The Quest For Electric Boogaloo
Pierce Brosnan, Insane Stickfights and Crowded Urinals
Yep! I'm here again. The one thing besides Spider-Man 2 that can get me off my ass and writing about movies - a big trip to Utah to schlep around on the midnight shift and juggle the day job. Yes, I'm still sad I haven't seen "Blade: Trinity," despite being warned off it.
So the big, horrifying rumor is that Stupid Rich Worthless Whore That Is Hurting America and Is The Reason They Hate Us and Whose Name I Will Not Say Because The Less She Is Mentioned, The Sooner She Will Go Away and Die In a Miserable Drug Induced Flame-Out will be in town, which means I will potentially have to be physically restrained from destroying her lame hotel-havin' ass. I'm weighing the potentially unnecessary martyrdom and pointless hero-worship that might result if I were to "rub her out," which I couldn't stand, versus the immediate satisfaction of rolling her head down Main Street with a baseball bat singing "I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!" I think I'll stay my hand, though, mostly because I'm not big on the whole 'criminal record' idea. Although it would be grand service to my country and the world.
What's even MORE frustrating is the whole mindset I'm getting when I voice my belligerent hatred for this woman: "Yeah, I know, but I'd still fuck her." NO YOU UNMITIGATED FOOLS! THAT IS THE PROBLEM! ARRRRRGH! Sometimes, I can see that view on certain pointless celebrity idiots, but NO. A LINE MUST BE DRAWN IN THE SAND, AND WE MUST MAKE OUR STAND HERE.
I am a Tower of Rage!
Anyway, back on the beat. Greg Kinnear walked past me yesterday. Steve Coogan was hangin' out in my theater. I walked by Jenny McCarthy, who was wearing a lot of make-up. Pamela Anderson walked by me, looking like crap, as usual. Griffin Dunne had to tell someone his name. My roommate made me watch portions of "Nick & Jessica," which made me hate the universe. It constantly gets more tempting to move to another country.
DAY ONE: 1/20/2005
Chillin' like a villain, then the big volunteer screening was "Mysterious Skin." Now 2004 was not big for the 'amount of movies CP managed to even get out and see' thing, so coming to Sundance and having this be the first film shown to us... a graphic, horrible story about two kids forever fucked up by their baseball coach molesting them... it gets your head back in this state of mind. "Oh... ugh... gah... right... I'm at Sundance now, huh? This is the kinda thing I'll be seeing." I didn't stay to see "Old Boy," as it's one of the midnight shows I'll be able to see on my shift, and I couldn't handle sitting in the theater anymore after watching that thing. Then someone told me "Old Boy" was even more depressing. Oh, joy. And it even started out so auspiciously, with Froot Loops raining on a kid's head. I thought that was a good sign.
DAY TWO: 1/21/2005
So what better way to cleanse the palate from that shit than to go see a movie about Antarctic penguins. It's all penguins. Not a shitty asshole horrible mustache-having molester. Goddammit, scarred forever. ANYWAY, penguins are cute, and in "The Emperor's Journey," you learn all about their crazy-ass ways, and their monogamy (at least for a year at a time).
Then it was "Layer Cake," a nifty little British crime caper dilly-o which cemented something I never expected - when Michael Gambon shows up on the screen now, he's a guy I say 'yes!' for and throw the horns to. ROCK! It helps that he's a badass gangster. Speaking of badass gangsters, COLM MEANEY IS A BADASS. I've seen him be a badass in a few movies, but then I remember 'wait, he was the frizzbeast guy running the transporter for Picard for a while. How'd he get to be a badass? I think that "AZZKIKR" license plate from "Con Air" helped out. Another good thing about "Layer Cake" is as follows: a movie about drug smuggling that doesn't involve constant graphic drug use. Just ain't my bag. About coke-cutters who try to avoid all the stupid crime stuff and just do their thing, make their money and keep people out of their businss. Until they get fucked over, forced to try and sell a bunch of X pills stolen from angry Serbs. This annoys a lot of people, and they have to squiggle around to get their shit together. It's neat, stylish without being "oh, shut the fuck up, Mr. Cool," and Daniel Craig is pretty smoove.
Finally, it was "The Matador," with Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear and Hope Davis, a movie I almost bailed on because after "Layer Cake," which already has distribution, I started getting that Sundance guilt where you think "I really should be going to see the movies that I'll probably NEVER get to see outside of this place." But I stayed out of convenience, as it was in the same theater as the other stuff I'd seen already. Pierce Brosnan stars as an asshole hitman named Julian Noble who does nothing but kill and fuck, until he hits a birthday and realizes he has no friends at all. So after a chance encounter with friendly, down-on-his-luck sales guy Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear), he reaches out to him out of desperation to make an actual human friend. The results are pretty amusing. I hadn't expected much out of Remington Steele, but he actually played a pretty good fucked-up weird guy. "I feel like a Bangkok hooker on a Sunday morning after the Navy's left town."
Then I had an experience that makes the Sundance festival kinda unique among life experiences. I got to witness Pierce Brosnan cutting in front of me and several other people standing in line at a men's room in order to use a urinal that Roger Ebert had just finished with. You just won't see that throughout the rest of your life.
The midnight show I worked was called "9 Songs." Apparently, it was supposed to be 'real honest sex depicted in rebellion against cinematic falsehood' or some such. Yet it was just a song, a hardcore sex scene, a song, a hardcore sex scene, rinse and repeat. Over 50 people walked out, but didn't cite it really offensive. One woman loudly proclaimed it 'boring.' I only watched a little bit of it, in time to see the money shot. So, huzzah.
Oh, and apparently some huge fight started near the theater, involving a man with a bloody face racing down the street with a bloody stick to meet up with the guy he was fighting somewhere else, where cops weren't. That's all I know. Oh, and lots of drunk assholes. Welcome to Ego City, Home of Audacity.
DAY THREE: 1/22/2005:
I arose to an alarm. Unfortunately, I was lacking in cups of ambition. However, I still managed to trudge down the goddamned steep hill I'm stuck on this year to go see "Inside Deep Throat," a dare-I-say rollicking documentary about the social impact that Ye Olde Porne had on the country, and the story behind the 'most profitable film of all time.' Made for 25 grand, grossed over 600 million, and nobody who actually made the movie got more than a few hundred bucks out of it, thanks to the mob financing. Still... a woman with a clitoris in her throat. The movie was reasonably light in tone, and it's the first time I can recall seeing a documentary interviewee get heckled from off-camera by his wife. Oh, and the 'wacky doctor' Harry Reems from the flick lives in Park City selling real estate, and he's surprisingly articulate and honest, willing to talk about the government's attempts to put him in jail. The documentary says he "converted to Christianity," but Reems himself says he's 'no student of the scriptures' and is a 'lazy Christian,' meaning he doesn't go every Sunday, but he goes hoping to be moved by a sermon. That guy was cool.
Lots of hot chicks with funky colored hair here. I dig that. Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine. Clementine!
Then I strolled up to my theater to visit it during the day, which I so rarely do, and I caught the 20-year-anniversary showing of Jim Jarmusch's "Stranger Than Paradise," a black-and-white wandering movie about Willie and Eddie, a couple of New York schmoes, getting restless and traveling to Cleveland to fetch Willie's cousin Eva and rambling around, eventually winding up in Florida. Funny, bleak, and I now love Eszter Balint. She's pretty and I COULD SAVE HER - sorry. Irrationality reigns supreme!
Now, I suddenly realize I have plenty of day job stuff to take care of, so I skipped out on the rest of today's stuff, and might miss most of tomorrow. I somehow have a bit of a stutter from time to time, too. That's pretty annoying. More later!
It's later. The midnight show was "Rize," about "krumping" which is dancing in South Central LA. Trying to counteract some of the crappy hip-hop stereotypes. People loved it. I didn't watch it, as I've got more responsibility this time around, and thus I'm probably not gonna get to see many of the midnight shows we work. Luckily, not too stoked for any of 'em in particular, although I hear "Old Boy" is great. Other word of mouth on movies I've not seen yet - "Game 6," starring Michael Keaton - sadly, no good. "The Dying Gaul" with Campbell Scott - either the greatest thing going, or dull as hell. "Kung Fu Hustle" - totally fucking badass.
DAY FOUR: 1/23/2005
Day shot to hell. Day job for most of the day, until I went blind on the computer and went out, bagged some Quizno's, then went over to check out "The Ballad of Jack and Rose," starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by his wife. You know something's up with a movie when it got me misty-eyed inside of five minutes.
HOLY SHIT. EMINEM SAMPLED MARTIKA! THIS IS ON VH-1 AT 4:45 AM WHEN I AM TYPING THIS. HOLY CRAP. FUCKING MARTIKA OF KIDS INCORPORATED!
Anyway, I'm not trusting the shuttles around town anymore - they added a new theater, and traffic is total ass. I got stuck on the back of a bus and waited fifteen minutes to go maybe a hundred yards. Screw that crap.
Midnight show was "Hard Candy," about a teenage girl and a man in his 30s having an Internet relationship, but in a "crazy twist," the girl is the one that's the psycho predator. And there's apparently a 20 minute castration scene. Joy. I didn't get to see that one either.
Scott Weiland doesn't look like the dude that did "Sex Type Thing" anymore. Not that he ever did, much. He looks like a guy I'm glad I've never met.
3 AM, I'm getting off work because "Hard Candy" went late due to apparently imaginary technical issues. I walk into a little deli that happens to be open, and who should I see but ERNIE MOTHERFUCKING HUDSON! I said nothing to the man, he was with a woman named "Sky." Daughter, trophy wife, no idea. Ernie Hudson is the man and the suckas he devours.
DAY FIVE: 1/24/2005
Today, I ditched movies and chilled out at the Sundance Music Cafe, where cool and interesting artists get about five or six songs to strut their stuff. It was a better time than I was even expecting.
First up for bids was Linda Perry, whom I enjoy greatly. The 4-Non Blondes album and her solo record "In Flight" are both cool chunks of music. Unfortunately, she's stepped back from performing for the most part and just writes pop songs and produces pop stars (and you could claim this is fortunate, so some of the popular music isn't as horrible as it could be), so this was her first outing in a long while. She's also really short, so from my angle, all I could really see was her nose up to her mohawk over the stupidly positioned piano. She only got about five songs, and one was a song she wrote for Pink and one was "Beautiful," the Aguilera deal. She busted out the ol' "What's Up," and said she hadn't done that song in many years, and that her own voice annoys her on it, which is part of why she likes being in the background now. Dammit! She was really good, but not enough time to shine, but I'd bet she didn't want much more time than she had. And nothing off of "In Flight," which I suppose I can understand, since it didn't sell too well.
Next up was Billy Currington, country music guy. Kinda generic. I like a country song when it kinda sounds like a train, but yeah. Wearing a Doors shirt gets you in the door, but eh. I enjoyed the bass player more, because he was amusing to watch. Then there was Peter Cincotti, a jazzercize guy. The band was pretty good, and he's a piano-playin' pig swingin' like a gate doin' Liberace on the 88, but he doesn't quite have the voice to do what he's trying to do.
Then we get Nellie McKay (pronounced "Mc-KY" apparently), a spazztastic young maniac with a dirty mouth, piano skills out the ass and a stream-of-consciousness groove blended with classical croony insanity. She's 19 or something like that, and she's the best new thing I've seen in ages. Hilarious, ridiculous, radically left-wing and not afraid to denounce fake bullshit. "Is this all feminism has brought us - 'The View?'" Check her out. She's goddamned delightful.
Finally, we end with Michael McDonald. YES, THAT MICHAEL MCDONALD. I would never in my life have gone to see him live (I was there for Nellie and Linda) on my own, but I kept getting surprised with the amount of songs I "sorta knew" of his. It's from the lite-rock radio I used to absorb through osmosis during my schooling years between the 'I'm ready to go' point and the 'time to leave for the bus stop' moment, where I'd just sit in a chair and wish I was asleep and hear Hall & Oates, Lionel Richie and Michael McDonald. I'm also excited to finally know the name of the song that Tommy Davidson was aping in his comedy act from a decade or so ago when he was joking that McDonald's style is great - "I can't understand a word, but he's BAD!" I only knew the gibberish version of "Minute by Minute" until today. So, huzzah. He brought his game, threw in a "we gotta make it through the next four years" while doing "Takin' It To The Streets," and warbled like a motherfucker, doing Ashford & Simpson songs. And the girl I was with called it "makin' love music." I shit you not. Michael McDonald makes her horny, apparently. That's funny. He reminds me a little of my grandfather, and there was a weird light off his glasses that when his eyes were closed, it kinda looked like he was giving a really weird glare. YAY FUN.
Also, I was mildly inebriated. More movies soon.
The movie that was in when I came on shift was "Wolf Creek," which Weinstein was in and out of. He apparently bought it and had just come in to see the audience jump, and then loitered outside. THEN ERNIE HUDSON WALKED BY. YES. TWO ERNIE HUDSON SIGHTINGS IN TWO DAYS. WORD, BITCH, ERNIE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER. Then our midnight show was "Police Beat," the story of a Senegalese bike cop in Seattle dealing with life in America with a girlfriend who doesn't believe in monogamy. "Cleverly steering clear of realism" or some such. Sparsely populated screening, I'm afraid. I didn't watch. I was busy. THAT'S RIGHT, BUSY!
DAY SIX: 1/25/2005
Two movies today, kids. Two documentaries. I'M LEARNIN'!
First up, "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." I knew going in this would just piss me off, which it did, because fuck assholes, but it also made me cringe because I live in goddamned California and learned the shitass truth about the fake-ass 'power shortage' and how it helped manufacture a crisis - a side effect of which was goddamned John Matrix is the governor. If Gray Davis had shown even half the personality and coolness he's shown since being ousted, he might not have been so unpopular. But shit on a cracker, I hate Corporate America like I hate The Worthless Whore Who Shan't Be Named and who on second thought does not even deserve capitalization. It's a good documentary. Check it out, get pissed off, then realize this bullshit probably happens in EVERY CORPORATION EVER. I might transfer the balances on all my Citibank credit cards in protest of their complicity. Fuckers.
Then it was "The Devil and Daniel Johnston." The most I knew about Daniel Johnston was that he had a quirky and kinda haunting song about Casper the Friendly Ghost on the soundtrack to that supremely aggravating film "Kids." I was surprised to learn he was a legitimate manic-depressive delusional headcase, yet an amazingly weird, interesting and prolific artist. It's the story of how he became as fringely famous as he is, and the struggles his family has gone through in trying to deal with him and his episodes. The one problem I had is that it made the current Daniel seem a bit more socially retarded than he he actually came off during the Q&A, when he made some pretty good jokes and was coherent and clear-headed, it seemed. Although that may be the medication. I just would've liked a little more illustration of him in a level-headed state. Other than that, it was fascinating and illuminating.
Then the midnight show was "Old Boy," the movie I'd bailed on watching on volunteer night when "Mysterious Skin" broke my brain. Goddam creepy Owen-Wilson lookin' evil coach fuck goddammit! Anyway, "Old Boy" was almost awesome. There was some really kickass shit in it - the story of a guy who gets mysteriously abducted, locked up for fifteen years, and then just as mysteriously set free. I called the big surprise at the end pretty quickly, but then they moved away from that and I started wondering anew... but I should've known, it's Sundance. OF COURSE THEY WENT THERE. I won't spoil it, though, so you'll just have to wonder in vain, or drop me a line and yell SPOIL IT FOR ME I MUST KNOW TO WHAT YOU ARE REFERRING.
I found out later that Ricki Lee Jones had cancelled at the Music Cafe, and Nellie McKay played again, unscheduled. I was sad, for I would have tried to see her again. She's DELICIOUSLY CRAZY TO USE SHITTY PARLANCE.
DAY SEVEN: 1/26/2005
Four hours of sleep, drag my ass out of bed at 7 AM to wait in line for two hours to see "The Aristocrats," but it was definitely worth it to any who enjoy the art of comedy. It's basically proof positive of the fact that comedy is about 90 percent delivery, as illustrated by this classic joke that comics tell each other that's much less about punchline and more about insane ad-libbing of the set-up, which often gets absurdly filthy and obscene. Paul Provenza directed, Penn Jillette co-created, and it features all sorts of comics - from George Carin, Robin Williams, Jon Stewart, Drew Carey and the Smothers Brothers to comedy circuit favorites like Wendy Liebman and Rick Overton, and even Wayne Fucking Cotter makes an appearance. Two great things about the Q&A, though: Gilbert Gottfried celebrated as a bona-fide, unmitigated comic genius even though "we just canNOT understand why we find it funny," and Penn Jillette teaching me a new, fabulous word when talking about any potential controversy: "I don't buy into red states and blue states... everybody tells dirty jokes, Southerners aren't our enemies, they love this shit just as much as we do... if there's any controversy, it'll be started by about 25 Christ-tards." Genius.
I just had to go through several different potentially spellings of that word. Christard. ChrisTard. Christtard. Chris-tard. I'll go with Christ-tard. Gets the point across and the proper pronunciation. Glorious. Our president is a Christ-tard.
After this, I got back in line to go see the "what the fuck, it's here AND it's Oscar-nominated already?!" documentary "Twist of Faith." Admittedly, the main reason I went is because it was set in Toledo, Ohio. I'm from Toledo, Ohio. NOTHING IS EVER set in Toledo, Ohio, so I had to go, just to see if I could see my house from there. Imagine my surprise when I came out of that place near tears.
It's the story of a man named Tony Comes, a firefighter and an average Midwestern truck-drivin' sports-lovin' kinda guy, complete with an unbelievable super-mullet in old footage of his wedding (he's wised up since then). He was victimized by this fuck of a Catholic priest back in his high school days, and is very articulate and open about how it's really bubbling up in his life to this very day. The film documents his struggle with its ramifcations as well as his fight to get the diocese of the Catholic church to fess up to this bullshit and make some reparations and take steps to FIGHT this. It puts stress on his marriage and nearly drives him to a divorce, but he also forms bonds with fellow victims and uses the camera as a confessional.
It's moving and interesting, and you never get the sense that he's an idiot or anything. As much as I want to say things like "C'mon, realize the church is full of crap! Ditch that organized holy bullshit!" - being all agnosticky as I am - his reluctance to disbelieve was mildly inspiring regardless. The hints toward a crisis of faith were actually kinda exciting. "Go, Tony, go! Realize it's all hokum!" Even in the Q&A, when we discovered he and his wife have stuck together, and that he's resolved to fight the fight from within the organization rather than as an outsider, as well as admitting to him that he overcame his own bigotry to embrace a fellow victim who turned out to be gay (and probably more in line with most of the Sundance crowd in his assertion that he's left the Church and doesn't buy into its dogma anymore, and finds his own spirituality and what-not), he's still fighting tears and claiming this is the hardest thing he's ever had to do. I went up to him just to shake his hand, as the story was compelling and I figured I'd never respected a Catholic more than this guy, and he immediately took my hand and gave me a hug.
It's a weird thing... but why is it that there are a lot of people with fucked up childhoods like this that turn out to be the most kickass people going? I know a lot of people who've suffered through some serious bullshit in their early lives, and they've turned into the most interesting, different and compelling personalities. I sometimes wonder how they'd have turned out if they DIDN'T suffer through that kinda horror.