Sunday, September 27, 2009

Paranormal Activity, or An Epic Analogy of All Male Female Relationships.

Dear reader,

Honestly, Paranormal Activity is funnier than it is frightening, which works well to relieve tension, and to keep the film interesting during the scenes that aren't meant to scare the audience. The scares it does deliver, however, are mostly genuine; you aren't going to be forced to leap from your seat because of some cheap jump cut spliced together with a loud noise. The parts meant to disturb you are due to the film's images, not its editing techniques.

But all in all, it's not really going to be that frightening unless you're one of those people who goes into the theater knowing that you're going to be terrified for the rest of the night. Those of you who dare the film to scare you will grunt and shrug: "That wasn't scary, bro. I'm from Detroit." You know who you are.

You're not going to scream and pee your pants, but Paranormal Activity is still worth your time. It's engaging and suspenseful and definitely worth sticking around for the big finish at the end.

But that's not a letter to the filmmaker! I broke my own format! Formats are meant to be broken, children. Instead I decided to write a letter to the main character, Micah. After all, he is the cinematographer for most of the thing, right? Spoilers follow the cut, but let's be honest: Spoilers rarely ever spoil anything. You all will figure out what's going to happen before it happens anyway.

Dear Micah,

When your girlfriend tells you one day that she has been haunted by something since she was a little girl, you should dump her. Odds are that she's not really haunted, and this is your first sign that she's crazy. Okay, in your case, she actually had something haunting her, but is that really a better alternative? It can't turn out well either way.

But your story offers a striking tale of warning to anyone who decides to persue a relationship: Don't. It's a simple analogy. Boy and Girl fall in love and everything is dandy. Suddenly, a problem arises. Boy wants to solve the problem by filming it and picking it apart, but Girl just wants to ignore it in hopes that it will go away. But inevitably, they start trying to fix their problem; kill their demons if you will. This, of course, makes things worse and things spin wilder and wilder out of control until Girl turns into a demon and kills Boy.

Sigh...they all end the same.

P.S. When someone tells you not to use a Ouija board, do not use a Ouija board.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jennifer's Body: Attack of the Pretentious Giant-Thumbed Monster.

Dear Diablo Cody,

You seriously have an Oscar? I mean, I had my issues with Juno (most of which can be summed up by the abridged version of the script), but it was still entertaining. Yet, when the trailer for Juno 2: Jennifer's Body was released, I knew I was in for 2 hours of torture (and not the good kind that horror movies tend to include). In the back of my mind, I thought it could be mildly amusing but obviously I gave you too much credit.

Five minutes into Jennifer's Body the person next to me leaned over and said, "I hate this movie." Something about a bunch of kids walking around saying stupid words you've designed to sound hip just doesn't fly anymore. Your teenage girl language passed in Juno because it was the entire theme of the movie and it was actually funny. In Jennifer's Body, your writing reminds me of the retarded kid on the football team; it's trying so hard to do well, but it is fundamentally incapable of generating anything but a few chuckles, which the audience immediately feels guilty for emitting.

I have this picture in my head of your writing process; let me know if I have it right: You sit at your typewriter (because you're obviously too pretentious for computers), and outline the plot for whatever quirky movie you're writing. Next, you go back through and look for opportunities to insert dialogue that is so painfully quirky and hip that it sticks out like an awkward boner (except awkward boners are usually funny). Finally, you throw in a couple of puns and the absolute worst plot tie-ins of all time and you send your script off with a note attached: "Hey, I'm Diablo Cody. I have tattoos and used to be a stripper. This script is obviously offbeat, quirky and hip because I wear leopard-print clothing." Works every time.

For a horror movie, the basic premise of Jennifer's Body isn't that bad. Girl likes indie band fronted by Adam Brody. Adam Brody sacrifices girl to Satan. Girl becomes infused with a demon and has to feed on human flesh to survive. Whatever. It's a horror movie, I don't care. But your inciting incident is a fire that starts for no apparent reason. Hey, it's a good thing all the important characters were essentially the only people to survive the fire that started without any explanation! Wait, was the band like, so "salty" that their music started the fire? Stupidest damn fire I've ever seen. What astonishes me is that you actually managed to explain most of the weird stuff that happened in the film (sometimes well, sometimes poorly), yet the event most important to the plot is the most mysterious thing in the entire movie.

You explained Jennifer's affliction well. You explained why that stupid band got famous. But the never ending hole to nowhere? You just thought that was a cool idea, right? You don't think that if scientists were trying to figure out where it led, they would maybe put, I don't know, tracking devices in there? Maybe the mystery was better than the truth (it certainly would have been to the audience), and the didn't want to discover that it led to some stupid stream by the mental hospital. Also, most people won't complain, but what's with the random lesbian moment? Wait, I can answer that. You figured the only way to get people into the theater was to put Megan Fox in some sexy little boy shorts and have her kiss a girl. Some of us are above the age of fifteen. Besides, girls are gross. Five minutes of Sexploitation just detracts from the plot. And don't even try to argue it's a throwback to some other horror movie. You are not Quentin Tarantino.

There were some good moments. Thank God for Adam Brody and J.K. Simmons. The sacrifice scene was done so well that I thought I was watching a different movie. Of course, spontaneously bursting into song always has been my thing. And it's only worth mentioning because you tried so hard, but there were occasional one liners that were genuinely funny. "Haha box cutter," I thought then resumed frowning. But most of the dialogue blew, your characters swear way too much (it's not funny, it's cheap), and most of Jennifer's Body simply annoyed the piss out of me. Especially Megan Fox. She couldn't act her way out of a box made by a mime and she has gigantic thumbs. That's right Megan Fox; you have giant thumbs and I hope you never forget it.

Anyways, Brook...I mean Diablo (good pen name. It's much quirkier and it's the shizz). Do us all a favor and go back to stripping. Wait, I just google imaged you. Just retire. And maybe hook Megan Fox up with your old contacts at the Vu.

P.S. The Low Shoulder sign at the end? Really? Worst thing I've ever seen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Patrick Swayze: Off to Tame the Road House in the Sky.

Dear Patrick Swayze,

No matter what Kanye says, to me your death is the most upsetting of the year. You may not be as big a star as Michael Jackson, and of course your battle with cancer was well publicized so I knew the end was imminent, but you've given the world more than most celebrities ever will. Let's recognize your accomplishments.

-It was you who taught Ferris Bueller's sister to dance with passion. And I always believed you warned her never to get that nose job in the first place.
-It was you and Demi Moore who somehow made pottery sexy. Wait, pottery was always sexy. But you made it sexier; all the while prepping Whoopi Goldberg to win an Oscar. We all know who that Oscar really belongs to, Swayze.
-It was you who taught Keanu Reeves that when the man you're after turns out to be your friend, the only acceptable solution is to yell and shoot into the air.
-Seriously, Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar.
-It was you who taught me that I am simply a product of fear. And that I had so much more gusta that I could musta.
-You played the best Pecos Bill I've ever seen, and you ripped out a man's throat. In one career.

Seriously, Swayze. You've graced us with some classics. Michael Jackson may have written some songs or whatever, but who really listens to Michael Jackson? You were in Road House. Was Michael Jackson in Roadhouse? No, he was in Miss Castaway, which...No, wait a minute. I'd probably watch that. But that's not the point, Patrick! The point is: ROAD HOUSE! It's Dawson Leery's favorite movie! That's how you know it's good. David Carradine died this year as well, but most people only know him as that guy from Kill Bill anyway. I love David Carradine, but mean so much more. By the way, David Carradine wanted to be at your funeral, but obviously he couldn't make it. It's too bad. He was really dying to come.

I know not everyone is as big a Swayze fan as I am. And I know a lot of people find my David Carradine joke distasteful. (Chill out, people.) But in all seriousness--and I know there was a lot of fake seriousness earlier--it really was disappointing to hear that you passed. I think I always thought of you as immortal, untouchable. As if you didn't really have cancer, but cancer had Patrick Swayze. In the end it got you, and that makes me sad. But I know you're up there, smiling down on us, just daring Keanu to try and shoot you now.

P.S. Now who am I going to confuse with Kurt Russel?