGI special effects. not much needs to be said about this beyond the fact that despite many years and technological advances, CGI still looks like shit. if this movie really wanted to be a throwback, retro affair, it should have gone with old-fashioned special effects. you know, the shit that actually looks cool.
  • incidental music. i hate when films and tv shows insert popular songs to try to heighten a certain feeling in a scene. it’s a ham-fisted film technique. most notably in the new IT was the use of anthrax’s antisocial¬†during the rock fight and the cure’s 6 different ways during the bathroom cleanup. in the former, it’s supposed to increase the raucous roughness to the scene. in the latter, it’s supposed to increase the awkward feelings of childhood friendship and crushes. both were totally unnecessary, those scenes would have been better without the songs. i’m not so stupid that i need really loud music to help me figure out what i should be feeling during a scene.

i think that’s most of my thoughts on the new IT. however, i want to point out that despite all the gore, murder, violence, incest and child abuse, the movie is only rated 14A. i thought that was crazy. dana said out that if there were any tits in the flick, it would suddenly be rated R. i think he’s right, and i think that’s so fucked up. our culture has such a twisted, backwards relationship with sex to think it’s worse than a father abusing his daughter, or a son stabbing his dad in the neck — both of which we saw in IT last night. god, humans are stupid and fucked up.

but like i said earlier, i actually liked the film. if it only tim curry had reprised his role as pennywise — if we could basically have the 1990 pennywise in the 2017 film — i think the new IT could have been something special. oh well. at least it’s not a complete write-off, i suppose.

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stephen king fucked up: the 1997 remake of the shining is a piece of shit and everyone who says otherwise is a delusional idiot

dana and i just finished watching stephen king’s 1997 remake of the shining. i say with absolutely no irony or exaggeration that it was a foul fucking piece of shit in every way possible.

what were we thinking? we were curious, mainly. we knew it would probably be pretty bad, like most film adaptations of king’s books, but we wanted to see exactly what king had envisioned, what he wanted to do differently from kubrick and his classic 1980 version film, what king thought he could do better.

nothing was better. everything was worse. it was so laughably cheap and terrible, from the start to the finish…4 and 1/2 hours later. yep, king’s piece of crap is an epic piece of crap.

here’s what was so fucking awful i had to blog about it.

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that mouth. yuck.

  • all the actors sucked. the guy from wings, the kid with the gross and horribly distracting weirdly-shaped mouth, the black guy, the hotel ghosts…all d-grade performances. rebecca de mornay was the only decent one.
  • weird, super bright colours. everything in the film had this strange look, like it was fake, because all the colours were so bright. sort of like when you could turn the contrast up so far on old tv’s that the colours would start to bleed into each other and distort. they were almost that bright, and it looked stupid.
  • CHEAP special effects. the CGI was god awful but what was even worse was the non-CGI stuff, like when jack is being stalked by the hedge animals. it just goes back and forth between shots of jack panicking and still-shots of hedge animals with some bear and lion growls added in. no joke. my pal rid saw this on tv when he was like 10 and said he thought it was stupid even back then.
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yikes. the scariest things here are the production values.

  • the evil ghosts are inept.¬†at the end of the movie, both jack AND the ghosts have forgotten to release the pressure on the boiler. give me a break. oh no, that means the ghost’s precious home is about to be blown up! so the ghosts get upset and start squabbling and try to open the pressure relief valve themselves, but they can’t! because they’re ghosts and their hands go right through the valve handle!!¬†what a fucking joke. bumbling ghosts aren’t scary.
  • a croquet mallet instead of an axe? jack’s weapon of choice throughout the movie is a croquet mallet, not an axe like in the kubrick film. i haven’t read the book (i tried years ago but quit because it came off like it was written for 12-yr old kids) but the croquet mallet is certainly a lot less menacing. it’s even comical, stupid-looking.
  • “pup.” again, i don’t know if this was in the book or if it was changed for the sake of making a PG tv miniseries but it doesn’t really matter because no matter what, when the wings guy is supposed to be really fired up and angry at his son and shouts half-heartedly that he’s a “young pup,” it just sounds stupid. maybe a real actor could pull off a convincing delivery of that line but this guy didn’t.
  • shitty ‘scary’ lighting. everything that is supposed to be scary in this piece of crap automatically gets a green light bulb placed over it. it reminds me of shitty haunted houses where they make you put your hand in bowls of spaghetti noodles and peeled grapes and say, “these are brains, and these are eyeballs.” fuck off. only 5-yr olds might think green lights are creepy. you can see an example of the scary green light in the pic above.
  • super, super corny happy ending. i hate super happy endings, especially in movies that are scary or disturbing since it totally ruins the bad feelings you’ve been building up for the last hour and a half, but it’s sort of fitting here — the childishly scary show gets a childishly happy ending. and the whole “kissin’, kissin’, that’s what i’ve been missin'” recurring line is fucking gross and annoying. what a perfectly dreadful way to end a perfectly dreadful 4.5 hr slog of a film.

for those reasons, i think the miniseries version of the shining is straight up garbage. but what makes all of this even worse is that stephen king not only likes it, but thinks it’s infinitely superior to kubrick’s version.

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king is an idiot.

king doesn’t think kubrick focused enough on jack’s alcoholism and the disintegration of the family’s relationship. he thinks shelley duvall “just screamed and acted stupid” in kubrick’s version. he thinks kubrick downplayed the supernatural elements of the story and played up the psychological ones. he thinks that because kubrick himself was an atheist, he couldn’t make a film about about ghosts that was scary or believable.

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king’s preferred version of the shining

that’s all asinine horseshit. i think kubrick did a fantastic job of balancing jack’s alcoholism, the disintegration of the family, and both the psychological and supernatural elements in the film. king’s problem is that he’s a ham-fisted dunce who likes his films to be like kids’ colouring books with really thick, clear lines so that even fucking dummies can understand exactly what king intended. he wants to beat you over the head with each theme. he has no understanding of subtlety, tastefulness, balance, etc.

as for duvall’s performance, i guess it was very different from what king had written in his book (if rebecca de mornay’s version of wendy is any indication) but i certainly don’t think she portrays wendy as simply a screaming, stupid woman. i think her character is complex and believable — she’s a loving mother and partner, submissive, terribly nervous of rocking jack’s boat (and rightfully so considering his history of alcoholism and physical abuse), but ultimately unable to allow him to destroy her and danny. i think that’s probably pretty accurate for a lot of people who are partners with abusive alcoholics. in fact, i find that more believable than du mornay’s version of wendy, letting jack act like a psycho and toss her around without ever telling him, “you’re a violent freak, danny and i are leaving.” that response would be much more consistent with du mornay’s strong, reasonable character. but king is a dummy so he missed that inconsistency.

king’s criticism that kubrick couldn’t make a scary supernatural film because he didn’t believe in scary supernatural stuff is an interesting one. it’s a neat idea and somewhat intellectual, but it’s still complete bullshit. there is TONS of scary — legitimately scary, not ‘green lightbulb’ scary — supernatural stuff in kubrick’s version of the shining: the elevators releasing torrents of blood, the weird ghost twins, the woman in room 237, the unexplained men in the bedroom (one in an animal costume)…once again, king seems discontent with kubrick’s version of scary and would prefer more goofy shit like people wearing sheets jumping out and shouting BOO. king wants stupid simple scares, and plenty of em, and loathes anything remotely cerebral or legitimately scary.

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anyone who claims this scene wasn’t scary is a liar

you know, maybe the reason king claims kubrick’s version stinks and isn’t scary is actually because king finds it terrifying. maybe his pride can’t bear to admit that kubrick made something infinitely darker and more sinister than king could have, and rather than say “well done sir, you took my crappy book and made it into a fantastic film. i owe you a beer,” he prefers to act too cool and say, “nah it’s not scary. it’s not true to my original vision. he totally changed stuff. mine was better.” i honestly can’t see any other way that someone could claim the tv miniseries version is better than kubrick’s. it’s that ridiculous to me.

FURTHERMORE, some of the positive reviews for the miniseries version are absolutely jam-packed full of shit. entertainment weekly said

“There’s a deep, rich creepiness suffusing Stephen King’s The Shining that makes this miniseries the most frightening TV movie ever made.”

and variety said

“At six hours, its slowness is carefully calculated; the edge-of-your-seat creepiness unfolds with a languid believability that will rope in viewers early and hold them. This mini earns its massive length, using every minute to paint a picture of surprising emotional complexity and depth.”

FUCK YOUUUUUUUUU

these dick-sucking, uber positive reviews of something that is clearly garbage only further my belief that many professional critics are actually just writers being paid by the companies behind the film to pump it up. there is no way that anyone on earth actually feels like that about such a wretched diarrhea shit of a tv miniseries.

oh, and it got a bunch of awards too, for best makeup, best miniseries, blah blah blah. but i’ve already bitched about how awards shows are the same kind of dick-sucking industry blowhard bullshit as the above reviews.

go fuck yourself, hollywood. and stephen king. you’re all disastrous lunatics. the miniseries version of the shining eats my shit, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

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i sacrificed 4.5 hrs of my life so that others wouldn’t have to.

another review of a movie i was annoyed by

jenn and i watched ex machina the other night. it was actually pretty good! i bet you didn’t see that comment coming.

but don’t worry, it wasn’t all roses. i mean, i liked most of it — i liked the story. i liked the aesthetics, i thought everything looked great. i liked how fucking tense every scene with nathan and caleb was, even if nathan’s character was a little over the top super-cool-and-chill-but-also-aggro-bro-alpha-male. i liked how difficult it was to predict each character’s motives. but what absolutely fucking sucked and virtually destroyed the film for me was the ‘so bad i can’t tell if it’s a joke’ acting of the main guy, domhnall gleeson.

wow, talented AND ruggedly handsome

no matter what kind of vibe he was supposed to have in any given scene, gleeson managed to do it with the subtlety and conviction you usually find in a 6th grade christmas pageant. for example, if he’s supposed to be really suspicious of nathan and nervous but trying to play it cool, he totally overdoes it so that if it were real life, you’d say “what the fuck is wrong with you? why are you fidgeting and using halting speech with awkward pauses and blinking so much and glancing around shiftily?” he overacts like crazy, is what i’m basically saying. it’s awful.

i don’t think i’m doing justice to just how bad gleeson’s performance is. it’s tough to do that over writing, especially for a ham-fisted dunce with words like myself. but take my word for it, or better yet, watch it yourself and witness the horror. i honestly don’t know how the director could do such solid work on most other aspects of the film and then let this obvious, disastrous flaw slide through. it just doesn’t make sense. maybe gleeson has some dirt on him and asked for this ‘favour.’ otherwise, you think the director would have watched the final cut of the film and said “ahhh, fuck. i should have listened to my gut on this one. gleeson totally fucked up the whole film. now i have to reshoot the entire thing with a different actor, someone who can actually act.” it’s really that bad.

one other complaint, the CGI during the knifing scene was so, so fucking shitty. i think CGI always sucks but this was like CGI circa 1999. it looked like a god damn crappy cartoon. the difference is real animation would have looked better. what the fuck is it with CGI, why do film makers use it when it’s obviously so fucking inferior? there must be rock bottom prices for it from an overcrowded field of computer nerds, versus stupid high prices for the few people who are great at real special effects and real animation. you can’t tell me the new jurassic park looks better than the original star wars films. if you do, we’re not friends.

long and short of this is that despite the lead actor’s garbage efforts and the ridiculously stupid knife effects, i think ex machina a pretty decent sci fi thriller. 6.5/10 or something like that.