TallaDOA Nights: The Ballad of Jaime Pressly

I bit the bullet and saw DOA. To chase it, I saw Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

These are the sorts of movies that you will be punished for trying to take seriously. When you went into the cinema last month to see Talladega Nights, Americans, you’d better not have looked for hard hitting drama!
When you go to the cinema next month to see DOA (it came out here 6 weeks ahead of you: we can see the future), don’t expect any semblance of sense!

Yet DOA is among the most illegitimately entertaining of 2006. Sure, it grossly misrepresents video games, but then almost every video movie (including the best movie ever, Super Mario Bros.) grossly misrepresents its subject matter. Talladega Nights, by being a hotch potch of the unexpected, is exactly what one expects from the people who created it. They hit targets that may not be clear to everyone, but they are there.

Scissor Sisters: You’d think that they could muster up a little soft shoe gentle sway

Two years on, it’s yet again the last time they’ll ever do my hair: Scissor Sisters’ new album, Ta-dah, came out in Australia last weekend. It hits American shores on September 26th.

Scissor Sisters are most definitely a dancetacular pop band, delightfully individual and flatteringly derivative. Their song “Return to Oz” has played an undeniable part in the shaping of my life and, of course, “Take Your Mama” played an integral role in the stunning conclusion of my epic story Tales of Daring-Do: The Particles of Perfidy (but don’t tell them that, or there will be licencing fees).

I’m not actually certain whether Ta-dah is a “better” album than Scissor Sisters or if the novelty of new songs is what is getting me. That’s beside the point, because these are good songs, undeniably more bopping and consistent in tone their their first effort.

Joy comes in the form of “I can’t decide”, a song about mortality with lyrics along the lines of

I could throw you in a lake/or feed you poison birthday cake/I won’t deny I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone/Oh I could bury you alive/but you might crawl out with a knife/and kill me when I’m sleeping/ that’s why …

Sorrow comes from “The Land of a Thousand Words”; Elton John comes at you from all angles!

Ta-Dah is a good album, despite its lack of a “Return to Oz” to allow listeners to revisit the Skeksis of their youth.

Loathe as I am to use YouTube, here is the lead single “I don’t feel like dancin'”:

A warning before you click play on that, though: Scissor Sisters sell ridiculously well in the UK and more than reasonably here, but they’re relatively minor in the US. I understand this may be because they are “too gay”. Basically that means they know how to put on a show. I’ll top this off with this quote that I don’t particularly like, but will propagate some more:

“The fact that some of us are gay affects our music the same amount as it does that some of the members of Blondie are straight.”

60% of Scissor Sisters are homosexual. Don’t let that get to you. (Also, while I am a big fan of Blondie, I cannot tell you the sexuality by percentage of that band. Am I a bad fan, or does it simply not matter to me?)

Post script: To establish my credentials, here’s a photo of me and Jake Shears, circa January 2005.

Jake Shears and Alex!

For the record, Ana Matronic liked my shirt. I’m a shy and retiring person among people that I am in awe of at the best of times, so I’m really pleased I was able to ask Jake and Ana for photos.

The Holy Grails of Low Art

This week I’ve been dashed down in my pursuit of three examples of “low art” of various calibres.

Yesterday I had intended to see DOA, which came out here last week (about a month before it’s due to hit American cinemas). For whatever reason, I had decided that it would be one of the heights of trashy fun.
I really wanted to see Jaimie Pressly as … whoever it was she was playing (scientific fact: video game movies attract audiences who don’t play the video games in question). She has this strange allure about her that only a woman who radiates classlessness can possess.
I’m certain Jaimie Pressly is perfectly nice in reality, but she’s got white trash so downpat I simply cannot resist her. Less of a drawcard for me is Holly Valance, who used to play one of the most boring, vain characters on my old Australian soap addiction, Neighbours. She carries the stench of “Flick” with her and I cannot begin to find her attractive.

Still, the film wins bonus attraction points for embracing both the fighting and beach volleyball aspects of the franchise. That’s like a Mario film in which Mario has to save Peach from Bowser, and fits in tennis, golf and an incredibly boring party with time enough for an adventure that feels only 60% complete.

Today I intended to watch Nacho Libre and Snakes on a Plane. Nacho Libre is a no brainer for me as I love Jack Black and, in my mind, Jack Black jumping into a wrestling ring to find himself facing two satyrs is the ultimate scene in cinema.
The amount of time it has taken to get to Australia – it came out many, many moons ago in America – indicates that it is somewhat “controversial” (ie not very well received critically), but I’m not going to let that get in my way.

Snakes on a Plane is slightly different. I was really surprised that the internet enthusiasm and jokes continued up to a week after its release. I was incredibly excited about seeing it when I had a concrete plan to see it the day after it came out (a week after America, for reference) but then, when that plan fell through, I simply didn’t care any more.
I’m going to see it out of fealty, but I never thought that this was the movie to save Hollywood. To pin your hopes on this movie that is blatantly not claiming to be the messiah (and, through the application of wonky logic, therefore is the messiah) is wrong.
It would also be wrong of me to pin the blame on the audiences but heck, I’ll do it:

    How to Save the Film Industry!

  1. Audiences need to get better taste and get out to the cinema more!
  2. We need to tear down the internet!
  3. Freemasons rule the country!

No, I don’t have the answers and I’m not going to pretend to, but I can tell you this: Snakes on a Plane is not the answer.

How does one reconcile one’s “classy” interests with the “low”? I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, so I don’t let it worry me. You’ve just got to figure out the trash that you like and screw the rest. If I find myself having to justify myself, well, I’m not going to. Dead or Alive will feature some colour and also some T&A; Nacho Libre will feature Jack Black doing what he does; and yes, I know what Snakes on a Plane will feature.

It takes a special class of “trash” to lift itself above the rest and become enjoyable. How someone sets about making a bad movie and thinking it’s good, I’ll never know, but erecting a target and hitting it is a beautiful thing.

The Trailer Narrator must be stopped!

Tonight I watched Boys Don’t Cry which, while well made, I really didn’t want to see. After I finished it, I checked out the trailer so that I could see how they promoted the film: it seems very much like something that you can’t market, almost as if it should go directly onto the “university text” list and bypass the cinema entirely.

I was most surprised by what I heard:

A true story of hope, fear, and the courage it takes to be yourself.

In what way does this pertain to the movie that I saw about the fallout of a woman passing herself as a man in smalltown America? In an effort to get people to see their films, the studios will pass their movies off however they can.

Boys Don’t Cry can be compared, I suppose, to Brokeback Mountain: the trailers for Brokeback Mountain were honest. I went into that film expecting something and getting it. I knew what Boys Don’t Cry was offering me, and the trailer was vaguely honest in that it admitted that the film was about a hate crime (well, it was more about the lead in to a hate crime), but when that voiceover man comes on, you know it’s all over.

My terrible secret is that, with the number of movies I go to, I hate some trailers a heck of a lot. In July and August, just about every film I went to had a trailer for 48 Shades in it. It was a really poorly made trailer:

“How many shades of brown are there?”
“48.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of shades of brown!”

– ACTUAL DIALOGUE
No one in Australia has gone to see the movie.
Sadly, the voice over for 48 Shades is probably telling the truth, but it is the most trite, life affirming truth that it could possibly tell. It’s no small wonder that Australians hate local cinema. That and we’re an island of pirates.

The whole lying about your product débacle reminded me of the Comedian:

As long as the studios recognise that this stuff is pure BS, I suppose they can get away with it. If they think that I gleaned a single ounce of hope from Boys Don’t Cry, though, they’ve got another thing coming.

(if you’re wondering what Boys Don’t Cry‘s “flaw” is, I’d suppose that I’d put it down to a mild case of Hilary Swankitis).

Teach me the secrets of secular pleasure! TV to soothe the savage breast

I’ve been watching a lot of television, to supplement my present Pokémon Emerald addiction and to avoid work – even internet work, and I’m supposed to be doing that for fun.

To say that TV hasn’t been good for ages is a lie – you just have to know what to look at. The three series that I packed episodes of into this weekend cover different subject matter, but they all share one common element: they make me laugh. It is funny, then, that all three of them are sitcoms devoid of laugh tracks.

There should be another caveat: one of them has been cancelled because, as some wags have alleged, it is too “clever” for television.

The programs in question are:

  • Arrested Development
  • My Name is Earl
  • Scrubs

Their various comedies – absurd, built up jokes; jokes at the expense of classless criminals; Zach Braff being annoying but also being funny and allowing his cast members to be funny around him – alienates them from audiences. If you can please everybody, though, you run the risk of pleasing no one. Hence Yes Dear, My Wife and Kids, How I Met Your Mother and Everybody Loves Raymond.*

Shadow Man (Dreamcast)


Yes, this is for the N64 version, but it’s the same game.

Maybe I should have written this before I chose to start playing The Ocarina of Time: Master Quest again. Still, here I go anyway.

Back in 1999, I rented Shadow Man for my N64, got a little way in and then had to return it. This was, of course, back when I could play N64 games without my eyes shutting down in protest. Last year, when I got a Dreamcast from eBay for a criminally good price, I saw Shadow Man for about $5 and decided to finally finish it.
What’s more, I played it back in February. A game from 1999, on a system from 2001 that I bought in September 2005 played in February 2006 and am now writing about in August 2006. For the launch of this aspect of my site, I’m nothing if not topical.

Shadow Man is notable for the fact that it was made when Acclaim was in its heyday, churning out games of questionable quality based on licences of popular things that they really messed up (South Park) or that they effectively made up (if anyone had heard of Turok before the game was released … they’re a liar). Shadow Man is one of those made up titles. It was made in the days when people actually cared about Nintendo’s reputation as a “kiddie” system*, and so it broke the mould with novel concepts such as “blood” and “grey skinned people”.

It is a game of decidedly mixed qualities, starts and stops, and an almost non-existent story that it would have been better off without.

The Sentinel and 16 Blocks: Shooting things and not making sense

The Sentinel was a movie that has no real purpose in this world other than to show a bizarre president who has totally different motives to the one that the United States presently boasts. We only know this because the president has two lines of political dialogue, but it’s just enough time to express the leanings of the production crew.
The Sentinel simply stops making any sense after a time. I drifted into my thoughts for about thirty seconds and, when I came to, I found myself thinking “Why are they on a boat?” I could not, for the life of me, tell you.

16 Blocks, on the other hand, was a more interesting film that offered somewhat compelling characters and infinitely more sense. It was of the calibre of one of the better gritty early nineties cop films and applied itself to its genre clichés with relish enough to make it an enjoyable film despite its awful, awful Karate Kid style conclusion.

Yet The Sentinel is the bigger of these films. In Australia, 16 Blocks received essentially no advertising and disappeared without trace, while The Sentinel is still mystifying people with its mock thrilling storyline.

I think that the ultimate irony of these films is that Bruce Willis plays a “I’m too old for this shit” sort of role (the traditional ground of Richard Donner cop films), while Michael Douglas is allowed to shoot Canadians and sleep with Kim Basinger without prejudice.

Kenny

I decided that, if I was going to see something that wasn’t going to be very good, I should balance it out by seeing something that would probably turn out okay. Kenny, a new Australian mockumentary by the Jacobson brothers, was just the movie to fill the gap.

Two Actors: Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon

Tonight my friends Maja and Rola dragged me along to see You, Me and Dupree, a movie whose trailers made it look like one of the single worst movies in human history. It wasn’t as bad as that – heck, it even mustered a couple of laughs! – but it got me to thinking about the style of the two featured actors. The rest of the movie is not worth writing about, so I won’t.

Brick

It’s ironic that, at the Sundance film festival this year, a film that was based on reappropriating film noir archetypes into a high school situation was awarded for “Originality of Vision”.
Brick is exactly like a stereotypical hardboiled detective story, except the detective is a student played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This does not make it bad by any stretch of the imagination, because the perfect sort of film noir in my imagination is exactly as atmospheric as Brick.