Monthly Archives: August 2009

Went: A Retrospective

Pulp Fiction was released in 1994 and for several years thereafter, the hugely influential art-house smash spawned several imitators.   Most of these attempts to replicate the heat of Pulp Fiction fell flat.  But, one film that came out five years later was actually well reviewed and deserved the acclaim and small success that it achieved.

97.  Go

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The original one-sheet

Go was, of course, Doug Liman’s followup to his hip critical darling Swingers and boy was it good.  Now, I’m not going to say that there is absolutely NO likeness to Pulp Fiction.  I’ll concede to these three similarities:

-It has a nonlinear circular chronology.

-It has a kickass soundtrack (Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” being especially memorable).

-Sarah Polley is kind of like a miniature version of Uma Thurman.

But, it’s not like Tarantino invented interesting story structure, good music, or even Uma Thurma for that matter. The main issue here is the way the story unfolds.  But, just because they use a similar, out of chronological order and overlapping storytelling device, doesn’t mean Go is a plagiarized work.     This type of story telling is also sometimes described as circular narrative and has been around for ages.  Here, an article from Plots Inc. argues that the nonlinear film dates back to D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance (1916).  It’s a good article and well worth checking out if you are into dissecting screenplays:  Plots Inc.

At best, I’d argue that Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction served as a reminder that storytelling doesn’t have to be so straightforward and that tinkering around with the structure can be highly rewarding.

However, unlike many of the films that spun out of Tarantino-appreciation, the comparisons for Go were mostly favorable, with Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times reviewing: “[Go] is an entertaining, clever black comedy that takes place entirely in Tarantino-land.”

The film has more qualities than just being the best of the Pulp Fiction-a-likes though.  Let’s take a look at the trailer for the film before we discuss anything further:

Looking at this trailer again, I feel it’s not the best advertisement for the film.  Keeping in mind this is ten years old, it still feels like the tone of this trailer is super-dated.  It screams “Crazy stuff is going to happen in this film.  You’re in for a wild wild ride, man!”–which I think is so overdone in modern films.  Every comedy nowadays promises to be a zanier one than the last.  Those promises have been pitched to us soooo many times since 1999 that this trailer now looks almost like a parody of the crime-comedy genre.  But, trust me, the product is worthy.

The cast, entirely perfect for this film, was made up primarily of character actors and young television stars.  No face was too unknown and that shows confidence in the script and direction.  Here’s where the retrospective part of this blog entry kicks in, let’s take a look at the people that helped make this movie so awesome and where they are now.

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I'm on telly.

First up, the British actor with perhaps the best name ever:  Desmond Askew.  Brits might recognize this dude from Grange Hill.  He was a regular in that school-set drama before making his Stateside debut.  Since his high profile role in Go, he’s appeared in several American television shows like Roswell, Charmed, and–just to prove that they’re not all properties of WB– Las Vegas.  In film, he’s played the horribly grotesque leader of a mutant clan in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. He still gets work, mostly in television and straight-to-video type films.

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Not related to Tom Cruise...

Alongside Katie Holmes and Melissa McCarthy, Scott Wolf helps to make this film one of the most dimple-tastic ever.  Let’s take a look at what happened after Scott, previously know for playing Bailey on Party of Five did Go. He too has done scads of television include long stints on The Nines and Everwood. Most exciting though, are his upcoming plans…he’s going to be in the new remake of V with one of my favorites from Lost–Elizabeth Mitchell.  I’m up for some of that.  This makes me wonder what Neve Campbell is doing nowadays.  I should IMDB that shit.

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actually wanted to play the drug dealer...

That little tidbit on his photo is true.  Jay Mohr actually did want to play the drug dealer role in the film but was finally cast as Scott Wolf’s lover instead.  It was the right choice.  They are cute together and I love his delivery of “It’s a Miata!” in the film.  Yet again, Mohr has found loads of work in television, notably the well reviewed but short-lived Action and as the lead in the recent Gary Unmarried.  He’s also a prolific V.O. artist, lending impressions to Family Guy and other bits of animation.  He’s been a bit of a douche lately, making fun of Michelle Obama’s appearance on some radio programs.  But, whatever…it takes all kinds of funny (or unfunny in this case) to make the world go round and I still think he was pretty good in this flick.

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Uma Th--I mean, Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley, has had a very interesting career arc.  She started out as the lead in the TV series that spun out of Anne of Green Gables.  She’s  since aligned herself quite visibly with the left of centre party in Canada, the New Democrats.  She’s also been hugely discriminating about what projects she takes part in, reportedly turning down the lead female role in The Bourne Identity series.  Most recently, she was Oscar nominated for writing the adaptation of Away From Her–it’s based on a short story called “The Bear Came Over The Mountain”.  She also directed the picture which, incidentally,  dealt with the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Very recently, she starred as Abigail Adams in the HBO miniseries John Adams and is due to appear alongside Adrien Brody in the sci-fi thriller Splice.

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Two men..

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...one voicebox

Next up is William Fichtner who played Burke, the undercover police officer in the film.  I think he’s the voice double for Will Arnett from Arrested Development.  Anyway, I’m sure you’ll recognize this guy from his trillions of film and television appearances.  My faves include his roles in Black Hawk Down, Blades of Glory, and his surprise cameo as the bank manager in The Dark Knight. Awesome.

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Needs more work please...

Love-able waster Mannie was played byNathan Bexton.  Since Go wrapped, he’s mostly been known for crappy horror films.  This dude needs more work.  He’s responsible for one of my very favorite scenes in the whole picture–the grocery story e-fueled fantasty sequence.  It’s ALMOST my favorite performance in the whole film.  Let’s watch this bit and then get to my number one favorite performance in the pic.

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I'm funny on purpose.

Now, my favorite performance in this whole enchilada belongs to Melissa McCarthy (yes, she is the cousin of Jenny).  Though she’s only in it for about 2 minutes, every time I watch it, she makes me laugh.  Unfortunately, I can’t find this scene on-line, but trust me–you’ll know it when you see it.  She opens the door for both Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr in one scene…

Coincidentally, she also had a long stint on The Nines.  Other high profile appearances include work on The Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who?

What a movie.  I don’t think I could ever feel the same way about 2 Days in the Valley.

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The Littlest Slumlord

It’s been far too long since I’ve watched this clip.  I think a whole year has passed, as a matter of fact.  For a while there, it seemed I was watching it three times a day.  I made myself sick of it.  But, like a great song that wears out its welcome on the radio, you know that if you give it enough time, you’re going to enjoy blasting it again one day.

The time has come for me to appreciate today’s great thing anew:

96.  The Landlord on Funnyordie.com

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Yes, this was first hot in 2007, but I’m just back to love it some more.  Out of seemingly nowhere, I’ve started quoting lines from it again.   Mostly “You need to RELAX” and “I want my MONEEEEEYYYY!“.

I think Adam McKay is my preferred comedy partner for Will Ferrell.  (He’s the other guy in this sketch–also that’s his daughter, Pearl.)  I base this on the fact that he’s also responsible for two of my faves (and everybody’s really)–Anchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy and the pants-peeingly funny Step Brothers.

Whilst Ferrell is on top form in this sketch, the real star is of course, foul-mouthed little Pearl.

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The Princess Dress is the hiliarious icing on the cake...

You might wonder if Pearl’s parents were concerned about her spouting such vitriol at Ferrell.  Your answer is here from Wired magazine:

In the meantime, we asked McKay if he had any reservations about teaching his daughter the B word, which young Pearl hurls at Ferrell during the course of her tirade.

“I didn’t because Pearl’s at this phase where she repeats things but doesn’t remember them unless she says it like 20 times,” McKay says. “She’ll say anything and it goe away pretty quickly, so I felt pretty safe with it. Also, she has no context for what it means. She didn’t even know she was on camera. And, the word ‘bitch’ – – you can say it on television. I would never use the F word or any of that. It felt pretty playful and I knew Pearl wouldn’t remember, and sure enough she’s never said it since.

After The Landlord, Pearl went on to film Good Cop, Baby Cop which is also available on funny or die.  Naturally, that short was also a smash.  But, that’s all we’re going to get out of Pearl’s acting career for now.  TMZ offered the following quotes regarding her retirement:

“My ventures as an actor on the Internet have been rewarding and spiritually fulfilling, but now I must look to broader challenges as I approach my 26th month,” says Pearl. “I shall always reflect upon these days with much fondness, and also, I have no idea what I just said, and I want banana-nana and the upside down show.”

“Retirement has been really good,” Pearl told us in between naps. “I played golf with Charles Barkley and Dan Marino the other day.”

As to her upcoming schedule, Pearl revealed, “I got offered a job at a casino as a greeter. But mainly I’m spending time with my family, spilling juice and putting things in my mouth that I find on the floor.”

It’s creepy to google too much about Pearl, so I’ll just leave her alone now.

Let’s close with one of my favorite scenes from McKay and Ferrell’s Step Brothers.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please do–with a group of friends.  (Comedy is most effective when viewed with the masses.)  Even my easily annoyed girlfriend loved it.

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The Orange Club Club

If you were to prepare a meal using only the individual foodstuffs that I have featured as ‘great things’ in this blog, you’d have the following menu of ingredients to work with:  Butterscotch ice cream topping, chocolate spritz cookies, green bean casserole, Twiglets, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and Sangria.  It’s kinda sorta like Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving menu isn’t it?  All we need is some toast and popcorn.  The only thing with any real nutrition offered is the casserole and that’s just swimming in enough creamy mushroom sauce to drown out the green taste and any illusion of vitamin intake.  Add today’ great thing to the list and you’ve got a winning seven course meal–for someone with the tastebuds of a six year old.

95.  Cheetos

Yes, just plain old a bag of Cheetos.

Yum.

Could there ever be a better reason to lick your fingertips than to clean off all the cheese dust that gets collected there as you eat them?  There’s a Sniglet for that, you know:  Cheedle:
Cheedle (chee’ dul) – n. The residue left on one’s fingertips after consuming a bag of Cheetos.


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For example...


Unfortunately, the more you learn about Cheetos, the less appealing they become.  To make them, cornmeal is boiled down to a creamy consistency, it’s then pushed through a die, hot air and steam help them expand into those little caveman club-like shapes, and then they’re deep fried.  Finally, they’re covered in their flavoring which, unfortunately for my the snacking I do on my veggie days, include pork enzymes.

Cheetos were conjured into existence in 1947 by American hero Charles Elmer (who also developed Fritos snack chip).

Cheetos used to be hawked by this earnest looking mouse mascot:

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I enjoy books and fine foods.

But are now totally pimped out by this larger than life gangsta’ of snacks, Chester Cheetah:

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Where's my money?

Chester has proved to be such a popular mascot that not one but TWO video games were marketed with him as the hero.  I can’t speak to the sales of the games, but the fact that anyone might have bought one is mind-boggling.

Here’s a clip from Youtube that rather hilariously reviews the joystick excursion:


Still, what is it about Cheetos?  I’m eating them right now.  They’re so cheesy and crunchy and…fried.  Yeah, I think that just about hits it on the head.  They are everything I want in a non-nutritious snack.  Fried-ness and cheesitude.  And they’re loud in my head whilst I’m eating them.  They drown out my thinking.  Aw…bliss…to be alone in my head with only the sensation of fried cheese.

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Filed under Characters, Vittles

Success!

It was only really thanks to The Onion‘s A.V Club section that I caught wind of today’s great thing.  The writers run a reader Q and A feature and the question of the week was something akin to “what’s your favorite time-wasting website” and one of the writers mentioned failblog (as well as an almost as good site called pictureisunrelated.com).  I can’t believe I’ve only JUST found out about it.  I’ve been a loyal patron of such LOL sites as icanhascheezburger.com and ihasahotdog.com for quite a while and there’s a link to it right on those sites.  (They’re owned by the same peeps–The Cheezburger Network of websites).

94.  Failblog.org

It’s not too difficult to explain.  It’s basically the “America’s Funniest Home Videos” or “You’ve Been Framed” of blogs.  It’s a collection of pics–largely reader contributed–that capture either a moment of clutziness or stupidity or a complete lack of self awareness.  There’s about a half dozen George Bush pics in there.  On the odd occasion, there’s a video clip.

It’s pure genius and to get you started, I’m posting a few tasters here so you get the gist.  Then…you must click the link.  There’s almost three hundred pages of gaffes already to enjoy.  failblog

I especially love the animal-related  fail pics.

failtoycat.jpg

dogjumpfail.jpg

tennisdoublesfail.jpg

You’ll never work a full eight hours again.   You’re welcome.

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