Hide yo kids, hide yo wife … cuz Kevin Bacon is rapin’ everybody out here!

He literally wants to F you in your A.

There’s a strong possibility that if you are co-starring in a movie with Kevin Bacon, you will be raped, beaten, robbed, pimped out, made addicted to drugs or emotionally abused in some fashion by the guy. Hell, he may even use a combination of those things just because he’s sick and twisted and he gets his kicks that way.

Bacon has been in a shit load of movies between 1978 and 2011. And don’t get me wrong, many of those flicks are enjoyable, maybe a few are even classics. 

But there’s no denying that a large number of the roles that Bacon plays are dedicated to a darker side, one that involves causing harm, sometimes great harm, to his fellow human beings. 

He’s prolific, no doubt. And I think he’s a pretty great actor. But there’s something else going on with Kevin Bacon, something bubbling just below the surface of the man that’s not only dark, but also depraved and violent. He doesn’t just want to rape you, he wants to beat you first, and then rob you after. Maybe take a dump on you.  

Its amazing that Kyra Sedgewick is still alive, when I stop and think about it. Because it would be hard for a man who plays villain after villain NOT to bring his work home with him on some nights. And I have no doubt that every once in a while Kyra will turn to her husband in the wee morning hours, stare at his sleeping figure and wonder just how many bodies are buried in the foundation of the garage, or the backyard, or digesting in his stomach.

His first movie was a bit part in National Lampoon’s Animal House, but his real depravity didn’t ramp up until nine years later. He sprinkled some normal roles in there, some heroes, some regular Joes who go about their daily lives, pay taxes, raise a family. 

But every other year, every other movie, Bacon unleashes some new twisted piece of his psyche, and if you look at his body of work, you will see what I mean. 

White Water Summer, 1987: Bacon plays a wilderness guide that leads a group of kids on a risky mountain hike. While he does not rape these kids, he spends the entire movie berating and demeaning poor little Sean Astin with what I guess are supposed to be valuable life lessons. 

Criminal Law, 1989: a serial killer that’s acquitted of his heinous crimes, Bacon would apparently go on to inspire real life serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

Flatliners, 1990: only a former bully in this movie, Bacon has to visit the land of the undead to realize how much of a bastard he was as a kid. 

JFK, 1991: a gay hustler who acts as a whore for several of the key members of the team that assassinated John F. Kennedy, Bacon’s depravity would greatly alter the future history of this nation.

The River Wild, 1994: Bacon plays a sly criminal who tricks Meryl Streep into taking him on a river adventure but intends on killing Streep and her family. Its unknown if he wants to rape Streep, but she does flirt with him and he would likely do it if he has the chance. 

Murder in the First, 1995: this one is tough because Bacon technically plays a criminal, but he’s imprisoned for life on some trumped-up charges. However, during his incarceration he spends three years in confinement, loses his mind and shits and pisses himself constantly. I also think he GETS raped in this movie, which would make sense, because of his need to feel his own wrath.

Sleepers, 1996: Oh man, this is where it really gets going. Bacon plays the guard at a, sort of, state run prison for boys, and he spends YEARS, literally years, raping and beating a group of boys that would grow up to be Brad Pitt, Jason Patric and Billy Crudup. They seek revenge and kill him, but not before he’s ruined their lives and their buttholes. 

Telling Lies In America, 1997: A DJ with a penchant for taking bribes to get songs on the radio, this coming of age story was written by Joe Eszterhas, based on his own life. Eszterhas would grow up to write things like Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Sliver, all of which Kevin Bacon is responsible for. 

Wild Things, 1998: he shows hid dick in this movie. 

Hollow Man, 2000: a scientist who becomes twisted by his own creation that turns him invisible, the first thing he does with his newfound power is to rape his neighbor. Who says science isn’t good for something?

Trapped, 2002: a kidnapper and all around bad guy, Bacon spends large chunks of the movie trying to decide whether or not he should rape Charlize Theron. This might be one Bacon performance I agree with. 

The Woodsman, 2004: a culmination of his raping efforts, Bacon plays a newly released pedophile that tries to distance himself from those molester years after a long prison stint. Of course, his true nature gets he best of him and he goes on a crazy rampage where he just rapes children in broad daylight. He is eventually killed in downtown LA after a violent machine gun battle with Al Pacino.

Where the Truth Lies, 2005: Bacon plays one half of a Lewis and Martin style comedy team that enjoyed fame in the 50’s and 60’s. Sounds pretty normal, right? Nope. He’s actually a bi-sexual dope fiend that murders a girl during a drug fueled threesome with Colin Firth. 

X-men: First Class, 2011: Bacon reportedly took the role of evil Sebastian Shaw because he thought the character’s mutant power was the ability to rape anything, animals included, at will. Despite his disappointment when he discovered this was not the case, he resigned himself to playing both a Nazi and an evil mutant who can absorb other mutant powers at will. Keeping with the revisionist history of the film, Bacon pushed hard for the Nazis to actually win WWII, but producers gave him a submarine with a special rape chamber instead.

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Is it time to re-examine Alien 3?

With the release of Prometheus next year, I felt it was time to re-examine the merits and failures of Alien 3, which has to be one of the most hated and confusing sequels to a big time sci-fi series.

Actually, the various screenplays and ideas that were created when 20th Century Fox was trying to get a third Alien movie off the ground are actually more interesting than what was eventually put on screen, but that’s for another time (if you do want to catch up on that, I recc “The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made”, which is somewhat dated, as many of those movies were eventually made, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.)

The reality of Alien 3 is that it represents different pieces from all those screenplays, and it’s at best an incomplete idea. I saw it in theaters with my pops back in 92, and I had no idea what I was watching. My pops outright hated it, and he’s not alone in that feeling.

People loved Alien/Aliens so much that I think it was probably inevitable that no matter what the third movie ended up being, it was destined to disappoint on some level, but it seemed, and seems, that the filmmakers almost wanted to assault the fans with the third movie, which is dark and brooding and weird and not very fun at all.

If the original was the haunted house version of the story, and the second is the action movie version, than the third is likely the religious version of the story, but that’s not really true either because they really pulled back on making a full blown religious allegory for the creatures. But I’m getting ahead here.

The third flick starts with survivors Ripley, Hicks and Newt being attacked by a face hugger, causing their pod to be ejected from the Sulaco and crash landing on a prison planet, which is populated by men who have turned to a life not unlike that of monks. They are serving their time for violent crimes, but many have chosen to serve it dedicated to a higher power. Then the Alien plants its seed in a dog and it bursts out and the chaos begins.

I really have no issue with this set up because it makes sense. The Alien Queen was on the ship in the conclusion of Aliens, so it would not be too far of a stretch to think she might have laid an egg or two while lying in wait for Ripley and their fight.

But they kill off two very important characters in the first five minutes, and that really scrambled people’s minds and just pissed them off I think. Ripley fought awful hard to save Newt, and Hicks, in Aliens, and to just wipe them out was a very odd choice.

But, that’s okay, too. Because if they really wanted to make a dark, nasty, sonofabitch of a movie, that’s the best way to go about it. Put our hero in a position where she has nothing left to lose and it definitely creates a sense of total abandon. What is Ripley capable of if she doesn’t care if she lives or dies? What could she really do if there was truly nothing to lose?

But instead, Ripley just ends up in shock the whole movie, and she never really cares about kicking ass or being in control. Instead, they cut her off at the knees and render her impotent.

Which, again, is fine. As long as she has some sort of coming out party near the conclusion. Instead, she seems like a passenger in her own movie. That happens to her in the first two, until she decides to take control. But she never does that. Instead, she remains suicidal and morose and detached because she’s impregnated with one of the little things and just fumbles from scene to scene for two hours.

Which, again, is fine. And to keep myself talking in circles any longer, this is really the whole problem of the movie. Not the set up, not the location, not even the conclusion. They simply had no idea what to do with Ripley, which is their greatest failure. The set up should have led to Ripley’s greatest moment, but she whimpers off, kills herself and then it just ends. Well, until she’s cloned and returns for a truly shitty sequel, but that’s for another time.

Alien 3 gets a lot wrong, but they get some stuff right, and it has never gotten any credit for those things. They did mess a lot of it up. But the reality is that Alien 3 has most of what you would come to expect from an Alien movie: tight atmosphere, all out dread, dealing with something most of the characters don’t understand, a unique visual design, a cool alien, Ripley and claustrophobic confines.  It just doesn’t quite work or come together and it just seems like a weird, misguided, attempt to make an Alien movie.

A lot of the blame fell on David Fincher. But things worked out for him pretty good, so no need to worry. The blame should fall on David Giler and Walter Hill, who really ended up trying to cobble together something from all the other screenplays that came before. That’s really the weirdest thing, because they produced two classics, previously.

Also, the real hate should be directed toward the fourth movie, which really bastardizes the whole series. Resurrection is so fucking stupid that I can’t believe it was even made, and I actually paid to see it in 97. Fuck that movie. Even with Ron Perlman in it, the whole thing fucking sucks.

To that end, at least they tried with this one, tried to make a real Alien movie, instead of some cloning plot with Winona Ryder stunt casted as an android.

Alien 3 shouldn’t be condemned, I just think people should be more realistic about it is all. It’s not too bad, or good, it’s just not quite right. It’s a miss, at best.

That’s very non-committal, I realize, but I think the filmmakers are responsible for that. Characters are wholly underwritten, subplots are abandoned or not properly served and you never get a feel of the geography of the prison facility.

But Ripley had to die and it makes sense that Ripley would be faced with some heavy theological questions at this point. She survived some real wild shit, and now, facing her own death and the death of those she’s loved through the years, it’s easy to see that she would explore some of these questions. They just pulled back on it is all. Which is another great sin, I think.

Back to the religious feel of the movie: to fully appreciate this approach it’s necessary to watch the Workprint version of the movie, which restore over 30 minutes and changed around a lot of what was eventually released in theaters.

The religious components are greatly enhanced with the Workprint version, which really deserves its own review. But, the Workprint version gives you a greater sense of what these guys believe – a kind of apocalyptic-Waco-Judeo-Christian type of thing – and the presence of the Alien only solidifies their beliefs: the end of days is upon them and face of that evil is truly frightening. Injecting these things into a closed society would have that kind of effect, I think, where people would likely feel their convictions have been vindicated. The arrival of the devil is some crazy shit, especially when you’re isolated from the entire universe. 

The Workprint version also greatly enhances Charles S. Dutton’s character as their spiritual leader. He was wholly underserved in the theatrical version and he almost seemed like an afterthought. He really matches Sigourney Weaver beat for beat in the Workprint version, and he’s so crucial to what the message or purpose of the prison is that his expanded role almost makes it an entirely different movie by itself.

So much is switched around and different with the Workprint version, that the little changes and beats mean a whole hell of a lot to the story. I felt like I was watching it for the first time, in a way. And it also made it feel like a ‘David Fincher’ movie, if there is such a thing, which was an interesting surprise.

Some changes: Ripley washes ashore instead of being rescued directly from the pod; the alien gestates in an Ox instead of a dog; Ripley’s detached behavior is somewhat explained, as being awakened from hypersleep causes the body to react as if it has the flu; as stated before, there are longer scenes of the prisoners leaning on their faith through prayer and habit; they actually capture the Alien, but its eventually released by one of the prisoners who comes to view the Alien as his new god; lots of establishing shots of the prison, the planet and the interior give the viewer a better sense of where they are and geography of the prison; the alien doesn’t burst out of Ripley when she plummets to her death.

Overall, Ripley’s behavior makes a lot more sense with the Workprint version, but, we’re talking about the Theatrical version here and in that version you catch glimpses of what could have been a really unique, new and interesting entry into the Alien mythology. And make no mistake; Alien 3 completely serves what came before it, both in story and approach. And it’s a really fitting ending to the trilogy. If you consider what movies David Fincher made after this, you get the feeling, even with the theatrical version,  that he was poised to make something worthy of what came before it.

The bottom line is that the movie is an incredible disappointment and a let down on many levels, there’s no denying it. But I think it has aged well, and its important to re-examine it, nearly 20 years later. There’s a lot to appreciate here.

It’s so dark and hopeless, and that’s something that is so important to the series, that lack of hope. They just turned it up to eleven and didn’t deliver on the ending. Sins, I realize. But go back and check it out. Its pretty interesting, even though it’s a mess.

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Watch: Best. Fan. Ever.

This has to be the greatest fan attempt at a home run ball ever. Any time you’re feeling a little down, I highly recc this clip. Everything about it is crazy, from the dive, to what the dude is wearing, to his being all alone, to his hasty escape after he eventually grabs the ball. Its awesome, and it makes me want to go see a Rays/A’s game in Oakland. Looks like a wild place. Enjoy.

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R.I.P. Lil’ Sebastian: Or, why Parks and Rec is the best thing on TV

You can't tell by this photo, but this little horse has a huge wang.

 

“I’ve only cried twice in my life. Once, when I was hit by a bus when I was seven years old. And when Lil’ Sebastian died.” – Ron Swanson

 

The third season finale of Parks and Rec laid to rest Pawnee’s favorite son, the shetland pony, Lil’ Sebastian. The horse went out with a huge celebration of his life, featuring original music and poetry and ceremonial torch lighting (that burned off Ron Swanson’s facial hair) and high end production values by Worldwide 720, which is a company that is founded, and now run, by Jean Ralphio and Tom Haverford. 

 

The passing of Lil’ Sebastian, and the hilarity that ensues, really highlights the show’s number one strength: its writing, which has somehow established Lil’ Sebastian as a pantheon of Pawnee’s culture with little more than two appearances over the course of three seasons (albeit both in season 3). 

 

His death has really rocked this world, and its characters, and has a very distinct effect on each of their lives that really propels their stories into what I will imagine be a very highly anticipated fourth season. 

 

But the episode also ended on several clff hangers, leaving most of the main characters in some sort of flux: Leslie could be a future mayoral candidate with a secret relationship with her co-worker, a relationship that would undoubtedly be used against her by Pawnee’s weirdly accurate depiction of local politics; Ron is facing the return of his first ex-wife – Tammy 1 – who is apparently so evil that she makes Tammy 2 scamper away in fear; Tom has left the parks department to join forces with Jean Ralphio at entertainment company Worldwide 720 (you know, because they go around the world twice); April is now managing Andy’s band, Mouse Rat, and while I’m fairly certain their relationship could survive anything (the wedding episode might have been the show’s best, and that’s saying a lot), it wil undoubtedly be tested as April serves this dual role; And Chris is suddenly faced with his own mortality, realizing he won’t live to be a 150, and instead is a 42 year old man in the second half of his life. 

 

With all that happening, and what I didn’t realzie until I saw it a second time the other night, is that the writers managed to make most of these narrative change because of Lil’ Sebastian’s death: After a succesful Harvest Festival and now a highly succesful and touching tribute to the horse, Leslie has raised her profile locally and is now considered a viable political cadidate; having produced the tribute to Sebstian, Tom believes Worldwide 720 has enough clout and power to actually bcome worldwide (the epidsode’s tag featuring their new headquarters was absolutely perfect); Chris relates his sudden health problems (tendonitis) to his own mortality, and the death of Sebastian rocks him emotionally, forcing him rexamine his priorities; Mouse Rat now has some clout, having performed their song “5,000 Candles in the Wind” at the tribute; And while its not apparent how Ron’s future will be effected by the horse, Ron continues to evolve into the father of this group, handing out advice and wisdom that will no doubt come back to haunt him in later episodes (his advice to Tom is pure Ron Effing Swanson). 

 

So, where does that leave us? Wanting more Parks and Rec. Honestly, I’m a little worried about upcoming seasons. I have faith in the writers and producers, don’t get me wrong. But its some of the same team that was the brain trust behind The Office, and I would argue that the third season of that show was its peak, and everything subsequent to season three has not lived up to its near perfect execution. I hope Parks and Rec doesn’t fall prey to that, and that the best season of the Pawnee crew is still somewhere out there, waiting for us to discover it. 

 

Until then, I leave you with Lil’s Sebastian’s webpage, where you can see the Parks and Rec crew fall head over heels for the horse. 

 

Peace Out, Lil’ Sebastian

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Watch: Gary Oldman defames National White Boy Day

There’s likely a very large group of movie-goers who only know Gary Oldman from Potter and Batman, but for a time in the 90’s the dude was in everything and played a wide variety of characters, some villains, all interesting in Oldman’s hands.

In 93, Oldman had what amounted to an extended cameo in Tarantino and Scott’s “True Romance“, and he absolutely stole the fucking movie. He is so bat shit insane as a pimp named Drexel, that he is easily the most memorable character (not the most memorable scene, as that goes to Hopper and Walken). He beats the piss out of Christian Slater, and tries to make him understand it ain’t White Boy Day. He even makes Chinese food a weapon. He’s about a minute in. Enjoy.

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“Heavy as the hammer of Thor, you can’t lift it!”

 

Concept art of the Battle on the Rainbow Bridge

“Thor” is a very different super hero movie. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. I knew nothing about Thor going into the movie last Sunday, other than he’s part of the Avengers, he will be making a return next summer in the Avengers and he has a big, heavy hammer that does a lot of cool shit. He’s also occasionally mentioned in a Wu-Tang song (thanks RZA).

It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but I finally decided that what separates Thor from other super-stories is the fact that he was born that way. He doesn’t go through a period where he’s testing his powers, where he’s discovering how to use this new found freedom, where he’s bitten by a spider or falls victim to radioactive sludge that melts his DNA.

Instead, Thor is able to do all his super shit from jumpstreet, and its only when he’s stripped of that power that he learns to use those abilities for something else than his own vanity. It’s almost a superhero/origin story in reverse, but there’s so much shit happening behind the scenes of that main narrative that the superhero lesson is almost hidden, somewhat smartly, from the audience.

That took a little getting used to while watching the movie, and was sort of jarring, in a way. As an audience, we’re asked to simply take it for granted that Thor can basically do anything with the help of his trusty hammer. We never see him being given the hammer by his father, we never see where the hammer originates, we never really know where that power comes from or how it works. Thor simply has it. And that’s a lot to ask an audience to accept, especially when you take it away from him about thirty minutes into it, and make him impotent when he’s cast down to earth. Generally, a superhero movie works the other way, where the hero has to learn how to live with his newfound power. Instead, Thor has to learn to live like one of us, and that even as a God, his role in the grand scheme of the universe is really quite small.

Don’t get me wrong. Narratively, it’s all been done before. But it’s incredibly impressive the filmmakers were able to make this origin story work within the larger context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Avengers. There are a few moments where it comes off as forced. But that’s ok. Because the movie suggests that Thor will play a very large role in the Avengers movie, and that his home world of Asgard is a sort of, cosmic cog, of everything. The Avengers is supposed to be a movie about science and magic existing in the same construct, and Thor does a good job of making that a little more possible in my eyes. Until I saw Thor, I couldn’t imagine Tony Stark and Thor and Samuel L. Jackson and the Incredible Hulk all being in one room. Now it seems a little more possible, if not plausible.

It’s not perfect. Could be there’s too much story crammed into its two hours, too much time spent on earth, and maybe one too many Dutch angles (which, to his credit, director Kenneth Branaugh does make you forget about after you see one after the other). But overall, it was a good use of my $5 (before noon at AMC) and I felt like I was watching a SUMMER MOVIE, which is a cool feeling.

Also, a word about Asgard: it’s awesome. It exists on a space island where the ocean pours into the cosmos and is linked to everything through a rainbow-bridge-flux-capacitor-thing staffed by Stringer Bell, who wields a pretty big, and bad ass, sword. The design of the world seems familiar, like it’s a mash of all these different cultures and ideas and architecture, but it also seems new. And when they travel on the rainbow bridge time machine (I’m simplifying it, forgive me), they fly through the stars in a rainbow tractor beam that will take them anywhere. It’s pretty freakin’ sweet. And the bridge, it’s not just some cool looking thing, but is crucial to making Thor into who he is and helps to set up what I imagine will be one of, if not THE, villains for the Avengers. And if I could have my druthers, I would somehow transport Tony Stark to Asgard and let him run wild on all the magical women and weird shit he would undoubtedly encounter, and make Thor chase him around space as he tries to fuck his way through the Nine Realms. In 3D.

I’ll say this: The movie exceeded my expectations. Acting was good. Effects good. Story good. Music good. Villain was awesome and sympathetic. And most importantly, it makes me want to see more. More Thor and more Avengers. Marvel continues to handle its movies very well, and my expectations are now heightened for Captain America, due later this summer.

Now if I can somehow learn to pronounce Mjolner.

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Terrance Malick’s The Tree of Life [updated]

 

When “Battle: LA” was released in early March I realized there were more movies coming out this year that I actually want to see than any other year in recent memory. There’s a stretch in late May, early June, when a new movie is coming out every weekend that I’m interested in, and the shear dedication it will take – both time and money – to see them all was, and is, kind of daunting. 

 

I plan on seeing “Thor” this weekend, and I’m getting pumped for the new Hangover and “Green Lantern”, which looks like a hell of a lot of fun, as does “X-men: First Class”, Captain America, Transformers, “Super 8”, and a gang of other shit that just makes it seem like the summer movie season is back with a vengeance. Hell, I kind of even want to see the new Fast and Furious movie, which is weird, but it looks like a good time. 

 

The one thing that really stands out for a whole host of reasons is Malick’s Tree of Life, which has to be the most anti-summer movie of all time. As of this writing, I’ve watched the trailer twice, both with the sound off, and I can honestly say I feel the same about Tree as I do about all the other stuff. I really, really want to see it. 

 

Plot synopsis reads as follows, according to Wikipedia. To wit: 

 

We trace the evolution of an eleven-year-old boy in the Midwest, Jack, one of three brothers. At first all seems marvelous to the child. He sees as his mother does with the eyes of his soul. She represents the way of love and mercy, where the father tries to teach his son the world’s way of putting oneself first. Each parent contends for his allegiance, and Jack must reconcile their claims. The picture darkens as he has his first glimpses of sickness, suffering and death. The world, once a thing of glory, becomes a labyrinth.

From this story is that of adult Jack, a lost soul in a modern world, seeking to discover amid the changing scenes of time that which does not change: the eternal scheme of which we are a part. When he sees all that has gone into our world’s preparation, each thing appears a miracle—precious, incomparable. Jack, with his new understanding, is able to forgive his father and take his first steps on the path of life.

The story ends in hope, acknowledging the beauty and joy in all things, in the everyday and above all in the family—our first school—the only place that most of us learn the truth about the world and ourselves, or discover life’s single most important lesson, of unselfish love.

 

Reports I’ve read on sites like Ain’t it Cool indicate there is something else entirely going on with this movie, that it spans the beginning and end of the universe, that Dinosaurs are involved, and that Malick has been working on the story, or pieces of it, for decades. 

 

For a man that has only made five feature length films in his career – Tree included – to release a movie of this scope and subject matter is beyond interesting and I cannot wait to freakin to see it. 

 

And, if you watch the trailer, embedded below, I recommend not using the sound. I’ve only seen “The Thin Red Line”, but there are long stretches of that movie that require no sound, and I get the feeling Tree will be very similar. I think all of Malick’s work is likely that way – these beautifully shot images that mean as much as any bit of dialogue or music to convey emotion in a particular scene. 

 

The trailer also indicates those other reports may be right. Shots of this Midwestern family intercut with swirling shots of the cosmos is very cool indeed. And I don’t know how an entire life, let alone the entire lifespan of the universe, will be communicated over the course of a single movie, but I guarantee it will be interesting in Malick’s hands. Enjoy, and let me know what you think. 

UPDATE: Reactions to the movie are starting to come in from Cannes, where it made its premier. Reactions have been mixed.

Drew McWeeny at HitFix wasn’t too impressed.

The Huffington Post wants to make love to Malick and the movie.

The Guardian calls the flick “mad and magnificent”, using the kind of language that’s expected of those Limey fucks.

I’ve only read the HitFix review in its entirety. The others I simply skimmed. Proceed at your own risk.

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